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away. For that ye ought to fay; If the Lord will, we shall do this or that. But now ye rejoice in your boaftings: all fuch rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not; to him it is fin.
Thefe words comprehend feveral leffons highly important in themselves, and closely connected with each other. My intention is to set them before you in order; and to apply them, one by one, under the bleffing of God, to your edification.
I. Go to now, ye that fay; "To-day, or tomorrow, we will go into fuch a city; and con"tinue there a year, and buy and fell, and get gain." In this paffage St. James directs his reproof against that disposition so common among men, to form diftant and prefumptuous plans. Did you know nothing more concerning human life than is to be collected from the ordinary language which resounds in our dwellings and our streets; you might conclude that every circumftance in this world is capable of being fixed and settled beforehand by us almoft, if not altogether, to a certainty. You hear men expreffing their purposes respecting their future proceedings in terms, which scarcely admit the fuppofition that there can be any doubt whether the scheme
scheme on which they meditate will be accomplished. If a person mentions a journey which he propofes to undertake fome months hence; how ufual is it for him to speak of it as though it were an affair placed wholly within his own power, and to be decided merely by his own inclination. If fickness, or fome other change of circumftances, prevent him from executing his defign: how ready is he to give way to fretfulness, and to adopt the language of disappointment; as though he had experienced fome ftrange and unusual event contrary to the natural course of juft expectations. Others you hear speaking in terms equally confident concerning projects ftill more distant. One perfon informs you, that when he shall have employed two or three future years in making himself master of his trade or profeffion at the place where he now refides; he fhall remove to fuch a town, or into the neighbourhood of fuch a manufactory, where like others before him, he shall speedily acquire a fortune. Another obferves, that after he fhall have conducted his business until his children, who are now fcarcely advanced beyond infancy, are able to take the management of it upon themselves; he fhall then withdraw from the concern, and shall enjoy himfelf in leisure and retirement. Another wearies
wearies you with a detail of the alterations
which he avers that, but for the grace of God with whom all things are poffible, they would prove themselves infuperable obftacles in the path of falvation, I have already had occafion to refer. At another time he describes riches by the names of the Mammon of unrighteoufnefs, the unrighteous Mammon; because they are so continually abused to purposes of unrighteoufnefs, to covetousness, to pride, to diffipation, to fenfuality, to corruption. Yet on this dangerous acquisition what multitudes fet their hearts! The hope of obtaining wealth, or of indulging in the enjoyment of it, enfnares men into forgetfulness of God, into difregard of falvation, into guilty enterprises and purfuits, into deliberate fraud and open violence and is one of the principal causes of that daring felf-dependence, that proud fecurity, which encourages them prefumptuously to form schemes of distant execution, to utter great fwelling words of vanity, and to triumph long beforehand in the fuppofed accomplishment of their extravagant expectations, as though they were themfelves entrusted with the management of earth and its concerns, and exalted beyond the reach of opposition from their fellow-creatures and of control from above.
II. The next obfervation furnished by the text proves the extreme folly of fuch prefumption. Fe know not what shall be on the morFor what is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanifbeth away. Take thine cafe; faid the rich man to his foul. Thou haft much goods laid up for many years. Eat, drink, and be merry. But what faid God? Thou fool! This night fhall thy foul be required of thee (d). Suppose your plans free from thofe caufes of failure, which the world, willing as it were to exclude God from the government of his own works, denominates accidental events. Suppofe every precaution which prudence can devife to have been adopted for the furtherance of your defigns. Suppose fortune, as the phrase is, to fmile upon you. Suppose every thing, to speak after the manner of men, to turn out well. Have you any certainty of the fulfilment of your wishes? Have you the flighteft affurance that you have in reality advanced one ftep towards the attainment of your object? "I look not forward," your reply," to distant years. The complete "fuccefs of my undertaking is close at hand. "To-morrow it will be within my grafp." Boaft not thyself of to-morrow: for thou knowest (d) Luke, xii. 19, 20. Y 3