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He points out in this parable, the forethought, the energy, the skilful adaptation of means to his end of a worldly wise man. He praises, commends that wise man —but all throughout understood therein is this application Go and do thou likewise.
Yes, go and do for God, what the world's votaries do for their master. Be as they are, active, diligent, persevering, be like them, not easily damped by failure. Deny yourselves present pleasures, as they do; be ready, as they are to undergo toil, labour, hardships, having respect—as they also have, to a time to come.
You have far greater cause for such diligence, such self-denial, such fore-casting—the reward you look for, is beyond comparison greater than theirs l the object you aim at is far higher —Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown but we an incorruptible! The things on which their hearts are set, are things temporal. The things which we seek, are Eternal—a treasure in the heavens which fadeth not away—where rust and moth do not corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal |
TENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
ST. LUKE XII. 15.
And He said unto them, Take heed and beware of covetousness : for a
man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
THE occasion on which our Lord uttered these words was as follows.—One of the company about Him appealed to Him to interfere iu a matter of property-Master, speak to my brother that he divide the inheritance with me! He replied—and there is a tone of rebuke in His words
-Man, who made me a judge and divider over you? As much as to say—“It was not His province to judge such matters-He meddled not with particular cases-He laid down rules for all cases-He taught justice, mercy, and truth-let those principles be adhered to, and there would be no need of a divider, for each would give to the other what was his due.”
But while our Lord refused to interfere in this case of the inheritance, He seized the moment for striking at the
root of all quarrels about property. He urged upon His hearers to beware of covetousness, for, said He, a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
* And surely, brethren, never was counsel more needed than this; needed at the time, and needed now. Surely of all sins that are common in the world, this of covetousness is the most common.
For what do I mean by covetousness ? What is meant by the word in the Scriptures ? It means, a craving for more than we have already—a desire to be rich-and if rich already, then still richer. And which of us can plead to be wholly guiltless of this ? which of us-speaking from the knowledge he has of himself—can say with truth, that his conversation is without covetousness ?
Then surely the warning in the text is for all.-- All need to give ear when the Lord thus bids us, to take heed and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth.
And notice, brethren, these last words. In our Lord's view a man's life does not consist in his riches—a man might have these in the greatest abundance, and yet be in His sight, poor and miserable, wanting all the elements of true happiness. But not so is the opinion of the world: with the world, riches are the one thing needful to happiness. In its judgment a man's life consists in having these—nay, without these, life is nothing. The more the reason that we should have this false judgment corrected by a comparison with the true. The more the reason that we should take home to our hearts, and hold fast these impressive words of our Master-a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth!
On the present occasion, my aim will be to enforce the warning of the text, by an example from the Old Testament; an example which our Church brings before us to-day—the example of Ahab.—When we have looked at his history, we shall see better what covetousness is, and how much we need to be on our guard against it.
Ahab was the son of Omri, captain of the host, whom the Israelites had made their king, after he had avenged them on the usurper Zimri. And of Omri the record is that he was a bad man, he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord, and did worse than all that were before him. But bad as he was, his son who succeeded him was yet more wicked. Of all in the long list of wicked kings of Israel, we read there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up.
Observe the words—whom Jezebel his wife stirred up. This wicked princess was an idolater, daughter of Ethbaal king of Zidon, and Ahab had married her in defiance of God's express law, which forbade any intercourse between His people and the surrounding heathens.
That disobedience to God brought its punishment.Had not Ahab married Jezebel, he might have been free from blood-guiltiness, he might never have had on his soul the murder of Naboth. And that is the great crime with which his name is associated in the particulars of it lies the chief warning of Ahab's history.
Let me recall them to you, as shortly as I can.
Naboth had a vineyard hard by Ahab's palace in Samaria. Ahab set his eyes on it, and would have purchased it; but Naboth refused to part with it.—It was the inheritance of his fathers; it had come down to him through many generations, and small as it was, it was very precious in his sight. Besides, even had Naboth been willing to sell it, it would not have been right for him to do so. For by God's law the Israelites, after they were settled in Canaan, were forbidden to part with their assigned portion. And if, under some unusual pressure of distress, this had in any case been done, the land thus lost to the family, was to be restored at the year of Jubilee, or year of release—i. e., within fifty years at the furthest.
Naboth then was fully justified in declining the king's offer. There was no want of loyalty in his saying The Lord forbid it me that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee !
But how did Ahab bear his refusal ? He went home to his house, heavy and displeased because of the words of Naboth.— And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread!
What a spectacle is this ! a great king with a king's wealth, and a king's power to command the means of enjoyment, fretting like a spoilt child ! Look at him there as he lies in sullen anger on his bed, and think of the Lord's words—A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth !
But he did not lie long thus, without advantage being taken of his bad temper, to push him into further sin. His wife came,-Satan's own messenger, to put bad