Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

3 is not etter to

NOW OC

which w

rcome it.

[ocr errors]

Now it is

chised, 527

and purpose,

more det

[ocr errors]

It is not,

rist, and wonder of the Fas perfection of this evil stendom erioration nankind, f the Divi cial condi

ir fallen race, unfolding itself in endless forms, and per

tuating its effects by a most subtil transmission from age od a mi age.

To be more particular : I will say, that the state public morals, the habits of personal and social life, pular amusements, and the policy of governments, so far they are not under the direct guidance of religion, are amples of the presence and power of that which is profly and truly called the world. And nobody need fear add, that the tone and moral effect of all these, except en they are especially guided by religion to a Christian

purpose, is almost always, in a greater or less tree, at variance with God. The laws of every Christ

state, the customs of every Christian society, and the ctice of families and individuals as contained in them,

indeed, always professedly based upon the laws of 1, and limited by the precepts of Christ. Tever, the outline but the filling in that determines the racter : it is not the letter, but the interpretation that s the meaning, and gives emphasis to the sense : so it ith the complex social state of a Christian people. The s of Christian faith are all there, but so glossed and ipbrased, so interlined by commentaries and lowered by Istinents, that it is no longer the Church warring its way ugh the world, but the world playing the Christian in a

This, then, is the world which in our baptism we inced. It was no remote or imaginary notion, but a int and active reality : that very same principle of al evil which, in all ages, under all shapes, in all

s, has issued in lust, pride, covetousness, vainglory. irrounds us in the visible Church now as it surrounded apostles in the Holy City of old. It cleaves to all igs about us. It is in all places of concourse, in all finess, in all pleasures, in all assemblies and spectacles,

be out

just

refer of St. Augue. ings, and

is most
hristian
ut of the 5
reproduch

ways word

in all homes, in all the circumstances of our personal life. We are not called to separate ourselves from any outward system, as they were, but to be inwardly as estranged from the evil that cleaves to the system around us, as if we were not of it. “ I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” Let us, then, lay deeply to heart this great truth, that our only safety is in being inwardly dead to the love and fear of the world. Let us go boldly to all lawful work, even though it be in the midst of it ; for in that God will keep us pure. However secular our toil may be, whether in trading, or tilling the ground, or in the administration of law, or in the government and service of Christian states, in all these, when God leads us, He will be our shield, and we shall be kept spotless. Only let us watch against craving, or lusting, or hungering after the honors, gifts, and gains of life. The desire of these things, though we be never corrupted by attaining thein, will turn all our work to snares, and make all our duties to be perilous. He that loves these things is to be bought, and has his price, and all men know it ; and even the world despises while it buys him for its own. Let us be on our guard against that basest of all idolatry, the worship of wealth, or rank, or numbers; and against that most hateful of all intoxication, the love of popular applause, and the admiration of men that shall die. The favor of the world is no sign of the saints. The cross is their portion. The voice of the many is no test of truth, nor warrant of right, nor rule of duty. Truth and right, and a pure conscience, have been ever with the few. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” So it ever has been and shall be. Let us, therefore, pray God for strength to do our work in the world without fear, but to find our rest in Him. Let us not think ourselves safe in

a fancied separation from society around us : we cannot escape

it any more than the light of day. Nevertheless, let us at least stand aloof from it all we may. Work in the world we needs must; but we need not to feast and revel, to accept its gifts, nor go wondering after its greatness. Let us not take licence to taste or to possess all its lawful things, for “ all things are not expedient,” “ all things edify not." The world has too much craft to thrust upon us at first the offer of forbidden things. Soft things and fair, things harmless and without blame, come first and smooth the way for more subtil allurements. There is but one safeguard for Christ's servants; to be like Him in whom the prince of this world in the hour of temptation had nothing he could make his own. Our safety is not so much where as what we are.

!

SERMON XVI.

ON MIXING IN THE WORLD, AND ITS SAFEGUARDS.

St. MATTHEW xi. 18, 19. “ John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a

devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners."

THERE is a remarkable contrast between the examples of St. John Baptist and of our Lord. St. Luke tells us of St. John, that “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel :" but of our Lord he says, that He went down “to Nazareth, and was subject” to the Blessed Virgin and Joseph, and that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man."* There was a difference in them even from childhood. John lived apart from men, a severe, ascetic life, in hardship and solitude. Jesus dwelt in a house, among the habitations, trades, and cares of men : for thirty years His was a life such as ours, in all outward things unnoticed and commonplace. And so they both grew up; and in full manhood they came forth, the one a

* St. Luke i. 80; ii. 52.

preacher of repentance in the wilderness, having “his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey."* The other a preacher of repentance in the world, sitting at meat in the houses of Pharisees and Scribes, and at the tablc of Levi and Zaccheus the publicans; going, when bidden, even to marriage-feasts, mixing in life, and seeming to partake of the habits and courtesies of men. In a word, John lived out of the world, and our Lord lived in it. And that is the truth which His enemies distorted against Him.

66 John came neither eating nor drinking:" he was severe, mortificd, unbending, isolated ; and they cast him out as a demoniac, saying, 6 He hath a devil.” “ The Son of man came eating and drinking:" pitiful, tender, compassionate, stooping to the weakness and burdens of common life; and they reviled Him as lax, self-indulgent, and dissoluto, "a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans," and a partaker in the revelling of sinners.

Now, of the many subjects naturally arising out of these words, there is one to which we shall do well to confine our attention: I mean the lawfulness of intercourse with the world, and the limitations within which it should be restrained. This is a very difficult question in practice, and often involves painful doubts and misgivings. We hear it much talked of, and by some in a very confident and sweeping way; which, however, for the most part, turns out to be only words after all. Nevertheless, there is a grave matter of Christian duty here at stake ; and it is of great moment that we should come both to some clear understanding of it, and to some fixed and tenable principles on which to determine our own conduct. It is not to be denied, that our Lord's example, as contrasted with that of St. John, does

* St. Matt. iij. 4.

« PreviousContinue »