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love his own but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." And in his intercessory prayer, "I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world." "" I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me." "I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world.......I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world."+ To be, then, a worldly Christian, is a contradiction in terms. Nothing can be more evident than this: that every true disciple of Christ, like his Lord and Master, is not of the world. He is different in spirit and in practice. As Jesus went about doing good, so do his faithful servants. Avoiding the superstitious abstractions of monkish indolence, and the distracting pursuits of nominal Christians, the true believer, with his heart in heaven, labours with prayerful zeal to glorify, in every station, his God and Saviour.
If it be asked-How can this be done? The reply is ready. Through the grace and power of Christ, sought for by diligent prayer. Oh! how encouraging is the Saviour's command: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find." "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." Faith, working by love, faith, overcoming the world, will set all inferior objects in their due place and order. A heart, in which Christ reigns, knows well how to estimate the vanities of time, and the glories of eternity: as the artist can appreciate the exquisite touches of the master, while he passes by the rude attempts of the scholar.
The second great commandment is :-"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."§ This command calls forth, at once, all the energies of the mind, and + John xvii. 6, 9, 14—16.
* John xv. 19.
all the best feelings of the heart. This beautiful order of the commandments is most important. When I can love God supremely, then I place the world and all things in it at the foot of his throne, and look unto, and worship, and place all my dependence upon, and seek all my happiness from, God and God alone. This is to honour him, in some humble measure, from whom I have received my being, and on whose will I every moment depend.
When I can love my neighbour as myself, with a pure heart fervently, then selfishness is destroyed, that weed of fallen nature, which so rankly covers the soil of the natural heart, and chokes the good seed which may be sown upon it.-Alas! when I examine my affections, and all the secret springs which move and guide my outward actions, what cause have I to be humbled and confounded before
my Almighty Creator! What spiritual idolatries, what backslidings in heart, what worldly motives, what wandering affections, what selfish principles, what evils of every name, too often rise and rebel in the heart of the true believer!-He groans, being burdened. He cries out-"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?"*
Lord! purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Sprinkle my conscience with the atoning blood of Jesus. Elevate my motives, spiritualise my affections, and wean me from the world. Thou canst supply my every want out of thy fulness. Blessed Lord, I want to love thee supremely, and my neighbour as myself. I want to be made conformable to thy Will, to be renewed after thine Image. O, perform this great, this gracious, work upon my soul. Deliver me from all iniquity. Purify my heart by faith, and fill me with holy, heavenly love, to the praise of thine own everlasting grace, through Jesus
Christ my Saviour.
* Rom. vii. 24.
XXVII. HUMAN CORRUPTION AND ABOUNDING
"Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound."-Rom. v. 20.
ALL orthodox Christians agree in the doctrine of the Fall; that the whole human race fell in Adam, as their federal head; and that we are by nature the children of wrath. They agree in this truth, that death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, and therefore lie under condemnation, and are exposed to the righteous judgment of God. The Scriptures are most clear on this awful subject.
This doctrine militates against the pride of our darkened understandings, and the boasted morality of the world. Some treat it as monstrous, others as fanatical. But all, who are taught of God, receive it in deep self-abasement. Lord give me grace to embrace, in the simplicity of faith, all those humbling truths of thy holy word, which, at once, crucify selflove, and prepare the heart to receive Jesus as the only Saviour from guilt and condemnation.
The doctrine of the Fall and its direful consequences, may, in some small degree, be exemplified by what we witness around us. In how many families are certain maladies perpetuated, which are styled hereditary, descending from father to son, yea, even to children's children. How frequently have the profligacy and prodigality of parents entailed upon their posterity disease and want. What millions of our fellow-creatures have groaned from age to age under the iron yoke of one bloody conqueror. The conquests of Mahomet have to this day held in bondage the Christian churches in the East, while the spiritual despotism of Popery enslaves its millions in the West.
When I compare the present state of man with his original formation :—when I view him as he once
was, perfect in holiness, peace, and love, and as he now is, full of iniquity, disquietude, and enmity, I feel the force of my Saviour's words to Nicodemus : "Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again." When I contemplate the Almighty Creator in all his infinite perfections, and man in all his vileness; when I survey the spotless mansions of glory, and the polluted habitations of earth; I am constrained to say, Amen, to my Saviour's declaration, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."
Let me well observe this important truth, I must be born again, not of water only, but of the Spirit. What does this teach me?-Surely that a great change must necessarily take place, before a mass of corruption can be made meet to inherit incorruption. The change is great, but the power which effects it is omnipotent. The cause of this change is the sovereign love of God. With Him this blessedness originated, and by Him it is performed, otherwise it could not be said, "By grace are ye saved;"*"Salvation is of the Lord." The means for effecting this change were ordained by infinite wisdom, and are revealed and applied to a lost world through the Holy Ghost. The end of this change was designed by the Father of mercies, to display the divine perfections, to destroy the powers of darkness, and to diffuse unnumbered blessings, in time and eternity, through the redemption of sinners by the death and glorification of His beloved Son. Oh! how transporting will the heavenly anthem be! "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."+
Lord! be graciously pleased to effect this unspeakably blessed change in my soul. I have daily to mourn over an evil heart of unbelief. I feel so much of self, mixing with my better motives; so much of earth, mixing with my spiritual duties; so * Eph. ii. 8.
+ Rev. v. 12.
much of distrust and slavish fear, mixing with my professed faith in thee, that I may well exclaim with Job, "I abhor myself."*
Lord! undertake for me. Hold thou me up and I shall be safe. Create in me a new and contrite heart. Wash away all my corruptions. Cover me with thy spotless righteousness, and make me meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Lord enable me daily to come unto thee, to spread my wants, and sorrows, and sins before thee; yea, to lay them all by faith at the foot of the Cross, where grace, and mercy, and truth unite to save, and bless such a helldeserving sinner as I am. Oh! how sweet is thy call of love:" Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."+"Look unto me, and be saved." ye "Be not afraid, only believe."§-Lord enable me to come on the warrant of thy word: for thou hast said, "Him that cometh to me I will in nowise cast out."|| Make my soul joyful in thy salvation. Put a new song into my mouth, even a Psalm of thanksgiving unto my God.
How deadly are the fruits which unbelief produces :- Insensibility to eternal things; the alienation of the heart from God; a love for carnal delights. We naturally turn away from that which never captivates our affections. We choose darkness rather than light, because our deeds are evil.
The only obstacle to loving God supremely, arises from the rebelliousness of our will to his holy law, and from an aversion to the humbling method of salvation, as revealed in the Gospel. This state of mind constitutes our guilt in his sight, and renders us deservedly the objects of his wrath.
Every day I have to mourn over this spiritual insensibility. I want to feel my heart all alive to God. I want to feel my soul melted with godly sorrow, and expanded with holy joy. I want to experience that indescribable emotion of contrition
• Chap. xlii. 6.
+ Matt. xi. 28.
|| John vi. 37.
Isa. xlv. 22.