ON WHAT WE ARE TO RENOUNCE BY THE CHRISTIAN’S RULE
Consider first, that in consequence of our redemption through Jesus Christ, we are bound, by the tenor of our rule above rehearsed, to deny, that is, to renounce, all ‘ungodliness and worldly desires,’ and to be ‘clean from all iniquity;’ we are to run away from all evil, but more especially from the evils here named, the first of which is ‘ungodliness,’ which is usually the first crime we commit, and the source of all the rest. For by ungodliness we understand, either the giving away from God what belongs to him, or the refusing him the service and love which we owe him. Now here the sinner usually begins to revolt. He is indispensably obliged to dedicate himself to God from his first coming to the use of reason; instead of which, like the apostate angels, he turns himself away from him, he refuses him his heart, which he so justly claims, and gives it away to empty toys and lying follies. This is ‘ungodliness;’ this in a kind of idolatry, in preferring the creature before the Creator; this is the source of innumerable evils; this is the very bane of the world. O let us renounce it and detest it!
Consider 2ndly, what those baits are which Satan usually employs to draw us away from God; for no man ever chooses to serve the devil for his own sake, or for any love he has for him: but the tempter sets before us the deceitful appearances of some worldly honour, profit, or pleasure, and with these he allures deluded mortals to his service; these are the gilded pills with which he poisons the soul; with which he draws millions into hell. Therefore the Christian’s rules require that, together with ‘ungodliness,’ he should also ‘deny’ all ‘worldly desires,’ that is, all affections to these worldly toys and cheating vanities, as the most effectual means of disarming all of us. For when we despise all that he can offer, and even fly and abhor his choicest allurements, he stands confounded, and can do no more.
Consider 3rdly, that these worldly lusts and desires which the Christian must renounce, are, in particular, those of which the beloved disciple writes, 1 John ii. 15, 16. ‘Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the charity of the Father (the love of God) is not in him; for all that is in the world is the concupiscence of the flesh, and concupiscence of the eyes, and the pride of life.’ It is on account of this ‘triple concupiscence,’ which reigns in all places, that the ‘whole world,’ as the same apostle tells us (ch. v. 19) ‘is seated in wickedness:’ so that if we desire to belong to Christ in good earnest, and to profess ourselves religious under this rule, we must declare a perpetual war against this triple concupiscence, and its abettors, vis., the world and our corrupt nature; and then we may despise all the devils in hell. Yes, Christians, renounce but these three capital enemies of your souls, viz., the love of sensual pleasures, the love of gratifying the covetous eye with worldly toys, and the love of worldly honour, and you shall be ‘cleansed from all iniquity.’
Conclude to be ever zealous observers of your rule, by ‘denying ungodliness and worldly desires;’ and turn your heart, to seek your happiness in other kinds of honours, riches, and pleasures such as the world cannot give, and which may stay with you for ever.