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2. They are delivered from the snares of the world. The true Christian is, by converting grace brought out of the snare of the devil, who hath the wicked in chains and keeps them in his circuit. Believers are set at liberty and shall never be entangled as the wicked are ; their eyes are opened to discover the snare in every thing; “ Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird ; " and " we know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not,” 1 John v. 18; that is, not so as to get him within his dominion.
3. True Christians are delivered from the spirit of the world. The men of the world are of a base and low spirit, they are all for themselves ; but the people of God are of a brave, noble disposition. “ The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour." “ The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy," James iii. 17. Being partakers of this wisdom they mind the things of God, and of Christ, and of the world to come ; but the men of the world being influenced by the spirit of the world, seek those things which are “earthly, sensual, and devilish."
4. They are delivered from the course of this evil world. They formerly “ walked according to the course of this world,” and were like other folks ; they could talk vainly and profanely, they could swear, lie, and act as others did; but now the case is altered, and men “think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you,” 1 Peter iv. 4. Let me beseech you, “ brethren, by the mercies of God that ye be not conformed to this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Rom. xii. 1, 2. “Many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things,” Phil. iii. 18, 19; that is, there are many among you, pretended Christians, that thus walk : “but our conversation is in heaven from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” Christians have a peculiar course contrary to that of the world.
IV. Let us consider, when Christians are delivered from this present evil world? 1. They may be said to be delivered from this present evil world at their conversion. The Spirit of God does then convince them of their sin and misery; that they are amongst the crowd of those that perish, and bids them save themselves from this untoward generation. It may be, poor graceless souls sit out many a strong conviction, but at last the word of the Lord comes with power, and they are
plucked as brands out of the fire; then the soul is ready to say, this world hath bewitched me. His former companions come and say, go with us; what, must all be lost but a few precise people? But they cannot prevail ; for he thinks,
What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?” Matt. xvi. 26. He has now learned to say, with Asaph, “ Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth I desire beside thee,” Psal. Ixiii. 25. I will not be put off with the world, it is cnly a morsel, and will not be a satisfying portion for the soul. Having tasted the grace of God, and of Christ, and true religion, having once enjoyed this heavenly water, he will not thirst after worldly things, but pant for the living God.
2. We are delivered from this evil world, when we make progress in sanctification. The more a soul mounts heavenward, the less all other things appear. He thinks within himself, the world is not the New Jerusalem, nor worth taking any notice of “ We look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen ; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal," 2 Cor. iv. 18. The believing soul can say,
“ What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,” Phil. iii. 7, 8. A Christian, as he grows in sanctification, becomes more indifferent to the world, he is willing to part with houses, and lands, and wife, and children, and even with his own life, for Christ's sake and the gospel's, if called to it; for he knows that his Lord and Saviour can be better to him than all these things. If even a prison be his lot, his soul can sing praises when God is with him, and he rises above the world.
3. A Christian is delivered from this present evil world, when he departs into the world of spirits. God will not suffer his people to be always tossed on the sea of life, but will in due time take them out of it, and their souls shall not see destruction ; death sets the souls of God's people at liberty. God does not love to have his people long from him, therefore he sends death to fetch them home to himself; then they are delivered from all afflictions, temptations, and corruptions, and are conducted to that place, " where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest,” where the devil can never throw a dart at them more. 4. The righteous will be completely delivered from this
present evil world, on the morning of the resurrection. At death, the body is left for a while in the grave; but at the last day,
the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall arise; the earth and the sea shall give up the dead that are in them, and the bodies of the saints shall then be glorified like the body of Jesus Christ. “ For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first : then we which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord,” 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17. The devil shall then be quite cast out and reign no more; for Christ “must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.” Job saith, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall
“ stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God,” Job xix. 25, 26. We leave the bodies of our pious friends in the grave, but they shall rise again; they will be “accounted worthy to obtain that world and the resurrection from the dead,” where they “neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither can they die any more ; for they are equal unto the angels ; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection," Luke xx. 35, 36.
V. Let us proceed to notice what Christ has done, whereby his people are delivered from this present evil world? He has delivered them,
1. By his meritorious life and death. “ He who was rich, for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich.” He might have come in power, pomp, and glory ; but he choose to come in a poor, mean, and despised condition. Why therefore should we make account of these things which he cast at his feet ? Christ is now become our atonement; the bonds are cancelled between the world and us; he hath set us at liberty, and we are now dead to the world and married to Christ ; so also let your affections and thoughts be.
2. Christ hath delivered us by his victorious resurrection and ascension. By rising again from the dead, raising the spirits of his people above the world, and his ascension on high, the souls of believers are advanced to sit with Christ“ in heavenly places," and thereby become heavenly-minded. Christ is gone into heaven and has taken possession for his saints.
3. He delivers his people by his prevailing intercession for them. “I
“ I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me,” John xvii. 9. When on earth, he prayed for their deliverance from the evil in the world, and that they might be with him where he is, to behold his glory. Now he is in heaven, he takes care of themr; he is
“ a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted,” Heb. ii. 17, 18. Such is his concern for them, " that he will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to bear, but will with the temptation make a way to escape.
4. His people are delivered from this present evil world, by the Holy Spirit's efficacious working. The Spirit convinces the soul, that all the favours of the world are of no value ; that its threatenings are not to be dreaded, nay, that we should “glory in tribulation.”. Assisted by the Spirit, his people can trample on worldly things; they are of a different spirit from the men of the world, they are not busied about trifles, but are “in the Spirit on the Lord's day.”
VI. We shall mention the reasons, why our Lord delivers his people from this present evil world?
1. Because none else can. The redemption of the soul is precious, “ Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," 1 Pet. i 18, 19. 2. Christ delivers his people from this present evil world, because there is no proportion between a soul and the whole world ; it is not all worth one soul, neither can it satisfy the immortal part. 3. Christ was purposely fitted for this work. He was both God and man, and therefore is “ able to save them to the uttermost that come to God by him; seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii. 25. 4. It is one principal part of his undertaking, that he should deliver his people from this present evil world. Let us now inquire,
VÍI. Why Christ delivers his, and only his? 1. Because those, and those only, were given him by the Father : “Ye believe not,” saith Christ,“ because ye are not of my sheep: all that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out,” John. x. 26. & vi. 37. 2. These and only these, are partakers of the glorious privileges of the gospel : “ If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him," John xiv. 23. These people are a chosen generation. 3. They are redeemed by Christ to bring forth different fruits from those produced by the world: he“ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from
, all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," T'itus ii. 14. 4. Christ hath prepared a king
dom of glory, for those who are not of this world, and prepares them for that state : “ Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son," Col. i. 12, 13. Let us shew,
VIII. How it can be said God's people are already delivered from this present evil world? We answer, because the price is already paid. They may be said to be delivered, because the ransom is laid down for their freedom. They have also the promise of deliverance while in the world, and at last deliverance from it. They may be said to have the first-fruits of it, being sealed by the Holy Spirit, which is the earnest of their inheritance. They already experience less deliverances, which - are the pledges of further and greater. We shall now proceed to the application.
This doctrine may be useful by way of information.
1. If Christ delivers his, and only his, then learn that Christians are very highly favoured : they are not like other men, who are of this world, but are from above. The Christian's relations are above ; his father, who is the Lord Jehovah; his elder brother, the Lord Jesus Christ ; his mother, which is the church ; his kindred, which are the angels and glorified spirits —are all above. Christians are kings in disguise, they are not known in this world, they have a prepared kingdom, and now and then they have secret intercourse with the God of that state. This doctrine may inform us,
2. Why the people of God are hated, despised, and persecuted in this world. It is because they are not of it, but chosen out of it ; therefore carnal men are ready to say of a Christian, “ Away with such a fellow from the earth : for it is not fit that he should live," Acts xxii. 22. It is said in Heb. xi. 38, concerning the people of God, that they are they “ of whom the world was not worthy;" and yet “ they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” If then you desire to be different in sentiment and practice from the men of this world, you must expect tribulation here.
3. We may learn, that the Christian's religion is not suited to the world's interests. “My kingdom,” saith Christ, “is not of this world :"—it is a spiritual kingdom, which he sets up in the hearts of his people ; To the kingdom of God is within you."
4. We are taught by this doctrine, that the world is not so excellent a thing as men are apt to esteem it. Christ redeems his people out of it; and all its enjoyments, which men so eagerly pursue, are only vanity and vexation of spirit. What