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we must expect to have our portion; and though this expectation need not embitter the enjoyment of present good, or excite a querulous anticipation of future evil; yet ought it to abate that excessive love of pleasure, which will only increase the weight of adversity when it comes upon us, and render us less able to bear its pressure. Still greater folly is it to repel from our thoughts the expectation of future judgment. This, indeed, is an event which every Christian knows to be inevitable. And what other re

straint upon his evil propensities can be more effective? What stronger motive can be set before him, so to regulate all his enjoyments here, that they may not terminate in endless bitterness and woe hereafter? What warning can be more awakening, more urgent, more imperative than this, to restrain us all from falling under the fearful condemnation of being "lovers of pleasure more

"than lovers of God?"


JOHN Xii. 43.

For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

AMONG the hard sayings which render the Gospel difficult of acceptance to worldly-minded men, are those which seem to discourage the desire of popular admiration. It is spoken of here by the Evangelist in reproach of some of the Jewish rulers, that "they loved the "praise of men more than the praise of God;" and the instance given of their conduct in this respect is stated in the preceding verse, that though they "believed" on our Lord, yet because of the Pharisees they did not confess him:" thus sacrificing their own convictions to a corrupt desire of obtaining favour from a powerful and overbearing sect. It is, indeed, mentioned of the Pharisees themselves, that they were of a similar disposition, making an outward show of sanctity


and strictness, that they might be "seen of


men "," and "have their reward" in the veneration with which they were regarded by the multitude. Their almsgivings, their fastings, their prayers, their rigid observance of the ceremonial law, and of the numberless traditions engrafted upon it, originated, for the most part, in this desire of public estimation. Nothing could be more contrary to the spirit by which the disciples of Christ were required to regulate their conduct. A blessing was pronounced upon dispositions the most opposite to these. They were even to rejoice" when "hated, reviled, or persecut"ed for righteousness' sake," because “ great "should be their reward in heaven." The duties of prayer, and almsgiving, and fasting, were to be practised from the desire of serving and pleasing God, not for gaining the admiration of men; and the appetite for indiscriminate condemnation was thus pointedly reproved ;—"Woe unto you, when all men "shall speak well of you"!"



There can be no doubt that these and many similar admonitions had especial reference to the difficulties under which the primitive Christians laboured. So hostile were the laws and usages, the sentiments and dispositions,

a Matth. xxiii. 5.

b Luke vi. 26.

of both Jews and Gentiles at that period, to the genuine spirit of Christianity, that the faithful could hardly hope to escape the obloquy of those who refused to embrace this new religion. The recent convert would hence be continually in danger of "making ship"wreck of his faith," unless he could rise above popular opinion, and shew that he was actuated by a respect to that "recompense of "reward" which he was taught to look for in a future state. Hard, therefore, as the condition might seem of disregarding the approbation of the multitude, its necessity could not be disputed; and none could doubt that if under such circumstances they sought the reward of having "all men speak well of "them," they must put to hazard that hope which their heavenly Master had set before them. But the primitive Christians were by no means exclusively concerned in these admonitions. Temptations similar, though not circumstantially the same, will at all times endanger the constancy of sincere believers in the Gospel; nor will it ever be a task unattended with difficulty, so far to subdue the desire of applause as not to "love the praise "of men more than the praise of God." The dispositions which most generally prevail to

c 1 Tim. i. 10.

draw men aside from their spiritual concerns, are the love of the world, the love of pleasure, and the love of fame. Through the love of the world, its pomp, its wealth, its possessions, their thoughts become engrossed by secular business, sordid emoluments, or worthless distinctions. By the love of pleasure, they become wholly devoted to selfindulgence and sensual gratifications. By the love of fame, or popular applause, other passions, desires, and interests are called forth, no less dangerous in their tendency and destructive in their operation. To these the subject of our present Discourse more directly calls our attention.

Here, however, this preliminary observation is to be made, that, in the abstract, the love of praise is no more condemned in Scripture than the love of pleasure. The Jewish rulers were condemned because "they loved the "praise of men more than the praise of God;" as St. Paul censures those who were "lovers "of pleasure more than lovers of God." In each case it was against the excessive love of either that the admonition was chiefly directed.

We have, indeed, abundant proof that our Lord and his Apostles regarded the love of honourable esteem and reputation among

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