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the last day, will scarcely leave a trace behind. Who, then, would be so little-minded, so base, as to go no higher in search of the great or the happy? Who, knowing that he must live through eternity, would be satisfied with a treasure, which, at best, can only procure him an amusement which must soon prove as transient and as empty as a dream of the night? Paul will teach us on this matter:-This I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it; for the fashion of this passeth away.
Hence we observe that the Christian is taught to judge wisely as to the REAL WORTH of prosperity. The worldly have preferred it as their chief good, and it is natural that they should magnify it. Having chosen it as their portion, it must be their concern to view it in the best light. They live solely to this kind of good; and it is to be expected that they will endeavour to persuade themselves, and to persuade others, that it is a good to which it is well to live. Not so the believer: he has a nobler heritage in reserve, and, in consequence, can afford to put all present acquisitions into the balance of truth. Having little to fear from any exhibition of the vanity of earthly things, his eyes are open to see what prosperity may do and what it may not do. It may purchase splendour, luxury,
flattery; but it cannot ensure health, or heal a wounded conscience; it cannot extinguish the envy of those who may be witnesses of our state, nor is it of any avail as opposed to the arm of the king of terrors. It may demoralize the sober, it may stain the garments of the devout, it may add to our bondage through the fear of death, but it can do nothing to make the head or the heart better. It adds nothing to the man, while adding much to his circumstances. It may prepare him for the chambers of the second death, it can bestow no meetness for the mansions of the blessed.
Thus the weakness of prosperity is more obvious than its strength; and the harm it may do, both in regard to this world and the next, is more obvious than the good. Every Christian, in proportion to his spirituality, must discern and feel these conclusions, and is thus taught to look somewhere apart from the mere circumstances of the present world, in search of his best comforts and hopes. The gospel, he perceives, is the only remedy adequate to his wants, and its price accordingly is above rubies. It can do every thing; while with regard to the prosperities of the world, we know much more of their power to enslave and destroy than of any thing else concerning them. There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace.
When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?
The Christian is further constrained by the Divine Spirit to meditate, in the season of prosperity, on the ACCOUNTABLENESS which must ever attach to such a state. Who maketh thee to differ, or what hast thou which thou hast not received? And if thou hast received it, wherefore dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? This language is not less applicable to the arrangements of providence in relation to us, than to the work of grace in the soul. Both are from God, and the advantages of both are so many talents which should be consecrated to the divine glory. Health, property, and time; the approval of men, the pleasures of friendship, and the sweets of domestic quietude and enjoyment-all are from the same source. What is more, these are not only the bestowments of mercy, but of mercy exercised through the most costly medium. They are all the purchase of his sacrifice who took our griefs upon him; and who, by means of his sorrows and his death, opened that channel through which the divine benevolence pours down its various blessings upon us. These blessings, therefore, are all seen by the Christian as flowing to the unworthy, and as bought with an infinite price. Can he know this, feel this, and still imitate those who seek their portion in this life? The true expression of love to Him who so loved us is, to dedicate ourselves, and all that we have received from him, at once to
his honour it is to say, What shall I render unto God for all his benefits?
It must be distinctly observed, also, that Christians are saved from many of the snares of prosperity in this world BY MEANS OF THEIR ACQUAINTANCE WITH A BETTER. If the earth were our only dwelling place, and what it includes our only means of happiness, then, defective as these may be, it would not be unreasonable to employ our best skill and effort with a view to extract from them the largest possible amount of good. We should, in such a case, have a sorry portion; but, as these things would be our all, our whole heart might not very irrationally be given to them. This, however, is not our state: the gospel has brought life and immortality to light. And when told that we are not to give our best homage, or our best affections, to the world in which we live, it is on the ground of the fact that there is another world placed before us which is more worthy of them; one where prosperity is separated from its present defilements and imperfectness, and is attained as an everlasting possession: accordingly, this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. We see, in the case of Moses, what this principle can do; and we know how it sustained the patriarchs, and prophets, and a multitude beside, in old time, of whom the world was not worthy. The things which are seen and temporal are not to be placed on their proper level except as viewed in comparison with the unseen and eternal. And the
more we possess of earth the more is it needed that we possess an enlarged view of the glories of heaven, that we may not remain the slaves of earth.
The Christian is, moreover, a man of PRAYER; and it is from this exercise especially that he derives the strength which enables him to escape the vices of prosperity. It is in such exercises, or in answer to them, that his reasonings, on the matters now considered, are made clear, impressive, and practical. It is this which disposes him to meditation, and which enables him to meditate wisely. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. Watchfulness will not be sufficient without prayer, nor will prayer avail without watchfulness, These go together, when men overcome, and lay hold on eternal life.
Prosperity, when thus reviewed, fails to excite the envy of the Christian. The dangers which encircle those who partake of it, cannot be really seen without exciting pity and alarm, nor without leading the heart to pray that the blindness and ruin so often attendant on such a state may not follow. But while alive to much in the condition of the prosperous, rendering it little desirable, the believer is far from considering it as inseparable from irreligion. Its advantages are the gifts of heaven; and when employed with a reference to the divine glory, conduce in an eminent degree to the good of society and the advancement of religion. When thus blessed, it serves to exhibit the