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but is necessary to the faithful discharge of the ministerial office. To those who are unused to the figurative lan. guage of scripture, the address of St. James to the professors of Christianity may appear coarse and severe. But the truth he delivered, needed to be strongly insisted on even in the apostolic age; so much did the practice of the church fall short of the knowledge which was at that time generally diffused. As to the application which he gave the worldly, temporizing Christians, it could not fail of being understood in its proper sense; because all knew that God called himself the husband of the church; and, consequently, that the violation of the people's engagements to him justly entitled them to the name by which they were addressed.
To the Christians of this age the doctrine of the text should be very fully opened. It is indeed far from being calculated to please men: but we proceed to the consideration of it, in the hope that the word shall not go forth in vain.
We shall endeavour to shew 1. What we are to understand by the friendship of the
[The “ world” must be understood in its largest sense, as comprehending not only the people, but also the pleasures, riches and honours of the world. To draw the precise limits of that which is here called “the friendship of the world, is not so easy. Nevertheless we may ascertain this with as much accuracy as is necessary on the present occasion.
If we love any one person above all others, and strive to please him habitually, not only in common with others, but even in direct opposition to ther, we certainly must be acknowledged to have a considerable degree of friendship for him. Let us enquire then,
1. Which do we love the more; the world, or God?--
2. Which do we strive to please when their commands are irreconcileable with each other?
__ If conscience testify that the world have in these respects a decided preference, we are, beyond all doubt, the friends of the world.] II. In what respects it is enmity with God
[This may seem a strong expression; but it does not exceed the truth. For the friendship of the world is, in fact,
* ] John ii. 15, 16.
denial of God's excellency, since it declares that the world is a better portion than he---It is a contempt of his authority; seeing that when he says, “My son, give me thy heart," it makes us reply with Pharaoh, “ Who is the Lord, that I should serve him? I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice”---It is also a violation of our most solemn engagements with him. He is our husband; and we bound ourselves to him in baptism to "renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil," and to be his, even his only. But by receiving the world to our bosom, we suffer that to invade his property, and, as the text intimates; are guilty of spiritual adultery
- Moreover it is (as far as our influence extends) á banishing of the very remembrance of him from the earth. God himself testifies respecting the friends of the world, that “ he is not in all their thoughts:" and it is certain that, while they can converse readily on every worldly subject, they like not to hear or speak of his name: and if there were not a few who stand forth as his witnesses upon earth, his very name would soon be blotted out of our remembrance· If the friends of the world would view their conduct in this light, they would see an extreme malignity in the practices which they now maintain and justify: and they would tremble at the thought of being found enemies to him, who, as omniscient, sees; as holy, hates; as just, condemns; and, as almighty, will punish, such daring impiety:] III. The state of those who cultivate it
[Nothing can be more express than the declaration of the text: they are “ enemies of God.” Whether they intend it or not, whether they think of it or not, they are enemies of God. However sober, modest, kind, generous, and amiable they may be in their deportment, they still are enemies of God. Exalt their characters ever so highly, so that they shall appear in the most enviable light, you must bring them down at last with this melancholy exception, but " they are enemies of God-
Nor is this a matter that admits of doubt. St. James appealed to the very persons whom he was condemning, and made them judges in their own cause; “Know ye not this?” can ye doubt of it one moment does not the scripture fully declare it does not experience universally attest it?
But there is an emphasis in the text that marks this truth in the strongest manner. As an avowed desire to compass the death of the king is treason, though that wish should never be accomplished; so the determining to maintain friendship with the world, when God commands us to come out from it and be separate,” is treason against the King of kings: the
62 Kings v. 1.
very willing to side in this manner with the world, constitutesc us enemies of God.] ADDRESS 1. The friends of the world
[It is to be feared that even in a Christian assembly the doctrine of the text will be called in question; and that many, whose conduct in other respects is unexceptionable, impute no blame to themselves for their attachment to the world. Yea, so ignorant of their
duty are the generality of Christians, that instead of saying, Know ye not, we must rather say to them, Know ye that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? For, alas! few in this day seem to know it, or even to suspect it. But so it is, whether we know it or not. Let none therefore deceive themselves, or attempt to unite friend. ship with the world with friendship with God; for that is impossible: our Lord has said, “ Ye cannot serve God and mammon."] 2. The friends of God
[It is a great mercy to be “ delivered from the love of this present world.” But we may mistake our experience with respect to this. Age, sickness, proverty, disappointment, and other trials may render us apparently indifferent to the world, while yet; in other circumstances, our old attachment to it would revive. Let us take care therefore that our friendship with God, and our delight in him, proportionably increase. When one scale descends, the other must rise. We must guard also against a relapse; for the world is ever soliciting a place in our affections; and if we be not on our guard, we shall, like Demas, forsake the path of self-denial for the more enchanting one of earthliness and self-indulgence.d]
« "Ος αν βεληθη, καθίσταται.
d 2 Tim. iv. 10.
CCCC. MODERATION IN THE USE OF EARTHLY
i Cor. vii. 29–31. This I say, brethren, The time is short:
It remaineth, that both they that have wives, be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.
IT is no considerable part of Christian wisdom to distinguish clearly between things lawful, things expe
dient, and things necessary: since many things must be reduced under one or the other of these heads according to circumstances connected with them— The apostle is writing upon the subject of marriage; and gives it as his opinion, that though at all times lawful, and to some persons necessary, it was, at that particular season, inexpedient for those who could conveniently abstain from it; because the cares necessarily attendant on a married life would increase their difficulties during the present persecuted and afflicted state of the church-But, while they were all left at liberty respecting the line of conduct they would pursue in relation to this, he solemnly warns them, that the same abstraction from worldly cares, and indifference to worldly pleasure, were necessary for all who would approve themselves to God-As his words equally concern the church of God in all ages, it will be proper to consider I. The direction given us with respect to the things of
time and sense It is but too obvious that men’s regards to this world are, for the most part, inordinate and excessive
[If all do not set their hearts upon the same object, there is something which every unconverted man regards with an idolatrous attachment-Has he some prospect of attaining it? his mind goes forth to it in warm and eager desire-Is there reason to apprehend a disappointment respecting it? he is kept in anxious suspense, as though all his happiness were bound up in it-Is he brought to the possession of it he congratulates himself as having reached the summit of his wishes, and thinks he can never lend himself too much to the enjoyment of his newly acquired comforts—Is he by any means bereaved of his beloved idol? what vexation of mind, and what dissatisfaction with the dispensations of Providence does he feel! He is so entirely swallowed up in sorrow for his loss, as to be insensible of all his remaining blessings--Of course, men will differ widely as to the particular gratification which they affect: some find their delight centered in their wife or children; others in their wealth and honour; others in their ease and pleasure; and others again in some indulgences, which habit has rendered essential to their happiness: but the same love of carnal things, however diversified as to its objects, pervades, mankind of all ages and of all descriptions-]
But we should maintain an equableness of mind under all circumstances, however pleasing or africtive
[We are not required to exercise a stoical apathy under the various events of lite; we may rejoice or weep, according as the occurrences of the day are suited to excite the affection of joy or sorrow-But“ our moderation should be known unto all men;" nor should any thing of a temporal nature so occupy our minds, as to make us forget that we have concerns of infinitely greater importance-Have we “ formed a connexion" that promises us the highest bliss. we should so enjoy the creature as to be ready to surrender it up again to God, whensoever he may be pleased to call for it-Are we “ weeping" for the loss of a dear relative, or on account of any other calamity! we should not so give way to sorrow as to forget that we have God for our friend, and heaven for our inheritanceHas any thing of a very “joyous” nature befallen us? we should still remember, how unsatisfying it is in its nature, how contracted in its use, how precarious in its continuance, and how short in its duration; and we should regulate our joy by such considerations as these-Have we been blessed with such success, that we are enabled to " purchase" great possessions? we should be watchful over our spirits, that we do not say, like the fool in the gospel, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merrya And while we use” our good things with thankfulness to the donor, we should be careful never to “ abuse” them to the purposes of pride, intemperance, and carnal ease-)
This direction derives great force and importance from II. The reason with which it is enforced
Every thing here below is transient and of short duration
[“ Time is short:" if our days be extended to seventy or eighty years, the whole period of our existence will appear but, as it were,
a span long," when we come to the close of it: or, if we compare it with eternity, it is no more than the twinkling of an eye~Moreover, while our lives, like a sail that is furled, are every moment contracting, every thing around us also is drawing to a closed-As actors on the stage perform the part assigned them, and each succeeding scene brings their fictitious joys or sorrows to a speedy termination, so we make our appearance on the stage of life; and, having
& Luke xii. 18, !9.