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HEAVENLY TREASURES CONTRASTED WITH EARTHLY.
BY WM. M. WIGHTMAN, D. D.,
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”—Matt, vi, 19-21.
This passage is taken from our Lord's sermon on the mounta sermon of important texts, as it has been happily described—a sermon, of which the preacher is the Word and Wisdom of God; every sentiment of which is as practical and adapted to daily life, as it is weighty and clad with the authority of a teacher sent directly from God. The subject which is thus brought to our attention contains the highest wisdom, and involves the duty and happiness of time, the destiny of eternity.
The text presents a contrast between earthly treasures and heavenly; it presses an earnest warning against the seductions of the one, and an equally earnest direction to secure the other. The spirit of the passage is, that spiritual and heavenly things are, and ought to be considered, the great objects of pursuit to man, since they alone are imperishable, satisfying, and worthy of the ambition of an immortal mind.
The terms in which the great lesson of the text is delivered, are to be interpreted with the scope, intention, and limitations, furnished by the whole revelation of Divine Truth. Thus, the injunction, “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth,” is not to be understood as a peremptory prohibition against all prudent foresight for future wants-against all accumulation of property, with whatever intention ; but the expression means, according to the Hebrew idiom, that we should prefer heavenly to earthly treasures-should seek them first and foremost-as of a value and importance infinitely higher. Thus, further on, the great Teacher bids us take no thought for the morrow; evidently, from the whole scope of the discourse, meaning no anxious thought—the precept lying not against forethought altogether, (one of the noblest attributes of human intelligence)-but against all such carking care for the morrow as a distrust of the Divine Providence would beget, and which would be fatal to settled peace of mind.
It is undeniable that the present life has its claims-subordinate, certainly, to the higher claims of the life to come, yet in their measure real and substantial, and demanding our serious regard. Nay, these subordinate interests are themselves included in the covenant grant of the gospel, and made matters of specific promise : “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you." Whilst therefore the injunction of the text does not oppose a proper attention to the temporary interests of human life, it may be understood to lie against the hoarding up of useless wealth. Absurd as such a procedure is, it often happens that money is accumulated solely for its own sake, and without any respect to its uses and advantages. The insane passion of the miser who starves in his wretched garret that he may add to his gains, is only an extreme illustration of a tendency too often witnessed. Even large wealth may be so held as to confer no benefit upon its possessor or the world. Instead of being regarded as an important talent committed to us to be wisely and generously used, it may be looked upon as absolutely our own, and hoarded up as though God and the world had no right to demand at our hands a religious employment of it—no poor man may be relieved, no benevolent institution fostered, no religious interest served by it. Riches may become not our servants, but our masters. We may surrender ourselves to the domination of the sordid lust of gain, sacrifice conscience and duty to God in this wretched servitude, and glory in the gilded badges of our slavery. Obviously, “no man can serve God and Mammon.”
Furthermore, the spirit of the precept here delivered by our Lord implies that the acquisition of property is not to be matter of anxiety to us, so as to prevent our contentment with the lot in life in which