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this life, are prone to trust in them, to set their hearts upon them, and to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, because of their abundance. Against this it is needful to guard, since the enemy of souls is ever on the watch to make use of the things of this world for drawing away the hearts of men from that which is of infinitely greater moment than any thing that regards the present life.
Our Saviour warned His hearers in the parable of the sower, that there were those among them, who when they had heard the word of life from His lips would go forth, and be choked with the cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. Those professors of religion who have riches entrusted to them, have great need to watch and pray that they enter not into the temptations which the enemy of mankind will lay in their way to subvert or to destroy them; and to seek above all things to lay up treasure in heaven, to lay up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.6
In order to show the necessity of having our minds detached from these earthly enjoyments, a solemn consideration is brought before us in the text, namely, that the rich must quit their possessions, even if their riches
3 Rom. xii. 3. 4 Luke viii. 14. 5 Matt. xxvi. 41. 61Tim. vi. 19,17.
should not leave them.
This is intimated in
the words, when ye fail.
We must have done with
that we have in it.
There is but a step This consideration one
would think sufficient to repress the ardour of mankind in pursuing after the mammon of unrighteousness, and to lead them to think of what is beyond this mortal scene; especially as it is added, that when we fail, we shall be received
into our everlasting habitations. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. When we die, our eternal state is completely and irrevocably fixed. In that awful hour the immortal spirit, that quits the breathless corpse, departs either to the abode of its Creator and Father, God; or to that of its deceiver and father, the devil. Of the children of God, or believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is said, they shall enter into peace, they shall be at rest, they shall ever be with the Lord. But of the children of this world, although they may boast in the multitude of their riches, and make themselves strong in their wickedness, it is declared that, Though while he lived he blessed his soul, he flattered himself in his own eyes, he shall the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.10
The idea that the eternal state of mankind will be then unalterably fixed, is that on which the exhortation of the text is founded, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. The meaning of this exhortation was to be considered in the
Second place. From what has been observed we may conclude that the object of it is, that since we must die, and we know not how soon
7 Heb. ix. 27. Isa. lvii. 2. 91 Thess. iv. 17. 10 Psalm xlix. 6,18,19.
we may be called hence, and be no more seen; and since that solemn event will fix our state for ever, it becomes those who have worldly riches, which many abuse by an unrighteous application, to make to themselves friends by their means now, real friends, whose friendship shall last throughout eternity. Let them make the children of God their friends by the use of their riches, by doing good as they have opportunity, unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith." But let not any suppose, through a mistaken view of this exhortation of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the friendship of God is to be purchased with money, that He can be bribed to admit the rich into heaven. Oh! no. The Apostle Paul declared, Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.12 This may be done without having charity, or the love of God in the heart, and therefore be of no avail.
The meaning of the text may be illustrated by an occurrence in the life of our blessed Lord, which is related by St. Luke.13 A certain centurion's servant, who was dear unto him, was sick, and ready to die. And when he heard of Jesus, he sent unto Him the elders of the Jews, beseeching Him that He would come and heal his servant. And when
11 Galatians vi. 10. 12 Corinthians xiii. 3. 13 Luke vii. 2-5.
they came to Jesus, they besought Him instantly, saying, That he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue. This centurion, according to the language of our text, made himself friends by the mammon of unrighteousness. The Jews who applied on his behalf to the Lord Jesus Christ, were made his friends, because of the disinterested act of kindness which he had shown to them, by expending his worldly substance in the erection of a place of worship for their benefit, for the promotion of their religion; and they interested themselves in his favour, and went to Jesus, and urged Him to heal the servant of their benefactor.
The Apostle Paul makes use of an argument of the same kind to the Corinthians, when, exhorting them to a liberal contribution towards the necessities of the poor saints at Jerusalem, he says, The administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God, and by their prayer for you, which long after you, or earnestly desire your welfare, for the exceeding grace of God in you. The poor saints at Jerusalem, who partook of the bounty of these Gentile converts, were made their friends by means of it, and prayed to God for them, that the rich blessings of His grace might descend upon those who had sent them relief in their necessity.