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answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not: but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God." So these say now-It is not for your holiness we condemn you; but for your pride, your censoriousness, your hypocrisy.
But, let me ask you, Do you not load them with these charges, in order to justify your malignity? do you not magnify infirmities into crimes? do you not reproach a whole body, for the faults of a few? Besides, while living in sin yourselves, is it possible for us to imagine, that you can be grieved, because professors of religion are not blameless? And why do you not hate these things universally? why connive at them in others? You say, Why, these things are much worse in them, by reason of their religious pretensions. There is, indeed, much truth in this; and O! with what circumspection should professors act, lest they should furnish cause for offence!-But, after all, this will not reach the reason of this malignity. For how is it that the most holy and zealous Christians have been the most obnoxious to the men of the world? How is it, that when they have been unquestionably free from those blemishes, and have had even the recommendations of birth, learning, liberality, amiableness, that still they have been the scorn of the world? And, to remark a much stronger case-How was it, that the Lord and Saviour was much more abhorred and opposed by the world, than any of his followers? Was he proud, censorious, false? was he not incarnate virtue?-perfect loveliness?-and do we not clearly learn, from his example, that real godliness, whatever endearments it possesses, can never be welcome to "a carnal mind, which is enmity against
God?" And what our Saviour said to the Jews of old, will apply to many Christians, falsely so called, now: "The world cannot hate you, (you are so much like it,) but me-me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil." Bear the same decisive testimony by your words and actions, and, be assured, a portion of the same rancour will follow.
The case is plain. Resemblance is a ground of affection; but unsuitableness of dislike. The people of the world wish to be in darkness, and Christians shine. They wish to sleep undisturbed, and Christians, by their exertions, rouse and alarm them. One wicked man does not reproach another; but the holy example of the righteous always upbraids and condemns.
Hence, says the apostle, "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution" of one kind or another; either the persecution of the hand, of the tongue, or of the heart. It began early. Cain slew his brother Abel; and wherefore slew he him? He doubtless alleged other reasons himself, but this was the true cause: His own works were evil, and his brother's righteous. It prevailed also in the family of Abraham; "And as it was then, so it is now, he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit. Marvel not, therefore," says our Saviour, "if the world hate you." You marvel at something new, something unexpected. But is this the case with the opposition of the world? Have you not been apprized of it from the beginning? Is it not the way in which all your brethren have trodden-and even your Elder Brother too? And do not murmur. You suffer in the noblest company; and your enemies can nei
ther hinder your present peace, nor destroy your future happiness. Yea, Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you."
Secondly. If the distinguishing badge of a Christian is this-that he is not of the world— then are there few real Christians to be found. Do not say, this conclusion arises from severity of mind. "The Lord our God add unto the people, how many soever they be, a hundred fold!" But it necessarily follows, from a regard to the truth of God. If we abide by the decisions of his word,-is there not enough to justify our fears with regard to thousands, who bear the Christian name? Look around you. It is true,
He who knoweth all things, may discover a difference which eludes our view; but surely there ought to be a visible, as well as a real difference between the citizens of earth, and the citizens of heaven. Surely, Christians should declare plainly that they seek a country, and that this is not their
We often judge of our fellow creatures by a wrong standard; thus, we "bless the covetous, whom the Lord abhorreth." We condemn a drunkard, and an adulterer, and very deservedly; but what say we against those that mind earthly things? who recollects that "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him?"
Judge yourselves, I beseech you, by this test.
Ask yourselves wherein you differ from the men of the world: whether you are not labouring more for the meat that perisheth, than for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life: whether you are carried down the stream by the vices and follies of the age, or whether you "rise up for God against the evil doers, and stand up for him against the workers of iniquity;" whether you "serve your generation," or "sleep as do others," whether any " "speak evil of you, or you are the
favourites of those who are enemies to God?
Thirdly. See how little we should be affected with the charge of preciseness and singularity. To persons of good sense and liberal minds, singularity is never valued for its own sake; and there is also an assumed, unnecessary singularity in trifling things, which is by no means praise-worthy. But there is a certain singularity which does the Christian honour, and without which you cannot belong to the Saviour's subjects: for, "He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." And why then should we be so terrified at the charge? You would not be afraid of being peculiarly wise, or beautiful, or wealthy. Why then wish to escape the praise of being singular in religion? What wisdom, what beauty, what riches, can be compared to this?
Fourthly. If Christians be not of the world, no wonder they are more than reconciled to a withdrawment from it. No wonder they love solitude, enter their closets, and shut to their doors-there they exchange the world for God. No wonder they prize the Sabbath-it is a day of retreat—it
is an emblem of the heavenly rest. No wonder if death be no longer formidable-it is a leaving the world-but what world? A vain world; a vexing world; a defiling world. Such a departure may be painful to those who have lodged all their happiness on earth; but the Christian is not of the world-and the wonder is, that he is not more -eager to be gone out of it.
Let me conclude with an admonition. Let me address Christians. Let me call upon you "not to fashion yourselves according to your former lusts in your ignorance; nor to walk, as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of your minds." Stand on your own hallowed ground. Maintain your separation from the world. Do not venture too far, even in lawful things. The line which divides good and evil is only a hair's breadth; and may, therefore, be easily, and sometimes insensibly passed. Be not ambitious of worldly honours; nor covetous of worldly riches. "Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not." Be thankful for such a degree of temporal good us will help, but never be anxious for such a degree as will hinder. One staff is useful to a traveller; a bundle of staves would be an incumbrance. "But godliness, with contentment, is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And, having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.
But what shall I say to those of you, who are still of the world? Let me remind you, that there will soon be a full and an everlasting separation between the righteous and the wicked; yea, that the division is already made; that the parties are receding from each other, and hastening to their respective stations. O! be prevailed upon to leave