« Prev Chapter XVIII. Next »

Chapter XVIII.

Showing How Worldly Pleasures Drive Away The Holy Spirit.

Abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.—1 Peter 2:11.

The children of this world earnestly follow the joys and pleasures of it, which the children of God avoid with all diligence, as so many snares and temptations of the devil, designed to draw them from God, their sovereign Good. If thou, O Christian, resolve to preserve this most valuable treasure, be careful to avoid all occasions of losing it. Of this sort are all so-called sports, pastimes, and recreations, or those actions which do not in some way tend to the glory of God, and the good of our neighbor. And though thou art sometimes forced to be present at them, yet be then careful to turn thy thoughts inward, by an elevation of thy heart to God; and so thou shalt never lose the comfort and peace of the divine presence wheresoever thou art. And whilst thou art faithful in 411 this exercise, the world and all its vanities shall not hurt thee. This was queen Esther's case, who, though outwardly clothed with royal ornaments, yet was inwardly clothed with profound humility. Thus David, in the midst of his glory and riches, had nevertheless, humble thoughts of himself. 2 Sam. 6:22. And Joseph, in his master's house, which was full of luxury, yet preserved a chaste heart. Gen. 39:9. And this is that true fear of God which keeps his faithful servants from the world and all its vanities, that they lose not their inward joy and peace of conscience. This “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Ps. 111:10. He that is endued with it will not turn himself to the world, but from the world to God, seeking contentment, joy, and peace in Him. This, in short, is the fruit of true contrition; to turn us away from all things which are not God, or do not tend to him; and to turn us to that chief and true Good, which is God. If we are inwardly conscious that we have hitherto neglected this useful exercise, and have been immersed in the vanities of the world, let the remainder of our lives be spent in bewailing and lamenting our past transgressions, and in forsaking and guarding against every approach towards them. If we do this, God will not remember how great sinners we have been, but will rejoice at our repentance, not regarding our former iniquities, but our present faith and earnest desires of serving God more faithfully than hitherto we have done. But though God so earnestly desires our salvation, yet too many, by turning from him to the world, resist his grace and force him out of their hearts, notwithstanding all his gracious endeavors to continue there.

2. Therefore it is necessary that every man should die to the world, that would live to God; whence it appears that the major part of mankind are at enmity with God. Alas! how many mortifications of the flesh must we undergo before our corrupt nature, both externally and internally, is perfectly slain in us, and the life of God succeed in its place. Now crosses and trials are as so many remedies applied to our corruption, in order to drive out of us the poison of sin, and restore us to the life of God. Whence it appears, that the benefit of afflictions is very great, and that we ought to meet them with contentment and joy, as the means of purifying our corrupt nature, and bringing us to a participation of the divine nature. This it is which brings us to the noblest exercise of Christian duty, namely, dying to the world, in prosperity and adversity, in silence and hope, secretly and inwardly, without the least murmur or complaint. They who fret, repine, or complain, discover plainly that they are unwilling to die to the world, and that they have but little of the divine light in their souls. God cannot live in the soul which is not dead to the world; for the more we live after the lusts of corrupt nature, the less we live unto God and his holy will. On the other hand, the less we live to the flesh, so much the more we live unto God. Let this, then, be our certain rule, that he that would live to the Spirit, must die to the flesh. Rom. 8:13.

« Prev Chapter XVIII. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection