Page images

eyes of

piest which the most feels its dependence upon Him and is the most conformed to His will. Another benefit of prayer is that it gives employment to our best faculties, employment which never fails to afford the most sound and rational satisfaction to the soul. It also


the our understanding, and teaches us to discern in what our true interest lies, and what course of conduct to pursue in reference to it. But there are other benefits of prayer, of which we do not at present see the full force, of which I shall only mention that it keeps alive within us that congruity to the nature of Christ's elect which must in the natural course of things be our wedding garment, our indispensable passport into his kingdom; and that the soul that desires to be fit for heavenly society must fit itself for heavenly society by prayer.

Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honour, praise, and glory, might, majesty, dominion, and thanksgiving, for ever and ever. Amen.



1 John y. 21.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

As love is the fulfilling of the law, it is necessary that love should reign within our hearts; but it is impossible that love should reign within our hearts if they are pre-occupied with idols of their own. Therefore, to cast out from our hearts all that prevents them from being filled with love was a fit conclusion for that beloved disciple who inculcates love as the chief doctrine and the whole object of his Epistle.

The first thing to be inquired is what is meant by idols and idolatry. The Scripture certainly does not conclude that person to be an idolater who earnestly desires and steadily pursues his own true welfare. There are many things conducing to our temporal welfare which may be sought though not in the first place. There are many things which afford much satisfaction and delight, which bear witness of the love of God, of his present good-will and of his future good intentions towards us, and which are great assistances in serving Him. It is no idolatry to seek these in due subordination to the kingdom of heaven. It is no idolatry in a hungry person to desire food. It is no idolatry to receive with thanksgiving all the good that he offers us, as coming from Him, and as helping us on our pilgrimage to Him.

We read in the Old Testament that idolatry was the principal cause of God's quarrel with his people. Now, idolatry does not merely mean bowing down to wood and stone.

We are guilty of idolatry when we love any thing which God hates. All sinful desires are idols from which we must keep ourselves. For the same reason,

We are guilty of idolatry when we blindly fall in with the current of the world's opinions and practices. The world is an idol from which we must keep ourselves. We are commanded not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The world lieth in wickedness. The whole tone and temper of the world is altogether alienate from the life of God. Its avarice, contempt of the poor, lusts, pride, forgetfulness of God, are plain to be seen even in Christian countries. Until our hearts be transformed from such a world as this unto Christ, we shall be sunk in idolatry, and among those for whom our Lord does not and will not pray and intercede. Hence

We are guilty of idolatry, when, in conformity to the opinions and habits of the world we seek for a heaven in this world, striving to make heaven itself of what is given us to bear witness of heaven, and conduct us on our way to heaven.

We are guilty of idolatry, when, in conformity to the opinions and habits of the world we waste our time and strength in idle pursuits. Whatsoever labour brings with it no solid and ultimate profit, such as may administer consolation at the hour of death, is idolatry. Can the riches of the world, or even the good opinion of our friends, assure us of salvation? Can they so much as ward off the stroke of death? What is it then but idolatry to dote upon that which can do so little for us?

We are guilty of idolatry, when, in conformity to the opinions and habits of the world, we thirst after the satisfaction of those desires which the world and not the Father has implanted within us. There is a plain distinction between desires implanted in us by the Father, and desires implanted in us by the world. Love not the world, saith St. John in a former part of this Epistle, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world. Desire of vain glory is idolatry. Covetousness St. Paul plainly declares to be idolatry. He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver. Why shall he not be satisfied ?

Because it is no desire which the Father hath given us. To behold his glory, to be satisfied with his presence, is a desire which he hath given us and which shall not be frustrated. This should be the desire of our hearts; but the love of money is the root of all evil, the riches of the world should in no case. enter as idols into our hearts. This was the case with the young man in the Gospel who had great possessions. He was it seems no idolater as to things in their own nature offensive to God, but still his riches were his idols which excluded the love of God from his heart, so that when our blessed Lord invited him to sell all he had and follow him, instead of saying

6. Even so, Lord Jesus, behold I leave all to follow thee” he went away sorrowful. We should possess as though we possessed not, and be at any time ready and willing to resign all we have, and life itself, to Him who gave it. To love any thing more than the hopes of the Gospel is to love an idol. If any one thinks this is a hard saying, let him know that there is a delight in these hopes which transcends all other delights so as to make them flat and insipid in comparison, and therefore easy to be renounced.

But the most inveterate idol in every man's heart is himself. Self-idolatry is often the last snare which the Tempter spreads for us to enstrange us from the true object of our devotion. A man may break through the current of the world's wickedness; he may escape the idolatry

« PreviousContinue »