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I. Show wherein this sin consists.
II. Show the dangerous nature of it.
I. Let us consider wherein the sin of worldly-mindedness consists. Though mankind are extremely prone to be worldlyminded, yet they are not less prone to overlook this sin in themselves. They are very apt to see it, or think they see it, in others; but are very blind to it in their own hearts. Indeed, mere worldly-mindedness, while unconnected with other sins, is very generally thought to be no sin at all. There are many such men as our Saviour describes in the parable, who have no apprehension that they are really possessed of a sinful worldly spirit. And the reason is, this sin does not consist in what many imagine to be the essence of it. For,
1. It does not consist in pursuing any honest calling. Men were formed to labor, and are required to labor. "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work." The apostle not only allows christians to have a calling, but commands them to abide in their calling. Men may pursue any business which tends to promote either public or private good. All are not required to cultivate the earth, though this was the original business of man. In the present state of the world, there is a vast variety of callings which are lawful and necessary. And every person may pursue that which either his inclination, or talents, or providence points out to him. Our Saviour does not blame the man in the parable for cultivating the earth, and making his fields fruitful. This was his proper business, which he ought to pursue. And every man ought to serve God and his generation, in his proper calling; which he may do, without feeling or expressing the least degree of a worldly spirit. So that worldly-mindedness does not consist in pursuing any useful employment, Nor,
2. Does it consist in their being diligent and industrious in their callings. They ought to employ their time and strength in whatever business devolves upon them. They have no right to be idle, while they are able to labor, or perform any proper business. Idleness is universally condemned in scripture, and threatened with marks of the divine displeasure. But activity and diligence are expressly required, and represented as the means of procuring the favor of God, and the blessings of his providence. We read, "The diligent hand maketh rich." We read, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might." Again, "Be not slothful in business, but fervent in
'spirit, serving the Lord." And our Saviour himself set an example of peculiar diligence and activity. He went about doing good. He rose early, acted vigorously, and performed every duty in its proper season. He was frugal of his time, and lavish of his strength, and cheerfully endured weariness and fatigue in doing his Father's business. He said, "He must work while it was day, because the night cometh, in which no man can work." His example is worthy of universal imitation, and every one may follow it without incurring the imputation of worldly-mindedness, which does not consist in mere diligence and activity in promoting the glory of God, or the good of mankind. Nor,
3. Does it consist in being prudent, and taking care of what has been procured by the sweat of the face. If God smiles upon the labor of men, and the fields bring forth plentifully; or, if in any other way, God makes them rich, and increases their goods, they ought to build barns and store-houses, and take every proper method to preserve the good things which The rich man in the parable providence bestows upon them. is not reproved for pulling down his barrз and building greatWe may be er, and providing places to bestow his goods. very sure, that Christ did not mean to censure him for this; because he expressly taught his disciples the duty of prudence and economy. When he had fed the multitudes, by miracles, he commanded the fragments to be gathered up, that nothing might be lost. Duty, often requires those who cultivate the earth, to put forth extraordinary exertions to preserve the fruits of the field. Nor are they ever chargeable with worldly-mindedness, merely for preserving the effects of their labor and industry. Nor,
4. Is there are any criminality in endeavoring to increase The their interest, and better their outward circumstances. blessing of the Lord often accompanies the labors of the godGod made Abraham, and many of ly, and makes them rich. the seed of Abraham, extremely rich. Worldly-mindedness, therefore, does not consist in men's properly desiring and endeavoring to increase their worldly substance.
5. Does worldly-mindedness consist in making a proper use The world may be used, without of the things of the world. abusing it. Every creature of God is good, if it be gratefully received and properly improved. Solomon says, "There is nothing better for a man than that he should eat and drink,
and that he should make his soul enjoy good in bis labor." And again he says, "Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth tby works." And again, "It is good and comely for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor that he taketh under the sun, all the days of his life which God giveth him; for it is his portion. Every man, also, to whom God hath given riches and wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his portion, and to rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God. For he shall not much remember the days of his life, because God answereth him in the joy of his heart." Thus man may live in the world, labor in the world, and enjoy the world, without being worldly-minded. But,
6. And positively, if men love the world supremely, they are altogether criminal. This was the sin of the rich man in the parable. He placed all his love upon the world, and derived all his happiness from it. He said to his soul, "Thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." He made provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. He said to the gold, thou art my trust, and to the fine gold, thou art my confidence. Or as our Saviour explains his feelings and conduct, "He laid up treasure for himself." His own private, personal happiness, in this life, was his supreme object in all his labors and pursuits. He made the world his idol, and loved the creature more than the Creator. He labored altogether for the meat that perisheth. And though he was not an epicure, yet he was a worldling. And so are all, who lay up treasure for themselves, and place their supreme affection upon the world. I now proceed to show,
II. The dangerous nature of worldly-mindedness. It proved fatal to the rich man in the parable. "God said unto him, thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall these things be which thou hast provided?" Since a worldly spirit is sinful, we may naturally conclude it is dangerous. And the danger of it will appear, if we consider the following things:
1. Supreme love to the world is inconsistent with love to God. This is plainly suggested in the text: "So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God." Those can have no regard for God, who have a supreme regard for the world. This our Saviour abundantly taught: "" Lay not
up for yourselves treasures upon earth-for where your treas ure is, there will your heart be also. No man 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." The apostle James represents the love of the world as totally inconsistent with the love of God, and opposite to it. "The friendship of the world is enmity with God. Whosoever will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God." And the apostle John delivers the same sentiment. "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." These divine declarations are founded in the nature of things. Supreme love to one object, must exclude supreme love to another. Those who love the world in any form supremely, cannot give God the supreme place in their hearts. They can only love God subordinately,.as ministering to their happiness, which is really loving themselves, and hating God, so far as he appears opposed to their desires and pursuits. So that love to the world is necessarily enmity to God. A worldly spirit separates the soul from God, and totally excludes all true love to him, which must be extremely dangerous.
2. Supreme love to the world is inconsistent with love to Those who lay up treasures for themselves, and place their whole happiness in the enjoyment of the v orld, have no sincere regard for any of their fellow creatures. No man really loves another, unless he values another's good as his own. The second great commandment requires men to love their neighbors as themselves. But while they love themselves supremely, they must love themselves wholly, without feeling the least degree of that love to their fellow creatures, which the divine law requires. Christ illustrated this truth-by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man laid up treasure for himself, and would not impart it to the poor man that lay at his gate. His love to the world shut out all love, and compassion, and benevolence to his fellow men; so that he would not even suffer the poor man so much as to feed upon the crumbs which fell from his table. So long as men are governed by a worldly spirit, they cannot exercise the least true love to any of their fellow creatures. They may, indeed, love those that love them, which is nothing but real selfishness, and the very spirit by which they lay up treasure for themselves.
The apostle James represents that love to the world, which exeludes love to man, as extremely dangerous. "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and bave not works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body, what doth it profit ?" And the apostle John demands, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" That is, that love which God requires men to exercise towards cach other.
3. Supreme love to the world is inconsistent with love to the gospel. Wherever our Saviour preached the gospel, and called upon men to embrace it, he always told them they must renounce their supreme love to the world, in order to comply with the terms of salvation. His common saying was, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself." And upon particular occasions he explained this maxim, by teaching men the impossibility of their embracing the gospel, while they loved the world supremely. He said, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me; and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that fiudeth his life, shall lose it; and he that loseth his life, for my sake, shall find it." And again, "Whosover he be of you, that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple." When a certain amiable young man desired him to propose the only condition of life, he told him virtually, to renounce his supreme love to the world, in order to obtain treasure in heaven. When some appeared forward to follow him, he plainly told them to give up their supreme love to the world, and forsake all they had, and come and follow him. And in the parable of the marriage feast, he strikingly illustrated the fatal tendency of supreme love to the world. He represented the offer of salvation to sinners, as general; and their general neglect and contempt of that offer, as owing to their supreme love to the world. "And they made light of it, one going to his farm, and another to his merchandize." This clearly shows, that while men love the world supremely, they will deapise, neglect, and oppose the gospel; which, if they persist in, it must drown them in perdition.