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wbich men flatter themselves that they are not chargeable with it.
One concludes thus in his own favour, because he is poor, and necessity obliges him to work for bis daily bread. How (says he) should I be suspected of a crimi. nal love to the world, wben I possess so little of it, and can, by all my labour, procure so few of its advantages? But this is a very deceitful ground of reasoning. He who lacks riches, may love them as well as he who possesses them: And therefore if you be discontented with your state; if you envy those above you; if, in your habits of thought, you consider wealth and happiness as inseparable; and if your diligence to prepare for another world be not superior to your industry in endeavouring to obtain a share of this: the world is still your idol, " and the love of the Father is not in you."
Another flatters bimself that he has no undue attach. ment to the world, because he does not project for him. self any great or extensive acquisitions in it, very small matters would satisfy him, and a moderate competence is all that he desires. But if your hearts are more set on these supposed moderate matters than on the heavenly inheritance, you are still slaves to the world; and the more mean and inexcusable you are that your object is so trifling and inconsiderable.
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 same profession, provided you leave him to be the judge of what that competency amounts to. Look above you to the superior ranks of society, and see whether their extensive possessions extinguish their desires
for more. Is not the reverse the fact? The richest are often in as great necessity as the most indigent—as of. ten, 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 de. cisive in the point; for a man may love the world inordi. nately, who would neither steal, nor rob, nor dissemble, in order to enrich himself. The fact is, that 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 world. ly business of any kind with success, that a wise man in his generation will be fair and honest in his dealings, from mere regard to his own advantage. But with all this prudential regard, coinciding with seeming 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 saith a fourth, it is impossible that I should love the world to excess, for it is the very vice which I priocipally hate and condemn in others. But, alas! so
do many thousands 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 same 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 de. sire 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 ab! what an ab. surd delasion is this, to offer their worldly possessions to God after they have abused them as 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 chargeable. “Be not deceived then, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man soweth, that sball he also reap. He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spi. rit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." Amen.
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.
I HAVE already described that excessive love of the world, from which the Apostle here dissuades us, and represented to you the greatness and malignity of this sin. I also laid before you some symptoms of an earthly miod, and endeavoured to detect the falsehood of those pretences, by which too many impose on their con. sciences, 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 the world, that they may rise upward to spiritual things. Consider then,
I. That this undue attachment to the world is absolutely inconsistent with the love of God. This is the Apostle's argument in the text: “ If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”—“ No man,” said our blessed Lord, “can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” Hence covetous men are styled idolaters. They reject the true God, and substitute an idol in his room; they put the creature in place of the Creator, and make the gists of bis bounty, wbich should knit their hearts to him, the occasions of alienating their affections from him.
I am aware that worldly men are very unwilling to acknowledge this charge, and would be highly offended should any accuse them directly of hating the God that made them. There is something so monstrous and shocking in the idea of hatred and enmity against God, that it is scarcely to be supposed any thinking man can reconcile himself to it. But be assured this charge, howe. ver odious it may appear, will be made good against every worldly man at last; and, therefore, as you would avoid the shame of standing before the judgment-seat in such a character, labour to get your affections divorced from earthly things, and henceforth let God be supreme in your hearts. Consider,
11. That an immoderate love of the world is not less
foolish than sinful. “ All that is in the world," saith the Apostle, in the verse following the text, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof." Many of its enjoyments are imaginary as well as transient. The pleasure and happiness we expect from them have no foundation in the nature of things, but depend entirely on a diseased corrupt fancy. If we look back to the history of mankind in all ages, the discontented and miserable will be as often found among the prosperous and affluent as among the poor and depressed conditions of life. Those situations which appear so desirable as objects of expectation, are often in experience found marvellously barren of real happiness. Whence does this arise? Is it not from the wise appointment of God, that nothing here below should satisfy the desires of an immortal creature ? Vanity is, for this reason, engraved in deep and legible characters on all things below the sun; and he that pursues the good things of this world as his only portion, will inevitably find that the most fortunate experience of life will never amount to a solid happiness, in which the heart of man can find rest and satisfaction. “ He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver, nor he tbat loveth abundance with increase." Therefore said our Lord to the multitude, “ Take heed, and be. ware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
Nature is easily satisfied; but when men create for themselves imaginary wants, they only provide an inexhaustible stock of solicitude and disappointment. The craving appetite will still be crying, Give, give; and the fulness of their sufficiency they will be in want. What has the world ever done for its most devoted servants,