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For covetousness, i. e. the insatiable appetite for wealth or distinction, prepares the lost idolator to fall down and worship, with the mind, if not with the body, that “Prince of the power of the air,” in whose disposal are “the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;" and will at length ingulph him in that kingdom of darkness, where day never dawns, and not a star appeareth; whence peace and joy are excluded; where hope, the last resource of the wretched, is extinguished, and nothing survives but despair.
Thus have the chief temptations, to which mankind are exposed, their first foundation, either in poverty, pride, or discontent; for the coveting what we do not possess is only an effect of discontent. To the allurements of ambition few are exposed : many are tempted to remove by unlawful means the heavy pressure of poverty, and satisfy the cravings of nature: many are seduced to excess by the inordinate affections and appetites of the flesh. But, perhaps, the most fatal, though least suspected, cause of alienation from God, and which totally disqualifies for his kingdom of grace and glory, is that levity of mind, that total indifference to the motives and sanctions of religion, which generates the heart of stone; and to this every man is liable who mixes much with the world, and does not, by prayer and devout exercises, invigorate and keep alive in his bosom that love of God, which is “ the first of all the commandments,” and the spring of every thing that is excellent and praiseworthy. Guilt may be awakened from its slumber by a loud and powerful call.
The philosophic infidel may be reclaimed by some cogent argument, or won by the superior excellence of Christianity: his judgment may be convinced, or his affections kindled: he may be struck by the force of truth, or charmed by“ the beauty of holiness.” The licentious unbeliever may learn by sad experience the emptiness of pleasure, and the mischiefs and miseries of vice; and be induced to seek for higher and safer gratification in the delights held out by religion. But what tongue of men or angels can reach the impervious ear which has lost the sense of hearing? What art of man can penetrate the conscience which has been seared with iron ? This apathy is the tempter's surest “poison of destruction.” Wherever he can infuse this disposition, his work is done, his triumph is secure. Ambition has slain its thousands, and avarice its
ten thousands; but millions have been utterly and irretrievably lost by that total and unconquerable dissipation of mind, which neither thinks nor feels. It benumbs and stupifies every faculty by which the power and spirit of holiness might find its way to the understanding :—it is the very palsy of the soul :—it kills the spiritual man, while the mortal man still breathes its stroke is the stroke of death.
Thus the traveller, overtaken by the frosts of a northern sky, feels a bewitching but fatal drowsiness creeping through every vein: the increasing stupor overpowers his senses. In vain the companions of his way urge him to quicken his pace, and flee for his life—he will not, he cannot proceed ;-the lethargic impulse becomes irresistible :-he wraps his furs round his stiffening limbs ;—he lays him down to rest ;-he sleepshe awakes no more.
(PREACHED ON PALM SUNDAY.)
1 CORINTHIANS, CHAP. VI. VER. 12.
“ All things are lawful for me, but all things are not
In the infancy of Christianity, when Jews and Gentiles, believers and infidels, were blended together in society, and often mixed in convivial entertainments as well as in the concerns of business and commerce, it seems to have been a question very much agitated among the converts, how far they might lawfully partake the festivity and banquets of idolators, and in what degree they were released from the austerities and restrictions of the Mosaic law. The prohibitions and injunctions imposed on the ancient Israelites,
though necessary in their circumstances, had proved a heavy yoke, “ a yoke," says the apostle, " which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear,” and which the more spiritual law of the New Covenant was evidently meant to lighten; but, whether it was to be entirely done away, and only the moral precepts retained, was long a matter of doubt and debate. The zealous Hebrews, with a natural prejudice in favour of the revered customs and traditions of their progenitors, still clung to the Levitical code; and contended, that, though the disciples of a more exalted faith, they were yet to continue a peculiar people, peculiar in their mode of life, as well as in moral conduct, in outward sanctity of manners, as well as inward purity of mind. Some even went so far as to maintain, and to propagate their opinions among the brethren, that not only native Jews, but all who were admitted to a share in the promises of Abraham, should receive the seal of Abraham, submit to the rite of circumcision, and keep the law. This controversy was so warmly agitated, that it became necessary for the church at Jerusalem to interfere; by whose authority it was decided, that nothing should be required of the proselytes, but to