1 Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Venn was given to understand that a lady to whom his ministry had been singularly blessed, had been pleased to requite her obligations by making him heir to her property, which was very considerable. And we may not doubt that he gladly accepted the intended favour, and persuaded himself that it was a seasonable gift from God, for the relief of his mind, and for the comfort of his family. Perhaps he might have so reasoned and felt, in regard to it, but the following letter which he addressed to the lady, on hearing of her kind intention, will show in what a pure, lofty sphere his spirit moved: "My very dear friend, I understand, by my wife, your most kind and generous intention toward us in your will. The legacy would be exceedingly acceptable, and I can assure you the person from whom it would come would greatly enhance the benefit. I love my sweet children as much as is lawful, and as I know it would give you pleasure to minister to the comfort of me and mine, I should, with greater joy, accept of your liberality. But an insurmountable bar stands in the way — the love of Him to whom we are both indebted, not for a transient benefit, for silver or gold, but for an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. His honour, His cause, is, and must be, dearer to His people than wife, children, or life itself. It is the firm resolve of His saints, yea, doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. To be, therefore, a stumbling block in the way of any that are seeking Him — to give the least countenance to any that would be glad to bring His followers into contempt, and call in question their sincere and disinterested attachment to Him would grieve me while in health, darken my mind in sickness, and load me with self-condemnation on a bed of death. How would it also render all my exhortations feeble, and make them be accounted only as pulpit declamation, if, when I was pressing that solemn truth upon my people, 'Love not the world, neither the things in the world,' they could say, our minister, however, was careful to secure the favour of this rich proselyte, and, at length, to gain sufficiently by her! After the most mature deliberation, therefore, it is our request, which we cannot permit you to refuse us, that you will not leave us any other token of your regard than something of little value, but what it derives from the giver. If it should please God that our connection should be prolonged some years, we shall, in our hearts, still more abundantly enjoy your friendship when we are sure that we are not in danger of being influenced by a regard to our own interest. And if we must soon have the cutting affliction of losing you, you may depend on it, we shall not less affectionately make mention of your name, and your unfeigned love for us both in Christ Jesus, than if we had what the world esteems the only substantial proof of your regard. As for our children, whom many will think that we have not the love for that we owe them, by refusing your great favour, I would say only this, we both know of no inheritance equal to the blessing of God; and the certain way of securing it, as far as means can avail, is to be found ready to love or suffer any thing sooner than to incur the appearance of evil."
(Memoir of Venn.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Abstain from all appearance of evil.