« EelmineJätka »
disposition by which a christian is to be actuated; it is this that is to distinguish him from the votaries of superstition, the subjects of fanatical fury, and the lovers of blood. Cultivate, therefore; this spirit of charity. Let the ministers of vari. ous talents, the adherents of different denominations, so long as they hold the head, and believe the truth as it is in Jesus, be the objects of your regard. Yea, let not even an enemy, let not him that is in error, be the object of vengeance and persecution. Remember that such is the peaceable nature of the religion of Jesus, that those who do not becont her willing subjects are nevertheless spared to enjoy the benefits of civil society, and to taste the blessings of a benign Providence. She puts into our hands no carnal weapons by which we are to strike terror into their minds ; nor establishes any laws by which they are to be interdicted from enjoying the blessings of life : on the contrary, she teaches us to pray for them, to pity them, to do all we can for their present and final welfare. Cherish, therefore, a liberal expan. sive spirit, that shall disdain the fetters of bigotry, rise superior to party zeal, pity a foe, smile upon a dissenting but conscientious brother, and wish well to all mankind.
Cautions as to a worldly spirit. Fashions. Customs.
Dress. Recreations. Imprudence. Unwatchfulness.
IT is the character of a true christian that he is a stranger and pilgrim here on earth, desiring a better country. He is called out of the world to take up his cross, deny himself, and follow the Redeemer through evil as well as through good report. You will see, therefore, dear reader, how incompatible a worldly spirit is with the christian profession. We cannot serve God and the world at the same time, since these are contrary one to the other. " The friendship of the world,” we are told, “is enmity with God; whosoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God."*“Be not conformed,” says the apostle, “ to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.”p You are not, however, to understand by this that you are to be secluded entirely from society. It was superstition and ignorance that influenced men in former times to shut themselves up in monasteries and cloisters, and thus to bury themselves before they were dead. Neither has God spread the table of a bountiful providence before you, that you should not enjoy the comforts of life. Young christians I have often found have taken the scriptures either in a too literal or
* James iv. 4.
Rom. xii. 2.
a too spiritual sense. So here, finding the sacred injunction to be this, “ Come out from among them ;'"* they have been ready to suppose that they must hardly speak or take notice of those who yet remain impenitent, and that to eat with them was almost a crime. Because it is said, “ Love not the world,'st through a mistake, they are ready to shut their eyes against all the beauties of creation, and to turn away with indifference from all the wonderful discoveries made by the wise and great. So far from adopt. ing this conduct, you may look upon them “ as a mirror which reflects the perfections of the invisible Creator.” Every thing around you may serve as a step to raise your thoughts towards him, and as a monitor to remind you of your obligations to him and your dependence on him.
By the world, then, understand its spirit, maxims, customs, votaries, fashions, and sins. By these you will be assaulted on every side. And as you must for a season be in the world, your great business will be to watch against all these evils, lest you also should be overcome. For the multitudes which have been wounded by her are incredible ; yea, many strong men have been cast down by her. · Many old soldiers can shew you the scars they have received to their hurt. When a man travels through a country noted for robbers and plunderers, he thinks it well indeed if he escapes with his life. Now what a scene is this through which you have to make your way! On the one side ignorance, malice,
* 22 Cor. vi. 17.
f 1st John ii. 15.
oppression, pride, revenge, debauchery, cruelty, blasphemy, and all kinds of open licentiousness. On the other, error, temptation, pleasure, vanity, collusion, seduction, flattery, extravagance, gaiety, with all the arts of dissimulation and treachery. O how difficult it is to pass such a road without being entangled ; to live in such a contagious air without being infected; to reside in such a place without catching something of the manners of the inhabitants! Alas! how prone have even good men been to conform to the world ! How has she insinuated herself into their affections, by putting on a specious form, and promising great things! Unavoidable connexions in business, worldly relatives, an easy disposition, fear of offence, have betrayed them into improper compliances with the world. But, my friend, while you read this, learn to be wise from others' folly; gather strength from others' weakness. Some never suspected so much evil till they have fallen a victim to it. You are warned and cautioned by the many monuments set up by the way, on which you can plainly read this inscription : “ Arise ye and depart, for this is not your rest : because it is polluted, it shall destroy you even with a sore destruction.** Consider what an unfit place it is for a christian to think of dwell. ing in; how contrary to his best interests ; how inimical to his happiness. O how we forget our. selves when we wish to take up our abode in a situation where there are so many temptations, snares, foolish' and hurtful lusts, which have drowned so many in destruction and perdition ! Shall we never learn to look up and see the signs by the way? Here Samson the strong was overcome; here David the pious was wounded ; here Jonah the prophet was bound captive; here Pe. ter the courageous was seduced and conquered. See, too, those professors who plunge themselves into the world : O how dead and cold! How barren and unfruitful! How thoughtless and unprofitable! The closet is given up for the count: ing house; family devotion for family diversion ; and too often the house of God for the house of merchandize.
* Mic. ii. 10.
Beware, therefore, of listening to the voice of this charmer; and as you now openly have professed to deny the world, affect not any likeness or resemblance to her in your spirit and principles. The world has its religion so called, but it is counterfeit, vague, partial, and lax. Its reasonings are false, its laws are unscriptural, its sanctions are weak, and its influence injurious. You have a better school, a wiser teacher, and superior principles. Dare to adhere, to avow, to practise them without fear or shame. Do not imitate them in their customs and fashions. Not that you should aim at singularity, for this shews weakness and pride. But it is good to ask, What will be convenient rather than ornamental ? As to apparel, pride appears in it, as one says, “ I. When the matter of it is too costly.-2. When in the fashion you are desirous of imitating those that are above your rank; or when you so fit your apparel as to make you seem higher or richer than what you are.-3. When you are over-curious in the matter, shape, or dress, and