« 前へ次へ »
rounding world stands up against the
tending to heavenliness of aim and action, and having nothing worldly in its nature. The world is not its congenial element; nor can it live, and act, and enjoy itself, in conformity to the world, or without overcoming it. Whatsoever is born of God, is, in its being, opposed to the flesh, with its earthly affections and sensual lusts; and neither can “ the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life,” resist the superior power of regenerating grace. It first subdues the world within, and then is the world without a certain conquest.
Yet we are not to suppose that all is done, when there is something born of God within us; for many an assault from a flattering or a frowning world, must be met, and patiently repulsed, subsequent to our being born again. The warfare with the world only seriously begins on our regeneration; for previous to that great change, we were of the world, which loves its own, and is beloved in return. But having experienced a new birth unto holiness, the whole sur
work of God; and we have then, and not till then, to begin the serious conflict. We are assailed with an host of worldly fears, hopes, passions, promises, and pleasures;
with darts of invective, or wiles of allurement; with infidel taunts, or uncharitable construetions; and we need to stand on our guard, armed with the whole armour of God, and determined never to yield.
But how shall we overcome ? Shall we go forth against the world in the spirit of disdain and misanthropy? Shall we summon our angry passions to the combat ? Shall we have our hearts influenced with ardours of malice and revenge? Alas! this were to have the worst evils of the world in dominion over us. There are some who say they have taken up arms against the world, whose weapons, when we examine them, are found to be of a most carnal composition and temper. They draw the bow of malice; and shoot ridicule, satire, and contempt. They wound others; but every shaft recoils upon the assailant with double hurt. He who attacks the world with its own weapons, is outmatched and baffled. Indeed, the spirit of the world has him un der command, and the more he fights, the greater evidence gives he of the world's power over him. But we are animated with other emotions, and seek victory with out bitterness or animosity; without pride or carnal contention; without feelings of
hatred, or the strife of angry passions, which chiefly hurt him who harbours them. Nay, in our most decided resistance of the world, we pity those who belong to itwe do more than pity--we are zealous to reclaim. We turn towards them a reconciling aspect, though we must separate from them; for God turns on the chief of sinners an aspect of grace, reconciling the world to himself. And what has not the Saviour done for a world of ungodly men, in pouring out his blood to be a propitiation for their sins? In the spirit of our God and Saviour, therefore, we love those that constitute the world lying in wickedness; and despising every sentiment of malevolence, we have a better and a more effective principle to bring into the field, and that is faith; for “ this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith:” It was thus that Abraham and Moses, that patriarchs, prophets, and apostles of old time, overcame; it is thus that the people of God, in every age, obtain the victory. They are not superior to others in natural fortitude, prudence, or skill; but they surpass in faith, and faith is an overcoming grace. It leads to victory over the world in two ways; first, by the estimate
of things it forms; and, secondly, by its own direct and appropriating acts.
Faith, which is the evidence of things not · seen, looks farther than the things which are seen and temporal. It has another world in prospect; and sees how things issue, beyond the confines of time and sense. Faith perceives the termination of this world's course, and follows those that pursue it, till they are lost in everlasting destruction. Faith marks their downfal, hears their cries, and listens while lost souls express their torments in fearful wailings, never to be suspended. Then faith owns the emphatic truth,—“ What doth it profit à man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?" For what relief to lost souls will spring from the remembrance of worldly possessions and worldly joys, preferred to God and salvation ; things, the choice of which, brought them to thosé flames ?
Faith turns away from those appalling stenes, to gaze on other regions, and expatiate at large on fields of glory. It sees another country than sense discovers--it has heaven before it în endless prospect heaven, in all its blessedness; and is persuaded that the sufferings of the present time
are not worthy to be compared to the glory to be soon revealed. It is told, that a great obstacle in the way to heaven, is this present evil world, which, unless a man do overcome in its lusts, passions, and pursuits, he cannot rise to future bliss. He considers what there is so great in this present world, that a man, for the sake of it, should sacrifice heaven, and incur damnation. He brings both into comparison, and is persuaded, that only the excess of folly can imagine things present to outweigh an eternal weight of glory. The regenerate nature consents to this estimate of faith; and thus, by setting this world, and the world to come, plainly before the mind, in their undisguised realities of nature and duration, he forms a true judgment of their relative value; and in this judgment of truth, he puts on his armour, and conquers in the fight of faith. By regeneration, we are led more deeply to feel the vanity and the unsatisfactory nature of worldly good, and thenceforth disrelish its most enticing enjoyments. By faith, we see, that were the world as full of satisfaction as it is of disappointment, yet lying as it does in the way to a beta ter country, we must surmount it, or come short of heaven. We have obtained, how.