« AnteriorContinuar »
any lover of virtue and truth say one word in favour of this monster : let no lover of mankind once open his mouth to extenuate the guilt of it. Abhor it as you would abhor the devil, whose offspring and likeness it is. Abhor it, as you would abhor the extinction of all virtue, and the universal prevalence of an earthly, sensual, devilish spirit; and flee from it as you would flee (if you saw it open before you) from the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
ON FRIENDSHIP WITH THE WORLD.
" Ye Adulterers and Adulteresses, know ye not that the
Friendship of the World is Enmity with God.? Whosoever, therefore, desireth to be a Friend of the World, is an Enemy of God."
1. THERE is a passage in St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, which has often been supposed to be of the same import with this : “ Be not conformed to this world," ch. xii. 2. But it has little or no relation to it; it speaks of quite another thing. Indeed the supposed resemblance arises merely from the use of the word World in both places. This naturally leads us to think, that St. Paul means by conformity to the world, the same which St. James means by friendship with the world: whereas they are entirely different things, as the words are quite different in the original; (for St. Paul's word is awv; St. James's is xoquos.) However, the words of St. Paul contain an important direction to the children of God. As if he had said, Be not conformed to either the wisdom, or the spirit, or the fashions of the age : of either the unconverted Jews, or the Heathens, among whom ye live. You are called to shew, by the whole tenor of your life and conversation, that you are “ renewed in the spirit of your mind, after the image of him that created you;” and that your rule is not the example or will of man, but “the good, and acceptable, and perfect Will of God.”
2. But it is not strange, that St. James's caution against Friendship with the World should be so little understood, even among Christians. For I have not been able to learn that any author, ancient or modern, has written upon the subject: no, not (so far as 1 have observed) for sixteen or seventeen hundred years. Even that excellent writer, Mr. Law, who has treated so well many other subjects, has not, in all his practical treatises, written one chapter upon it. No, nor said one word, that I remember, or given one caution against it. I never heard one sermon preached upon it, either before the University or elsewhere. I never was in any company, where the conversation turned explicitly upon it, even for one hour.
3. Yet are there very few subjects of so deep importance ; few that so nearly concern the very essence of Religion, the Life of God in the soul, the continuance and increase, or the decay, yea, extinction of it. From the want of instruction in this respect, the most melancholy consequences have followed. These, indeed, have not affected those who were still dead in trespasses and sins; but they have fallen heavy upon many of those who were truly alive to God. They have' affected many of those called Methodists in particular, perhaps more than any other people. For wants of understanding this advice of the Apostle, (I hope' rather than from any contempt of it,) many among them are sick, spiritually sick, and many sleep, who were once thoroughly awakened. And it is well if they awake any more till their souls are required of them. It has appeared difficult to me, to account for what I have frequently observed : many who were once greatly alive to God, whose conversation was in heaven, who had set their affections on things above, not: on things of the earth : though they walked in all the ordinances of God, though they still abounded in good works, and abstained from all known sin, yea, and from the appearance of evil; yet they
gradually and insensibly decayed, (like Jonah's gourd, when the worm ate the root of it,) insomuch, that they are less alive to God now, than they were ten, twenty, or thirty years ago. But it is easily accounted for, if we observe, that as they increased in goods, they increased in friendship with the world; which, indeed, must always be the case, unless the mighty power of God interpose. But in the same proportion as they increased in this, the life of God in their soul decreased.
4. Is it strange that it should decrease, if those words are really found in the Oracles of God, “ Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not, that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” What is the meaning of these words ? Let us seriously consider. And may God open the eyes of our understanding, that in spite of all the mist wherewith the wisdom of the world would cover us, we may discern, what is the good and acceptable will of God.
5. Let us first consider, What it is which the Apostle here means by the World. He does not here refer to this outward frame of things, termed in Scripture, heaven and earth; but to the inhabitants of the earth, the children of men: or at least the greater part of them. But what part ? This is fully determined both by our Lord himself, and by his beloved Disciple. First, by our Lord himself. His words are, “ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love its own : but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. And all these things will they do unto you, because they know not him that sent me," John xv. 18, &c. You see here the world is placed on one side, and those who are not of the world on the other. They whom God has “ chosen out of the world," namely, by “sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” are set in direct opposition to those whom he hath not so chosen. Yet again, “ Those who know not him that sent me,” saith our Lord, who know not God, they are the world.
6. Equally express are the words of the beloved Disciple: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you : we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren," 1 John iii. 13. As if he had said, “ You must not expect any should love you, but those that have “ passed from death unto life.” It follows, Those that are not passed from death unto life, that are not alive to God, are the world. The same we may learn from those words in the fifth chapter, ver. 19, “ We know that we are of God, and the whole world Jieth in the wicked one." Here the world plainly means, those that are not of God, and who, consequently, lie in the wicked one.
7. Those, on the contrary, are of God, who love God, or, at least, “ fear him, and keep his commandments.” This is the lowest character of those that are of God," who are not properly sons, but servants: who “ depart from evil, and study to do good, and walk in all his ordinances, because they have the fear of God in their heart, and a sincere desire to please him. Fix in your heart, this plain meaning of the terms the world, those who do not thus fear God. Let no man deceive you with vain words : it means neither more nor less than this.
8. But, understanding the term in this sense, what kind of friendship may we have with the world. We may, we ought to love them as ourselves, (for they also are included in the word neighbour,) to bear them real good-will; to desire their happiness as sincerely as we desire the happiness of our own souls : yea, we are in a sense to honour them, (seeing we are directed by the Apostle to “honour all men,") as the creatures of God; nay, as immortal spirits, who are capable of knowing, of loving, and of enjoying him to all eternity. We are to honour them, as redeemed by his Blood, who "tasted death for every man.' We are to bear them tender compassion, when we see them forsaking their own mercies, wandering from the path of