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ON MIXING IN THE WORLD, AND ITS SAFEGUARDS.
“John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners.”
THERE is a remarkable contrast between the examples of St. John Baptist and of our Lord. St. Luke tells us of St. John, that “the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, and was in the deserts till the day of his shewing unto Israel:” but of our Lord he says, that He went down “to Nazareth, and was subject” to the Blessed Virgin and Joseph, and that He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”136136 St. Luke i. 80; ii. 52. There was a difference in them even from childhood. John lived apart from men, a severe, ascetic life, in hard ship and solitude. Jesus dwelt in a house, among 259the habitations, trades, and cares of men: for thirty years His was a life such as ours, in all outward things unnoticed and commonplace. And so they both grew up; and in full manhood they came forth, the one a preacher of repentance in the wilderness, having “his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey.”137137 St. Matt. iii. 4. The other a preacher of repentance in the world, sitting at meat in the houses of Pharisees and Scribes, and at the table of Levi and Zaccheus the publicans; going, when bidden, even to marriage-feasts, mixing in life, and seeming to partake of the habits and courtesies of men. In a word, John lived out of the world, and our Lord lived in it. And that is the truth which His enemies distorted against Him. “John came neither eating nor drinking:” he was severe, mortified, unbending, isolated; and they cast him out as a demoniac, saying, “He hath a devil.” “The Son of man came eating and drinking:” pitiful, tender, compassionate, stooping to the weakness and burdens of common life; and they reviled Him as lax, self-indulgent, and dissolute, “a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans,” and a partaker in the revelling of sinners.
Now, of the many subjects naturally arising out 260of these words, there is one to which we shall do well to confine our attention: I mean, the lawfulness of intercourse with the world, and the limitations within which it should be restrained. This is a very difficult question in practice, and often involves painful doubts and misgivings. We hear it much talked of, and by some in a very confident and sweeping way; which, however, for the most part, turns out to be only words after all. Nevertheless, there is a grave matter of Christian duty here at stake; and it is of great moment that we should come both to some clear understanding of it, and to some fixed and tenable principles on which to determine our own conduct. It is not to be denied, that our Lord’s example, as contrasted with that of St. John, does warrant, as a general principle, our entering into the world. But there are some points to be considered which will reduce the apparent breadth of that warrant to a much narrower measure.
We must remember, then, first of all, why He did so. It was not for His own sake, or for any of those motives and inducements which it would be an irreverence even to speak of. He went for the sake of others; He was “come to seek and to save that which was lost:”138138 St. Luke xix. 10. as He told Zaccheus, giving the reason of His making Himself his guest. That day salvation was come to the publican’s house.139139 ver. 9. 261For the same cause, He laid Himself open to the reproach, “This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them;” and suffered also the woman which was a sinner to wash his feet with her tears. It was, therefore, plainly in the discharge of His ministry of salvation that He mixed at large among all men. The world was the field of His toil; it was the wilderness where His lost sheep were scattered abroad, and He therefore went out into the world to seek them.
And we must not forget Who He was that so adventured Himself: it was He who had overcome the tempter in the wilderness; the same in whom, when the prince of this world came to Him, he had no share nor title. It was safe for Him who was without sin to pass to and fro through all perils of contamination. He could no more be sullied than the light of day. Perhaps it was for this reason that, while prophets and seers, even to John, the greatest of all, had lived apart in watchfulness and mortification, our blessed Lord mixed among men, entered their homes, sat at their tables, and partook of their common habits, their food, and feasts, and social life.
These two considerations, however, while they remind us that both His work and His spotless sanctity made laws for Him which are not necessarily laws for us, do not take away the force of His 262conduct as a general rule to guide us in the same subject. After separating all differences, His is still our example. Let us see, therefore, how far it will warrant us.
1. First of all, then, it will not only clearly warrant, but actually enjoin upon us to mix in the world, so far as the calling or work of our life requires. And this must be determined for each one of us by a multitude of details; such as, our condition by birth, education, fortune, profession, outward relations of kindred, neighbourhood, charity, and the like. Every body has his place in the world, and that place has its duties, charges, and character. We must be in a great measure guided by these. For instance, high birth, or the possession of great wealth, forces people into a sphere of life which has a multitude of very extensive relations. It is their duty to fulfil the obligations thereby laid on them. Princes must be surrounded by their courts; high-born and wealthy men keep large houses, and have many guests and numerous entertainments. There need be no worldliness in all this. It may be, indeed, little better than worldly ostentation; and it may feed and kindle all manner of worldly lusts: but it need not do so. Like all things, it is capable of perversion; but in itself it is only the natural sphere of the princes and great men of this world. 263It is, however, a very different matter, when men of humbler birth and less fortunes either strive to gain entrance to the ranks of those that are above them, or strain to be their equals. There is a proportion in all the dispensations of Providence: every man has his own range and limit, within which he is safe; and all things may be lawful and sanctified by the word of God and prayer. The administration of property, and the management of estates, necessarily mixes men up with the world. So, much more, do professions and employments: statesmen, lawyers, soldiers, physicians, merchants, tradesmen of every sort, are compelled to meet and deliberate, to barter and consult, to act in common, to combine for worldly objects, without knowledge of each other’s character—often with the full knowledge of facts which make them desirous of having no more intercourse with each other than they can help. Now it is obvious that all this is lawful and necessary; that it is even inevitable; that, as St. Paul says, to escape it, “we must needs go out of the world.”140140 1 Cor. v. 10. We may be compelled to meet very bad men, and infidels, and even heathens, and to transact with them such things as “maintain the state of the world.” And all this is plainly not only allowed, but imposed on us by the providence 264of God, which has determined the conditions on which all these things depend; such as our birth, station, fortune, calling, relations in life. In so mixing in the world, we are carrying out the work which is set us to do; just as our blessed Lord, for the fulfilment of His work, went wheresoever it could be done.
What has been said of those whose duties are simply of a secular kind applies even more strongly to those who bear sacred offices. They are bound, in faithfulness to their commission, to mix even among the worst of men; not, indeed, as companions, but as instructors, reprovers, and guides.
There are, however, multitudes with whom the pastors of the Church are compelled to mix in an ordinary way, and to watch their opportunities of usefulness. To them the example of our Lord is a direct precedent. The courtesies and kindly offices of life they are under a sort of necessity to accept, that they may share the joys and sorrows of other men, and by their sympathy gain a hearing when they speak in their Master’s name.
Thus far, then, is clear: It is not so much in the point of necessary work as in the matter of unnecessary society with the world, that the difficulty arises. And yet it will be found, that the limit of our common intercourse with people is 265very much regulated by the facts of our providential lot. Our Lord has sanctioned a marriage-feast by His own presence; and that will shew that feasting is not unlawful in itself. There is a “gladness and singleness of heart”141141 Acts ii. 46. in eating our bread, which is a duty. Sadness and sullenness are not the gifts of the Spirit; but thankful tempers, cheerful giving, mutual joy, music and dancing and the fatted calf: these things belong to the new creation, in which once more “every creature of God is good.” Therefore we may fairly say, that such seasonable and measured participation of God’s good gifts, and of the enjoyments naturally arising out of the relations which kindred, or neighbourhood, or friendship involves, is lawful and good, and capable of the Divine presence and benediction. But this nobody disputes—nobody, that is, whose disputation it is profitable to hear. The true difficulty lies in so limiting these things in their extent, and so chastening their character, as to preserve them from being turned into occasions of temptation, and into hindrances to the spiritual life.
2. Our Lord’s example, then, suggests to us, farther, that we ought to measure our intercourse with the world by what is safe for ourselves. It is perfectly certain, that the attraction and operation 266of the world upon the mind of most persons is highly injurious. It first hinders the work of their sanctification, and next changes their tone of mind into its own temper and spirit. This is what St. Paul means when he warns the Romans, “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”142142 Rom. xii. 2.
Here is the peculiar danger. All things about us are charged with some measure of the world’s evil and power. No lines can be drawn round the infected quarters. They have neither beginning nor ending; no limit or boundary. The whole visible Church is affected by it; whole nations, states, and households. The evil is continuous, all-pervading, ubiquitous. If we would escape the world, we must needs go out of the world: nothing less than this will do it. And this shews the impossibility of that which some excellent persons, with the best intentions, have endeavoured to do: I mean, to draw peremptory lines between their households and “the world.” They might as well draw a line between themselves and the race of mankind; for, draw it where they will, they do but make a distinction without a difference; and moreover, they shut out of their precinct some of the holiest saints, and shut into it some who are the very worshippers of the world. 267And the ill effects of this mistake are manifold. It savours much of rash judgment, self-preference, and separation; and it fosters a dangerous spirit of security, making people think that within their circle they are safe, and that this safety consists in outward lines of separation, in stead of an inward grace of watchfulness and purity of heart. It is remarkable how, in families which have isolated themselves from the healthy unconscious action of open intercourse with others, evils of the strangest and most unlocked for kind 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 in ward 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 268pleasures; 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 269know their liability to be tempted in that particular form. The motives on which we go into the world, and the aims we set before as, will be no sufficient security. Statesmen who have thrown themselves, in pure patriotism, into the struggle of public life, often end in faction and partisan ship. Even men in holy orders, who give themselves to a just and seasonable line of public action for the service of the Church, not seldom end in ambition and secularity; and others, who go into private society on the theory of promoting 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 any thing 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 270not 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 convictions 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.”143143 St. Matt. xii. 36. 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 271the 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 favourites: 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 mea sure 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 particulars of this or that form of worldly amusement. For the most part, the entertainments 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 272moral lessons, and elevated heroic or national character, and the like, will avail to save them from a simple and direct condemnation, as one of the most subtil, complex, and wide-spreading 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 conscience a clear definite view of the true end of our Christian profession, which is plainly nothing less than to be made like, in life 273and 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 stedfast 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 274labourers, 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 house hold morals and habits, make up the Christianity of most people. And so far as it goes, nothing may be said against it. But tried by the life and mind of Christ, by the realities of holiness and of fellowship with God, by the humiliation and mystery of the cross, which are “the marks of the Lord Jesus,” how defective, dim-sighted, unenergetic, and relaxed it must appear! The fact is, that the great multitude of those who live in the world have little perception of the intense and searching spirituality of the life of Christ, which their regeneration binds them to imitate. And therefore the life of most is as vague, pointless, and unmeaning as the reasoning of men who do not know what it is they are going to prove. By this we may chiefly account for the infinite variety of imperfect characters, which have something of true Christianity about them, but are marred, stunted, and contracted. Of course, want of energy and perseverance will produce many of the same results; but in a majority of cases, really well-disposed people go through life with a low, cold, heartless notion of our Lord’s example. 275They can see the exterior perfection of His life, as measured by the second table of the law; but the motives even of that perfection, much more the whole interior life which is related to the love and worship of God, they simply cannot perceive. It is too high, inward, and deep, for their spiritual senses, which are “exercised” to discern the broader and more sensible features of Christian duty, but cannot distinguish the characters and outlines of God’s kingdom as it is impressed upon the affections, thoughts, and motions of our spiritual being. How, then, is it to be wondered at, if they see no inconsistency between habits of free intercourse with society and a life of religion? There is, indeed, no inconsistency with a life of their religion. It has nothing which is at variance with self-indulgence, and a relaxed tone of conversation. Days spent in visiting, and evenings in amusements, leave no effects which are traceable in their morning and evening prayers; because those prayers have been long said with just so much of fervour and attention as is compatible with their habitual way of living: they are therefore no index. They would judge very differently, if they could once rightly perceive the purity, gentleness, meekness, deadness to the world, denial of self, subjugation of will, vivid zeal for the salvation of the elect and for the glory of God, which were in our blessed 276Lord. If they could understand, for instance, the meaning of one such word as “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart;” or, “I am not of this world;” they would see all things as if the light of the sun had waxed “sevenfold, as the light of seven days.” All the goings on of life—its eating and drinkings, planting and building, its buying and selling, marrying and giving in marriage—would be seen as they will be in the day of the Son of man. The snares and perils of life and ease, of wealth and pleasure, of business and refinement; the perilous entanglements and depressing influence even of common life; the false maxims and illusions of mankind, and the secret atheism of the world, would all be seen as by an intuition of the spirit. They would then see that the spirit of the world is the very antagonist of the mind of Christ; that none could dwell in it unsullied by its touch but He alone.
2. And therefore, in the next place, it is plain that we must so shape our way through life as shall most foster and promote our continual advance in attaining to the perfection of our new birth, which is the sanctity of Christ. And what is this but, in other words, to be true to the vows of our baptism? We then bound ourselves to “renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and 277glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the carnal desires of the flesh;” and promised that we would “neither follow nor be led by them.” It is impossible to add strength to this vow; it is unconditional and peremptory, and extends over the whole subject of which we are now speaking. It is no open question for a Christian, whether he shall renounce the world or no: he has renounced it already; he is already bound by a perpetual vow; and all that remains is to fulfil it, or to forswear himself. Now, there can be no doubt that the majority of baptised men fall below the standard of their promise: all do, in deed, in respect to its perfection; but I mean, in respect to the measure of their ability to fulfil it. Some do it deliberately, some unconsciously, some from the power of sin, and some from the weakness of their resolutions; but howsoever various the causes, it is certain that we may divide the visible body of baptised men into two classes: those who do, and those who do not, make the vow of their baptism the rule of their life.
In the first days of the Church, the vow of baptism was made perfect in repentance, poverty, charity, in the fellowship of prayers, and holy communion; the Church was a fold in the midst of the world, encompassed by it, but separate. And yet it retained its inward purity only long enough 278to be a type and prophecy of its perfection in heaven. At Philippi, Ephesus, Corinth, and else where, even in St. Paul’s day, Christians began to fall apart into the two great classes; so that the apostle had need to lay down precepts and rules, such as those we are now endeavouring to find. To the Corinthians he writes: “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.”144144 1 Cor. v. 9-11. And again to the Thessalonians: “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.”145145 2 Thess. iii. 6. St. Paul here recognises a class of men within the Church, or related to it, with whom the faithful ought to hold no intercourse; and they are either persons excommunicate, or such as, though still suffered to abide in the communion of the Church (for instance, the covetous and disorderly), are living in breach of their baptismal vow. These and 279many other passages give us the precept of avoiding the contagion of an ill example, even among those whom the Church has not put under formal censures. The apostle also gives the most detailed counsels for purifying our conversation,146146 Phil. i. 27. for edifying one another,147147 Rom. xiv. 19. for sanctifying households;148148 1 Tim. iii. 4, 5. and these give us a farther precept of forming our friendships and relations, both with individuals and with families, on the principle of promoting the entire conversion of our hearts to God. It was, without doubt, from this that persons of a more devout temper, and more kindled with the love of the heavenly kingdom, drew into closer fellowships within the unity of the Church; whole families, perhaps, such as that of Philip the evangelist, who “had four daughters which did prophesy;”149149 Acts xxi. 9. and “the house of Stephanas,” and of Chloe and others, gave themselves to a stricter way of life. We may take these as examples of what is both possible and right for private Christians and households now. There is nothing schismatical in a separation which both preserves all religious unity and makes those that live apart characteristically humble and charitable. It is most certain, that the man who does live by his baptismal vow will find himself much alone in his habits, thoughts, and sympathies. The face 280of the visible Church must be very different from what it has been, before holiness can fail to bring an apparent separation. So it is with families: if any household be consecrated to God by peculiar devotion, it will stand out from other families. And yet it dare not do less: the vow of its baptism is on it, and it must thereby measure all things. It must do and leave undone, possess and give away, seek and renounce, enjoy or deny it self, according to this rule. The religion of such a house is not only at the foot of the altar, or in its own hours of devotion; neither does it take cognisance only of certain portions of its daily life; but it is the rule of all its acts, the test of its friendships, the measure of its intercourse. And I do not see what any Christian household or man can do less than this. They are pledged to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling;” to have in them the mind that “was in Christ Jesus,” in prayer, love, humiliation, and habitual fellowship with God. And how this is to be attained without abstinence from dangerous and inexpedient things, and from all familiar communication with those whose example, spirit, and habit of life, oppose or retard the work of our sanctification, it is not easy to understand. Where is the reason or consistency in habits of prayer, fasting, and self-discipline, if we do not refuse to 281expose ourselves to the levity, inflation, and vanity of the world? Surely all these things feed and excite the sins of the heart, and make miserable havoc in our habits of simplicity, watchfulness, humility, and recollection. We are bound to strengthen and to shelter them against all inroads of unholy influence. And moreover: our vow binds us not only to avoid the desecrating and deteriorating action of society, but to give ourselves up with singleness of aim to the help and guidance of such minds and examples, and to such habits and counsels of spiritual wisdom, as shall most directly promote the unfolding and perfecting of the life of God which is in us.
And now, before I conclude, I will notice one general objection which may be expected to what has been advanced. It will be said, that this is a theory; that it is impracticable; that to adopt it men must go into the wilderness with St. John Baptist; that they must forsake the duties of life, and the interchange of courtesies and kindness, which we are bound to maintain.
In answer to all this, we need do no more than recall the example of our blessed Lord. He lived in the world; His work lay in it; He went to the houses of publicans—He went without fear, be cause He was perfect. It is absolutely necessary to our safety that we should go with fear, because 282we are sinners. Nevertheless, His example will warrant to us the lawfulness of mixing in the world as our duties and obligations require. What has been said ought to teach us these two things: first, to use great and discriminating care in choosing the friends and families with whom we mix, and the occasions and festivities in which we join. This principle of spiritual discernment, foresight, and caution, alone can keep us from serious entanglements, and, it may be, from grievous falls. I know of no lines of outward demarcation, nor any sufficient catalogue, distinguishing worldly from innocent amusements: our safeguard must be in ourselves. And the next thing we should learn is, when we can avoid even such intercourse as is lawful, to do so. “All things to me are lawful, but all things are not expedient. All things to me are lawful, but all things edify not.”150150 1 Cor. vi. 12. It is far better to bestow the time which we can rescue from the world in things that will deepen the work of God in our hearts, and perfect our repentance.
Or if we think well to go, let us go with a heart estranged from the fair and smooth things of this perishing world,—from its honours, powers, pleasures, and refinements. None ever graced a marriage-feast as He who knew not the very taste of earthly happiness. None was ever so meek, gentle, 283and benign as He that was alive to God alone. So let us strive to mingle among men—to toil with them, sorrow with them, rejoice with them; to visit their homes, and partake of their hospitality, and not turn even from their days of festival—praying always in secret that we may be sheltered under His last intercession: “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as We are;” “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world;” “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil.”151151 St. John xvii. 11, 15, 16.284
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