« AnteriorContinuar »
(>. "liui if thine eye be evil, tliy whole body shall be full of darkness." "If thine eye be evil:"—We see there is no medium between a single and an evil eye. If the eye be not single, then it is evil. If the intention, in whatever we do, be not singly to God, if wc seek any thing else, then our "mind and conscience arc defiled-"
Our eye therefore is evil, if, in any thing we do, we aim at any other end than God; if we have any view, but to know and to love God, to please and serve him in all things; if wc have any other design than to enjoy God, to be happy in him both now and for ever.
7. If thine eye be not singly fixed on God, "thy whole body shall be full of darkness." The veil shall still remain on thy heart. Thy mind shall be more and more blinded, by "the god of this world," t! lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ should shine upon thee." Thou wilt be full of ignorance and error touching the things of God, not being able to receive or discern them. And even when thou hast some desire to serve God, thou wilt be full of uncertainty as to the manner of serving him; finding doubts and difficulties on every side, and not seeing any way to escape.
Yea, if thine eye be not single, it' thou seek any of the things of earth, thou shal' be lull of ungodliness and unrighteousness; thy desires, tempers, affections, being all out of course: being all dark, and vile, and vain. And thy conversation will be evil, as well as thy heart; not "seasoned with salt," or "meet to minister grace unto the hearers," but idle, unprofitable, corrupt, grievous to the Holy Spirit of God.
8. Both destruction and unhappiness are in thy ways; "for the way of peace hast thou not known." There is no peace, no settled, solid peace, for them that know not God. There is no true nor lasting content for any, who do not seek Him with their whole heart. While thou aimest at any of the things that perish, " all that cometh is vanity ;" yea, not only vanity, but "vexation of spirit," and that both in the pursuit and the enjoyment also. Thou walkest indeed in a vain shadow, and disijuietest thyself in vain. Thou walkest in darkness that may be felt. Sleep on; bur thou canst not take thy rest. The dreams of life can give pain ; and that thou knowest: but ease they cannot give. There is no rest in this world or the world to come, but only in God, the centre of spirits.
"If the light which is in thee be darkness, how great is that daikncss!" If the intention, which ought to enlighten the whole soul, to fill it with knowledge, and love, and pence, and which in fact docs, so long as it is single, as long as it aims at God alone,—if this be darkness; if it aim at any thing beside God, and consequently cover the soul with darkness instead of light, with ignorance and error, with sin and misery; O how great is thnt darkness! It is the very smoke which ascends out of the bottomless pit! It is the essential night, which reigns in the lowest deep, in the land of the shadow of death!
9. Therefore, "lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and runt doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." If you do, it is plain your eye is evil; it is not singly fixed on God.
With regard to most of the commandments of God, whether relating to the heart or life, the Heathens of Africa or America stand much on a level with those that are called Christians. The Christians observe them (a few only being excepted) very near as much as the Heathens. For instance: The generality of the natives of England, commonly called Christians, arc as sober and as temperate as the generality of the Heathens near the Cape of Good Hope. And so the Dutch or French Christians are as humble and ns chaste as the Choctaw or Cherokee Indians. It is not easy to say, when we compare the bulk of the nations in l£uro|>e with those in America, whether the superiority lies on the one side or the other. At least, the American has not much the advantage. But we cannot affirm this, with regard to the command now before us. Here the Heathen has fur the pre-eminence. He desires and seeks nothing more than plain food to eat, and plain raiment to put on; and he seeks this only from day to day: he reserves, he lays up, nothing; unless it be as much corn at one season of the year, as be will need before that season returns. This command therefore the Heathens, though they kuow it not, do constantly and punctually observe. They "lay up for themselves no treasures upon earth;" 1M* stores, of purple or fine linen, of -gold or silver, which tithes "moth or rust may corrupt, or thieves break through and fcteal." Hut how. do the Christians observe what they profess to receive as a coiumaud of the most high God? Not at all; not in any degree; no more than if no such command had ever been given to man. Even the good Christians, as they are accounted by others as well as themselves, pay no maimer of regard thereto. I( might us weU be still hid in its original Greek, tor any notice they take of it. In what Christian citydo you find one man of five hundred, who makes the least scruple of laying1 up just as much treasure as he can,—of increasing his goods just as far as he is able? There arc indeed those who would not do this unjustly: there are many who will neither rob nor steal; and some, who will not defraud their neighbour; nay, who will not gain cither by his ignorance or necessity, But this is quite another point. Even these do not. scruple the tiling, but the manner of it. They do not scruple the "laying up treasures upon earth;" but the laying them up by dishonesty. They do not start at disobeying Christ, but at a breach of heathen morality. So that even these honest men clo no more obey this command, than a highwayman or a house-breaker. Nay, they never designed to obey it. From their youth up, it never entered into their thoughts. They were bred up by their Christian parents, masters, and friends, without any instruction at all concerning it; unless it were this, To break it as soon, and as much, as they could, and to continue breaking it to their lives' end.
10. There is no one instance of spiritual infatuation in the world, which is more amazing than this. Most of these very men read, or hear the Bible read,—many of them every Lord's day. They have read, or heard, these words an hundred times, and yet never suspect that they are themselves condemned thereby, any more than by those which forbid parents to offer up their sons or daughters unto Moloch. O that God would speak to these miserable self-deceivers, with his own voice, his mighty voice; that they may at last awake out of the snare of the Devil, and the scales may fall from their eyes!
11. Do you ask what, it is to " lay up treasures on earth?" It will be needful to examine this thoroughly. And let us, first, observe what is not forbidden in this command, that we may then clearly discern what is.
Wc are not forbidden in this command, first, to " provide things honest in the sight of all men," to provide wherewith we may render unto all their due,—whatsoever they can justly demand of us. So far from it, that we arc taught of God to "owe no man any thing." Wc ought therefore to use all diligence in our calling, in order to owe no man any thing; this being no other than a plain law of common justice, which our Lord came " not to destroy, but to fulfil."
Neither, secondly, does he here forbid the providing for ourselves such things as are needful for the body; a sufficiency of plain, wholesome food to cat, and clean raiment to put on. Yea, it is our duty, so far as God puts it into our power, to provide these things also; to the end we may eat our own bread, and be burdensome to no man.
Nor yet are we forbidden, thirdly, to provide for our children, and for those of our own household. This also it is our duty to do, even upon principles of heathen morality. Every man ought to provide the plain necessaries of life, both for bis own wife and children ; and to put them into a capacity of providing these for themselves, when he is gone hence and is no more seen. I say, of providing these; the plain necessaries of life j not delicacies; not superfluities;—and that by their diligent labour; for it is no man's duty to furnish them, any more than himself, with the means either of luxury or idleness. But if any man provide not thus far for his own children, (as well as* for the widows of his own house, of whom primarily St. Paul is speaking, in those well-known words to Timothy,) he hath practically "denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel," or heathen.
Lastly: We are not forbidden in these words, to lay up, from time to time, what is needful for the carrying on our worldly business, in such a measure and degree, as is sufficient to answer the foregoing purposes;—in such a measure, as, first, . to owe no man any things secondly, to procure for ourselves the necessaries of life; and thirdly, to furnish those of our own house with them while we live, and with the means of procuring them when we are gone to God.
12. We may now clearly discern, (unless we arc unwilling to discern it,) what that is which is forbidden here. It is, the designedly procuring more of this world's goods, than will answer the foregoing purposes. The labouring after a larger measure of worldly substanccj a larger increase of gold and silver; the laying up any more than these ends require;— is what is here expressly and absolutely forbidden. If the words have any meaning at all, it must be this: for they arc capable of no other. Consequently, whoever he is, that, owing no man any thing, and having food and raiment for himself and his household, together with a sufficiency to carry on his worldly business, so far as answers these reasonable purposes; whosoever, I say, being already in these circumstances, seeks a still larger portion on earth;—be lives in an open, habitual denial of the Lord that bought him. He hath practically denied the faith, and is worse than an African or American infidel.
13. Hear ye thi.<, all ye that ihvcll in tlie world, and love the world wherein ye dwell! Ye may he "highly esteemed of men ;" but ye are " an abomination in the sight of God!" How long shall your souls cleave to the dust? How long will ye load yourselves with thick clay? When will ye awake nnd see, that the open, speculative Heathens are nearer the kingdom of heaven than you? When will ye be persuaded to choose the better part; that which cannot be taken away from yon? When will ye seek only to "lay up treasures in heaven;" renouncing, dreading, abhorring all other? If you aim at " laying up treasures on earth," you arc not barely loving your time, and spending your strength for that which is not broad; for what is the fruit, if you succeed?—You have murdered your own soul! You have extinguished the last spark of spiritual life therein! Now indeed, in the midst of Jifc, you are in death! You area living man, but a dead Christian! "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Your heart is sunk into the dust: your soul cleaveth to the ground. Your affections are set, not on things above, but on things of the earth; on poor husks, that may poison, but cannot satisfy, an everlasting spirit, made for God. Your love, your joy, your desire, nre all placed on the things which perish in the using. You have thrown away the treasure in heaven. God and Christ are lost! Yo .i have gained riches,—and hell-fire!
14. O " how hardly shall they that have riches, enter into the kingdom of God!" When our Lord's disciples were astonished at his speaking thus, he was so far from retracting it, that he repeated the same important truth in stronger terms than before. "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." How hard is it for them, whose every word is applauded, not to be wise in their own eyes! How hard for them not to think themselves better than the poor, base, uneducated herd of men! How hard not to seek happiness in their riches, or in things dependent upon them; in gratifying the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eye, or the pride of life! O ye rich, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Only with God all things are possible!
15. And even if you do not succeed, what is the fruit of your endeavouring to lay up treasures on earth ?" They that will be rich," (n /shx-^evoi »?.«t.-iv, they that desire, that endcrtI'.itir after it, whether th y Mitvicd or no,) "fall into a