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Son of man, and all his holy angels. They are led also to look upon their best friend, their Saviour and their God, covered with shame and spittle for their sakes; and at that sight they feel hatred of all selfishness and cowardice, which would otherwise prevail over them. They are taught also to understand the spirit of the world, that they will call themselves Christians, yet plead custom and fashion against the plain commands of Christ, in whose name they have no lively hope....in whose cross they see no glory : whom they fear not to offend, nor delight to obey; yet are very angry others should pay him more respect than they do themselves. This discovery not only justifies contention with the world, but demonstrates no man can be Christ's disciple, except he come out from them, and be separate.
Above all, the Lord gives his people his own peace, a pleasing powerful proof of the wisdom of their conduct, and its excellency. Covered with this armour of light, and enriched with this invisible treasure, sneers from the profane, pity from the formal, abuse from the passionate, and persecution from the brutish, are all endured by them with calmness, and faced with intrepidity. “Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence
from the pride of man: Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion, from the strife of tongues,” Psalm xxxi. 20.
This deliverance of the church from the world, her enemy, exposes the mistake that we may be good enough, without giving offence by our religion. It is impossible : for to be a Christian, is to have “the same mind in you
which was in Christ Jesus.” But to resemble him is to become obnoxious; for who, under the power of natural pride, can bear to see their favourite pursuits despised, their boasted virtues slighted, and all the ground of their hope towards God, regarded as a delusion? Yet this very treatment of its pleasures, virtues, and religion, the world must receive from you, if you follow the example, or obey the commands of Christ.
Though your mouth were never to be opened in reproof, or vindication of the truth, your conduct speaks aloud: of course, the nearer your connection is with persons conformed to the world, (however good they may be deemed) the more provoking must you prove to them from your principles and practice. This will certainly be the effect of true faith; for the declaration is peremptory and universal, “ All who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution,” 2 Tim. iii. 12.
The substantial, unchangeable ground of this offence, is given at full length, with great force in the ancient book of Wisdom: “Let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn.
He is clean contrary to our doings. He upbraideth us with offending the law, and objecteth to our infamy, the transgressions of our education. He professeth to have the knowledge of God. He is made to reprove our thoughts. He is grievous unto us even to behold; for his life is not like other men's, his ways are of ano. ther fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits. He abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness. He pronounceth the end of the just to be blessed, and maketh his boast that God is his Father," Wisd. Sol. . 12.
In this passage the reasons are strongly marked, why the Lord's people always are hated and despised; for the world charges them with intolerable preciseness of behavi. our, affected singularity, great uncharitableness in judging others, spiritual pride, blasphemous presumption, in maintaining the knowledge of forgiveness from God, with an ostentation of being his favourites.
Renounce, therefore, the vain thought of being a Christian in spirit and in truth, with
out giving offence to the world. Renounce a selfish, cowardly regard to character, which would deceive you to fancy you may live in all subjection to God, yet escape the censure of the careless, and the hatred of the formal. Remember the sayings of the Lord are eternal truths : “ Marvel not if the world hate you : it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Is not this proof of your relation to Christ, infinitely better than all the esteem, applause, or preferment which can be gained by such moderation in religion, as will offend no one?
ON COURTING THE FAVOUR OF THE WORLD.
THIS doctrine of the deliverance of the church by the Horn of Salvation, from her enemy, the world, proves the mistake of fan. cying our usefulness depends upon the es. teem and favour of those around us. Above all things avoid the name of an enthusiast, say many grave persons; and beware of giving offence, for this will ruin your character,
and take away all your influence. To keep clear of real enthusiasm is highly necessary, because it leads to the greatest mischiefs, by pleading private impulses and revelations, to warrant practices, principles, or actions, contrary to scripture. It is itself a species of infidelity, and often ends in avowed rejection of the bible. But the world having always an aversion to the power of godliness, will brand the faithful servants of Christ with this odious imputation. Necessary zeal for his truth, in opposition to damnable heresies, sober singularity and self-denial, “ without which no man shall see the Lord,” is being righteous overmuch, and gives great offence. The glorious privileges also of the church, I mean the consolations of Christ, the comforts of love, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, are in the judgment of the world, rank enthusiasm. Though these privileges are specified in the grand charter of the church, have been constantly implored in her public worship through all ages, and attested by the most venerable witnesses; yet no reputation for learning or wisdom, or steadiness of conduct, can secure men from the charge of enthusiasm, whenever they boldly assert these great points.