« AnteriorContinuar »
swearing, and blaspheming the name of God; and practising every shift of cunning, and every art of secret dishonesty, in order to obtain a supply of money, that they may spend it upon their vices ! brethren, are the constant scenes which the . world presents to our passions; and when we consider how much we are given to follow whatever we see that is bad, we shall find reason to bless God, that He has fur. nished us with a shield, even ourfaith, against the danger and destruction of such a terrible enemy as bad examples.
Another foe which we have to fear from the world is, its bad principles. Men, in general, seem to live by every other rule than the law of Gon. They appear to consider this life as their only one; and merely to think and contrive how they may pass it most pleasantly, and to best advantage.
- Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,” is the principle on which most around us act; and God knows, we are all too ready 'to fall in with the opinion ; and to “ go with the multitude." crowd which no man can number, giving themselves up entirely to their passions ; spending their time in the lusts of the flesh
; in sinful pleasures ; in dishonest practices; or wicked idleness; and taking thought of
We see a
to-morrow, for no other purpose, than to he able to spend it as idly or as sinfully as day. Now all this is very dangerous to flesh and blood; and there would not only be a great hazard, but a certainty also, of our taking up the same principle, “let "s us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die;" had we not that great provision for our security, which God has been pleased offer to us, (if we will accept of it,) even our faith; by which we may obtain the victory, and overcome this other enemy that the world arms against our souls.
But, the world has yet another foe in store for him who is desirous of being a good christian,—the derision and ridicule of the wicked and profane ; who, as they are lost themselves, are desirous of plunging others in the same perdition.
There are few things which we can so ill bear, as being ridiculed, or laughed at.
Pride is the great sin of man; not confined to the great and lofty ones of the earth, but found also in every rank and degree of mankind. Derision wounds our pride, and makes us ashamed of ourselves ; to avoid it, therefore, we make any sacrifices ; and frequently do that which we know to be wrong, rather than render ourselves liable to be sneered at by those around us. Now, wicked men
are very apt to take advantage of this weakness in human nature. Wher, therefore, they cannot prevail upon the good christian to act against his duty by other means, they will laugh at him for fulfilling it. They will tell him, that he is a meanspirited creature; in bondage to imaginary fears. They will ridicule his decent manners;
and call his endeavour to please God, by coarse or ridiculous names. They will scoff at his regular attendance on the duties of public worship, his strict observance of the LORD's day; and his regard to fulfil all his duties to his family at home. All this, my friends, is very trying to fallen man; and, perhaps, no enemy of our salvation is more difficult to withstand, than such an attack upon our weakest part; our pride of heart ; but, thanks be to GOD! we are still provided with a defence against the trial; for St. John has pointed out in the text a principle, which, if we have recourse to it, will bring us off from the battle more than conquer, ors: “Whosoever is born of God, overcometh the world, and this is the victory which overcometh the world; even our faith.”
This leads me, in the second place, to shew. you in what manner qur faith overcomes the enemies which the world raises against us.
The word faith, my
friends, seems to be more talked of than felt; and strange accounts are given of it by some people, as if it were a thing very difficult both ta be obtained and comprehended. But, happily for 'the poor and ignorant part of mankind, every man may easily possess it, and readily find its meaning. It is, indeed, the gift of God, but it is a gift ever* ready to be bestowed. If the heart be right towards God, and the christian be desirous of pleasing him ; he may, by sincere prayer, by searching or hearing the scriptures, and by doing what those scrip'tures command, always obtain, . from the Father of lights, that faith which will save his soul. We may also as easily understand what it is; since faith is nothing more than a firm belief of the truth of every tittle in the word of God; particularly of that great article of it, that Jesus CHRSST came into the world, and was crucified, to save sinners. But this belief, in order to make it a saving faith, must not rest in the understanding, but descend into the heart, and there have supreme command. It must subdue our wicked passions : controul .our improper desires; and get the better of all our un. christian and uncharitable dispositions. It must become a great principle of action; to regulate all our behaviour towards GOD,
and towards man. It must be a substance, and not a name; something that may appear in the life, as well as be heard from the lips. This is the faith which overcometh the world; and he who is so happy as to possess it, will then have an instrument in his hands, (called by St. Paul “ the shield of faith,”) that will strengthen him to resist every enemy which the world may plane around him.' Does bad example, for ipstance, tempt him to the sins of impurity? His faith will guard him against it, by telling him, “ thać < no whoremonger, nor unclean person, shall “ inherit the kingdom of Heaven ; but shall “ be cast into outer darkness, where the “ worm dieth not, and the fire is not
quenched.” Does the saine enemy tempt him to fraud, injustice, or oppression ; to acts of secret dishonesty, or open violence ? His faith will be his defence, by suggesting these words of inspiration to him: “Do “ violence to no man; nor defraud your “ brother in any matter ; because the LORD “ is the avenger of all such.” 66 is hidden from Him with whom we have “ to do;" “ for He is about our path, and « about our bed, and, spieth out all our “ ways.” Is he in danger of being seduced, by the wicked principles of the world, into a loose disorderly life ; to eat and