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The Church and the World.

The Church and the World.

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ST JOHN xvn. 16. "They are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world."

ST JOHN xvn. 16. "They are not of the world, even as I am
not of the world."

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 29, 2014
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved


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THE CHURCH AD THE WORLD. REV. J. LLEWELY DAVIES, M.A. ST JOH xvn. 16. "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." I EDEAVOURED to make it clear this morning that the proper idea of holiness is that of dedica- tion to the exclusive service of God. Holy things are those which are set apart for the use of worship ; holy persons or saints are those whom God has made his own by election and calling, and who consent to be his. Holiness therefore implies separation ; and those who are to be in any sense holy must in some way be separate. What kind of separation is rightly involved in, or required by, Christian holiness in the present age, is the question which we are to consider this evening. The most obvious way of being separate is that of refusing to have fellowship with other people who do not think or feel as we do. "Come out from among them, and be ye separate," is an ex- hortation addressed by St Paul to the Christians THE CHURCH AXD THE WORLD. 105 of Corinth. And when we look back to the be- ginnings of the Church, we see small societies of persons who have come out very decidedly from the world surrounding them. The Christians were separated in religion, in morals, and in social life, from their neighbours. Their Christian profession imperatively required them to be thus separated. Their holiness was endangered by free association with the heathen. And it was necessary that they
should draw together closely and seek support for their faith in mutual encouragement and in the common atmosphere of a Christian society. We can understand easily enough this state of things, when we recall the circumstances of the first age of the Church. Within the Church there is a close communion or fellowship of the saints with one another; on the outside there is a marked sepa- ration between the few saints and the unholy world surrounding them. But the scene changes when we pass from the first century to the nineteenth. What is to be said about separation when the whole society is pro- fessedly Christian ? From whom are we, the Chris- tians of this country, to separate ourselves ? Chris- tians are not a select few in England; rror is England a little Christian land surrounded by 106 THE CHURCH AD THE WORLD. heathen nations. How far can we use, in what way can we reasonably and honestly apply to our own case, the Scriptural doctrine concerning the separation of Christians from the world ? What is for us the holy fellowship, and what is the world ? The true and thorough answer to be given to these questions is this, that the primary and essential separation of the holy is from all that defiles. This is to be insisted upon now as much as ever and in all possible circumstances. But the social separation from persons or classes is alto- gether a secondary and variable matter. It may be that the only way of avoiding defilement is by separation from certain persons ; then such separa- tion becomes a duty of holiness. But otherwise all
refusal of fellowship between human beings is un- desirable and to be regretted. There ought never to be separation for separation's sake, between Christians and non-Christians, or between some Christians and others. And to trust to such separa- tion for the promotion of holiness, is a fatal error. It is the more fatal, because it is also a very natural and seductive error. There are two conspicuous forms of this per- version of the idea of holiness in these later ages. THE CHURCH AD THE WORLD. 107 In both, men start from the notion that it is a fun- damental necessity of Christianity to cut out some portion of the world for God, and to leave the rest of it as not God's. The one kind of separation we may call religions, the other ecclesiastical. I. When Christians have been most in earnest, great stress has been laid upon the difference be- tween being really, and being only nominally, Christian. The Bible speaks of regeneration, of conversion, of the absorbing faith of the believer, of the required renunciation of all earthly things. A great number of baptized and professing Christians have been very unlike what Christians according to the Bible standard ought to be, some shamelessly profligate, many conspicuously followers of fashion and pleasure, still more, cold and heartless believers in the crucified and risen Christ. How was it pos- sible to assume that such Christians as these had undergone the new birth and were living a life in Christ ? It was a natural conclusion that there must be an inner circle of true believers as well as the larger body of nominal Christians. The be- lievers, it was held, had undergone the inward

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