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vanity, for the self idolatry it prompts, for the exclusion of all serious thought it produces, and for the crime it occasions, in order to compass its indulgence! Alas! for the retribution to be awarded when the hungry, and the naked, and the houseless, shall claim from the common Father of all their share of this wasted superfluity, and he shall demand it'at their hands to whom his providence committed it as a talent to be improved to his glory!
Hearken, my dear brethren, There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumpluously every day : and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. And it came to pass that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom : the rich man also died and was buried ; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me ; and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue ; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted and thou art tormented—and learn from tbis impressive parable what the pomps and vanities of this. world end in, and be no longer faithless, but believing.
And what can more deeply condemn the vain amusements of the world than the incitement they present, and the opportunity they furnish for the sinful indulgence of these vicious gratifications. Without a theatre for their display, the wasteful extravagance of entertainment, and unscriptural excess of adornment would come to an end. Deprive the theatres, and ball rooms, and other debaucheries of the world of the countedance of Christian parents and their families, they will soon be abandoned by the more orderly and moral of the non-professing part of the community, and finally by all but the dissolute and the profligate.
Do not Christians, then, owe this much to the consistency of their profession ? Yes, they owe it to the safety of their own souls to the souls of those for whom they have covenanted
with God, and to good example in the world. Besides, did Christians but reflect what causes and occasions of sin are furnished by all those sources of dissipation, in the sight of that pure and holy Being who condemns the idolatry of the heart, and the adultery of the eye, equally with the actual commission of the sin, surely none, who regard even the name of Christian, could again be prevailed on to' enter the temple of vanity—to sacrifice to the Moloch of the world's idolatry and sensuality the sober joy and holy hope which cheers the heart, aniinates the life, and makes peaceful the death of the humble believer, who by faith overcomes the world, and lays hold on eternal life.
III. Thirdly, and to conclude: the considerations which are calculated to enforce the exhortation of
the communicants of the Church, are, the quality of the things themselves, their connexion with our spiritual condition, and, the personal undertaking of every professor of religion.
The quality of worldly engagements and worldly delights is, necessarily, hostile to the spirit of religion ; and the very name implies as much. Were they not of the world in the bad sense of these words, were they neutral even, in regard to moral effectas too many wish to think them, and not intrinsically opposed to the sobriety and watchfulness of a momentary existence connected with eternal retribution, so much pains never would have been taken by the wisdom of God, as we see is taken to warn mankind at large, and Christians in particular, against their dangerous effects. This consideration is of itself sulhcient, my brethren, to enforce the self-denials to which communicants are pledged, and on which their salvation so absolutely depends.
When we add to this the connexion of the things that are in the world with our spiritual condition, another consideration of deep interest to the Christian, and well calculated to fortify the soul against their ensnaring effects, is presented to our notice.
For, however valued, however followed, however dearly purchased, by the thousands who give their souls in exchange, they are in themselves of no real worth to the most pressing want of a fallen sinner. They cannot give to God a ransom for their owners, nor redeem them from the power of the grave. Before sin entered into the world they found no place in it, and when sin shall be confined in the lake of fire they will be shut out from the blessed abode of the righteous. The happiness of heaven will have no connexion with those perishing gratifications which sin hath entailed on our mortal nature.
This consideration, therefore, ought to fortify the believer against the seducing influence of their deceitful promises. In the present life, they are, to the Christian, the trial of his faith and love; and his everlasting freedom from all their disquieting temptations depends on his overcoming them now. In the present life they form the test of his spiritual condition to the believer. As his desires determine to the world or to God, so is he earthly and sensual, or heavenly minded and spiritual. The communicant, therefore, who conforms to the world in the pursuits and indulgences of its idolatry, or who mingles with the giddy followers of its time-wasting, thought-excluding, soulensnaring dissipations, does thereby give most unhappy proof that the spirit of the world and not the Spirit of Christ, bears rule in his heart, and, consequently, that the love of the Father is not in him.
Above all, the personal undertaking of every professor of religion being the renunciation of the world in all those things which mark so clearly its alienation from God, this consideration should give force to all the others, and combine them into one commanding restraint of every inordinate and sinful desire of the honours and pleasures of the world. To the communicants of the Church, in particular, this consideration should be of the utmost weight. For they have not only by implication and as a consequence of their profession, renounced the world, but specifically at their baptism, and again in their confirmation bave renounced “the vain pomp and glory of the world with all covetous desires of the same,” as fully as they have renounced “ the devil and all his works.” This obligation they solemnly renew over the broken body and shed blood of their Saviour in the sacrament of his death, the highest and the holiest of all conceivable engagements. And may God grant that those who are this day to give this solemn pledge of amended life may gladly suffer the word of exhortation, and so discern the Lord's body, as to put away from themselves and their families whatever can bring reproach on the name of Christ-scandal on his Church-and ruin on their own souls.
Now, to God the Father-God the Son—and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed the glory and praise due to the only living and true God, by all creatures, now and for ever more. Amen.
2 CORINTHIANS Xüï. 5.
" Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves."
Need I say to you, my brethren and bearers, that among those subjects of thought and reflection which occupy the anxieties of the present life, the consideration of our place in the divine favour, and of the ground on which it is entertained, is unspeakably the most important ?-Surely this is not needed by any now
Yet it is equally sure, I apprehend, that there are many present, by whom neither time or thought is given to this great interest, and to whom it must be profitable to be reminded of the one thing needful; and to be counselled and exhorted, that amid the business and the pleasures of the world, time should be taken to consider the worth of eternity, and to prove your expectations of its endless and unchangeable sanction, by the unerring standard of God's most holy and most merciful revelation to his creatures. Was it so, indeed, that we could not err, and err fatally, too, in our religious belief and practice, no occasion could have been found for the apostle to press this duty upon his converts, nor would it be necessary to repeat the exhortation continually to Christian people. But, as the danger was imminent in the beginning of Christianity, as experience proves that it has not lessened in the progress of the gospel, as corruptions have multiplied, and indifference has increased, so has it become a more imperious duty for Christians to institute this examination and proof of their religious condition, and according to the result to estimate their hope for hereafter.
To deceive ourselves on this subject, is to be undone for ever, my hearers; and with such an alternative at stake, and with such effectual means to determine the point, the equity of our own hearts must decide that indifference, even to the event,