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IMPOSSIBILITY OF SERVING GOD AND MAMMON.
MATTHEW, vi. 24.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve GoD and Mammon.
THERE are few persons who could be brought plainly to say, even in their own hearts, We will not serve God.' Most men would be shocked at avowing such a resolution. But there are numbers who act in the spirit of it; who are resolved to serve the world, and, at all events, to have a portion on earth. And what is this, but, in fact, to give up the service of God? It is true that they do not professedly intend to give it up. They mean to secure a portion in heaven, as well as a portion on earth. But in attempting this, they are attempting an impossibility. Our Saviour in the text strongly condemns the folly of such an
attempt. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve GOD and Mammon." In discoursing on these words let us consider,
I. The Meaning and Truth of the Maxim here laid down.
II. Our Lord's Application of it.
I. The Maxim is this, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Now the meaning and truth of this maxim may be clearly seen from a very little consideration. Every one understands what is meant by serving a master. It is spending
our time and our talents in his service. It is doing his will and his work, furthering his interests, and obeying his orders. What should we say of the man, who should betray the trust which his master puts in him; who, as soon as his master's back is turned, should neglect his business; or who, whenever his own inclination tempts him, should disobey his master's orders, or sacrifice his master's interests to those of some other person? Should we say of such a man, that he served his master? No. The man who serves his master, is one who serves him with faithfulness,
with diligence, with singleness of heart, with a mind ready and willing, and wholly given up to his service. Now for a man thus to serve two masters is utterly impossible. He cannot love them both alike. He cannot be devoted to both of them alike. He must, secretly at least, prefer the one to the other; and thus, in truth, must belong to the one, and not to the other. So long, indeed, as both those, whom he calls his masters, may travel the same road, or give the same orders, he may appear to serve them both. He may follow both; he may obey both; and so may deem himself the servant of both. But when they go different ways, or give different orders; when one of them turns to the right hand, and the other to the left; when one of them commands one thing, and the other gives a directly contrary command; then what will be the case? It will then be seen which of them the man really serves. It will then be seen to which of them he really belongs. However he may have hitherto hidden his mind from others, or even deceived himself, by calling them both master,' yet he can now hide the matter no longer : he must now follow one of them, and forsake the other; he must now obey one
of them and disobey the other he must now clearly show to which of them, either from interest or from affection, he is bound, and whose service of the two he really prefers. The Meaning and Truth then of the Maxim in the text are clear. "No man can serve two masters." He may intend to do it. He may try to do it. He may, for a time, seem to do it; and may even think that he does it. But when something happens which brings the matter to a trial, then his real mind is discovered: then it is decidedly seen, however ignorant he may have hitherto been of his own heart, that, in fact, he "hates the one, and loves the other; that he holds to the one, and despises the other."
II. We consider our LORD's Application of this Maxim; "Ye cannot serve Gop and Mammon."
Mammon is a word which signifies gain: and it may be understood as meaning honour, riches, pleasures, sensual gratifications, or any thing of a worldly nature, which men account to be gain, and to which they look for happiness. Of this Mammon then our LORD says, "Ye cannot serve it and GOD." He does not say, "Ye ought not to serve GoD and Mammon.” Your duty, your interest forbid you to serve them both. But you cannot serve them both. To attempt
it, is to attempt what cannot be done. And why cannot it be done? For the very reason which he had stated above: because
no man can serve two masters." GOD and Mammon are two masters; and therefore no man can serve them both. They are two masters, whose interests directly thwart each other, and whose commands are continually crossing and opposing each other. For example; GOD says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself!"* Mammon says, Love thyself best. GOD says, "If thou sell ought unto thy neighbour, or buyest ought of thy neighbour's hand, ye shall not oppress one another." + Mammon says, Make the best bargain in your power. Over-reach and defraud one another, if you are able. Push your own interest, and care not at whose loss or expense.' GOD says, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." "Come out from among them, and be ye separate." "Be not conformed to this world" Mammon says, • Do as others do. Avoid being singular. Comply with the customs and practices of the world' Now is it possible, while GOD and Mammon give such different orders, that we can serve them both? Is it possible, that we can love the *Matth. xxii. 39. + Lev. xxv. 14. Lev. xxiii. 2. 2 Cor. vi. 17. Rom. xii. 2.