ADVICE TO MEN OF ESTATES.
MEN of estates are but too apt to abuse the advantages they have above others, and they are unwilling to hear of it; they imagine they are above advice, and for that reason they are in most danger.
But whatever they fancy, a good pastor will shew them their danger and their duty, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear.
Now, such persons being subject to idleness, to intemperance, and to bear hard upon their poor neighbours, they should have prudent hints given them to avoid these sins which do easily beset them.
That such, for instance, who have plenty without taking pains, may not contract a habit of idleness, which is the parent of infinite evils; (a man that has nothing to do being ready to do any thing that the devil shall tempt him to;)--a dislike to business;--a love of ease;--a dependance upon an estate more than upon God's providence;--running into company to pass away time;--a neglect of family duties;--an evil example to children and servants;--an estate going to ruin for want of God's blessing and an honest care.
And though no man can call such a person to an account for leading an idle and a useless life, yet God often does do it; and hence it is we so often see families of an ancient standing broke, and estates crumbled into pieces, because the owners thereof were above taking pains, and neglected to pray for God's blessing upon their estates and families.
It will be great charity therefore, however such people will take it, in a pastor to put them in mind,
That we are none of us proprietors, but only stewards; for the whole earth is the Lord's, and He disposes of it as He pleaseth:
That such as have received more than others have more to account for:
That if they only seek to please themselves, they may justly fear the sentence of the rich man: Remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, for which thou art now tormented:
That not only the wicked, but even the unprofitable servant, was cast into outer darkness: That if men have estates, they have greater opportunities of gaming God's favour, by doing good to others:
That if they have more time to spare, they have more time and more reason to serve God:
And if they feel not the afflictions of poverty, they are more obliged to assist and help them that do.
But if, instead of doing so, they consume their estates upon their lusts; and when having received more favours from God, they should be examples and encouragers of religion, they become themselves the greatest contemners of religion;--if their plenty makes them forget God, and their power more troublesome to their poor neighbours, then an estate is a curse and not a blessing.
In short, those that have estates should be charged, as the Apostle directs, not to be highminded; not to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God; that they do good; that they be rich in good works; ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
They should be exhorted to give God thanks for His favours; to lay by a reasonable certain proportion of their incomes, to be bestowed in works of piety and charity; to be examples of industry, sobriety, and godliness to their children, families, and neighbourhood.