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"stretch yourselves upon your couches-that chant to the sound of the viol-that drink wine in bowls, and anoint yourselves with the chief ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph!" O, ye who can repair to every avenue of dissipation, and trample on so much distress, and shut your ears against so many groans
in your way thither-on what do you found your title to humanity?-Thy judgment is to come.Or do you lay claim to religion?-Merciless wretch, can knowledge or orthodoxy save thee?
"Whoso hath this world's goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word; neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace: be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body: what doth it profit? even so, faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone."
To conclude, winter should improve us in knowledge.
It affords leisure, and excludes many interruptions-it is, therefore, favourable to application. -Let us read, and study, and prepare for action and usefulness in life.
And let us not pass heedlessly by these subjects of reflection and improvement, which the very season itself yields. How instructive, for instance, is the goodness of God, not only in the preservation of the human race, but in taking care of all the millions of animals during a period which threatens to destroy them! What a num
ber of retreats does he provide for them! Some of them by a singular instinct change the places of their residence. Some of them are lulled into a profound sleep for weeks and months. Some live on the fat they have filled themselves with during the summer. Some carry their provisions before-hand, and lay them up in their cells."God takes care for oxen; and hears the young ravens that cry.'
And all this teaches us, first, to resemble him, and be kind to every being. If we learn of him, we cannot be cruel to the brute creation. We cannot be indifferent to their shelter and nourishment, when we remember, that "His mercies are over all his works."-Secondly, to trust him. He who provides for animals, will not abandon children. "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"
The season is also instructive as an emblem.Here is the picture of life-thy flowery spring, thy summer strength, thy sober autumn, are all hastening into winter. Decay and death will soon-very soon lay all waste. What provision hast thou made for the evil day? Hast thou been laying up treasure in heaven? Hast thou been labouring for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life?
Every thing decays except holiness. This, therefore, is the true character of man; and this shows us, that he was designed for a religious state, rather than any other. Pursue this, then, as "the one thing needful; and choose that good part that shall not be taken away from you.
Soon spring will dawn again upon us in its
beauty and its songs. And "We, according to his promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." No winter there-but we shall flourish in perpetual spring, in endless youth, in everlasting life."
"Then let our songs abound,
And every tear be dry;
We're marching through Immanuel's ground,
CHRISTIANS NOT OF THIS 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 imbodied 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 pietyin 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 farther 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 be 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 make 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