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BY REV. WILLIAM S. RAISFORD, B.A.,
" What is the world ? "
What endless discussions and definitions meet us when we seek
to answer this simple question, all because man ever looks
for some statement which will allow him to retain his own
peculiar " w T orld " while it condemns that of his neighbor. Here,
as in all other necessary truths, the Word of God is plain enough,
when our mind is intent on complying rather with His will than
our own inclination. I go at once to the point. That man is living
for the world, in whose life the influence of sin, time, and sense is
more felt than the influence of holiness, eternity, and spirit. We
may condense these and say, the motive power of the worldly
man is self! Of the Christian, God !
H this be worldliness, how is it ingrained in the very being of
man ! What more natural than that I should be worldly % That,
my friends, is precisely the ground our Father takes in dealing
with us ; it is altogether according to the dictates of nature that
we should be most completely worldly ; not necessarily in the
coarser form which has an attraction for coarser minds, but in the
more dangerous, because more specious one, of self-seeking and
self -worship. Man is bound to this world by strong cords — world-
liness has a treble hold on him. By nature enjoying sin — I do not
say sins, consequent — but every natural man enjoys some kind of
sin intensely ; it may seem to him uncharitable to call it by such
a hard name as sin at all, but all effort that has not the glory of
God as its ultimate object, is, by Divine definition, sin. Again,
202 UDER CAVAS.
living in time — the short present with its thronging cares, plea-
sures, and pains ; its constant demand on all resources of mind and
body, must be more real than the misty future. This is cord o.
2. The last is strongest of the three ; he is by nature in a body
deeply affected by time, constantly appealed to by sense, its
lusts and passions soliciting to sin, its very weariness bearing
down the opposition of will and conscience. Surely, a man is
and must be worldly — exactly so ; and it is only by grace he can
ever become unworldly. othing short of moral miracle, impart-
ing a new, unworldly, Divine nature can cause the transformation.
Is there a soul here, sick of its own worldliness? Be not discouraged;
you never knew before how deeply seated in your very nature lay
the roots of this alienation : Again, I say be not cast down. Jesus
has not left you by the slow toil of a lifetime to crush out the
worldliness of your heart. You cannot give up these dear things
till your soul has satisfied its longings with something dearer. He
would be this to you, as really as ever stranger stood outside a
closed door, stands Christ at thy threshold. He cannot enter as an
intruder, He will as a guest. Give Him but one night's lodging,
and what a change ! Sin is within still, but now strange, unutter-
able longings after holiness are there too. The claims of time
are still pressing, but they are now dealt with in the light of
eternity. The flesh is none the less strong, but this last giant is
in the presence of a stronger even than he. Friends, the man
in whose bosom Christ dwells cannot ! cannot ! be a worldling.
The man in whom Christ does not dwell, be he moral of life,
upright in principle, is a worldly man, and though that worldliness
may differ very materially from that of another, he cannot be
The difficulty in a subject so large as this, is not to lose one-
self in generalities. I wish to-night, more particularly to speak
of the Christian's position in the world.
First, how is he to regard it ? I do not think much good is
gained by definitions of what is and is not the world. Some
seem never at ease unless, as they say, they are " drawing
the line." I don't like these "lines." I think they are opposed to
all the principles of the gospel. Our loving Lord Jesus does not
depend on rules and regulations, which, like strong walls, are
drawn round His fold to keep His foolish sheep from straying, so
much as on His own manifested presence in their midst, for
where the Shepherd is, there the sheep would feign be. His law
is one of "love" not "lines" I suppose some must have a
boundary. Well, if so, I think the advice of an old saint very
good : " If you must have your line of demarcation between what
is of God and what is of the world, have it; but don't go near
it, whatever you do."
THE WORLD. 203
I find a passage in Paul's experience which is very much to
the point. 1 Cor., vii., 29. He had been beset by questions as to
what was right and what wrong, and he seems to speak with a
certain amount of diffidence; at least, so I gather from such
expressions as " I speak by permission," "To the rest speak I,
not the Lord," " I suppose," etc. ; but soon shaking himself free
from these, he stands on firm ground: v. 29. "But this I say,
brethren, the time is short ; it remaineth that both they that have
wives be as though they had none; and they that weep as though
they wept not; and they that rejoice as though they rejoiced not;
and they that buy as though they possessed not ; and they that use
this world as not abusing it, for the fashion of this world passeth
away." About various questions there may be a second opinion,
but here there can be no mistake. This I say, then : the time is
short ; the Greek word implies the reefing of a sail ; every moment
the loose folds are being gathered in. Soon each life must be furled.
Oh, Spirit of God, make us to-night to realize this truth ! The
remorseless walls of - time are slowly closing in on us each — on
each man, woman, child here. The unconverted, unsaved,
worldly soul sees it — refuses to look — forgets ! Sees it again,
and sinks in its last despair ! The Christian sees it — sees through
the closing doors of time the vastness of eternity — buckles on his
armor — girds his loins — lifts his head, and solemnly thanks his
Father and God that "Time is short." But Paul ends this won-
derful synopsis of the life of man with another figure of speeeh.
" The fashion of this world passeth away." He borrows the term
from the Greek drama, "Life is as a Play." One act quickly
succeeds another, and soon all are alike past, for " The fashion of
this world passeth away"
otice now their number and order. The curtain of life's
stage rises and displays a very lovely picture. They that have
wives. Here is a bridal, and all things seem to rejoice. "Where
is there trace of sin or sorrow, death or pain here ? The act pro-
ceeds. We see happy domestic life, a consecrated spot called
home. When the day's toil is over all clouds seem to vanish,
and deep, quiet contentment has its undisturbed reign. Bright,
merry, loving, healthy children are there : is not now the cup of
human happiness filled to the brim ? At last, oh, man, thou hast
found a secure resting-place — an Eden amid the desert sands.
Surely now thou hast found a fixed, a solid, a lasting joy ; some-
thing worth living for. Yes thank God for such bounteous
gifts. But pause ! you are at the end of the act; see, the curtain
is falling, and as it slowly shrouds the quiet scene, on it can be
traced the sentence, "The time is short, for the fashion of this
world passeth away." Know now the meaning of the words,
" Let those that have wives be as thoirgh they had none ; " and so
204 UDER CAVAS.
the Christian, as he blesses his Father for His best gift of a sweet
home, over its threshold would see written, " The time is short"
How different the next act. Can so dark a night succeed so
bright a day ? They that weep. There is a tomb in the ceme-
tary out yonder, and an empty seat round the fire at home, and
an empty spot in more hearts than one. Bereavement has not
come alone: losses are heavy, anxiety presses, disappointment
ushers in disappointment; sickness strikes down the strongest,
and the love of friends has been taxed too severely, and not
proving equal to the strain, has grown suddenly cold. ow see
the whilom happy man, he who had at length found a fixed, a
lasting joy; see him now; crushed and lonely, or embittered to
his very soul. Let the curtain fall again, and as it sinks the
Christain looks up, and with a deep peace can say, " The time is
short." Sorrow may endure for a night, but most certain joy
cometh in the morning. Tears will flow. Jesus knows that, and
would not have it otherwise. Yet while we weep we can be as
those who weep not, as we sing, " The fashion of this world
Again a wondrous change. They that rejoice. Clouds are
over and gone ; time of singing of the birds has come. Hope
revives ; business returns to its old channels ; new energy awakes
within the man; the grass is green on the grave; others to a
great extent fill up the empty spot. Losses are retrieved ; anxiety
is changed to expectation, and friends crowd round once again.
ow, cries the worldling, I will do well; I have another fair
start. Alas, alas ! all God's dealings are in vain ; warnings once
heeded are now forgotten; amid the clatter of earth's great high-
way the still small voice is drowned. I speak the truth of God to
some here. This is your position to the life. Oh, that you would
see that the time is short! Let those that rejoice be as though
they rejoiced not, for the fashion of this world passeth away.
And now life is almost beyond the impressionable stage.
Here is another act. Youth has gone; the fire of life burns
more quietly ; blood not so hot as it once was. You cannot scare
one worldling now as you would a schoolgirl; he knows the
worth of things. Does he f Listen to him. I will pull down my
barns and build greater. Ambition is now my mistress. I must
make a name — win a fortune — found a great house. I am uni-
versally known and respected — my name is a power in the mar-
kets of the world. So it may be. All these things may be true;
yet pause, oh, man, to-night; the truth of God confronts thee.
The curtain is falling on the scene of thine ambition. For the
time is short, and the fourth act is over. There remains but one
more. Shall it end in ghastly tragedy? Paul does not think so.
He agrees wi£h the psalmist, that in a worldly man's death there
THE WORLD. 205
are but seldom any bands. He lias used the world well, and, on
the whole, he cannot complain of its usage of him. His friends
say he has succeeded — that he has real goods, real fame, real
respect. God says it is all a fashion, and that the last act has
come. See ! see ! ! the curtain is creeping down, for the fashion
of the world has passed away. What remains to him now of all
that time had brought, or of the gifts God had given ? ^ What
now can he take with him, as provision for the long realities of
eternity ? What covering can he have for his poor naked worldly
soul ? othing, you say. You are wrong. Something he must
take — the one thing he had most willingly had left behind him
— the sins of his life-time ; sins of negligence as well as ignorance ;
of omission as well as commission. These now are his shroud.
Wrap the dead soul in its sin and let it enter the presence-chamber
of its forgotten God.
See the child of God; he too plays his part in the closing act;
and as it draws to an end it brings no terror to him. He has
been mindful of the shortness of the joys and sorrows that in
alternate bars of sunshine and shade have fallen across his life's
pathway. Gradually he has been drinking into the spirit of Him
who was homeless here; not that he has not enjoyed earthly
things; he has; but as he sees sin's devastation around him, and
feels its mighty power within him, he cries, " I am weary of my
inward sickness ; I would fain be where they shall die no more,
and with the company that shall continually cry, Holy, Holy,
This is the Christian's position. " 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."
I want now for a moment or two more, to enter into particu-
lars. "How am I always to settle these vexed questious that
trouble so many." There are three simple tests that decide very
clearly, I think, if we faithfully apply them.
Let me first ask myself, Is it lawful f i. e., may I do it and
not sin? sin not meaning a vicious act, such as the infringement
of a law. " Thou shalt not," — not anything that could cause one
moment's estrangement between my ever-present Saviour and
His child. If that does not decide it, there is another.
Is it becoming a saint f I am a separated one — or saint — a
ISTazarite set apart for God ; bought, — body, soul and spirit, who
never am or can be my own. May I do it and not wrong my
saintly calling ? This is a most searching test. But there remains
one other. And may our Lord give us all more of His own ten-
derness here. Is it expedient f May I do it and not wrong my
brother? Cause him to stumble or make him weak. I coufess I
206 UDER CAVAS.
do not think there can arise any case which will not be decided
by these three tests from the Word of God. But if it still re-
mains to our mind doubtful, let us give God the benefit of the
doubt. If not, it ought to be done with both hands, for it must
be for His glory.
I have tried to make plain to you the difference between the
Christian's value of life and the worldly man's, but the Lord, in
this book of truth, tells us to take a yet higher standard with re-
gard to temptations arising from the worldly surroundiugs of a
Christian. He says we are to reckon ourselves dead to it, cruci-
fied to the world. This seems folly to all but the spiritually
taught man. I am afraid many present cannot follow me here.
Yet I must declare all the counsel of God, so far as God teach
me. "Crucified to the world" What can it mean ? Come to the
cross of Christ, there alone we can learn.
God tells me that the moment I trust Him, believe His testi-
mony concerning that crucified Man, He looks on me as having
hung on that cross ; I am forever united to Christ. I died there
in His person. I was buried in His tomb. I rose with Him.
He regards me as seated now in heavenly places with Him.
Christ and I, in fine, are one, now and forever; there is no
punishment for me, I have been condemned and executed in the
person of my Lord. But how does all this affect my position in
the world 1 In this way : I am now a complex being ; there is
the old nature within, appealed to ever, as any other man's is, by
the temptations of the senses. There is the new nature ; its
source in Jesus Christ, its supply in Him. ay, more. Jesus
condescends to enter the narrow lodging of a sinner's heart,
and dwell there. And Christ in me is my only hope, yet my
certain hope of glory. His power, His kingdom within must
daily grow and increase. I, my old self, must, by the same rea-
soning, daily decrease. Worldliness in me is the increase of the
old self, in opposition to every warning and appeal; nay, in the
very presence of the indwelling Christ, who claims me as His
ransomed temple. But how, again 1 ask, am I to prevent the in-
crease of this worldliness ? ow here comes in God's simple, yet
mysterious plan : " Beckon yourself to be what I hold you as,"
saith God, "See yourself as I see you" — it is entirely a matter of
faith. u I say you died with Christ, reckon yourself to have so
died. When sin appeals to you, answer I am dead to that appeal."
Is that all ? JSTay, dead and alive too. " Ye are dead and your life
is hid with Christ in God, therefore mortify (or keep as dead,)
your members that are on the earth." — Col. iii., 3. See the
awful list : You are called with a glorious calling, " to walk in
neivness of life" — Bom. vi., 4. For have not " old things passed
away and all things become new?" — 2 Cor., v., 17. And ere
THE WORLD. 207
we touch those old things again, oil, let us gaze on the manner of
our release from them. Come to the cross, and read underneath
it "crucified with Christ." For time and eternity I and that
rejected One are indissolubly united. I am a fellow- worker witli
Him, now on earth, soon in glory, now in shame, soon in praise.
Let me look at this passing world as He did. Ruthless hands
have heen laid on the Prince of Life. Hurried out of the city,
1 they have taken Him here to die ; it's all nearly over now. They
have crucified the Lord of Glory. The thorn has gashed His
brow, and from the open wound the blood is trickling down. The
cursing and blasphemy of the crowd come but indistinctly to His
dying ear, and Jesus gazes on the lost city, and the world He
died to save, through the mist of His own blood. Crucified to the
world/ Oh Lord, teach us when these poor hearts of ours are
rent and torn by fierce temptation, to remember " We are cruci-
fied with Christ, nevertheless we live, yet not we, but Christ
live tli in us, and the life which we now live in the flesh, we live
by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself
for us." Here is an antidote to worldliness. He loved me and
gave Himself for me. ow I love Him and have given myself
Lastly, a word to the worldly here. Your world is not so much
around you, as within you. Well, you say: " How can I help it ?
Here am I, a man of business, tossed in the very vortex of the
whirlpool of life. I know I may be sucked down, forgotten,
gone to-morrow. I can't help that. I must attend to business.
Your standard is ridiculously high." High or low, my brother, it
is God's standard. Ah, man, God does not want thee to give up
thy worldliness. What ! you say, " That is what you have been
driving at all night." o, no; not that you should give up
worldliness but that you should receive Christ. That you should
close with His present offer and take Him as your all. Why not ?
and conscience cries why not ? u I would, indeed, but " — ah ! I
have got it, that but is your world, a real, mighty, impassable
barrier to your soul's salvation. My time is gone. I must close.
But I close with the lines of one who was worldly ; nature and edu-
cation had richly endowed him, but he found no rest for the sole
of his way-worn feet till with Him who carrieth the lambs in His
I was wandering and weary,
When my Saviour came unto me;
For the ways of sin grew dreary,
And the world had ceased to woo me ;
And I thought I heard Him say,
As He came along His way,
O silly souls ! come near me,
My sheep need never fear me,
I am the Shepherd true.
208 UDEK CAVAS
And put off till the morrow ;
Bat life began to darken,
And I was sick with sorrow.
And I thought I heard Him say,
As He came along His way,
Oh sinful souls! come near me,
My sheep need never fear me ;
I am the Shepherd true.
He took me on His shoulder,
And tenderly He kissed me,
He bade my love grow bolder,
And He said how He had missed me.
And I'm sure I heard Him say,
As He went along His way,
Oh sinful souls ! come near me,
My sheep need never fear me,
I am the Shepherd true.
I thought His love would weaken,
As more and more He knew me,
But it burnetii like a beacon,
And its light and heat go through me.
And I ever hear Him say,
As He goes along His way,
Oh sinful souls ! come near me,
My sheep need never fear Me,
I am the Shepherd true.
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