Sunday, June 5, 2016
The Security Of Walking In Virtue #JesusFollowers
Jesus, the Savior of men, has prepared the Way for the most extensive exercise of benevolence. And of the fruits of this benevolence, those will hereafter partake, who walk, not according to the course of this world, but the dictates of an honest and virtuous mind. The Gospel teaches us to entertain these expectations.
To “walk,” in the scripture’s style, is to lead a particular course of life. Thus to walk honestly or deceitfully, to walk in light or darkness, is to live righteously or wickedly in the world.
Accordingly, when we read that, “Enoch walked with God" the meaning is, that he lived piously; that he did not fall into the prevailing sins of his generation, but set an example of godliness and virtue. On the other hand, John says, "He who hates his brother, walks in darkness." In other words, he is no good Christian, who goes along a course of life directly contrary to the Gospel. To walk uprightly is to have a constant regard to God and His commandments, in the general course of life. It is to persevere in the steady practice of religious duty.
It is, in short, to be a habitually Good Man. Such a person walks surely, that is, acts a safe part, and is not in danger of losing his best interest or bringing upon him any disgrace or misery beyond the grave.
The sum, then, of the wise man's observation is this: that he who in the whole course of his life acts sincerely and justly, soberly and devoutly; who is not in appearance only, but in reality, a good man; that kind of person will be finally secure, whatever may be the course of human events.
To walk as a Christian is to walk surely; while, on the other hand, to walk differently is to enter on a path beset with dangers, and which may, to say the least, conduct to perdition. The religion of Jesus is from heaven, or it is from men. If from Heaven, then, by submitting to its Laws, we discharge an indispensable duty.
We obey God, and do that which is right itself, and right in His eyes. But we incur no guilt, if our religion is from men; our obedience in this case will not be imputed to us as a crime. Our moral Governor will never reproach us because we directed our lives by a rule which we imagined He had prescribed.
But if professors of the Gospel have walked unworthy of it, does that authorize a contempt, or neglect of the system itself? So far from it, they who offer this excuse, should become the advocates for Christianity, and should endeavor, by their own good example, to rescue it from contempt.
They should display in their temper and lives the excellence of the institution. This would be far more rational than to despise religion, because it is sometimes wounded in the house of its friends.
Let us always keep in view the bright example of our blessed Master. He ever expressed the most ardent love, the most profound reverence, the most unfeigned confidence, and the most cordial submission to the blessed God.
As we are honored with his name, let us cultivate his temperament.
Let the knowledge and love of the Deity be our distinguishing accomplishment: so shall we have within us a fruitful source of tranquility and joy. As our devotion becomes habitual, we shall become wiser and better. In affliction we shall have a divine support; in temptation a sure defense. Our virtue will stand on an immoveable foundation.
(Adapted from the Sermon, “The Virtue of a Virtuous Course” by Rev. John Clarke, 1755-1798)