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en world forever; might sow the seeds of inebriation in the appetite of every child, till one generation after another shall go down to hell rapidly, as a merciful God shall be provoked to execute his law, till at length this lost world would become depopulated, and no millennial period ever come. Ask Paul to prescribe, and he would
“ Touch not, taste not, handle not." Sin is one of the things with which we can make no covenant. It is like fire; we are scorched to death while we parley with it. Let me illustrate my views by an anecdote. A neighbour of my father's, a merchant, is said to have been in his store one evening, ånd snuffed his candle and threw the ignited wick into a barrel of powder. Quick as thought he thrust in his hand and took it out, but was afterward on the point of fainting when he reflected on the danger he had been in. This was told me as a fact in my childhood. Be it doubted if you choose, still it illustrates the danger of dabbling with sin. He might not deliberate, nor ask counsel, nor proceed moderately, or he and his family had perished. Just so with sin: to parley with it is ruin, to be intimate with it is death, to abide under its power is hell.
Paul was wise in keeping no measures with idolatry. Whether to destroy it, or save his brethren, or himself, or honour Christ, was his highest object, his conduct was noble. To flee from it, and have no fellowship with its even if he must never taste flesh while the world stood, was the very course of heavenly wisdom. He would thus render ashamed the worshippers of idols, would exert the strongest influence on the infant church, and best honour and please his Master.
But the question will rise, Are we obligated by Paul's example? We surely are. He was teaching the truth of God under the infallible guidance of his Spirit; and whether he advances that truth in the form of exhortation, or of logical argument, or expostulation, or states the resolve to which the Spirit's influence had brought his own mind, I know of no argument by which we can repel the truth under one of these forms of instruction rather than another. I know of no sentiment more dangerous than thus to cavil at truth because taught by men we hate, or in any particular form of language. We could easily in this way destroy the influence of more than half the Bible.
And besides there was nothing unreasonable in his resolve. There would be no danger to health or life from the entire abstinence from meat which he proposes. And the object to be gained was worth the sacrifice. And moreover, the gospel enjoins self-denial on every Christian, and promises heaven on the express condition that we deny ourselves and take up the cross and follow Christ. It would seem surprising, then, if any should doubt but that the apostle was inspired to teach the churches this high principle of benevolence, practised at the expense of a long protracted course of self-denial. It is that redeeming principle that has saved the church, and will save the world. Till Christians understand it, and act upon it, they have not learned the heavenly art of being useful; and if they may even hope to reach heaven, must assuredly calculate to be in that world stars of the smallest magnitude.
In applying further the principle which actuated the apostle in the case we have reviewed, I would say, in the
1. Place, That honesty should lead every believer to its adoption. We profess to have passed from death unto life, to have been plucked as brands from the burning. And we see those around us who are urging their
way to hell, and we profess to love them. If possible, they should be stopped in their career. And if there is the most forlorn hope that our example would do any thing to stop them, our example should be employed. Else how can we be honest in our profession. If idle ness is destroying souls, (and probably few sins are destroying more, how can we be honest if we will not refrain from wasting precious hours with prayerless idlers, who, in the hordes that indolence collects around them, are learning and teaching the deadliest principles and the most polluting practices? And if drunkenness is destroying souls, how can we be honest in our profession of benevolence, if there is any amount of sacrifice within power
that we will not make to dam up and dry up this broad, and deep, and dark river of death, that is bearing down to hell such a mighty congregation.
2. Consistency of character should lead us to adopt this high principle of Christian benevolence. We profess, as Christians, that religion has a value paramount to all other interests combined. We believe that interrogatory assertion, that the whole world is not to be compared in value to a soul. Hence any sacrifice possible should be made to save a soul; and if the world see us ready to make none, will God save our character ?
Believers are accustomed to pray that the kingdom of Christ may come,
be converted and saved, and we profess to be asking for large favours. But when we have risen from our knees, and it is seen that' we can practice no self-denial to have our prayers answered, can we hope to conceal our hypocrisy? Can we have any consistency of character in the world's estimation ? Will they hear us pray? Will they have any faith in our tears ? No, none. 3. It will be seen, of course, that we cannot be useful
that men may
in the absence of this high principle of Christian benevolence. The world honours and believes the man whose actions tally with his tears and his professions. By him they will be influenced. But they must not see us trying to escape the cross. They must not hear us pray, and then not see us do. We may not rebuke their profaneness, nor their Sabbath-breaking, nor their gambling, and then edge along as near as may be to the very
crimes we have rebuked. We may not reprobate their intemperance, and yet drink temperately with them out of the same cup. We do them no good by our admonitions. They will wield dexterously that motto, “Physician, heal thyself.” Believ rs should not forget that though they may have learned more than other men of Bible truth, yet in native unsanctified cunning, the men of the world are before them, and will perceive a discrepancy of character even sooner perhaps than themselves. 66 The children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light."
4. Without that spirit of high Christian benevolence which will lead us to make great sacrifices to bless our fellow-men, our religion will not render us happy. The child of God is happy in doing good. In this God is happy. When he had built the world and made man, he surveyed his works with delight because they were all good. When we cannot reflect that we have done good, the mind corrodes itself and is put to pain.
Finally. We cannot be safe while wanting this spirit of Christian benevolenee. Every soul that is born of God has it. It is that most prominent feature of the divine image that was lost in the fall and is restored in regeneration. "If one loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen." " Hereby shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love to one another."
THE CONCENTRATED RESULTS OF THE GOSPEL.
Isaiah liv, 13. And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the
peace of thy children.
In the preceding chapter there is brought into view the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the blessed effects of his death upon the beings whom he died to redeem. 6. He shall see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” Under that new dispensation which his mission should introduce, the barren should sing and the desolate become fruitful. · The church is directed to “enlarge the place of her tent, and stretch forth the curtains of her habitation," with the assurance of a large increase of her spiritual offspring. She shall branch forth on the right hand and on the left, shall inherit the Gentiles, shall forget the shame of her youth, and wipe off the reproach of her widowhood. Her Maker, the Lord of Hosts will be her husband; and the Holy One of Israel, the God of the whole earth her Redeemer. "In a little wrath God hid his face from her for a moment, but will now, with everlasting kindness, have mercy on her.”
This language, though highly figurative, is yet easily understood. The prophet evidently looked forward to gospel times, and sung of a period then very distant, but in its events more glorious than any that had gone by. We can easily believe that he had at length a distant but delightful view of the present period, and pleased his soul with the very scenes that are now transpiring before