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النشر الإلكتروني

DISCOURSE XI.

CHRISTIANS NOT OF THE WORLD.

-They are not of the world.--John xvii. 14.

MANY have a form of godliness, while they deny the power thereof. Many also walk very unanswerably to the demands of their holy profession. And these things very much disparage the gospel, and perplex the minds of inquirers.

What, in such a case, are we to do? Let us abide by the judgment of God, which is always according to truth. Let us examine the scriptures. There-real religion is held forth in its unbending dignity, and matchless purity. And let us remember too-that in every age, there have been some, though comparatively few in number, and generally little known; who have embodied their principles in their lives, and "adorned the doctrine of God our Saviour in all "things." And the Saviour sees them, and knows them, and confesses them and said of them all in his intercessory prayer-" I have given them thy word; "and the world hath hated them, because they are not "of the world, even as I am not of the world."

It is the middle clause only of this passage to which we would now call your attention. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT OF THE WORLD. Let us, I. explain and establish the truth of the assertion. And, II. apply the reflection to some useful purposes.

I. When our Saviour says "they are not of the "world"—we can hardly suppose that he intends a total abstraction from the world, or rather a separation

from it in all respects. What then does he mean? A consideration of four articles will be sufficient to answer this question.

First. They are not of the world, because they are not attached to their party. We should be exceedingly mistaken, were we to suppose that religion requires us to seclude ourselves wholly from society for many of its instructions, suppose various connexions with our fellow creatures; and are designed to regulate our intercourse with them.

In many cases therefore, it is lawful to associate with the people of the world. Such are cases of necessity-when we are compelled by our situations to live among them. Such are cases of business-in which we are called to trade with them. Such are cases of charity and piety-in which we endeavour to relieve their temporal distresses; or to awaken their minds to religious concerns. Such also are cases of civility and affinity-For godliness does not make us rude; nor does it banish natural affection; or disband those relations of father and child; husband and wife; brother and sister, which have been established by nature and providence.

But further than this a christian will not go. He cannot choose the people of the world as his companions and friends: he cannot seek after intercourse with the world, when it depends upon his own option, and none of the afore-mentioned reasons can justify the familiarity. The authority of God forbids it. "Save "yourselves from this untoward generation. Have "no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, "but rather reprove them. Wherefore come out from "among them, and he ye separate, saith the Lord, and "touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you;

and will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my "sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."-The peace of his fellow christians forbids it. Such bold intimacies with the world, would grieve the strong, and throw a stumbling block in the way of the weak; and

"when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their "weak consciences, ye sin against Christ." He therefore cannot say, as some do, in justifying his worldly freedoms-" I do not regard what others think of me, "my own conscience does not condemn me"-He considers others as well as himself: and never supposes his conduct innocent in the sight of God, while it is censurable in the eyes of men. O! What a noble, what a delicate, what a self-denying disposition does the gospel produce! "Wherefore, says the apostle, if "meat inake my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh "while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to "offend." The welfare of his own soul forbids it. "Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not "be burned? Can one go upon hot coals, and his "feet not be burned?" Why did God warn the Jews of old not to mingle with the surrounding nations? -But because he foresaw that such intercourse would seduce them; and so it fell out: "they were mingled "among the heathens, and learned their works; and "they served their idols, which were a snare unto "them." And it is owing to such intimacies with the people of the world in our day, that the love of many waxes cold; that they are drawn off by degrees from the house of God; and yield up one thing after another, to avoid giving offence, till their profession becomes not only their disgrace, but their burden, and they compleatly throw off the restraint.

And here my young friends, I would particularly address you. Beware of wicked company; beware of infidels; beware of sceptics; beware of those who deride the leading doctrines of the gospel, or even the infirmities of the people of God. Your seducers generally begin very remote from the place where they mean to leave off. While they are endeavoring to obtain your regards, they often conceal what, if divul ged at once, would shock your feelings: but when they have engaged your affection and confidence, they will draw you on till you look back with horror upon

the distance you have passed: or what is worse, be given up to a reprobate mind. Break off, therefore, such connections your safety requires it. If the associate be as a right hand-cut it off, or as a right eye, pluck it out. Love nothing to the prejudice of your souls. Cultivate no friendships that will end in everlasting ruin. Join those that have abandoned the city of destruction, and are pressing into the kingdom of God. Take David for your example, and be able to say as he did-" I have not sat with vain persons, "neither will I go in with dissemblers. I have hated "the congregation of evil doers; and will not sit with "the wicked. I am a companion of all them that fear "thee, and of them that keep thy precepts."

Indeed if you are partakers of the grace of Godyour disposition will forbid all unnecessary alliance with the world. You will feel new wants and desires, and these will impel you to new associations: you will readily drop the vile and the vain, in search of those who are travelling your road, and can be helpers of your joy you will "take hold of the skirt of him "that is a Jew, saying we will go with you, for we "have heard that God is with you."

And this reminds us of a second particular. They are not of the world, because they are not actuated by the spirit of the world. And this is the grand thingto have a temper of mind, a moral taste, different from the world. Indeed every thing else is vain without this. Your forsaking the world in profession; your leaving it in appearance by your apparel, your discourse, your manner of life is nothing, unless it be animated by internal principle. It is in the heart that the separation must take place. And when the heart is detached from the world, these two advantages flow from it. First, even in the midst of all your secular concerns, whether in the field, or in the shop; you will maintain your distinction: though in the world, you will not be of it-because the heart is elsewhere-and God lookoth to the heart. And secondly, when the heart is

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withdrawn from the world, every thing else will follow of course.

Then you will not be of the maxims and opinions of the world. You will not ask, what are the sentiments of the multitude? but what says the scripture? I do not wish to be "conformed to this world, but to be "transformed by the renewing of the mind, that I may "prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect "will of God."-You will not be of its amusements and dissipations. The sun arising, conceals the stars—not by spreading gloom-but diffusing lustre. The child becoming a man, resigns without reluctance, or regret, the toys and trifles of infancy. It is a poor thing to be dragged out of the dissipations of the world against inelination, while we still look back, with Lot's wife, and inwardly sigh, O! that I had been permitted to enjoy them still!-But it is a glorious thing to leave these diversions from the discovery and possession of superior entertainments, and sublimer joys.-You will not be of the conversation of the world.-For speech is governed by affection; " and out of the abundance "of the heart the mouth speaketh."-In a word, you will not "walk according to the course of this world:" the tide of your actions and pursuits will flow in a direction the reverse of their's.

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Thirdly. They are not of the world, because they are not born in their country. Hear what our Lord said to the Jews" ye are from beneath; I am from "above; ye are of this world, I am not of this world." The expressions are explanatory of each other: because they were from beneath, therefore they were of the world and because he was from above, therefore he was not of the world. Their respective extractions determined the country to which they belonged. Now the believer may adopt the same language. He is here only as a stranger and foreigner, not a native: he derives his being from heaven-if not as a manyet as a christian; and as a christian we are speaking of him. And as he is born from above, no wonder

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