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RICHES ARE THORNS.
What can riches, so coveted after by the world, do for wretched man, simply considered in themselves ?--They cannot produce happiness. How many
families overladen with wealth, are made unhappy by the very wealth which they possess.They cannot insure usefulness. How many persons do we continually see, who, with the most extensive means of usefulness, are little better than cumberers of the ground. They cannot promote health. How many are rendered the victims of disease, by the facility which wealth affords for gratify. ing their carnal appetites and luxurious inclinations. They cannot prolong life. How mary are cut off in the midst of their splendour, when they were fondly promising to themselves a long succession of joyous years.
If riches cannot procure temporal blessings; if they cannot by their mere possession, even to their greatest extent, make us happy in ourselves, or useful to others; if they cannot promote health, or prolong life: how much less can they procure spiritual and eternal blessings: the pardon of sin ; peace with God; purity of heart; and perpetuity of bliss in heaven.
And yet, wealth is the grand desideratum of the world. To obtain riches, men are willing to risk the loss of soul and all the glories of heaven.
The nominally Christian world is bowing down to the golden image which Satan hath set up, whilst all kinds of music are employed to celebrate its praise.
Even real professors of godliness have need to watch continually against the seductive influence of the God of this world. He can paint upon the imagination the shadowy glories of the world, and then whisper to the soul : “all these will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me."
But truth lifts up the warning voice to guard her children against the snares of this father of lies.
They that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."
Our blessed Lord, whose love is infinite, has given us a double caution: “ take heed - and bewareof covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." And St. Paul, writing under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, exhorts us, to “let our conversation be without covetousness, and to be content with such things as we have, since God hath said: I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
Riches, when loved and coveted after, become our idols. And even when they do not captivate the affections, they will soon choke the precious seed of divine truth, if not carefully guarded against.
Hence our Lord calls it “the deceitfulness of riches.” They draw away the heart insensibly from God, and then they become a curse and not a blessing. Many, who whilst in the valley of humiliation, adorned the Gospel and laboured with unwearied diligence to promote its extension, have become lukewarm, when wealth has filled their coffers.
These characters present an awful instance of the danger of worldly prosperity, and should make every professor of the Gospel tremble, lest when riches increase, his heart should be lifted up, and he forget the Lord his God. Worldly prosperity is almost always followed by declension. How many Christian families, once the ornaments of the Church, have, in their posterity, lost all semblance of piety through the growing prosperity which attended their secular concerns.
O! blessed Lord, give me grace to covet earnestly the best gifts, even the unsearchable riches of Christ; to labour after the attainment of those riches whose value can never be fully known in this lower world; but after which, all, without exception, are graciously invited to seek, that they may obtain everlasting life.
Blessed Jesus ! thou pearl of great price, be thou my treasure.
“Give what thou wilt, without thee I am poor ;
“And with thee rich, take what thou wilt away. WORLDLY PLEASURES ARE THORNS.
Man, has a natural thirst after happiness; but being blinded through the fall, and having all his appetites vitiated, he is continually seeking that from the world, which can only be found in God.
Fallen man, like Cain of old, is a fugitive. He is ever flying from the presence of his Creator, who is the source and centre of true felicity. He is daily committing two evils: “forsaking the fountain of living waters, and hewing out to himself broken cisterns which can hold no water.”
Hence he is miserable, whilst in quest of happiness. He drinks of the intoxicating wine of carnal gratification ; revels for a time in sensual pleasure; and if he awaken to sober recollection, feels a thousand stings which too often drive him to despair and death.
Consistent professors of godliness, readily allow the sinfulness of gross, sensual indulgences, and of such worldly amusements as lead directly to the violation of chaste feeling, or into the vortex of fashionable dissipation.
There are however pleasures of a sober and innocent kind, which from their friendly aspect are unsuspectedly admitted into the heart, and like the “ little foxes spoil the vines.” Few seem to recollect,
that even lawful pleasures, when too eagerly pursued become sources of pain, by secretly alienating the heart from God.
Hence serious Christians have need to guard against giving too much of their mind and time to those pursuits which may insensibly draw them off from private devotion, and the daily duties of social life. The acquirements of music and drawing, as well as the prosecution of literary and philosophical studies, are lawful and agreeable, when pursued in subservience to that great end of life so plainly enforced by the Apostle; “ whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God." Religion does not forbid the improvement of our intellectual faculties; it only guards us against their abuse.
Lawful things are not always expedient: and if abused or used to excess, they become injurious.
Society is pleasant, - yet it becomes a snare, if it lead us from our secret chamber by its incessant attractions; and thus makes us strangers to our God and our own hearts.
We are every where surrounded with danger. Each pleasure has its poison, and each sweet its
And yet how fleeting! Worldly delights resemble the rose which droops almost as soon as gathered. Our blessed Lord warns us against those pleasures which too frequently choke the word, as thorns do the growing plant. The enemy knows this well, and therefore when young people especially, begin to feel their consciences awakened under the faithful preaching of the Gospel, he stirs up their carnal friends to carry them into the various gaieties of life, that the incipient workings of divine grace may be destroyed in the very germ.
0! then let us be upon our guard, not only against
distracting cares, and deceitful riches, but also against delusive pleasures, which by their smiling face and winning form would steal away our hearts and rob us of eternal glory.
Worldly pleasures, like Solomon's many wives, entice the soul to idolatrous attachments, and departure from God. There are however pleasures pure and peaceful, holy and heavenly, which never cloy or injure the believer.
Communion with God in Christ-the enjoyment of the divine favour through faith in the blood of Jesus - the varied exercises of reading, meditation, and prayer— the society of experienced Christians visiting the sick --instructing the young-relieving the poor and needy-pouring the balm of consolation into the troubled breast-directing the wanderer to Jesus – restoring the backslider-reproving the profane-promoting peace—and supporting by active and pecuniary exertions those noble institutions which bless our happy island-form so many streams of pleasure, which at once refresh and fructify the soul.
If to these are added the duties of our calling
the endearments of domestic life-the well-timed relaxations of music, painting, and gardening, with the higher gratifications of mental study; where, we may ask, is the want of enjoyment to the real Christian ? He wants not the vanity of the ball-room; the irritations of the card table; the pollutions of the theatre; the snares of the race-ground; the frivolity of routes ; nor the debaucheries of the club.
If poor, he seeks not for the noisy mirth of the alehouse, which ends in rags and misery; he is happy in the bosom of his family, with his Bible and his God.
O! that my thirst may daily increase for the holy enjoyment of pure and undefiled religion.