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Again, you may, perhaps, discover to your great vexation, that untruths are told of you by careless persons behind your backs, that what you do has been misrepresented, and that in consequence a number of evil things are believed about you by the world at large. Hard though it be, you must not care for it; remembering that more untruths were told of our Saviour and His Apostles than can possibly be told of you.
Again : you may find that not only the common run of men believe what is said against you, but even those with whom you wish to stand well. But if this happens through your conscientiousness you must not mind it, but must be cheerful, leaving your case in the hand of God, and knowing that He will bring it out into the light one day or another, in His own good time.
Again : persons may try to threaten or frighten you into doing something wrong, but you must not mind that; you must be firm.
In many, very many ways you may be called upon to bear the ill-usage of the world, or to withstand its attempts to draw you from God; but you must be firm, and you must not be surprised that they should be made. You must consider that it is your very calling to bear and to withstand. This is what you offer to God as a sort of return for His great mercies to you. Did not CHRIST go through much more for you, than you can possibly be called upon to undergo for Him? Did He bear the bitter cross who was sinless, and do you who are at best so sinful, scruple to bear such
poor trials and petty inconveniences ? In conclusion, I will but call your attention to two points, to which what I have said leads me.
First ; Do not be too eager to suppose you are ill-treated for your religion's sake. Make as light of matters as you can. And beware of being severe on those who lead careless lives, or whom
you think or know to be ill-treating you. Do not dwell on such matters. Turn your mind away from them. Avoid all gloominess. Be kind and gentle to those who are perverse, and you will very often, please God, gain them over. You should pray for those who lead careless lives, and especially if they are unkind to you.
Who knows but God may hear your prayers, and turn their hearts, and bring them over to you? Do everything for them but imitate them and yield to them. This is the true Christian spirit, to be meek and gentle under ill-usage, cheerful under slander, forgiving towards enemies, and silent in the midst of angry tongues.
Secondly, I would say, recollect you cannot do any one thing of all the duties I have been speaking of, without God's help. Any one who attempts to resist the world, or to do other good things by his own strength, will be sure to fall. We can do good things, but it is when God gives us power to do them. Therefore we must pray to Him for the power. When we are brought into temptation of any kind, we should lift up our hearts to God. We should say to Him,
“ Good LORD deliver us.” Our LORD, when He was going away, promised to His disciples a Comforter instead of HIMSELF; that was God the Holy Ghost, who is still among us, (though we see Him not,) as Christ was with the Apostles. He has come in order to enlighten us, guide us in the right way, and in the end bring us to Christ in heaven. And He came down, as His name “ Comforter" shows, especially to stand by, and comfort, and strengthen those who are in any trouble, particularly trouble from irreligious men. The disciples, when Christ went, had to go through much trouble, and therefore He comforted them by the coming of the Holy and Eternal SPIRIT, the Third Person in the Blessed Trinity.
“These things I have spoken unto you," He says, “that in Me ye might have peace; in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world 4.” When, then, religious persons are in low spirits, or are any way grieved at the difficulties which the world puts in their way, when they earnestly desire to do their duty, yet feel how weak they are, let them recollect that they are “not their own,” but “ bought with a price,” and the dwelling-places and temples of the All-gracious Spirit.
Lastly; I am quite sure that none of us, even the best, have resisted the world as we ought to have done. Our faces have not been like flints; we have been afraid of their words, and dismayed at their looks, and we have yielded at times to the world against our better judgment. We have fancied, forsooth, it could do us some harm while we kept to the commandments of God. Let us search our consciences; let us look back on our past lives. Let
4 John xvi. 33.
us try to purify and cleanse our hearts in God's sight. Let us try to live more like Christians, more like children of God. earnestly beg of God to teach us more simply and clearly what our duty is. Let us beg of Him to give us the heart to love Him, and true repentance for what is past. Let us beg Him to teach us how to confess Him before men, lest if we deny Him now, HE will deny us before the angels of God hereafter.
DOING GLORY TO GOD IN PURSUITS OF THE WORLD.
1 Cor. x. 31.
“ Whether, therefore, ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory
When persons are convinced that life is short, that it is unequal to any great purpose, that it does not display adequately, or bring to perfection the true Christian, when they feel that the next life is all in all, and that eternity is the only subject that really can claim or can fill their thoughts, then they are apt to undervalue this life altogether, and to forget its real importance. They are apt to wish to spend the time of their sojourning here in a positive separation from active and social duties : yet it should be recollected that the employments of this world, though not themselves heavenly, are, after all, the way to heaven-though not the fruit, are the seed of immortality—and are valuable, though not in themselves, yet for that to which they lead : but it is difficult to realize this. It is difficult to realize both truths at once, and to connect both truths together; steadily to contemplate the life to come, yet to act in this. Those who meditate, are likely to neglect those active duties which are, in fact, incumbent on them, and to dwell upon the thought of God's glory, till they forget to act to His glory. This state of mind is chided in figure in the words of the holy angels to the Apostles, when they say, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?"
In various ways do thought of the next world lead men
1 Acts i. 11.
to neglect their duty in this; and whenever it does so we may be sure that there is something wrong and unchristian, not in their thinking of the next world, but in their manner of thinking of it. For though the contemplation of God's glory may in certain times and persons allowably interfere with the active employments of life, as in the case of the Apostles when our Saviour ascended, and though such contemplation is even freely allowed or commanded us at certain times of each day; yet that is not a real and true meditation on Christ, but some counterfeit, which makes us dream away our time, or become habitually indolent, or which withdraws us from our existing duties, or unsettles us.
Yet the thought of the world unseen is apt to do so in various ways, and the worst way of all is when we have taken up a notion that it ought to do so. And indeed this is a temptation to which persons who desire to be religious are exposed in one shape or another in every age, and in this age as well as in times past. Men come to fancy that to lose taste and patience for the businesses of this life is renouncing the world and becoming spiritually-minded. We will say a person has been thoughtless and irreligious ; perhaps openly so; or at least careless about religion, and though innocent of any flagrant sin, yet a follower of his own will and fancy, and unpractised in any regular and consistent course of religion. He has, perhaps, been outwardly respectful to sacred things and persons, but has had no serious thoughts about the next world. He has taken good and evil-religion and the world—as they came, first one and then the other, without much consideration. He has been fond of gaiety and amusements, or he has been deeply interested in some pursuit or other of time and sense,—whether it be his own trade or profession, or some of the studies and employments now popular. He has fallen in with the ways of the company in which he has found himself; has been profane with the profane; then, again, has had for a season religious impressions, which in turn have worn away. Thus he has lived, and something has then occurred really to rouse him and give him what is called a serious turn. Such a person, man or woman, young or old, certainly does need to take a serious turn, does require a change; and no one but must be very glad to hear that a change has taken place, though at the same time there may be changes not much better than