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thieves break through and steal.”*—“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”+-"For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth : so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.”1—“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up."$—“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is • not in him. For all that is in the world, the last of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”'ll
Brethren, all your provision is for a perishing world, and what can it come to?
Determined are the days that fly
Successive o'er thy head;
That lays thee with the dead.
And yet the whole of your affections are concentrated on this, in which there is nothing confessedly satisfying; there is a mighty famine in the land, and you must, like the prodigal, feel in want. You are, and will be dissatisfied; and when the end comes, it will be the end of a series of disappointments, unsatisfied expectations, unsatisfying enjoyments.
5. Now the parable places the prodigal before us in a predicament which affords us an insight into the real value of earthly things. He was starving ; he had discovered the unsubstantial nature of all his trusts; the famine drives him to new expedients extraneous to himself—" And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.” Here the condition of the prodigal shadows out the condition of the man, who, under any circumstances of difficulty, had discovered that he could not be sustained by the world and its vanities. He begins to look about for something else. The only real resource which could have answered for the prodigal, would have been that he should have gone immediately back to his Father's house ; but this he would not do; he thought he could find some other way, and so instead of taking a wise course, he took one which to be sure was sufficient to satisfy the immediate craving of his appetite, but which afforded him no permanent provision.
An unconverted individual finds the world unsatisfying; it is all a famine; his heart sickens; it is all vanity and vexation of spirit; and what shall he do? His only true course would be to lay right hold of real religion; to forsake every thing and turn to God. But this he cannot do. He tries
He tries every other expedient; he resorts to others and unites with them in new plans; he goes afresh to business or to pleasure; he forsakes one unsatisfactory enjoyment and takes zealously hold of another, forgetting all the while that he is in the land where the famine rages, and that the best he can turn to are poor and meagre, not better than the husks which the swine do eat. An unconverted man, dissatisfied with the world, having the comfort neither of the world nor of religion, is the condition of hundreds. They know that happiness is not to be found where they look for it; they know that a famine fills the land, and yet there they stay putting ingenuity to rack to get some substantial enjoyment; pride keeps them from repentance, and an unsubdued heart renders them willing to go on in this starving condition rather than take hold of religion.
Now, my friends, so far as real happiness is concerned, you have no course to pursue but to repent; retrace your steps; go back to God; humble yourselves. What is
What is your determination? We will not do this. We will live on, knowing, as we do, that now we are in a state of want; but as to religion, the remedy is worse than the disease. So, I
So, I suppose, thought the prodigal. It was more humiliating to his feelings to go back to his father than to hire himself to a citizen of that country, and gain a mouthful of sensual indulgence, even though he demeaned
himself to servitude. And this is precisely the condition of every impenitent sinner. He had rather make every effort to be happy far from God, than go back to God; and he will try to accomplish this, even if he lives on husks; and this leads me to the
6th, and last particular. “No man gave unto him.” Why? Because no one in the same situation had any thing to give. They were all in a state of starvation. And so a worldly man goes to a worldly man for comfort, and what does he get? He may get what the other has, but that is no better than he has himself. He may get what the brutes feed on, sensual indulgence, but is this happiness? Miserable comforters are all worldly men, in a state of spiritual destitution. It is said of the friends of Thomas Paine, when, with all his blasphemy, in his dying hour he called on the name of Jesus, his friends said—Mr. Paine, you have lived like a man, die like a man. This was all he could get from them. And what can one worldly man get from another in the circumstances of trouble, of sickness, or death? You have lived a good life; you have plenty of this world's good; you have friends; you have a good name. Can you give me nothing else? We have nothing else. Miserable comforters are ye. In the famine of this world, brethren, no where can you turn and find satisfaction; it is all a desert, because it is all without God. And in this wretched situation is every one who is unconverted; or to this situation is every one tending, who ventures to dismiss from his mind the necessity of repentance and devotedness to God.
Let me, then, ere I close the present discourse, give a melancholy summary of the characteristic features of an individual in his state of carelessness and impenitence and sin. The world is his all. “Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,” the paramount desire of his heart. Far, very far from God, does all this worldliness lead him, both in its acquisition and in its enjoyment. And all the bounties he receives, of health, and friends, and benefits unnumbered, he spends upon himself, while no gratitude is rendered to the bounteous Giver; no sacrifice made to honour his cause whose he is, and whom he ought to serve. Still, in this situation, no happiness is found. Without a hope in Christ, which maketh not ashamed; without such an interest in eternal things as may bring the beam of heaven to light upon the emptiness of earth, there is but a famine in the land wheresoever he moves, and let him try what expedients he may, he never can be satisfied. Among all the circles of his worldly friends, none are found to comfort him. He is as without happiness, as he ventures to be without God. It all verifies the saying of the poet
He builds too low that builds beneath the skies.
My dear friends, when will you learn where to look for happiness? When will you learn how little worth
your while it is to live merely for this world ? To lose your souls, and gain, at best, toil and trouble here, and everlasting ruin in the world which is to come?