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to be charitable,-not to merit heaven, for that cannot be obtained by "corruptible things;" you are to be devout,--not to make a merit of your devotions, for they are full of infirmity at the best; and you are to be self-denying,--not with the vain hope of thereby making yourself “meet for the inheritance of the saints in light," but as the fruit of your heavenly calling, "for they that do such things, declare plainly that they seek a country." Ah, my beloved brethren! how painful and how strange it is, that we require so many incentives to stimulate our spirits in the holy pursuit of the bliss that awaits us. The child from home never thinks of returning to the warm embrace of a mother's love, but with thrilling emotion; the wanderer in a strange land, never hears the name of the country that gave him birth, but with an overpowering sensation; yet we can hear of "sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of God," with the utmost indifference! Can heaven then be our home? Are we born again from above? Is that our native region? And are we travelling thither? Happy, unspeakably happy, they who can join with the apostle; "here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come." It is as though he had said to the persecuted Hebrews, who had "endured great fight of afflictions" for the truth's sake,—“ Heaven is the predominant object of our solicitude and care. We have embarked our eternal all in this enterprize. If we gain not a residence there, we are ever undone,-miserable here-lost hereafter. Our minds are, therefore, keenly alive to the great work of salvation; it is that which arrests our attention and excites our activity. We feel that every thing beside is utterly insignificant; it is, therefore, our absorbing concern, to be found in Christ;' to work out our eternal salvation;' to be rendered capable of the exalted enjoyments of the future world; to lay up treasures in heaven.'"
III. THE SATISFACTORY REASONS ON WHICH THESE DIRECTIONS ARE FOUNDED.
These are three; namely, the uncertainty of earthly good; the reality of that which is divine; and the powerful influence which our possessions have over our affections.
First. Observe the precarious tenure by which we enjoy temporal things. They are either liable to decay, or to plunder. The allusion before us is generally supposed to be made to the threefold character of eastern treasures and property. These consisted, as we have already remarked, in splendid wardrobes, abundance of corn, and precious metals of divers sorts. The first are subject to the moth; the second to the rust, or canker, which destroys grain, and injures the most valuable jewels; and the last to the midnight thief, who may carry away the whole treasure. It is, however, to be understood, in a general application, as true of every thing beneath the What is there, brethren, that you can depend upon as abiding and unchangeable? Is it your health?—“ One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow."* The worm of dissolution lies at the root, and we bloom but to wither.. Is it beauty?“ When thou with rebukes dost correct man for iniquity, thou makest his beauty to consume away like a moth: surely every man is vanity."+ Is it friendship?" Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom."‡ Is it wealth? How many ways it may escape from your possession, and leave you pennyless: "Wherefore labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly
Job. xxi. 23, 24.
+ Psalm xxxix. 11.
Micah vii. 5.
make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven."* Ah! happy, beyond comparison with earthly mortals, are they whose minds respond to the benevolent advice of our Lord, and who can say, in the solemn declaration of an apostle, "having a desire to depart and be with Christ which is far better." For observe,
Secondly. The permanence of celestial treasures. Of them it is said, by the lips of Infinite Wisdom, that "neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal." They are lasting in their nature; satisfying in their possession; and safe in their depository. How striking the contrast between them and others, which are vanishing every moment! "Those we have here," says a judicious author of the seventeenth century, "are running banquets, delicate, and served in with state, but soon over. How many doth swift destruction snatch every day out of the arms of worldly felicity, and stab to the heart at one blow! Behold Belshazzer, in the midst of his cups and concubines, struck into a deadly trembling. Herod, when the idolatrous multitude had newly invested him with a godhead, presently, ere it was well on, became a prey to worms. The rich man in our Saviour's parable invited himself to a feast of delicacy, and talked of prosperity laid up for many years; but that very night was his soul required of him to pay the reckoning. 'Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God.""
Thirdly. The last reason stated in the text, is the powerful influence which personal possessions, whether earthly or heavenly, have over the affections: "for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." If you account worldly things your chief good, you will seek
Prov. xxiii. 4, 5.
them; if spiritual, then you will set your heart upon them. "We should be, therefore, concerned to be right and wise in the choice of our treasure, because the temper of our minds, and consequently the tenor of our lives, will be accordingly, either carnal or spiritual, earthly or heavenly. The heart follows the treasure as the needle follows the loadstone, or the sun-flower the sun. Where the treasure is, there the value and esteem-there the love and affections are: that way the desires and pursuits go, thitherward the aims and interests are levelled, and all is done with that in view. There also will be our fears, lest we come short of it; and there, likewise, shall we fix our hope and trust. There, too, will be our joys and delights; and there will be our thoughts-the inward, the free, the fixed, the frequent, the familiar, thought. The heart is God's due, and, that He may have it, our treasure must be laid up with Him, and then our souls will be lifted up to Him."*
In conclusion, let us observe two things: the folly of the sinner, and the wisdom of the godly.
First. The folly of the worldly-minded. A man pursuing the shadow, and forsaking the substance; grasping the bubble, and despising the reality, is a pitiable object indeed. But such an one is wisdom itself, compared with him who " lays up treasures on the earth, and is not rich towards God." For what has he gained? "Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for All things are full of labour; man cannot utter it: the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with
• M. Henry.
hearing."* But what has he lost?-peace, holiness, heaven, the joys of salvation, the smile of God, the fountain of life! Dreadful calamity! All human woes are supportable, because they are limited and momentary. But the loss of redemption-of the soul-of Jesus Christ-of all the glories of the New Jerusalem above-is an intolerable evil, because it admits of no remedy or termination. There is, therefore, no spectacle more affecting to the considerate and generous mind, than that of an immortal being; wasting the few precious hours of life in the frivolous occupation of pleasure, or in the severer pursuits of gain; while he is reckless of the joys and sorrows, the pleasures and the miseries, of eternity! Wherefore bethink thyself at length, O deluded world, and write over all thy school doors, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom.' Over all thy court gates, Let not the mighty man glory in his might.' Over all thy exchanges and banks, Let not the rich man glory in his riches.' Write upon thy looking-glasses that of Bathsheba, Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain.' Upon thy mews and artillery-yards, that of the psalmist, God delighteth not in the strength of a horse; he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man.' Upon thy taverns, inns, and alehouses, that of Solomon, 'Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.' Upon thy magazines and wardrobes, this of our Saviour, 'Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.' Write upon thy counting-houses that of Habakkuk, 'Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay.' Thy play-houses, that of Paul, Lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God.' Thy banqueting houses, that of the same
* Eccles. i. 2, 3, 4, 8.