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I John ii.15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the wold, the love of the Father is not in him.
In discussing this subject I shall pursue the following order: --
1. What we are to understand by the love of the world.
2. Who love the wold in this sense.
3. That they do not love God.
I. What are we to understand by the love of the world.
1. Negatively. The love of the world here spoken of, is not every kind or degree of desire for worldly objects. God has so constituted us, that a certain amount, and certain kinds of worldly objects, are indispensible to our existence. We need food and raiment, implements of husbandry and trade, and various worldly things. The proper desire of which is not sinful, nor inconsistent with the love of God.
But to love the world, is to make worldly things the principal objects of desire and pursuit.
To love them, and desire them more than to love God and man, to be more anxious to obtain them, and spend more time in their acquisition, than in efforts to glorify God, and save the souls of men, is to love the world in the sense of the text. Where the love of God and of men is supreme in the heart, there may be a suitable desire for worldly objects; but, where an individual manifests a disposition to give the acquisition of wealth, or of worldly objects the preference, and aims rather at obtaining worldly things than at glorifying God and of doing good to men, it is certain that the love of the world is supreme in his heart.
II. Who do this?
1. All who cheat and defraud to obtain the things of the world. That a man who will cheat and defraud his neighbor, does not love him as he does himself, is too manifest to require proof. That a man who will disobey God for the purpose of obtaining worldly goods, does not love God supremely, is self-evident. Nay, that he loves the things of the world supremely, is a simple matter of fact.
2. All those whose anxieties and cares are mostly about worldly things. If they are more careful for the things of the world-- more anxious and earnest in the pursuit of them, than in glorifying God and in doing good to men, they love the world supremely.
Objection. But do any of you ask, May not a man be anxious to obtain worldly things, for the purpose of doing good with money? I answer, a man may be desirous to obtain money for the purpose of glorifying God with it; but, in that case the principal anxiety, and care, and desire, would not terminate upon the acquisition of money, but upon the end which he hoped to accomplish through its instrumentality. To suppose that a man, whose supreme object is to glorify God and do good to man, should concern himself principally about worldly things, is the same absurdity as to suppose, that he was more anxious about the means than about the end which he hoped to accomplish by these means. It is the end that gives value to the means. It is the end that is the main object of thought and of desire; and to suppose that a man's anxieties and cares would cluster about the means of effecting the end, rather than about the end itself, is plainly absurd and impossible.
Suppose a gentleman was engaged to be married, and has commenced a journey for that purpose. His heart is greatly set upon the end he has in view, and is it likely that either the delights or cares of his journey will occupy more of his thoughts, and absorb more of his affections than the object for which he has undertaken the journey. Who does not know that, in such a case, if his heart was greatly set upon the obtaining of his bride, he would pass from stage to stage without being hardly conscious of the incidents that occurred in his progress. His bride and his marriage would fill up his thoughts by day, and be the subject of his dreams by night; and all his cares and desires, that the stages and steamboats should convey him more rapidly, would be for the more speedy accomplishment of his heart's desire. And now, shall a man who loves God supremely, and whose desire for money and for worldly goods, is that he may glorify God, and benefit mankind thereby, can he be so anxious and so busy about the means as to lose sight of the end? that his interest in the end to be accomplished is swallowed up in efforts to obtain the means? This cannot be. And now I appeal to the two classes of persons already mentioned; you that practice fraud, and take advantage of the ignorance of men, and over-reach, and cheat them in little or great things, do you pretend to love God? If so, you are an arrant hypocrite.
And you, who are filled with cares about worldly things, whose time, and thoughts, and affections are swallowed up in efforts to obtain them, know assuredly that you love the world, and that the love of God is not in you.
3d. All those who consult only their own interest in the transaction of business. God requires you to love your neighbor as yourself. Again he says, "let every one look not upon his own things, but upon the things of others."Let every one seek not his own, but another's wealth." These are express requirements of God; they are the very spirit and substance of the Gospel. Benevolence is a desire to do good to others. A willingness to deny self, for the purpose of promoting the interest of your neighbor, is the very spirit of Christ, it is the heart and soul of his Gospel. Now, suppose a man, in his bargains with others, aims only at promoting his own interest; he seeks not another's, but his own wealth. He looks not to the welfare of others, but his eye and his heart are upon his own side of the bargain. He does not aim at benefiting the individual with whom he transacts business; his only object is to take care of himself. This is the very opposite of the spirit of the Gospel. Does this man love his neighbor as himself? Does he love that God supremely, who has prohibited all selfishness, on pain of eternal death? No! If he loved God, he would not disobey him, for the sake of making money. If he loved his neighbor as himself; if he felt that it was more blessed to give than to receive; if he had the spirit of the Gospel, he would of course feel and manifest as great a desire for the interest of those with whom he deals, as for his own interest. He would be as anxious to give, as to get a good bargain; nay, he would be more so. Self-denial, to promote the happiness and the interest of others, would be his joy, would constitute his happiness, would be that to which he would be inclined, of course. And now let me ask you who are here present, can you deny this principle? What then is your spiritual state? Have you the love of God in you? How do you transact business? Do you consult the interest of those with whom you deal, as much as you do your own? or in all your bargains, do you aim simply at securing a profit to yourself? If you do, the love of God is not in you. You have not the beginning of piety in your heart.
4th. All those that feel chagrined and grieved when they find that the person with whom they have dealt has the best of the bargain, and has made a greater profit than themselves. Now, if a man had the spirit of Christ, he would rejoice in this. It would be the thing at which he would aim, to benefit the individual with whom he deals, as much as possible; and if he afterwards learns that he had made a good bargain, and had been greatly benefitted by it, it would gratify him all the more.
Now, how is it with you, my hearers? Do you find yourselves gratified and delighted, when you find that you have greatly contributed to the interest of those with whom you deal, in having given them the best side of the bargain? Be honest, try yourself by this rule; see whether you love your neighbor as yourself; see whether you love God supremely. He requires you to seek not your own, but your neighbor's wealth. To look not upon your own interest, but the interest of others. Have you the spirit of these requirements? Have you the spirit and temper of that God who lays down this rule of action? If not, you have not the love of God in you?
5th. All those who will make bargains only when they can make a profit by it.
There are many who will never trade only when they can promote their own interest; it matters not how much it might benefit any body else. The interest of the individual, who desires to make the bargain with them, is not taken into the account at all. They do not think of making a bargain to benefit others, and will turn away from the proposal instantly, unless then can promote their own selfish ends. They will stand and bow, and be very accommodating, and kind, and attentive, while there is any prospect of their making a good per centage on their goods; but the negociation is broken off instantly, without courtesy or good breeding, whenever it is settled that they can make nothing by the bargain. This shows that they do not consult the interests of those with whom they deal, and that the world is their God.
6th. All those who will take advantage of the ignorance of those with whom they deal, to get a good bargain out of them, love the world supremely.
Cases of this kind often occur. A customer comes in; he is instantly measured from head to foot by every eye; they survey him all around, to see whether he understands the value of the articles which he wishes to purchase; whether it will be difficult, or otherwise, to get a good bargain out of him; whether it will do to set the price of goods high, and how high; and whether it is likely that he will buy much or little. And if he wishes to make a heavy bill, some of the first articles for which he inquires are put low; and thus baits are laid to lead him on, from step to step, under the idea that all the articles are low. All such management as this is supreme selfishness, it is fraud, and the very opposite of the spirit of Christ. For such a man to profess the love of God is naked hypocrisy.
A man that does this cannot be consulting the interest of his neighbor at all. He must be acting on principles of pure selfishness. He takes the money without an equivalent, and consents that they should "spend it for that which is not bread, and their labor for that which satisfieth not." This is the direct opposite of the spirit of Christ.
The man that will sell articles of known destructive tendency to his fellow-men, for the sake of gain, has the very spirit of hell. Shall a man, who will sell rum, or make whiskey, and deal out death and damnation to men, and make them pay for it, and thus not only poison them to death, but worse than rob them of their money, shall he pretend to love God? For shame, thou hypocrite! thou wretch! thou enemy of God and man! thou wolf in the clothing of a sheep! Lay aside your mask, and write your name Satan on your sign-board.