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fluences should conspire to aid devotion and obedience, in which the tempter should be gone, or his temptations neutralized; when the sway of evil should be broken, and the current of human events set in towards heaven. But the instructions of the Word of God are not adapted for such an age; they take it for granted that the fear and service of God are not the fashion of this world. Dismissing, therefore, all such imagination, let us ask, what is the deportment enjoined upon us in a time which is evil and opposed ? And the Apostle's exhortation is, that we make the dangers of the age argument of caution and care; taking heed, on the one hand, to preserve a constant remembrance of our better character—"not as fools, but as wise;" and, on the other, to suspect, and fear, and watch against the evil of the age "see then that ye walk circumspectly."
1.-It is our wisdom, brethren, to keep alive in our minds a sense of our essential dignity as the children of wisdom, to value our high prerogative, and to cherish a lofty idea of the dignity of our vocation. As Christians we stand in a relation to God, which places us immeasurably above the world; we are a new creation in the midst of the corruption of the old ; governed by higher principles, living for nobler ends, swayed by loftier motives, and partakers of a purer happiness than the children of this present world. We have been placed in this relation, and blessed with these new principles and hopes, by the free mercy of God in Christ, and, therefore, all boasting in them, and all self-complacency, are excluded. But they constitute a vocation of prerogative and privilege, in which we may well glory, and the high dignity of which it should be our unremitting care to sustain. This should be ever our lofty safeguard against the vanity and sinful fashions of the age in which we live, that we have a higher life to think of, and pleasures to pursue, of which the world knows nothing. The exhortation—"see then that ye walk, not as fools, but as wise," is only a continuation of former most emphatic injunctions in this Epistle, and it is one which constantly recurs in Scripture. For we are constantly in danger of forgetting the advantage of our high position,—the responsibilities which it involves, and the grace with which it is accompanied. Our time and our occupations are so bound up with the society in the midst of which our lot is cast, that it requires a perpetual effort to realize “ that we are not of this world,” and that its “days are evil.” The world itself is ready enough in this age, to obliterate or to deny the difference between its own religion, and the religion of Christ. The general tendency is to mock at the assumption that the age is irreligious, and to court the children of God into fatal compromise of their principles.
Let us see to it, brethren, that this be not our folly. The religion which redeems us from this present evil world is a reality; let us never be tempted to forget the essential difference between the wisdom of God, and the foolish wisdom of man. Let us value, rely upon, and walk worthy of our vocation. Being the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, let us magnify our priceless prerogative, and walk in the full consciousness of its dignity. Being quickened together with Christ, let us take heed that we descend no more among the dead, nor forget that even in this world we sit with Him in heavenly places. This is the full force, and nothing less than this, of the first admonitory injunction of our text,- ,—see then that ye never forget, amid the open ungodliness, or the simulated piety of days essentially evil, that ye have a higher life, and are saved from this present generation.
2.—But with this lofty reliance upon our vocation and character there must be conjoined the spirit of lowly distrust and caution : see then that ye walk circumspectly
. This implies a constant consciousness of insecurity in the midst of the evil of the world, a deep sense of our own responsibility, and at the same time a firm reliance that security will follow our care.
That sense of insecurity which the exhortation requires, is no other than a right estimate of the weakness of our own nature, the exceeding subtilty of the tempter,
and the infinite variety of snares which this world or Satan in this world, lays for our feet. The days are evil, and this constitutes their evil, that they abound with temptations to the children of light: soliciting them at every step into compliance with the hurtful practices, or the still more hurtful spirit of the world. And those solicitations are often masked : the unwary yield to them before they are examined, and too often have bitterly to repent of a foolish unguardedness in the midst of a deceitful world. The general customs and the familiar pleasures of the age; the objects upon which its money and time are wasted; the character of its social intercourse ; and much of what makes up its manner of life, is perilous to the growth of piety, and absolutely incompatible with its perfection. And then the general spirit of the times—its godlessness, prayerlessness, keen avidity for wealth, and absorbed devotion to material good, is full of danger to the Christian man, who knows that it is essential to his peace and to his final salvation, that he be spiritually minded. And can the children of wisdom dwell in the midst of these practices, and have familiar intercourse with men whose character is formed by this spirit, without the danger of forgetting that they were purged from their old sins and that their life is hid with God? It is folly such as no words SERMON I.
BY THE REV. WILLIAM ARTHUR, A.M., LONDON.
THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST."--EPHESIANS III. 8.
In the city of Rome, under the reign of Nero, one might have seen an old man of Jewish origin. He was far from his native country, and was a prisoner ; he had few friends, and was very poor-so poor that he was obliged to write across the seas to Troas for a cloak he had left there. Yet the man had very remarkable qualities, and was every now and then surrounded by earnest groups of people who listened to deep discourses from him upon the most important and solemn subjects. If you had gone to some respectable and wealthy Israelite living in the same city, to some Jew banker or other, and enquired, “Who is this old man that is continually discoursing with the people about religion, and the Prophets, and the Psalms, and the Messiah ?” very probably you would have got some such an answer as this, “Well, that poor fellow had as good prospects as any of us : he was well Of course, all
connected, and well educated; indeed he was one of Gamaliel's favourite and most promising pupils; he started with uncommon energy into public life; the chief priests and leaders of the nation put him forward very much; and he had every prospect, from his talents and education, of being one of the leading men of the nation : but unfortunately for him he took it into his head to become a Christian, and above all, to be a preacher of Christianity, and that has been the ruin of him. his friends forsook him; he lost caste completely ; his prospects were blighted; he was thrown out from everything like society; and from that day to this he has been driven up and down the world, a vagabond and a wanderer, punished and persecuted in every possible way; he seems to have no place where he can rest the sole of his foot; and now you see he is a prisoner, and very likely he will come to a bad end.
This Christianity has been his destruction, and yet he seems wedded to it.” If after getting this answer from one of his countrymen, you had gone up to Paul himself, and repeated all you had heard, and asked if there were any truth in it, he would have acknowledged, “Well, in the main it is true.” Then you might have said, “ What a pity that you ever took this turn! What a pity that you ever began thus to preach Christ, and to bring all this upon yourself! are you not sorry ?” “God forbid !” he would reply, "I glory in the cross of my Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” But
have lost everything." "Yes, and I count it but dung and dross for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” “But no one has a good word for you.” Yet I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." " Bat you are persecuted." “Yes, but I am not forsaken.”