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have taken a larger draught of worldly pleasure, and even emptied the intoxicating cup to the lees?—when many, it is feared, are unable to avert their eyes from the attractions of the present state, till they fade and disappear in the shadows of death ?–But enough has been said to remind us that the monition of the text has lost neither its value nor its urgency; and that it will require a firm and watchful control over our minds, and an assiduous use of all the helps of our religion, to subject our appetites and passions to the laws of Christ, and to “keep ourselves unspotted from the world.” .
In conclusion, we must add a word on the motive urged upon us to follow the exhortation of the Apostle:-“ The world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” It is the antithesis in these words which gives them all their impressiveness. That the world should pass away is no very heavy calamity-let it pass — it may carry with it no very general and bitter lamentations-so many are sated, though enslaved with its pleasures ! And how many are outwearied with its toils--sickened with its friendships-disgusted with its braggart virtues, and its ruling selfishness! How
many have survived that ardour which it once inspired, and which care, not time, has quenched! How many barely endure it in disgust and melancholy—nay, cannot endure it! — day after day, or hour after hour, some one is rushing out of the world in desperationforcing the gates of death, and plunging into the darkness of futurity!—The evil of loving the world is that we sacrifice for it the friendship of God, and forfeit the blessed immortality reserved for those who fulfil his will. The folly, the misery of a sensual and worldly life, is not that it is animated by passions which expire with “ the breath that is in our nostrils,” and turn to corruption in the tomb:—if this be all-if man must wholly perish on the earth, “let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die.”* The waste and ruin of such a life is, that, consuming the strength, preventing the growth of all Christian virtues, it leaves us destitute of those qualities which meet the approval of the Almighty; which bring the assurance of his redeeming mercy, and the forethought of his unclouded presence; which make us “ partakers of the divine nature,” and are alone incorruptible and immortal. So when death is coming-there is nothing within us
* 1 Cor. xv. 32.
impervious to his stroke-no faith to fill the mind's conception, when the mortal eye grows dim-no hope that bestirs and erects itself amid the prostration of our earthly affectionsno thoughts and feelings that grow strong in agonies, and great in dissolution — unearthly and imperishable as the spirit's essence, springing out of a “ life” that is “hid with Christ in God."* Of that life, brethren, we will strive and hope to be partakers; nourishing it, more than heretofore, by meditation, by prayer, by holy ordinances, and a wakeful keeping of the heart ;-a life which dates its commencement only here, and awaits its perfection hereafterpassing not away with the passing of the world; — for what passes with the world? The love of the world—not the love of God.Death hath no dominion here.
* Col. iii. 3.
And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten
cleansed ? but where are the nine ? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
Though all mankind, it is confessed, betray a very defective sense of the goodness of the Creator, if not by habitually disregarding his commandments, yet by failing to observe them in a measure answerable to the benefits which he is continually conferring upon them, most persons, it is probable, would judge the nine lepers, who, after the cure which our Saviour had wrought upon them, did not return “ to give glory to God,” to have been more deeply tainted with the sin of ingratitude than the mass of our unthankful species. If this verdict be a just one--and it is not, we apprehend, without foundation - the
ground on which it rests should be rightly understood, and attentively considered : for we shall find that the reason of this distinction between the lepers and ourselves, will bring into view a humiliating defect in our own piety, - a defect of consideration as objects of the divine beneficence; and must accordingly suggest a most needful reproof and admonition.
The lepers, whose shame is recorded in the Gospel, were not distinguished from the rest of mankind, or especially called upon to acknowledge the goodness of the Almighty, on account of any peculiar severity in that distemper under which they had laboured,
which had left them at the bidding of our Saviour. The leprosy was doubtless a loathsome and debilitating malady; and, being contagious, it excluded the patient from general society : but such is the nature of a variety of diseases to which all mankind are subject, and from one or more of which, almost every individual has, at some period of his life, experienced a restoration. These lepers, indeed, were far from being in the worst stage of disease. They retained some use of their limbs ; they breathed the pure air; and though they “ stood afar off” from