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and enchants, and vanishes, is to be clothed in purple, to sway the sceptre, and wear the diadem. And the more this ambitious desire is gratified, the more is poison injected into the deadly plague. In place of this, the Bible imparts a deep impression of the vanity of all things beneath the sun ; a conviction that the fashion of this world passeth away; that the yoke of Christ is more to be desired than the proudest sceptre; and that it were better to be the servant of the King of kings, than the emperor of the world. The spirit of the world is the spirit of self-indulgence and guilty pleasure. The men of the world are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God. Like the prodigal son, they have wandered from their Father's house, to feed on the husks of the wilderness. They are eager for enjoyment, and find it in dissipation of thought, of feeling, and of deportment, and amid the alternate servitude and liberty, pains and pleasures which constitute their varied adventures. Their senses are flattered by the fleeting illusion, and they can speak of nothing, and think of nothing, but pleasure. Though made up of so many pieces and scraps, that you wonder they are not wearied in gathering it up, yet have they no other desire and no other object. Lawless pleasure, in all the forms of novelty and excess, notwithstanding its shame, its infamy, its ruin, is the idol of their hearts and the law of their existence. In place of this, the Bible imparts the love of God and duty. Pleasures it reveals, but they are found in doing the will of God; in accomplishing the great end of human existence, and in those vivid hopes which light up the dawn, and noon-day, and setting sun of an ever brightening existence. Those who have drunk into its spirit do not live for the nleasures of earth, but are carried forward by a sort of spiritual instinct, beyond this dense and earthly The Bible pre
wall by which they are environed. sents a prospect as much brighter and wider than the pleasures of the worldling, as are the pleasures of holy thought and feeling and expectation, superior to the day dreams, and grovelling pleasures of sense. The spirit of the world is the spirit of unbelief. It is the spirit that rejects the truth of God; that has no confidence in his declarations, and distrusts his promises and faithfulness. It leans to self. It has no wants, timidity, or despondency, which its own presumption cannot relieve. And not until corruptions have kept their ground so long as to be absolutely ruinous, and the day of hope so far spent as to be literally exhausted, does the soul that is under the dominion of unbelief, cry, and cry in vain, “ Lord, save, or I perish !” In place of this, the Bible imparts faith in God and confidence in his word. It gives an affectionate, practical trust in the divine testimony as recorded on its own sacred pages, and that unshaken confidence in the divine character, government, and veracity, which becomes the great principle and impulse of action. It gives subsistence to hope and demonstration to evidence; and while it appropriates grace to help in every time of need, it anticipates blessings, which, though unseen by the eye, are enjoyed by the heart. The spirit of the world is an unforgiving and revengeful spirit. It seeks injury for injury, and blood for blood. What a mournful comment upon the character of man is the · savage maxim, “ Revenge is sweet!” In place of this, the Bible enjoins, “Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” This is a spirit so unnatural to man, that it has been reproached as unreasonable and absurd, and the ancients had not even a word to
express it, or if they had, it represented it as a vice rather than a virtue. But how worthy of its Author ! how sublime ! how truly it bears the stamp of divinity! The wisest moralists of the wisest nations and ages represented revenge as a mark of a noble mind. But how different from the mind of Christ! and at what an infinite remove from the generous, exalted spirit of him who, as he was sinking upon the cross, prayed for his murderers! The religion of the Bible stands opposed to all the selfish and mercenary affections of the human heart, and just so far as it prevails, eradicates and destroys them. " If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise," they are found in the lofty spirit and high moral virtues of a self-renouncing religion.
Such is the exalted spirit of the Bible, and such some of the great and distinguishing peculiarities of the religion it inculcates and imparts. There is one exalted Personage, and only one, in whom the high dignity of the Christian character was fully and perfectly illustrated. The example of the man Christ Jesus perfectly accords with his doctrines and precepts. He copied out the religion of the Bible in his life. His spirit was known, and developed, and is perfectly understood. He was rich, and for our sakes became poor; happy, and for us became a man of sorrows and acquainted with griefs; the Prince of life, and died for us on the cross, that we might be rich, and honoured, and happy, and live with him. The only reward he sought was the reward which alone could gratify his benevolent mind : diseases healed, sorrows soothed, tears wiped away, ignorance enlightened, the wayward counselled, the desponding encouraged, the unholy made pure, the guilty forgiven, the lost saved. This was his reward. When men could not ascend to him, he descended to
them. When they neither deserved, nor sought his favour, he gave it undeserved and unsought. The abjectness, the sufferings, the sins of men were the magnet that drew him forth from his retirement and excited his commiseration. No toil could weary, no obstacles hinder, no opposition discourage, no delay interrupt, no cold and thankless insensibility dishearten him. From Bethlehem to Calvary, he went about doing good. The history of men furnishes here and there a splendid illustration of active, self-denying, devoted piety; and we observe and remember it as a rare event. It is like a stream of water in a dry place; a green spot in the desert; an oasis amid Arabian sands. The life of Christ has no such inequalities. It does not strike us by its occasional and novel exhibitions, for they are uniform and constant. There is something greatly affecting in the Saviour's spirit. It is more than human. It belongs not to earth. It was never found except in his own immaculate bosom.
Whatever there is of true religion in the world resembles such a piety as this, though it falls far short of it. And how unspeakably above the famed excellencies of heathen lands! It is piety altogether of an original character. The heathen genius never conceived it. It never entered the mind of this world's philosophy to form such a character as that of Paul or Howard. Such developments of mind and heart never would have been made but for the Bible. It is not easy to conceive of a deeper, darker chasm than that which would be made by the absence of these principles which have formed thousands of characters assimilated to these, and given so high a direction to minds whose lofty movement is at. such a distance from the low and abject spirit of this unbelieving and self-indulgent world.
Let it not be supposed that this is a light obligation under which the world is placed to a supernatural revelation. Holiness is the highest attainment of a rational creature. It is the greatest good which man ever can acquire. It is the greatest good in the uni
It is greater than wealth, greater than pleasure, than honour, than happiness. It is the only good that may be sought at all times, under all circumstances, and at every hazard. It is the only good that may be sought as an end and for its own sake. A man is not necessarily praiseworthy because he is happy, nor blameworthy because he is unhappy. Seek therefore, my young friends, not to be affluent and honourable, no, nor mainly to be happy. Seek what is more sublimely excellent, seek to be virtuous and holy. Seek that your
be subdued and won to God by the power of his own truth. No natural amiableness of disposition, no mere cultivation of intellect, no good name in the world, no unimpeached rectitude in your transactions with your fellow-men, no punctuality in your attendance upon the ordinances of the sanctuary, and no external relation to the church of God, can be a substitute for that internal holiness which is an indispensable preparation for the heavenly world. O, when will men understand and feel that nothing possesses importance compared with what relates to God and eternity! Nothing within the range of human thought deserves consideration compared with this. Never was there stronger evidence of folly than that man presents, who chooses this world for his portion. If tears could quench the fires of that world of torment, those fires would be quenched at the remembrance of the folly that preferred this world to the salvation of the soul. And if tears should be ever shed in heaven, it will be at the remembrance of the supineness, the indifference with which those of you who have hope