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may be strengthening its position in the citadel of the heart, and producing a wide separation between God and the soul. While there remains a semblance of devotion and the wonted regularity in observing its ordinances, this enemy may have acquired a firm possession ; and so complete, at length, may its mas. tery become, that the man under its influence shall lose every susceptibility of either spiritual or generous emotion.
The poor are as liable to indulge this vice as the rich. It does not consist, either in the act of acquiring, or of possessing wealth, but in placing the heart upon it; and that all are too apt to yield to it, is amply attested by the consciences of all, and by the declara. tions of the sacred oracles.
Covetousness leads to the commission of almost every crime: it is, as the Apostle declares, the root of all evil. The Scriptures hold up to our view its debasing influence on Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness :-on Judas, who, for thirty pieces of silver, sold his Divine Master :-on Demas, who deserted the ministry of the gospel, having loved this present world:-on Demetrius and his associates, who, for the sake of gain, zealously supported a system of idolatrous superstition. What instigates the murderer, in defiance of the authority of God and of his own conscience, to take away the life of a fellowcreature ? It is the inordinate desire of property. To the same cause we may trace all the crimes of the persons who render gaols and bridewells necessary ;theft, swindling, robbery, forgery, smuggling, perjury,
How perniciously is the influence of this vice felt in every situation of life! The poor, in particular, are often painfully made to feel it, by the medium of wicked balances, and deceitful weights : the rich, in the avaricious and unprincipled conduct of dependants, and those to whom they intrust their business: the young, in the worldly views and feelings of their parents, who pay far greater regard to the wealth of the persons with whom they lead them to form permanent connexions, than to their moral and religious worth ; and the aged, in the interested conduct of those around them, whose eyes are continually fixed on the advantages they are to derive from their death. It is covetousness that hardens the heart of the oppressor, and makes it insensible to the cries and the tears of the hapless victims of his inhumanity and cruelty. What calamity can happen, either in private or public life, which this vice does not aggravate, if it does not originate?
But in yielding to this passion, do not mankind give way to an illusion? How unsatisfactory and fleeting is all the good which gold can purchase? He who possessed it in rich abundance, and who procured by it all the gratifications which it can afford, has confessed, that all is vanity and vexation of spirit. Even when attained almost to the limit of our wishes, how uncertain is the possession ! « Riches make themselves wings, and fly away." Though the possession should be retained till death, how awful is the future and eternal condition of the person who has given his heart to mammon! After having spent a feverish, anxious, earthly life, in the neglect of all the great purposes for which life is bestowed, what is bis reward? He may have accumulated riches; and in this he gained the end of his pursuit : but he “shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Gold is thus purchased at a price of incalculable magnitude. Though the whole world were gained, it is at the expense of the soul : “and what shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?"
The effectual way of shutting out from our þearts the love of the world, is habitually to cherish the love of God. Were we ever endeavouring to enlarge our conceptions of his power, love, and all-sufficiency ;of the comparative worthlessness of whatever would alienate our affections from him ;-and of the true and eternal happiness to which he has called us to aspire, we should feel ourselves more at liberty to run in the way of the commandments. “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lyst of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever*.” To this apostolic exhortation I will add that of a distinguished prophet; " Beware, lest when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied, then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God; and thou say in thine heart, My power, and the might of mine
* 1 John ii. 16-20.
hand hath gotten me this wealth. But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth *."
ON THE LOVE OF POWER; OR, THE PRINCIPLE OF AMBITION.
This is another of the evils which are directly opposed to the virtue and happiness of man. Ambition is the inordinate desire of distinction generally, and, consequently, of those things by which distinction is obtained. It consists in the love of greater power, and in the effort to obtain it, than is actually possessed. The desires from which this passion originates are restless, importunate, and, when long indulged, absorb every other feeling, and engross the whole mind, Their sinfulness appears by the dissatisfaction and disobedience which they indicate in regard to God; their pernicious influence on the character and happiness of the individual who indulges them; and the misery of which they are productive in reference to society.
I. Ambition shews dissatisfaction and disobedience in regard to God. He has allotted to all the situation which each occupies, the enjoyment which it yields, and the respect which it secures. Being infinitely wise and good, this arrangement of his wisdom and goodness must be the best. But is it not an impeach
* Deut. viii. 11-17.
ment of this wisdom, and a disparagement of his goodness, to give way to impatience and discontent, and inordinately to desire the station, the influence, the blessings possessed by others? Is not this, partially at least, to withdraw our allegiance from God, and to assume an independence inconsistent with our character and circumstances as creatures ! It was by indulging the wish to become as gods, and to know good and evil, that sin was first introduced into the world; and it is by cherishing inordinate desire, that sin, in every case, originates.
It is unnecessary to say how incompatible this spirit is with the power and the practice of true religion. When it takes possession of the heart, the love and fear of God are excluded ; and a course of disobedience to the divine authority, and of rebellion against God, is already entered upon.
II. Let us notice the pernicious influence of ambition on the virtue and happiness of the man who indulges' it. The feelings of which it consists, and to which it gives rise, are directly opposed to both. These are dissatisfaction, envy, hatred, selfishness, feelings which it becomes more difficult to gratify, the more they are cherished.
How can the man who aims at setting himself loose from the direction and government of God,--and every ambitious man does so,-reasonably hope to secure to himself happiness? Is the object of his wishes political power :-though he should obtain all that he now ventures to desire, when he had reached the summit to which his view is now limited, would he not wish to climb the still higher eminence beyond ;