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is not, however, with those who are brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace, and who constitute “ the Church,” not in name but in reality, not by profession but by practice. For no sooner are any savingly united to Christ by faith, than they spiritually cease to be of the world, and come to be of the Church. While they, also, inwardly undergo the greatest of changes in their understandings and hearts, they outwardly manifest the greatest of changes in their conversation and conduct.
This change, indeed, is not perfected at once, either internally or externally, but gradually carried on unto perfection; and the more it progresses within, the more it manifests itself without. When this is the case, then, they practically prove that they are not only "chosen out of the world,” and “called out of the world," but that they are “ crucified unto the world, and the world unto them,” and that they “keep themselves unspotted from the world;" that they are “not of the world” even when they are in it, but “ have their citizenship in heaven.” Then, Christ can say of all such as his true people, what he said of his immediate disciples, “ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world; if ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of
the world, therefore the world hateth you.” For just in proportion as they are found practically, as well as doctrinally, faithful to Christ; or just as they practically, as well as verbally, “testify," as he himself did, against every thing that is sinful, or that leads to sin, so is their dissimilarity to the world exhibited, and so is the world's hatred against them excited. On the other hand, just in proportion as they practically connive at what is sinful in word and in deed, either directly or indirectly, even when they verbally condemn such things, so does the world, instead of hating them, hug them as its
Tried by this practical standard, alas! how far does the Church, in too many of her members and in too many matters, come short of her duty to Christ, to others, and to herself; and how true is it, that the sad confession must be made, that in these fashionable times of ours there is generally too little practical difference between the Church and the world! Thus, if the two cannot be spoken of as being in this sense identical; or if the terms by which they are designated cannot be regarded as vertible terms, must it not be acknowledged that “the line of demarcation” between them is in too many instances almost imperceptible, or
at least, far from being so broadly marked as it should be? On this account, how incumbent is it upon
all who profess to be members of the Church, never to forget that in the above respects they must not be conformed to the world in their conduct, any more than in their creed; and also never to fail to try themselves, as in the sight of God, by the test of practical nonconformity to the world? Agreeably with these remarks, while Paul in the Epistle to the Romans “ beseeches” believers " by the mercies of God to present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service,” he also reminds them of the manner in which they must speak and act—a manner diametrically different in all things from that of the men of the world—and says, “ BE NOT CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD.” (Rom. xii. 2.)
These words are concise, but comprehensive, They may be said to refer chiefly to external Christian non-conformity to the world, in every thing that has the semblance of sin, as it is only in this way that internal Christian non-conformity can be rightly evidenced. At the same time, it must not be overlooked, that until nonconformity to the world, in this sense, begins to
exist within, it cannot, in the estimation of God, be exhibited without. Hence, while the Apostle says, in the words now quoted, “be not conformed to this world,” he immediately adds, “but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” or in your intellectual and moral nature. With the strictest propriety, therefore, we might first show that all true Christians must not internally be conformed to the world in its opinions ;-in its opinions of God and of the word of God; of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Spirit; of themselves as creatures but particularly as sinners; of nature and grace; of the law and the gospel ; of sin and salvation; of the sabbath and the sanctuary; of the present life and a future existence; of heaven and hell; and of every thing else, divine and spiritual, contained in the inspired record, and especially connected with the gracious and glorious scheme of salvation.
Besides, as none can be said to be truly Christ's, who do not embrace, as well as know, the saving truths of Christianity; as living Christianity, also, exists more in the heart than in the understanding; and as the heart far more than the understanding regulates the life in further illustration of the precept “be not conformed to this world,” we might show that all
true Christians must not internally be conformed to the world in its principles ;—in those principles which have their seat in the heart, any more than in those opinions which have their place in the understanding. For example, they must not be conformed to the world in its principles of hatred and revenge; of anger and unforgiveness; of envy and strife; of hypocrisy and guile; of pride and vanity; of discontentment and covetousness; of selfishness and worldly-mindedness. On the contrary, they must “put off,” or “lay aside,” these, and all the other principles of “the old man," or old nature, and "put on," or imbibe, all the opposite principles of “the new man," or new nature. Just in proportion, also, as all worldly principles are eradicated from their hearts, and the opposite heavenly principles—and especially love to God and love to man- -which characterize all true members of the Church, are more deeply implanted, so will they internally possess the peculiar features of the Christian Character; and so will they externally prove that, between them and the men of the world, there exists the most palpable difference. However, although these principles or dispositions, as well as the opinions or sentiments already alluded to, are highly important in themselves, and form prominent