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instead of awakening and turning him. But the Apostle's direction may always be obeyed, without any breach of charity; and, in cases of gross and flagrant delinquency against the laws of God, it must be obeyed, even though the charities of life may seem to be violated: Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you. To permit a mere diversity of opinion, between those who are agreed in acknowledging Christ for their Saviour, to interrupt the charities of social and even domestic life; to break off a friendly intercourse with those who profess to be Christians as well as ourselves, and who, if mistaken, are sincere,because they differ from us in their views of some particular doctrine, or feature of the Gospel dispensation; this is not firmness and consistency, but conceit and uncharitableness: it is to fulfil a doubtful obligation, at the expense of a known duty. But to separate himself from profane or profligate men, and to let them see that the separation is deliberately made, in order to mark, by the consistent tenor of his own conduct, the difference between his own principles and theirs, is a practical sentence of condemnation, which the most charitable Christian need
not hesitate to pass upon the enemies, or the despisers of his Saviour.
But such a proceeding, it may be said, will bring upon us the charge of peculiarity; we shall be regarded as aliens and strangers from the rest of mankind, and looked upon with suspicion and jealousy. Well, and ought it not to be so with Christians? Must it not be so, as long as the world is divided into two classes, the children of light, and the children of this generation? As long as we persevere in the line of duty, marked out for us by him, whose servants we profess to be, and, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, we shall be esteemed singular and precise, by those who follow a more lax and accommodating rule. Such is the very nature and character of our calling; for he, who has called us, gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works;10 that is, peculiarly his own, marked as such, and known to be so, by the stamp of holiness, which distinguishes them from the world; the name of God and of the Lamb being written on their foreheads." And as to the suspicion
10 Tit. ii. 14.
Rev. xiv. 1.
and dislike, which our fidelity to Christ may bring upon us, for that we have been prepared long ago Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.12 We are secure of the love and esteem of those who are sincere in their Christian profession; the censure of others may be regarded as a cause of satisfaction rather than regret. Wherefore, asks the Apostle, did Cain slay his brother? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.13 If ye were of the world, said our blessed Lord, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
Miserable is his weakness, who, knowing what his duty to God requires, abstains from doing it, not under the overpowering constraint of natural appetite, and the irresistible force of temptation, but from a sense of shame; from a self-condemned slavery to the opinions of a wicked world. Well would it be for us, if at the moment when a false delicacy, or a morbid fear of ridicule, exerts its influence, in opposition to the dictates of conscience, and the plain commands of God, we could remember, with a sure conviction of its truth, that awful warning of
12 1 John iii. 13.
13 1 John iii. 12.
14 John xv. 19.
the Lord, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.
Let us, then, pray for a larger measure of spiritual courage and consistency. Let us dare to be uniformly and at all times Christian; in language, in demeanour, in charitable and edifying conversation; desirous, not only of securing our own salvation, but of setting forward the honour of Christ, and the growth of holiness in the world; as jealous for the credit of his Gospel, as though it depended wholly upon ourselves; and witnessing such a good confession before men, that the Redeemer may hereafter confess us before his Father which is in heaven.
PROV. IV. 18.
The path of the just is as the shining light; that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
THE shining light, which is here spoken of, is evidently the sun and the path, or progress of the righteous man is beautifully compared to the daily course of that glorious luminary, who cometh out of his chambers in the east, dispersing gradually the shades of night, and gladdening the earth with continual accessions of light, from the first faint glimmering of the dawn, to the full splendour of the perfect day. The comparison bespeaks a just acquaintance, on the part of the sacred writer, with the intellectual faculties and moral powers of man, and