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wherewith thou hast provoked me to anger, and made Israel to sin.”

Upon receiving this awful message, Ahab rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth; that is to say, he showed all the outward signs of humiliation and repentance. But there may be great remorse where there is no genuine contrition. This was his case: he had seen too much of the truth of Elijah's predictions to hope that this bitter curse would not be executed; so that his heart might well sink within him, and be filled with deadly fear and sorrow. But then, all that he felt was that sorrow of the world which worketh death: a sorrow for the punishment, not for the sin. We see him, indeed, terrified beyond measure at the sentence which was gone forth against him. But we do not hear him, like David, praying, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within meo.”

Nevertheless, as by his outward humiliation he did something to glorify God in the sight of Israel, the Almighty gave him much more than his deserts in return, by not destroying his family in his lifetime, but reserving that part of the judgment to be executed in his son's days. But though God may sometimes respite sinners upon smaller considerations, yet without real and unfeigned repentance nothing can avail for their forgiveness. Accordingly we find that the curse against Ahab's own person was literally fulfilled a short time afterwards; for in the battle near Ramoth-gilead, notwithstanding he had taken the precaution to disguise himself, he was wounded by “a certain man who drew a bow at a venture;" of this wound he died, and was buried in Samaria. But his blood having flowed down in great quantities into his chariot, some person went and washed that and his armour in the pool of Samaria, and the dogs came and licked the blood"; and, by this seemingly accidental circum

' stance, was fulfilled that prediction of Elijah, “In the


Ps. li. 10.


1 Kings xxii. 38.



place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even thine?.”

And thus this narrative concludes. It might suggest many useful lessons; but the principal thing which it shows, is the great folly, guilt, and danger, of a covetous and worldly mind.

II. Compare these two men together, Ahab and Naboth. Naboth was the possessor of a single vineyard; he might, no doubt, have had greater possessions, but at all events he appears to have had one thing, without which the greatest wealth is of no real value—a contented and a religious heart. For we do not read that he coveted any of the possessions of his wealthy neighbour the great king of Israel: but, on the contrary, as he could not be wrought upon by the fear of a prince's anger to break God's law, so could he not be tempted by the prospect of a richer possession, to part with the inheritance of his fathers. He knew how to “ use this world as not abusing its."

In Ahab, on the other hand, we behold a striking instance of the insufficiency of worldly possessions to make those persons happy who set their hearts upon them. He is monarch of a rich and flourishing kingdom; but, with all his might, and wealth, and splendour, his purple robes and his ivory palaces, the man is poor and miserable, and cannot eat or drink, because he has cast his eye upon a little spot of ground just big enough to make a garden of herbs, and cannot

“ Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field.” Their inordinate desires will always bring their own punishment along with them; for the more they have, the more they will always want: and so, let them be as rich or great as they will, they will never be one step nearer happiness. And what is the cause of this? That there is, indeed, nothing in this world that it is worth a wise man's while to set his heart upon. Whoso drinketh of the waters of earthly prosperity, drink he as deeply as he

get it.


* 1 Kings xxi. 19.

3 1 Cor. vii. 31.

4 Isa. v. 8.

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may, shall thirst again ; for there is nothing here capable of yielding him any real satisfaction.

But, that worldly-mindedness is the bane of our worldly comfort, is not the worst thing that can be said of it. For we see in daily experience and Ahab's is but one instance out of millions), that such a temper seldom fails to lead men into many crimes. “ Godliness with contentment is great gain. ... But 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. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows 5."

They have erred from the faith,” says the Apostle. This is sure to be the case at all events. A covetous man may not be a murderer, as Ahab was; and it is possible, though barely so, that he may not overstep the bounds of common honesty. But every man whose heart is covetously devoted to the things of this life, has assuredly erred from the faith. For “ the friendship of the world is enmity with God.” We may, indeed, to a certain degree, lawfully love more things than one, but we can love but one object best; and that object, with which no other is to come into competition, is the Lord our God: “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart?.” But how can any man do this, whose heart, like Ahab's, is so set upon worldly goods, that sooner than lose them he will lose God's favour? Such a man is, to all intents and purposes, an idolater, and not a Christian. He has “ made gold his hope, and said unto the fine gold, Thou art my confidence.” But what does the God of heaven say to him?

to him? He tells him that He will not accept of that half service, which it should seem he is disposed to pay, and that He has appointed him his portion with the unbelievers. If, then, the inordinate love of this world be a 1 Tim. vi. 6. 9, 10.

6 James iv. 4. ? Deut. vi. 5.

8 See Job xxxi. 24.



passion so miserable in itself, so likely to lead us to acts of injustice or oppression, and so assuredly destructive of all religious principle, surely it is time to inquire what method may best be taken to expel it from our breasts. Let us pray to God in his great goodness to convert and change our hearts; to give us an ambition and a covetousness of another sort. Let us set our affections on things above, and lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Let us read, mark, and learn the word of God: let us diligently meditate and reflect upon those exceeding great and precious promises which are therein set forth. And if in God's mercy our hearts shall be possessed with a firm trust and confidence that these are attainable through our Redeemer's merits, we shall then learn to put away childish things, and to see the vanity, the nothingness, of all worldly objects; for “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith'."

This faith, if we be but possessed of it, is able to make every station of life easy and happy to us; for this will assure us that we are in the hands of a faithful Creator, who knows how to choose a station for us, much better than we do to choose one for ourselves, and who never fails to cause all things to work together for good unto them that love Him. By faith we are assured, that here we are but "strangers and pilgrims;" that “ here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come?," "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God',” an everlasting dwelling-place, into which no unhappiness can enter, but in which all they shall dwell, who “ have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;" for whose sake they shall be for ever “ before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in his temple : and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the

10 66

g 1 John v. 4.

10 Heb. xii. 14.

1 Heb. xi. 10.

2 "


throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. Why, then, should we set our hearts on a place where we have not long to stay? If we did indeed believe God's word, it would be impossible that we could do so. We should learn, on the contrary, to despise the deceitful offers of this world, and “to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord?."

This is the point to which I could wish to bring you all. And therefore is it that I would exhort you to “take heed and beware of covetousness * ;" for nothing will more effectually stop your progress in running the race which is set before you, than an over-carefulness for the things of this life. In Ahab

you have seen an instance of the disquietude and restlessness of mind which inseparably attends such a disposition; how it hinders men from enjoying any satisfaction in those goods with which God has blessed them; how ready it is to embrace the first temptation which the devil offers for gratifying its desires; how it lays the heart open to every other sin, though never so foul, which may serve to promote its ends; how it stifles and destroys all sentiments of justice and honour, humanity and religion; and how it ends in the certain perdition of the unhappy wretch who follows its suggestions, except it be timely prevented by repentance and Divine grace.

May this Divine grace prevent any of you whose hearts are fixed on this sinful world; may it turn you from darkness unto light, from the power of Satan unto God! For, remember, there is but this alternative; you must renounce either this world or the next. Make, then, the wise and righteous choice, and do not prefer moments before eternity.

And blessed be God Almighty, who has provided (if you will not turn away from it) an eternity of bappiness for you all; who willeth not the death of a

3 Rev. vii. 14-17.

: Phil. jii. 8.

+ Luke xii. 15.

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