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We see why it is that infidels have proclaimed the gospel of Christ to be a failure. You may not be aware that of late infidels have taken the ground that the gospel of Christ is a failure. They maintain that it professes to bring men out from the world, but fails to do so; and hence is manifestly a failure. Now you must observe that the bible does indeed affirm, as infidels say, that those who are truly born of God do overcome the world. This we can not deny and we should not wish to deny it. Now if the infidel can show that the new birth fails to produce this result, he has carried his point, and we must yield ours. This is perfectly plain, and there can be no escape for us.
But the infidel is in fault in his premises. He assumes the current christianity of the age as a specimen of real religion, and builds his estimate upon this. He proves, as he thinks, and perhaps truly proves that the current christianity does not overcome the world.
We must demur to his assuming this current christianity as real religion. For this religion of the mass of nominal professors does not answer the descriptions given of true piety in the word of God. And moreover, if this current type of religion were all that the gospel and the Divine Spirit can do for lost man, then we might as well give up the point in controversy with the infidel; for such a religion could not give us much evidence of having come from God, and would be of very little value to man;-so little as scarcely to be worth contending for. Truly if we must take the professedly christian world as bible christians, who would not be ashamed and confounded in attempting to confront the infidel? We know but too well that the great mass of professed christians do not overcome the world, and we should be confounded quickly if we were to maintain that they do. Those professed christians themselves know that they do not overcome the world. Of course they could not testify concerning themselves that in their own case the power of the gospel is exemplified.
In view of facts like these, I have often been astonished to see ministers setting themselves to persuade their people that they are truly converted, trying to lull their fears and sustain their tottering hopes. Vain effort! Those same ministers, it would seem, must know that they themselves do not overcome the world, and equally well must they know that their people How fatal then to the soul must be such efforts to "heal the hurt of God's professed people slightly; crying peace, peace, when there is no peace!"
Let us sift this matter to the bottom, pushing the inquiryDo the great mass of professed christians really overcome the world? It is a fact beyond question that with them the things of the world are realities, and the things of God are mere theories. Who does not know that this is the real state of great multitudes in the nominal church?
Let the searching inquiry run through this congregation— What are those things that set your soul on fire-that stir up your warmest emotions and deeply agitate your nervous system? Are these the things of earth, or the things of heaven? the things of time, or the things of eternity? the things of self, or the things of God?
How is it when you go into your closets?-do you go there to seek and to find God? Do you in fact find there a present God, and do you hold communion there as friend with friend? How is this?
Now you certainly should know that if your state is such that spiritual things are mere theories and speculations, you are altogether worldly and nothing more. It would be egregious folly and falsehood to call you spiritual-minded, and for you to think yourselves spiritual would be the most fatal and foolish self-deception. You give none of the appropriate proofs of being born of God. Your state is not that of one who is personally acquainted with God, and who loves him personally with supreme affection.
Until we can put away from the minds of men the common error that the current Christianity of the church is true Christianity, we can make but little progress in converting the world. For in the first place we can not save the church itself from bondage to the world in this life, nor from the direst doom of the hypocrite in the next. We can not unite and arm the church in vigorous onset upon Satan's kingdom so that the world may be converted to God. We cannot even convince intelligent men of the world that our religion is from God, and brings to fallen men a remedy for their depravity. For if the common Christianity of the age is the best that can be, and this does not give men the victory over the world, what is it good for? And if it is really of little worth or none, how can we hope to make thinking men prize it as of great value?
There are but very few infidels who are as much in the dark as they profess to be on these points. There are very few of that class of men who are not acquainted with some humble Christians, whose lives commend Christianity and
condemn their own ungodliness. Of course they know the truth, that there is a reality in the religion of the Bible, and they blind their own eyes selfishly and most foolishly when they try to believe that the religion of the Bible is a failure and that the Bible is therefore a fabrication. Deep in their heart lies the conviction that here and there are men who are real Christians, who overcome the world and live by a faith unknown to themselves. In how many cases does God set some burning examples of Christian life before those wicked, skeptical men. to rebuke them for their sin and their scepticism-perhaps their own wife or their children-their neighbors or their servants. By such means the truth is lodged in their mind, and God has a witness for himself in their consciences.'
13. But the sinner does not overcome the world. The world in some form overcomes him. Its cares engrossments, pleas ures, business, politics influence, in some form are his master. Nor does he escape from its dominion over his heart if he resorts to a nunnery or a monastery, or betakes himself to the life of an ascetic or of a recluse and shuts himself out from human society. The world is still his master and holds him in a state of banishment from its domain. Many think they have overcome the world merely because the world has so completely overcome them. It is so completely their master as to force them to back out of it, to hide themselves from it. They have not got the world under their feet, but it has got them into banishment from that field of labor and of usefulness where God and reason called them to labor. The world has prevailed to rout them from their strong hold in Christ and drive them to take refuge in monasteries, nunneries, and in caves and dens of the earth. What an infinite mistake to suppose that this is overcoming the world! To forsake our field of labor, to give over our work, to let the world of sinners go down to hell and go ourselves into exile from the world, or at the bidding of the world, be driven completely from the battle field and hide in caves and dens and proclaim ourselves the victors when in fact we have fled before and unbelievingly succumbed to the enemy instead of subduing and overcoming him by faith.
But in general. Sinners do not betake themselves to flight in this way, but abide in the world and tamely submit to wear its chains. Let it be distinctly understood that the true difference between saints and sinners is that while they both live in the world, both mingle in its scenes and engage in its af
fairs, both have families or not, as the case may be, both provide for the body, cultivate the soil, or follow some occupation the saint has not a worldly selfish end in view. He is not enslaved by the world, but his heart is steadfast serving the Lord. Whatever he does he does it, not for some selfish end, but for God. Does he provide for himself and his family; he does it as a service rendered to God. He regards himself as the the Lord's and not his own. He regards himself as the Lord's steward and in whatever employment he is engaged, he accounts it the Lord's business and himself as the Lord's servant in transacting it. He is not his own. He has no business of his own. The world is not his. Nor is he the world's. He does not bow down to it nor serve it. He has been chosen out of the world, and therefore while employed by his master in it, he does all, not for self, but for God.
Not so with the sinner. He counts his business his own. Hence he is full of cares and anxieties. The losses in business are his losses, and the profits are his profits. Living and transacting business for the Lord is only a theory with him. The practical fact with him is that he is in bondage to the world. He serves the world or rather he serves himself of the world. The world he serves as a means of self-gratification. The saint serves God of or with the world; the sinner, himself. The saint uses the world as not abusing it. The sinner abuses it and uses it to gratify his own lusts. The saint overcomes the world because he uses it for God. The sinner is overcome by the world because he uses it for himself.
12. The true saint overcomes the flesh. This term is sometimes used in the gospel to signify the sensibility as distinguished from the intelligence, and at other times in a more literal sense and signifies the bodily appetites and passions. The true saint is represented in the Bible as one who overcomes both his bodily appetites and passions, and also as overcoming the flesh in the still wider sense of the sensibility. "This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye can not do the things that ye would. But if ye be led by the Spirit ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before as I have also told you in time past
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."-Gal. 5: 16 -24. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should walk in newness of life."-Ro. 6: 1—4. "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh can not please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."-Ro. 8: 1-14. With the saint it is not merely acknowledged to be a duty to overcome the flesh, but he actually does overcome, and he is a saintjust because he is delivered from the bondage of the flesh and introduced into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Saints no longer mind or obey the flesh. Their God is not their