have unfolded themselves. It is with the spiritual as it is with the natural life ; a false principle of sustenance or of action, once admitted, works out the most unwholesome and morbid effects. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why the children of persons of much real piety have not seldom turned out sinful or unsatisfactory. They have been brought up in a state of artificial separation from the world, without the real discipline of the inward character, which nothing but probation, or a truly devout life, seems to bestow.

Now from all this it is evident, that the danger of mixing with the world is very great; and that we have need, not only to be afraid of the positive evils spread throughout the common intercourse of life, and especially in relaxations, feasts, entertainments, with their exciting and ensnaring pleasures; but also to be afraid of ourselves. The more unlike we are to our Lord, the less safe is it for us to venture abroad; the more conscious we are that we are vividly susceptible of temptations, easily elated, or blinded, or led away, and that nothing but a strong inward principle of self-mortification can preserve us, the more we are bound to withdraw ourselves from the world, as from a scene of temptation, and a source of peculiar danger. Now it is certain that we shall be safe from the ill effect of the world just in the measure in which we are unwilling to mix in it; and that as we incline to it, the more susceptible we are of its contagion. If we do not believe it to be tempting and dangerous, we shall be sure to fall; if we do not go into it with shrinking and reluctance, we are certainly in peril. Thus much is evident already, that the god of this world has gone far to blind our minds to the reality of his presence and his wiles; that we must be in a state of no little hardihood, self-reliance, or insensibility. And in such a temper, all intercourse with the world must be perilous. This is universally true, whether our contact with the world be for business or for pleasure ; whether we be laymen or clergymen; whether it be public or private intercourse. Things in themselves lawful and safe become inevitable temptations to men who do not know their liability to be tempted in that particular form. The motives on which we go into the world, and the aims we set before us, will be no suffi. cient security. Statesmen who have thrown themselves, in pure patriotism, into the struggle of public life, often end in faction and partisanship. Even men in holy orders, who give themselves to a just and seasonable line of public action for the service of the church, do not seldom end in ambition and secularity; and others, who go into private society on the theory of prornoting their influence for good, often grow careless and indevout, and adopt, as a settled habit, the very tone to which they yielded for a time with a view to raising it. And if these things happen to guides of souls, in the path of supposed or of real duty, what may we not fear for those who mix in the world only for pleasure? Can anything be more frivolous and impertinent than the conversation which even wiser men sometimes endure to hear and to partake of? If they would but confess the truth, would they not acknowledge that the greater part of their worldly visiting and mutual entertainment leaves them farther from God than they were when they entered upon it? Can they not trace the effect of the world on all their private devotions? Do they not find themselves troubled in their prayers by a multitude of thoughts ? Is not the temptation to distraction and weariness in prayer greatly increased ?

And what does all this prove, but that such intercourse is not safe for them; that they are being conformed to this


world;" that the truth of their character to its own convietions and to itself is being frittered away; that they more readily catch the tone of those they live with, and adopt their system of judging and speaking, instead of impressing their own convictions on others, or even preserving their own consistency? To take one instance, of which this naturally reminds us : how unspeakably difficult is the government of the tongue; and how awful a fact it is to reflect upon, that every word we speak is an expression of

, the posture or inclination of the undying spirit that is in us; that every such inclination of the spirit God weighs in a balance ; and that we are swayed by a thousand daily temptations to speak at random, or in haste, or in excessive terms, outrunning the truth of our hearts ; and that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment."* There is no stimulus to the tongue so great as intercourse with the world : men must talk, that they may not seem morose, foolish, contemptuous, or self-important. And yet what are the laws and conditions on which the world will allow a man to talk, but that he will adopt its own phrases, views, maxims, and freedom of speech? For those who would mix in the world with safety there is needed just the reverse of the very gifts which make men the world's favorites : namely, gifts of caution, retirement, and silence. In fact, they mix in it with least peril who are distinguished either for wanting or for concealing the facilities and endowments which the world most covets and cherishes. One principal rule by which to measure what is safe for us is, a thorough knowledge of our own infirmities—of the frailties of our character. And this, after all, is the true criterion of what is 'expedient for us. I say this, because it seems impossible to enter now into the

* St. Matt. xii. 36.


particulars of this or that form of worldly amusement. For the most part, the entertaininents and usages of the world shade off into each other with such graduated tints, that it is not possible in many cases to draw a line. Some things, indeed, are in their tone and effects, in the system by which they are supported, and in the consequences they produce, so plainly and undisguisedly dangerous, that there can be no hesitation in naming them. For instance, the whole system of theatres is such, that I do not see how any one can go to them with safety. No special pleading about their great moral lessons, and elevated heroic or national character, and the like, will avail to save them from a direct condemnation, as one of the most subtil, complex, and widespreading snares of the world. Having said this, it is perhaps best to add no more than, that occasions and acts of public concourse, in which the reserve of private life is relaxed, are dangerous to the simplicity and purity of the mind; and that the entertainments and feastings of private life, where luxury, indiscriminate acquaintance, display of personal appearance or gifts, are admitted, are both dangerous and hurtful.

Thus much has been said by way of general principles and suggestions. All that can be done farther is, to give some particular precepts, which will serve as safeguards to counteract the influence of the world, where it cannot be avoided. When it can be, the wisest and happiest course for those that desire, in purity of heart, to see God, is, to withdraw themselves altogether from paths which need the force of so many precepts to make them at best only comparatively safe.

1. The first rule, then, to be laid down is this : that we take no lower standard of life than the example of our blessed Lord. Nothing but this will set before our con

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science a clear definite view of the true end of our Christian profession, which is plainly nothing less than to be made like, in life and spirit, to the holiness of our Lord Jesus Christ. At our regeneration we received a gift of the Holy Ghost, the grace of a heavenly nature; we were made inwardly capable of attaining to the sinless perfection of our Master. Not, indeed, in this life ; but the dispositions, affections, inclinations of soul, which shall issue hereafter in that perfection, must be trained and nurtured in us throughout the whole course of this earthly life. When shall we bear in mind this plain truth, that the future perfection of the saints is not a translation from one state or disposition of soul into another, diverse from the former ; but the carrying out, and as it were the blossom and the fruitage of one and the same principle of spiritual life, which, through their whole career on earth, has been growing with an even strength, putting itself forth in the beginnings and promise of perfection, reaching upward with steadfast aspirations after perfect holiness ? If we forget this we shall understand nothing,-our whole life will be a confusion, our whole probation a perplexity; we shall be imposed on by false judgments, unsound examples, misleading principles of action. We shall think that the sum of religion is, what is called, to do our duty in the world—that is, to be outwardly blameless according to the letter of the second table of the law; to be honest traders, industrious students, hard-working laborers, kind parents, good-hearted friends. Truth, a forgiving disposition, benevolence, general good-will, a kind temper, a moderate and occasional indulgence in worldly amusements, a decent attendance on religious worship, and regularity in household morals and habits, make up the Christianity of most people. And so far as it goes, nothing may be said against


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