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to sanctify, as it were, our worldly pursuits to His honour and service. This cannot be done without habitual attention to religious duties ; especially those means of grace, by which we are to obtain help from above, to enable us to fulfil the will of God. Nevertheless, we are in effect discharging a very considerable part of our duty towards God, by performing our duties towards man, in obedience to His command; and we are acting as faithful disciples of Christ, when we do good to one another for Christ's sake.
Thus may we make our spiritual calling and election sure, without any neglect of our temporal callings; and having 6 used this “ world as not abusing it?,” may confidently trust, that we are so passing through things temporal, as finally to lose not the things eternal. “ Our fruit will be unto holiness, and " the end everlasting life"."
91 Cor. vii. 31.
Rom. vi. 22.
2 TIMOTHY iii. 4.
Lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God.
ST.PAUL, in giving instructions to Timothy for the government of the Church at Ephesus, states without reserve the difficulties to be encountered in the high and arduous station to which he had been appointed. A great portion of these would arise from the
opposition made to the preachers of Christianity, not only by those who disbelieved and derided its doctrines, but by those also who “ held the “ truth in unrighteousness“,” by those who “ had the form of godliness, but denied the
power thereof),” by all who, whether they believed or not, were so wedded to their evil lusts and affections, that, rather than conform to the pure precepts of the Gospel, they would revile and persecute those who taught it in sincerity and truth. These evils, the Apostle states, would be characteristic of those “ last days,” when the Jewish dispensation had a Rom. i. 18.
b 2 Tim. iii. 5.
expired, when heathenism was receiving its deathblow, and when those who had hitherto felt at ease in their corrupt principles and practices would ill bear to be awakened out of their lethargy, or called upon to “ set their " affections on things above," and to “ make
and their doings good.” Timothy was nevertheless to learn himself, and to teach others, to “fight the good fight of faith,” and to “ lay hold on eternal life.” He was to “ watch in all things, to endure afflictions, to “ do the work of an Evangelist, to make full “ proof of his ministryd;” notwithstanding these discouragements, these impediments to his progress.
Among the characters whom the Apostle describes as most injurious to Christianity, and rendering those times “ perilous” to its preachers, we find specified in the words of the text such as were “ lovers of pleasure “ more than lovers of God;" a character which, however commonly reputed to be comparatively inoffensive, seems to be here classed among offenders of the most heinous description: and although we need not hence infer that the love of pleasure is in itself an offence of equal magnitude and enormity with many of those which the Apostle here enumerates,
d 2 Tim. iv. 5.
cl Tim. vi. 12.
yet is it evidently spoken of as at variance with the spirit of the Gospel, and consequently to be carefully guarded against by every one who would walk worthy of his Christian calling. At the same time it is necessary, both for our own peace of mind and for the vindication of the Gospel itself from any injurious misrepresentations, that we should rightly apprehend in what the offence really consists, against which we are thus so awfully admonished.
This inquiry is the more requisite, since there is an evident propensity in most men, even among those who are religiously disposed, to make their duty as light and easy as possible, and to complain if it interfere with their pursuit either of worldly interest or of personal gratification. Hence arise many grievous mistakes respecting the proper influence of Christianity upon the concerns of the present life, and many incongruous representations of its character, its
and its practical effect. On the one hand, it is pourtrayed as a system of austerity and unsocial gloom; on the other, as holding out promises and expectations little dependent upon our ordinary deportment in society.
The influence which religion ought to have upon our intercourse with the world, so far as relates to the necessary business and occupations of social life, has been already considered in a former Discourse on St. Paul's exhortation, “Let every man wherein he is
called, therein abide with God;" implying that Christianity does not require us to abandon our worldly callings, but to regulate them by religious principle. I purpose now to examine the Apostle's admonition in the text respecting the love of pleasure as contrasted with the love of God; with a view to obviate errors either of laxity or of rigour, which an erroneous apprehension of the subject might lead us to entertain.
Pleasure, in itself, is no where expressly forbidden in the word of God. Of religion it is said, “her ways are ways of pleasant“ ness® ;” an expression denoting its cheerful tendency, and its influence in promoting even our present enjoyments. Neither do the Scriptures condemn a rational and moderate participation of those delights which the boundless variety of external objects presents to our view, and for the enjoyment of which our benevolent Creator hath implanted within us desires and faculties capable of deriving from them a high degree both of animal and of intellectual gratification. With respect to
e Prov. ii. 17.