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thee, comforted themselves in the same false SERM. manner, but they never thought the hour of II. reformation arrived; they were still for delaying it yet a little while longer, and were finally cut off with all their imperfections on their head. Whạt gross folly is this! How soon does this world pass away, and how quickly does even the very remembrance of us perish; whereas to that which is to come there is no end! Let us think of these things ; let us recollect that the kingdom of God is not to be got by seeking only; and when we remember of what infinite importance it is to us not to come short of it, let us resolve, and let us be steady to our resolutions, to be in the number of those who strive,
THE DANGERS OF RICHES AND POVERTY.
PROVERBS Xxx. 8, 9.
with food convenient for me, lest I be full,
This celebrated prayer of Agur is doubt- Ser M. less the dictate of true wisdom : the experience of all ages has determined that it is the middle station of life which is most favourable both to virtue and to happiness, and consequently, if we had the power of VOL. I.
SERM. deciding for ourselves, it is on this middle
state that every prudent man would fix his choice.
But as our conditions are allotted to us by a greater power than we can control, as it is not easy for those in the higher ranks to put off their greatness, and to descend from their elevation; and as it is still more difficult for the lower ranks to ascend, a great part of mankind must necessarily pass their days in one extreme or the other; it may therefore be useful for us to enquire what are the principal temptations to vice, to which cach are liable; and what the impediments to happiness, which each throws in
- Give me not riches,” says Agur in his petition to the Almighty, « lest abundance incite me to deny thee, and to say, who is the Lord? Give me not poverty, lest I be driven by want to acts of dishonesty, and to murmurs against thee and thy pro
vidence.” Agur therefore builds his prayer SERM. for mediocrity, on the opposite dangers to
III. which riches and poverty are exposed. I will examine into the truth of these dangers, and if I find them really to exist, will endeavour to suggest some considerations and arguments which may serve to counteract them.
And first, it is inferred that riches beget self-sufficiency, a fancied independence, and a denial or forgetfulness of God. The inference receives but too much confirmation from experience.
The eminence to which the rich man is exalted above his fellows, the obsequiousness and Aattery which greatness procures, and the rent state of independance, which it creates, are dangerous adversaries to virtue: he who imagines that he feels no immediate want of the divine bounty, or of the assistance of his brethren, is too ready to ascribe his prosperity to his own deserts, is too D 2
and the appa