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Our Lord here says to the apostles, that the world hated Hiin, and would hate them; and also, that they were not of the world, because He had chosen and taken them out of it.
Now to this it is sometimes said, that our Lord spoke of the unenlightened world before and at His coming, of the world by which He was rejected and crucified ; that since
l He overcame sin and death, and cast out the prince of this world, it has been won to Himself; that now it is the Christian world. And again, that these words are spoken to the apostles, not to us; to those who had to encounter the world while unconverted, and by their words and sufferings to turn it to God; that they were indeed taken out of it, all unchanged as it was then ; but that when the world became Christian, our place was no longer out of it, but in it; and it was no longer opposed to Christ and His servants, but united to them; so that it is fanaticism, or spiritual pride, or a blind and shallow view, to speak of the world we see in the words spoken by our Lord of the world then; and that it savors of some great personal faults, if we set ourselves in opposition to it, and bring ourselves under its censure and dislike. It is said with much force that the ages of polytheism and idolatry, of atheistical philosophy and sophistical schools, of impure and turbulent rites, lascivious and bloody spectacles in the theatres and the circus; of public tyranny, open political corruption, and all that complex spirit of lordly and daring enmity against God, which reigned in and through these things, has been cast out of Christendom ; that it has been exorcised and the unclean presence is gone out of it; that it now sits at Christ's feet clothed and in its right mind. We are bid to look at the visible Church throughout the world ; at the holiness of saints, the devotion of princes, the purity of tribunals, the wisdom of legislatures, the multiplication of Christian states, the steadfast order of nations, their internal peace, the safety of the weak, the consolations of the
poor, the reign of right and truth in all dealings of men, the sanctity of homes, and the high perfection of private life; the public honor of religion, the crowds that fill the churches and kneel at the altars of Christ. Can it be said that all this is the antagonist of Christ; that this is the world that hates Him, and out of which He has chosen you? Is not this to speak evil of His own work, and to set yourselves against Him in it ? to slight His presence in turning from it, and to commit a kind of schism in separating from it? No one can deny that there is much force in this; and many people who desire to walk in the way of perfection are perplexed by it: for after all, it seems strange and unlikely to them that the world which they renounced in their baptism should be the world at Christ's coming-the world before Constantine-a thing of history. It was a safe vow, which we could never be tempted to break, and no hard thing to renounce that by which we could never be assailed. But this will not satisfy any earnest conscience. We must find, therefore, some better and fuller view; and for this purpose we shall do best to begin at the beginning of this entangled subject.
In its original sense, the world is altogether good. 'By the work and will of God it is all sinless and pure. earth and the world is the Lord's.” It means no more than the creation of God. It is only in its second intention that the world has an evil sense'; but that sense is its prevailing and its true one. The first intention of it is cancelled for awhile, until the day of the restitution of all things. In the second sense the world is the creation of God
Psalm xxiv. 1.
as it is possessed by sin and death. So subtil and farspreading is the original sin of man, that no living soul is without a taint. The living powers of the first man fell under the bias of evil, and the same has more or less swayed every one since born into the world. There is no doubt that sin becomes more complex and energetic as time goes on,--that there is in the character of the world a law of deterioration, like that which we see in the character of individuals. The original sin was not a measured quantity, so to speak, of evil, which, like a hereditary disease, might exhaust itself in the course of two or three descents. Every several generation renewed it afresh ; every several man reproduced it, and sustained the tradition of evil by example, habit and license; it was perpetuated in races, in nations, in families; by custom, usage, and law. And what is this great tradition of human thought and will, action and imagination, with all its illusions, misjudgments, indulgences, and abuses of God's creatures, but the world? We mean by it something external to our minds, and yet not identical with the creation of God; something which has thrust itself between it and us; something parasitical, which has fastened upon all God's works, and has wound itself into its inmost action, and into its very being. For instance, Enoch, as we are told, was born into an idolatrous race: he found himself surrounded by a mighty delusion, which had grown up out of no one mind, or people, or age; it was the accumulated error of centuries, in which man had been forgetting God. And this great lie offered itself to him as a truth and a reality. It forced itself upon him with all the presumption of an established and long-admitted doctrine.
So, again, in the case of Abraham, until God called him out from his kindred, who "served other gods beyond
the flood ;” and so, likewise, with those born in the times of the Judges, and in the times of the last kings of Judah, when the abominations of the Gentiles had filled the inmost chambers of Jerusalem. In all these there was a system of belief and practice, which spread corruption throughout the public and private life of the Jews; and that system was the worship and the kingdom of the God of this world, the great heathen tradition of mankind which had re-entered the precincts of Israel. And what makes this the more striking is, that they were specially God's elect. Abraham was chosen out of this world, and his children in him. Separation from the world was the very law of their existence as God's people. The world was, in truth, external to the family of Abraham. In one sense it may be said that they “ were not of the world,” and that God had chosen them “out of the world.” And this continued to be true of them to the very last, through their captivity, and their restoration, down to the time of Christ's coming. They were strictly an elect people; and around them lay the world, out of which they were taken and set apart.
And yet it was specially out of this very people that our Lord chose His apostles. It was of that very people that He said, “If the world hate you, ye know it hated Me before it hated you." This was not said of Moabites or Idumæans, but of Israelites. All elect and separate as they were, they were the world still ; and they hated Christ, and crucified the Lord of glory. And it was of this election of His apostles from among God's people Israel that He said, “ If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Now, what does this mean, but that the world was in the very heart of Jerusalem-in its Priests, in its Levites, in its Scribes, in its Elders, in Sadducees, Pharisees, Herodians; in its ecclesiastical order, in its civil state, in its gates, at its altars, in the midst of the temple, in its rulers' houses, in its feasts and fasts, in the council and in the sanhedriin, in all houses, in all chambers, in all hearts : that the great world-wide tradition of lust, pride, unbelief, selfishness, will-worship, prejudice, blindness, with all its vanities, pomps, glitter, and lies, was spread like a net over the whole face of the land ? They had been born, as Abraham and Enoch, into the midst of an age at enmity with God. The world had interwoven itself with the whole framework of national and individual life; and between the presence of God and the conscience of man had hung a film, ever-shifting and many-colored, which tinged and distorted all things. The great tradition of the fall weighed upon the whole order of life in Galilee and Judea. The revelation of God was darkened by the grossness of their spiritual state. The work of grace which God had wrought by prophets and seers, and all the forerunning tokens and types, which should have prepared them for the Son of God, for His sorrows, and for His spiritual kingdom, were all misread by their eyes
of flesh. When they read Moses and the prophets, the world was their expositor. As they lusted, so they believed. Therefore they eat and drank, planted and builded, married and gave in marriage, disputed in their synagogues, went to law with the poor, devoured the houses of widows and the bread of orphans, prayed in public, fasted visibly, gave alms with observation. This was the world out of which Christ elected His apostles,—the state of fleshly indulgence, dull infidelity, confident profession, fatal non-expectation of the day of His coining.
He first broke up the way through this bondage of death, and called them to follow Him forth into the realities of