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172 LOVE TO THE WORLD A RUINOUS SIN. than his Lord ? shouldst thou be exalted where I was depressed? shouldst thou be loved in a world that hated me? If I will that the ungodly flourish through their short day, and the righteous mourn, what is that to thee? follow thou me. I was persecuted. I was afflicted."
Perhaps you inquire, Is it essential to the Christian character to die to the world? Indeed it is. “To be carnally minded is death."e “ If ye live after the flesh ye shall die."f " He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption."8 “ Love not the world, neither the things of the world; if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." “ Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world."i “ The friendship of the world is enmity with God: whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”k “ Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed in the renewing of your mind." What can be more explicit than these solemn passages! They assure us, that where the world is loved, little as man may suspect the latent enmity, God is actually hated. And this is the case, whatever profession be assumed, or however fair a character be borne. is Whosoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." Pursuing the same awful subject, the Scriptures further represent the minding of earthly things, as the last and darkest mark that some false professors of religion bear, that they are enemies to the cross of Christ.m
As you would escape eternal death, as you desire eternal life, watch against love to the world. It has been the ruin of millions. Beware of this rock. On it crowds, that once seemed setting out for heaven, have made shipwreck of faith and eternal hopes. The world is Satan's grand temptation. If that bait fail, he has none more alluring to present. The world was the last temptation by which he tried the Son of God: “ All these things,” said he, “ will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” When that was rejected, he fled; he had no higher bribe to offer. Love to the world is the most fatal of sins. The Scriptures tell of some eminently pious men that fell deeply, but as bitterly repented; but not one child of God is described who was a lover of the world. For this is not merely a single sin, a casual fall, but a state of
(e) Rom. viii. 6.
(5) Rom. viii. 13. (g) Gal, vi. 8. (h) 1 John ii. 15. (A) James iii. 4. (1) Rom. xii, 2. (m) Phil. iii. 18, 19.
MARKS OF LOVE TO THE WORLD.
173 mind, a disposition of heart, connected with all that is opposed to God and goodness. This sin also is peculiarly dangerous, because it is peculiarly insidious. It steals into the heart and governs there, and yet deceives the slave it governs. It kills immortal hopes, it damns the immortal soul, and yet its wretched slave, perhaps, connects himself with a Christian church; professes the religion of Jesus; brings no flagrant disgrace on his profession; yet lives and dies deceived. Were he to become a swearer or a drunkard, his friends would disown him, as dead to God. His crimes would stare him in the face; and conscience at last might take the alarm, and bid him fee from the wrath to come. But the lover of the world feels no such alarm. His disease is more inveterate, more hopeless, than that of the drunkard or swearer, but not so openly flagrant and alarming; it lies deep within. He stands as a member of the church of Christ, or, perhaps, sustains some office in it; or ascends the pulpit, and bids others free from ruin : yet he is himself a child of hell, for he is a lover of the world. O, my fellow-pilgrim, there is no religion in the heart while the world is loved. If any man, let his knowledge of divine truth be ever so extensive, let his profession be ever so strict, his zeal for orthodoxy ever so flaming, his character ever so amiable, and his standing in the Christian church ever so long, yet, “ If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." All the forms of religion may be assumed, all open sins be renounced, by him, who yet remains a lover of the world. The drunkard 'may become sober, the lewd grow chaste, the liar true, the pilferer honest, the profane begin to reverence his Maker's name, the sabbathbreaker frequent God's house, and the prayerless learn to pray, and yet this master sin, this treacherous vice, may lie hidden within. And the man, who has undergone the change now described, may be as far from God, and, perhaps, even further, than when he drank in iniquity like water. Then he had some fears that his state was bad ; now he thinks that all is right, and yet, because he loves the world, all is wrong.
Perhaps you inquire, How shall this secret evil be discerned ? The mention of a few marks of it may assist self-examination.
Love to the world rules within, if, for the sake of profit, ease, or pleasure, you are kept back from accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord, your Saviour, and your all. Jesus said,
174 THE CHRISTIAN TO ABSTAIN FROM “ He that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me."
Love to the world governs in your heart, if, through fear of loss, or injury, you persist in what you know to be sinful. If, for instance, there be in your trade or avocation any thing that you know is inconsistent with religion, and yet, to avoid loss, or secure gain, you persist in following this; by so doing you plainly show, that you love the world more than God and your own soul; that you are no Christian. “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple."n
Common reason may further convince us, that love to the world is to be known by anxiety to acquire worldly good, and unwillingness to part with it. He that saves or toils for wealth, that, with what he acquires, he may feed the hungry, clothe the naked, support the cause of religion, and send the gospel far and wide, shows in his industry no symptoms of love to the world ; but he, who pursues the same conduct, saves with the same care, and toils with the same assiduity, not to benefit mankind, but that he may heap up a little more for himself and his family ;-he who, though he may contribute his mite to benevolent objects, yet gives a contemptible trifle, compared with what he ought to give, and, perhaps, even that trifle with reluctance; he bears the fatal mark of having this plague upon his soul. His assiduity to get the world, and his care to keep what he acquires, demonstrate him a perishing lover of the world.
$ 18. This little volume would far exceed its designed limits, if as much notice were bestowed on every sin as has been on those just mentioned. Permit the writer however to add,
If you would mortify sin, flee from the occasions of sin. Be not bold in venturing into scenes of temptation. “ Depart from evil, and do good.” If you love the Lord, “ hate evil.”p “ Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.”I Multitudes, confiding in their own strength, have gone into scenes of temptation ; the consequence has been their present, and probably their eternal, destruction You are taught to pray, “ Lead us not into temptation." (n) Luke xiv. 33.. (o) Ps. xxxiv. 14. - (P) Ps. xcvii. 10. (9) Prov. iv, 14, 15.
) Matt. vi. 13.
ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.
175 But he who wilfully rushes into it has no reason to expect divine assistance to keep him from its dangers; but rather to suppose that God will leave him to himself, to punish his sin and folly.
$ 19. It is not sufficient for the Christian who would honour his profession, to abstain from sin: he is commanded to “ ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.”$ So high does the morality of the gospel rise, that it thus positively forbids, under the most awful sanctions, not only what is actually evil, but ALL that has even the appearance of being so. There are many things which are not positively sinful, but which have the appearance of evil. These are to be abstained from as carefully as sin itself. There are others, which the well informed Christian may be convinced are free from actual guilt, yet their appearance may be such, that weaker brethren esteem them wicked. These, too, the Scriptures forbid.
Think not that this subject is of little importance. The appearance of evil may as effectually injure the cause of Christ and dishonour God, as evil itself. The mere appearance of evil, by throwing a stumbling-block in the way of others, may as effectually as evil itself harden men in sin, defeat the end for which Christ died, blast the labours of gospel ministers, and ruin immortal souls.—As sin in professed Christians is awfully dreadful, so, as to the mischievous effects, the appearance of sin is the same.
To commit what has the appearance of evil, is to commit positive sin. The action itself may not be sinful, but as it has the appearance of being so, the person who commits it as much transgresses a divine law, as he who robs or murders. The divine law says, “ Abstain from all appearance of evil," and this law he transgresses. If therefore you would not lie under the guilt of dishonouring Christ, and undoing men ; if you would not incur the sin of transgressing an important law of God; you must not merely abstain from evil, but, taught a nobler than human morality, must as carefully abstain from all appearance of evil. If a person could be found, who had never committed what is in itself sinful, yet if he lived in the appearance of evil, in this one way he would commit so much sin, as would shut him out of heaven. He would transgress
(s) 1 Thess. vi. 22.
NATURE OF HUMILITY. the sacred precept, which should be engraven on every heart, “ ABSTAIN FROM ALL APPEARANCE OF EVIL.” And the Scriptures have decided, that whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.'
ON HUMILITY, RESIGNATION, PATIENCE, AND
$ 1. HUMILITY is a principal Christian grace. It is so
1 essential to the Christian character, that without it religion cannot possibly exist; and to promote its growth, and yield to its influence, is a principal part of true wisdom.
Humility consists in entertaining those lowly views of ourselves, which become dependent and mortal, corrupt and sinful, creatures. It is to be manifested towards God in confessions of sin, in self-abasement and contrition, in lowly reverence, resignation, submission, patience, and contentment. And is to be displayed in our intercourse with mankind, not by the constant language of self-depreciation ; but by meekness and gentleness ; by esteeming others better than ourselves; by calmness, when slighted or insulted ; by forbearance and forgiveness, when provoked or injured; by kindness, that stoops to the meanest objects of compassion; and by benevolence, that does good in secret, and blushes to find its actions applauded.
Humility is not a disposition naturally existing in the human heart. On the contrary, pride is the radical sin of human nature, and displays itself in a thousand forms. Multitudes are proud of their reasoning powers; of their fancied wisdom. Though in the world of nature mystery meets them at every step, they cavil at the word of God on account of what they deem mysterious. But humility sits at the feet of Jesus, and
(0) James ii. 10.