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one day, be where Jesus Christ is ? See whether you can distinguish yourself by this character, they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. And what is it not to be of the world ?
Not to be of the world, is not to live in deserts and solitudes : it is not for a man to bury himself before he is dead, and to pass his life as it were in a tomb. Jesus Christ and his apostles lived in society; but they sanctified society by useful instruction and by a holy example; but they were the light of the world, and if they mingled in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, they were blameless and harmless, and without rebuke ; and shone among them.
Not to be of the world, is not to abandon the reins of government to ruffians. Jesus Christ and his apostles permitted Christians to occupy the most distinguished stations in society; but it was their wish and endeavor, that while they filled such stations, they should guard against the illusion of their own lustre ; that they should not imagine themselves exalted to terrestrial greatness, merely to display their own vain self-importance; but that they should ever keep in view the necessities of those whose happiness is entrusted to their care.
Not to be of the world, is not to break off all relation with the world, to be always absorbed in meditation, in contemplation, in extasies. No, religion is adapted to the various relations of human life; to fathers, to children, to masters, to servants.
But not to be of the world, is never to lose sight, even in the distraction of worldly concerns, of the end which God proposed to himself, when be placed us in the world : it is constantly to recollect that we have a soul to be saved ; an account to render ; a hell to shun; a heaven to gain; it is
habitually to direct, toward these great objects, the edge of our spirit, the vivacity of our passions, the ardor of our desires : it is to be able to say, at the close of life, with Jesus Christ, as far as the infinite distance between the sanctity of this divine Saviour and ours can permit : Father, I have glorified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith, 2 Tim. iv. 7. Woe be to the man who, at that fatal period, shall be reduced to the necessity of holding an opposite language, and of saying, “ Scarcely have I, as yet, put my hand to the work which thou gavest me to do. Scarcely have I employed an instant of my time in meditating on eternity.” Woe be to the man who shall then have cause to say : and ah ! how many such are there, under the name of Christians! I “ have employed part of my life in cultivating my estate, in swelling my revenue, in pulling down my barns and building greater, Luke xii. 18. I have devoted another to the delighits of a present life, to refinement in pleasure. A third has been employed in gratifying the most criminal appetites, in vomitting out blasphemy against my benefactor; in waging war with religion, morals, and common decency, in scandalizing the church of God, by my impurities and excess.
Let us not be ingenious in practising illusion upon ourselves. Let us not amuse ourselves with unprofitable speculations respecting the meaning of these words : I pray not for the world. What bold and rash researches have the schools pursued on the subject of this saying of Christ ? What chimerical consequences have not been deduced from it? Bat from these I must stiil revert to this grand principle : Are you of the world, or are you not of the world ? Say not in thine heart, Who shall
ascend into heaven? or, Who shall descend into the deep? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart, Rom. x. 6—8. The friendship of the world is enmity with God, James iv. 4. If you are of the world, you are not of the number of those for whom Jesus Christ pleads. If you are not of the world, you are within the decree of his election : he has interceded for
you are warranted to expect all the fruits of his intercession.
These reflections will probably excite, in some, many a painful apprehension, amounting to a conviction that you are in the dreadful class of those for whom Christ intercedes not. But if it be high time to renounce this world, by acts of penitence, of mortification, of a sincere return unto God, let us proportion these acts to the degree of criminality which renders them necessary. The love of the world has inspired a taste for voluptuousness : let us deny ourselves, by a course of abstinence, during the passion weeks, even from what is necessary to nature.
The love of the world has transported us into excesses of worldly joy. Let us clothe ourselves in sackcloth and ashes during i he passion weeks, or rather let us present unto God the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, Psa. li. 19. Let us make extraordinary efforts to disarm his wrath, ever enkindled against the abominations of the Christian world. Let us say to him a thousand and a thousand times, as we turn our eyes toward the cross of Jesus Christ : O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, Dan. ix. 7. entreat him by those bowels of love which prompt
* Does not this passage savor somewhat too strongly of popery?
ed him to restore a fallen world, that he would disunite us from the creature, and unite us to himself.
If we act in this manner, we have every thing to expect from a God, whose great leading character is love. He will take pity on this wretched people. He will have compassion on these miserable provinces, in which it seems as if every individual had undertaken the task of shutting his own eyes, in order to precipitate himself, with the greater indifference, into the abyss which is gaping to swallow us up : he will repress those sea piracies, which have reduced so many families, and impaired the general commerce: he will remove those dreadful plagues which have ruined so many respectable communities as well as individuals : he will stop those fearful inundations which have already committed such devastation in the midst of us; and which still occasion so many well grounded alarms: he will reconcile the hearts of the potentates of Europe, and engage them to use their united efforts to promote the happiness and the glory of the Christian world.
Much more, if we are not of the world, we shall partake of delights which the world knows not of, and which it cannot take from us, as it cannot bestow. If we are not of the world, we shall have cause of self-congratulation, with our divine Master, that we are not like desperate madmen, who seem resolutely bent on mutual and self-destruction; and in these sentiments shall thus address ourselves to God: 0 righteous Father, the world hath not known thee : but I have known thee, ver. 25. If we are not of the world, we shall be animated with a holy intrepidity, when death takes us out of the world, nay, when the
world and its foundations crumble into dust beneath our feet.
We shall be filled with joy unspeakable, when we reflect, that we are leaving a world of which we were not, to go to that of which we are citizens. We shall say, amidst the tears and lamentations of a last adieu : “ It is true, my dear children, it is true, my dear friends, I leave you upon the earth : but my Jesus is in heaven, and I go to be where he is : having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better, Phil. i. 23. It is true, I tear myself from you, and it is like tearing me from myself; but this mournful is not an everlasting separation. Jesus Christ has prayed equally for you and for me.
He has asked for me and for you, that we should all be where he is, that we may all be one in him and with the Father : and I only go before you a few instants into this state of blessedness."
Ah! God grant, that after having preached the gospel to you, we may be enabled to say, with Jesus Christ, at our dying hour: Father, those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost! ver. 12. God grant there may be no son of perdition in this assembly! May God vouchsafe to hearken to the prayer which we present in your behalf, in this place, and which we shall present to him on a dying bed : or rather, may God vouchsafe to hear the prayer which Jesus Christ presents for us: Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory! Amen. To the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory for ever. Amen,