Imatges de pàgina


irresolution, he steadfastly professed-" If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more. If I should gain the whole world, I cannot offend my God, and thus lose my own soul. Let this be the settled purpose of our hearts. Let us be earnest in our prayers to him, without whom we can do nothing, to succour our weakness, and to strengthen our pious resolutions -to give us grace to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and with pure hearts and minds to follow him, the only God. Let us frequently meditate on the shortness of life, (how many circumstances constantly call us to these meditations!) on the certainty of death, and the uncertainty of the time of its summons. Let us habitually contemplate the awful scenes of eternity-the torments of hell, the joys of heaven. Employed in these meditations, and animated by these pious exercises, the charms of sensual pleasure will fade upon our view; the world, when we recollect that we must soon leave it, and that, at the bar of eternal judgment, its wealth, its honour, its power, its pleasures, can yield us no supportthe world will sink in our estimation. No objects will appear worthy of supreme pursuit (however, others necessarily ought to be of subordinate attention) but the favour of God and everlasting felicity in the life to come. We shall view as equally reproachful and criminal, that indecision which hesitates to secure, or which puts for a moment in jeopardy, interests so momentous. Our resolution will be to make our Christian calling and election sure, to serve him, whose service is perfect freedom, our highest duty, perfection, and

[ocr errors]

felicity. Thus resolved, thus decidedly engaging in the service of our God, yet mindful of our weakness and guilt, and imploring, through Jesus Christ, his mercy and grace-this mercy will refresh us, this grace will ever be present with us. He, our Lord and Redeemer, will enable us to overcome the temptations which assail us-amidst all the changes and trials to which we are exposed, will preserve us from falling-amidst all the allurements of the world, will keep our hearts surely there fixed where true joys are to be found-and when, before the breath of his displeasure, coming in majesty to judge the world, the heavens and the earth pass away, he will exalt us to that new heavens and new earth wherein dwell for ever righteousness and joy.



JAMES iv. 4.

The friendship of the world is enmity with God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

THIS is a hard saying, my brethren, if literally understood-who can bear it?

But surely it was not the design of the apostle to recommend, as necessary to the friendship of God, entire seclusion from the world, and a life of austerity and constant self-denial. Our connexion with our fellow-men is a foundation of the most important duties, and a source of the highest pleasures. Acts of love, of charity, and of mercy, are imitations of the paternal goodness of God, "whose tender mercies are over all his works." They are sanctioned by the example and the precepts of Christ, whose life was a constant course of beneficence, and who indulged in the enjoyments of social life. His religion speaks good will to men, and his service is perfect freedom and a reasonable service. Our divine Master surely, who supremely seeks our happiness, cannot forbid those pleasures which unbend the mind without making it effeminate, which gratify the heart without corrupting it. The gentleness and meekness which his Gospel inculcates, will dispose us to enjoy with VOL. II 53

superior relish all the innocent relaxations of life, and eminently fit us for the pure and virtuous pleasures of social and domestic intercourse. The commandments of God are not grievous, and in keeping of them there is great reward: the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden is light.

It is an inordinate attachment to the world which the apostle condemns, an attachment which lowers the demands of duty, which nourishes corrupt passions, which dispenses with an entire and holy obedience to the law of God, which enfeebles or extinguishes the supreme and ardent love which we owe to him. If it is our chief business and aim to obtain and enjoy the emoluments, the honours, and the pleasures of the world-if we place our chief happiness on the gratification of our sensual appetites-if we make religion subordinate to our worldly concerns, and, while strangers to its renovating power, perform its external duties from a principle of interest or fear-we are among the insincere Christians, the self-deceiving formalists, whom the text reproves. It teaches us that the love of God and a regard to his authority should be supreme in our hearts, should be the rule of our conduct, and should direct and moderate all our enjoyments.

Many persons, who have no just ideas of the purity and spirituality of the divine laws, are often excited, from the remonstrances of conscience, and from the apprehensions of death and judgment, to make some sacrifices to avert the displeasure of their Almighty Judge. They will endeavour, therefore, to preserve a deportment in general inoffensive; they will never grossly transgress the law of God; they will, perhaps, with punctuality and ap

parent devotion, attend to the duty of public worship; but they continue to pursue all the objects of the world with supreme ardour, and to enjoy all its pleasures, as the source of their highest felicity. It is not their desire and endeavour to mortify their inordinate and corrupt affections, and to render the pursuit and enjoyment of the world subordinate and subservient to the higher objects of their Christian calling; they are strangers to the life of God in the soul, to the power of his grace in renewing the heart, and yet it is their hope and expectation to secure his favour. To persons of this character the text is addressed, and it demolishes their hopes and expectations; for it declares-" The friendship of the world is eninity with God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

That an inordinate attachment to the world is incompatible with the love of God, will appear from various considerations.

1. An inordinate attachment to the world is contrary to the perfections of God.

2. It is inconsistent with the principles and rules of Christian duty.

3. The friendship of the world and the love of God prepare the soul for opposite states of existence hereafter, and cannot therefore subsist together.

1. An inordinate attachment to the world is contrary to the perfections of God.

God is infinitely holy, and the soul that is impure cannot therefore be acceptable in his sight. His infinite compassion will, indeed, pardon our infirmities; but corrupt passions and the love of sin

« AnteriorContinua »