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I. THE UNDESIRABLE IN THE HISTORY OF THE IMMATURE CARISTIAN. What is the undesirable in the life of good men? That they should be taken out of the world. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world.” To get the full amount of truth contained in this expression, you should remark three things :
First: That the death of the good is a departure out of this world. It is not going out of existence, but merely going out of this world :-a mere change of residence.
Secondly: That this event is in the hands of God. He takes them out of the world. They do not go themselves, nor are they taken away by chance, nor by creature power. He takes them. “Thou turnest man to destruction," &c.
Thirdly: That this event is not desirable. This passage expresses the fact that it is not desirable for good men to be taken from the world. This is true in a two-fold sense. (1) In relation to themselves, and (2) To others.
(1) It is not desirable on their own account. Until they reach maturity of character they require this world. This world is furnished with all the appliances for spiritual training. Serious evils have, we conceive, arisen from what has long been, and still is, a popular notion in the Christian world; namely, that there is a necessary opposition in this world to true religion. The existence of monasteries is based upon this absurd opinion; and the current excuses which even the majority of Christian men urge for their not being more spiritual and devoted, are grounded upon the same foolish and miserable notion. Indeed from the pulpit this dogma is frequently proclaimed. The truth is, the necessary claims of the business, and the avocations, of this life, instead of being opposed to spiritual culture, are amongst the most important means of grace and facilities for spiritual training. The man, for example, who has to work hard on the soil, and by the sweat of his brow obtain the means of subsistence for himself and family, is called by that very labor to put into exercise those principles of selfdependence, perseverance, and endurance, which are essential elements in the Christian character. So he who has to take his stand in the market and engage in the barter of business, has a noble opportunity for rousing his energies, testing his honesty, sharpening his powers, and through the conduct of buyer and seller, attaining a practical knowledge at once of the nature and character of man. All experience shows that the necessary labor in these departments of operation is highly conducive to spiritual training. The men who say business is against religion, are men who are not acting on the true principles of business. The man who works in the field, the shop, or the senate house, on the principle of Godly honesty, must by the effort grow in vigor of character.
The notion we are combating is derogatory to the divine character. Were the necessary duties of this life absolutely opposed to our spiritual interests, where would be the wisdom, goodness, and justice of God in sending us into such a state, demanding from us the cultivation of a character opposed by all the circumstances of our being ? Nor is the notion more derogatory to the Divine character than it is injurious in its bearings upon man. Men are everywhere basing excuses for their religious indifference upon the supposed opposition which the world offers to it. Christians, you need the world in order to perfect you. You need its trials to humble you; you need its storms to purify the atmosphere of your heart; you need its difficulties to challenge your powers to action ; you need its changes to remind you that this is not your home ; you need its labor to invigorate your brain, on whose healthful action both your intellectual power and moral character depend. Do not as too many do, indulge in morbid sentiments of dissatisfaction with the world-you cannot dispense with it. Use it, therefore, as the farmer uses the field, to produce fruit that shall abound in after-life ; as the pupil the school, to attain a knowledge that shall fit him for high offices in time to come. Use it as the mariner the winds and waves, to bear him on to the desired haven.
(2) Nor is it desirable that they should be taken out of the world for the sake of others. The truly good are social benefactors. For them to “remain in the flesh is needful.” They are the correctors of the evil and the conservators of the good. They are the lights of the world ;—they break through the clouds of the world's errors, sensuality and vice, and bring to bear on it the radiance of eternal truth. They are the salt of the earth ;-they penetrate with their influence the mass, and prevent it from sinking into entire corruption.
When good men leave the world, the world loses their prayers, sympathies, and personal presence.
The death of a good man is the quenching of a light in our sky; the drying up of a fountain on our earth. learn to value the good ; and also to labor for others under the impression that we can only help our neighbors, children, and fellow citizens, during our short sojourn here.
II. THE DESIRABLE IN THE HISTORY CHRISTIAN What is the desirable ? It is to be kept from the evil. “But that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”
First: Evil is in the world. This is a fact too obvious to require either proof or illustration. Men
and do, differ as to the introduction of moral evil ; but they are all forced to admit the fact. The history of the world is little more than a history of its operation. It is a serpent enfolding all things in its deadly coil ; it is a dark cold mist hanging over every scene, intercepting the rays of the sun, and checking the growth of nature; it is a miasma impregnating the atmosphere and causing disease and death in every breath.
Secondly: Good men are liable to fall into evil. This is clearly implied, and this also is truth. Evil here is the ascendant principle. It is everywhere; it presses all into its service :the loftiest genius and the greatest talent. It adorns itself in all the attractions that art can furnish. It speaks in the strains of music and appears in all the fascinating forms of beauty ; it promises sensual gratification, social power, and secular wealth to its votaries. The prizes of the world are in its hand. In addition to this, there is ever in the bosoms, even
of the best of men, a susceptibility of being influenced by it. There are combustible elements which the fires of evil can kindle ; latent germs slumbering within which outward evil can quicken into life and power. “The law in the members ” is a lever in the human system always within its reach.
Add yet to this fact that there are infernal agents of evilagents whose numbers are overwhelming, whose skill and powers are immense, and whose efforts are incessant-availing themselves of every opportunity to contaminate and seduce. All these considerations are quite sufficient to show that good men while here are in danger of falling into evil. Meek-souled Moses was overcome by a gust of passion ; spiritually-minded David bowed to the power of a carnal impulse ; Peter, brave and bold, crouched into fear, and passed from cowardice to falsehood, ingratitude, and blasphemy. Indeed the history of humanity only furnishes us with the example of one who passed through the world uninfluenced by its evil. “The Prince of the world cometh and findeth nothing in Me.” Temptation fell on His nature as dew-drops on Etna's fires, as sparks on ocean waves.
Thirdly: That the falling of a good man into evil is immensely injurious. To yield to one temptation, to swerve from one principle, to give up one element of truth, is a most serious thing. It is to break down the moral fences of the soul and lay it open to every enemy. One sin may destroy peace of mind, self-respect, and, as in the case of David, send us mourning all our days. It injures our power of usefulness. One sin greatly incapacitates for good. It weakens the aim, takes emphasis from the voice and influence from the life. And in addition to all this, it unfits for Heaven. “Without holiness no man can see the Lord.” “And there shall in nowise enter in anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie, but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Rev. xxi. 27.)
Fourthly : That the power of God is necessary to prevent this falling into evil. Christ invokes the Almighty to keep
them from it. Who else can ? What arm but His can hold us above the surging waves ? What wisdom but His can guide us safe through ? “Now UNTO HIM THAT IS ABLE TO KEEP YOU FROM FALLING, AND TO PR NT YOU FAULTLESS BEFORE THE PRESENCE OF HIS GLORY WITH EXCEEDING JOY, TO THE ONLY WISE GOD OUR SAVIOUR, BE GLORY AND MAJESTY, DOMINION AND POWER, BOTH NOW
SUBJECT :-Jonah ; or, Genuine Reformation.
“ And the word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I give thee." &c. Jonah iii. 1–10.
Inalysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Thirty-sebenth. This book is a strange history of a strange man.
A man whose piety, if real, was signally defective, whose prophetic life is associated with the marvellous, and whose success as a reformer, in the rapidity, extent, and blessedness of its influence, finds no parallel in sacred history. The whole book develops at least five great practical truths. First : That the regard of Heaven was not confined to the Jewish nation. Jonah was sent to Nineveh. Secondly : That wickedness, , if persisted in, must end in ruin. Nineveh was doomed. Thirdly: That God has no pleasure in inflicting punishment, but delights in saving the penitent. Fourthly: That there is no justifiable reason, in the case even of the greatest sinners, for delaying reformation. Fifthly : That all true reformation in every land and age is of God. The reformation of Nineveh was Divine. God influenced Jonah to preach, Jonah's preaching influenced Nineveh to repent, and Nineveh's repentance led to its salvation. Our subject is Genuine Reformation ;-a subject of all others the most important. The end of all providential mercies, the theme of all Divine teachers, the indispensable condition of all true human power, dignity, and blessedness, is this.