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In the serious examination of this subject, let us consider the three distinct topics which it presents to our notice :




By the word "treasures" we may understand, any species of property of a worldly kind; but it is probable, that our Lord alludes to those splendid wardrobes, collections of grain, aud costly jewels, which constituted the principal treasures of the eastern princes, and which were, therefore, the objects of general attention. The quality of decay, and the danger of depredation to which they are represented as liable, supports this supposition. The term, however, is to be taken indefinitely, as including every earthly object which men pursue with unceasing eagerness. I shall, therefore, consider the injunction as a check to excessive attachment to the things of this life, and as designed to correct an undue solicitude for their acquisition.

First. The heart of man is the governing principle of his actions. We conceive a liking for an object, and then we become blind to its defects and evils. "He feedeth on ashes: a deceitful heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" The heart corrupted, perverts the judgment. Hence there are men so infatuated as to "call evil good and good evil; to put darkness for light and light for darkness; to put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." This produces a kind of moral re-action upon the affections, and confirms their attachment to forbidden things. And thus the whole man becomes enslaved by himself. To the same evil the apostle alludes in the

Isaiah xliv. 20.

† Ibid. v. 20.

following exhortation. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."* It is impossible in the nature of things for the love of the vanities, and follies, and baubles of this life, and the love of God and the smile of his favour, to dwell in the same heart: "for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?"+ Charge them," therefore, saith an apostle, " that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good; that they be rich in good works; ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."+

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Secondly. This too high estimation of the things of the world, leads to an undue degree of solicitude for their acquisition, which the precept under consideration is designed to repress. To suppose that it was intended to set aside every degree of attention to the body, would be to suppose that our Lord was capable of legislating against the very existence of man in the world; for who could live if none were allowed to labour for their own subsistence, and who could provide for their families, if they were obliged by a divine law to desist from toil altogether? But we must understand the injunction comparatively, according to the usual method of the sacred writers, who, when they speak of the things of time and those of eternity, in alliance, frequently describe the former as worthless, and the latter as invaluable. Thus, when the blessed God said, "I desired mercy, and not sacrifice," it must be un

1 John ii. 15.

+1 Cor. vi. 14, 15.

1 Tim. vi. 17-19.

derstood, not as denying the divine authority of sacrifices, but that He preferred the exercise of benevolence and compassion to the oblations of the altar. The Pharisees, however, did not seem to remember this general principle of interpretation; for when they murmured at the disciples because they would fain stay the craving of hunger, by the plucking of a few ears of grain, as they walked to the temple through the corn-field, on the morning of the Sabbath, the Saviour justified his brethren, and reproved the ignorance of their complainants thus: "If ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless." * This mode of speaking is common in many passages of the New Testament: for instance, "Labour not for the meat which perisheth-Be not afraid of them that kill the body-- My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." Now, in these, and many other places which might be adduced, the meaning is of this kind. And so much do the attendant circumstances give the sense, that a mind perfectly sane and candid, feels no difficulty in its determination. In this manner we are, doubtless, to understand the words before us; not as a total prohibition of concern for the body, and of provision for the household, but a direction to make the things of this world subordinate to those of eternity. The sentiment is, indeed, positively expressed in a subsequent part of this chapter: "Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? or what shall we drink? or wherewithal shall we be clothed? But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." And in connection with this, we might also remark, that it directly forbids the acquisition of wealth by all equivocal and dishonest means, such as excessive exactions, oppression, and in

Matt. xii. 1-7.

justice; for to this end is the solemn admonition of our Lord in another Evangelist: "Take heed and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."* Let us now proceed to notice,


It is here assumed by the Saviour, that every man has some object to which he yields a paramount attention; and He would, therefore, direct him to choose the unfading and lasting blessings of the celestial world. By the phrase "treasures in heaven," we may understand," the fulness of joy, and the pleasures for evermore, which grow at the right hand of God." By "laying up" these, we are not to suppose that we can accumulate them; but the language is antithetical, and is taken from the image in the verse we have just considered. The whole is intended as a contrast, -that forbids excessive attachment to the possessions of the world, this enjoins the ardent love of our heart upon those of heaven;-that checks the fervour of our pursuit, and the undue anxiety of the heart for the one,—this directs us to make the most strenuous endeavours to attain the smile of God and the Lamb, in the courts of Paradise above. It is, in a word, a plain direction to cherish that spirituality of mind, which is life and peace.

First. Observe the objects exhibited to our attention : "Treasures in heaven." Do any enquire their nature? I reply, we know but little of them at present; "we see through a glass darkly," and, therefore, our ideas are contracted, superficial, and every way imperfect. Nevertheless, we know from revelation, that heaven is a state

Luke xii. 15.

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of inexpressible felicity—a region of unclouded visiona land of peaceable repose-a city secure from the assaults of foes, replenished with every good, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest;" and where all the citizens are happy, because they are all holy. This is the happy place to which the compassionate Redeemer, just before his apprehension, pointed the minds of his sorrowing brethren. "Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you; and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am there ye may be also."* Among the treasures in these sacred abodes, -"perfect love casteth out fear,”—present enjoyment is unembittered by the prospect of evil to come,-submission is yielded with confidence,—the faculties are ever expanding, the judgment always ripening, yet ever mature,— and bliss, already complete, is yet receiving unceasing augmentation.

Secondly. Observe the exhortation to secure an interest in this felicity: "Lay up treasures in heaven." But how is this to be done? I reply, with the feelings of a traveller, who hastens through the distant country, and diligently labours to reach his home. Or of the merchant in quest of merchandize abroad, who bends his undivided attention to the object of his voyage; or of the husbandman, who, by the ploughshare and the harrow, looks forward to the day of harvest. I need not enter on any particular explanation of the way of life at present; your minds are familiar with the vital truths of the gospel, as inculcated from this pulpit: but I may remark, that it becomes you to show your "faith by your works." You are

* John xiv. 1-3.

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