Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

to feelings of pride and emulation. He is disposed to plume himself in his advantages-to value himself on the various points in which he is superior, either from personal merit or outward condition, to those around him. God has given us different parts and talents. Society requires gradations of rank, and differences of station, and an unequal distribution of wealth. Even where there is no disposition to glory in the possession of that in which we excel others, there is no little danger of entertaining feelings of arrogance, under a sense of the superiority which is conferred by the enjoyment of that which is not universal.

There are few who do not enjoy something in a greater degree than others—whatever it is, it exposes them to the temptations which the world offers as “the pride of

life.”

Such is the world, in its scriptural meaning. It is all that surrounds us. We can never want the opportunity of being worldly. We can escape the danger only when we obey the inspired precept “not to love the world, nor the things that are in the world.”

Every thing tempts us to love it. Our nature is corrupt. We feel all the force of outward objects. It is only by Divine grace

that our souls can now be enabled to look beyond what is visible, to the unseen realities. We have no difficulty in understanding and feeling the influence of sensible objects which come before us in every circumstance of life, which make up and measure our present existence: we can realise the great truths which God has been pleased to make to us, with respect to himself and a different state of being, only by faith. But the greatness of the temptation forms our probation. It is by despising the visible, and striving to attain the invisible, that we are prepared for the happiness which God has provided for-them that love him.

We may not love the world, nor the things in the world. It is not enough to abstain from what is positively forbidden ás unlawful: we are called to a higher conversation. We are, if we are Christians indeed, citizens of a better country. We are here strangers and pilgrims; we may not allow our affections to fasten upon anything in the wilderness through which we are passing. If our hearts have been brought into harmony with the mind of God, we shall have little inclination to rest satisfied with what we can find on earth, we shall habitually aspire after heaven.

We have seen how comprehensive is the Apostle's view of the world. What does he mean by loving it? He evidently means, looking for gratification to it-deriving our happiness from it. The Christian is forbidden to value any outward thing as good in itself; he is sinning whenever he is receiving enjoyment from the creature without thinking of the Creator. God should be in all his thoughts; whatever he does should be referred to Him. He is not sent into the world to gather flowers, nor to disport himself in any way after his own inclination, but to move onward; to deny himself, to take up the cross, and follow his suffering Lord. These are, doubtless, hard sayings : they have always been thought so. Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. But let us not venture to lower the exalted morality of the Gospel. If we attain not its perfection, let us mourn for our infirmity, and strive henceforth to observe it better.

The Apostle's command, which is explained abundantly by our blessed Lord's discourses, and other places of holy Scripture, does not mean that we are absolutely to avoid the enjoyments which are providentially laid in our path, or to renounce the relations in which we stand to others. The Lord is not the author of confusion; and the gifts of God may be enjoyed with thanksgiving: but every earthly enjoyment should be enjoyed in a self-denying spirit. We are to hold the outward gifts of God as gifts which we are content to part with cheerfully whenever He may be pleased to withdraw them. We may not make idols of his mercies; we may not regard them with any feeling which is incompatible with that complete devotion of the heart which we owe to Him.

Whenever cases arise in which we are called upon to ask the question, we can never practically find any difficulty in determining whether we are guilty of " loving the world.” We have only to be honest with ourselves, and our hearts will tell us whether we are “ loving the things in the world” too well. It is well for us to ask the question often : if we are concerned about the condition of our souls, we cannot ask it too frequently.

It is evident that all who are engaged in the pursuit of pleasure, love the world. Though they may keep clear of flagrant sin, and only indulge themselves in what does not appear to be expressly forbidden in God's word, if they gratify their inclinations habitually and systematically, it is quite clear that they love the things in the world. If the world were indifferent to them, if they looked upon it with jealousy, they would practise themselves in selfdenial ; they would be afraid to gratify their wishes; they would labour to teach themselves to feel that earth is not their rest. The contrary habit shows that they have either much to learn with respect to

« AnteriorContinua »