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the careless, the thoughtless, the indifferent, are filled from among the successful in the acquisition of wealth ; the successful in the pursuit of worldly honour; and the successful in the securing of what are called this world's pleasures. Success in any of the departments of this world's acquisition, seems to harden the heart more against God. And this is not speculation, but it is a fact which you may easily see in others, and which, though with more difficulty, you may see in yourselves. There may be some few exceptions to the rule, but the rule is as positive as the fact is undeniable; and the literal interpretation of the feeling of the unregenerate heart is—“Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,” and then I will go as far from God as possible. Upon this fact the commentary is awful, the paraphrase tremendous; just as if you saidGreat God, give me what my heart desires; let me obtain my portion, and I will then dismiss thee from my thoughts, I will forget thee, and abandon all thy control in my actions. This is the literal, however offensive interpretation, of every man's disposition, the clear exposure of the operation of every man's heart, who, successful in the world, remains in a state of alienation from God. Every day's success increases it; he gets as far from God as possible, and it exactly corroborates what the Psalmist, in his graphic description of the wicked, says—“He careth not for God, for God is not in all his thoughts."

3. Now observe, thirdly, the sinner's reckless unconcern. In the history of the prodigal we have the remark—“He wasted his substance with riotous living.” Here you may say at once, the parallel fails. No, my friends. It is true that it is not every one who runs out into the course of prodigality, or immorality of any description, but the leading feature in the character of the prodigal is, his having the determination to sacrifice his all upon himself; his own selfish indulgence. And this is precisely the leading disposition of every unconverted man. His own selfish gratification is his end, whether it be in hoarding orin prodigality. Whatever he obtains, wealth or honour, its use is determined upon that with which his selfishness is predominantly connected. And here is another fact which comes in to establish what may be said to be a strange proposition, viz: that they who receive in its worldly sense the most from God, return the least to God; which, in other words, is—those who receive most, are the most ungrateful. Look again abroad upon the world. Who are the religious ?“ Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” From whence comes the support of the word of God in this world of wretchedness and sin? Comes it from the treasures of the rich which God has so bountifully caused to overflow? I mean comes it chiefly? Or comes it mainly from those in moderate circumstances, and from the poverty of the poor? Dear brethren, my heart is pained within me when I think what an immense disproportion there is between the conduct of the rich and the poor, in respect to the cause of God, and experience causes me often to recur with melancholy to what our Lord, in his day, said of the widow and her mite—“And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury. And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites. And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all. For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.” In my younger days I was struck with an anecdote, the sense of which, though not its language,

I remember. A man who had been successful in all his worldly occupations, was walking leisurely along the road which ran by the fruitful fields of his own large domains. On a stone by the road side, sat a poor, infirm old man, who took from his wallet a crust of bread and some mouldy cheese. Yet before he put even this poor morsel to his mouth, he said—Lord, I thank thee for this thy bounty, to one so unworthy. While this crust sustains

my body, feed my soul with the bread of life; and as thou hast thus supplied my need, I pray thee supply the need of others. The rich man moved along, but the thought came over him-At my well-spread table never has the God who supplied me been acknowledged, and if this poor man has reason for gratitude, what a wretch am I.

Brethren, you who have abundance, and yet spend it all, or nearly all, upon yourselves, and think not to return unto the Lord, according to the benefits he hath done unto you. Think, I beseech you, that if others have cause of gratitude, what have you. The prodigal spent all he had in riotous living. Who is there in his unregenerate state, who does not, for the most part, waste his all upon his own desires ? That those desires are lawful, does not alter it. It is the selfishness of the disposition; it is the ingrati



tude to God; it is recklessness of God's glory which constitutes the crime. Every man owes to God himself, his heart, all that he is and that he has. There is no one here before me this day, in whose case God is not the largest creditor. And every man, no matter what his moral condition, no matter whether rich or poor, who spends his life, his zeal, his activity, his energy, upon the world and himself, finds a sufficiently exact exemplar in the prodigal, who wasted his substance in riotous living, far, very far, from his kind father's house.

4. Now mark the prodigal's entire disappointmentAnd when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want." The definition of the word famine, as you will find it in the dictionaries, is a scarcity of food, destitution, want. Now tell me, my friends, is there in this world's enjoyment any solid satisfaction ? I am well aware, that in the hurry of business, in the difficulties incident to competition in the pursuits of ambition and in life's varied occupations, there is an excitement which keeps up the spirits, and which is mistaken for happiness. You are well aware, my friends, that there are in the paroxysms of a fever, sometimes the liveliest exertions of the imagination; but the dreadful condition is when the system, unduly excited, suffers its necessary collapse. It is in this that all the horrors of the situation appear, and it is in this in which death ensues. The hurry and bustle of this world's business and pleasure, is the state of feverish excitement. I grant, that while this lasts the excitement is mistaken for enjoyment, just as the hectic flush wears to an unpractised eye the roseate hue of health. But pass this excitement over, and what does it all amount to ? I have tried it, says the wise man; and he asks-"For what hath man of all his labour, and of the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun ? For all his days are sorrow, and his travail grief; yea, his heart taketh not rest in the night. This is also vanity.” If ever the word famine suffered itself to be used in a figurative sense, it is in relation to the perishing concerns of this fleeting and transitory state of things; and if ever there was a subject in which experience echoes back in its clearest and most distinct language the descriptions of the Scriptures, it is on the subject of the unsubstantial nature of all earthly enjoyments. Permit me, brethren, to place before you some of its peculiarly striking representations. I select from hundreds. “ It shall even be as when a hungry man dreameth, and, behold, he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: or as when a thirsty man dreameth, and, behold, he drinketh ; but he awaketh, and, behold, he is faint, and his soul hath appetite : so shall the multitude of all the nations be that fight against mount Zion."*—“Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”+-"He feedeth on ashes: a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand."1—“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where

* Isaiah xxix. 8.

† Jeremiah ii. 12, 13.

* Isaiah xliv, 20.

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