Saturday, December 26, 2015

    When in the light of faith divine
    We look on things below,
    Honour, and gold, and sensual joy,
    How vain and dangerous too!

    [Honour's a puff of noisy breath;
    Yet men expose their blood,
    And venture everlasting death
    To gain that airy good.

    Whilst others starve the nobler mind,
    And feed on shining dust,
    They rob the serpent of his food
    T' indulge a sordid lust.]

    The pleasures that allure our sense
    Are dangerous snares to souls;
    There's but a drop of flattering sweet,
    And dash'd with bitter bowls.

    God is mine all-sufficient good,
    My portion and my choice;
    In him my vast desires are fill'd,
    And all my powers rejoice.

    In vain the world accosts my ear,
    And tempts my heart anew;
    I cannot buy your bliss so dear,
    Nor part with heaven for you.
                                              Isaac Watts

.....God and the world are contrary; he is all good, and the world lieth in wickedness; and they command contrary things.  The world saith, Slack no opportunity of gain and pleasure; if you will be so peevish as to stand nicely upon conscience, you will do nothing but draw trouble upon yourselves.  Now, God saith, Deny yourselves, take up your cross, renounce the world, etc.  The world saith, 'Wilt thou take thy bread, and thy water, and thy flesh, and give it unto men whom thou knowest not whence they be?' 1 Sam. 25:11.  But God saith, 'Sell that ye have, and give alms, provide bags that waste not,' etc.  It were easy to instance in several such contrarieties.  We find by experience that so far as we mingle with the world, so far are our hearts deadened and estranged from God; and by the encroachment of worldly delights and vanities upon the spirit, the love of God decayeth.  It is a vain conceit to think we can serve God and our lusts too.  The world and grace are incompatible; they may be together sometimes, as a rusty dial may be right by chance.  But you will be put to trial; and when God and the world come in competition, you may see whose friendship you do desire.  When a worldly man must do the one or the other, you shall see where his heart is; he will rather offend God than lose riches, pleasures, or preferment:  he is loath to be bound up by the curt allowance of conscience and religion; and though he would gild all with a pretence of respect to God, yet carnal reasons oversway, and he taketh the world's part against God.   Well, now, you see the enmity between God and the world.  (1.)  Think of it seriously, when you are about to mingle with earthly comforts and delights, and can neglect God for a little carnal conveniency and satisfaction; this is to be an enemy to God; and can I make good my part against him?  He is almighty, and can crush you.  What are our feeble hands to the grasp of omnipotency?  See Ezek. 22:14.  And he is a terrible enemy 'when he whetteth his glittering sword,' Deut. 32:41.  Nay, if none of all this were to be feared, the very estrangement from God is punishment enough to itself.  Shall I renounce the love and favour of God, and all commerce and communion between him and me, for a little temporal delight and pleasure?  God forbid.  (2.)  Learn how odious worldliness is; it is direct enmity to God, because it is carried on under sly pretences; of all sins this seemeth most plausible.  Usually we stroke it with a gentle censure, and say, He is a good man, but a little covetous and worldly, etc.  That is enough to entitle him God's enemy.  The world reckoneth sins, not by the inward contrariety to God, but by the outward excesses and acts of filthiness; and therefore, because covetous persons do not break out into acts foul and shameful, they have much of the honour and respect of the world:  Ps. 49:13, 'Their way is folly, yet their posterity approve their sayings;' that is, praise and esteem such a kind of life.  Sensual persons are like beasts, and therefore the object of common scorn; but worldliness suiteth more with carnal reason, and is a sin more human and rational:  Ps. 10:3, 'They bless the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth.'  The Lord abhorreth them, but men bless them; for they do not measure sins so much by the inward enmity, as by the outward excess.  God's hatred ariseth from his own purity, but man's from the external inconveniences of disgrace and loss.....                                                                                              Thomas Manton

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