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SERMON XI.

THE CHRISTIAN'S PRIVILEGES.

1. Cor. iii. 21-23.

All things are yours: whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come: all are yours: and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

IT is useful as well as curious to observe, under what different aspects the world and the circumstances of the present life are surveyed by different persons. The politican considers the world as the scene of political changes: he contemplates the laws of civil society, the state of parties, the resources and power of princes, and the stability or decline of governments. The soldier regards it as the field of war: he estimates the powers of annoyance or means of defence which a country possesses. Men are, in his sight, mere instruments to be used in the struggle for glory: renown in arms is life in his estimation, and to die in the field is to sleep in the bed of honour. The man of business considers the world as the place for the acquisition of

wealth: he calculates the opportunities it offers for commercial enterprize, values time with reference to the returns of his capital and the progress of his speculations, and confounds life itself with the means of providing what is necessary for its support. The gay and dissolute estimate life by its pleasures and amusements: the world is the theatre of enjoyment, and time is measured by the round of diversions it enables them to pursue. The unhappy man, on the other hand, sees in the world nothing but sorrow and calamity: life with him is the capacity for suffering, and time is the measure of grief. He looks forward to death as the termination at least of present sorrows, whatever be the fate of man hereafter.

It may, however, be observed, that men in general do not form such estimates of life as I have here stated, purely and abstractedly; for their views as their dispositions, are generally mixed and compounded. Thus the man of business, when unsuccessful in his pursuits, will combine with his habitual views of life as the scene of gain, a melancholy persuasion that it is the scene of disappointment also, and will thus too often cherish that worldly sorrow which terminates in despair and death.

I need not remark to you, my brethren, that each of the estimates of life which I have noticed, is essentially erroneous. The word of God affords the only criteri on by which we can form a just judgment of the world, For as God alone can take a general survey of the whole extent of human affairs, he only is exempt from those errors into which we are continually betrayed by our partial views and our very imperfect comprehension of the little we are permitted to see. In each of the cases to which I have referred, the influence of this source of error may be distinctly perceived. But when we derive from the Scriptures our judgment of this life, we are taught to enlarge our views, to consider the relation in which we stand to God, and which the present life bears to our future and eternal existence.

The Bible directs us to take into consideration the fallen state of man, the designs of God towards him, the means used by the Redeemer for his restoration, and the final glory and happiness for which he is now in a state of preparation. It thus gives to the world, and to life and death, a new aspect; and places their nature, their character, and their importance, upon a ground entirely different from every other.

Instructed, therefore, by the light of Scripture, the Christian looks upon himself and all his fellow mortals as fallen beings living in a world which lies under a heavy curse, and which, compared with its former perfect form, may justly be styled a state of ruin-a state in which therefore there is necessarily found confusion, misery, and dissappointment, and in which evil in all its various shapes is continually producing death as the natural termination of a short and painful existence. He considers the moral ruin of the soul as still more lamentable in its nature and consequences than that of the external state of things; he beholds the understanding disordered, the judgment perverted, the affections degraded, the heart hardened, the conscience stupified, the image of God lost, the soul a miserable captive to sin and Satan. But by the same Divine light the Christian discovers that God, in his great mercy, has not left his creatures in this forlorn state; that he has formed and sent his Son into the world to execute a plan for their complete restoration to happiness and eternal glory; that God who cannot lie has given the promise of salvation to those whọ believe in this great Redeemer, that being thus reconciled to God through the blood of his Son, he regards them as his children, and will defend and protect them from every danger. The Christian is therefore taught, though he must still live in the world as in an enemy's country, and still be subject to many perils and great difficulties, yet that God will cause all things to work together for his good, turning even his sorrows into blessings, till he and all the redeemed people of God

shall at length be made more than conquerors over every evil, and enter into the long-desired possession of eternal rest and glory.

Every Christian, therefore, views the present world not merely as it is in itself, but as it is connected with this great plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. It is the error of other men in forming their estimate of life, to confine their thoughts to what they observe in the present state of existence: it is the wisdom of a Christian to extend his view, and to consider life in connexion with that glorious salvation which appears, in his eyes, the one and great concern to which every thing else should be made subservient. The world in itself presents a scene of never-ending changes and revolutions, of feuds and bloodshed, at which the heart sickens; of insatiable desires and unwearied struggles for wealth; of, follies ever varying, and endless vanities still renewing; of miseries and sorrows, disappointments and anguish, following the steps of man as his inseparable attendants. But in what light does it appear as connected with the salvation of the soul? Its aspect is totally changed; it becomes a school of discipline in which God places the heirs of salvation for their improvement and growth in grace; in which their evil passions are corrected, and the low and sordid desires of their nature are exchanged for pure and noble ́principles; where the troubles of the world are sanctified, and converted into trials of their proficiency and means for their further progress. It becomes a theatre of instruction, in which are continually exhibited striking examples of the truth and excellency of God's precepts, the vanity of earthly pursuits, and the folly and evil of sin.-It becomes a scene for the display of the bounty and goodness of God to those whom Christ has received as his disciples. For them all the various means of religious improvement are provided; to them support is given under every trial; to them innumerable promises of Divine help are afforded; the Spirit is imparted from above for them; in their be

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