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a dark place, and do you look upon heaven
O for one celestial ray
SEPARATION FROM THE WORLD. "Be ye separate, saith the Lord.”—2 COR. vi. 17. The church and the world are distinct. The one comprises the friends of Christ, the other his foes. The one is in union with his person, the other lies in the Wicked One. The church, as chosen in Christ, as redeemed by Christ, as sanctified by the Spirit of Christ, as justified in the righteousness of Christ, as baptized into Christ, as having put on Christ, as set apart for the glory of Christ, as expecting to reign with Christ, is expected to be distinguishable from the world. Chosen to be holy. Called with an holy calling. The temples of the Holy Ghost. They are required to be holy in the whole of their behaviour. But one of the crying sins of the day is, the mixing up of the church with the world, and the imitating of the world by the church in dress, amusements, and general practices. Out of the religious meeting it is often next to impossible to distinguish between professed christians and others. They are almost as like as two peas. Yet they are exhorted not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. They are imperatively
commanded to come out, and be separate. We wonder not that we preach in vain, that religion declines, that our churches decrease, or that the progress of conversions does not keep pace with the increase of the popula. tion. The Spirit of God is grieved, and withdraws his influence. The Lord Jesus is wounded in the house of his friends, and will not exert his power. Our heavenly Father is dishonoured, and says, “I will go and return to my place, until they acknowledge their iniquity: in their affliction they will seek me early." Let me illustrate my sub. ject by two or three facts.
There is a church, it has the gospel, a good chapel, and a talented minister. Once con versions were common and numerous, now they are very rare. The congregation was very large, but it has sadly decreased. The church stood out in bold relief from the world, now it is very like the world. The Sabbath school was presided over by poor, praying, hard-working men, and many of the children were brought to God. Now the teachers are educated, respectable, and talented; the school is full of wicked and unruly children, but seldom are they brought to Christ. The Mutual Improvement So ciety is well attended, the prayer-meeting almost deserted. If a popular lecture is announced, or an Irish ballad singer comes from town, to aid the Mutual Improvement Society, members of the church are most ac
tive in getting up a large meeting, and are most prominent in the assembly; the place is full ; but there is the church prayer-meeting so neglected, that the deacon who conducts it complains that he must soon call on the females to pray, because the brethren forsake the assembling of themselves together. Nor is this a solitary case, but something very like it may be seen in many places. Brethren, these things ought not so to be; and if our minds were spiritual, they could not be. The prayer-meeting qualifies one for communion with God in the closet; but will listening to a scientific lecture, or to Irish ballads from a professional singer do 80P I trow not. If professors have a keen relish for the carnal, and but little or no appetite for the spiritual, can they be in a holy, healthy state ? Alas, we may have talent in our pulpits, and talent in our schools ; but without more faith in God, fellowship with God, and separation from the world as commanded by God, our success will be small. Yea, though from the end of the earth we may hear songs, we shall have to cry, “ My leanness, my leanness. woe unto me." It is quite time that our churches attended to the divine admonition : “ Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion ; put on thy beautiful garments, o Jerusalem, the holy city ; from henceforth shall not come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem; loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion.” Church of Jesus! thy Saviour gave himself for thy sins, that he might deliver thee from this present evil world, according to the will of God, even our Father. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem as from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Is the design of his death answered in us P Are we delivered from the world, or entangled by it? Are we a peculiar people, or does the worldling say he can see but little difference between himself and us? Are the words of Jesus true of us, “ They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world ?!! Do we aim to be as unlike the world as Jesus was, and to be as much like Him who was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners, as we can be? Are we under the blessing pronounced by Jesus when he said, “Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your names as evil, for the Son of man's sake?" If we breathed the Spirit of Christ, if our conversation was full of Christ, if we were endeavouring to win every unconverted sinner around us to Christ, the world would not mix with us, or speak so well of us as it does. The line of demarca tion between the world and the church should be very distinct and clear. If a