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[It was in order to this end that Christ himself came into the world, and died upon the cross: "He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." And to produce this blessed effect is the great scope and tendency of his Gospel: "By the cross alone it is that the world is crucified unto us, and we unto the world"." In fact, there is not a person upon earth that ever gets a victory over the world, except by faith in Christ. On the other hand, every one that is really born of God does gain this victory. And this is the distinguishing character of all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity; they all resemble him in this particular, "not being of the world, even as he was not of the world." If then we would reign with Christ hereafter, we must resemble him now; and never cease to implore help from God, that the world and all its lusts may, in answer to our prayers, be put for ever under our feet.]
IN CONCLUSION I would say,
1. Learn to form a right estimate of the world—
[It is, in fact, a wilderness, through which we are to pass to the promised land; and we are but pilgrims passing through it, or sojourners taking up our residence in it for a few days at most. Whether we have a more or less gratifying accommodation in it, is a matter of small moment. We are going to our Father's house, where we shall possess all that our souls can wish; and present things are only of importance as they advance or retard our meetness for our heavenly inheritance. The instant that we have arrived at our journey's end, we shall see what judgment we ought to have formed of the world, and every thing in it. Let us anticipate that judgment now; and we shall rise superior to the attractions of all created things, and to the solicitations of every unhallowed appetite-]
2. Seek to have, in reference to it, "the same mind as was in Christ Jesus"
[In asking for you a preservation from the snares of the world, he judged right. He wished not to abridge your happiness, but to promote it. And, if we call upon you to renounce the world, and all its lusts, we are not Cynics, as you are apt to imagine, but your best and truest friends. Even when all his own sufferings were coming upon him, the Saviour, forgetful of himself, implored this blessing for you. And if I were never to address you more, I would, with all earnestness, urge this duty on you, and implore this blessing on your
t Gal. i. 4.
u Gal. vi. 14.
z ver. 14, 16.
x 1 John v. 5.
behalf. You can only be happy in proportion as you rise above this world to the pursuit and enjoyment of heavenly things. Look at the Saviour, and see how superior he was to all the things of time and sense. That is the state I wish you to attain; and the more you resemble him now, the richer shall be your enjoyment of his presence in a better world -]
CHRISTIANS ARE NOT OF THE WORLD.
John xvii. 16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
SUCH is the enmity of a carnal mind to the will and law of God, that men usually hate us most for those very things which render us most acceptable in the sight of God. The sanctity of Abel was the real ground of the inveterate hatred that rankled in the breast of Cain, and that impelled him to destroy his brother whom he could not imitate. And David in his day complained, that when he put on sackcloth and chastened his soul with fasting, pleasing as that conduct must have been to God, profane scoffers turned it to his reproach. Thus our Lord told his Disciples that the world would hate them because they did not conform themselves to its habits: but at the same time, repeating what he had spoken of their holy singularity, he pleads it as an argument with his heavenly Father to interpose more effectually for their preservation from evil, and their sanctification through his truth. The assertion before us leads us to shew, I. In what respects Christ was not of the world—
Our Lord fulfilled with the utmost exactness all his social and relative duties, and wrought, till the age of thirty, at his father's trade". But though he filled up his proper station in the world, he was not of the world,
1. In his spirit and temper
[A levity of mind, a disregard of God, and an indifference about eternal things, characterize the generality of mankind.
But no such disposition was ever seen in our adorable Emmanuel. A holy gravity invariably marked his demeanour: he had a continual sense of the Divine presence, a deep impression of the importance of time, and an unremitting zeal to finish the work assigned him: "It was his meat and drink to do the will of him that sent him."]
2. In his desires and pursuits
[The world affect nothing but the things of time and sense: pleasure, riches, and honour are the idols which they worship. But our Lord desired none of these things. Had he wished for pleasure, he had a mind and body framed for the most exquisite delights of which our nature is capable: as his bodily organs were not weakened by any sinful habit, so his intellectual faculties were capable of comprehending all the wonders of creation, and of deriving the sublimest pleasure from the contemplation of them. But he was occupied with thoughts widely different from these: he found no time for the amusing speculations of philosophers. He had come to atone for sin; and, that he might do so, chose rather to be " a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Had he desired riches, how easily could he, who commanded a fish to bring him a piece of money to pay his tax, have possessed himself of inexhaustible stores of silver and gold! But he chose rather to be destitute even of a place where to lay his head, and to be a pensioner upon the bounty of some pious women. He did indeed carry a purse, but it was not for the procuring of superfluities for himself, but that he might administer to the necessities of the poor. Had he been ambitious of honour, with what crowds of followers might he have been attended, all of them monuments of his tender compassion and almighty power! But he dismissed them from him, and frequently with the most solemn charges, that they should tell no man what he had done for them: and when the people would have taken him by force to make him a king, he rendered himself invisible, and withdrew from them. So little did he covet what the foolish world admire; and so different was he from the world in the whole of his deportment.]
Singular as he appeared in his day, it will be found, II. That his Disciples all resemble him—
The followers of Christ, whatever attainments they may have made, were once" walking after the course of this world even as others:" but the very instant that they obtain a saving knowledge of their Lord,
e Luke viii. 3. and ix. 58.
they begin to tread in his steps and imitate his example: " as they have once borne the image of their earthly father, they now bear the image of the heavenly."
1. They indulge not a worldly spirit
[Believers are not free from the imperfections of their former state their constitutional or acquired habits still in some measure remain: hence one is yet too easily drawn aside to levity, another to earthly-mindedness, and all to the Isins which most easily beset them:" but this is their pain, their grief, their burthen: they desire from their inmost souls to be delivered from such a spirit: though they too often fall into it, they would not indulge it; they would far rather have their souls nourished with spiritual blessings; and would account it an infinitely richer mercy to receive an increase of grace and peace, than to enjoy all the wealth or pleasure that the world can bestow.]
2. Nor do they affect worldly company
[From their situations in social life they are necessitated to have much intercourse with the men of this world: but they regard the world as a physician does an hospital which it is his office to attend: they consider it as the theatre on which they are called to act; and they endeavour to approve themselves to God and to their fellow-creatures by a diligent discharge of their duty: while in it, they seek the good of those around them, and study to improve themselves by all which they see but they take not up their abode there; they are glad to retire from it when their work is finished: their friends and companions are selected from among another people; their "delight is in the saints that are in the earth, and in such as excel in virtue:" they shew by their conduct that "light cannot have communion with darkness, nor Christ with Belial, nor he that believeth with an unbelievere:" and, like Moses, they would rather suffer affliction with the people of God than participate the pleasures and honours of a court'.]
3. Nor are they engrossed with worldly pursuits
[They are not indifferent about the things of this world, nor are they of necessity precluded from the enjoyment of them when God in his providence casts them into their lap: they may even seek these things in subordination and subserviency to their more important concerns. But they will not be engrossed with such mean pursuits: they will not suffer their affections to be set on such worthless objects: their
d Gal. vi. 14. e 2 Cor. vi. 14, 15.
f Heb. xi. 24—26.
hearts are in heaven, and their "conversation also is in heaven." They seek "pleasures which are at God's right hand for evermore;" they labour to be "rich towards God in faith and good works ;" and they aspire after "the honour that cometh of God," the honour of being "children of God, yea, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ." And though much time and thought is spent by them in things relating to the world, yet when at liberty to follow the bent of their minds, they return to God as their beloved, their only, rest.]
We shall conclude the subject with some suitable
1. Guard against the self-deception which too generally prevails
[We have reason at this time to adopt the Apostle's words, and say, that "many walk, of whom we have told you often, and tell you now even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, and that their end will be destruction, because they mind earthly things"." There are, alas! too many who "call Christ, Lord, Lord, but will not obey his commands," or "walk as he walked." But let us remember, that "the tree must be known by its fruits;" and that we must judge of our interest in Christ by our conformity to his image: if our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, be excited principally by worldly things, we certainly are of the world but if, with Christ, we be "crucified to the world," and our spirit and temper, our desires and pursuits, resemble his, then, and then only, may we conclude, that we are Christ's; for "all that are born of God have overcome the world; and all that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lustsh."]
2. Be not afraid of a necessary singularity
[We would not recommend a needless singularity, or insinuate that there is any virtue in making ourselves appear ridiculous; but whereinsoever the world deviate from the mind and will of God, there we may, and must differ from them. If we be singular, the fault will be theirs and not ours. No blame can attach to our Lord because he was singular; nor can it to us while we "shine as lights in a dark world," "holding forth in our conduct the word of life." We should "make our light to shine before men," and be "as a city set upon a hill;" and though the besotted world will "gaze strangely at us, and wonder that we run not with them to their excess of riot," we shall have enough to counterbalance
8 Phil. iii. 18, 19.
h 1 John v. 4. Gal. v. 24.