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ON THE WISDOM NECESSARY FOR REGULATING | impossible. Christians, however much they may
THE INTERCOURSE OF CHRISTIANS WITH
MEN OF THE WORLD.
BY THE REV. ROBERT JAMIESON,
Minister of Westruther.
THE world abounds with a great variety of characters, diversified to an almost infinite degree by every shade of distinction; but all who are properly what is called men of the world, have this in common, that their feelings are engaged in the pursuits, and their anxieties set upon the cares, and their conduct either insensibly or purposely moulded by the principles most known and approved of in it. The world is the god of their idolatry, the power by which the strongest propensities of their nature are held captive, and their favour and approbation will, of course, be lavished on those who bear a resemblance to themselves, and give them the sanction of their countenance by worshipping at the same shrine, and cherishing the same devotedness. On all who move within that magic circle, and are associated with any of its several companies, their approving smile is ever readily bestowed; but to all who are beyond it, they are the sworn and inveterate enemies. And as all who are animated by the spirit, and walk up to the requirements of genuine Christianity, rank with the latter, they are of necessity made the objects of all the bitter feelings with which worldly men regard their character and their principles. Between these two classes of men, there is no common ground on which neutrality can be observed. There is a secret want of congeniality between them both in sentiment and feeling, and devoted as they are to the service of masters of so different characters, and labouring as they are in the attainment of ends so opposite, they must, every time that they are brought into contact, and their respective principles are developed, experience a mutual shock, as great and as deeply felt as results from the collision of contending elements. The comfort and the peace of both, then, would evidently be best promoted by persons who have so little that is common, and so much that is opposite, making their intercourse as rare as possible, or rather suspending it altogether. But constituted as society now is, such a separation is plainly
dislike the characters and disapprove the ways of worldly men, cannot altogether avoid mingling with them; for "then must they needs go out of the world ;" and their intercourse with them is often rendered the more necessary and the more unavoidable from the nature of their particular circumstances. They may be men of business, and in going through its ordinary routine, and attending to its various details, they may ever and anon be thrown into scenes of unmingled worldliness, and obliged to negotiate with those who, in respect to all the pursuits of the world, are wholly given to idolatry," or they may be men of public character, occupying high and responsible stations, and, in the performance of their official duties, may be called-at one time to settle the contending claims of those who practise the decent and respectable virtues of the world-at another time, become familiarized with the sickening detail of the vices and the crimes of the more degraded and profligate portion of it; or they may be members of a numerous and extensive society of friends, and in the very circle of those whom nature teaches them to love and to reverence, they may find some whom the world acknowledges among its warmest and most devoted adherents. In all these various situations, circumstances will be continually arising of a nature the most trying to the character, and which, wherever any strong desire is felt to act up to the principles and requirements of the Gospel, will impose the strongest necessity of cultivating fully the wisdom of the serpent.
Were the path of life undeviatingly straight and even, there would be no difficulty in tracing, and no danger of leaving it. "The wayfaring man though a fool could not possibly err therein." But then, the ways of the world are so crooked, and the ties by which men are bound to each other are of so feeble and delicate a texture, as to make the difficulty of acting uniformly on the ground of Christian principles, naturally so great in itself, increase to a tenfold degree. However broad and well defined these principles are, yet in applying them to the scenes of the world and reducing them to practice amid the avocations of life, much difficulty must always be encountered from the vast variety of characters with whom its intercourse
must be maintained; and the closer and the more |
deep and devoted worldliness. Were we required to
The men of the world with whom Christians may have sometimes to associate, may be of a different class. They may be the vicious and profligate and abandoned men of the world, who act on no fixed or reputable principles, are guided by no impulse but that of appetite, and are given to sinful practices, to low vices, to secret crimes, each according to his own desires, and in different degrees and habits of criminality. With these, it cannot be supposed for a moment, that Christians can have any harmony either of feeling or of enjoyment. Light is not more opposite to darkness, heaven is not more opposite to hell, than they who have the true spirit and purity of the Gospel, are to the lovers of profligacy and the perpetrators of crime. But although it is as impossible for Christians to be friends of these, as it is for two "to walk together, unless they are agreed," yet they may be frequently thrown together. The unavoidable calls of business, or the bonds of a near relationship, may bring them to move almost constantly in the circle of the same society; and although there is no danger in regard to this, as there might be in regard to the former class, of our becoming lovers of their characters and principles and ways, yet there is a danger here also, though arising from a different cause, and a consequent need of the wisdom of the serpent to avoid it. They may suffer our presence because they cannot get of it, but it will always be felt as a restraint upon them, and they will never be at rest, till, either by fair means or foul, they have obtained our countenance, and got us on their side. If we
of their own minds, and had no fear of God before their eyes. On his first entrance into the world, fresh from the lessons of the Bible, and fortified by the counsels of parental tenderness, he would have fled, as from a pestilence, from the presence of those who were enemies to virtue, and at open war with their God. But left to his own
ing acquaintance with the world, he begins to look down with contempt on what he now deems the weakness and bigotry of the principles to which he was trained. In an evil hour he is thrown into the company of those who studiously foster these growing opinions, and allows himself to be caught by the artful allurements by which they ply him to come over to their side. After a few ineffectual struggles, his resolution falters,-his principles are unhinged, the authority of his parents, his Bible, and his God, is forgotten or despised; and he who would have once recoiled, with instinctive abhorrence, from the commission of known and open sin, becomes familiar with the simplest forms of crime, and passing on from one stage in the career of iniquity to another, descends with fearful rapidity, in the downward path that leads him to the deep, and "in that deep, a lower deep still yawning to devour him," till past the possibility of reclaim, he becomes lost and undone for ever.
are proof against their solicitations, they will lay snares to entrap us. They will devise the most dexterous expedients, and fabricate the most cunning stories, and form the best-concerted schemes to catch our feet in the net which they have laid; and should their plot take effect, O with what malignant satisfaction will they triumph over our fall, and expose the weakness of the saintly pre-independent will, and in the course of his extendtenders, and embellish their narrative of our disgrace, with every additional circumstance to make us appear ridiculous and contemptible in the eyes of the world. Nor may this be the end of it. That scheme, which they originally contrived for their temporary amusement, may give rise to consequences more serious to us than they ever contemplated; and the unhappy irregularity into which we may have been betrayed, though it stand in solitary contrast to the tried and established virtue of a protracted life, may make an inroad on our peace of mind, the memory of which may haunt and distress us till our dying day, and entail such effects on our interests and respectability in the world, that years of unblemished morality and the most unfeigned piety may be unable to efface the indelible stain. Some there are among the professing followers of Christ, so strong in the faith, as to remain invulnerable amid all such assaults of infidel and ungodly ridicule,-whose presence, whose words, whose very looks are sufficient Let Christians, then, beware, lest by any to awe into silence the presumptuous scoffer, and means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his to check the utterance of the impious jest that subtilty, so by their intercourse with men of the may have risen to his lips. But by far the greater world, their minds should be corrupted from the part of Christians are of more timid and less simplicity that is in Christ. Let them remember, established characters, and when compelled by cir- that experience adds its strong verdict to the testicumstances, or urged by a mistaken regard and mony of the apostle, that in every instance "evil friendship to such enemies of the truth, they join coinmunications corrupt good manners ;" and their society, they pierce themselves through with knowing the sad and disastrous consequences many sorrows; for while, with a melting eye and which may, from this cause, accrue to their peace a heart that secretly aches, they are observers of of mind, and their purity of conduct, let them shun the unholy sentiments and practices in which these altogether the society of those of whom Mammon indulge, they are forced, in their presence, to is the god, and the world is the portion; or, if compromise their most sacred feelings, and most they cannot shun them altogether, let them mingle cherished principles, for fear of drawing down with them as little and as seldom as they can; or upon themselves the vengeance of the "world's if circumstances oblige them to keep up habits of dread laugh;" and knowing, though they do, what constant and familiar intercourse with men of the they have to expect, yet they continue, as if spell- world, let them be ever on the watch themselves, bound, to haunt and linger in the fatal spot, with and look earnestly for grace from above, that they an infatuation, only equalled by, but more piti- may avert the seductions of evil example, and able far than, that of the tiny moth, which flies and ward off the weapons of ungodly ridicule, and be flutters round the flame, till, lured by the deceitful not carried away by the imposing appearances and glare, it loses itself in the element of destruction. fair pretences of men, for Satan himself is someEvery Christian's experience will shew the times transformed into an angel of light. In fine, truth of this picture, and prove that unguarded let Christians be prudent, and look well to their intercourse with such men of the world is not un-goings; let them be wise, and with all their imitafrequently attended with consequences so fatal and irretrievable, as to make one tremble at the bare idea. Look into the criminal annals of the land, and of whom do their dark pages retail the history? Not of him alone who was cradled amid
tion of the far-sighted and wary circumspection of
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH OF
iniquity, and whose infant lips were taught to lisp THE influence of Christianity is often exemplified in
the accents of profanity and vice; but of him, too, who, though brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, yet unhappily got into the Society of those who were walking in the vanity
some of its most interesting and beautiful aspects, in the lives of pious females. Possessed of strong sensibilities, theirs is peculiarly the religion of the heart, diffusing its salutary effects over the whole of that nar
row but important sphere in which it is their province |
ficial effects. We are thus admitted to the most secret recesses of the Christian's thoughts, and learn to sympathize with their every feeling. As specimens of the judicious remarks which Mrs Huntington made, in reference to the common affairs of life, we may select the following :—
"I have had a very precious exercise this evening for me. God grant it may prove to have been genuine! I have, for some time past, been in a very worldly, carnal state, and Jehovah graciously chastised me. My trial was, in itself, a small one; but it was hard to be borne. One of my domestics treated me in an unbecoming manner, and when I expostulated with her, only continued to justify herself, and persist in her rudeness. This circumstance led me to realize, how infinitely important it is that I should ever tread in the precise path of duty, and never turn to the right hand or to the left, lest it should bring a reproach on religion. Such a sense of my multiform duties, as a head of a family, and of my entire impotence for their performance, rushed upon me, that I was almost overwhelmed. But I was enabled to go to that precious Saviour, in whom there is a supply for my every want. I think I was enabled to cast my naked soul upon him for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and final redemption from sin. And oh! what a glorious method for the attainment of strength, and faith, and grace, did it appear to me; and how hateful did my lukewarmness in his service seem! I only wonder that I was not a thousand times more affected than I was. I think I was enabled to pray for the person who misused me, and to feel all enmity taken away, and a sweet spirit of forgiveness, and a desire that she should be delivered from the bondage of cor
The subject of the following Sketch was a daughter of the Rev. Achilles Mansfield, of Killingworth, in the state of Connecticut, America. She was born January 27, 1791. In early life she was characterized by the most amiable and affectionate dispositions, which, combined with the delicacy of her constitution, rendered her an object of unwearied attention and watchful care to her parents. That she was impressed with the importance of religion at a very early period, appears from a fact, to which she long afterwards adverted, that when very young she held a solemn consultation in her mind whether it was best to be a Christian then or not, and she remembered having come to the decision that it was not. This resolution, however, was not of long continuance, for it pleased God, while she was yet a child, to cause the light of divine truth to shine into her mind, and thus to call her effectually out of darkness into his marvellous light. From this time she maintained a beautiful consistency of character, until, at the age of seventeen, she made a pub-ruption. Indeed, it seemed as if I was filled with love lic profession of her faith in Christ, and joined the church of which her father was pastor.
In 1809 Susan Mansfield was married to the Rev. Joshua Huntington, junior pastor of the Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts. This union was productive of much happiness to both, being hallowed by a blessing from above. She and her husband walked together as heirs of the grace of life. Every day found them advancing in the knowledge and experience of divine things. As a proof of Mrs Huntington's intimate acquaintance with her own heart, we may quote the following remarks, contained in a letter which she wrote about this time to a friend :
"There is nothing so astonishing, My dear M., nothing that places the thorough, universal, and malignant depravity of our nature in so clear a point of view, as our neglecting to improve the dealings of the blessed God with us, which are all calculated to lead us to repentance, and then finding fault with him for not giving us ability to love him, (when all our inability lies in a criminal aversion, the most unreasonable and unjust, to his perfect character,) and making that inability an excuse for not loving him. Oh, could we view this subject as angels view it, and as we shall one day view it, it must fill us with wonder and astonishment -wonder at the forbearance and mercy of God, astonishment at the moral degradation and turpitude of man. When I look into my own heart, and behold those endless replyings against God which lurk there; when I think what must be the fountain from which they spring, it would seem as if I should be filled with repentance, as if I should mourn, with deep and penitential sorrow, over my unspeakable, my amazing guilt."
For two years before her marriage Mrs Huntington had kept a journal, in which she recorded, from time to time, the Lord's dealings with her. This journal she resumed some years after, under "a conviction," as she expresses it," of the expediency of taking down written memorials of special mercies." The practice has been very frequent among Christians, in all ages, and it has, no doubt, been attended with the most bene
for all the world. Blessed Redeemer! precious, glorious Pattern! enable me to catch something of thy spirit while sojourning in this vale of tears! And may that spirit and its divine fruits be consummated in the world of glory!"
Again, speaking of domestic duties, Mrs H. observes, "When I hear females, as I sometimes do, deprecating the contractedness of domestic life, and eagerly panting after the employments and publicity of philoso phers, statesmen, and legislators, I am led to think that my life, in the little sphere of my family, must be more varied than theirs, or they could not consider the duties of the domestic circle as unimportant, or devoid of excitements. It is true, if the meed to be obtained were mere human applause, the female part of the world would have but little opportunity to shine; and might justly complain of the narrowness of their sphere, and the insignificance of their lot. But when it is considered that the quality of actions is determined by God, and that, in his view, the person who tears from his bosom a right hand sin, or performs a self-denying duty, is greater than the hero or the conqueror considered only as such, how is the case altered! how does it dignify any station which is calculated to produce these effects! The woman, therefore, who complains of the obscurity of her condition, feels and talks like a heathen She virtually professes to value the praise of men more than the praise of God; and is likely, by her impiety and folly, to forfeit both."
And, once more, the importance of early education and training, is thus adverted to :
"There is scarcely any subject concerning which I feel more anxiety, than the proper education of my children. It is a difficult and delicate subject; and the more I reflect on my duty to them, the more I feel how much is to be learned by myself. The person who undertakes to form the infant mind, to cut off the distorted shoots, and direct and fashion those which may, in due time, become fruitful and lovely branches, ought to possess a deep and accurate knowledge of human nature. It is no easy task to ascertain, not only the principles
and habits of thinking, but also the causes which pro- | duce them. It is no easy task, not only to watch over actions, but also to become acquainted with the motives which prompted them. It is no easy task, not only to produce correct associations, but to remove improper ones, which may, through the medium of those nameless occurrences to which children are continually exposed, have found a place in the mind. But such is the task of every mother who superintends the education of her children. Add to this the difficulty of maintaining that uniform and consistent course of conduct which children ought always to observe in their parents, and which alone can give force to the most judicious discipline; and, verily, every considerate person must allow, that it is no small matter to be faithful in the employment of instructors of infancy and youth. Not only must the precept be given, Love not the world;' but the life must speak the same. Not only must we exhort cur infant charge to patience under their little privations and sorrows, but we must also practise those higher exercises of submission which, they will easily perceive, are but the more vigorous branches of the same root whose feeble twigs they are required to cultivate. Not only must we entreat them to seek first the kingdom of God, but we must be careful to let them see that we are not as easily depressed by the frowns, or elated by the smiles, of the world, as others. In short, nothing but the most persevering industry in the acquisition of necessary knowledge, the most indefatigable application of that knowledge to particular the most decisive adherence to a consistent course of piety, and, above all, the most unremitted supplications to Him who alone can enable us to resolve and act correctly, can qualify us to discharge properly the duties which devolve upon every mother."
Mrs Huntington's constitution, which had never been robust, appears to have exhibited, shortly after her marriage, symptoms of a tendency to consumption. But, even under a consciousness of this, her zeal for the honour of her God only seemed to gather strength. She longed to be useful in advancing the divine glory. My lungs are very weak. I often feel great distress from very slight exertions in talking. O how do I wish that my little strength may be devoted to the glory of God; that my breath may not be wasted by idle and useless conversation! How dreadful to think that I have employed my health no better, for the best of Fathers, and in the best of causes! I long to do some good in the world. I long to be useful to my dear fellow-creatures. I long to see all engaged for God. Oh that these desires may be attained! I had soine sweet freedom in prayer this morning. I felt that I could go to God, through Christ, as my Father. think I felt something of the spirit of adoption, and saw something of the preciousness of Christ; remembered with satisfaction and thankfulness, that he had trodden the rugged path of human life, and the rough descent to the valley of death, and smoothed them both for his children; and felt as if I could follow where he had led the way."
While in this state of weakness, it pleased the Almighty to withdraw from her a kind and tender parent, to whom she was fondly attached. Still she could bow with resignation to the stroke, saying, by her whole deportment on that trying occasion, "It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth to him good."
"The conflict is over. My dear father, who loved me as himself, is gone, never to return! I may say with the apostle, I am troubled, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.' But the wound is deep; it can never be healed. Dear man! I dwell too much on the mere earthly circumstances of this afflicting event. I ought to look beyond the veil. His sufferings were great; it pierces my heart to think of them. But what were they to the glory now revealed? Blessed be God
for the satisfactory evidence he gave of preparation for the great change, and for the spiritual comfort he enjoyed amid his bodily pains, and in prospect of death! I would bow at the solemn rebuke, and say, Thy will be done! God of mercy, support, comfort, and sanctify me!"
On Mrs Huntington's return to Boston, from attending the death-bed of her father, the pain in her side and weakness in her chest, which had so much alarmed her friends, began to develope themselves more strongly than ever. And yet she preserved the most cheerful and happy frame of mind. "Many," she says in her Journal, "who have no knowledge of the subject from experience, think that religion makes men gloomy. I know nothing of such religion. How can that which prepares us for afflictions, which teaches us to expect disappointments, which lowers our calculations and desires from this world, which resolves all things, with sweet complacency, into the will of the all-wise and allmerciful Governor of the universe, which assures us that Jehovah is pledged to make all things work together for good, which gives to the soul, in this wilderness, a foretaste of heaven, and a hope attested by evidence which God himself has prescribed, of ultimate admission to the joys of his immediate presence,-how can such a principle make men gloomy? It is impossiO yes, I can say from experience, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee.' So far as I can trust in God and love his will, so far I am happy. for more continual, more perfect resignation and confidence! I know that what he appoints is best. May this conviction have an abiding influence upon my feelings and conduct. My soul, trust thou in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.'
"In the world you shall have tribulation," was the express declaration of our blessed Redeemer to his faithful servants, while on earth, and the truth of the statement has been uniformly admitted by Christians in every age of the world. To the subject of our present sketch, however, 'tribulation' was more especially familiar. In addition to her own bodily ailments, which were frequent and severe, she was subjected to many domestic trials of a kind remarkably painful. She had recently been called to mourn the loss of her father, and, in December 1817, she was deprived of her mother. The letter written to her sisters, on receiving the distressing intelligence, bears marks of a warmly pious and affectionate heart.
"My dear sisters, the long expected, but melancholy and afflictive tidings of our beloved mother's dissolution, reached me on Wednesday last. The stroke has fallen, and we are without a parent. But the Psalmist says, When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up." Oh to be taken up, to be adopted, taken into God's family; to have him exercise over us the endearing, the watchful, the vigilant attention and care of an omniscient and Almighty Parent! But in order to this, something is necessary on our part. As God promises to be the husband only of the widow indeed,' so he promises to be the father only of the orphan indeed; of those who, disclaiming all other dependance, fly to him, through Jesus Christ, as their best, their only portion; who feel the vanity of all human helpers; who love him with a filial and holy love; and who manifest their attachment by a hatred of sin which he hates, by a pursuit of the holiness he enjoins, by a life of unreserved obedience to his law. For how can we love God, if we are careless of offending him? How can we for a moment think we love him, if we allow ourselves in any thing he hates? This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' My dear sisters, can we, with these passages of