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S E R M ON VII.
James iv. 13, 14, 13.
Go to, now, ye that say, to-day or to-morrow
we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain. Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life ? it is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to Say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and de this or that. ::
THE obvious design of this passage, is
1 to detect the folly and presumption of those who lay schemes for futurity, without a proper acknowledgement of their dependence on the providence of God. The particular scheme, which the Apostle represents and condemns, is one of the most plausible that can well be imagined. A
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merchant resolves on a journey to some city, in which he can carry on his trade to advantage. That he may lose no time, he faith, “ To-day,” or at farthest, “ to-mor“ row, I will go into such a city, and cono tinue there a year, and buy and fell, and “ get gain." There is no intimation that he meant to enrich-himself by fraud or extortion. The gain he had in view may be fupposed to have been the profits of a fair and honourable commerces the bonest reward of his attention and diligence. :
I apprehend that none of us would be greatly startled, though we should hear fome of our friends talking in the manner which is here represented. There are few of us, perhaps, who have not on some occa sions held such a language, without sufpecting that it was either presumptuous or wrong. In order, therefore, to discover what is faulty in it, and to enter into the
fpirit of this text, let us examine with atten'tion,
ift, The form of expression which the Apostle condemns.--And, 2dly, The amendment which he sug
gests.---And if it shall please God to afford us the assistance of his Spirit, I ain persuaded that several remarks will occur to us in the course of this inquiry, which may be “ profitable for doctrine, for reproof, “ for correction, and for instruction in righ“ teousness.”—Let us then attend,
First, To the form of expreffion which the Apostle condemns. «. Go to now, ye “ that say, to-day or to-morrow we will go “ into such a city, and continue there a “ year, and buy and fell, and get gain.”
In general, we may observe, that this language relates altogether to a worldly project. The principal object is gain : “not “ the true riches ;” or “ that good part” which shall never be taken from those who choose it; but the gain of this world, the gain which is acquired by buying and selling. They say nothing of the measure of gain that would fatisfy them, and nothing of the use to which they meant to apply their wealth. For any thing that their expressions imply, their desires might be without bounds, and their fole aim might be
to “ heap up silver as the dust, and fine “ gold as the mire of the streets ;” or, in the language of Isaiah, “ to join house to house, « and field to field, till they were placed Us alone in the midst of the earth.”
If this remark is just, we have already discovered one capital error in the expresfions before us.—To seek gain by honest industry, either. for the supply of our own wants, or to enable us to relieve the riecesfities of others, is not only lawful but honourable : But to seek wealth for its own fake, and merely for the sordid pleasure of possessing it, betrays a mean and selfish spirit, unworthy of a man, and much more unworthy of a Christian.
Supposing this then to be the end in view; there can be no doubt that it is in a high degree culpable. But as the Apostle is filent on this head, we shall admit, that the persons who hold the language before us, might intend to make a proper use of their riches, and proceed to examine the means by which they propose to obtain them. “ To-day,” say they, “'or to-morrrow, we « will go into such a city.”—These words
may pass in common conversation; but when we seriously weigh the import of them, as at present we are called to do, we shall find that they are chargeable both with folly and presumption.
The great Lord of all has no part in this scheme. These little arrogant words, WE WILL, thrust him out at once, and occupy his place. And for what do the persons here defcribed undertake? They undertake without hefitation, to insure their lives against death, their bodies against fickness, and their effects against every casualty or hazard. They speak of the morrow, as if they had the absolute property of it. They promise themselves, that to-morrow they shall not only be alive, but in health, to set out on their journey; that they shall meet with no cross accidents, by the way; that the goods which they carry along with them, thall be protected against thieves and robbers; and that in . due time they shall arrive at the city where their plan of business is to be carried into execution. But what follows is still more extravagant. They promise upon life for a full year ; “ We will continue there a year:” Vol. III., L