Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

And the peace

yet for

Is there no occasion on which even a painful and
harassing anxiety may be lawfully indulged ? To
this question the Scriptures give an explicit reply.
“ Be careful for nothing: but in every thing by
prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your
requests be made known unto God. And the
of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds, through Christ Jesus *.”
Our Saviour has given a direction similar to that
of the Apostle. “ Take no thought for the morrow:
the morrow shall take thought for the things of
itself. I say unto you, take no thought for your
life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor
your body, what

ye
shall

put on t.” This reiterated command shews that worldly anxiety is prohibited in all circumstances. The chief reason assigned for the prohibition is, that God takes charge of the creatures that he has made;that he feeds the fowls of the air, and that therefore he will feed us,that he clothes the grass of the field, and that therefore he will surely clothe those whom he has endowed with life and understanding.

“ Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed ? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek :) For your Heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." The same inspired volume which contains pro* Phil. iv. 6,7.

of Matt. vi. 25-34.

hibitions against wordly anxiety, presents to us a remedy under those evils, by the fear of which it is occasioned. We are commanded, in everything, to trust in God, to apply to him for support and relief, and to address our supplications to him with the fervour, the constancy, and confidence of those who regard him as the hearer of prayer.

The state of mind which this exercise requires, and which, when engaged in with proper motives, it always produces, is opposed to a feverish, harassing anxiety: while it is favourable to the serenity, the joy, and hope which result from the lively faith of the Gospel. In making our request known unto God by prayer and supplications with thanksgiving, can we fail to experience the peace which is promised, -the peace which arises from a firm belief, a humble reliance, in the power, goodness, faithfulness, and overruling providence of God: the conviction, that he ever watches over us, that he ever pities us; that whatever can befall us shall take place only by his appointment or permission; and that all the dispensations through which we may be called to pass, shall, if we love him, be made to work together for our good.

How essential to our happiness and usefulness is this peace, which, if we shall only use the prescribed means of obtaining, we may fully enjoy! Its worth, its influence on our moral feelings and character, as well as the source from which it proceeds, entitles it to the description which the Apostle Paul has given of it,—“ The peace of God, that passeth all understanding, and that keeps the heart and

mind, through Christ Jesus." With this heavenly principle, soothing our sorrows, moderating our desires, and elevating our hopes, we are happy in ourselves, and are the means of giving happiness to others: we are not only freed from a fertile source of temptation, but have ever present with us the motives and the frame of mind favourable to the exercise of righteousness, kindness, and truth. So close is the connexion between the possession of christian contentment and the practice of morality.

CHAFTER V.

ON THE INORDINATE DESIRE OF WORLDLY ENJOYMENT, OR

COVETOUSNESS.

This is another of the evils which are opposed to contentment. It is closely allied to worldly anxiety; so much so, indeed, that it seems impossible to indulge the one, without giving way, in some measure, to the other.

It is not unlawful to desire worldly good, when the desire is indulged within the bounds of christian moderation. Even when that good is in the possession of others, we may, without sin, desire it, provided it be lawful in the owners to part with it, and provided also, that we are willing to give an equivalent. It is the inordinate desire of this,—that is, such a desire as is unreasonable, as is unsuited to the principles and prospects of a christian, as surpasses the real value of the object wished for, and is accompanied with

anxiety and disquietude,-it is this which is sinful. It is, therefore, prohibited in its earliest spring in the heart: “ Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man, servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's *.”_" But 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. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness t."

In all ranks and circumstances of society, man is exposed to temptations to indulge this evil desire. Property secures to its possessor, influence, splendid accommodation and equipage, luxury, and the objects of his wishes generally, in so far as these are limited to earthly good. Hence, its acquisition is sought after, by men of all professions, and from the highest to the lowest of the community. Is it not natural for those who have, at any time, experienced embarrassment from a deficiency of this commodity, anxiou to provide against a recurrence of similar difficulties? It procures to the young indulgences to which youth attaches so much value; to those engaged in the busy scenes of life, weight and authority among their associates ; and to the aged the attention and respect which age of itself, unaccompanied with the possession of property, sometimes fails in securing. Can we wonder that an instrument by which we can work so many changes, - which so effectually alters our condition in regard to others, and the condition of others in regard to us,-and which all may lawfully exert themselves to obtain,-can we wonder that all should be in danger of pursuing it eagerly, inordinately, and sinfully?

1 Tim, vị. 9-11.

* Exod. xx. 17.

The guilt of covetousness is affirmed by the Apostle Paul, when he declares that it is idolatry, an alienation of heart and of affection from God, which excludes from the kingdom of Christ and of God. He also declares it to be the root of all evil, the parent of almost every sin, the spring of private and public mischief and misery. When the love of money has acquired possession of the heart, it hardens and shuts it against the admission of every softening and generous feeling,-it steals it away from every pure and spiritual object,—and leaves no room for the holy presence of that God who condescends to dwell with men. Religion apart, it often produces the most extraordinary and almost incredible transformations on human character; converting the warm and affectionate friend of our youth, who wept when we wept, and who rejoiced when we rejoiced, into the cold and unfeeling misanthropist, who is alike indifferent to all that can create light or make darkness, and who wraps himself up in the narrow covering of his own selfishness.

Covetousness is a vice more general than any other, and is, perhaps, more frequently the occasion of secret and open apostacy from the purity of religion. Under the mask of frugality, a laudable economy, and the desire of making a competent provision for a family, it

« ElőzőTovább »