Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

away. For that ye ought to say ; If the Lord will, we shall do this or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings : all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to bim that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not; to him it is fin.

These words comprehend several lessons highly important in themselves, and closely connected with each other. My intention is to set them before you in order ; and to apply them, one by one, under the blessing of God, to your edification.

I. Go to now, ye that fay ; 'To-day, or tomorrow, we will go into such a city; and continue there a year, and buy and

sell, and get gain.In this paffage St. James directs his reproof against that disposition so common among men, to form distant and presumptuous plans. Did you know nothing more concerning human life than is to be collected from the ordinary language which resounds in our dwellings and our streets ; you might conclude that every circumstance in this world is capable of being fixed and settled beforehand by us almost, if not altogether, to a certainty. You hear men expressing their purposes respecting their future proceedings in terms, which scarcely admit the suppofition that there can be any doubt whether the

Y

scheme

scheme on which they meditate will be accomplished. If a person mentions a journey which he proposes to undertake some months hence ; how usual is it for him to speak of it as though it were an affair placed wholly within his own power, and to be decided merely by his own inclination. If fickness, or some other change of circumstances, prevent him from executing his design : how ready is he to give way to fretfulness, and to adopt the language of disappointment; as though he had experienced fome strange and unusual event contrary to the natural course of just expectations. Others you

hear speaking in terms equally confident concerning projects ftill more distant. One person informs you, that when he shall have employed two or three future years in making himself master of his trade or profession at the place where he now Yesides; he shall remove to such a town, or into the neighbourhood of such a manufactory, where like others before him, he shall speedily acquire a fortune. Another observes, that after he fhall have conducted his business until his children, who are now scarcely advanced beyond infancy, are able to take the management of it upon themselves; he shall then withdraw from the concern, and shall enjoy himfelf in leisure and retirement. Another

wearies

means

wearies you with a detail of the alterations which he

to carry into effect, and the manner in which he designs to live, when upon the death of some relation, at present neither old nor unhealthy, he shall inherit an addition to his eftate: Another is occupied in laying plans for the disposal of a succession of daughters in marriage: and tells you that when he shall have settled the youngest, he shall detach himself from the large circle of fociety in which he deems it necessary to continue until that object is attained, and shall remove into a more private and quiet part of the country

These remote purposes are ftated with decision and unconcern, as though they could be completed to-morrow. Or if an expression, alluding to a possible uncera tainty in human affairs, be interwoven: it is too often accompanied with a tone and a countenance which evince that it comes not from the heart; but is inserted only to preferve appearances.' The end to which St. James intimates that thefe schemes are most commonly directed is gain. It is the end of the pursuits of most men.. Our blessed Lord looked upon riches with an eye very different from that of the world. He faw, that they generally proved grievous hindrances to religion. To that memorable expression, in Y 2

which

[ocr errors]

which he avers that, but for the grace of God with whom all things are possible, they would prove themselves insuperable obstacles in the path of salvation, I have already had occasion to refer. At another time he describes riches by the names of the Mammon of unrighteousness, the unrighteous Mammon ; because they are so continually abused to purposes of unrighteousnefs, to covetousness, to pride, to dissipation, to sensuality, to corruption. Yet on this dangerous acquisition what multitudes set their hearts ! The hope of obtaining wealth, or of indulging in the enjoyment of it, ensnares men into forgetfulness of God, into disregard of salvation, into guilty enterprises and pursuits, into deliberate fraud and open violence : and is one of the principal causes of that daring self-dependence, that proud security, which encourages them

presumptuously to form schemes of distant execution, to utter great swelling words of vanity, and to triumph long beforehand in the fupposed accomplishment of their extravagant expectations, as though they were themfelves entrusted with the management of earth and its concerns, and exalted beyond the reach of opposition from their fellow-creatures and of control from above.

II. The

II. The next observation furnished by the text proves the extreme folly of such presumption. · Ye know not what mall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisbeth away. Take thine ease; said the rich man to his soul. Thou hast much goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and be merry. But what said God? Thou fool! This night shall thy foul be required of thee (d). Suppose your plans free from those causes of failure, which the world, willing as it were to exclude God from the government of his own works, denominates accidental events. Suppose every precaution which prudence can devife to have been adopted for the furtherance of your designs. Suppose fortune, as the phrase is, to smile upon you. Suppose every thing, to speak after the manner of

men, to turn out well. Have you any certainty of the fulfilment of your wishes? Have you the flightest assurance that you have in reality advanced one step towards the attainment' of your object ? “I look not forward," you reply, “ to‘distant years. The complete " fuccess of

my undertaking is close at hand. "To-morrow it will be within my grasp.' Boaft not thyself of to-morrow : for thou knowest

(d) Luke, xii. 19, 20,

Y 3

not

« AnteriorContinuar »