Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you.…
1. Sordid sparing is a sure sign of a worldly heart. God gave us wealth, not that we should be hoarders, but dispensers. Seneca calleth covetous men chests. We think them men, and they are but coffers; who would envy a trunk well stored? Well, then, beware of "withholding more than is meet" (Proverbs 11:24), of a delight in hoarding; it is a sure note that the world has too much of your heart.
2. Keeping things from public use till they be corrupted or spoiled is sordid sparing. When you lay them not out upon God, or others, or yourself, you are justly culpable. The inhabitants of Constantinople would afford no money to the Emperor Constantinus Palaeologus when he begged from door to door for a supply for the soldiers; but what was the issue? the barbarous enemy won the city and got all. The like story there is of Musteatzem, the covetous caliph of Babylon, who was such an idolater of his wealth and treasures that he would not dispend anything for the necessary defence of his city, whereupon it was taken, and the caliph famished to death, and his mouth, by Haalon, the Tartatian conqueror, filled with melted gold.
3. Covetousness bringeth God's curse upon our estates. He sendeth corruption, and the rust, and the moth. There is nothing gotten by tenacity, by greedy getting, or close withholding. Not by greedy getting; when men will snatch an estate out of the hands of Providence, no wonder if God snatch it away again; ill gains are equivalent to losses (Micah 6:10). Not by undue withholding; it draweth man's curse and God's too upon us (see Proverbs 11:26). God can easily corrupt that which we will not bestow, and cause a worm to breed in manna. Certainly there is a "withholding that tendeth to poverty" (Proverbs 11:24).
4. There is corruption and decay upon the face of all created glory, Riches corrupted, garments moth-eaten, gold and silver cankered. It is madness to set up our rest in perishing things, "Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not" (Proverbs 33:5)? It is not only against grace, but reason; confidence should have a sure and stable ground. Well, then, take Christ's advice (Matthew 6:19, 20).
5. From the diversity of the terms — moth, corruption, canker, note that God hath several ways wherewith to blast our carnal comforts. Sometimes by the moth, sometimes by the thief, by rust or robbery; they may either rot, or be taken from us. Well, then, let the greater awe be impressed upon your thoughts.
Parallel VersesKJV: Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.