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rapturous joys! will distinguish that happy period. In the mcan while, may the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.
a Heb. xiii. 20, 21.
THE FOLLY AND DANGER OF CONFORMING TO THE WORLD:
AT A MONTHLY EXERCISE
REV. MR. REYNOLDS'S MEETING-PLACE, NEAR CRIPPLE.
GATE, MARCH 21st, 1771.
THE FOLLY AND DANGER OF CONFORMING TO THE
Rom. xi. 2.-And be not conformed to this worldOs all the distinctions which have obtained among mankind, none is so important, so interesting and so necessary, as that of the men of the world, and the men of God. A distinction which hath existed from the beginning, and which consists not in forms and appearances, but in reality and truth: a distinction which respects the temper of our hearts, and the conduct of our lives. The men of the world are those who, having received the spirit of the world, indiscriminately conform to its customs and usages, and vehemently pursue its profits and pleasures--pursue them as their portion, their heaven, their all. The men of God, on the other hand, are those who, being dead to the world, to use the language of Scripture, are alive unto God, make his favour their chief happiness, and a conformity to his will, upon the noblest principles, their main concern.
Now the majority lies very considerably on the side of the world : from whence it follows, that he who will be truly religious must needs be singular. And singularity, whatever substantial reasons there may be to justify it, is a very disagreeable thing; especially in the present case, since human nature is in a depraved state, and we are all unduly attached to sensible objects. To dare to be singular in our opinions requires resolution; but to dare to be so in our practice requires still more resolution. To maintain the truth with constancy, amidst the vain speculations and subtile reasonings of artful men, is hard; but to maintain a temper and conduct chaste, spiritual and heavenly, amidst the surrounding allurements of a gay and thoughtless world, is still harder.
Since, therefore, this is a matter of such vast importance, and attended with so many difficulties, we need frequently be animated to it, by all the motives which that divine religion we profess and believe so largely furnishes. And surely it must be acknowledged, that this is a time wherein exhortations of this sort are peculiarly seasonable; a time of prosperity, and therefore very unfavourable to religious singularity; and a time wherein many, who would think it hard was the sincerity of their profession called in question, yet are not easily to be distinguished from the world, which is at an irreconcileable enmity with it. If the primitive Christians, amidst the frowns of persecution, which have a tendency to excite fervour and resolution in religion, stood in need of the caution in our text; we certainly stand in greater need of it, who are powerfully invited into the embraces of the world, by the mighty charms and persuasions of ease, plenty, liberty and prosperity. To us therefore may we consider the apostle, yea, even our divine Master himself, as saying with peculiar warmth and earnestness-Be not conformed unto this world. This then is the subject I would now attempt to explain and improve among you. And may God of his infinite mercy grant, that it may have its suitable influence on each of our minds !
The caution in our text very naturally and instructively follows the exhortation in the preceding verse, with which the apostle introduces the applicatory part of his epistle. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service a. Here we see the Christian persuaded, by the divine mercies displayed in the gospel of Jesus, to make a tender of himself, his body and soul, his interests and abilities both natural and spiritual, unto God. From a man of the world we see him become a man of God. Aud how just, how seasonable, the caution that follows ! And be not conformed to this world. 66 To God
have surrendered yourself; be henceforth a follower of him, and not of the world. Let the time past of your life suffice you to have wrought the will of the Gentiles; and now no longer live the rest of your time in the flesh, to the lusts of men, but to the will of God 6." In discoursing of the text I shall, a Ver. 1.
61 Pet. iv, 2, 3.