Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

53

LECTURE IV.

RENUNCIATION OF THE WORLD.

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.

THE Christian is a consecrated man. He has taken the sacramental oath of allegiance to the Captain of his salvation. He has ranged himself under the banner of Christ. He is enrolled among the soldiers of God. And therefore the cause of Christ is his cause - the enemies of God are his enemies—and his first obligation is to renounce, and deny obedience to, every thing that is at enmity with God.

Now, the Devil is the Enemy of God. And therefore the very first clause of our baptismal promise binds us to renounce him and all his works all the Obstinacy, Arrogance, and Ingratitude towards God, which he insinuates into the mind. But the Devil opposes God not only thus directly, in the mind itself, by stirring up rebellion against goodness — but indirectly, by the outward allurements with which he draws us, and the inward impulses by which he hurries us, away from goodness—the outward allurements of the World by which we are surrounded—the inward impulses of the Flesh or bodily nature with which we are invested. Consequently, these also, so far as they are thus made instruments of Satan so far as he abuses them to estrange our hearts from God — are to be renounced by us, and fled from, even as the Devil himself.

And therefore the second clause of our baptismal vow engages for us that we should renounce

pomps and vanity of this wicked world." What, then, - let us, in the first place, inquire,

THIS WICKED WORLD” which we are called on to renounce ? Now, by

the world” in it's more general sense, as used, not of the earth itself, but of its inhabitants, is meant the general mass of mankind at any given time—the “ age,” the “generation,” in which we live. But this general mass of mankind at any given time is, alas ! for the most part occupied with the pursuits and enjoyments, and therefore under the dominion of the tastes and passions, of the merely earthly nature. Their views extend not be

56 the

IS

yond the present. Their desires rise not above the sensible and visible. Their occupations are directed to the satisfying of the animal wants the social appetencies--or the intellectual tastes. They live for the outward and the immediate. They make little provision for the developement of the reason - less for the nourishment of the spirit— less still for the procuring for the rational and spiritual within them, permanence and expansion in a world to come, by union and communion with Him who is the principle of all sustained and lasting life. With all their wisdom they know not God (1 Cor. i. 21),

- by their earthliness they shut out God from their hearts (Rom. viii. 5—7,)—and by their self-indulgence they yield themselves into the power of Him who is the Enemy of God (Rom. vi. 12, 13, 16). And hence the world is called in our Catechism, and in Scripture, “this wicked world.” For, alas! it is too true—it is not to be denied—the majority are wicked. The general multitude of those who live and die in any given age or generation, live and die “ without God in the world.” « Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat ; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it !” Matt. vii. 13, 14. And being thus “ wicked," men place themselves just in proportion as they are so in opposition

to God. “ He that is not with me,” says our Lord, “is against me.”_" The friendship of the world," says St. James, “is enmity with God. Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God.”—“ If any man love the world,” says St. John, in our text, “ the love of the Father is not in him.” And yet more, since worldliness is opposition to God, it is at the same time necessarily subjection to the Devil. We cannot withdraw ourselves from God without throwing ourselves into the arms of the Enemy of God. “ To whom we yield ourselves servants to obey, his servants we are to whom we obey." And consequently St. John declares that “ The whole world lieth in wickedness," (1 Ep. v. 19,) that is, in The Wicked One - under his jurisdiction, subject to his tyranny. Whence the Devil is called by our Lord, in three several places, “ The Prince of this world ;” and St. Paul denominates him “ The God of this world,” (2 Cor. iv. 4,) and yet more expressly tells the Ephesians (chap. ii. 2), that when “in times past they walked according to the course of this world,"

« according to the Prince of the power of the air, the Spirit that still worketh in the children of disobedience."

And hence do the Scriptures so continually represent Religion as necessarily, and from its very nature, a “coming out of the world". a being

this was

“ crucified to the world" a being “not conformed to this world, but transformed in the spi·rit of our mind, that we may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Hence Christians must be “ singular ;” and a little flock; and separated off, by character and tastes and habits, from the generality of men. To follow the multitude is to do evil. Exod. xxiii. 2. And therefore to do good must unavoidably involve in it the not following that multitude. It is a change and alienation from our former self, and therefore must be equally a change and alienation from all who still remain in the original corruption and ungodliness which characterized our former self. But such form the generality — the multitude. the world; and, consequently, to do good is to renounce the world--that society, those principles and pleasures and pursuits, which are only calculated for, and suited to, the lower state of being out of which we are emerging into good.*— Nor is this better state of mind merely one superior to that of ordinary human nature. It is diametrically opposed to it; it

* This necessity of withdrawing from the multitude, if we would rise above ourselves, was felt and inculcated even by the heathen moralists. “ You ask,” says Cicero, “what you should especially avoid ? I answer, A crowd. For never can you safely yield yourself to the influence of the multitude. I at least have found it so. The society of the many is injurious. From every quarter some vice is commended to us, or is strengthened in us,

« AnteriorContinuar »