« PreviousContinue »
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacos: this is the title he has chosen ; his favourite memorial to all generations : but in this title he declares his relation to his friends and servants when they are dead. He is our support in life ; and that is a blessing and an honour to us; but he delights rather to consider himself as our life in death; and as such we ought to consider him daily. We are all solicitous to raise ourselves in the eyes of our neighbours, and to be reckoned among the higher orders of the living: whereas it should be our chief care to consider, with whom we shall be numbered when we are dead. Let, then, the vain and the ambitious be striving to be in the class of the mighty, the wealthy, and the honourable of this world, while they live : but let us rather provide, that we may be numbered with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, when we are dead. Then will God be with us when we are no longer with men; and we shall rest in the hope, that he will soon fulfil the promises made to the Holy Patriarchs, our spiritual forefathers, by raising us from the dead, and giving us a place in the heavenly city, which he hath prepared for them and for us, that they without us, should not be made perfect.
AND WHEN HE HAD SPENT ALL, HE BEGAN TO,
BE IN WANT. LUKE XV. 14.
THE words describe the miserable situa
I tion of a young man, who might have lived in his father's house, where there was plenty of all things for those who were wise enough to enjoy it.
But the love 'of liberty, and novelty, arose in the mind of this unfortunate youth. A restless curiosity was in his temper, and pleasure, was his object: not the pleasure of the wise, but of the foolish ; not that which God allows for our comfort, but that which the tempter throws in our way to ruin us. So he left his father's house, and went afar off, to be his own master, and take his pleasure, where
no authority would reprove him, no counsel direct him, but that of himself and his wicked companions.
For awhile, he went on as he pleased : but at length, the evil consequences which he had kept out of his mind, fell upon his affairs : he had spent all, and began to be in want. He, who is without prudence, will, by degrees, be without money: and he, who hath spent all, must suffer many inconveniences; of which this is one; that having learned no useful employment, he will be driven to miserable and base expedients to keep himself from starving: as this poor young man, in his distress, submitted to be sent into the field to feed svine, without being allowed the liberty of partaking with them.
The parable supposes this poor sinner to have recovered his senses, and to have returned: but, alas ! how many are there, who go off and never return! whose ruined affairs can never be repaired! who have no father to receive and restore them ; but are left to do as they can, and be lost in the misery they have brought upon themselves.
I mean to use this example of the gospel, for the purpose of warning my hearers, especially some of the younger part of them,
of of the causes and miseries of extravagance, and of recommending the wisdom and virtue of æconomy, as absolutely necessary to make them happy.
When you enquire into the sources of extravagance, you may imagine that extravagance is owing to an extravagant temper. But extravagance is not the cause of itself: A man will no more throw away his fortune, than he will throw away his victuals, till some infirmity or folly has got possession of his mind. Every act, good or bad, is the result of some counsel, either from a man's judgment, or his imagination, leading his judgment astray. If his idea of things is false or partial, his actions will accord with it: unac. countable, perhaps, to reason and wisdom, but suitable to his conceptions. Allow a madinan his principles, and then you will no longer wonder at his actions. Thus it is in the case of an extravagant person. He has conceived a false idea of things, and persuaded himself, either that we are sent into the world for nothing but to seize the present moment, and take our pleasure, or that his actions will not be attended with such consequences as other men’s are; or that consequences, which are distant, are not to be weighed against gratiT3
SER. XIII. fication which is present. Extravagance, therefore, in all cases, is to be considered as an effect which hath its causes : and these I find to be,
1. Intemperance. If a man is hungry, he may feed cheaply; but if he is nice, he cannot live but at a great expence. And here we are also to consider, that besides the extravagant charge of high eating and drinking, excess of every kind has a bad effect upon the understanding, and brings upon the mind a sottishness, which is always improvident. As the drunkard loses the direction of his feet, an intemperate man is very apt to lose the direction of his fortune, and run headlong into many other foolish and hurtful expences. Fulness breeds sleepiness and indolence; and while extravagance is carrying every thing out, idleness brings nothing in; so that an intemperate man is between two fires ; he has ruin before him and behind him; and if his livelihood depends on his attention to business, he very soon falls into distress. And the case is not much better with the man of fortune; whose inattention and indolence will have the same baneful effect upon his affairs, though his ruin may not come on so rapidly. Two evil principles are working upon him at