« AnteriorContinuar »
your love now “ endure all things?” Do you still, "in patience possess your soul,” as when you first believed ? O what a change is here! You have again learned, to be frequently out of humour. You are often fretful : you feel, nay, and give way to peevishness. You find abundance of things go so cross, that you cannot tell how to bear them!
Many years ago I was sitting with a gentleman in London, who feared God greatly: and generally gave away, year by year, nine tenths of his yearly income. A servant came in and threw some coals on the fire. A puff of smoke came out. The baronet threw himself back in his chair and cried out, “O Mr. Wesley, these are the crosses I meet with daily!" Would he not have been less impatient, if he had had fifty, instead of five thousand pounds a year?
17. But to return. Are not you, who have been successful in your endeavours to increase in substance, insensibly sunk into softness of mind, if not of body too? You no longer rejoice to “ endure hardship, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ!” You no longer - rush into the kingdom of heaven, and take it as by storm." You do not cheerfully and gladly “ deny yourself, and take up your cross daily.” You cannot deny yourself the poor pleasure of a little sleep, or of a soft bed, in order to hear the word, that is able to save your soul! Indeed, you
out so early in the morning : besides it is dark: nay, cold; perhaps rainy too. Cold, darkness, rain : all these together, I can never think of it.” You did not say so when you were a poor man. You then regarded none of these things. It is the change of circumstances which has occasioned this melancholy change in your body and mind: you are but the shadow of what you were. What have riches done
“ But it cannot be expected I should do as I have done. For I am now grown old.” Am not I grown old as well as you? Am not I in my seventy-eighth year? Yet, by the grace of God, I do not slack my pace yet. Neither would
you were a poor man still. *18. You are so deeply hurt, that you have nigh lost
your zeal for works of mercy, as well as of piety. You once pushed on, through cold or rain, or whatever cross lay in your way, to see the poor, the sick, the distressed. You went about doing good, and found out those who were not able to find you. You cheerfully crept down into their cellars, and climbed up into their garrets:
-To supply all their wants, And spend and be spent in assisting his saints.” You found out every scene of human misery, and assisted, according to your power, 6 Each form of woe your generous pity mov'd;
Your Saviour's face you saw, and seeing, lov'd.” Do you now tread in the same steps ? What hinders ? Do you fear spoiling your silken coat? Or is there another lion in the way? Are you afraid of catching vermin? And are you not afraid, lest the roaring lion should catch you? Are you not afraid of him that hath said, “Inasmuch as ye have not done it unto the least of these, ye have not done it unto me?" What will follow ?
Depart, ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
19. In time past how mindful were you of that word, “ Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart.- Thou shalt in any wise reprove thy brother, and not suffer sin upon him !" You did reprove, directly or indirectly, all those that sinned in your sight. And happy consequences quickly followed. How good was a word spoken in season! It was often as an arrow from the hand of a giant. Many a heart was pierced. Many of the stout-hearted, who scorned to hear a sermon,
66 Fell down before his cross subdu'd,
And felt his arrows dipt in blood.” But which of you now has that compassion for the ignorant, and for them that are out of the way? They may wander on for you, and plunge into the lake of fire, without let or hinderance. Gold hath steeled your hearts. You have something else to do. “Unhelp’d, unpitied let the wretches fall.”
20. Thus have I given you, O ye gainers, lovers, pos
sessors of riches, one more (it may be the last) warning. O that it may not be in vain! May God write it upon all your hearts ! Though “ it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven,” yet the things impossible with men, are possible with God. Lord, speak! And even the rich men, that hear these words, shall enter thy kingdom! Shall “ take the kingdom of heaven by violence;” shall “ sell all for the pearl of great price !” Shall be “crucified to the world, and count all things dung, that they may win Christ !”
“ Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of
wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel. “ But let it be the hidden Man of the Heart, in that which
is not corruptible, even the Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price."
1. ST. PAUL exhorts all those who desire to be transformed by the renewal of their minds," and to “ what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God,” “Not to be conformed to this world.” Indeed this exhortation relates more directly to the wisdom of the world, which is totally opposite to his “good, and acceptable, and perfect Will.” But it likewise has a reference, even to the manners and customs of the world, which naturally flow from its wisdom and spirit, and are exactly suitable thereto. And it was not beneath the Wisdom of God, to give us punctual directions in this respect also.
2. Some of these, particularly that in the text, descend even to the apparel of Christians. And both this text and the parallel one of St. Paul, are as express as possible. St. Paul's words are, 1 Tim. ii. 9, 10, “ I will that women adorn themselves in modest apparel : not_with gold, or pearls, or costly array: but, (which becometh women professing godliness,) with good works.”
3. But is it not strange, say some, that the All-wise Spirit of God should condescend to take notice of such trifles as these? To take notice of such insignificant trifles ? Things of so little moment? Or rather of none at all ? For what does it signify, provided we take care of the soul, what the body is covered with? Whether with silk or sackcloth? What harm can there be in the wearing of gold, or silver, or precious stones ? Or any other of these beautiful things, with which God has so amply provided us? May we not apply to this, what St. Paul has observed on another occasion, That “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be rejected :".
4. It is certain that many who sincerely fear God, have cordially embraced this opinion. And their practice is suitable thereto: they make no scruple of conformity to the world, by putting on, as often as occasion offers, either gold, or pearls, or costly apparel. And, indeed, they are not well pleased with those that think it their duty to reject them: the using of which they apprehend to be one branch of Christian Liberty. Yea, some have gone considerably farther: even so far, as to make it a point, to bring those who had refrained from them for some time, to make use of them again : assuring them, that it was mere superstition to think there was any harm in them. Nay, farther still, a very respectable person has said, in express terms, “I do not desire that any who dress plain, should be in our Society.” It is, therefore, certainly worth our while to consider this matter thoroughly : seriously to enquire, Whether there is any harm in the putting on of gold, or jewels, or costly apparel ?
5. But before we enter on the subject, let it be observed, That Slovenliness is no part of Religion : that neither this, nor any text of Scripture, condemns neatness of apparel : certainly this is a duty: not a sin : “Cleanliness is, indeed, next to godliness.” Agreeably to this, good Mr. Herbert advises every one that fears God,