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pired, when heathenism was receiving its mortal wound, 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 "their ways 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 ministry;" 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." This character, though 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 here enumerated by the Apostle,

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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 injurious misrepresentations, that we should rightly apprehend in what the offence really consists, against which we are thus 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 any worldly interest or 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 purpose, 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. iii. 17.

these, Solomon reminds us, that a man may rejoice and do good in his life," and may enjoy the good of all his labour," it being "the gift of God." Had it been otherwise, we can hardly conceive that the Almighty would have promised to his chosen people Israel abundance of temporal prosperity as the reward of their obedience, or have threatened the want of it in chastisement of their disobedience: that he would have encouraged them, on the one hand, with the assurance of being "blessed in the city and in the field, in "the fruit of their bodies and the fruit of "their grounds, the increase of their kine " and the flocks of their sheep, in their basket "and in their store;" or have denounced, on the other hand, curses in all these things, if they refused to "hearken to the Lord their "God, and to do his commandments 8. Nor can we suppose that if a renunciation of such enjoyments were essential to the Christian character, our Lord himself would have forborne that austerity of conduct which obtained so great veneration for his forerunner John the Baptist ;-that he would have countenanced the festivities of the marriage-feast, have partaken of entertainments provided for him, or have reproved the censorious


f Eccles. iii. 12, 13.




8 Deut. xxviii. 3, 4, 5, 15, &c. D d

Pharisees who affected a higher degree of sanctity than others, by adopting rigid and unsocial manners. There is no ground, therefore, from Scripture, or from the genuine character of the Christian religion, for an indiscriminate prohibition of pleasure. Our affections, doubtless, are not to be unduly set upon any thing that this world affords; but the pleasure arising from a temperate enjoyment of it is not in itself reprehensible. It has indeed been very justly remarked, that our Lord was cautious not to give his religion "a disgusting appearance; not expecting in any man a deadness to human society and "human enjoyments; not exacting austeri"ties which God has not commanded; not laying a great stress on indifferent or frivo"lous observances, which serve only to bur"den and disquiet men; but for the most "part leaving to general rules and to private "discretion the total and partial, the stated "and occasional abstinence from lawful grati"fications of our natural appetites "."

Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance to consider what latitude a Christian may take in these respects: and this involves two distinct points of inquiry;-first, what kind of pleasure is to be deemed allowable;—se

h Archbishop Newcome, On our Lord's Conduct.




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