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ON WORLDLY FOLLY.
LUKE XII. 20.
"But God said unto him, Thou Fool!"
BUT one of these fools is commonly wiser in his own eyes than seven men that can render a reason. If it were possible for a Christian, for one that has the mind which was in Christ, to despise any one, he would cordially despise those, who suppose they are the men, and wisdom shall die with them! You may see one of these painted to the life, in the verses preceding the text. "The ground of a certain rich man," says our blessed Lord, "brought forth plenteously," ver. 17, &c. "And he reasoned within himself, saying, What shall I do? for I have no room where to bestow my fruits. And he said, This will I do, I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my goods and my fruits. And I will say to my soul,
Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years: take thy ease; eat, drink, and be merry;' but God said unto him, Thou fool!" I propose, by the assistance of God,
I. To open and explain these few Words, and,
I. 1. To open and explain them. A little before, our Lord had been giving a solemn caution to one who spoke to him about "dividing his inheritance." "Beware of VOL. XI.
covetousness: for the life of a man," that is, the happiness of it, "does not consist in the abundance of the things that he possesseth." To prove and illustrate this weighty truth, our Lord relates this remarkable story. It is not improbable, it was one that had lately occurred, and that was fresh in the memory of some that were present. "The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plenteously." The riches of the ancients consisted chiefly in the fruits of the earth." And he said within himself, What shall I do?" The very language of want and'distress! The voice of one that is afflicted and groaning under his burden: What shalt thou do? Why, are not those at the door, whom God hath appointed to receive what thou canst spare? What shalt thou do? Why, disperse abroad and give to the poor. Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Be a father to the fatherless, and a husband to the widow. Freely thou hast received, freely give. O no! He is wiser than this comes to: he knows better than so.
2. "And he said, This will I do," without asking God's leave, or thinking about him any more than if there were no God in heaven or on earth,-"I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my goods and all my fruits." My fruits! They are as much thine as the clouds that fly over thy head! As much as the winds that blow around thee; which, doubtless, thou canst hold in thy fists! "And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years." "Soul, thou hast much goods!" Are then corn, and wine, and oil, the goods of an immortal spirit?" Laid up for many years." Who told thee so? Believe him not, he was a liar from the beginning. He could not prolong thy life, if he would. God alone is the giver of life and death. And he would not if he could, but would immediately drag thee to his own sad abode. "Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry!" How replete with folly and madness is every part of this wonderful soliloquy! "Eat and drink!" Will thy spirit then eat and drink? Yea, but not of earthly food! Thou wilt soon eat livid flame, and drink of the fire
burning with brimstone. But wilt thou then drink and be merry? Nay, there will be no mirth in those horrid shades. Those caverns will resound with no music, but "weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth."
3. But while he was applauding his own wisdom, "God said unto him, Thou fool! This night shall thy soul be required of thee. And then whose shall those things be, which thou hast prepared?"
4. Let us consider his words a little more attentively. He said within himself, "What shall I do?" And is not the answer ready? Do good. Do all the good thou canst. Let thy plenty supply thy neighbour's wants, and thou wilt never want something to do. Canst thou find none that need the necessaries of life? That are pinched with cold or hunger? None that have not raiment to put on? Or a place where to lay their heads? None that are wasted with pining sickness? None that are languishing in prison? If you duly considered our Lord's words, "The poor have you always with you," you would no more ask, "What shall I do ?"
5. How different was the purpose of this poor madman ? "I will pull down my barns, and build greater, and there will I bestow all my goods." You may just as well bury them in the earth, or cast them into the sea. This will just as well answer the end, for which God entrusted you with them.
6. But let us examine a little farther the remaining part of his resolution. "I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry." What, are these the goods of a never-dying spirit? As well may thy body feed on the fletinge breeze, as thy soul on earthly fruits. Excellent counsel then to such a spirit, to eat and drink! to a spirit made equal to angels, made an incorruptible picture of the God of glory, to feed not on corruptible things, but on the Fruit of the Tree of Life, which grows in the midst of the Paradise of God.
7. It is no marvel then, that God should say unto him,
Thou fool!" For this terrible reason, were there no other, "This night shall thy soul be required of thee!"
"And art thou born to die,
To lay this body down?
Unpierc'd by human thought; The dreary regions of the dead, Where all things are forgot?" "And whose then shall all the things be which thou hast provided?"
II. 1. The second thing which I proposed was, to apply these considerations, which it is certain, are some of the most important that can enter into the heart of man. In one sense, indeed, they have been applied already, for what has been said, has been all application. But I wish every one who reads or hears these words, directly to apply them to his own soul.
2. Does it not concern every one that hears,—“ The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully," to inquire, Was this ever the case with me? Have I now, or have I ever heretofore, had more worldly goods given than I wanted? And what were my thoughts upon the occasion? Did I say in my heart, What shall I do? Was I distressed by my abundance? Did I think, "I have much goods laid up for many years ?" Many years! Alas! What is thy life, if protracted to its utmost span? Is it not a vapour, that just appeareth, and vanisheth away! Say not then, I will pull down my barns; but say to God in the secret of thy heart, Lord, save, or 1 perish. See, my riches increase: let me not set my heart upon them. Thou seest I stand upon slippery ground, do thou undertake for me! "Uphold me, Saviour, or I fall!
O reach me forth thy gracious hand;
Only by faith in thee I stand!"