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THE MAN OF GOD DISTINGUISHED.
JOHN XV. 19.
“ Ye are not of the world."
It has always been the wish of the enemies of the truth, to amalgamate the church with the world. They gain by this means, in their estimation, several distinct, and important advantages. Hence a gospel is current, that bends all its efforts, to do away the distinctions, between God's people, and the men of the world. The christian character is let down, till all its beauty, and all its honours are in the dust. It is plead that the christian need not differ widely from other men. He may retain his evil heart of unbelief, may pursue the world as he has done, may cultivate the same pride of character, may bury himself in scenes of dissipation, and may be, in all respects, the same man of the world, as previously to his hope and his profession. If he should sometimes be profane, and occasionally gamble, and be habitually hard, bordering upon roguery, in his commerce, and trifle with scripture, and sing a merry song, or be overtaken by any vice that is fashionable, that is not low and vulgar; all this is permitted to affix no stain upon his christian char
He may be in full league with the guilty population of the apostacy, need perform no duties, nor embrace any doctrines, not relished by the ungodly, nor encompass himself with any of that sacredness of character that brings a sword. Thus the man of God is robbed of every feature of holiness, that can possibly distinguish him from the mass of the ungodly,; and the men of the world have only to adopt the creed, and make oath to the covenant, and come to the consecrated table, and the work is done.
They need have no knowledge of that new birth, which the Lord Jesus pressed upon Nicodemus; need not be translated out of darkness into marvel-, lous light, and from the power of sin and satan unto God; need not disturb themselves with repentance, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, nor exhibit that transformation of character, which shall evince them risen with Christ, and seeking those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Thus the Lord Jesus is made to martial a band of miscreants. He has the attitude of a rebellious prince, who mingles with a multitude of rebels, enlists them under his banners, demanding neither loyalty nor duty, and winks at all the deeds of wrong and of outrage, which they have committed against the throne and the kingdom. In pursuing the subject, I shall give a scriptural account of the secluded character of believers, and show,
that their amalgamation with the world, will both injure them, and the ungodly with whom they are associated.
I. I am to give a scriptural account of the secluded character of the believer. Said an apostle, to those who believe in Christ, and to whom he is precious, “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into marvellous light.” And said another apostle, “ Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? and what communion hath light with darkness ? and what concord hath Christ with belial ? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols ? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye seperate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you ; and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” I have made this long quotation, because almost every clause bespeaks the secluded character of the believer.
Said our Lord to his disciples, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but be
cause ýe are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore shall the world hate you." Often did he say, that none could be his disciples, but such as would deny themselves, and take up their cross and follow him.
Now the very idea of a church, implies a secluded and peculiar people. Why have any creed, or covenant, or discipline, but that God's people must have a character, and perform duties, and sustain relationships, that belong not to the world at large. I know there is a sense in which they must both grow together until the harvest.
God's people must stay in this world till they have ripened for heaven ; but they may be in the world, and still be the secluded, and retiring, and peculiar, and heavenly minded people, which God requires them
Hence to amalgamate the church with the world, is to thwart the divine plan, and join what God has sundered. The purpose of God to give his people at last a world by themselves, and publicly seperate them from the ungodly in the scene of the judgment, placing the sheep on the right hand, and the goats on the left; speaks plainly that distinctness of character, interest, and condition, which becomes them, and is enjoined upon them, in the present life. In no scripture are they confounded with the unregenerate. Their distinctness is kept up, through the whole series of epithets given them in the book of God; Saint and sinner, clean
and unclean, righteous and wicked, holy and unholy, believer and unbeliever, godly and ungodly.
II. The amalgamation of God's people with the world will injure them. Men have shown great zeal, in proselyting the world to a visible fellowship with the church, as if all that is desirable were gained, when men are brought to put on the garb of piety. But assuredly nothing is gained to the church. She receives no accession of strength, or beauty, when the multitudes of the ungodly come to her solemn feasts, and enter the inclosures of her covenant.
of God that goes out to wage war with sin, and darkness, and misery, can operate with far more efficiency, when none are enlisted but the loyal. Permit the enemy to enter the sacred enclosures of Zion, and what can you hope for, but that in the time of the siege, they will betray her interests, and open her gates to the enemy?
It is when the church is pure as Christ would have her, that she can know her strength, and however small her numbers, can defend her interests and preserve her honours. But when polluted with a mass of unregeneracy, she is paralized and exposed. She moves to every onset, wielding a burden, that renders impossible every prompt and vigorous exertion. So the host of Gideon, while it embraced thousands who were afraid, could achieve nothing. The three hundred when seperated from the multitude, could do more than thirty thousand,