« AnteriorContinuar »
be greeted by your Judge, Depart from me ye cursed, or, Come ye blessed? Yet we shall all hear these mighty words, and feel the effect of them for ever. No repentance will then avail; no prayer will then be heard. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. To.day, then, if you will hear his voice, harden not you hearts. Listen to the truth that would save you. Flee to the mercy that is not yet shut against your prayers. Entertain the solemn meditations of eternity, and learn that you are immortal, through mortality.
Lastly, a blessed, joyful, and glorious eternity with God in heaven, or a cursed, despairing, and everlasting perdition with devils and damned spirits in the torments of hell, await us all. What say we, then, to these things, my hearers ? Have you a choice, a preference, and what is it? Have you asked yourselves the question ? Have you considered it? Have you counted up what it is to be happy or miserable for ever? Or have you postponed it, as something at a great distance, and that does not concern you in the days while you can indulge in the propensities of the flesh, in the vanities of the world ? Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth, and walk in the sight of thine eyes, and desires of thine heart. But know, that for all these things God will call thee into judgment. Or have you settled it upon the infidel principle, that God is too merciful to punish men for ever? Indeed, and how know you that ? See you no punishment, no misery here, none that endures throughout the period of human life, and, therefore, may just as reasonably endure through another and an eternal existence ? Oh! at what a tremendous risk will men try to be wise above what is written, and harden their bearts against the awful events of death, judgment, eternity, the wrath of God omnipotent, the irreversible sentence, the bottomless pit, the lake of fire, the miseries of the damned ! O, my dear hearers, let God be true, and every man a liar who would gainsay his word, his faithful, warning word, which declares-whatever the wicked may say and hope to the contrary —that impenitent sinners shall have their portion where the worm never dies, and the fire never shall be quenched.
Seeing, then, my Christian brethren, that we look for such things, that they are most surely believed by us, What manner
of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness ? How ought our deportment in the world to indicate that we are not of the world ? Alas! alas ! because the love of many waxes cold, iniquity abounds ? Let these solemn truths, then, bring us back to what we should be. Let us dwell upon them, and realize them, and act for our eternal interests with at least as much zeal and industry as we do for our earthly accommodations, profits, and pleasures. Let not the name of God be profaned through our lukewarmness, coldness, and deadness in our religious profession. The veriest sinner in the world knows how we ought to be affected, and to walk in life, under the professed belief of the gospel. When, therefore, he sees professing Christians under the declared expectation of heaven or hell, according to the deeds done in the body, walking according to the course of this world, he is not only fortified in unbelief, but filled with contempt for religion. Let this reproach, then, be put away from us, my brethren. Yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Let us, then, prepare to meet our God, that when he shall appear, we may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless,
THE LOVE OF THE WORLD INCOMPATIBLE WITH THE LOVE
1 John ii. 15.
“ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the
world the love of the Father is not in him."
Amidst the various temptations which surround us, my brethren, some are more inmediate and more powerful than others, not only in themselves, but also in the depraved affections of our corrupt hearts. Of those temptations, that which in Scripture language is called the world appears to possess the greatest as well as the most general influence over mankind. Hence the frequency and earnestness with which the counsel and warning of God's most holy word is directed to this point; and the danger to be apprehended from undue preference of and over engagement with its business or its pleasures, is exbibited under the striking contrast of things, which, from their very nature, must perish and come to an end, and of things equally, indeed more certainly, attainable by us which shall endure and continue for ever.
Among those warnings my text holds a very conspicuous place. And as it presents to our consideration the solemn obligation to renounce and overcome the world, and to separate themselves from its unballowed pursuits, which all baptized persons have come under, and all professing Christians have repeatedly renewed, and we are this day once more to renew in the most solemn manner in the sacrament of the death of CARIST, I trust it will be a profitable improvement of the occasion, to lay before you such a plain but necessarily brief exposition of this unpalatable but vital subject, as shall, with the blessing of God, fasten upon the consciences of professing Christians their indispensable duty, and awaken unbelievers to the dangerous and
unprofitable nature of those pursuits whose certain and declared end is irretrievable perdition.
With this view, I shall,
First, inquire what is to be understood by the word world, as here used.
SECONDLY, I will endeavour to point out what kind of conduct exhibits that love of the world, and of the things that are in it, which my text declares to be incompatible with sincerity of religious profession here, expressed by the love of the Father.
THIRDLY, I will conclude with some considerations calculated to enforce the exhortation of my text upon the communicants of the Church
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him.
I. First, I am to inquire what is to be understood by the word world, as here used.
That the word world is applied in various senses in the Scriptures, must be evident to all who have any acquaintance with the contents of the sacred volume. Sometimes it signifies the frame of the material world, or visible creation, as in the 24th Psalm— The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Sometimes it is used to denote the race of mankind in general, as in the 3d chapter of St. John's Gospel-God so loved the world as to send bis Son to save it. In other instances, the wicked and ungodly are called the world, as in our Lord's discourse with his twelve disciples before his Passion, in the 15th chapter of the same Gospel-If ye were of the world the world would love his own ; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. In other places it is applied to the pursuits and occupations of nen in the present life, whether innocent or criminal, but chiefly the latter, as in the words of my textLove not the world, neither the things that are in the world, and in the Epistle to the Romans-Be not conformed to this world.
The proper meaning of the word in any particular place, therefore, must be determined by the context; and applying this rule to the word world, as used in the text, and in the chapter from which the text is taken, it is plain that Christians are
exhorted against allowing their desires and affections to become entangled, and their exertions over-engaged with the things that are in the world. And what those things are which are thus dangerous to the health of the soul, the inspired apostle enumerates under the threefold description of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The practical meaning of the word world, then, as here used, must be understood of those visible and sensible things which form, at one and the same time, the objects of our desire and pursuit, and the subjects of our trial and probation. Many of these are indispensable to our subsistence, as the necessary occupations and business of the present life, whereby alone those blessings and comforts, which the entrance of sin into the world banished from the spontaneous productions of the earth, are to be obtained. Some are objects of desire, and stimulate to industry by the gratification and enjoyment which they yield or serve to procure. Others are rendered necessary by the condition of the world—as the honours and emoluments of those offices of power and trust whereby civil government is conducted. And all of them are in themselves good, as serving to maintain the state of the world ; perfectly consistent with the religious duties of redeemed sinners in their engagement with them, yet capable of being perverted, and of becoming the fruitful occasion of sin and condemnation by the abuse.
In the combined influence of these indispensable, desirable, and necessary things, we learn, my brethren, what that world is, against the love of which we are so earnestly warned and exhorted. And as they are objects of desire and attainment to all, they form a just measure of moral condition in the sight of God-according to the preference given to them, to the means used to obtain them, and to the application made of them when obtained.
II. Secondly, I am to point out what kind of conduct exhibits that love of the world and of the things that are in it, which my text declares to be incompatible with sincerity of religious profession here, expressed by the love of the Father.
If we bear in mind, my brethren and bearers, to what description of persons this and the other epistles of the apostles of