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LECTURE LXX.

ON A WORLDLY, CARELESS, AND SINFUL LIFE.

Mark iv. 19. The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of

riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the

word, and it becometh unfruitful. Most people do not seem to be aware of the great hazard which they run, by a free intercourse with the world. Regardless of consequences, they sail down the stream of life with giddy unconcern, as if there were no temptations to be encountered, no dangers to be apprehended, and no loss to be incurred. Looking upon the world as being capable of showering blessings upon them which are expected to minister the highest satisfaction, they assiduously court its smiles, and dread its frowns.

It is obvious that this excessive attachment to the world, and this great solicitude to secure its friendship, is founded in ignorance of its real character. Take away the disguise which is put upon it, by some who cover its crimes and vices with soft and imposing names, and weigh its pleasures in the scales of Scriptural. truth, and the world will not appear to have a single charm, for the sake of which any man should risk his salvation, and forfeit the joys of Paradise.

“ Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?" What is the testimony which it bears concerning the spirit and condition of the world? Instead of describing it in colours which recommend it to our notice, it is painted by the word of God in a light which proves that we should be afraid to imbibe its spirit, to adopt its guilty maxims, or to imitate its conduct ; lest we should finally share its dreadful fate.

The world is represented as being exceedingly depraved; as being in abject submission to the prince of darkness*; as being a scene of temptation", and a disordered state in which there is no lasting repose or happiness. Those who know it best are assured, by a long experience of its wickedness and deceit, that this view of the world is correct; and therefore they justly regard it as the enemy of God, and of their own souls; as an implacable foe, with whom they will make no league, and form no intimate connexion.

But do the majority of mankind look at the world in this light, and act towards it in this manner? No. Fond of its ways and maxims, its corrupting pleasures and amusements, they embrace it as a friend, with whom they live on a social footing; whose favour they wish to maintain, and whose displeasure they are afraid to incur, more than the anger of the Most High God.

It may be safely conceded, that so long as we are in the world, we must have more or less' intercourse with it: we must transact our business, and

provide for our families : but we may perform the proper duties of our station, and yet not give into that worldly spirit which is destructive of true religion in the soul, and which it is the professed design of this discourse to reprove.

1. This unholy temper manifests itself in an undue valuation of the world, and the things of it ; in giving a decided preference to its advantages, pleasures, and enjoyinents, above the joys of heaven. “Who," says the worldling, in full consistency with his sensual judgment and taste,"

66 will shew me any

a 1 John y.19. "ib. ii. 15–18. Job üi. 17. Micah ii. 10.

good",” beyond that which I possess ? Thus his heart and affections are exclusively engrossed by earthly objects. His happiness is made up in them, and he looks for satisfaction from them alone. His hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, rise or fall, increase or diminish, with the worldly objects that produce them. If his temporal circumstances are prosperous, he is pleased, and desires nothing better than the poor and wretched satisfaction which they impart. If, on the contrary, his secular schemes miscarry, he is truly miserable; and unable to bear the adverse frowns of fortune (as it is termed), he sometimes has recourse to means which put a period to his sufferings in this life, but awfully aggravate them in the next.

2. We discover the same worldly disposition in unregenerate men, as it respects their ardent pursuit after carnal things ; such as, money, pleasure, fame, or any other gratification which the world affords This restless endeavour to obtain "things which perish in the using,” plainly characterizes " the carnal mind, which is enmity with God," and seeks its satisfaction in the inordinate love of this present evil world. Those who live under the influence of this wicked spirit, indulge an insatiate thirst after the vanities, fashions, and follies of the age. Their sensual appetites are always clamorous for secular enjoyments. As soon as one mode of pleasure becomes insipid, and ceases to delight, they resort to another, to fill up the vacuum which they feel within them.

Thus they are chained to the world, like the unhappy slave to the soil which he cultivates : they are contented with the servile yoke of Satan their Psalm iv. 6–8.

• 1 Gal. i. 4.

d

master, and pay a blind and cheerful obedience to his suggestions. Thus their whole time is consumed in gratifying the body, in foolishly decorating their persons,

in frivolous conversation and amusements, in idle gossip and unnecessary visits, and in devising plans to kill tiine, and rob themselves of all the sweet consolations of the Gospel here, and the beatifying joys of heaven hereafter.

Tlfus worldly people live and move in the giddy circles of folly and sinful dissipation, as if they had no souls capable of everlasting bliss or sorrow: they act as if there was no death to tear them away from the vain scenes which fascinate them ; as if there would be no day of reckoning hereafter, when they must answer for the manner in which they have behaved; as if there was no hell, into which every trifling unprofitable seryant will be castf; and as if there was no state of happiness beyond the grave, to recompense the righteous for renouncing the world, the flesh, and the devil.

3. Such a careless sinful life is highly irrational: • it degrades men infinitely below the station which they are designed to hold in the scale of being. Even an Heathen moralist admonishes us,

" that we were born for nobler ends, than to dissolve in pleasure, luxury, and gaiety, and to waste our time and talents in pursuing the contaminating amusements of the world."

Should we, then, who are enlightened by the bright rays of a Divine Revelation, esteem it a proof of a good understanding to debase our souls, and thus rank ourselves with the beasts that perish? Is it any mark of true wisdom, to divest ourselves of the man, and play the brute, which is governed only by

Mat. xxv. 30.

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its present feelings, and has no regard to futurity ?

Shall we, then, account those persons wise, who' are held in the most degrading bondage by carnal appetites and passions, and slight all the soberest dictates of reason and religion ? No. Under whatever specious names they may disguise their con

duct, it is foolish in the extreme; it is a sort of in| sanity, that, without a total and speedy reformation,

must be followed by consequences fatal to the interests of their souls. It is the decision of God himself, that they who "live in pleasure, are dead whilst they live $;" and that they “who are far from him, shall perish."

How can they be spiritually-minded, who have no love for God, but indulge in the very practices which he most clearly prohibits ? How can they obtain salvation and grow in grace, whose thoughts are absorbed by the world? The language of inspiration declares that such persons “have their portion in this life hb," and therefore have nothing to expect beyond it. 4. Have you,

ye gay and trifling sinners ! ever counted the cost ? Have you fully considered the dreadful sacrifice which you must make, if you run the absurd rounds of worldly folly and vanity? Are you prepared to lose your souls, and doom them to endless sufferings, for the sake of “ the pleasures of sin, which are but for a short season'." Stop! and ponder these questions thoroughly, before you deliberately choose what will occasion you to shed an abundance of unavailing tears.

The Scriptures persuade you, in the most forcible
& 1 Tim. v. 6. Psalm lxxiii. 27. hd ib. xvii. 13, 14.
i Heb. xi. 25.

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