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20th. All those who do not feel more gratifiedwith the appropriation of money to the cause of Christ, than with any other appropriation of it, love the world supremely.
Take again the case of the woman who is earning money to relieve her husband from bondage. What other appropriation can she make of money that would so much gratify her heart? It is this object that gives value to money in her estimation. Should an individual give her a purse of gold, would she say, now I can buy me a nice dress, now I can furnish my house and live fashionably? No, but bursting into tears of joy and gratitude, she would exclaim, Now I can redeem my husband! Just so a man, who loves God, and longs for the coming of his kingdom, will feel gratified, most of all, with appropriating money for the promotion of that darling object. Jesus Christ has said, that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." The truly benevolent man has the highest and holiest pleasure in so disposing of his possessions as in the highest manner to promote the glory of God and the good of his fellow-men. Instead of giving to those objects grudgingly and with a sparing hand, here in the promotion of Christ's kingdom he will pour out of his treasures the most unsparingly, and with the fullest, readiest heart. For this his heart is panting. His spirit is longing with unutterable desires. He therefore accounts nothing a privation or a sacrifice which is appropriated to this object. Does the miser account the hoarding up of money a privation, a sacrifice, or a grievance? No, he accounts the hoarding up as the best possible disposition of his money. To every other object he gives sparingly, and takes but little satisfaction in any expenditures which he is obliged to make; but his heart is set upon accumulating treasures. Every shilling that is saved and put into his iron chest is disposed of according to his heart's desire. Now the Christian's heart is just as truly set upon building up the kingdom of Jesus Christ as a miser's heart is upon hoarding up his wealth. In other expenditures, therefore, he will naturally be sparing; but in the promotion of the great object of his heart's desire, he will be liberal and bountiful, and enjoy most of all the appropriation of money to that object.
21st. All those who prefer a speculationto a contribution for the promotion of the interests of Christ's kingdom, love the world supremely. If they loved God supremely, they would desire to make the speculation only for the purpose of enabling them to make the contribution. If they made a hundred or a thousand dollars, they would say, "O for an opportunity now to appropriate this money to the cause of Christ." But if they love the speculation, and are not ready and joyful in the contribution, they love the world, and have not the love of God in them.
22d. All those who would rather see a customer come in to pay them money, than an agent of some benevolent society to receive and appropriate it to the promotion of Christ's kingdom, love the world supremely. There is a man who smiles and appears delighted when a customer comes in; but when an agent who is collecting funds for the building up of Christ's kingdom calls, he is sour, and dry, and formal, and perhaps uncivil. This demonstrates, beyond all doubt, where his heart is, and shows that he loves his money more than he loves his God.
23d. All those who do not really enjoy givingmore than receiving, love the world supremely. If they loved God supremely, their supreme object and joy in receiving would be that they might immediately turn round and give to the promotion of their darling object. But if their incessant cry is give, give, wishing always to receive, and not enjoying the giving of money as they do the receiving of it, it must be because they love the world.
24th. All those who are more parsimonious in their expenditures for the kingdom of Christ, than in their expenditures upon themselves and their families, love the world supremely. There are multitudes of professedly pious people who seem to think it a Christian duty to have every thing connected with the worship and service of God of the cheapest kind, while in their own houses, and about their own persons, and that of their families, they practice upon a very different principle. If a church is to be fitted up, every thing must be done with as little expense as possible. If there are carpets, they must be of the cheapest kind; if there are stoves, or cushions, or lights, or other conveniences, almost any thing will answer, provided it is cheap; things are suffered to be out of order; filth is suffered to accumulate, and the house of God to lie waste; and all this is done under the pious pretence of Christian economy. Many churches in the country have no lamps, and some of them have no stoves, and others have the panes of glass broken out; the doors of others are so dilapidated that they will scarcely shut; others have the stoops rotten, and the church either not painted at all, or so faded, that if it was a dwelling house, you would suppose it the abode of the drunkard. Most of the churches in the country have no carpets; and in churches carpets are more needed than in any other house, to prevent the disturbance that always occurs where people are going out and in upon an uncarpeted floor; and in the city there are many who are entirely unwilling to be at the expense of fitting up a house of worship as commodiously as they fit up their own dwellings. Now, it is manifest, whatever may be the pretence, and however such things may be baptized by the name of Christian economy, all such conduct has its foundation in the love of the world, and in supreme selfishness. Men are always most free in appropriating their money to the promotion of the objects dearest to their hearts. This is simple matter of fact. If, therefore, the heart is set supremely upon honoring God with our substance, it is certain that if in any thing we are bountiful and liberal in our expenditures, it will be in fitting up places for his worship, and in all those things that are essential to decency, to comfort, and enjoyment in his service.
III. Having noticed some of the principal evidences of supreme attachment to the world, I now proceed to suggest several reasons why such persons cannot love God.
The text is a form of expression that is to be understood as expressing a very strong negative. "If any man love the world," says the apostle, "how dwelleth the love of God in him;" that is, the love of God is certainly not in him. This is the language and the doctrine of the whole Bible; so that, so far as Scripture testimony goes, the proof is conclusive. But I will mention several considerations that belong to the philosophy of mind, that will demonstrate beyond all contradiction, that individuals upon whom these marks of worldliness are found, have not the love of God in them. The argument runs thus, and is very brief.
1. It is impossible that a man should have two supreme objects of affection. If he have any acceptable love to God, it must be supreme; and to affirm that a man loves the world in the sense of this text, and that he loves God with any acceptable love, is a contradiction. It is the same as to say, that he loves both God and the world supremely.
2. A man cannot love two objects, that are entirely opposite to each other, at the same time. The apostle immediately subjoins to the text, "for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but of the world." The love of the world, and the love of God, are directly opposite states of mind, so that to exercise them both at the same time is impossible.
3. It is minding the flesh which the apostle declares to be enmity against God.
Lastly. It is supreme selfishness, which is the direct opposite of the love of God and man. These considerations need only to be named, to be seen to be proof conclusive, that if any man love the world, the love of God is not in him. REMARKS
________ 1. You can see from this subject, that if men should transact worldly business upon the principles of the Gospel, it would be infinitely better for the world in every respect. If every one sought to promote the happiness and interest of others, the amount of property, and of every other good, would be greatly increased. Some persons seem to suppose, that unless they consult solely their own interest, it is impossible that society should exist. What! they say, would you have us all seek not our own interest, but the interest of others? What then would become of our own interest? I answer, your interest would be secured, if, while you were mainly solicitous to benefit others, they were just as solicitous to benefit you. The secular interests of men would be thus as highly, and more highly advanced, than under the present arrangement of society, while the spirit that would be cherished and cultivated by this course of conduct, would shed a sweet, and healing, and refreshing influence over all the discords and disquietudes of selfishness; and peace, and love, and heaven, would reign in the bosoms of men.
But does any one object and say, that inasmuch as worldly men will not practice upon these principles, it is impossible that Christians should, without giving up all the business of the world into their hands. This is a radical and ruinous mistake. Suppose it were known that Christians universally discarded all selfishness in their business, and acted upon principles of entire benevolence; that in all their dealings they sought the interest of those with whom they deal, equally with their own. No sooner would this fact be known, than worldly men would be forced to transact business upon these principles, or give up all the business of the world into the hands of Christians; for who would deal with a man who acted upon principles of supreme selfishness, when he might just as well transact business with those who would not only treat him with equity, but with entire benevolence; so that it is perfectly within the power of the church to compel worldly men to transact business upon Gospel principles, or not transact it at all. And woe to the church, if she does not reverse and annihilate the whole system of doing business on principles of selfishness. II. Perhaps some of you will say, if the doctrine of this sermon be true, who then can be saved? I answer, certainly not those who manage their affairs upon principles that are in direct opposition to the benevolence of the Gospel; who make commercial justice, which is founded in selfishness, the rule of their lives, and satisfy themselves with being honest in this sense of honesty, instead of being governed by the law of love; who seek their own, and not their neighbor's wealth; who mind earthly things, and account it more blessed to receive than to give. If there be any truth in the word of God, all such men are in the way to hell.
III. But will any one object, and say, this is very uncharitable. If this be true, nearly all the church are hypocrites. I answer, the doctrine is true, whatever the inference may be. I do not pretend to be more charitable than God is, and to hope that those persons are pious of whom God has said that his love is not in them. I will not be charitable enough to throw away my Bible, or suppose that the lovers of the world are the friends instead of the enemies of God. That multitudes of professors are deceived, that they love the world supremely, is as evident as if they had taken their oath of it; and because the great mass of professing Christians give evidence of this state of mind, we are not to dispute our Bibles, and charitably hope that they may be saved.
IV. You see from this subject why it is that so few professors of religion have a spirit of prayer. The truth is, the love of God is not in them. Look around this great commercial city; nearly the whole population are here for the purposes of worldly gain. The principles upon which almost the entire business of the city is transacted, is that of supreme selfishness. How then can a spirit of prayer prevail in such a community as this. This same principle prevails almost universally through the country. Farmers, mechanics, merchants, and men and women of every occupation, without hesitation, transact their business upon selfish principles, and seek supremely their own and not their neighbor's wealth. It is impossible that the love of God should prevail in the church, or in any heart, while actuated by such principles.
V. You see from this subject why it is that young converts so uniformly wax cold in religion. Let any individual pass through one business season, acting upon business principles, and it is impossible that the love of God should be alive in his heart. He is assiduously cultivating and cherishing a spirit of selfishness; and in all his daily avocations, he does not so much as intend to seek the good of others, but his own good; and can we be at a loss for the reasons of such universal backsliding?
VI. From this subject you may see that the religion of the great mass of the church is not the religion of love, but of fear. They fear the Lord, but serve their own gods. They are dragged along in the dry performance of what they call duty, by their consciences. They have a dry, legal, earthly spirit; and their pretended service is hypocrisy and utter wickedness.
VII. You can see from this subject why so little is effected by all the means that are used for the building up of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Men had much rather give their money than to live holy lives and walk with God. An effort seems to be making now to convert the world with money. Unbounded speculations are entered into by professedly pious men; and while their heart, and soul, and lives are absorbed in the spirit of this world, they are trying to persuade themselves that their money will be a substitute for a holy life, and compensate for the neglect of personal exertions to save the souls of men; but, rely upon it, God will teach them their mistake.
VIII. The spontaneous conduct of the primitive church shows what true piety will do in leading men to renounce the world; and while the love of God pervaded the church, men were manifestly actuated by different principles from those of commercial justice. They sought not their own, but the things of Jesus Christ.
IX. But do you ask, are nearly all the church wrong? I answer, that upon this subject they are wrong. In most things the church of the present day is orthodox in theory, but vastly heretical in practice. Nor is it any thing new for the church to be nearly all wrong. More than once or twice have nearly the entire body of the church departed from God, and satisfied themselves with the religion of selfishness.
Lastly. I beg of you who are convicted of worldliness, not to go away and say that you hope that you love God, nevertheless some, or nearly all of these evidences are against you. I declare to you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, that if these marks of worldliness are upon you, the love of God is not in you. And O, "be ye not deceived, God is not mocked; whatever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; and he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting."