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Heaven would be to him a hell, if he could not take earth along with him. . The present state of all things, however miserable in the main, is yet, in his view, preferable to a change for another state. He would be pleased with a change for the better if it was of an earthly nature ; but, as the change is spiritual, he loathes it with disgust.
All sinners, indeed, with very few exceptions, desire to enter into heaven after death; but then they do not desire this because heaven is a holy place. Far from it. They desire merely to escape torment. Hell, if it was no place of torment, they would prefer to heaven. Their views of things are sensual, for their minds are carnal. They here dislike, nay, hate holiness, and the company of holy men, as also holy employments. How, then, could they be pleased with these things hereafter ? How could they relish heaven, in an unsanctified state? When a sinner, as a sinner unrenewed, desires to be saved, he does not desire for a salvation from the guilt and power of sin, but only from its punishment. The world, this present life--
this he loves, this is his idol--he walks according to its course. . But more especially the things which are in the world, are the idols of the sinner, or those things on which he has set his affections. Under these are included all the objects which please the eye, the ear, or the feelings of man; as also those objects of intellectual attention which are not religious in their nature. Do not think these things are sinful in themselves ; they are only made sinful by being preferred to God. .
- This earth, though cursed through man's sin, and become a region of sorrow, still abounds with many things agreeable and delightful to our best feelings. Thus the beauties of nature, such as a variegated landscape, sublime mountains, and lovely flowers, excite admiration and pleasure. If from earth we turn our eyes to the heavens—the sun, moon, and stars heighten our admiration and pleasure. These emotions, when they excite in us reverence for Him who made all these things, are lawful. The sinner, however, does not “ look through “ nature up to nature's God,” as he ought to do. He loves the beauties and sublimities of nature for their own sake, and his pleasure ; not for their Maker's sake, and his glory. He does not admire them as exhibiting the greatness and goodness of the Creator, but because they fascinate his feverish sensibility, a sensibility originating in enmity against God, and cherished by a love of sin.
Thus also honours, riches, literary fame, and suitable recreations, are lawful objects of pursuit in themselves; but when they become principal objects of pursuit, banishing God from the mind, they are sinful, because idolized. All the creatures of God are good, if used to promote his glory; but if not so used, from blessings they are converted into curses. They will eat away substantial comfort, as a canker in the body wears away life.
Having made these general observations, it is time to descend to a few particulars. The things which are in the world the apostle John ranges under three classes, “ the “ lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, “ and the pride of life,” which may be considered as so many idols which the sinner loves and honours.
f 1 John ii. 16.
First, “ The lust of the flesh” is the abuse of the natural appetites of the body. These appetites, such as hunger, thirst, and the like, are innocent in themselves; and their innocent gratification is a law of our nature, and a duty incumbent on us for self-preservation. But the abuse, or unlaw il indulgence of them, is sinful. In the suita' e use of them we honour God, but in the abuse of them we dishonour him. In the suitable use of them we manifest our love for him, and obey his will as supreme; but in the abuse of them we manifest our love for them, and obey their impulses as the supreme directors of our conduct.
' · Among the lusts of the flesh, thus explained, we must include all intemperance in eating and drinking, by which the body is abused and the soul defiled; all allowed unchastity and licentiousness in thought, conversation, or conduct, which are incompatible with holiness of heart and life ; all fondness for useless and pernicious amusements, which distract attention, and engender levity; all immoderate indulgences in personal ease or lawful recreations; all cherished idleness in VOL. II.
our daily employments, neglect of our business, or hiding of the talent given unto us by God for our improvement. These, and such like, constitute the lust of the flesh, of which the apostle speaks.
Secondly, “ The lust of the eyes,” means the irregular desires of the bodily organs of sight for whatever they behold. The use of our eyes, for our guidance and innocent pleasure in life, is lawful, but the abuse of them is unlawful.
The lust of the eyes includes covetousness, or an insatiable desire after more wealth than is necessary for the convenience or comfort of life, and which can only be hoarded up, without passing into that general circulation which encourages industry, and softens the horrors of poverty: concupiscence, or libidinous desires, whose gratification is hostile to the laws of God, and destructive of individual as well as domestic felicity ; envy at the visible prosperity of others; studied extravagance, notoriety, or indecency in dress, for the gratification of a love of admiration, or singularity, or impurity; immoderate care of personal beauty, or personal address, to