SERMON 82-THE DANGER OF RICHES. -John Wesley
"They that will be rich fell into temptation and a snare, and into
many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction
and perdition."1 Timothy 6:9.
1.HOW innumerable are the ill consequences which have followed from
men’s not knowing, or not considering, this great truth! And how few are
there even in the Christian world, that either know or duly consider it!
Yea. how small is the number of those, even among real Christians, who
understand and lay it to heart! Most of these too pass it very lightly over,
scarce remembering there is such a text in the Bible. And many put such a
construction upon it, as makes it of no manner of effect. "They that will
be rich," say they, "that is, will be rich at all events; who will be rich, right
or wrong; that are resolved to carry their point, to compass this end,
whatever means they use to attain it; ‘they fall into temptation’ and into
all the evils enumerated by the Apostle." But truly if this were all the
meaning of the text, it might as well have been out of the Bible.
2. This is so far from being the whole meaning of the text, that it is no part
of its meaning. The Apostle does not here speak of gaining riches unjustly,
but of quite another thing: His words are to be taken in their plain obvious
sense, without any restriction or qualification whatsoever. St. Paul does
not say, "They that will be rich by evil means, by theft, robbery,
oppression, or extortion; "they that will be rich by fraud; or dishonest
art;" but simply, "They that will be rich:" These, allowing, supposing the
means they use to be ever so innocent, "fall into temptation and a snare,
and into many foolish and hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction
3. But who believes that? Who receives it as the truth of God? Who is
deeply convinced of it? Who preaches this; Great is the company of
preachers at this day, regular and irregular; but who of them all, openly.10
and explicitly, preaches this strange doctrine? It is the keen observation of
a great man, "The pulpit is the preacher’s strong-hold." But who even in
his stronghold has the courage to declare so unfashionable a truth? I do not
remember that in threescore years I have heard one sermon preached upon
this subject. And what author, within the same term, has declared it from
the press? at least, in the English tongue? I do not know one. I have neither
seen nor heard of any such author. I have seen two or three who just touch
upon it; but none that treats of it professedly. I have myself frequently
touched upon it in preaching, and twice in what I have published to the
world: Once in explaining our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount, and once in
the discourse on the "Mammon of unrighteousness;" but I have never yet
either published or preached any sermon expressly upon the subject. It is
high time I should; — that I should at length speak as strongly and
explicitly as I can, in order to leave a full and clear testimony behind me,
whenever it pleases God to call me hence.
4. O that God would give me to speak right and forcible words; and you to
receive them in honest and humble hearts! Let it not be said, "They sit
before thee as my people, and they hear thy words; but they will not do
them. Thou art unto them as one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play
well on an instrument; for they hear thy words, but do them not!" O that
ye may "not be forgetful hearers, but doers of the word," that ye may be
"blessed in your Need!" In this hope I shall endeavor,
I. To explain the Apostle’s words. And,
II. To apply them.
But, O! "who is sufficient for these things?" Who is able to stem the
general torrent? to combat all the prejudices, not only of the vulgar, but of
the learned and the religious world? Yet nothing is too hard for God! Still
his grace is sufficient for us. In his name then, and by his strength, I will
To explain the words of the Apostle..11
1. And, First, let us consider, what it is to be rich. What does the Apostle
mean by this expression?
The preceding verse fixes the meaning of that: "Having food and raiment,"
(literally coverings; for the word includes lodging as well as clothes,) "let
us be there with content." "But they that will be rich;" that is, who will
have more than these; more than food and coverings. It plainly follows,
what ever is more than these is, in the sense of the Apostle, riches;
whatever is above the plain necessaries, or at most conveniences, of life.
Whoever has sufficient food to eat, and raiment to put on, with a place
where to lay his head, and something over, is rich.
2. Let us consider, Secondly, What is implied in that expression, "They
that will be rich?" And does not this imply, First, they that desire to be
rich, to have more than food and coverings; they that seriously and
deliberately desire more than food to eat, and raiment to put on, and a
place where to lay their head, more than the plain necessaries and
conveniences of life? All, at least, who allow themselves in this desire,
who see no harm in it, desire to be rich.
3. And so do, Secondly, all those that calmly, deliberately, and of set
purpose, endeavor after more than food and coverings; that aim at and
endeavor after, not only so much worldly substance as will procure them
the necessaries and conveniences of life, but more than this, whether to lay
it up, or lay it out in superfluities. All these undeniably prove their "desire
to be rich," by their endeavors after it.
4. Must we not, Thirdly, rank among those that desire to be rich, all that,
in fact, "lay up treasures on earth?" a thing as expressly and clearly
forbidden by our Lord, as either adultery or murder. It is allowed,
(1.) That we are to provide necessaries and conveniences for those of
our own household:
(2.) That men in business are to lay up as much as is necessary for the
carrying on of that business:
(3.) That we are to leave our children what will supply them with
necessaries and conveniences after we have left the world: And,.12
(4.) That we are to provide things honest in the sight of all men, so as
to "owe no man anything:" But to lay up any more, when this is done,
is what your Lord has flatly forbidden.
When it is calmly and deliberately done, it is a clear proof of our desiring
to be rich. And thus to lay up money is no more consistent with a good
conscience, than to throw it into the sea.
5. We must rank among them, Fourthly, all who possess more. of this
world’s goods, than they use according to the will of the Donor: I should
rather say, of the Proprietor; for he only lends them to us as Stewards;
reserving the property of them to himself. And, indeed, he cannot possibly
do other wise, seeing they are the work of his hands; he is, and must be,
the possessor of heaven and earth. This is his unalienable right; a right he
cannot divest himself of. And together with that portion of his goods
which he hath lodged in our hands, he has delivered to us a writing,
specifying the purposes for which he has intrusted us with them. It;
therefore, we keep more of them in our hands than is necessary for the
preceding purposes, we certainly fill under the charge of "desiring to be
rich:" Over and above, we are guilty of burying our Lord’s talent in the
earth; and on that account are liable to be pronounced wicked, because
6. Under this imputation of "desiring to be rich," fall, Fifthly, all "lovers
of money." The word properly means, those that delight in money; those
that take unpleasure in it; those that seek their happiness therein; that
brood over their gold or silver, bills or bonds. Such was the man described
by the fine Roman painter, who broke out in that natural soliloquy: —
Populus me sibilat, al mihi plaudo
Ipse domi simul ac nummos contemplor in arca.f1
If there are any vices which are not natural to man, I should imagine this is
one; as money of itself does not seem to gratify any natural desire or
appetite of the human mind; and as, during an observation of sixty years, I
do not remember one instance of a man given up to the love of money, till
he had neglected to employ this precious talent according to the will of his
Master. After this, sin was punished by sin; and this evil spirit was
permitted to enter into him..13
7. But beside this gross sort of covetousness, the love of money, there is a
more refined species of covetousness, mentioned by the great Apostle, —
pleonexia — which literally means, a desire of having more; more than
we have already. And those also come under the denomination of "they
that will be rich" It is true that this desire, under proper restrictions, is
innocent; nay, commendable. But when it exceeds the bounds, (and how
difficult is it not to exceed them!) then it comes under the present censure.
8. But who is able to receive these hard sayings? Who can believe that
they are the great truths of God? Not many wise not many noble, not
many famed for learning; none, indeed, who are not taught of God, And
who are they whom God teaches? Let our Lord answer: "If any man be
willing to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God."
Those who are otherwise minded will be so far from receiving, it, that they
will not be able to understand it. Two as sensible men as most in England
sat down together, some time since, to read over and consider that plain
discourse on, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth." After
much deep considerations one of them broke out, "Positively, I cannot
understand it. Pray do yet understand it, Mr. L.?" Mr. L. honestly replied,
"Indeed, not I. I cannot conceive what Mr. W. means. I can make nothing
at all of it." So utterly blind is our natural understanding touching the truth
9. Having explained the former part of the text, "They that will be rich,"
and pointed out, in the clearest manner I could, the persons spoken of; I
will now endeavor, God being my helper, to explain what is spoken of
them: "They fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and
hurtful desires, which drown men in destruction and perdition."
"They fall into temptation." This seems to mean much more than simply,
they are tempted. They enter into the temptation: They fall plump down
into it. The waves of it compass them about, and cover them all over. Of
those who thus enter into temptation, very few escape out of it. And the
few that do are sorely scorched by it, though not utterly consumed. If
they escape at all, it is with the skin of their teeth, and with deep wounds
that are not easily healed.
10. They fall, Secondly, into "a snare," the snare of the devil, which he
hath purposely set in their way. I believe the Greek word properly means.14
a gin, a steel trap, which shows no appearance of danger. But as soon as
any creature touches the spring, it suddenly closes; and either crushes its
bones in pieces, or consigns it to inevitable ruin.
11. They fall, Thirdly, "into many foolish and hurtful desires;" anohtouv,
— silly, senseless fantastic; as contrary to reason, to sound understanding,
as they are to religion: Hurtful, both to body and soul, tending to weaken,
yea, destroy, every gracious and heavenly temper: Destructive of that
faith which is of the operation of God; of that hope which is full of
immortality; of love to God and to our neighbor, and of every good word
12. But what desires are these? This is a most important question, and
deserves the deepest consideration.
In general, they may all be summed up in one, the desiring happiness out
of God. This includes directly, or remotely, every foolish and hurtful
desire. St. Paul expresses it by "loving the creature more than the Creator;"
and by being "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God." In particular,
they are, (to use the exact and beautiful enumeration of St. John,) "the
desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, and the pride of life;" all of
which, the desire of riches naturally tends both to beget and to increase.
13. "The desire of the flesh" is generally understood in far too narrow a
meaning. It does not, as is commonly supposed, refer to one of the senses
only; but takes in all the pleasures of sense, the gratification of any of the
outward senses. It has reference to the taste in particular. How many
thousands do we find at this day, in whom the ruling principle is, the
desire to enlarge the pleasure of tasting! Perhaps they do not gratify this
desire in a gross manner, so as to incur the imputation of intemperance;
much less so as to violate health or impair their understanding by gluttony
or drunkenness: But they live in a genteel, regular sensuality; in an elegant
epicurism, which does not hurt the body, but only destroys the soul;
keeping it at a distance from all true religion.
14. Experience shows that the imagination is gratified chiefly by means of
the eye: Therefore, "The desire of the eyes," in its natural sense, is, the
desiring and seeking happiness in gratifying the imagination. Now, the
imagination is gratified either by grandeur, by beauty, or by novelty:.15
Chiefly by the last; for neither grand nor beautiful objects please any
longer than they are new.
15. Seeking happiness in learning, of whatever kind, falls under "the desire
of the eyes;" whether it be in history, languages, poetry, or any branch of
natural or experimental philosophy: Yea, we must include the several
kinds of learning, such as Geometry, Algebra, and Metaphysics. For if our
supreme delight be in any of these, we are herein gratifying "the desire of
16. "The pride of life" (whatever else that very uncommon expression, h
alazoneiz tou biou, may mean) seems to imply chiefly, thedesire of
honor; of the esteem, admiration, and applause of men; as nothing more
directly tends both to beget and cherish pride than the honor that cometh
of men. And as riches attract much admiration, and occasion much
applause, they proportionally minister food for pride, and so may also be
referred to this head.
17. Desire of ease is another of these foolish and hurtful desires; desire of
avoiding every cross, every degree of trouble, danger, difficulty; a desire of
slumbering out life, and going to heaven (as the vulgar say) upon a
feather-bed. Every one may observe how riches first beget, and then
confirm and increase, this desire, making men more and more soft and
delicate; more unwilling, and indeed more unable, to "take up their cross
daily;" to "endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ," and to "take
the kingdom of heaven by violence."
18. Riches, either desired or possessed, naturally lead to some or other of
these foolish and hurtful desires; and, by affording the means of gratifying
them all, naturally tend to increase them. And there is a near connection
between unholy desires, and every other unholy passion and temper. We
easily pass from these to pride, anger, bitterness, envy, malice,
revengefulness; to an headstrong, unadvisable, unreprovable spirit: Indeed,
to every temper that is earthly, sensual, or devilish. All these, the desire or
possession of riches naturally tends to create, strengthen, and increase.
19. And by so doing, in the same proportion as they prevail, they "pierce
men through with many sorrows;" sorrows from remorse, from a guilty
conscience; sorrows flowing from all the evil tempers which they inspire.16
or increase; sorrows inseparable from those desires themselves, as every
unholy desire is an uneasy desire; and sorrows from the contrariety of
those desired to each other, whence it is impossible to gratify them all.
And, in the end; "they drown" the body in pain, disease, "destruction,"
and the soul in everlasting "perdition."
1. I am, in the Second place, to apply what has been said. And this is the
principal point. For what avails the clearest knowledge, even of the most
excellent things, even if the things of God, if it go no farther than
speculation if it be not reduced to practice? He that hath ears to hear, let
him hear! And what he hears, let him instantly put in practice. O that God
would give me the thing which I long for! that, before I go hence and am no
more seen, I may see a people wholly devoted to God, crucified to the
world, and the world crucified to them; a people truly given up to God, in
body, soul, and substance! How cheerfully should I then say, "Now
lettest thou thy servant depart in peace!"
2. I ask, then, in the name of God, Who of you "desire to be rich?" Which
of you (ask your own hearts in the sight of God) seriously and deliberately
desire (and perhaps applaud yourselves for so doing, as no small instance
of your prudence) to have more than food to eat, and raiment to put on,
and a house, to cover you? Who of you desires to have more than the plain
necessaries and conveniences of life? Stop! Consider! What are you doing?
Evil is before you! Will you rush upon the point of a sword? By the grace
of God, turn and live!
3. By the same authority I ask, Who of you are endeavoring to be rich? So
procure for yourselves more than the plain necessaries and conveniences
of life? Lay, each of you, your hand to your heart, and seriously inquire,
Am I of that number? Am I laboring, not only for what I want, but for
more than I want?" May the Spirit of God say to every one whom it
concerns, "Thou art the man!"
4. I ask, Thirdly, Who of you are, in fact, "laying, up for yourselves
treasures upon earth?" increasing in goods? adding, as fast as you can,
house to house, and field to field! As long as thou thus "doest well unto.17
thyself, men will speak good of thee." They will call thee a wise, a prudent
man! a man that minds the main chance. Such is, and always has been, the
wisdom of the world! But God saith unto thee, "Thou fool!" art thou not
‘treasuring up to thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of
the righteous judgment of God!’"
5. Perhaps you will ask, "But do not you yourself advise, to gain all we
can, and to save all we can? And is it possible to do this, without both
desiring and endeavoring to be rich? nay, suppose our endeavors are
successful, without actually, laying up treasures upon earth?"
I answer, It is possible. You may gain all you can, without hurting either
your soul or body; you may save all you can, by carefully avoiding every
needless expense; and yet never lay up treasures on earth, nor either desire
or endeavor so to do.
6. Permit me to speak as freely of myself as I would of any other man. I
gain all I can (namely, by writing) without hurting, either my soul or
body. I save all I can, not willingly wasting anything, not a sheet of paper,
not a cup of water, I do not lay out anything, not a shilling, unless as a
sacrifice to God. Yet by giving all I can, I am effectually secured from
"laying up treasures upon earth." Yea, and I am secure from either desiring
or endeavoring, it, as long as I give all I can. And that I do this, I call all
that know me, both friends and foes, to testify.
7. But some may say, "Whether you endeavor it or no, you are undeniably
rich. You have more than the necessaries of life." I have. But the Apostle
does not fix the charge, barely on possessing any quantities of goods, but
on possessing more than we employ according to the will of the Donor.
Two-and-forty years ago, having a desire to furnish poor people with
cheaper, shorter, and plainer books than any I had seen, I wrote many
small tracts, generally a penny apiece; and afterwards several larger. Some
of these had such a sale as I never thought of; and, by this means, I
unawares became rich. But I never desired or endeavored after it. And now
that it is come upon me unawares, I lay up no treasures upon earth: I lay
up nothing at all. My desire and endeavor, in this respect, is, to "wind my
bottom round the year. — I cannot help leaving my books behind me.18
whenever God calls me hence; but, in every other respect, my own hands
will be my executors.
8. Herein, my brethren, let you that are rich, be even as I am. Do you that
possess more than food and raiment, ask, "What shall we do? Shall we
throw into the sea what God hath given us?" God forbid that you should!
It is an excellent talent: It may be employed much, to the glory of God.
Your way lies plain, before your face; if you have courage, walk in it.
Having gained, in, a right sense, all you can, and saved all you can; in spite
of nature, and custom, and worldly prudence, give all you can. I do not
say, "Be a good Jew giving a tenth of all you possess." I do not say, "Be a
good Pharisee; giving a fifth of all your substance." I dare not advise you
to give half of what you have; no, nor three quarters; but all! Lift up your
hearts, and you will see clearly, in what sense this is to be done. If you
desire to be "a faithful and a wise steward," out of that portion of your
Lord’s goods which he has for the present lodged in your hands, but with
the right of resumption whenever it pleaseth him,
(1.) Provide things needful for yourself; food to eat, raiment to put on;
whatever nature moderately requires, for preserving you both in health
(2.) Provide these for your wife, your children, your servants, or any
others who pertain to your household.
If, when this is done, there is an overplus left, then do good to "them that
are of the household of faith." If there be an overplus still, "as you have
opportunity, do good unto all men." In so doing, you give all you can;
nay, in a sound sense, all you have. For all that is laid out in this manner,
is really given to God. You render unto God the things that are God’s, not
only by what you give to the poor, but also by that which you expend in
providing things needful for yourself and your household.f2
9. O ye Methodists, hear the word of the Lord! I have a message from
God to all men, but to you above all. For above forty years I have been a
servant to you and to your fathers. And I have not been as a reed shaken
with the wind: I have not varied in my testimony. I have testified to you
the very same thing, from the first day even until now. But "who hath
believed our report?" I fear, not many rich: I fear there is need to apply to.19
some of you those terrible words of the Apostle, "Go to now, ye rich
men! weep and howl for the miseries which shall come upon you. Your
gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall witness against you,
and shall eat your flesh, as it were fire." Certainly it will, unless ye both
save all you can, and give all you can. But who of you hath considered
this, since you first heard the will of the Lord concerning it? Who is now
determined to consider and practice it? By the grace of God, begin to day!
10. O ye lovers of money, hear the word of the Lord. Suppose ye that
money, though multiplied as the sand of the sea, can give happiness? Then
you are "given up to a strong delusion to believe a lie;" — a palpable lie,
confuted daily by a thousand experiments. Open your eyes! Look all
around you! Are the richest men the happiest? Have those the largest
share of content who have the largest possessions? Is not the very reverse
true? Is it not a common observation, that the richest of men are in general,
the most discontented, the most miserable? Had not the far greater part of
them more content, when they had less money? Look into your own
breasts. If you are increased in goods, are you proportionably increased in
happiness? You have more substance; but have you more content? You
know that in seeking happiness from riches, you are only striving to drink
out of empty cups. And let them be painted and gilded ever so finely, they
are empty still.
11. O ye that desire or endeavor to be rich, hear ye the word of the Lord!
Why should ye be stricken any more? Will not even experience teach you
wisdom? Will ye leap into a pit with your eyes open? Why should you
any more "fall into temptation?" It cannot be but temptation will beset
you, as long as you are in the body. But though it should beset you on
every side, why will you enter into it? There is no necessity for this: It is
your own voluntary act and deed. Why should you any more plunge
yourselves into a snare, into the trap Satan has laid for you that is ready
to break your bones in pieces? to crush your soul to death? After fair
warning, why should you sink any more into "foolish and hurtful
desires?" desires as inconsistent with reason as they are with religion
itself; desires that have done you more hurt already than all the treasures
upon earth can countervail..20
12. Have they not hurt you already, have they not wounded you in the
tenderest part, by slackening, if not utterly destroying, your "hunger and
thirst after righteousness?" Have you now the same longing that you had
once, for the whole image of God? Have you the same vehement desire as
you formerly had, of "going on unto perfection?" Have they not hurt you
by weakening your faith? Have you now faith’s "abiding impression,
realizing things to come?" Do you endure, in all temptations, from
pleasure or pain, "seeing Him that is invisible?" Have you everyday, and
every hour, an uninterrupted sense of his presence? Have they not hurt
you with regard to your hope? Have you now a hope full of immortality?
Are you still big with earnest expectation of all the great and precious
promises? Do you now "taste the powers of the world to come?" Do you
"sit in heavenly places with Christ Jesus?"
13. Have they not so hurt you, as to stab your religion to the heart? Have
they not cooled (if not quenched) your love to God? This is easily
determined. Have you the same delight in God which you once had? Can
you now say,
I nothing want beneath, above;
Happy, happy in thy love?
I fear not. And if your love of God is in anywise decayed, so is also your
love of your neighbor. You are then hurt in the very life and spirit of your
religion! If you lose love, you lose all.
14. Are not you hurt with regard to your humility? If you are increased in
goods, it cannot well be otherwise. Many will think you a better, because
you are a richer, man: And how can you help thinking so yourself?
especially, considering the commendations which some will give you in
simplicity, and many will a design to serve themselves of you.
If you are hurt in your humility, it will appear by this token: You are not
so teachable as you were, not so advisable; you are not so easy to be
convinced, not so easy to be persuaded; you have a much better opinion of
your own judgment and are more attached to your own will. Formerly, one
might guide you with a thread; now one cannot turn you with a cart rope.
You were glad to be admonished, or reproved; but that time is past. And
you now account a man your enemy because he tells you the truth. O let
each of you calmly consider this, and see if it be not your own picture!.21
15. Are you not equally hurt, with regard to your meekness? You had once
learned an excellent lesson of him that was meek as well as lowly in heart.
When you were reviled, you reviled not again. You did not return railing
for railing, but contrariwise blessing. Your love was not provoked, but
enabled you on all occasions to overcome evil with good. Is this your case
now? I am afraid, not. I fear you cannot; "hear all things" Alas, it may
rather be said, you can bear nothing; no injury, nor even affluent! How
quickly are you ruffled! How readily does that occur, What! to use me so!
What insolence is this! How did be dare to do it? I am not now what I was
once. Let him know, I am now able to defend myself." You mean, to
revenge yourself. And it is much, if you are not willing, as well as able; if
you do not take your fellow-servant by the throat.
16. And are you not hurt in your patience too? Does your love now
endure all things? "Do you still in patience possess your soul," as when
you first believed? O what a change is here! You have again learned to be
frequently out of humor. You are often fretful; you feel, nay, and give way
to, peevishness. You find abundance of things go so cross, that you cannot
tell how to bear them.
Many years ago I was sitting, with a gentleman in London, who feared
God greatly, and generally gave away, year by year, nine tenths of his
yearly income. A servant came in and threw some coals on the fire. A puff
of smoke came out. The baronet threw himself back in his chair and cried
out, "O Mr. Wesley, these are the crosses I meet with daily!" Would he
not have been less impatient, if he had had fifty, instead of five thousand,
pounds a year?
17. But to return are not you who have been successful in your endeavors
to increase in substance, insensibly sunk into softness of mind, if not of
body too? You no longer rejoice to "endure hardship as good soldiers of
Jesus Christ." You no longer "rush into the kingdom of heaven, and take it
as by storm." You do not cheerfully and gladly "deny yourselves, and take
up your cross daily?" You cannot deny yourself the poor pleasure of a
little sleep, or of a soft bed, in order to hear the word that is able to save
your souls! Indeed, you cannot go out so early in the morning; besides it is
dark, nay, cold, perhaps rainy too. Cold, darkness, rain, all these together,
— I can never think of it." You did not say so when you were a poor man..22
You then regarded none of these things. It is the change of circumstances
which has occasioned this melancholy change in your body and mind you
are but the shadow of what you were! What have riches done for you?
"But it cannot be expected I should do as I have done. For I am now
grown old." Am not I grown old as well as you? Am not I in my
seventy-eighth year? Not, by the grace of God, I do not slack my pace
yet. Neither would you, if you were a poor man still.
18. You are so deeply hurt, that you have nigh lost your zeal for works of
mercy, as well as of piety. You once pushed on, through cold or rain, or
whatever cross lay in your way, to see the poor, the sick, the distressed.
You went about doing good, and found out those who were not able to
find you. You cheerfully crept down into their cellars, and climbed up into
To supply all their wants,
And spend and be spent in assisting his saints.
You found out every scene of human misery, and assisted according to
Each form of woe your generous pity moved;
Your Savior’s face you saw, and, seeing, loved.
Do you now tread in the same steps? What hinders? Do you fear spoiling
your silken coat? Or is there another lion in the way? Are you afraid of
catching vermin? And are you not afraid lest the roaring lion should catch
you? Are you not afraid of Him that hath said, "Inasmuch as ye have not
done it unto the least of these, ye have not done it unto me?" What will
follow? "Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and
19. In time past, how mindful were you of that word, "Thou shalt, not
hate thy brother in thy heart: Thou shalt in anywise reprove thy brother,
and not suffer sin upon him!" You did reprove, directly or indirectly, all
those that sinned in your sight. And happy consequences quickly
followed. How good was a word spoken in season! It was often as an
arrow from the hand of a giant. Many a heart was pierced. Many of the
stout-hearted, who scorned to hear a sermon,.23
Fell down before his cross subdued,
And felt his arrows dipt in blood.
But which of you now has that compassion for the ignorant, and for them
that are out of the way? They may wander on for you, and plunge into the
lake of fire, without let or hindrance. Gold hath steeled your hearts. You
have something else to do.
Unhelp’d, unpitied let the wretches fall.
20.Thus have I given you, O ye gainers, lovers, possessors of riches, one
more (it may be the last) warning. O that it may not be in vain! May God
write it upon all your hearts! Though "it is easier for a camel to go through
the eve of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of
heaven," yet the things impossible with men are possible with God. Lord,
speak! and even the rich men that hear these words shall enter thy
kingdom, shall "take the kingdom of heaven by violence," shall "sell all for
the pearl of great price:" shall be "crucified to the world, and count all
things dung, that they may win Christ!"