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point that you are of the world.—But besides these there is still another question to be resolved. Are you, or are you not, renouncing the men of the world ; that is, their customs and maxims, the influence of their example, and, in short, the whole authority which the usuage of a wicked generation has established, and their manner of using the world and the things of it? Time will not permit me minutely to consider the several particulars comprehended under these heads ; but the resolution of this single question shall serve to decide the whole, to wit, . Do we make the word of God or the ways of men the measure of our conduct ?
This will seem an absurd inquiry at first thought by those who, while they are living as others do, are at the same time professed readers and hearers of the Scriptures. “ What ! (will such say,) do you think we do not believe our Bibles; or that we are so stupid as to judge that to be right, though all the world should concur in saying it, which we hear God himself tell us to be wrong?" This, I confess, is talking well : but where is the corresponding practice ?
If you do not search the Scriptures really to know what the will of God is in every case, but are easily satisfied with everybody says so,' and . everybody does so,' and think it very strange if any will not
do like the rest of the world,' I beseech you, after all, what is this more than fine talking? The most of people go down with the current of the times, and take it for granted all is well, if they do not that which the world reckons ill. It is scandalous ;' that and that alone is the measure of forbearance; the world will not bear you out in what is scandalous. To be a drunkard, thief, whoremonger, is scandalous ; upon such things the world has passed sentence, so you judge them very bad. To be liberal and decent, this the world countenances, and this you approve. But when a man denies himself, and begins to lead a heavenly life, it is too much ! the world cries, and so you join in the cry. I pray you, what does all this prove, but that you live, think, and act upon the authority of a wicked world, and not upon the authority of God ? Brethren, many now are the years that in the execution of my office I have been declaring to you the mind and will of God concerning you, and I verily think God can witness for me that I have
not wittingly kept back or falsified any part of it through fear of disgusting and displeasing you. But now, what has been the fruit of this my much preaching, and your much hearing ? Is it this, after all, that you are all living after your Bibles, and not after the ways of the world ? Alas! it is not so ; it is not so. Many, many of you join hand in hand, and keep each other in countenance in living directly contrary to your Bibles. And shall I need tell such (alas ! they well know themselves) that they are wholly living after the world ?'
And now, my brethren, after this inquiry, what is the report from every breast, what say we ? · Are we of God, or are we of the world?
If we are still of the world, I doubt not our consciences have been telling us so, while the point has been under examination. Every child of this world here present has been testifying, and is now unavoidably testifying, against himself, “I am not of God.' And will you consider what is implied in that testimony? Not of God! What can be more uncomfortable than that thought ? Not of God! Then God is not your God; you have no interest in his almighty power, fatherly care, and pardoning grace. He does not regard you as a child; he has no provision for you in his family, he does not comfort you with his presence, you do not taste of his reviving communications, you are a forlorn creature, living in the world without God, without rest, without content, full of fears, big with anxieties, torn with disappointments; you seek Peace, but do you find her ? you fly to Pleasure, but she dwells not there ; you run to Company, but you cannot meet her; you say Wealth shall buy her for me, but you discover she is not to be purchased with gold. Do not you, children of this world, discern how unhappy you are in the midst of your all ? But then what apprehensions beset you at the thought of death? When it does but threaten you, then what a terror possesses your spirits! You are at present miserable every day; yet, because ye dread being more so hereafter, you are willing to drag on in your chains. For, you sons of Care, you daughters of Pleasure, you that give yourselves up to the pride of learning and wealth, to the pomp of distinction and appearance, what are your prospects in death, and after death? What in the world of spirits ? What, when the whole fabric of the world shall be dissolved in flames ? What are they in the new heaven and earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ? Could you persuade yourselves there is no sin in your choice, yet there would be infinite folly. For what folly equal to preferring a perishing world to an eternal God ? But is there not sin in such a choice ? Look at the glorious perfections of God, and say. Ask who made the world, and speak. Inquire why God gave you a being, and declare. Consider by whose bounty you live, and tell me. 0, sirs ! there is infinite sin in your choice, because infinite dishonour is done by it to God; and unless you are prevailed upon to make a better choice, you will soon find there is infinite ruin in it too. When the day of mercy and patience is over, then will you know what a fearful thing you have been doing in determinately and daily taking the world for your portion.
Wherefore let us all consider what a glorious privilege we are all called to, and as many as believe in Jesus Christ have an interest in, I mean that of having God for a portion. O what a heaven would this earth be were this the case of all! And how much of heaven does it bring down into the souls of those whose case it is! To have the all-sufficient, the living, the ever-present, the almighty, the eternal Being for our God, guarding us with his arm, guiding us with his hand, keeping us under his eye, directing all to us, and overruling all for us, dwelling among us, making us his care, conducting us through all the distressful passages of life, comforting us in a dying hour, receiving our souls to the nearest fellowship with himself in the moment of their separation, raising up and glorifying these present houses of clay, forming a new habitation for us, whence sorrow, fear, and sin, shall be banished for ever! Who can describe the thousandth part of the blessedness there is in having God for a portion? I cannot. And yet I can say enough of it to load with the justest confusion all those who will have their portion in this world.
And to think, my dear brethren, that God offers himself to us to be our God and portion ; that at infinite expense he has opened the way through the blood of Jesus to his being so ! To think that he is inviting us to it by all the endearments of love, and urging us to accept it by all the tender arguments of goodness, pity, and patience !-Sirs, I can only ask you if David speaks not the very truth, “ Blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God ?" O that we could all say with him, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee ? and there is none upon earth that I can desire besides thee !” I beseech
you let us not rest till we can say that word with sincere hearts, to the glory of God, and to the present unspeakable comfort and future infinite happiness of our souls, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
ActS xvi. 30.
What must I do to be saved ?
The first and second parts of the baptismal renunciation have ing been explained, I am now to speak of the last part of it, the renouncing “ all the sinful lusts of the flesh.”
And here also we will first explain, and afterwards improve.
The flesh.-By this is not meant man's body, which in itself considered is not sinful, any more than the natural appetites and passions thereof, which in themselves are good, and under due regulations serve to very good purposes. But by the flesh is understood the principle of sin that is in fallen man, very frequently called in Scripture by this name. It is that sinful principle in our nature contracted by Adam through his eating the forbidden fruit, and from him derived down to all who are naturally engendered of him.
Lusts of the flesh; that is, its desires, inclinations, imaginations, or affections.—The flesh is like some corrupt fountain that is always sending out bad water, or it resembles a filthy carrion which gives forth continually its nauseous and poisonous stench. Just as the good nature of an angel is always bringing forth good motions and desires, so the evil nature of fallen creatures is as plentiful the contrary way, ceaselessly bursting out into bad and pernicious motions and lusts.
Sinful lusts of the flesh.— I have said that the necessary appetites of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and the like, are not sinful: but the lusts of corrupt nature are so, being directly contrary to God and duty, moving us only to sin, and the very immediate and principal causes of all actual sin in thought, word, and deed, when they are indulged and gratified.