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true religion,-as it begins, and continues, and ends with a regard to whatever is just and right, -as it never opposes, but always endeavours to promote the will of God,—it is enmity with vice and wickedness of every kind,-it is a state of irreconcileable hostility to the powers of darkness and to the practices of unprincipled men.
A sincere and enlightened Christian will not suffer himself to be amused with words, or imposed upon by ambiguous and indefinite expressions. He is convinced—and he perceives in the sensibility of his own heart,—that his religion dissuades and deters him from none of the honest pursuits of the present life; but that, on the contrary, it invites, and exhorts, and animates him to perform all the duties of righteousness and truth, which constitute the great purpose of his existence here on earth, and which, therefore, he was sent to perform. Conscious, however, as he must be, that the unassisted efforts of any individual can extend but a little way, and that every great and useful undertaking requires to be supported by more than one mind, he will wish to obtain the concurring activity of men like himself. With such he will unite, and employ his diligence ;—with such he will discharge his public duties, and forward all the purposes of civil and Christian society. Such friendships are formed on a solid and durable foundation, -on natural esteem excited by the good qualities which we experience in each other,-on upright intentions and generous designs,--and on a faithful
perseverance in executing those designs. No baseness, no falsehood, no iniquity, can be admitted there ; or if it has unwarily slipped in, it excites indignation the moment it is detected,—and an effectual guard is raised against it for the future. Good Christians never deliberately enter into friendship with immoral and profligate men ; for they know that their own integrity will be impaired by it, and their present and eternal welfare endangered ;-because such alliances are, in fact, a declaration of enmity against God himself, and against those who devote themselves to his service.
This kind of worldly friendship it is that the Apostle condemns in the words of the text. He has no where asserted, that friendly connexions and intimacies, which are not debased by any evil principle, are
enmity with God.” He does not, therefore, dissuade any man from discharging the duties of social life, or from connecting himself, for all good and innocent purposes, with other men. “I pray not,” said our blessed Saviour to his heavenly Father, on behalf of his disciples, -“ I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil :"--and it was in the spirit of this prayer that St. James expressed himself when he declared that “ the friendship of the world is enmity with God." Christians, indeed, are required, by the very nature of their religion, and by the dictates of their own reason, to perform all their duties in the most exact and effective manner; and it follows,
therefore, of course, that they must, in many instances, unite for that purpose, and act together. The principles upon which they unite, must be kind affection and harmonizing virtue, such as may extend the interests of charity, and of sympathizing benevolence and of Christian love, in the intercourses of life. Such persons will, in every circumstance, examine their own consciences, to ascertain whether their views be upright and beneficent ;--and the known will of God is the test by which they will try them, if any difficulties occur. By this procedure, they will discharge the business of life honestly in every scene,-in their private families,-in the wider circle of their transactions with their neighbours,—and in their co-operation with those whom, on account of their good qualities, they have selected as friends. They will mutually assist each other in every laudable and useful undertaking ;—and they will not attempt to advance their own separate interests, except in concurrence with the public welfare, without which, no private welfare that they can wish to promote, can be lasting. And all this must be done upon principles of sound religion-of that religion which calls men to glory and happiness, through the practice of every virtue, --beginning with the sentiments of kind affection, and settling into habits of beneficence. It is the Christian religion alone that can implant in the understanding the steady conviction that all this is our duty, and that we shall be called to account for the stedfast and conscientious discharge of it. The
spirit of this religion includes every thing that is connected with goodness :-it declines no act, that is not, in its nature or its tendency, immorally foolish, vicious, or malicious. But 6 we cannot serve God and mammon." A sincere regard for good men, and a close connexion with bad men, are things incompatible with each other. Schemes of sensuality, of corruption, and of oppression, --so frequent in this world--are not the schemes that Christians can form or promote : for men cease to be Christians, when they become parties in them. All such guilty combinations are, in themselves, an avowed resistance to the will of God; and consequently all who join in them are exposed to the just condemnation of our all-righteous Judge. Whoever, therefore, will form a friendship with the world in its worst sense, by countenancing and supporting those kinds of associations, are enemies to our holy religion, and enemies to its great Author. Christ will acknowledge none of them as his disciples : for they are manifestly not in union with him. It is only by “ keeping his commandments that we can abide in his love." By such obedience only can the joy of a pure and unsullied conscience comfort us on earth, and be filled and perfected in a better world. May we, therefore, so use this world as good Christians ought to use it,and make God our friend !
THE TEN LEPERS.
Luke xvii. 17, 18.
And Jesus answering, said, Were there not ten cleansed ?-but
where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
When our blessed Saviour had taken his last leave of Galilee, and, preparatory to the completion of his great sacrifice on the cross, was passing on to Jerusalem through the intermediate country of Samaria, there met him, at the entrance of a village, ten men who were afflicted with the leprosy. St. Luke describes them as “standing afar off,”—the reason of which was, that for the sake of preventing contagion, persons who had that disease were required by the Jewish law, to “dwell alone,” and to avoid approaching those places which were frequented by healthy persons.* These lepers, who, we may take