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and which are familiar to us above most in the Bible, come to be accomplished more and more perfectly in the case of each individual soul amongst us! May the good wish of our Church-her solemn, oft-repeated prayer be heard and granted—may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all, now, and for evermore! Amen.
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE DANGER OF WEALTH.
St. MATTHEW XIX. 23, 24.
Then said Jesus unto His disciples, Verily I say unto you, that a rich
man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you 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.
This saying of our Lord's which, when He first spake it, caused great consternation among His disciples—for they were exceedingly amazed saying, who then can be saved ! --has much light and illustration thrown upon it by the parable which comes before us this morning—the parable of Dives and Lazarus.
That, brethren, is a parable which, year by year, is selected by our Church on this First Sunday after Trinity, for our most serious meditation. If rich, we are warned in it, of the danger of wealth-if poor, if labouring at present with distress, brought low through oppression, or any plague or trouble--we are comforted in it, with the prospect that is beyond-whatever our condition,
rich or poor-prosperous or otherwise, we have here enforced on us one great lesson, the necessity of using well the means of
hands —we are shewn the folly of expecting any greater helps into God's kingdom, than those which He has given us already.
And first, I said, the parable warns us of the danger of wealth. And this it does in common with many other passages of Scripture—They that will be rich fall into a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition, (1 Timothy vi. 9.) Go to ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries which shall come upon you, (St. James v. 1.) Woe unto you that are rich for ye have received your consolation, (St. Luke vi. 24.) So too the text-How hardly shall they that have riches, enter into the kingdom of God. 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 !
Now, these passages, and the parable before us, speak all one and the same language.—They all represent the condition of a rich man as one of danger—They all go contrary to the opinion of the world, which looks on riches as the sum and crown of happiness, the thing most to be sought for-most satisfying when it is attained.
In direct opposition to this, Holy Scripture describes the estate of wealth-the estate so enviable in the eyes of men-as one full of peril-peril to the soul. It declares that it is harder—not impossible—but harder for a rich man than for another, to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
Now, fully believing that this is true, let us consider the reason of it--the reason why, throughout the Bible,
wealth is regarded with alarm-as a rock against which many souls suffer shipwreck.
All that is in the world, says 1 St. John ii. 16,—the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world—note it brethren,-the lust of the flesh—the lust of the eyes—the pride of life--these are the three chief paths by which we go astray-and wealth has a natural readiness to walk in all the three.
The rich man, with time on his hands, with no necessity to labour, is tempted to idleness, and idleness opens the door to many questionable pleasures. The rich man, faring sumptuously every day, clothed in purple and fine linen, is apt to become self-indulgent, unduly given to pampering the body-and so falls an easy prey to those enticements which allure through the lusts of the flesh.
Again—and this I think is the greatest danger of his condition—a rich man waited upon in all his wants—flattered in his very weaknesses—unaccustomed to contradiction—able to command all he fancies, and to gratify every wish, can hardly be without pride. Very difficult must it be for him to practise those graces which are the chief ornament of the Christian character—very difficult, and but for God's help impossible, for a rich man to be meek, patient, forbearing, lowly in his own eyes.
We have now seen enough to explain the language used in the Bible about wealth-to explain why a rich man more than another is placed in jeopardy-even for this-because, unless constantly on his guard, a rich man is more beset by the temptations which war the strongest
against our soul; which assail us through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
But in the parable, we may see one reason more to account for a rich man's danger-even this—because wealth by the very independence which it gives, by exempting its possessor from the touch of want, by remov , ing him from contact with want, by enabling him to keep all painful sights at a distance, is apt to close in the heart many avenues of improvement.
Never suffering ourselves from straitened means, never obliged to visit the wretched in their misery-not compelled to go into the houses of the poor; not a partaker with them in their sorrow, some of the holiest and most purifying of our feelings, those of compassion and mercy, are not called into play—they lie dormant in us for want of exercise.
Lazarus lies at the gate full of sores—but, alas ! it is only at the gate! He is not with us in the house-we are not obliged to see him, obliged to speak with him. We can go in and out, about our pleasure, and yet not know that he is there.
And this is what many do—this is what Dives did in the parable, greatly to his loss. For God put Lazarus there at his gate to be his opportunity—to serve as an antidote to the ease and luxury in which he was living ; to remind him that he must not live wholly to himself; that he ought to remember those in adversity, as being himself also in the body.
But, alas! the opportunity was not embraced. The rich man and the poor man, whom God made to help