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long as the new propietor shall think fit. I know no image that more properly represents the condition of the believer; with this difference, that in human affairs the change is usually for the worse ; but in fpiritual things, the renunciation is an infinite advantage, and the seeming loss an unspeakable gain. .
Think not, my brethren, that this is carrying matters to excess. It is what our Saviour expressly requires of all that would embrace his doctrine : Luke ix. 23. “And he “ faid unto them all, If any man will come after me, let “ him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and fol“ low me.” It is indeed one of the hard sayings of the gospel. You have heard it sometimes faid, that every Christian must be a martyr in refolution; and doubtless the world is not thoroughly crucified, unless our attachment to every worldly enjoyment, without exception, be so broken, that we are ready to resign it whenever God, in his Providence, fhall fee fit to demand it. We have an excellent lesson to this purpose, in the trial to which our Saviour put the young man in the gospel, with a decent and regular profession: Matth. xix. 21, 22. “ Jesus “ said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and fell that “ thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have “ treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But “ when the young man heard that saying, he went away “ forrowful; for he had great possessions.” To crucify the world, then, is to count no worldly enjoyment whatever necessary, either to our present comfort, or everlasting happiness, but to put an absolute and unshaken confidence in the wisdom and goodness of a reconciled God. This is excellently expressed by the prophet Habakkuk, chap. iii. 17, 18. “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither ~ shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olives shall “ fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be “ cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the “ stalls : yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the f God of my salvation.”
4. In the last place, The world must be crucified, as it is a separate and independent good, without its duę rela. sion to God. God himself alone is independent. All other things stand in an inseparable relation to him, and sliould be used in fubferviency to his honor: “ For of him, and “through him, and to him, are all things.” Every ra'tional creature, who continues in, or returns to his duty, discerns this relation, and maintains this subferviency. It was the first idolatry and facrilege, to break the ties that join the Maker to his works, and love the creature for its own sake. But he that is crucified to the world, will consider every earthly enjoyment as the gift of God: he will confess the goodness of God in bestowing it, and will obey the command of God in the use and application of it. That this is the duty of a Christian, is plain from the general strain of the holy scriptures; and particularly from this express and positive declaration, 1 Cor. x. 31. “Whether " therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to 6 the glory of God.” ..
The world, then, as a feparate independent good, or a: a mere gratification of carnal desire, is to be crucified. It was not given us for so low a purpose as the indulgence of appetite, but for nobler ends. But perhaps it will be necessary to observe, that some of the mystic writers have raised a variety of improper questions on this subject. Some have affirmed the unlawfulness of tasting any of the sweetness of created enjoyments more than was barely necessary for subsistence. It is easy to fee, that it must be very hard, in many such cases, to fix the bounds between necessity and convenience, use and pleasure : hence the conscience is involved in unspeakable and endless perplexity. Upon this I would observe, that the general reference of all things, even common actions, to the glory of God, is sufficiently and clearly established upon the palsage of scripture above mentioned. But in order to do this in the most profitable manner, some subordinate ends also must be considered ; and therefore, not only what is ne. cessary to health and comfort must be used with this view, but the enjoyment of many of the creatures may be allow. ed as the fruits of divine bounty, and tending to inspire an habitual chearfulness and gratitude to God.
I shall conclude with giving you these two general rules to be observed in the enjoyment of outward mercies.
1. That we have greater reason to guard against fins of excess and intemperance than of abstinence. The first are unspeakably more common and prevalent than the other : they always have been so, and are always likely to be so. If some few have gone into superstition, by extraordinary mortification, thousands have been betrayed into sin, and at last brought to perdition, by the charms of a sensual life.
2. If any are in danger of erring on the opposite side, the way to discover when we are going wrong, is to con. fider, whether the mortification renders us more spiritual, and more active, or, by excess of scrupulosity, we are consuming our time, and neglecting our duty. The deceits of Satan are very subtle : he fills fome persons with so many doubts upon every particular, that they are like one who makes little progress in his journey, from continual uncertainty, and frequent stopping to enquire the way. It is certainly far better to carry on the general ends of God's glory, and point to this as our ultimate purpose, than every now and then to entangle and embarrass
ourselves with questions of little moment. .. Before proceeding to the second general head, I shall -finish this discourse by a few observations for the improvement of what hath been already said. And, • 1. From what hath been said upon this subject, you may learn the great importance of the duty; that it is the distinguishing character of a real Christian, to be crucified to the world, and the world to him. Alas! how many deceive themselves in this particular! How many satisfy themselves with a name to live, when they are dead; with a form of godliness, while they deny the power thereof! How many, with a decent and regular outward profession, are yet wholly devoted to the world! Their me. ditation dwells upon it; their affections centre in it; their care is bestowed upon it; and their delights entirely fiow from it. Let it be considered, that there is nothing more contrary to true religion. The world, or created good, is
the great competitor with God for the heart. All the ho. · nor and esteem that is given to it is taken from God. All the service and obedience that is bestowed upon it is refizfed to God. Call to mind some of the passages of scrip. ture referred to in the preceding discourse ; particularly the following: 1 John ii. 15. “Love not the world, nei“ ther the things that are in the world. If any man love “ the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
My dear brethren, there are many who would look with contempt or indignation on those who are guilty of particular scandalous and disgraceful sins, for example, on a profane swearer, drunkard, or unclean person, while yet they themselves are as much wedded to the world, and have as great an inward aversion at the practice of piety, and the power of the spiritual life, as any of them all. Other fins are but the body or the members: worldliness is the foul and spirit of irreligion. Other fins are but the acts or expressions, worldliness the inward principle that gives them life.
How important a part this is of the Christian character, will plainly appear from these two considerations : 1. Worldliness may be itself the principle which restrains men from many other fins. A desire of reputation, a delight in the esteem of others, is often the cause of outward decency ; nay, it is not seldom the cause of apparent zeal and eminent hypocrisy. 2. There may be as great a degree of worldliness with as without a profession of piety. Men may retain a form of godliness chiefly to set them. selves free from the reproofs of conscience, that their present enjoyments may have the higher relih. Nay, I cannot help observing, that though covetousness is one of the gross fins mentioned in scripture, as entirely subversive of religion, there is scarcely any sin that can be carried to such a degree, without casting off the profession of it. Hence it plainly appears how important a part of the character of a real Christian it is to be crucified to the world. Without this the foundest principles, and the strictest profession, will avail nothing; for they that are “ Christ's, “ have crucified the flesh, with its affections and lufts.”
2. From what hath been said you may fee, not only the importance, but the great extent of the duty. The world itself, and all that is therein, in the sense formerly explained, must be crucified. That you may, in
fome measure, conceive the extent of this, consider the common division of worldly enjoyments, viz, riches, honors and pleasures. All these, without exception, and all these equally, must be denied by the Christian. You shall often fee, that the covetous man will despise and hate the prodigal, and even express the greatest zeal against riot, and extravagance of every kind. The sensualist, on the other hand, despises the miser, as glued to the world, and a slave to the most fordid of all human passions. And the ambitious man, eager in the pursuit of honor and dignity, vainly conceives himself superior to both. But they are all equally opposite to, and inconsistent with the spirit of the gospel. If your supreme delight, if your portion and happiness is here, it is of little consequence whether your hearts are set upon “ the luft of the Hesh, the luft of the “ eye, or the pride of life.” It is with the foul as with the body: there are many different diseases taking place in different parts, and shewing themselves by different symptoms, but which will equally end in death as their effect.
3. You may hence learn the difficulty of the duty; to be crucified to the world, and yet to live in the world; to be crucified to the world, and yet to possess the world; to be crucified to the world, and yet to have a great part of our thoughts and love necessarily employed about the world. The temptation is ever present, and, through the corruption and treachery of ourownhearts, fatally ítrong. Ought wenot hencetoinferthe absolute necessity of continual vigilance, and continual prayer? continualvigilancein ourduty, and jealous of every temptation that may be in danger of diverting us from it ? continual prayer to the Father of lights, in the name of Christ, for fupernatural strength ? Every exercised Christian knows from experience the danger of the world as an enemy, and how hard it is to keep such clear views of the things of eternity, as to be preserved from an undue and sinful attachment to the things of time. The world is dangerous even to those who maintain an habitual jealousy of it, and hold it as an enemy : how much more must it be ruinous and fatal to those who love and profecute it as the object of their chief desire :