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Thus, in opposition to the pride of human systems, in disregard of the difficulties raised by weak but presumptuous human intellect, indifferent to the credit of originality in theory, and decidedly hostile to the daring spirit of metaphysical explanation of what the Scripture has left in mystery, the simplicity that is in CHRIST leads to God as alone able to impart the knowledge of Himself, and humbly receives all that he reveals, knowing that it, therefore, must be true, and consicous that man can, as yet, but know. in part.
Beware, brethren, “ lest, by any means, your minds should be corrupted from” this "simplicity that is in CHRIST.” A bold and daring spirit is abroad in the world, which, in disregard of the pure principles that united the Christians of the first and best days of the Gospel, in one faith, and that the faith, in its simplicity and integrity, of Holy Writ, never wearies in its unhallowed surmisings of what ought to be God's truth, or in its presumptuous experiments of the forms into which the contents of the sacred pages can be tortured. The only effectual remedy of this extensively mischievous, and it is to be feared, growing evil, is to go back to the simplicity of those primitive times, when Christians were of one mind and one heart, when faith was drawn from the pure word of God, and the divinely constituted mode of preserving and defending it, by the ministry, sacraments, and services of the Church, prevailed through the one body of the followers of the Redeemer, and maintained among them unity of spirit, and the bond of peace. Be it your effort, brethren, to preserve, by the same means, the same evangelical character. Amid the jarring opinions with which the pride of man has adulterated the pure word of God, ask for the old paths, the primitive doctrine, in the certainty that therein you will find the true intent of the Great Inspirer of all religious truth; cheerfully sacrifice to this object all prejudices excited by human teaching, and modern pretensions to improvement upon the earliest received system of the Gospel ; for that system must necessarily be the purest, and the most genuine. In the exercise of this siinplicity which is in Christ, receive with meekness the ingrasted word; and for any difficulties which you may find therein, wait for the great change, which will remove you from seeing as through a glass, darkly, to seeing face to face, and from knowing in part, to knowing even as also you are known.
In the service which we render to God, the simplicity that is in Christ should confine us to a single view to His glory, and our spiritual and eternal good. He sees the heart, and if there is, in that service, any low or selfish motive, or the least disposition bordering on display, vanity, or pride, it is abomination in His sight.
There are feelings of self-complacency; there is an idea of great merit in our services; there is a fond conceit of being peculiarly the favorites of Heaven, a presumptuous confidence of having been eternally designated, and by a perpetual miracle, preserved, as a chosen object of divine regard; there is an assurance of being removed from all danger of falling from grace; there arises, from one or other of these causes, a comparison, most favorable to ourselves, of our attainments and privileges with those of others—a feeling of conscious superiority that we would fain persuade ourselves is a due appreciation of the divine favor, or Christian pity for the less blessed state of others; there is a fondness for the praise of men ; there is a vain exhibition of fancied gifts; there are these affections of the carnal mind, with which the simplicity that is in Christ is totally inconsistent. For vanity of one's own advantages, pride in imagined superiority, or love of the applause of fellow worms, to come in competition with the service of the Great God, is a profanation that must be most displeasing in His sight.
Cultivate, brethren, the simplicity that is in CHRIST, whereby, in the pureness of your offerings, and the humility and sincerity of heart with which they are made, you may serve God truly, both in will and deed. The offering should be not only sacrifices of prayer and praise, but the continued and consistent devotion of your lives to all the duties of piety and morality. Beware " lest your minds be corrupted" to the mingling with this of any offering to their own vanity or pride, to self-interest, or to the applause of men. Simple is the offering which God requires, and single the view with which He would have it made. Thus be it rendered.
It will be accepted through the meritsof your Intercessor ; and its recompense will remain forever, when the selfinterested Christian will have had his reward.
The simplicity that is in CHRIST should also influence our duty to our fellow men.
It is opposed to the ten thousand artifices which the world suggests for the promotion of our interests in life; to the equivocation and dissimulation, so hostile to confidence among men; and to the pride and vain glory which mar social happiness, and inflict so many unmerited pangs.
Unfortunately, there is hardly a calling in life which does not present temptation to promote selfish ends by disingenuous artifices, often designedly kept as secrets of the craft. But even if these arts succeed, and those who practise them are prepared to enjoy their fruits, let them remember that for all these things God will bring them into judgment. And are they consistent with strict honesty? Is there integrity in any measure which has a tendency to conceal the real quality by false appearances, and unjustifiable recommendations ? Depend upon it, brethren, every system of dealing which is not perfectly open and frank, which takes advantage of ignorance, or which fails in a candid exhibition of the whole truth respecting the matter in hand, is inconsistent with the simplicity that is in Christ, and can stand excused neither at the bar of strict honesty and integrity, nor at the final scrutiny of the intents and purposes of the heart. The world, either in ignorance, or in its perverted system of morals, may be silent, and even commend; but all who practise such dealings must stand, at the impartial tribunal of the last judgment, convicted of dishonesty and falsehood, and take the portion of the disciples of the great author and abettor of deception.
There is another very prevalent and awfully guilty departure from the simplicity that is in CHRIST-deceitfulness in speech ; letting our yea be otherwise than yea, and our nay than nay. Speech is the gift of God, designed to promote His glory, and the good of men. The sin of lying, in all its forms and modifications, and with all the extenuations that the wit of man, the promptings of worldly interest, the customs of society, or the fear of
consequences, can throw around it, stands confest an impious perversion of this noble gift, to the dishonor of the Great Giver, the undermining of confidence among men, and the degradation of the human character. For this complication of guilt, an awful condemnation is revealed from Heaven. It may now be unheeded; the ear may be deaf to it; the trifling and unthinking mind may not stop to regard it; the hardened heart may mock at it; yet liars will find their portion with him, one of the worst representations of whose character, given in Holy Writ, is, that he is a liar, and the father of lies.
In the simplicity that is in CHRIST, brethren, avoid this guilt, and escape this awful danger. Let your yea
Let your yea be yea, and your nay nay.
No interest to be answered by equivocation and falsehood is a counterbalance to its iniquity. No present relief it may afford is to be compared with the sweet consciousness of having held fast your integrity. No gloss of custom can make that true which, in its very terms, is false, or separate from it the degrading character, and the threatened recompense, of lying.
Grossly inconsistent, too, with the simplicity that is in CHRIST, are vanity and pride in intercourse with fellow men. Whether these appear as ambition, aspiring to be great at the expense of the happiness of others; as spiritual pride, puffed up with the idea of superior holiness, and manifested by supercilious deportment, an uncharitable tongue, and unkind tempers and dispositions ; as self-elation, quick in apprehending injury or insult, and inexorable in demand for vengeance; as vain confidence in intellectual or spiritual superiority, impatient of denial, overbearing in the advancement of opinion, or unjust or unkind towards the sentiments of others; as pride of birth, wealth, station, or person ; as insensibility to the privations and miseries of others; in whatever shape they appear, they are hostile to the spirit of our holy religion. Let Christians beware of their corrupting influence. Ministering here either perpetual uneasiness, or a species of joy and satisfaction unworthy of an intelligent being, they cannot but be highly offensive to God, and exposed to the severity of His just indignation.
Lastly, in our personal characters, the simplicity that is in Christ should conspicuously appear.
And this will naturally be the case, if we imbibe the spirit connected with the particulars of the virtue already considered. They will lead to that humility, artlessness, and sincerity, which will throw over the whole character purity, loveliness, and attraction. Mildness and gentleness, will take possession of the heart, and influence the life. Conscious integrity, and singleness of purpose, will preserve the mind from the degrading, self-tormenting, and extensively unhappy influence of a jealous and suspicious temper. Moderation, temperance, and gratitude, will impart to the gifts of Heaven their highest enjoyment. Covetousness, ostentation, and extravagance, will give place to Christian feelings of stewardship in the possession of the gifts of Providence, for the good of others, and the glory of the Giver. The miseries of selfishness will be lost in the delights of fidelity in social duty; and the high head, the affected look, and the sullen temper, of spiritual pride, be exchanged for the meekness, kindness, and cheerfulness of the Gospel
Cultivate, my brethren, this simplicity that is in Christ. Take heed lest your minds be corrupted from it. The pomps and vanities of this wicked world, and the love of the applause of men, are its active enemies. Be true, then, to the conditions of your covenant in CHRIST, and renounce them. Strive to be preserved from their influence, that you may possess and manifest the pure, holy, humble, and ingenuous character of the followers of the Lamb.
Thus, in reference to God, your fellow men, and yourselves, you are to preserve the simplicity that is in CHRIST. It is a heavenly virtue, for the possession of which, you should seek divine grace, with a diligence and sincerity proportioned to its infinite importance.
No means, accompanying your prayers, can be more promising of success than diligent and careful study of the character of our blessed LORD, and of his first disciples, as given in the inspired pages, and in the records and remains of primitive Christian antiquity. To the religion of that period, when frequent and cruel persecution had a powerful tendency to check insincere professions, and preserve purity of faith, picty, and morals, and the immediate influence of the personal ministry of Clinist and his apostles yet