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CHRISTIANS BOUND TO DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES FROM THE WORLD.
MINISTER OF A CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH, HARPERSFIELD,
MATTHEW V. xlvii.
HE who knew what was in man, addressed him. self directly to the heart. His mode of teaching was calculated to bring out to view every trait in the human character; and to shew, not only to others, but to ourselves, what we are. That strong propensity in human nature to conform to a sinful world is particularly condemned; and christians are called upon to distinguish themselves from others, by their piety and good works. Christianity requires activity. He who would be a follower of Him, who went about doing good,' must not indulge in sloth and inactivity; but, like a watchman, must be constantly on his guard against a subtle enemy, and ever ready to answer the calls of his Lord and Master.
The eyes of the Jews were upon Christ and his disciples: The eyes of the world are upon us. Man. kind estimate the christian religion, by the lives of christian professors.
In order to prepare the minds of his disciples for that vital and active piety, which he was about to inculcate, the Saviour brings out to their view, in the context, the character and life of sinners. In the 43d
verse, he says : 'Ye have heard that it has been said, thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.' This was the very dictate of the natural heart. • But I say unto you, love your enemies ; bless them, that curse you ; do good to them that hate you ; and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you, For if ye love them, which love you,' what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethern only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so?'
This question contained in the text, may be justly considered as amounting to a positive injunction : · Christians, it is my expectation-it is my will, that ye do more than others. Others love themselves, and love those who promote their personal interest; s. but you must have that general benevolence, that & love to God and man, which shall enable you to do 'good to your enemies, and to stand ready to sacri. <fice your
lives in the service of God.' Are these hard sayings ? Does the Redeemer of men require more of his elect, than is reasonable ? By no means: the Master whom we serve, is not hard, or austere.
To impress upon your minds the reasonableness of our Saviour's requirement, that christians should do more than others, I observe,
1st. More is done for christians, than for others.
True salvation is purchased for the whole world. But such is the depravity of human nature, that men, unassisted by special grace, will not come unto Christ, that they may have life. By nature christians are as perverse and obstinate as others. But to them, God has, in infinite mercy, granted this spe,
. cial grace, this richest of heavenly gifts, without which, all other blessings were in vain. Their proud hearts have been humbled; their blind eyes have been opened. The snares of the devil, in which they have been entangled, have been broken, and his
dominion over them, abolished. God, by an outstretched arm, hath brought them out of darkness, into his marvelous light. They are made to behold the beauty of religion, and the glories of the heaven. ly world; and, forgetting the things which are be
!; hind, they are enabled to press forward towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God, in Christ Jesus.
While others are without any rational hope, and without God in the world, they are from time to time, blessed with his cheering presence, and animated with the light of his countenance. The evidence of their title to an inheritance among the saints in light, is constantly brightening; their views of heaven are constantly enlarging; and, although they are oppressed with all those trials and calamities incident to human nature, they are borne up and supported by that glorious promise, all things shall work together for good to them that love God.'
Can those then, on whom the richest of heaven's blessings have been lavished ; for whom such mir. racles of mercy have been wrought, question their obligation to do more than others ?
2dly. Believers should do more than others, because they stand in a nearer relation to God. The nearer the relation the greater the obligation. In this respect believers on earth, are under greater obligation, than angels in heaven. Angels stand in the relation of servants to their Lord; but believers are more closely united. Christ is the head, and they are the members. They are not only in common with the children of the world created of God; but they are born of God. A son honoreth his father, if then, says God, I be a father, where is mine honor ?
Every believer is a member of Christ's body, the church. He is united to the father through faith in the Son, as the branches are united to the vine.
From this near relation of believers to God, their obligations are enhanced; they are bound to do more than others; to be more holy, more devoted to the cause of God. In a peculiar manner ought they to be patterns and examples in piety, in humility, in meekness, and in faith. To be externally religious, to maintain good outward conduct, without possess. ing a spirit of true piety, will not come up to the obligations of believers. The Pharisees were very scrupulous in their observance of the Jewish law, burdened as it was with rights and ceremonies; but our Lord in his public preaching, assured his hearers, that except their righteousness exceeded the righteousness of the Scribes and Farisees, they should in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.
The near relation of believers to God is a reason why they should not yield themselves the servants of sin. They in an essential manner are bound to serve God in spirit and in truth. Denying ungodliness, they, should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present evil world. God expresses his astonishment at the conduct of christians. 'Here O heavens, and give ear O earth; I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me!' Believers standing to God, in the relation of children to a father, are bound to honor and reverence him; to discover an attachment to his interest, to walk as Christ walked.
The Roman Censors took such a dislike to the son of Scipio Africanus, that they plucked the ring from his finger, on which was engraved the image of his father. They would not suffer the degenerate son, who had none of the virtues of his father, to wear his picture. Shall those walk in darkness, whose father is light; who ought to be the first to reverence and to adore him!
3d. Christians should do more than others, because they profess more. As trees are know by their fruits,