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See, Lord, how greatly my substance increases! Nothing less than thy almighty power can prevent my setting my heart upon it, and being crushed lower than the grave!
3. I ask thee, O Lord, What shall I do. First of all, endeavour to be deeply sensible of thy danger, and make it matter of earnest and constant prayer, that thou mayest never lose that sense of it. Pray that thou mayest always feel thyself standing on the brink of a precipice. Mean time let the language of thy heart be, “Haying more means, I will do more good, by the grace of God, than ever I did before. All the additional goods, which it bath pleased God to put into my hands, I am resolved to lay out with all diligence, in additional works of mercy. And hereby I shall “lay up for myself a sure foundation, that I may attain eternal life.'”
4. Thou no longer talkest of thy goods or thy fruits, knowing they are not thine, but God's. The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof: he is the Proprietor of heaven and earth. He cannot divest himself of his glory: he must be the Lord, the Possessor of all that is. Only he hath left a portion of his goods in thy hands, for such uses as he has specified. How long he will be pleased to lodge them with thee, thou dost not yet know; perhaps only till to-morrow, or to-night. Therefore talk not, think not of many years. Knowest thou not, that thou art a creature of a day, that is crushed before the moth? That the breath which is in thy nostrils may be taken away at a moment's warning? That it may be resumed by him that gave it, at a time thou thinkest not of it? How knowest thou, but the next time thou liest down on thy bed, thou mayest hear, “ This night shall thy soul be required of thee.”
5. Is not thy life as unstable as a cloud ? Fluctuating as a bubble on the water? It fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay, “ Many years !” Who is sure of one day? And is it not an instance both of the wisdom and goodness of God, that he holds thy breath in his own hand, and deals it out from moment to moment, that thou mayest always remember, to “live each day, aş
if it were the last.” And after the few days thou shalt have spent under the sun, how soon will it be said,
" A heap of dust is all remains of thee,
'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be.” 6. Consider again, the exquisite folly of that saying, « Soul, thou hast much goods." Are then the products of the earth, food for a heaven-born spirit? Is there any composition of earth and water, yea, though air and fire be added thereto, which can feed those beings of a higher order? What similitude is there between those ethereal spirits, and these base-born clods of earth? Examine the. rest of this wise soliloquy, and see how it will apply to yourself! “Soul, take thy ease!” O vain hope! Can ease to a spirit spring out of the ground ? Suppose the soil were ever so improved, can it yield such a harvest ? “ Eat, drink, and be merry !” What! can thy soul eat and drink,
.“ Manna such as angels eat,
Pure delight for spirits fit?” But these do not grow on earthly ground; they are only . found in the Paradise of God.
7. But, suppose the voice which commands life and death, pronounce, “ This night thy soul shall be required of thee; then whose are all those things thou hast provided ?” Alas! They are not thine! Thou hast no longer any part or lot in any of the things that are under the sun. Thou hast then no more share in any of these things of earth, than if the earth and the works of it were burned up. Naked thou camest out of thy mother's womb, and naked shalt thou return. Thou hast heaped up many things; but for what end? To leave them all behind thee! Poor shade! Thou art now stripped of all! Not even hope is left.
8. Observe the remark, which our Lord has left upon the whole occurrence: “So is every one who layeth up. treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God!" Such a fool, such an egregious madman, as it is beyond the power of language to express! However wise he may be in his
own eyes, and perhaps in those of his neighbour, he is in reality the greatest fool under heaven, who heapeth up things from which he must soon be separated for ever: and whoever is seeking happiness in the things that perish, is laying up treasure for himself. This is absolutely inconsistent with being (or rather growing) rich toward God, with obeying that scriptural command, “My son, give me thy heart.” He who is a child of God can truly say, . “ All my riches are above!
All my treasure is thy love." He can testify, “ All my desire is unto thee, and to the remembrance of thy name.”
9. Let every one who readeth these words, narrowly search his own heart. Where hast thou laid up thy treasure hitherto? Where art thou laying it up now? Art thou labouring to be rich toward God? Or to lay up earthly goods ? Which takes up the greater part of thy thoughts ? Thou that art careful for outward things, diligent in doing good, and exact in outward duties, beware of covetousness, of the decent, honourable love of money, and of a desire to lay up treasures on earth. Lay up treasures in heaven! A few days hence, thou wilt step into the land of darkness, where earthly fruits will be of no avail, where thou wilt not be capable of eating and drinking, or gratifying any of thy senses : what benefit wilt thou then receive from all thou hast laid up in this world? What satisfaction in all which thou hast treasured up, all thou hast left behind thee? Left behind thee! What! couldst thou then take nothing with thee into the everlasting habitations ? Nay then, lay up treasure before thou go hence, which fadeth not away!
BALAM, Feb. 19, 1790.
ON THE WEDDING GARMENT.
Matthew XXII. 12. camest thou in hither, not having a Wedding
1. IN the verses preceding the text we read, “ After these things, Jesus spake to them again in parables, and said, A certain king made a marriage (or marriage feast, rather) for his son. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw one who had not on a wedding garment. And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
2. Upon this Parable one of our most celebrated Expositors comments in the following manner: “ The design of this parable is to set forth that gracious supply made by God to men in and by the preaching of the Gospel. To invite them to this, God sent forth his servants, the Prophets and Apostles.”—And on these words, “Why camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment,” he proceeds thus, “ The punishment of whom ought not to discourage us, or make us to turn our backs upon the holy ordinances.” Certainly it ought not; but nothing of this kind can be inferred from this parable, which has no reference to the Ordinances, any more than to Baptism and Marriage. And probably we should never have imagined it, but the word dinner occurred therein.
3. However, most of the English Annotators have fallen into the same mistake with Mr. Burkitt. And so have thousands of their readers. Yet a mistake it certainly is. And such a mistake as has not any shadow of foundation in the text. It is true, indeed, that none ought to approach the Lord's Table without at least habitual preparation : that is, a firm purpose to keep all the commandments of God, and a sincere desire to receive all his promises. But that obligation cannot be inferred from this text, though it may from many other passages of Scripture. But there is no need of multiplying texts: one is as good as a thousand : there needs no more to induce any man of a tender conscience to communicate at all opportunities, than that single commandment of our Lord, 6 Do this in remembrance of me.”
4. But, whatever preparation is necessary in order to our being worthy partakers of the Lord's Supper, it has no relation at all to the wedding garment mentioned in this parable. It cannot: for that commemoration of his deah was not then ordained. It relates wholly to the proceedings of our Lord, when he comes in the clouds of heaven, to judge the quick and the dead : and to the qualifications which will then be necessary, to their inheriting" the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world.”
5. Many excellent men, who are thoroughly apprised of this, who are convinced the wedding garment here mentioned, is not to be understood of any qualification for the Lord's Supper, but of the qualification for glory, interpret it of the righteousness of Christ, which (say they) is “ The sole qualification for heaven : this being the only righteousness wherein any man can stand in the day of the Lord.” For who, they ask, will then dare to appear before the great God, save in the righteousness of his well-beloved