As a man came from his mother's womb, so he will depart again: naked as he arrived. He takes nothing for his labor to carry in his hands.
I. WHAT WE MUST LEAVE BEHIND US AT DEATH.
1. Our worldly goods. This is an obvious fact, which painfully impressed the Preacher (text), and which comforted the psalmist (Psalm 49:16, 17). It is a fact that should make the wise less careful to acquire and to save.
2. Our reputation. The reputation for wisdom or folly, for integrity or dishonesty, for kindness or severity, which our life has been building up, death cannot destroy, through whatever experiences we may then pass. We must be content to leave that behind to be associated with our name in the memories of men, for their benediction or for their reproach.
3. The influence for good or evil we have exerted on human souls. These we cannot remove, nor can we stay to deepen or to counteract them; they are our most important legacies.
II. WHAT WE MAY LEAVE BEHIND US.
1. A wise disposition of our property. A sagacious statesman once said that he never quite made up his mind about his neighbor's character until he had seen his will. What disposition we make of that we leave behind is a very serious act of our life; there are very few single acts so serious.
(1) It is usually a good thing for a man to dispose of a large proportion of all that he has earned during his life when he is here to superintend it.
(2) It is criminally careless to cause additional sorrow at death by negligence in the matter of disposition of means.
(3) The kindest thing we can do for our relatives is not to provide absolutely for their wants, but to facilitate their own self-support.
2. Wise counsels to those who will heed them. There are usually those who will pay Meat regard to the wishes of the dying, apart from any "legal instructions." We may leave with those we love such recommendations as shall save them from grave mistakes, and guide them to good and happy courses.
3. A valued testimony to the power and preciousness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
III. WHAT WE MAY TAKE WITH US.
1. Our faith in Jesus Christ; that settled attitude of the soul toward him which is one of trustfulness and love, which determines our place in the kingdom of God (John 3:15, 16, 18, 36).
2. Our Christian life - its record in the heavenly chronicles; that Christian service which, in its faithfulness-or its imperfection, will gain for us the larger or the smaller measure of our Lord's approval (Luke 19:16-19).
3. Qualification, gained by steadfastness, patience, zeal, for the sphere which "the righteous Judge" will award us and will have ready for us. - C.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver.I. That as GOODS INCREASE, DESIRE INCREASES. This is not the case universally. There are men whose property is daily increasing, but whose desires are not increasing. The answer, as to who these men are, is suggested by the text. They are those who have not set their affections upon money. Love of silver leads to dissatisfaction with silver. Love of abundance leads to dissatisfaction with increase. He who loves silver wants gold. He who loves gold wants land. "Man never is, but always to be blessed," if he look for blessedness only to earth. As bodily hunger cannot be satisfied by fine scenery which appeals to the eye; as thirst cannot be quenched by the strains of even the sweetest music; and as what ministers to mental growth will not, directly at least, tend to physical development; so neither can the soul thrive upon food other than its own. God made man for Himself, and away from God, there is for man no abiding, no solid satisfaction.
II. THAT EXPENDITURE KEEPS PACE WITH INCOME. Wants are born of "goods." These increase and so do those who eat them. Further, wealth has its duties as well as its advantages; and in its possessor be a Christian he will recognize those duties. The practical recognition of them proves this, that "when goods are increased they are increased that eat them."
III. That the LOVE OF WEALTH IS VANITY. "This also is vanity." To love wealth "is vanity": because love of wealth makes men cold, unsympathetic, and morally unmanly, causes them to live from circumference to centre, instead of from centre to circumference. On the contrary he who lives for others lives a radiating life, realizes that all are brethren. To love wealth is vanity, because whilst there is an excitement in the pursuit of wealth there is no true enjoyment in its" possession. A soul centred upon worldly wealth, like the daughter of the horse-leech, cries, "Give! give!" We cannot serve God and mammon
(J. S. Swan.)
1. In all grades of society human subsistence is very much the same. Even princes are not fed with ambrosia, nor do poets subsist on asphodel. Bread and water, the produce of the flocks and the herds, and a few homely vegetables, form the staple of his food who can lay the globe under tribute; and these essentials of healthful existence are within the attainment of ordinary industry.
2. When a man begins to amass money, he begins to feed an appetite which nothing can appease, and which its proper food will only render fiercer. "He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver." To greed there may be "increase," but no increase can ever be "abundance." Therefore, happy they who have never got enough to awaken the accumulating passion, and who, feeling that food and raiment are the utmost to which they can aspire, are therewith content.
3. It should reconcile us to the want of wealth, that, as abundance grows, so grow the consumers, and of riches less perishable, the proprietor enjoys no more than the mere spectator. A rich man buys a picture or a statue, and he is proud to think that his mansion is adorned with such a famous masterpiece. But a poor man comes and looks at it, and, because he has the aesthetic insight, in a few minutes he is conscious of more astonishment and pleasure than the dull proprietor has experienced in half a century. Or, a rich man lays out a park or a garden, and, except the diversion of planning and remodelling, he has derived from it little enjoyment; but some bright morning a holiday student or a town-pent tourist comes, and when he leaves he carries with him a freight of life-long recollections.
4. Amongst the pleasures of obscurity, or rather of occupation, the next noticed is sound slumber. Sometimes the wealthy would be the better for a taste of poverty; it would reveal to them their privileges. But if the poor could get a taste of opulence, it would reveal to them strange luxuries in lowliness. Fevered with late hours and false excitement, or scared by visions the righteous recompense of gluttonous excess, or with breath suppressed and palpitating heart listing the fancied footsteps of the robber, grandeur often pays a nightly penance for the triumph of the day.
5. Wealth is often the ruin of its possessor. It is "kept for the owner to his hurt." Like that King of Cyprus who made himself so rich that he became a tempting spoil, and who, rather than lose his treasures, embarked them in perforated ships; but, wanting courage to draw the plugs, ventured back to land and lost both his money and his life: so a fortune is a great perplexity to its owner, and is no defence in times of danger. And very often, by enabling him to procure all that heart can wish, it pierces him through with many sorrows. Ministering to.the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life, misdirected opulence has ruined many both in soul and body.
6. Nor is it a small vexation to have accumulated a fortune, and when expecting to transmit it to some favourite child, to find it suddenly swept away (vers. 14-16). There is now the son, but where is the sumptuous mansion? Here is the heir, but where is the vaunted heritage?
7. Last of all, are the infirmity and fretfulness which are the frequent companions of wealth. You pass a stately mansion, and as the powdered menials are closing the shutters of the brilliant room, and you see the sumptuous table spread and the fire-light flashing on vessels of gold and vessels of silver, perhaps no pang of envy pricks your bosom, but a glow of gratulation for a moment fills it: Happy people who tread carpets so soft, and who swim through halls so splendid! But, some future day, when the candles are lighted and the curtains drawn in that selfsame apartment, it is your lot to be within; and as the invalid owner is wheeled to his place at the table, and as dainties are handed round of which he dare not taste, and as the guests interchange cold courtesy, and all is so stiff and so commonplace, and so heartlessly grand, your fancy cannot help flying of[ to some humbler spot with which you are mere familiar, and "where quiet with contentment makes her home."
(J. Hamilton, D. D.)
Homilist.This is true of all earthly things. No man is satisfied with any human idol.
I. CORRUPT AFFECTION. All worldly love is corrupt. There is nothing good in silver. It has only present beauty and usefulness.
II. THE GLAMOUR OF TIME. How bright is the tinsel of an illuminated theatre! Such is the spell cast over the things of time and sense, until the Spirit of God causes the sunshine to beam in our hearts.
III. THE DISAPPOINTMENT OF AMBITION. Like a mirage the object sought eludes the grasp. No acquisition is final. The more we get the more we want.
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