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THE CHRISTIAN'S VIEW DIRECTED TO UNSEEN THINGS.
2 CORINTHIANS iv. 18.
While we look not at the things which are seen.
Is this possible, my brethren? Surrounded by objects attractive to every sense and gratifying to every feeling, can we so far abstract ourselves from them as, in the literal meaning of the expression, not to look at them, not to regard them? No, constituted as we are, the things which are seen being not only the sources of high enjoyment, but essential to our comfort, and even to our present existence, must unavoidably engage our attention, our solicitụde, and our exertions.
And yet this precept has a meaning not to be evaded. It is indeed only one of a numerous class of precepts which inculcate the same sentiment. “ Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon,” were the declarations of the divine Author of our religion. And his inspired apostles enjoin us—"Love not the world, nor the things of the world.” “ The friendship of the world is enmity with God.” any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” “ Set your affections on things above, not on things on the earth.” “ Seek those things which are above.” “Look not at the things which are seen."
In what sense, then, we are to understand these injunctions, is a practical inquiry of the first importance, the determination of which will enable us to test our own claim to the character of real Christians, and of course our title to the favour of God and the happiness of heaven.
Let us regard, then, the Christian as looking not at the things which are seen, in reference to
1. The principles by which the Christian is animated are not derived from the world, and render him independent of it.
The supreme principle which animates him, is a concern for his salvation. He very justly reasons
_“ What will it profit me, if I should gain the whole world and lose my own soul! The period of my existence here is short-but a few years, and those worldly prospects that now dazzle and allure will vanish in the darkness of the grave. What folly then, and what guilt and danger, to pursue the objects of the world, which I must leave -leave at a moment, perhaps, when I most confidently calculate on a long enjoyment of them and neglect a provision for my soul, whose existence is prolonged beyond this transitory life, in a state of happiness or misery that never terminates !"
Influenced by these considerations, the Christian makes the salvation of his soul his supreme concern; no worldly objects are permitted to come in competition with it; they are all rendered subservient to the momentous work of avoiding that eter
nity of misery, and of securing that eternity of happiness which succeeds the present transitory existence.
How different, in this respect, is the Christian from the man of the world! The former regards the numerous objects and pursuits that in the world solicit and engage him, as in no respect worthy of desire or pursuit, except as they are subordinate to the higher concerns of that immortal existence for which he is destined, and as they aid him in attaining that eternal felicity, which is there proffered him. No object which the world can present -its wealth, however abundant; its honours, however splendid; its pleasures, however fascinatingappears to him worthy of consideration, when put into the balance against the interests of eternity. But wealth, and honour, and pleasure are the objects that engross him who lives only for the world. His thoughts, his feelings, his time, his exertions are all devoted to his aggrandizement, his elevation, his enjoyment here. The things of eternity are forgotten-or, if they obtrude upon his thoughts, he banishes these unwelcome visitants in the renewed and vigorous pursuit of some of the objects of that world for which alone he lives, and which alone constitutes the source of bis enjoyment. He lives for the world ; and when he is summoned to leave it, he enters on eternity unprepared; he appears before the tribunal of his Maker loaded with his transgressions; his soul is the seat of passions that render him unfit for heaven; and the sentence that dooms him to misery, in banishment from the presence of his God, is unavoidable as well as just.
The Christian, on the contrary, having lived
above the world, by making all its concerns and enjoyments subservient to the salvation of his soul, finds the period of his departure from it the commencement of a state of felicity as pure in its nature as it is endless in its duration.
Another principle, under the influence of which the Christian lives above the world, is a supreme regard to the authority of God.
He constantly recognises the right of his Maker, Preserver, and Benefactor to his supreme homage and service. By the laws which bis Almighty 80vereign imposes, and not by the maxims and the rules of an erring and corrupt world, does he regulate his conduct What does the law of that Being prescribe, on whom, as my Creator and Sovereign, I am dependent, and to whom, as my Judge, I must render an account? What will he approve? what will be condemn? These are the inquiries which occupy him, and by which he tests the propriety of every measure, and ascertains the course to be pursued in every emergency. When the laws which the world imposes, the maxims which it prescribes, the course of conduct which it sanctions, are at variance with the supreme devotion and service which are due to the Maker and Sovereign of the universe, the Christian with decision and with promptness disregards and rejects them. His is a higher principle of action than any wbich the world can furnish; not, like worldly principles, liable to error and to change, and often corrupt in their tendency and consequences; but a regard to the authority of the supreme Lord of all, pure, correct, and unchangeable as his own infinite and eternal nature.
But the principle which especially animates the Christian, and under the influence of which he lives above the world, is the principle of faith.
Destitute of this principle, the things of the world, which are ever presenting such numerous attractions, would engross his attention. It is faith only which diverts his view from the objects that solicit and gratify his senses, to those spiritual realities that afford'substantial enjoyment to the soul. On the authority of the word of God, supported as it is by evidence conclusive to the understanding and sanctioned by the principles of nature, the Christian receives all those sublime truths that proclaim the perfections and the laws of the Maker and Ruler of the universe--the plan of redemption for sinful creatures, through the merits and grace of a divine Redeemer, and the glories of immortality for those whose destiny was the dust from whence they were taken. The Christian receives all the glorious truths which God has revealed, not merely with the cold assent of the understanding, but with the cordial affiance of the heart; so that these truths do not remain only the subjects of speculation, but are brought to control and to regulate every power of the mind, every feeling of the soul, and every action of the life. Emphatically, as the apostle describes him, he “ lives by faith ;” and thus perceiving, in the perfections of the adorable Author of his nature-in the wise and beneficent laws which the Benefactor of the universe has
prescribed-in the gracious overtures of that plan of salvation by which, through the merits and
grace of a divine Redeemer and a divine sanctifier, pardon and holiness are assured to the corrupt and the guilty—in the favour and protection of him who is wise in counsel and mighty in power, as he