« PreviousContinue »
tian name. They may love particular i Christians, because they are of their party, and imbibe their sentiments. This too is nothing better than that friendship of the world which is enmity with God. They may esteem Christians merely from the force of education and habit. The people of God may not be the objects of contempt or aversion, and still they may not be the objects of complacency. Indeed our consciences may constrain us to respect them; the habits of early education may lead us often to associate with them; while we have no affectionate regard for the excellence of their character.
That love which is excited toward Chris. tians, as Christians, is a constituted proof of saving grace. The reader will do well therefore, to examine his own heart, and see whether he is conscious of cherishing love toward the people of God because they are the people of God. Does he love them because he discovers in them the amiableness of that divine religion which is altogether lovely Does he love them not merely because they love him, or have bestowed favors upon him; not because they are of his party; but bé. cause they bear the image of his heavenly Father? is his love active? Is it a principle that lives, that manifests itself by all those methods whereby the good of the brother. may
be advanced? Does it discover it. self in the delight which he takes in the company and conversation of the Lord's
people, and in every opportunity which he has to exchange the tokens, and strengthen the bonds of mutual affection? Can he from the heart adopt the resolution of Ruth,
Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God." Tell me, reader, do you feel toward tbe children of God as toward the children of one coma mon Father, and the brethren of one come mon family? Do you love them because they bear the image of the common Father? And do you love them in proportion to the degree in which they bear the image? Can you bear and forbear with them? Can you forget their infirmities, or do you rejoice to magnify them? Can you cast the mantle of charity over their sins, and pray for them, and watch over them, and pity, and blame, and love them still? And can you fcel thus, and act thus, toward the poorest and most despised of the flock, and that because he is a Christian? If so, here is your encouragement, He that loveth is born of God. Yours is the spirit of a better world. The Paradise you lost by Adam, you shall regain by Christ. Allied to spiriis born on high, you shall ascend to purer regions, and breathe a purer air. Far from the tumult of this apostate earth, you shall yet rest beneath the peaceful shades of Eden, where blooms immortal amaranth fast by the tree of life."
NON-CONFORMITY TO THE WORLD.
SAINTs are expectants of glory. They are born from above, and have no home beneath their native skies. Here they are strangers and pilgrims, and plainly declare that they seek a better country. It is their avowed profession, that their happiness and hopes are neither in, nor from the present world. Their treasure is in Heaven. Much as they are influenced by the spirit, governed by the maxime, awed by the frowns, and se duced by the flattery of the world; they are so far aloof from all its corrupting influence, that between them and the world, there is a distinct line of demarkation. Perfectly aloof from the corruptions of the world, they are not in the present life. But they are sufficiently so to make their non-conformity a distinguishing trait in their character. They have come out, and are separate. They are on the Lord's side. They are a city set on a hill; so far raised above the common level of the world, that they cana not be hid. They are not of this world, even as Christ was not of this world. Such is the excellence of their character and the purity of their conduct, that the world is constrained to take knowledge of them that. they have been with Jesus.
The spirit of the world is incompatible with the spirit of the gospel. It is the spirit of pride, and not of humility; of self-indulgence, rather than of self-denial. Riches, honors, and pleasure, form the grand object of pursuit with the men of the world. Worldly men are solicitous to lay up treasures for: themselves, and are not rich toward God... Their great inquiry is, “Who will show us any good? What shall we eat, what shall we drink, or wherewithal shall we be clothed?" They are sensual, not having the spirit. Regardless of every thing bụt that which is calculated to gratify a carnal mind, they lift up their souls.unto vanity, and pant after the dust of the earth. Their thoughts and their affections are chained down to the things of time and sense. In these they seem to be irrecoverably immersed. They seldom think, but they think of the world; they seldom converse, but they converse of the world. The world is the cause of their perplexity, and the source of their enjoy.. ment. The lust of the flesh, the last of the eye, and the pride of life, close every avenue of the soul to the exclusion of every holy desire, I had almost said, every serious reffection.
This spirit, the Christian has mortified.. Now we," saith the Apostle, “Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.” The heavenly mind Jooks down on the things of the world as lying vanities that cannot profit. The disci,
plc of Jesus, as he has nobler affections than the worldling, has a higher object and more elevated joys. “What things were gain to him, those he counts loss for Christ, yea, doubtless he counts all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord; for whom he is ready to suffer the loss of all things, and to count them but dung that he may win Christ." While the wise man glories in his wisdom; while the mighty man glories in his might, and the rich man glories in his riches-it is his privilege to glory in the Lord; to glory in nothing save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to him, and he to the world." The character and cause of the Blessed Redeemer lie so near bis heart, that, in comparison with these, every thing else vanishes to nothing. He views the world by the eye of faith. He sees it in a light that reflects its intrinsic importance: the light of Eternity. There, the world shrinks to a point. The fashion of it passeth away. "All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field.” Compared with durable riches and righteousness, its highest enjoyments are trifles, light as air, Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.
As the spirit of the world is not the spirit of God's people, so the men of the world are not their companions. The saints are a peculiar people. The church is uniformly rep