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general Christian cause,) labor respectively to show, that yours is the soundest party, by its comprising the greatest number of active, zealous, self-denying, generous, circumspect Christians; who are the most loving, the most laborious, the most spiritual, and yet the least assuming of all the professors of godliness, in this city or neighbourhood. May each individual thus endeavor to be a credit to the society to which he belongs, an ornament to his denomination, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, and the glory of Christ.
AGAINST THE LOVE 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.
Perhaps this sounds, in the ears of some of my hearers, like a harsh saying. It was, however, written by a very benevolent man, by the disciple whom Jesus loved ; who drank very much into the spirit of his Master; who, in this Epistle, most strongly inculcates love ; and who thus expressed himself, not under the influence of a morose and churlish disposition, but of a benevolent concern for the good of those to whom his Epistle was first sent, and of all who should read it to the end of time : and he wrote by divine inspiration, and expresses himself positively. It is therefore worth while to examine his sentiments, and to give his words their full meaning; since it will be unavailing and dangerous to explain them away. We may lose our souls by so doing ; and if we partially misunderstand them, shall be likely to suffer partial loss at least; and any spiritual loss will be so great, that no temporal gain can counterbalance the damage. Yet the language of the text may be misunderstood, and therefore it may be worth while in this case to use the old fashioned method of answering the inquiry, both negatively and positively.
First: What are we to understand by the love of the world, against which we are here warned ?
By the love of the world, here prohibited, is not to be understood our taking pleasure in a survey of the creation around us; a love of the science of astronomy, or geography; or the study of natural history, in any of its brancheszoology, botany, mineralogy, &c. if these are rendered subservient to our contemplation of the power, wisdom, and goodness of the great Creator ; and if we do not rest in the simple admiration of his natural perfections; but are led to realize his moral attributes, his moral government, and our obligations to serve and glorify him, and to value his favor as better than life. But surely it is lamentable, when men of superior intelligence devote their time and talents to the study of the works of God, without being led to know, love, and obey him. Nothing seems to me more grievous, than to see one, who once appeared uncommonly zealous in serving God in the gospel of his Son, have his mind diverted from the superior wonders of redemption by the study of fossils, or the petrified remains of shells and plants buried in the earth in the days of Noah !
When we are charged not to love the world, it is not forbidden that we should possess houses, or lands, or other property; or that we should be moderately pleased with the bounties of providence. It is possible for a man, like Abraham, Joseph, Daniel, and others, to possess much of the world, and yet not love it inordinately. While, on the other hand, a man may obtain very little of worldly possessions and enjoyments, and yet have his heart set on the world in a very improper manner. It is not said of money, but of the love of money, that it is the root of all evil. They that possess much, need to be charged that they trust not in uncertain riches; and they that are in depressed circumstances, need to be warned against anxious cares and discontent.
But we shall be found guilty of that love of the world which is here condemned, if we make it the chief object of our pursuit; treat it as if it were the chief good; and give the world the preference to spiritual and eternal blessings.
Do not some evidently do this? Are not many fonder of worldly pleasures, than of spiritual enjoyments ? Do they not value worldly riches more than the unsearchable riches of Christ? Are they not more desirous of the honor that cometh from men, than of that which cometh from God only? Perhaps, you would not directly say, “Let me be rich in this world, and I care not if I am exposed to eternal misery : let me enjoy the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season, and I will risque enduring weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth ; let me obtain honor among men, and I am willing to awake to everlasting contempt.' But I am afraid, if our Lord were now upon earth, such a proposal as he made to the young Ruler, would send you away sorrowful. Are not your minds so taken up with the world, as to leave you little time to think of eternity ? Has not the love of the world so much power over some of you, as to influence you more than the love of God? Or do you indeed seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and trust him to add what he sees best for you of an earthly kind ? Are you unwilling
the world by any means which God has not authorized you to adopt ? Do you attend to your necessary worldly employments in the fear of God, depending on him for success? Do you value whatever temporal good God has bestowed upon you, chiefly as his gift, and as that which you wish to employ for his glory-acting as his steward ? Do you esteem others more for spiritual excellencies, than for worldly possessions and advantages ? Are you more anxious to see those that are dear to you, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God has promised to them that love him, than to see them great and prosperous in the world? Can you submit to the divine will, when God sees fit to strip you of riches, honors, and earthly enjoyments ?
“ God would have the world hang like a loose tooth, (said one,) which may be twitched away without great pain.” Are you jealous of your own hearts, lest, when riches increase, you should so
them as to have them drawn off from God ?
SECONDLY: Why should we beware of the love of the world, against which we are here cautioned ?
Because the attainment of worldly good, even by those who are most eager in the pursuit of it, is so uncertain. The world cannot promise, as heavenly wisdom has done, “ They that seek me early, shall find me.”
Because, if it be gained for a time, its continuance is so uncertain.
“ Labor not to be rich; cease from thine own wisdom. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make to themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle towards heaven.” Because our loss of it is so certain.
It will soon be said, “Thy soul is required of thee : whose then shall be the things thou possessest?” Then, every one who layeth up treasures for himself, and is not rich towards God, will be found a fool. “Riches profit not in the day of wrath.” Because the world is so unsatisfying, and unworthy the pursuit of an immortal being. What shall a man be profited, should he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?
“ He that loveth silver, shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance, with increase.” Because the enjoyments of the world are often so ensnaring. They that will be rich—they that are resolved at all events to pursue the world as if it were their chief good—fall into temptation and a snare, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the love of money is the root of all evil; which, while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves with many sor
Because you cannot serve God and mammon. You may have much worldly business; you may be diligent in it; you may be successful; and if it be attended to in the fear of God, as the service of God, in subordination to the glory of God, with submission to the will of God; if God himself be treated as the chief good, and your only portion ; all is well : but if a man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Because spiritual and eternal blessings are of infinitely greater importance. Treat them as such. Show the truth of John xvii. 16. as applied to you. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
CXLVI. CHRIST'S DISCIPLES UNKNOWN TO THE WORLD.
1 JOHN iii. 1. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.” If this privilege does not seem wonderful in your eyes, it is a clear evidence that you are not interested in it. And yet if you are not a child of God, the Apostle tells you whose child you are. But we will now chiefly notice the world's ignorance of them that sustain this exalted character, and consider how John accounts for it. He plainly suggests that there are a number of people in the world, who are truly the children of God; but the men of the world know them not, because they know not their Father. Consider,
First, The distinguishing character of the children of God.
They have a truly filial disposition toward him. Other men are his creatures, dependent upon him, supplied by him, accountable to him; but they do not habitually realize their relation or obligations; and indeed, most of them seldom think about him. But these live as if they could see him that is invisible; they love to realize his inspection; they feel a reverential awe of him; they wish to be in subjection to him; they love to feel their dependance on him; they admire his condescension, which has put them among the children by gracious adoption, and renewed them in the spirit of their mind by regenerating grace, and begotten them again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. They are truly concerned for his honor and glory; they love to do his will, to yield him childlike obedience, to be conformed to his holy image, to resign themselves to his disposal; to do, to be, and to suffer, what he pleases. A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master. “ If I be a father, where is mine honor ? and if I be a master, where is