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LOVE NOT THE WORLD, NEITHER THE THINGS
THAT ARE IN THE WORLD. IF ANY MAN
JT is no easy matter to ascertain, at least in I practice, the relative degrees of love to God -our neighbour-ourselves and the world. Each of them is entitled to our love in a certain degree. The great point is, to fix that degree. At present, however, we are led by the text only to consider the love of God and the world. I
To these two great sources, the happiness of every man may be referred. They form the whole contest between spiritual and temporal — between our souls and our bodies-between life and eterX 3
nity. It is our business, therefore, ta enquire which produces the greatest sum of happiness, And
one should think, we had data sufficient to form · an easy comparison.-But, alas! even the religious
man will find it a difficult matter to keep his affections right. The world will impose upon him in a thousand shapes, and court him under various forms of allowable amusement, and innocent pleafuxe. Let him look well therefore into the deceit, and not contribute to deceive himself, Let him suffer no suspected pleasures and amusements to pass without giving a fair account of their endtheir effect upon his mind-their connected con- . sequences and their agreement with the word of God. Still, as we live in the world, to which fo' great a part of our composition is adapted, and with which we have so much necessary intercourse, we cannot avoid straying sometimes into its crooked paths. God be merciful to me a finner! is a prayer which suits every man's condition; and if we add our steady endeavours to get right, no doubt God will be merciful to us; he will hear our prayer, and assist us by his holy spirit.
THE wickedness of the world, taken for its
inhabitants, is a pofition which few, I sup- . pose, are inclined to contradict. Whether we examine mankind in a savage*, or in a civilized ftate--in society, or 'as individuals, still we fee so much corruption of every kind, both public and private, that .we must acknowledge there is not much exaggeration in what the apostle advances, that the whole world lyeth in wickedness.
* In general, the savage nations that have been disco. vered, are ferocious, cruel, and treacherous, or weak, enervated, and sensual. The inhabitants of the Pelew islands are the only virtuous people we have ever heard of in a state of nature. We have every reason, however, to believe, that the accounts we have of them are overcharged. .
I mean not however to enter into the difcuffion of a point fo little contradicted: the use I would make of it, is to consider it as an argument that might well be dwelt on, in proof of the Christian religion.
In the first place it seems highly necessary, that man should have something better than his own reason, to teach him how to please and worship God. This seemed necessary even to the heathen philosophers; among whom Plato, in particular, speaks more than once of the necessity of a divine instructor.
If therefore we believe, that a divine instructor is necesary, if even the heathen themfelves thought
fo; there can be no difficulty in our believing that · God would do what appears to us so necefSary.
Secondly, it seems neceffary, that man in so corrupt a state, should have some other merits besides his own—fome' interceffor besides hiinself, to plead his pardon. It is the natural idea of man, that when he offends, he should endeavour to get some powerful interceffor to stand between him and the juft indignation of the person he hath offended. Hence facrifices and other expiatory rites found such ready reception in the heathen
world. -As this idea likewise is natural, there seems to be no difficulty in closing with it; and, of course, no difficulty in closing with Christianity.
In fact, Christianity may be considered as a grand act of that continual restoration, which we see constantly before our eyes in the natural world. The same gracious providence which is continually restoring to pature its decaying powers, may be supposed likewise to provide for, and restore the moral decays of man. - The great objections to this argument are first, the late appearance of Christianity-secondly, its want of universality-and, thirdly, its want of full effect.- N. B. These objections are very capable of being refuted, and might be considered, if the discourse were drawn into length.