« AnteriorContinuar »
which is all outside. With him the face is not the index of the mind, nor the tongue the interpreter of the heart. There is a lie in his right hand. He is perpetually acting a part, and under a mask he goes about deceiving the world. He turns himself into a variety of shapes.; he changes as circumstances change; he goes through all the forms of diffimulation, and puts off one disguise to put on another. He does not hesitate to counterfeit religion when it serves a turn, and to act the saint in order to gain his ends. Hence the spirit of the world hath often passed for the spirit which is of God, and Satan under this disguise hath been mistaken for an angel of light. Such is the spirit of the world.
The spirit which is of God is a spirit of truth, fine cerity and openness. The citizen of heaven esteems truth as sacred, and holds sincerity to be the first of the virtues. He has no secret docrines to communicate. He needs no chosen confidents to whom he may impart his favourite notions ; no private conventicles where he may disseminate his opinions. What he avows to God he avows to man. He exprefseth with his tongue what he thinketh with his heart. He will not indeed improperly publish truths ; he will not prostitute what is pure and holy; he will not, as the Scripture says, throw pearls before swine; but neither will he on any occasion, partake with swine in their hulks. He is what he appears to be. Arrayed in the simple majesty of truth, he seeks no other covering. Supported by the consciousness of rectitude, he holds fast his integrity as he would guard his life. Such is the difference between these characters. The man of the earth turns aside to the crooked paths and insidious mazes of dissimulation; the citizen of heaven moves along in the onward tract of integrity and honor. The spirit of the world seeks concealment and the darkncss and the shade; the spirit which is of God loves the light, becomes the light, adorns the light. · Thirdly, The spirit of the world is a timid fpirit; the spirit which is of God is a bold and inanly spirit. Actuated by selfish principles, and pursuing his own interest, the man of the earth is afraid to offend. He accommodates himself to the manners that prevail, and courts the favour of the world by the most insinuating of all kinds of flattery, by following its example. He is a mere creature of the times ; it mirror to reflect every vice of the vicious, and every vanity of the vain. His sole desire is to please. If he speak truths, they are pleasing truths. He dares not risk the disapprobation of a fool, and would rather offend against the laws of Heaven than give offence to his neighbour. To sinners he appears as a sinner, to faints he appears as a faint. In the literal sense he becomes all things to all men, without aspiring to that faith which would sei him above the world, or to that spirit which would enable him to assert the dignity of the rational character. He is timid because he has reason to be fo. Wickedness, condemned by its own vileness, is timorous, and forecasteih grievous things. There is a dignity in virtue which keeps him at a distance; he fiuis lov aliful goodness is; and in the presence of a virtuous man, he shrinks into his own insignificance.
is the language of his heart. With God for his protector, and with innocence for his shield, he walks through the world with an erect posture, and with a face that looks upivards. He despises a fool, though he were possessed of all the gold of Ophir, and scorns a vile man, though a minister of state. The voice of the world is to him as a sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. The applauses or the censures of the . high or the low affect him not. Like distant thunder, they vibrate on his ear, but come not to his heart. To him his own mind is the whole world. There fits the judge of his actions, and he appeals to no other tribunal upon the earth. He possesses the spirit which rests upon itself. He walks by his own light, he determines upon his own deeds. Supported by the consciousness of innocence, and acting with all the force of Providence on his side, he has nothing to fear; knows that he can no more be hurt by the rumours of the idle, impious, and hypocritical, than the heavens can be set on fire by the sparkles that a. rise into the air, and that die in the moment they ascend. Animated with this spirit, the feeble be. comes ferong in the Lord. The Apostles who on former occasions had been weak and timid, whom the voice of a woman frightened into apostasy, who deserted their Master in his deepest distress, and hid. themselves from the fury of the multitude ; these Apostles no sooner felt the impulse of this Spirit, than they appeared openly in the midst of Jerusalem, published the resurrection of Jesus to those priests and elders who had condemned him to death, and discov. ered a boldness and magnanimity, a spirit and intrepidity, which shook the councils of the Jewish na
tion, and made the kings of the earth to tremble on their thrones.
In the last place, The spirit of the world is an interested spirit ; the spirit which is of God is a generous fpirit. The man of the earth has no feeling but for himself. His own interest is his only object; he never looses sight of this ; this is his all; every line of his conduct centres in this point. He has a design in every thing he does. As the Prophet Alala. chi says, “ He will not shut the doors for nought.” He deliberates not whether an action will do good, but whether it will do good to him. That generosi. ty of sentiment which expands the foul; that charming sensibility of heart which makes us glow for the good and weep for the woes of others; that Chriftian charity which comprehends in its wide circle all our brethren of mankind ; that diffusive benevolence reduced to a principle of action which makes the human nature approach to the Divine, he considers as the dreams of a visionary head, as the figments of a romantic mind that knows not the world.
But the spirit which is of God is as generous as the spirit of the world is sordid. One of the chief duties in the spiritual life is to deny self. Christianity is founded upon the most astonishing instance of generosity and love that ever was exhibited to the world ; and they have no pretensions to the Christian character who feel not the truth of what their master said, “ That it is more blessed to give than to receive.” This is not comprehended by worldly men, and the more worldly and wicked they are, the more it is incomprehensible. “Does Job serve God for nought ?" said the first accuser of the just. Yes,
thou accursed spirit! he serves God for nought. Thy votaries serve thee for lucre and profit and fil. thy mammon; but the children of God serve him from reverence and love. Rewarded indeed they shall be in heaven, while thine are to be tormented, and by thyself, in hell ; but they account that to be a sufficient reward which they have even here in their own hearts, the consciousnefs and the applauses of generosity.