The Worldling Commended
James Smith, 1859
"The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." Luke 16:8
Here is a Contrast. Who are the children of this world? Worldly people, whose hearts are set on the world. They love the world, and could they always live in it, have enough of it, and health to enjoy it—they would never desire to leave it! They live for what is worldly, either to make money, acquire fame, or enjoy sensual pleasures. They seldom look beyond this world—all their desires, hopes, and joys are comprehended in it. Every natural man, is a carnal man; and every carnal man, is a worldly man. The children of this world, then, comprise all who are not born again, all who have not the Spirit of Christ, all who love the world, and the things that are in the world.
Who are the children of light? These are God's children, who were once darkness—but are now light in the Lord. They are enlightened to see the nature, value, and preeminent excellency of spiritual things. The natural man discerns not the things of the Spirit of God—but these do. They know, that spiritual blessings are the chief blessings, and therefore prize them, seek them, and enjoy them. They love the Father of lights, from whom comes every good and perfect gift. They are in union and communion with Christ, the great luminary, the light of the world. They live to enlighten others, being constituted the light of the world.
Here is a COMMENDATION: "The children of this world, are in their generation, wiser than the children of light." They display frequently, more wisdom, prudence, and skill. They have more tact about them, and in some things, are held up for our imitation. They fix on their end or object, be it what it may; they devise means, the very best they can, for its accomplishment; and they steadily persevere until their end is gained, or their object accomplished. They throw their whole heart into their work, expending property, time, and effort for its acquirement. They stimulate and help each other, and will if possible secure their end.
Look at the idol makers in the days of old, and hear the prophet's testimony, "The idol makers encourage one another, saying to each other, 'Be strong!' The carver encourages the goldsmith, and the molder helps at the anvil. 'Good,' they say. 'It's coming along fine.' Carefully they join the parts together, then fasten the thing in place so it won't fall over." Isaiah 41:6-7.
Or, look at a political election in our own land. See how men canvass, what self-denial they practice, what money they spend, what condescension they display, what thought they employ, what energy they manifest in speaking and acting! All feel, all are fired, all speak, all act. They write hand-hills, employ printers, and cover the walls with them. They advise, argue, reason, reprove, and almost compel men to see, and act with them. Traitors are hated. Neutrals are condemned. And yet, for what is all this excitement, hustle, and energy displayed? for some supposed temporal good—in order to send a man of similar views with themselves to represent them in the British parliament.
Now look at the children of light. They have two great objects to obtain, for which they should live and labor, spend and be spent. The first is personal, and comprises deep spirituality, settled peace of soul, and extensive usefulness in God's world. The second is relative, and comprehends, a genuine revival in the Church, and a great and general awakening in the world.
The children of this world, never expect to accomplish their ends without the use of means, suitable means, and these energetically applied; nor should the children of light, for means are as necessary, as essential in one case as in the other. And yet, where do we see the same wisdom displayed? Do the professors of the present day, encourage one another in God's work, as did the idol makers of old? Do the children of light, engage in the work of saving souls, like the parties at a contested election? Where are the canvassers? Where shall we find the men, who in order to bring souls to Christ, and to fill God's house with hearers, go from house to house, and from street to street, the whole town over? Who in Christ's cause practices the self-denial, and condescension, or spends the money, or exercises the thought, or puts forth the energy, that parties in an election contest do?
But if we were as wise as the children of this world, we should act as they do. Then, every church member would be active, zealous, and devoted. In the one case every man that has a vote is looked after, and is if possible, brought up to the poll; in the other case, everyone who has a soul should be looked after, and if possible, be brought to Christ. All of us should feel on this point, and feel acutely. All should speak, and speak with energy. All who can should write, and write with the one end in view, of saving souls from death.
But, alas! the worse are the wiser. The children of this world, condemn the children of light. Until every church of Christ, feels as deeply, for the conversion of sinners around; and exerts itself as much, to bring souls to God, as our boroughs and counties do, in returning representatives to parliament, the world will condemn the church, and the Master's censure will be deserved.
If the Lord's people could only lose sight of their minor differences, and be as decided, as earnest, as active, as self-denying, in Christ's cause, as politicians are in theirs—we would soon see a glorious work wrought, and enjoy a blessed revival. But until then, the children of this world will win the palm, and carry off the crown.
Ought not money to be as freely spent for Christ, and to save souls, as to return a representative to parliament? Ought not effort to be as cheerfully and energetically put forth, to awaken sinners to a sense of their danger, as to carry a borough election? Ought not professors as decidedly to take part with Christ, and his cause, as the children of this world do, in the case of a contested election? What, O what has Jesus done for us? What has Jesus given us? What has Jesus promised us? Surely, surely, shame ought to cover us, if we allow the children of this world to do more in the cause of political party, than we do in the cause of Christ! We cannot, I think, seriously look at the subject, without being reproved, without being condemned.
Sinner, how stands the case with you? You have a soul to be saved. A soul of priceless value. A soul that must be saved now, or be lost forever. Have you felt as much for the salvation of your soul, as you have in the case of a contested election? Have you ever exercised as much thought, displayed as much energy, practiced as much self-denial, for the salvation of your soul, as the politician has in endeavoring to secure the election of his candidate? How can you account for your conduct, if you have not? How can you justify your coldness, carelessness, and indifference? How will you view your present conduct from the bed of death? What will you think of your present course, when you stand trembling before the judgment-seat of Christ? What, O what, will be your feeling, when you review the past from the depths of the bottomless pit? Surely every politician will rise up in the judgment and condemn you, for they were all life, vigor, and energy in the cause of politics; while you were lifeless, indifferent, and careless, in the cause of your soul's salvation!
O awake, arouse yourself, and strive to enter in at the strait gate! Stir up yourself, to seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near! Behold, Now, Now is the accepted time! Behold, Now, Now is the day of salvation. Now you may make your calling and election sure. Now you may lay hold on eternal life. Now you may escape the wrath to come, and secure a part in the inheritance of the saints in light. Do not observe lying vanities, and forsake your own mercies. Do not trifle away time—or eternity will be spent in bitter reflections, and useless repentance!