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MARK X. VERSE XXV.
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 God.
WITHOUT entering into the disputes to which this passage has given birth, or agitating the question of the propriety of the translation, I shall construe it in a figurative sense, and suppose it to mean, that it is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God; that the temptations, consequent upon great possessions, create a very serious obstacle to the attainment of the principles, and of the rewards of the gospel.
To examine what those obstacles are, and to point out in what manner they may be guarded against, will, I hope, not prove an unprofitable subject for this day's discourse; if, in the progress of such discourse, I point out any pernicious effects of wealth upon the moral, and religious character, I cannot, of course, mean to insinuate that such influence is never counteracted, and such danger never repelled.I am speaking, not of fact, but of tendency, -not of those effects which always are produced, but of those which, in nature, and probability may be produced.
It is difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God:-The first cause to be alleged for this difficulty is, that he wants that important test of his own conduct, which is to be gained from the conduct of his fellow-creatures towards him; he may be going far from the kingdom of God, on the fect of pride, and over the spoils of injustice, without learning, from the averted looks, and the alienated hearts of men, that his ways are the ways of death. Wealth is apt to inspire a kind
of awe, which fashions every look, modulates every word, and influences every action;--and this, not so much from any view to interest, as from that imposing superiority, exercised upon the imagination by prosperous fortune, from which it is extremely difficult for any man to emancipate himself, who has not steadily accustomed his judgment to measure his fellowcreatures by real, rather than artificial distinctions, and to appeal from the capricious judgments of the world, to his own reflections, and to the clear, and indisputable precepts of the gospel.
The general presumption, indeed, which we are apt to form, is, that the mischief is already done, that the rich man has been accustomed to such flattering reception, such gracious falsehoods, and such ingenious deceit; that to treat him justly, is to treat him harshly; and, to defer to him only in the proportion of his merit, is a violation of established forms: No man feels it to be his duty to combat with the gigantic errors of the world, and to exalt himself into a champion of righteousness; he leaves the