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and uncertain to alter very materially the cast of their reflections. The path “ through much tribulation" lay still before them “ to the kingdom of heaven."
In ordinary circumstances, the feelings, we apprehend, are so powerfully attracted and preoccupied by present objects, and the attachment to life is so strong, that were the belief of a future state of happiness as firm and constant as any conviction of which the mind is capable, the impression of it could scarcely be "overdone" in the minds of Christians; or rather, as that phrase seems open to question, the desire of realizing their expectation of a better life could scarcely become so urgent as to create an impatience in waiting for the period of its accomplishment, and dispose them to neglect the duties of the present state-could scarcely be such as to afford them occasion for that resignation to a protraction of life which was expressed by St. Paul. (Phil. i. 23.)
1. JOHN II. 15–17.
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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
The force and propriety of this admonition are sufficiently obvious. We are not prompted to a disobedience of our Maker by a distinct inclination and purpose to offend him; nor are we endangered in our spiritual welfare by a general indifference to our own happiness. We are enticed away from the service of God by the solicitation of some desire or propensity, which seeks its gratification in an object of this world; overcoming our reverential awe of Him, setting aside the dictates of a prospective wisdom, and leading us to postpone our duties and interests as accountable and immortal beings. If then a preference of the world, in some shape or other, be the proximate or exciting cause of sin and disobedience, the great preservative from evil must be sought in a diminished regard to the world, and “ the things that are in the world.”
The words of the text, moreover, impute to mankind in general, a disposition to make this lamentable preference, and so egregiously to magnify the pleasures and advantages of this life, as to hazard for them the favour of God, and the happiness of a future state. Hence the weight and urgency of the precept, “ Love not the world:” for, obviously, in proportion as we are naturally inclined to pursue the objects of the world with an immoderate ardour, is it imperative on us to restrain our inclinations towards them—to regard them with distrust and watchfulness--to apply our chief endeavours to the attainment of a future and eternal good; form
Finally, we are exhorted by the Apostle to propose to ourselves, as the great end of our existence, the fulfilment of the will of God; for this plain but most momentous reason, that, while all other desires and their gratifications must terminate with the world that engenders them, the principles of religion are motives of action, and sources of happiness, which defy the waste of time, and live, like the soul, for ever :-“ The world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
To make a just application of the words of the Apostle, it is essential, in the first place, to ascertain and discriminate that love of the world which they so impressively forbid us to entertain or allow. — Though it seems a most reasonable conclusion, that none of the natural appetites and passions, or of those desires which attach us to this world, are essentially or absolutely evil ; yet we must be too well convinced by the common experience of mankind, as well as the testimony of the Scriptures, that they have all contracted a tendency to inordinacy and perversion. It must be manifest, indeed, that the lusts which the Apostle stigmatizes as not of the Father, are excesses of natural propensities: the propensities themselves enter into the original constitution of our nature, and as such are of the Father. But they are condemned as the offspring of the world, inasmuch as they exceed the measure which
the Father hath prescribed to them: inasmuch as they supplant or encroach upon that love which is due to himself, or which he requires us to cherish towards our fellow-creatures.
It is his first and great commandment, that we should love Himself with the whole mind beyond all objects or beings in the universe ; and the second is like unto it, that we should love our neighbour as ourselves—respect his substance, his reputation, his feelings—all that is equitably his, as though it were our own. The rectitude of these commandments we may assume to be universally acknowledged: for, surely, if there be any proportion in the motives which should influence our doings, a principle of obedience to the Creator ought to stand the highest in the scale; and none can doubt that the exertions of individuals to obtain the things of the world, ought to be subordinated to that rule of equity and law of charity, which he has enjoined upon us in our conduct towards our fellow-creatures.
But here it is important to observe, that while the two great commandments of our religion, comprehending the whole law of righteousness, are obviously the proper checks to an inordinate attachment to the world, it is not to be supposed that Christians must