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and in all things, I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry; both to abound and to suffer need: I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
From this sweet experience of true religion, and this knowledge of the emptiness of all earthly things, he declared to Timothy; “ 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 they that will be rich, fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil; which, whilst some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O! man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness ; fight the good fight of faith ; lay hold on eternal life.”
The Hebrew converts he exhorted to the duty of divine contentment: “ Let your conversation be without covetousness, and be content with such things as ye have; for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee: so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do unto me."
These interesting portions from the word of God, shew what is the character and spirit of true believers.
They are a peculiar people, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Their conversation is in heaven. They are pilgrims and strangers upon earth; the temples of the Holy Ghost; the lights of the world; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. On earth they bear the holy image of their Saviour ;, and in heaven they shall shine as the sun, with everlasting glory.
The world is crucified unto them, and they unto the world. Its fascinating charms have passed away; and they themselves are no longer the delight of carnal company
Their holy walk and conversation is now the subject of derision. The holy image of Jesus is beheld with aversion. They have become to their once admiring associates as a crucified body, loathsome and disgusting.
All this discordancy springs from that unalterable distinction which must ever exist between the
people of God and the people of the world. This distinction is so plain, that he who runs may read the living characters.
The one are born from above; the other from beneath. The one are quickened by grace; the other are dead in trespasses and sins.
The one are governed by the Spirit of God; the other are under the dominion of Satan. The one consult the glory of God and cheerfully forsake all for Christ; the other make self the centre round which they move. The one, in seasons of general defection, can say with Nehemiah ; “ So did not I, because of the fear of God;" the other, like Pharoah, when called to bow to the sceptre of Jehovah, exclaim: “Who is the Lord that I shoulà obey him ?”
No wonder then if such a disagreement render a separation necessary : for what concord hath light with darkness; what agreement hath Christ with Belial ?
If Christians would be safe, they must separate from the world. To enforce this truth, the Bible is full of cautions, both historical and preceptive.
Before the flood we behold the dreadful consequences which ensued from the sons of God, being captivated by the daughters of men, (how strikingly the distinction is here preserved,) and taking unto
themselves wives of all whom they chose, without any regard either to principle or practice.
From these unnatural alliances sprang giants in wickedness, as well as in stature, till the flood came and swept them all away.
The history of the Israelites teaches us, by examples the most awful, the danger of sinful connections. The following may serve as a specimen of the whole. 66 And the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, Hittites, and Amorites, and Perizzites, and Hivites, and Jebusites. And they took their daughters to be their wives, and gave their daughters to their sons, and served their Gods. And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgat the Lord their God, and served Baalim and the groves. Therefore the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel.” (Judg. iii. 5.-8.)
Let us then beware of compromising our principles. Let us beware of conceding to the practices of the world, from a mistaken notion of conciliating the prejudices, or winning over the ungodly to religion.
Such conduct will only excite the contempt of the world; and provoke the Almighty to hide his face from us.
No-we must be singular, if we would be holy; we must be consistent, if we would be useful. If we are faithful, we must indeed expect reproach ; if we boldly confess Christ before men, and steadily maintain that marked distinction which forms the line of separation between the church and the world; we must submit to have our names cast out as evil.
But true Christians ought never to shrink from the cross. Like Caleb they should follow the Lord fully, when all else forsake him; and like Joshua they should declare, with humility and integrity of heart, in the face of a sneering world : “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
We must let men see the foundation of our practice, and why. we cannot do, as others do. We must make them acquainted with our principles, and let them know, what are those secret springs of action, which cause us to move in a direction so opposed to theirs.
This frank and ingenuous conduct may open the minds and touch the hearts of some, who, through grace, may be led to say; will
for we perceive that God is with you."
At all events, such upright dealing will bring comfort into our own souls; and preserve us from falling into those snares, which Satan lays to catch the fearful and doubleminded professor.
But if we are habitually afraid of being decided; if we endeavour to keep fair with the world ; if we want to live like the borderers between the two kingdoms of light and darkness, maintaining a sort of friendly intercourse with the inhabitants on either side of the line; if we are ashamed of avowing our principles before men, when duty and the honour of Christ call for such an avowal; then we may be sured, on the truth of the Gospel, that we have no Scriptural evidence of being the children of God; for thus saith our divine Saviour; “whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father, which is in heaven.” “If we deny him, he will also deny us."
Blessed Lord! keep me from the snares and fascinations of a world which lieth in wickedness. May all my affections wing their way towards thee, and be ever fixed upon thee. Be thou the centre on which I rest, and to which all my desires tend.
Let my whole life be devoted to thy service, which is perfect freedom. In all things may I seek thy glory; and from the sweet constraining principle of faith and love, delight in every relative and personal duty to the glory of thy name.
What is earth and all its treasures,
Dazzling bright to mortal eyes ?
Deep within the shade it lies.
Earth is but the land of shadows,
Faintly tipt with glow-worm light;
Presage of eternal night.
Shine with healing in thy wing;
Holy light and comfort bring.
Let the heralds of salvation,
Round the earth with joy proclaim,
Through the great Emanuel's name.
Take thy pow'r, Almighty Saviour,
Claim the nations for thine own:
Till each heart become thy throne!
XLII. ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE.
And did Jesus say to his disciples, “ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of,” when in their zeal for the honour of their master, they wanted fire to descend upon the unbelieving Samaritans? Then, 0! my soul, look well to thyself.
Search deep into thy principles of action, the ground of thy obedience. "Weigh well thy motives in the balance of the sanctuary. Examine thy intentions. Behold and see what manner of spirit thou art of.
Amongst the twelve disciples I find a traitor. Amongst the early Christians an Ananias and Sap