« PreviousContinue »
wipe off all shame, to put some venerable titles upon this den of thieves. “ But the Lord whom we wait for, will once more come and cleanse his temple. But who may abide the day of his coming ? For he is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap, and will throughly purge the sons of Levi;" Mal. iii. 1-4.
If talking against worldliness, would prove that the world is overcome, and that God is dearest to the soul, then preachers will be the happiest men on earth. But it is easier to commend God, than to love him above all, and easier to cry out against the world, than to save a heart that is truly weaned from it, and set upon a better world.
Object. 10. • But all this belongeth only to them that are in prosperity; but I am poor, and therefore it is nothing to me.'
Answ. Many a one loveth prosperity, that hath it not: and such are doubly sinful, that will love a world which loveth not them; even a world of poverty, misery and distress. Something you would have done, if you had a full estate, and honour, and fleshly delights to love. Nay, many poor mien think better of riches and honour, than those that have them; because they never tried how vain and vexatious they are; and if they had tried them, perhaps would love them less. The world is but a painted strumpet, admired afar off; but the nearer you come to it, and the more it is known, the worse you will like it. Is it by your own desire that you are poor? Or is it against your wills? Had you not rather be as great and rich as others? Had you not rather live at ease and fulness? And do you think God will love you ever the better, for that which is against your wills? Will he count that man to be no worldling, that would fain have more of the world, and cannot? And that loveth God and heaven no better than the rich? Nay, that will sin for a shilling, when great ones do it for greater sums? Who can be more unfit for heaven, than he that loveth a life of labour, and want, and misery better? Alas! it is but little that the greatest worldlings have for their salvation; but poor worldlings sell it for less than they, and therefore do despise it more.
Direct. 4. Let the true nature and aggravations of the sin of worldliness, be still in your eye to make it odious to you. As for instance :
1. It is true and odious idolatry ; Ephes.'v. 5. Col. iji. 5. To have God for our God indeed, is to love him as our God, and to delight in him, and be ruled by him. Who then is an idolater, if he be not one who loveth the world, and delighteth in it more than in God, or esteemeth it fitter to be the matter of his delight? And is ruled by it, and seeketh it more? Isa. lv. 1-3.
2. It is a blasphemous. contempt of God and heaven, to prefer a dunghill world before him: to set more by the provisions and pleasures of the flesh, than by all the blessedness of heaven. It is called profaneness in Esau, to sell his birthright for one morsel ; Heb. xii. 16. What profaneness is it then to say, as worldlings' hearts and lives do; ' The satisfying of my flesh and fancy for a time, is better than God and the joys of heaven to all eternity.'
3. It is a sin of interest and not only of passion; and therefore it possesseth the very heart and love, which is the principal faculty of the soul, and that which God most reserveth for himself. No actual sin, which is but little loved, is so heinous and mortal, as that which is most loved. Because these do most exclude the love of God. Some other sins may do more hurt to others, but this is worst to the sinner himself. We justly pity poor heathenish idolaters, and pray
for their conversion (and I would we did it more): but do not you think that our hypocrite worldlings, do love their riches, and their honours and pleasures, better than the poor heathens love their idols? They bow the knee to a creature, and you entertain it in your heart.
4. It is a sin of deliberation and contrivance, which is much worse than a surprise by a sudden temptation. You plot how you may compass your voluptuous, covetous and ambitious ends : therefore, it is a sin that standeth at the furthest distance from repentance, and is both voluntary and a settled habit.
5. It is a continued sin. Men be not always lying, though they be never so great liars ; nor always stealing, if they be the most notorious thieves ; nor always swearing, if they be the profanest swearers.
But a worldly mind is always worldly: be is always committing his idolatry with the world, and always denying his love to God.
6. It is not only a sin about the means to a right end (as mischosen ways of religion may be), but it is a sin against
the end itself, and a mischoosing of a false, pernicious end. And so it is the perverting, not only of one particular action, but even of the bent and course of men's lives : and consequently a misspending all their time.
7. It is a perverting of God's creatures, to a use clean contrary to that which they are given us for; and an unthankful turning of all his gifts against himself. He gave us his creatures to lead us to him, and by their loveliness to shew his greater loveliness; and to taste in their sweetness, the greater sweetness of his love. And will you use them to turn your affections from him?
8. It is a great debasing of the soul itself, to fill that noble spirit with nothing but dirt and smoke, which was made to know and love its God.
9. It is an irrational vice, and signifieth not only much unbelief of the unseen things which should take up the soul; but also a sottish inconsiderateness, of the vanity and brevity of the things below. It is an unmanning ourselves, and hiring out our reason to be a servant to our Aeshly lusts.
10. Lastly, it is a pregnant, multiplying sin; which bringeth forth abundance more: “The love of money is the root of all evil;" 1 Tim. vi. 9, 10. Therefore,
Direct. 5. • Let the mischievous effects of this sin, be still before your eyes. As for instance:
1. It keepeth the heart strange to God and heaven. The love of God and of the world are contrary ; 1 John ii. 15. iii. 17. James iv. 4. So is an earthly and a heavenly conversation; Phil. iii. 18-20. And the laying up a treasure in heaven and upon earth; Matt. vi. 19–21. And the living after the flesh, and after the Spirit; Rom. viii. 1.5,6.13. Ye cannot possibly serve God and mammon; nor travel two contrary ways at once; nor have two contrary felicities, till you have two hearts.
2. It setteth you at enmity with God and holiness'; because God controlleth and condemneth your beloved lusts : and because it is contrary to the carnal things which have
3. By this means it maketh men malignant enemies of the godly, and persecutors of them ; because they are of contrary minds and ways. “As then, he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even
so it is now ;" Gal. iv. 29. • The world cannot love us because we are not of the world ;". John xv. 19, 20. Pride, covetousness and sensuality, are the matter which the burning fever lodgeth in, which hath consumed so much of the church of Christ.
4. It is the sin that hath corrupted the sacred office of the ministry throughout most of the Christian churches in the world : and thereby caused both the schisms and cruelties, and the decay of serious godliness among them, which is their present deplorable case. Ignorant persons are like sick men in a fever: they lay the blame on this and that, and commonly on that which went next before the paroxysm; and know not the true cause of the disease. We are all troubled (or should be) to see the many minds, the many ways, the confused state of the Christian churches, and to hear them cry out against each other. And one layeth the blame on this party or opinion, and another on that: but when we come to ourselves, we shall find that it is, the worldly mind that causeth our calamity. Many well meaning friends of the church do think how dishonourable it is to the ministry, to be poor and low, and consequently despicable; and what an advantage it is to their work, to be able to relieve the poor, and rather to oblige the people, than to depend upon them, and to be above them rather than below them. And supposing the pastors to be mortified, holy, heavenly men, all this is true; and the zeal of these thoughts is worthy of commendation. But that which good men intend for good, hath become the church's bane. So certain is the common saying, that Constantine's zeal did poison the church, by lifting up the pastors of it too high, and occasioning those contentions for grandeur and precedency, which to this day separate the east and west. When wellmeaning piety hath adorned the office with wealth and honour, it is as true as that the sun shineth, that the most proud, ambitious, worldly men, will be the most studious seekers of that office; and will make it their plot, and trade, and business, how by friends, and observances, and wills, to attain their ends : and usually he that seeks shall find. When in the meantime the godly, mortified, humble man, will not do so; but will serve God in the state to which he is clearly called. And consequently, except it be under the government of an admirably wise and holy ruler, a worthy pastor,
in such a wealthy station, will be a singular thing, and a rarity of the age; whilst worldly men, whose hearts are habited with that which is utterly contrary to holiness, and contrary to the very ends and work of their own office, will be the men that must sit in Moses' chair ; that must have the doing and ruling of the work which their hearts are set against. And how it will go with the church of Christ, when the Gospel is to be preached, and preachers chosen, and godliness promoted by the secret enemies of it; and when ambitious, fleshly, worldly men, are they that must cure the people's souls (under Christ) of the love of the flesh and the world, it were easy to prognosticate from the causes, if the Christian world could not tell by the effects. So that, except by the wonderful piety of princes--there is no visible way in the
eye of reason, to recover the miserable churches, but to retrieve the pastoral office into such a state, as that it may be no bait to a worldly mind, but may be desired and chosen purely upon heavenly accounts. And then the richer the pastors are the better; when they are the sons of nobles, whose piety bringeth with them their honour, and their wealth to serve God and his church with, and they do not find it there to be their end or inducement to the work ; but instead of invitations or encouragements to pride and carnal minds, there may be only so much as may not deter or drive away candidates from the sacred function.
5. Worldliness is a sin, which maketh the word of God unprofitable ; (Matt. xiii. 22. John xii.43. Ezek. xxxiii.31.) prepossessing the heart, and resisting that Gospel which would extirpate it.
6. It hindereth prayer, by corrupting men's desires, and by intruding worldly thoughts.
7. It hindereth all holy meditation, by turning both the heart and thoughts another way.
8. It drieth up all heavenly, profitable conference, whilst the world doth fill both mind and mouth.
9. It is a great profaner of the Lord's day, distracting men's minds, and alienating them from God.
10. It is a murderous enemy of love to one another : all worldly men being so much for themselves, that they are seldom hearty friends to any other.
11. Yea, it maketh men false and unrighteous in their