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anxiously sought by all classes of mankind, is too manifest to admit of a moment's doubt. We not only feel the influence of this inordinate desire in our own hearts; but we discover evidences of the same unhappy temper on every side, engaging men in wearisome labours, in perilous undertakings, and not unfrequently in nefarious practices, with the sole design of increasing their wealth, and advancing their interests in the world. If the Scriptures had pronounced an extraordinary blessing upon the rich; or if the inspired penmen had solemnly urged us to the adoption of every means, which might most contribute to the promotion of our honours and emoluments, among men; we could hardly expect to find a greater degree of earnestness after wealth and rank than is every day manifested by all around us. But when it is recollected, that the whole weight and influence of the holy Scriptures are employed to a directly opposite purpose, depreciating the importance of all earthly possessions, pointing out the deceitfulness and danger of riches, and anxiously guarding us against all the poor and perishing delusions of time and sense—when this is
recollected, it must be allowed, that the common practice of mankind affords one of the strongest proofs of the perverseness and depravity of the human mind, that can possibly be imagined.
In our Lord's sermon on the mount, among many other most impressive passages, we find the following admonition—Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven : for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. And on another occasion we hear him speaking thus—How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. In St. Paul's first epistle to Timothy we also meet with the following memorable passage—They that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Now the generality of Christians appear never to have discovered, that such passages as these have a place in the sacred volume. Thus much, at least, is certain, that they never counted these expressions worthy of serious consideration : otherwise they could not so openly and so shamelessly act in direct contrariety to the revealed will of God. But there is no part of Scripture that sets this matter in so strong and affecting a point of view as the passage now before us. Instead of employing arguments, and persuasions, and admonitions on this subject; our Lord here singles out one example of the sad and fatal effects of riches, presenting it before our eyes with all its awful and almost unavoidable accompaniments. And let it be remembered, that there is no ground to object, that the description is overcharged, or that the picture is overhung with too deep a shade; since our gracious Master himself, executed the piece, and left it for the serious contemplation of his people down to their latest generations.
Dives is represented as a man possessing great riches, and inheriting a very ample estate. And since he is evidently set forth as born to that inheritance, it must of course be understood that he was educated with a view to its possession. And here I cannot
but note, that the ordinary education of such young men as have great estates in prospect, is usually conducted in a way peculiarly unfavourable to a life of seriousness and piety. Instead of being taught to devote all their parts and powers to Him, from whose bounty they received them; instead of learning to study his word, to honour his name, and to seek his favour as their sovereign good—instead of all this, they are very early introduced to the world as a splendid sort of stage, on which they are to play a conspicuous part; and where they are to enjoy the plaudits of gazing multitudes. And in order to fit them for these gratifications, they are instructed to love the world and the things of the world, to adopt its maxims, to imitate its manners, and court its applause.
Now of such a course of instruction, it is obviously one of the natural and almost inevitable consequences, to debase the views, to inflame the ambition, and to foster the worst passions of those, who are unhappily subjected to such a mode of training. And it is most probable, that Dives came to his paternal inheritance bearing about him all the marks and characters of so defective an education. It is therefore by no means calculated to excite our surprise, that his after conduct in life was worthy of his introduction to it, made up, as we are informed it was, of pride and pomp, of luxury and selfindulgence, of delusion and folly.
Our Lord completes the character of this unhappy man in very few words—he was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day. The greater part of his history seems to have been made up
of these few insignificant things; that he was elegantly dressed, that he was splendidly lodged, and that he kept a profuse table, at which he was most likely accustomed to entertain visitants as vain, as luxurious, and as thoughtless as himself. In a word, he is presented to us as a perfect man of the world, just such a one as would make a distinguished figure in the fashionable circles of our own day. How long he was permitted to continue this extraordinary course of gaiety and extravagance, is not expressly stated : but the tenor of the parable almost