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of superiority on what is humble and religious in life. You shine, and dazzle, and blind the unwise; but having once overcome a man, and brought him to acquiesce in your bondage, the result of his subjection to you is death! His time is engrossed, his affections beguiled away from God, his eternal interests are neglected; and when he comes to die, O world! where is your friendship? Does he not then bewail his fatał mistake in taking you for a friend, who have proved his deadliest foe? If it had not been for the world, he cries, I might have died in peace ! If I had not been overcome by “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” I might have had hope here, and heaven hereafter; but now I perish!
This is no exaggerated or uncommon issue of a worldly life; and though not always so strongly expressed, it is often more strongly felt. How can it be otherwise ? The course of the world is like a mighty stream, which is running swiftly away from heaven; and they who embark on it, move on troubled waters, with empty pleasures, like bubbles, floating around them; and having receded far from God, are finally cast away on a land of darkness and of death.
At whatever point we come in contact with the world, it wounds our peace, and impedes the prospects of futurity. Its cares, its ease, its loss, its gains, its joys and its sorrows, its reverses and its prosperity, are dangerous to virtue, and assail the exercise of grace. The spirit of the world is most contrary to the spirit of Christ; and, in proportion as a worldly temper gets the ascendency, all grace and heavenliness of frame subside; we grow callous to religion, and gradually settle down into confirmed and fearless ungodliness.
In fine, whether we examine its bearings on our present or our future state, the world stands forth a detected enemy. We must act on the defensive, if we would not be shamefully overcome.
Whether it assail us with objects adapted to the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life,” we must arm ourselves against it, and fight for the life and peace of our souls ; nay, these very lusts must be crucified with Christ. No truce, no confederacy, no alliance or conformity, no junction of forces or community of interests, with the world and its lusts, is compatible. We must conquer, or be led
captive; we must be victorious or perish; for in this warfare, defeat is destruction.
Victory over the world is the grand external sign of our regeneration, and it is to be lamented, that the line of demarcation betwixt the world and the ground of grace is so little regarded. They touch, indeed, but with boundaries definable and distinct; yet by many these boundaries are overlooked, and even some who professedly belong to Christ make more than border-excursions into the enemy's country. Surely it is little suspected by many, that the world is an enemy; else, why is there among some who wish to be considered religious, such an imitation of the world—not to say con. formity to its course? Why is it thought à shame not to dress like the world, not to live in the world's style, and act after the world's manner? Is this overcoming the world? We fear not. It is either the fear of the world that shrinks from deviation and singularity, or it is the love of the world secretly inclining to nearer approach. But if the world is feared, loved, or imitated with servility, it is found too strong for us ; and instead of conquering, we are overcome.
When, then-when is the world overcome? It is when we feel ourselves mor
tified to its pleasures, averse to its vanities, and independent of its resources for enjoyment; when we have that prevailing indifference to its riches, honours, and delights, that we neither expect happiness by attaining them, nor seek happiness in possessing them, nor lose happiness by their loss or deficiency.
“ All things are yours," says the Apostle. “ The world ?" Yes ! it belongs to the bed liever. And we have overcome it, when we can call it ours; when it is our servant, and not our master; when it is our wilderness, and not our paradise; when it is our place of pilgrimage, and not our country or our home; when its spirit does not controul our affections, nor its
power domineer over our opinions, principles, or course of life; when we can live in it without captivity to its lusts, and without bondage to its corruptions ; when we can be poor without desiring riches, and rich without disesteeming poverty ; when we can be great, as it is called, without self-estimation, or mean without envy to superiors, without dissatisfaction that others are more prosperous, and more preferred than ourselves.
The world is overcome, when we feel ourselves so disengaged from its attach
ments, its scenes, and its associations, that we are free to relinquish what we possess in it, without vain regrets for the past; like Job, when bereaved of all by the hand of Providence; or without distrust of the future, like Habakkuk, who was persuaded that he should suffer no want of happiness, and experience no abatement of his peace and joy, “ though the fig-tree should not blossom, neither should there be fruit in the vine; though the labour of the olive failed, and the field yielded no meat ; though the flock were cut off from the fold, and there were no herd in the stall.” The world is overcome, when we are deterred from no duty of religion by the fear of its shame, and beguiled into no paths of moral obliquity by the promise of its reward ; when we steadily pursue the narrow way, unmoved by its enmity or its allurements; when we are deaf to the sound of worldly fame, and blind to the objects wherewith it charms or appals its victims.
In fine, the world is overcome, when we can say with Paul, “ I am crucified into the world, and the world unto me;" I am as one that is dead to its attractions, and insensible to its fascination; when it offers much, or threatens much, its promises and its threats