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racter in which we are deficient; wearisome to learn modesty, love of obscurity, willingness to be thought little of, backwardness to clear ourselves when slandered, and readiness to confess when we are wrong; to learn to have no cares for this world, neither to hope nor to fear, but to be resigned and contented !
I may close these remarks, by appealing to the consciences of all who have ever set about the work of religion in good earnest, whoever they may be, whether they have made less, or greater progress in their noble toil, whether they are matured saints, or feeble strugglers against the world and the flesh. They have ever confessed how great efforts were necessary to keep close to the commandments of God; in spite of their knowledge of the truth, and their faith, in spite of the aids and consolations they receive from above, still how often do their corrupt hearts betray them! Even their privileges are often burdensome to them, even to pray for the grace which in Christ is pledged to them is an irksome task. They know that God's service is perfect freedom, and they are convinced in their reason, and from their own experience of it, that it is true happiness ; still they confess withal the strange reluctance of their natures to love their MAKER and His service. And this is the point in question; not only the mass of mankind, but even the confirmed servants of Christ, witness to the opposition which exists between their own nature and the demands of religion.
This then is the remarkable fact which I proposed to show. Can we doubt that man's will runs contrary to God's will—that the view which the inspired word takes of our present life, and of our destiny, does not satisfy us, as it rightly ought to do? that Christ hath no form nor comeliness in our eyes; and though we see Him, we see no desirable beauty in Him? That holy, merciful, and meek Saviour, the Eternal, the Only-begotten, Son of God, our friend and infinite benefactor—He who left the glory of His FATHER and died for us, who has promised us the overflowing riches of His grace both here and hereafter, He is a light shining in a dark place, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." " Light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light.” The nature of men is flesh, and that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and ever must so remain; it never can discern, love, accept, the holy doctrines of the Gospel. It will occupy itself in
various ways, it will take interest in things of sense and time, but it can never be religious. It is at enmity with God.
And now we see what must at once follow from what has been said. If our hearts are by nature set on the world for its own sake, and the world is one day to pass away, what are they to be set on, what to delight in, then? Say, how will the soul feel when, stripped of its present attire, which the world bestows, it stands naked and shuddering before the pure, tranquil, and severe majesty of the LORD its God, its most merciful, yet dishonoured MAKER and Saviour ? What are to be the pleasures of the soul in another life? Can they be the same as they are here? They cannot; Scripture tells us they cannot; the world passeth awaynow what is there left to love and enjoy through a long eternity? What a dark, forlorn, miserable eternity that will be !
It is then plain enough, though Scripture said not a word on the subject, that if we would be happy in the world to come, we must make us new hearts, and begin to love the things we naturally do not love. Viewing it as a practical point, the end of the whole matter is this, we must be changed; for we cannot, we cannot expect the system of the universe to come over to us; the inhabitants of heaven, the numberless creations of Angels, the glorious company of the Apostles, the goodly fellowship of the Prophets, the noble army of Martyrs, the holy Church universal, the Will and Attributes of God, these are fixed. We must go over to them. In our Saviour's own authoritative words : “Verily, verily, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God?.” It is a plain matter of self-interest, to turn our thoughts to the means of changing our hearts, putting out of the question our duty towards God and CHRIST, our Saviour and REDEEMER.
“He hath no form nor comeliness, and when we see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him." It is not His loss that we love Him not, it is our loss. He is all-blessed, whatever becomes of us. He is not less blessed because we are far from Him. It is we who are not blessed, except as we approach Him, except as we are like Him, except as we love Him. Woe unto us, if in the day in which He comes from heaven we see nothing
2 John iii. 3
desirable or gracious in His wounds; but instead, have made for ourselves an ideal blessedness, different from that which will be manifested to us in Him. Woe unto us, if we have made pride, or selfishness, or the carnal mind, our standard of perfection and truth ; and our eyes have grown dim, and our hearts gross, as regards the true light of men, and the glory of the Eternal FATHER, May HE HIMSELF save us from our self-delusions, whatever they are, and enable us to give up this world, that we may gain the next;--and to rejoice in Him, who had no home of His own, no place to lay His head, who was poor and lowly, and despised and rejected, and tormented and slain.
THE WORLD OUR ENEMY.
1 JOHN v. 19.
“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.”
Few words are of more frequent occurrence in the language of religion than “ the world;" Holy Scripture makes continual mention of it, in the way of censure and caution; in the Service for Baptism it is described as one of three great enemies of our souls ; and in the ordinary writings and conversation of Christians, I need hardly say, mention is made of it continually. Yet most of us, it would appear, have very indistinct notions what the world means. We know that the world is a something dangerous to our spiritual interests, and that it is in some way connected with human society—with men as a mixed multitude, contrasted with men one by one, in private and domestic life; but what it is, how it is our enemy, how it attacks, and how it is to be avoided, is not so clear. Or if we conceive some distinct notion concerning it, still probably it is a wrong notion ; which leads us, in consequence, to misapply the Scripture precepts relating to the world, and this is even worse than overlooking them. I shall now, then, attempt to show what is meant by the world, and how, in consequence, we are to understand the information and warnings of the sacred writers concerning it.
1. Now, first, by the world is very commonly meant the present visible system of things, without taking into consideration
whether it is good or bad. Thus St. John contrasts the world and the things that are in it, which are evil, “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world'.” Again, he presently says, “The world passeth away, and the lust thereof.”
Here, as in many other parts of Scripture, the world is not spoken of as actually sinful in itself (though its lusts are so, of course), but merely as some present visible system which is likely to attract us, and is not to be trusted, because it cannot last, Let us first consider it in this point of view.
There is, as a matter of necessity, a great variety of stations and fortunes among mankind; hardly two persons are in the same outward circumstances, and possessed of the same mental re
Men differ from each other, and are bound together into one body or system by the very points in which they differ ; they depend on each other : such is the will of God. This system is the world, to which it is plain belong our various modes of supporting ourselves and families by exertion of mind and body, our intercourse with others, our duty towards others, the social virtues,-industry, honesty, prudence, justice, benevolence, and the like. These spring all from our present lot in life, and tend to our present happiness. This life holds out prizes to merit and exertion. Men rise above their fellows; they gain fame and honours, wealth and power, which we therefore call worldly goods. The affairs of nations, the dealings of people with people, the interchange of productions between country and country, are of this world. We are educated in boyhood for this world; we play our part on a stage more or less conspicuous, as the case may be ; we die, we are no more, we are forgotten, as far as the present state of things is concerned: all this is of the world.
By the world, then, is meant this course of things which we see carried on by means of human agency, with all its duties and pursuits. It is not necessarily a sinful system ; rather it is framed, as I have said, by God Himself, and therefore cannot be otherwise than good. And yet even thus considering it, we are bid not to love the world: even in this sense the world is an enemy of our souls ; and for this reason, because the love of it is dangerous to beings circumstanced as we are ; things in them
11 John ii. 15.