LOVE OT THE WORLD 2 BY ROBERT WALKER

1 John ii. 15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the ivorld; 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 uiind, and endeavoured to delect the falsehood of those

486 SERMO LXXIV. pretences, by which too many impose on their consciences, 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 oflfer 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 spiritufil tliin£;s. — Consider then, I. That this undue attachment to the world is absolutely inconsistent with the love of God. This is the Aposile's arji;ument in the text: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." — " o 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 gifts of his bounty, which 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, an<l 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, however 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, II. That an immoderate love of the world is not less

SERMO LXXIV. 487 foolish than sinful. " All that is in the world," saith the Apostle, in the verse foUowins; the text, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, hut 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 oi)jects 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 that loveth abundance with increase." Therefore said our Lord to the multitude, " Take heed, and beware of covetousness, for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth." ature is easily satisfied; but when men create for themselves imaginary vv'ants, 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,

488 SERMO LXXIV. that should make you desire it so greedily? Soloraou M ent as far as any man ever did, both in tlie acquisition and enjoyment of earthly things, and in the conclusion passed this sentence on the review of all his experience, ^' Vanity of vanities, sailh the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity and ^xation of spirit." And have you discovered an art of extracting comfort from the creatures beyond what the wisest of men was able lo do? AVhat do you seriously expect from the world? Will it prevent or remove sickness? Will it ward off the stroke of death? or will it even administer any consolation to you at that trying season? Should one come to you on your death-bed, when your sj)irits are languishing, your hearts failing, and your bodies possessed

Avith racking pain, and begin to console you by representing your vast acquisitions of wealth, would his words be reviving? Will it afl'ord you any joy to contemplate those possessions, from which you are presently to be divorced for ever? You cannot think so. You must be sensible, tliat all things below the sun will prove miserable comforters in dying moments, and that the favour ^of God will then appear infinitely more desirable than ten thousand worlds. What infatuation then is it to set your hearts supremely on that which you know will appear most contemptible at last? — Consider, III. That as the love of the world to excess is sinful and foolish, so it is also pernicious and fatal. "Tiiey that will be rich," saith the Apostle to Timothy, ^' fall into temptation, and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition; for the l(»ve of money is the root of all evil," It were an endless task to enumerate all the dismal effects of this sordid disposition. "' From whence come wars and fightings?" saith tlie apostle James; " Come

SERMO LXXIV. 4^9 they not hence, even of your lusts which war in your raemhers? Ye lust and have not ; ye kill and desire to have, and cannot obtain.'' It is this which engenders strife and contention, and almost every evil work. It destroys the tranquillity of the person possessed by it ; it incites him to trespass on the rights and enjoyments of others ; and on both these accounts is often punished with remarkable judgments, even in the present life. How awful is that curse pronounced by the prophet Habakkuk ! " Wo to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil. Thou hast consulted shame to thyself, and hast sinned against

thy soul ; for the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it." — How dismal was the fate of Ananias and Sapphira ! — How horrible the end of Judas Iscariot! In both these instances the saying of the wise man, (Prov. i. 19.) was remarkably verified, " the greediness of gain taketh away the life of the owners thereof." But although they should escape in this world, yet they shall not escape the damnation of hell. Then shall they find that riches will not profit them in the day of God's wrath. There is a striking passage to this purpose, (James V. 1.) "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten ; youi gold and silver is cankered, and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Y^e have heaped treasure together for the last day." Such is the present wretchedness and the miscra ble portion at last of an earthly mind. Whereas, IV. An heart disengaged from this excessive love oi ihe world would not only prevent all this misery, bul Vol. II. -^ Q

490 SERMO LXXIV. likewise, give us the true relish of life, and make death itself easy and comfortable. Take away earthly things from a worldly man, and you take away his all; but the same things withdrawn from an heavenly minded Christian, do not annihilate his fund of happiness. When the streams of created comforts fail, he resorts to the fountain; when the creatures forsake him, he can rejoice in the Creator, and joy in the God of his salvation. The good things he possesseth have a peculiar relish, which earthly minds are incapable of feeling. He sees the

bounty of God in every gift, and the faithfulness of his covenant in every comfort he enjoys. He, therefore, eats liis bread with joy, and drinks his wine with a merry heart; and while he thus sits cheerfully at the feast which Providence has set before him, he fears not the intrusion of any uuwelcome messenger to interrupt his peace. He is not afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixed trusting in the Lord. Prepared for all the vicissitudes of life, adversity can take nothing from him, which, in the discipline of his own mind, he has not resigned alrea»ly. ay, death itself, that presentiment so dreadful to the worldly mind, is to him, in a great measure, divested of its terrors : For he knows, " that if this earthly house of his tabernacle were dissolved, he has a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Having thus endeavoured to enforce the exhortation in the text, it only remains that I oiler a few directions for the help of those who are desirous to have their affections weaned from the world, that they may rise upwards to spiritual things. ist. Let us beware of receiving too ilattering a picture of the world into our minds, or of expecting more from it than it is able to bestow. lA>t us correct our florid

SERMO LXXIV. 491 and gaudy expectations, and make a sober estimate of its real amount. For this purpose go sometimes to the house of mourning, rather than to the house of feasting. Behold there the untimely hand of death, taking away the desire of the eyes with a stroke, blasting the most virtuous joys of humanity, tearing asunder the dearest connexions, demolishing the painted tapestry, and hanging up in its place the solemn sable and escutcheon.

Such objects, viewed with seriousness and attention, are far more profitable than the gilded scenes of mirth and gaiety; they check that wantonness which is the growth of ease and prosperity, and lead us to reflect that this world is not our home, but a foreign land, in which our vexations and disappointments are designed to turn our views towards that higher and better state, which we are destined to inherit. 2dlij. Be very suspicious of a prosperous state, and fear the world more when it smiles that when it frowns. It is difficult to possess much of it, without loving it to excess. The great enemy of our souls is well aware of this, and therefore would give all his servants liberal portions in this world, were it in his power. This was his last effort in the train of temptations which he addressed to our Lord in the wilderness, and when this failed he immediately departed from him. There is not a more salutary maxim in religious concerns, than always to suspect danger where we feel much delight. If our situation be such as entirely pleases our natural desires, it is high time to look well to the soul, and to set a strict guard on our heart, lest, by these pleasing enjoyments, they should be betrayed and alienated from God, who alone has a right to them. Mly. Make a wise improvement of the afflictions with which you may at any time be visited. Beware of

493 SERMO LXXIV. repining under tliera, or thitiking them greater evils thau they really are ; but rather believe that they are graciously sent for the benefit of your souls, to mortify your inordinate affections to the present world. *• V\ horn the Lord loveth he chasteneth." — ay, the seasonable visitation of temporal calamities, is included in the tenor of

that everlasting covenant, which is well ordered in all things and sure. Does the world then frown on you ? Are you afflicted with poverty, sickness, pain, and reproach ? Do relations grieve you ? Do friends prove unfaithful ? or are you bereaved of them by death? eglect not so fair an opportunity of instruction, when you have experience itself to disgrace the pretensions of the world, and your very flesh is made to feel that it is both vain and vexatious. Remember that God has sent these rough messengers to bring you home to himself. Gratefully, then, comply with his call, and choose him for your portion, leaving the world to those who have no better sources of satisfaction. 'i!thly. Look forward to eternity, and take a serious view of that world, wherein you must dwell for ever, after you have spent a few more days and nights in this. Remember that heaven or hell must be your everlasting abode ; and must it not be of the last importance to know which of these different states shall be your lot? Can that man spend his time and strength in the pusuit of trifles, who believes and who considers that he is hastening to appear before God in judgment, when his final state shall be allotted according to his present behaviour? Must not the foresight of this awful trial disengage his mind from the woild, and cure his anxiety a!)()ut earthly tilings, by producing in him an anxiety about matters of infinitely greater consequence. " Let vour moderation be known unto all men," saith the

SERMO LXXIV. 493 Apostle ; " the lord is at hand.'' A more powerful argument could not be used. An habitual impression of this awful truth, that the Lord is at hand, that he standeth before the door, would effectually cure our feverish desires after earthly things, and awaken us to a deep concern about the interests of our precious and immortal

souls. Finally, let us be wise in time, and give the supreme affections of our hearts to God, who alone is worthy of them ; imploring, for this purpose, the aid of his HolySpirit, to enable us to comply with his own gracious expostulation, (Isa. Iv. S.) " Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me : hear, and your souls shall live ; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, even the sure mercies of David." Amen.

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