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STUPIDITY UNDER CHASTISEMENT proves a man to be under declension. He is not disposed to ask, Wherefore dost thou contend with me? He is kicking against the pricks. He is stricken, but has not grieved. He is chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke.
Such a man, too, has often a HIGH MIND. He is unhumbled--boasting-stout-hearted. He is ready to censure every one but himself.
UNNECESSARY OCCUPATION is another evidence of declension. Some men are unavoidably much engaged in the world : to such men God will give especial grace, if they seek it; and they shall maintain a spirit of devotion even in the bustle and occupation of their affairs. But some men will be rich, and therefore fall into temptation and a snare: they will have shops in different parts of the town : they say they do not feel this affect their religious state: but I cannot believe them : a man is declined from God before he enters on such schemes: a spiritual and devout man will generally find the business in which he is already engaged a sufficient snare.
In short, the Symptoms may be this or that, but the disease is a dead palsy. Ephraim !-he hath mixed himself among the people : Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not : yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth it not.
ASSOCIATING WITH IRRELIGIOUS PERSONS FOR
is an example to us of entering into mixed society. But our imitation of him herein must admit of restrictions. A feeble man must avoid danger. If any one could go
into society as Christ did, then let him go: let him attend marriage-feasts and Pharisees' houses.
Much depends on a Christian's observing his call-the openings which Providence may make before him. It is not enough to say that he frequents public company in order to retard the
progress of evil.
But, when in company of people of the world, we should treat them kindly and tenderly- , with feeling and compassion. They should be assisted, if they are inclined to receive assistance. But if a Christian falls into the society of a mere worldling, it must be like the meeting of two persons in rain, they will part as soon as possible. If a man loves such company, it is an evil symptom.
It is a Christian's duty to maintain a kind intercourse, if practicable, with his relatives. And he must DULY APPRECIATE THEIR STATE: if not religious, they cannot see and feel and taste his enjoyments: they accommodate themselves to him, and he accommodates himself to them. It is much a matter of accommodation on both sides.
AVOID DISGUSTING SUCH FRIENDS UNNECESSARILY. A precise man, for instance, must be humoured. Your friends set down your religion, perhaps, as a case of humour. CULTIVATE GOOD SENSE. If
perceive you weak in any part of your views and conduct, they will think you weak in your religion.
Avoid VAIN JANGLING.. There is a disposition in such friends to avoid important and pinching truth. If you WILL converse with them on the subject of religion, they will often endeavour to draw you on to such points as predestination. They will ask
think of the salvation of infants and of the heathen. All this is meant to throw out the great question.
SEIZE FAVOURABLE OCCASIONS--not only the “ mollia tempora fandi;" but when public characters and public events furnish occasions of profitable reflection. Bring before your friends THE EXTREME CHILD
OF A SINFUL STATE. Treat worldly amusements as puerile things. People of the world are sick at heart of their very pleasures. :
belongs to our very relation to God, to set apart a portion of our time for his service: but, as it might have been difficult for conscience to determine what that portion should be, God has prescribed it: and the ground of the observancé remains the same, whether the remembrance of God's resting from his work, or any other reason, be assigned as the more immediate cause.
The Jewish Sabbath was partly of political institution, and partly of moral obligation. So far as it was a political appointment, designed to préserve the Jews distinct from other nations, it is abrogated: so far as it was of moral obligation, it remains in force.
Our Lord evidently designed to relax the strictness of the observance. Christianity is not a hedge placed round a peculiar people. A slave might enter into the spirit of Christianity, though obliged to work as a slave on the Sabbath: he might be in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, though in the mines of Patmos.
Difficulties often arise in respect to the observance of the Sabbath. I tell conscientious persons, If you have the spirit of Christianity, and are in an employment contrary to Christianity, you will labour to escape from it, and God will open your way,” If such a man's heart be right, he will not throw himself out of his employment the first day he suspects himself to be wrong, but he will pray and wait till his way shall be opened before him.
Christ came not to abolish the Sabbath, but to explain and enforce it, as he did the rest of the Law. Its observance was no where positively enjoined by him, because Christianity was to be practicable, and was to go into all nations: and it goes thither stripped of its precise and various circumstances. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day, seems to be the soul of the Christian Sabbath.
In this view of the day, a thousand frivolous questions concerning its' observance would be answered. What can I do?" says one: I answer, “Do what true servants of God will do. Bend not to what is wrong. Be in the Spirit. God will help you.”
In short, we are going to spend a Sabbath in Eternity. The Christian will acquire as much of the Sabbath-spirit as he can. And, in proportion to a man's real piety in every age of the Church, he will be found to have been a diligent observer of the Sabbath-Day.