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blessing of God, be far more advantageous, than ungodly riches, inherited with the encumbrance of the crimes with which they have been acquired.
Neither can wealth enable a man to be useful to his friends and relatives, in any way or degree, that may be compared to the advantages derived from godliness. To be capable of conversing in a pious and prudent manner with our acquaintance, of exhibiting religion before them in an amiable example, of recommending them to the Lord in our daily supplications, and of using divers means to render them wise unto salvation; when accompanied with uniform endeavours to serve them in their temporal concerns, will render us far greater blessings to them, than superior affluence could do. And though men flatter themselves with the imagination, that they should do much good, when they are grown rich: yet supposing the best, which rarely happens; the most liberal use of ungodly wealth, seldom compensates the effect of corrupt principles and a bad example thus varnished over.-On the other hand, the godly man, however poor, is a light in his neighbourhood and the salt of the earth. He restrains the vicious, cuicourages the drooping, promotes piety and righteoustiess, professes and adorns the gospel, and in all respects is a blessing to every village, city, or nation in which he resides.-The Lord preserved all who sailed with Paul in answer to his prayers: ten righteous persons would have preserved Sodom: and the scripture fully warrants me to say, that our national preservation hitherto is vouchsafed in answer to the prayers, and for the sake, of the pious remnant among us.In all respects and in every view, “ godliness “ with contentment is great gain,” yea the greatest of gains; “ It is profitable for all things; having the pro6 mise of this life and of that which is to come.”
III. Let us then conclude with some practical instructions.
Many young persons, being brought in the way of religion, think that godliness may be very proper in old age; as at that time of life people have little to do, and have no relish for juvenile pleasures. They perhaps allow that it will sometimes be needful for them also: but they wish to defer the distasteful task to a more convenient opportunity. In the mean while, they purpose making a trial of the world; being determined not to believe that all is vanity and vexation, unless convinced by experience. The opinion, therefore, that religion is irksome and joyless, proves in this case a most fatal delusion of Satan. All desire present satisfaction; and few are willing to forego it for a distant and invisible felicity. Hence arises a procrastination that generally proves fatal. But could we convince men that genuine piety would best promote their present satisfaction; one great obstruction to the gospel would be removed. You, my young friends, have doubtless found already, that disappointment and disgust often succeed to sanguine expectation: be persuaded therefore, we earnestly intreat you, to regard those, who have dearly bought their experience, when they declare, that this will more and more be the case, as long as you seek that happiness in the world, which can only be found in God and religion. “ Come" then, “ taste and see, how gracious the Lord is; and 26 how blessed they are that trust in him.” Make a
fair trial, whether peace of conscience and joy in God, be not preferable to turbulent mirth, with an aching heart and bitter remorse.
But are not religious people often melancholy and uncomfortable?-No doubt many who speak about religion, and live at open war with their convictions, are very miserable. Others, taking up distorted views of truth, and prematurely or disproportionately studying matters too deep for them, disquiet their minds and cast a gloom over their piety: while negligence, unwatchfulness, evil tempers, or cleaving to worldly objects, will render those uneasy, who fear God or have any tenderness of conscience. But these effects arise not from godliness, but from the want of it; and they would vanish, were the scriptures more implicitly believed and obeyed. We ought therefore to infer from these things, that we should carefully compare our religion with the word of God; and pray without ceasing, that we may be enabled to have our conversation as it becometh the gospel of Christ.
Perhaps some of you, who have neglected godliness, meet with continual disappointment in your worldly pursuits. Does not the Lord then say to you, “ Wherefore do ye spend your money for that which " is not bread? and your labour for that which satis“ fieth not?—Hearken diligently unto me-hear and “ your soul shall live?” — Few of the numerous can
didates for wealth, honour, or power, are successful: and the most assiduous application has only the probability of success: but the unfailing word of God ensures the biessing to all, that seek his kingdom and
righteousness in the first place, and in the way which
. ness, oppressed by poverty, sickness, or trouble? Seek after contentment, my brethren: seek divine peace and consolations with redoubled earnestness; and strive to serve God cheerfully in the humble duties of your station. Watch against envy and covetousness, and a repining disposition. Learn to pity such as have wealth without godliness, and to pray for them: and be very cautious what measures you adopt to mend your outward circumstances: for “ they that will be “ rich fall into temptation, and a snare and into many “ foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in de “struction and perdition,”-or" pierce them through with many
sorrows."* Finally, let the rich remember, that they are only stewards, and entrusted with wealth for the benefit of others. Let me charge you then, my brethren of superior degree, that you “trust not in uncertain riches, “ but in the living God.” That you be “rich in good “ works, ready to distribute, and glad to communi“cate: that you do good to all men, especially to the “ household of faith.”-Fear above all things having your portion in this life: and remember, that of all your possessions, nothing is your own, but “ godli“ness with contentment,” and such “ things as ac
company salvation.” All else will soon be left behind. Happy then are they and they only, who have “ chosen the good part that shall never be taken from *5 them.”
* I Tim. vi, 9, 10.
REVELATION iii. 15, 16.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.
I would thou wert cold or hot: so then, because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spuc thee out of my mouth.
THIS chapter, and that which precedes it, contain
, , a message from our blessed Saviour to each of the seven churches in Asia; which in one part or another, suit the state and character of all Christian churches in every age and nation. It is therefore added at the close of each epistle, “ He that hath an ear, let him “ hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The message to the Laodiceans differs materially from all the rest; for the professed Christians in that city had degenerated far more than any of the others. They were become lukewarm, yet proud of their imagined proficiency: and the reproofs, warnings, and counsels of our Lord were adapted to this peculiarity of character and conduct. Von 1.