« PreviousContinue »
that he desires. But if your hearts are more set on these supposed moderate matters than on the heavenly inheritance, you are still flaves to the world ; and the more mean and inexcusable you are, that your object is so trifling and inconfiderable.
Besides, this is a very indecisive mode of reasoning. He that engages to seek only a competence, takes on himself a very easy engagement, because he binds himself only to a condition which is to be ascertained by his own opinion. The most covetous man on earth may make the fame profession, provided you
leave him to be the judge of what that competency amounts to.
Look above the superior ranks of society, and see whether their extensive possessions extinguish their defires for more. Is not the reverse the fact? The richest are often in as great necessity as the most indigent—as often, at least, (and it is not seldom), as the imaginary wants, created by luxury, exceed their means of gratifying them. The decisive inquiry is not how much you desire, but for what ends you desire it.
A third conceives a favourable opinion of himself, because he uses no unlawful means
to rise in the world. Now this is in so far good and would to God we could all say as much for ourselves. But even this is not decisive in the point ; for a man may love the world inordinately, who would neither steal, nor rob, nor dissemble, in order to enrich himself. The fact is, those who have a just and steady sense of their interest, find that these are by no means the best ways of advancing it.
A good character is so necessary to carrying on worldly business of
kind with success, that a wise man in bis generation will be fair and honest in his dealings, from mere regard to his own advantage. But with all this prudential regard, coinciding with feeming virtue, his affections may be entirely placed on the world, to the exclusion of things spiritual and everlasting, which is the very character described and condemned in the text.
But, says a fourth, it is impossible that I should love the world to excess, for it is the very vice which I principally hate and condemn in others. But alas, so do many
sands who are themselves abject slaves to the world, to the conviction of every person but themselves. It would indeed be utterly astonishing to observe, how keenly worldly men inveigh against the fame dispositions in others, if this account of the appearance did not offer itself, viz. that the more they are rivals in this love, the more mutual jealousy and resentment must arise in their minds; or, to speak without any figure, the more covetous their neighbours are, the more they stand in the way to prevent their obtaining the emoluments they desire for themselves.
I will mention but one more pretence by which men deceive themselves in the respect we are considering, and that is the resolution of leaving their substance to charitable purposes when they die.—But ah! what an absurd delusion is this—to offer their worldly possessions to God, after they have abused them while they could, and can now retain them no longer. But upon this point I need not dwell longer ; for although an abuse very common in former times, it is one with which the present age is not peculiarly charge
able. “ Be not deceived then, God is not “ mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that “ fhall he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh
reap corruption ; but “ he that soweth to the Spirit, shall of the
Spirit reap life everlasting." Amen.
I. 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.
HAVE already described that excessive
love of the world from which the Apostle here diffuades us; and represented to you the greatness and malignity of the fin. I also laid before you some symptoms of an earthly mind, and endeavoured to detect the falsehood of those pretences, by which too many impose on their consciences, and flatter themselves that their love of the world is no greater than it ought to be. I now proceed to enforce the exhortation, and to offer a few directions for the help of those who are desirous of having their affections weaned from VOL. IV. Aa