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his shadow with delight, and find his fruit sweet to your taste. How often, when lying down in green pastures, and feeding beside the still waters, do you exclaim, “Oh! how great is his beauty, and how great is his goodness." While the men of the world consider you as enslaved by superstition, you walk at liberty, because you keep his commandments. While they represent you as given up to dulness and melancholy, you can look them in the face, and say,
“ The men of grace have found
“Glory begun below;
“ From faith and hope may grow.
“ A thousand sacred sweets,
“Or walk the golden streets."
Yes, you are already blessed.
But what a prospect is before you! Death has been called a going home—but it is going to church-going from the Church below to the Church above. Your communion on earth has its trials. It is a mixed state of things; and owing to the apostacies of some, and the backslidings of others, and the infirmities of all, you are often sorrowful for the solemn assembly, and the reproach of it is a burden. Yet it is a pleasing emblem, and earnest of the fellowship of heaven ; but its defects, as well as its excellencies, should lead you to aspire after that world where the Canaanite will be no more in the house of the Lord for ever; and where the spirits of just men are made perfect. “ Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple : and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
THE CHRISTIAN, IN THE CHURCH.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters : and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Ah! Christian, though you will soon change your place, you will not change your associates. When death lets you go, you will return to your own company. Now were you setting off for a country which you had never seen, would it not be very relieving to think that you would find yourself at home there -many of your connexions being there already—and the rest assuredly coming after ? If, Christian, you are at present a stranger to the heavenly world, the heavenly world is not a stranger to you.
There is There is your Saviour.
There are the angels who have been your ministering spirits. There are all the saints, your brethren in Christ. There are your dear friends and fellow worshippers, who have preceded you—while those you leave behind are loosening and preparing to follow.
And can you imagine that your religious acquaintance will not be renewed, and your holy intimacies be completed, there? “ I am fully persuaded," says Baxter," that I shall love my friends in heaven, and therefore know them. And this principally binds me to them on earth. And if I thought I should never know them more, nor therefore love them after death, I should love them comparatively little, as I do all other transitory objects. But I now delight in conversing with them, as believing I shall commune with them for ever.” Paul was like-minded. “ For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ? For ye are our glory and joy."
THE CHRISTIAN, IN THE WORLD.
"And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world.”
John xvii. 11.
ACCORDING to Isaiah, it is a privilege to 6 hear a word behind us, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when we turn to the right hand, and when we turn to the left.” Truth and safety lie in the middle. The Pilgrim, ascending the Hill Difficulty, saw a lion on the right hand, and a lion on the left; and was afraid to advance. But he was informed by a voice from above, that these lions were chained ; and need only alarm those who approached the sides of the road. The middle was perfectly secure ; and keeping in this, though these creatures might look and roar at him, they could not hurt. This is another instance of the profound truth as well as genius with which Bunyan describes things in his exquisitely simple and admired book. The wisest of men but gives us the same fact, when he represents Wisdom as saying, “ I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment.” The sentiment may be exemplified in every thing moral and religious. Economy is equally remote from profusion and parsimony. Courage stands between rashness and fear. Patience is equally destroyed by feeling too little or too much : for which reason we are for
66 I am
bidden both to despise the chastening of the Lord, and to faint when we are rebuked of him. The evils to be avoided in all these cases come so near together, that “narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Let us take this general reflection, and apply it to a particular case. Our Lord said to his disciples—" I have chosen you out of the world.” 66 Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” And they cannot remember and feel this too powerfully ; not only when they assume a profession of religion, but in every stage of their subsequent progress. But though their inheritance is above, their residence is below. Though they are bound for glory, they are now strangers and pilgrims on the earth. Though they are not of the world, they are in it. no more,” says the Saviour,“ in the world, but these are in the world."
They are in the world, in distinction from heaven. This is the final abode of the blessed ; and this high and holy place is much more congenial with their views and feelings than the earth, where they are now left. In the natural creation, things are distinguished and separated according to their qualities ; and the Apostle asks, with regard the Church, “What communion hath light with darkness; and what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness, and what part hath he that believeth with an infidel ?" Order, therefore, seems to require that as soon as men are converted, and bear the image of the heavenly, they should go to their own company ; and not remain in " a world lying in wickedness.” But were this to be the case, the triumph would be obtained without the fight, and the prize would be reached without running the race: conversion would be always the signal of dissolution ; and religion would enter our families like an undertaker, to carry off our connexions to the grave. But there is a way; and the end of this is peace : there is a course; and this is to be finished with joy. The Jews imagined they were to possess the land flowing with milk and honey as soon as they were delivered from the house of bondage: but the wilderness was their abode for forty years; and though this condition was far better than the place from whence they came out, it was not to be compared with their destination. 66 Ye are not yet come unto the rest and the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you."
They are in the world, in opposition to the requirements of Superstition. This degrading and perverting system very early prevailed, saying, touch not, taste not, handle not : forbidding also to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and honour the truth; and inducing the votaries, if not always by command, yet by commendation, to resign their secular callings, and recede from society, and live in cells and dens and caves of the earth-which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility and neglecting of the body, not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh. But all this was really after the commandments and doctrines of men. Christianity yields it no real countenance. This is not overcoming the world, but refusing the combat. This is not fighting, but fleeing. This is putting the candle under a bushel instead of in a candlestick, where it can give light to all that are in the house. But, says the Saviour,