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heaven can be said to be a valuable consideration to some but not to others.
The matter, therefore, evidently comes to this; either we must say, that our Saviour did not make a reasonable proposal to the young man, that what he required of him, was not sufficiently excellent in itself, and advantageous to him; or we must allow that the same proposal is as reasonable for us to accept of now, as it was in the first ages of the church.
We must observe too, that if all the reasons which pressed this duty upon the young man equally recommend it to us; if we neglect it, we are equally unreasonable with him who went away sorrowfu).
Let those who are startled at this doctrine, and think it unnecessary now, deal faithfully with their own hearts, and ask themselves, whether they should not have had the same dislike of it had they lived in our Saviour's days? or whether they can find any one reason why they should have been so spiritual and heavenly then, which is not as good and as strong a reason for their being as spiritual and heavenly now.
Let them consider whether if an apostle was to rise from the dead, calling all rich men to this doctrine, they would not drive their coaches from such a preacher rather than be saved at such a price.
To proceed: If this selling all, this renunciation of worldly wealth, was not required for the excellency of the duty, and its suitableness to the spirit of Christianity, it will be hard to show a reason why such voluntary self-denial, such renunciation of one's own enjoyments, such persecutions of one's self, should be required at a time when Christianity exposed its members to such uncommon hatred and persecution from other people.
Our Saviour allowed his disciples, when they should fall under persecution, to flee from one city
to another; though they were to be as harmless as doves, yet he commanded them to be as wise as serpents.
If therefore the enjoyment of riches had been a thing that had suited with his religion, was not a renunciation of all worldly wealth, a temper necessary, and never to be dispensed with; one would suppose, that it would least of all have been imposed at a time when there were so many other unavoidable burdens to be undergone.
Since therefore this forsaking and renouncing all by our own act and deed; since this degree of selfdenial and self-persecution was commanded at a time when all the world were enemies to Christians; since they were not then spared or indulged in any pleasurable enjoyments of their worldly wealth, but were to add this instance of suffering to all the sufferings from their enemies; we may be sure that it was required because it was a necessary duty; because it was a proper behaviour of such as were born of God, and made heirs of eternal glory.
If this he true, then it must be owned, that it is still the same necessary duty, and is now as well that proper behaviour of those who are the sons of God, as ever it was.
For Christianity is just that same spiritual heavenly state that it was then; the dignity of Christians has suffered no alteration since that time, and a treasure in heaven, an eternal happiness, are still the same great and important things.
A Continuation of the same Subject.
foregoing chapter is not barely founded on those
particular texts there considered, but that the same spirit of renouncing the world, is the most common and repeated subject of our Saviour's heavenly instructions.
A certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And
Luke ix. 57, Jesus said unto him, the foxes have
58. holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head.
Another also said, Lord, I will follou thee, but let me first go bid them farewell that are at home at my house.
And Jesus said unto him, no man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
These passages are all of a kind with what our Saviour said to the young man; they directly teach that same renunciation of the world, as the first and principal temper, the very soul and essence of Christianity.
This doctrine is pressed and urged upon us by various ways, by every art of teaching, that it might enter into the heart of every reader.
The kingdom of God, saith our Saviour, is like unto a merchant-man seeking goodly Mat. xiii. 45. pearls, who when he had found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it.
The doctrine of this parable needs no interpretation, it is plain and strong, and presses home the advice that our Saviour gave to the rich young man.
When it says, that the kingdom of God is a pearl of great price, I suppose it means, that a great deal is to be given for it; and when it says, that the merchant went and sold all that he had and bought it, I suppose this is to teach us, that it cannot be bought at any less price.
The modern Jews would be upon much easier
terms than those who lived in our Saviour's days, if we can now tell them that the kingdom of God is no longer like one pearl of great price, and that they need not sell all that they have and buy it, but may go on seeking pearls as they used to do, and yet be good members of the kingdom of God.
Now if we may not preach such a new Gospel as this to the present Jews, I do not know how we can preach it to Christians.
This parable does not suppose, that the merchant went to trading again, after he had sold all, and bought this pearl of great price. He was content with that, and did not want any other riches.
If the kingdom of God is not riches sufficient for us, but we must add another greatness, and another wealth to it, we fall under the condemnation of this. parable.
To proceed: The peaceful, pleasurable enjoy-. ment of riches, is a state of life every where con.. demned by our blessed Saviour.
Woe unto you that are full, for yę Luke vi. 25.. shall hunger; woe unto you that laugh now, for ye shall weep and mourn.
If we can think, that for all this, the joys of prosperity, and the gay pleasures of plenty, are the allowed enjoyments of Christians, we must have done wondering at the blindness and hardness of the Jews' hearts.
Woe unto you that are rich, for ye have received your consolation! It is not said, woe unto you that are rich, for ye have enriched yourselves by evil arts and unlawful means, but it is the bare enjoya. ment, the consolation that is taken in riches, to which this woe is threatened.
This same doctrine is pressed upon us by a remarkable parable, so plain and lively, that one would think that every Christian that has heard it, should be afraid of every thing that looked like self-indulgence or expense in his own pleasures and pride.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.
And there was a certain poor beggar, named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
It came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried, and in
Luke xvi. hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
This parable teaches neither more nor less than what our Saviour taught, when he commanded the young man to sell all that he had. For it is the bare pleasurable enjoyment, the living in the usual delights of a great fortune, that the parable condemneth. Here is no injustice, no villainies or extortions laid to his charge, it is only a life of splendor and indulgence, that leaves him in hell.
This we are farther taught by Abraham's answer to him, Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things: this is alleged as the sole reason of his being in torments.
It is to be observed that nothing is mentioned of Lazarus but his low and afflicted state, and then it is he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
Can any thing more plainly show us the impossibility of enjoying mammon while we live, and God when we die? A rich man enjoying the pleasures of riches, is for that reason found in torments; a beggar, patiently bearing want, is for that reason made the care of angels, and conducted to Abraham's bosom.
Does not this manifestly teach us that same renunciation of worldly enjoyments, as if we had been expressly required to part with all that we