« PoprzedniaDalej »
many more words of my own. ments can hope to convince him, who is unmoved by such an appeal as this? That Gospel, which brought good tidings to the poor, has assuredly also brought bad tidings to the rich, if they neglect those for whom it displays so much solicitude. But I trust that better feelings than that of fear, will lead us to adopt our Lord's benevolent and charitable maxims. And not to adopt them in theory only, but also to reduce them to practice. If ever there was a period when this was more urgently required than another, it has been that which this country has of late years witnessed. If ever our Christian faith should be clearly manifested by our conduct, it is when the calls upon our compassion are so loud and so appalling as they still too frequently are. It is now especially incumbent upon us to remember our Saviour's declaration, that by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another and to be assured, that that Gospel which exhibits throughout, so much concern for the welfare of the poor, will never be the Gospel of salvation to those, who coldly, and cruelly, regard their sufferings with indifference: and
either from avarice or prodigality, are unfaithful stewards of that wealth, which God has entrusted to them for the especial purpose of proving their faith in his Son, and their obedience to his most express and often repeated commandments.
MARK X. 24.
And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
In my last discourse, I endeavoured to point out the peculiar advantages, which the preaching of the Gospel was designed to bring to the poor, and which have in fact, in a great degree resulted to them from it. I have now to enter upon a less pleasing theme, to exhibit in some measure the reverse of the former picture-to describe the dangers which the same Gospel declares to be attendant upon riches, and to establish the same conclusion from both these premises: that the real happiness of all classes of Christians, both here and hereafter, can only be secured by a practical, and conscien
tious adherence to the doctrines of our Saviour upon these important topics, for the application of which, we have almost daily and hourly opportunity. In discussing this subject, it will be difficult to avoid making some observations, which may not be agreeable to all who may hear them. This I should be sincerely disposed at all times to lament. But the paramount duty of this place, above all others, is to declare the truth. We are not (to use the words of Isaiah) to speak smooth things, to prophesy deceits. Nor are we on the other hand to forget, that we are as much the subjects of our own exhortations, as any of those whom we address. And if we suffer any unguarded expressions or exaggerated statements to escape from us, they will not only fall unprofitably upon our hearers, but recoil with severity upon ourselves. But we have at least the consolation of knowing, that whatever we utter must be understood as spoken generally. For as we seldom can have the means of applying it personally, so I trust we have never the inclination to do so. If it should happen that none are present, to whom what I shall have to offer has any immediate reference, none who stand in need of such
cautions, as the text must naturally suggest; they will have great reason to rejoice in such their happy condition. But if on the other hand (as I fear is too probable) there should be many here, who are conscious that our Saviour's reflection touches them nearly, that they do indeed trust too much in their riches, and are too little solicitous about making that use of them, which both reason and religion require: I am sure they will receive such observations as it will be my duty to make, with a true Christian temper, with charitable indulgence, even if they should appear to be not fully warranted by a sound and reasonable interpretation of Scripture, but with a firm resolution to act upon them if they are.
Called upon as we are at this time by the highest authority in this kingdom, to urge all persons to a more than usual exertion of their liberality, for the relief of the almost unprecedented distresses of large portions of their fellow-subjects, and required as we are at all times, as faithful ministers of the Gospel, to stimulate the rich to the due performance of this their peculiar duty, I have still felt it necessary to premise these few remarks, both on account of the delicacy, as well as the