« VorigeDoorgaan »
affections. There are, perhaps, few sins which assume so plausible an appearance; and for which so many excuses are made as for that of covetousness. And hence it is that we have need to guard so much the citadel of the heart. Our blessed Lord, who knew what was in man, and who well knew the subtlety of this evil, has given us a double caution : "Take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."'*
“For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?”. What advantage did Achan, Gehazi, Judas, and
Ananias and Sapphira, gain by their desire of more? They reaped shame and death ; and now stand as beacons in the word of God to warn us against their soul-destroying sin. I
The simple possession of wealth is in itself no evil, because we read that this was promised to Israel as a blessing : “ Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God : for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant, which he sware unto thy fathers.” It is the desire of riches and the passion for them which is defiling and sinful. It is making an idol of money, by placing that confidence in it, which is due to God alone. 6. How hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!" “ The difference," observes the excellent Henry Venn, “ between possessing wealth put into our hands by the providence of God, and desiring to grow rich, is as great as that between a worthless ambitious intruder into a place of honour, seeking nothing but his own base interest ; and a man sought out for his worth, and invested with the same office for the public good. And those, who can see no material, no necessary distinction, in the two cases, are already blinded by the love of money." Luke xii. 15.
+ Luke ix. 25. #See Josh. vii. 21.; 2 Kings v. 20, &c. ; Matt. xxvi. 14–16., Mark xiv. 10, 11.; Acts v. I, &c. § Deut. viii. 18.
ll Matt. xix. 23.; Mark x. 23. ; Luke xviii. 24.
There is, however, a holy spirit of desire for more, which we should cultivate continually. Lord give me an increasing desire for more faith and love, more obedience and activity in thy service; for more joy and peace, more humility and meekness; for more patience, and resignation to thy will. I would covet earnestly the best gifts, and above all, the graces of thy Holy Spirit. I cannot ask for these blessings too largely, nor expect them too confidently, if I only ask in reliance on the truth of thy promises. Thou hast said: “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."* “ All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”ť
When praying for temporal blessings, may I ever do it with a cheerful acquiescence in Thy will, knowing my ignorance in asking. The very denial of my request may be the greatest mercy to my soul. But, O ! thou Giver of all good, when I supplicate for spiritual graces, I may ask for showers of blessings; for the outpouring of thy Spirit in its richest measure, if I ask in faith, without wavering, pleading the merits of my Saviour.
How happy is the true believer, whose heart and hope are in heaven. His treasure is there; and when he leaves this earth, it is only to take possession of it, for God is his portion. For his guidance and support, while journeying heavenward, many sweet precepts and promises are given : “ Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." I
eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind."S * Seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you." || “I would have you without carefulness."** “Be careful for nothing but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving ; let your request be made known unto
* Psa. lxxxi. 10. + Matt. xxi. 22. * Matt. vi. 34. & Luke xii. 29. || Ver. 31.
** I Cor. vii. 32.
66 Seek not ye
God: and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."* While living in this Christian spirit, we shall experience the truth of Solomon's declaration : that God hath made every thing beautiful in his time.”+ We shall avoid the folly of burdening to-day, with the cares of to-morrow; or of loading to-morrow, with the work of to-day. While we work for the meat which perisheth, according to the will of God : “ In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; we shall, above all, “ labour for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give us."S In this work and labour of love we cannot be too abundant. The most covetous heart may here find ample scope for all its desires. O! that I may ever feel this panting, this longing, this thirsting after God. Lord increase every holy, heavenly desire. While my hands are employed in the duties of my calling, may my heart be ever fixed upon thee. Take from me all covetous hankerings after earthly wealth. Give me a contented mind with the allotments of thy Providence. Be thou thy present and everlasting portion, and I shall be rich indeed!
As life advances to its close
The silent tomb appears in view ;
Must I descend, and slumber too.
Each sparkling joy, the worldling joins,
The soul, in secret languor pines. That constant thirsting after more,
That torment of the carnal mind, Creates of grief a plenteous store ;
'T is all the covetous can find. * Phil. iv. 6, 7. + Eccles. iii. 11. # Gen. ii. 19.
& John vi. 27.
What solid bliss can I obtain
From earth's most anxious toil and care?
To bind me fast in Satan's snare.
Yes! I have seen the poignant grief,
The torment cleaving close to sin,
When gall o'erflows the heart within.
The thread of life is almost spun,
I hasten toward the eternal day;
Wash all my sins and guilt away.
O cleanse my soul from VANITY.
LXV.-ON THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.
“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”—Luke ii. 10, 11.
What angelic mind can descend into the depth, or soar to the height of redeeming love!
“Great is the mystery of godliness : God was manifest in the flesh."* " The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
- God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself." I 66 Jesus Christ was of the seed of David;"'S and yet, “is over all, God blessed for ever. ."0)
The two-fold nature of Christ was declared by himself on many occasions. To Nicodemus he said, “ No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."** As Man, he was on earth ; as God, he filled the heavens with his
presence. * 1 Tim. iii. 16.
+ John i. 14. 2 Cor. v. 19. S Rom. i. 3. || Rom. ix. 5..
John iii. 13.
Proud reason staggers at this truth, but faith rejoices and triumphs. Salvation is of the Lord.
“O for this love, let rocks and hills,
Their lasting silence break;
The Saviour's praises speak.”
As Jesus was born in the flesh, so must I be born in the Spirit. He became the Son of man, that I might become a child of God. He died, that I might live. He ever liveth to make intercession for me, that where he is, there I
be also. And did He indeed shed his precious blood for me?
Was it for one so vile and wretched, that he became incarnate, endured a life of suffering, and a death of pain ? And shall I not love him with all my powers? Why is my heart like adamant for hardness, and ice for coldness ? O! what ingratitude, worse than satanic baseness ! Come, thou Sun of Righteousness, dispel the clouds of unbelief which obscure thy brightness; drive away the mists of error; melt
stubborn will. Come with all thy vivifying rays of mercy, grace, and love; and make me humble, loving, teachable, and mild, an image of Thyself.
When the Saviour of the world was born, angels filled the canopy of heaven with joyful hallelujahs. They sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."* Did angels rejoice at man's salvation, and shall man, for whom this salvation was wrought, be silent and unmoved?
Alas! the loving Saviour " came unto his own, and his own received him not.”'t Do I condemn the Jews ? “ He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her," said Jesus to the accusing Pharisees. I. I would sit in judgment on myself.
Blessed Redeemer ! thy word proclaims pardon and peace to a ruined world ; thy ministers preach
* Luke ii. 14. + John i. 11. I John viii. 7.