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our behaviour in this our office depends the everlasting welfare of our souls and bodies; we shall for ever be disposed of, according to the honest or unfaithful discharge of our place. If ill, Lord, what shall become of us? Where shall we appear in that great day of account? I dare not almost tell you the issue of it: but if we have carried ourselves as faithful servants; propose to yourselves your own conditions, give your thoughts licence and scope to be excessive and overflowing in their desires; if the whole extension and ca
your thoughts be not satisfied and filled to the brim, with measure pressed down and running over, God himself (which is impossible to imagine) will prove a deceiving, unfaithful master.
5. These things therefore considered, without question it doth infinitely concern us to consult, and project, what we mean to do with our riches; to what employment we intend to put those honours, and that power, which God hath conferred on us in this life : whether to receive them as our good things, to go away contented with them as our rewards, our final rewards, expecting no other good things from God after them; or, which is our Saviour's advice, use them as means and helps of attaining blessings above all conceivable proportion exceeding them; so dispensing and providently scattering them abroad, that against our time of need (which sooner or later will undoubtedly come) we may oblige to ourselves such friends so gracious, and prevailing with our Master, who, either by their prayers and intercessions, or some other way, which we know not, may procure for us admission into our Master's joys, to be no longer stewards and servants, but friends and sons. Thus, by the help and benefit of this mammon of unrighteousness in my text, these little things, even the least blessings that God has to bestów upon us, so called in the verse following, and in the next but one to that, these “ things of other men,” as if they were trifles, not worthy the owning, if compared with what rewards may be had in exchange for them, purchasing to ourselves everlasting and glorious rewards; by the assistance of our riches in the expression of St. Paul) “ laying up for ourselves a foundation of good works against the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life.”
6. And this I suppose to be the force and meaning of this śnquúdiov or moral of the parable, which Christ hath closely contrived and pressed into these few words: “ Make to yourselves friends of the,” &c. In which words I shall observe unto you these three general parts: 1. What we must expect at last, notwithstand
ing all the riches and pomps of this world, i.e. “ to fail." Christ, you see, makes no question at all of it; he takes it for granted, where he says, “ that when ye fail," as im
plying, that certainly fail we must. 2. This being supposed, that fail we must, the
counsel of Christ comes in very seasonably, namely, to provide for the main, to take order, that though we ourselves sink, yet we may procure us friends to support us in our necessities; and that is, by making to our
selves “ friends of the mammon," &c. 3. The comfortable issue and convenience,
which shall accrue unto us by those friends
thus purchased, i. e. by them to be received “into everlasting," &c. Of these in the order
proposed. 7. You do not expect, I am sure, that I should go about seriously to persuade you, that you shall not live here for ever. For, whom should I seek to persuade? God forbid, I should be so uncharitable, as to think, or but suspect, that ever I should find occasion to make use of any persuasions for such a purpose. Indeed, a very good man (it was the prophet David) once said in his prosperity, *“I shall never be removed; thou, Lord, of thy goodness hast made my hill so strong.” But was this well said of him, think ? It seems not; for presently to confute this his confidence, t
“ The Lord did but turn his face away from him, and he was troubled.” Yet surely such a speech as this could never be spoken upon better grounds; for this his assurance, it seems, proceeded not out of any presumptuous confidence of his own strength or policy: but only out of consideration of God's especial providence shewed in his wonderful preservation from many great and imminent dangers, and in preferring him from a low, contemptible fortune to the rule and dominion over his people.
8. There is another fellow in a parable, $who, though he came short of David, in this his unwarrantable confidence and presumption upon that foundation of riches and wealth, which with unwearied anxiety and care he had laid
notwithstanding was more suddenly and unanswerably confuted: for, he did not promise to himself a per
* Psal. xxx, 6.
+ Psal. xxx. 7.
petuity, only he imagined to himself (as he thought reasonably) that since he had at last obtained that, which he had aimed at, and which had cost him so many years travail, it were fit for him now to enjoy the fruit, which he had so dearly bought. And in a joyful contemplation of this his happiness, he enters into dialogue with his soul; “ Soul, (saith he) now take thy rest;” no more shalt thou be vexed, and even consumed with the painful and violent thirst after riches, thou hast that laid up for thee, which shall abundantly satisfy all thy desires. All my business hereafter, shall be to find out ways how to repay unto my soul all those pleasures, which heretofore I have denied unto myself: I have store sufficient for many years expenses safely laid up in my barns. Yet for all this man's thus pleasing himself with assured promises of many years' happiness; if you will but vouchsafe to inquire after him the very next day after he spoke thus, his garners, it is likely, you may yet find standing, thronged and oppressed with the abundance of corn ; but for his soul (for whose sake all this ado had been kept) the Lord knows what became of that; it was hurried away, no man can tell whither.
9. Now the thing that it becomes me to desire at your hands from the consideration of these two examples, is this: not to require of you to believe that you must once fail, (for that I suppose were needless) nor yet to dissuade you from allowing to yourselves a reasonable use of, and moderate lawful pleasures from, that abundance of blessings wherewith God hath enriched you beyond all other men; but to beseech you, that this meditation, that certainly you must fail, may be no unwelcome thought to you ; that when the time shall come, that you must leave these riches and pleasures, which God has given you here to enjoy, it may not come upon you as an unexpected misfortune, as a thing you were afraid of, and would willingly be content to avoid.
10. I confess, this were a meditation sufficient to discourage and quite dishearten a man, that were resolved to take up his rest in the pleasures and preferments of this world, that were content to sit down satisfied with such a slight happiness, as this life is able to afford him : for one, who would make riches his strong city, a place of refuge and security, a fortress whereto he would have recourse in all his extremities, and from whence he would expect safety in all dangers and troubles which may assail him: for what were that, but to withdraw him from his strong holds, and leave him unfortified and exposed to any injury and misfortune? How could I be more injurious to such a man, than to vex and affright him with such sad melancholic thoughts as these, that the time will come, when that strong castle of his, his riches, shall be undermined and demolished, when he shall be left naked and defenceless? At which time, if it were possible for him to retain his riches, which before he made his bulwark and place of security, yet he will find them but paper walls, unable to stand the weakest battery ?
11. But I hope better things of you, beloved Christians, even things which accompany salvation; and, indeed, why should I not? Who can forbid me to hope so? for, alas! I know you not. I have no reason to assure myself of the contrary. And then I should be most inexcusably uncharitable,