Separation From The World
Separation from the world, and everything worldly, and that not in a monkish, austere, pharisaic spirit, but from the constraining influence of that love to the LORD which draws up the heart and affections unto Him away from earthly things, is a gracious, we might almost say an indispensable means of maintaining the life of God in the believer’s breast. Nothing more deadens the soul to every gracious and heavenly feeling than drinking into the spirit of the world. As long as that is kept out, mere external contact with the world, as, for instance, in the calls of necessary and lawful business, does not injure. The world without and the world within are like two streams of different magnitude which run side by side. Keep them apart, and the smaller stream will not overflow its banks; but let the larger stream get an entrance into the smaller, in other words, let the world without rush into the world within, who shall tell the width of that flood or the havoc that it may make of the crops?
Some constitutions are so tender that every cold blast is sufficient to produce inflammation; and others are so susceptible of disease that they fall sick under the slightest taint of every epidemic disorder. Such sickly constitutions must watch against the east wind, and not expose themselves to the air of the marshy fen. But just such cold-catching, feverish invalids are we all in soul, whatever be the vigour and health of the body. Let us then be afraid of the very breath of the world lest it chill the heart, or inflame the carnal mind; let us dread exposure to its infectious influence lest it call forth into active energy our latent disease.
And above all, let us dread the influence of worldly professors. The openly profane cannot do us much harm. The foul-mouthed swearer, the staggering drunkard, the loud brawler, are not likely to do us any injury. We can give them what the sailor calls “a wide berth,” as he does to a known rock when he approaches the place as marked on the chart. Nor are we likely to suffer injury from the moral churchman, or the zealous Arminian, or the political Dissenter. They and we are far enough apart. But the professor of the same truths which we hold dear, who sits perhaps under the same or a similar ministry, whom we cannot altogether reject and yet cannot receive, who, like Bunyan’s Talkative, is swift to speak on every occasion, and on no occasion at all, that he may have the pleasure of hearing the music of his own tongue, but who the more we are in his company the more he robs us of every tender, humble, gracious and spiritual feeling, he, he is the robber, not indeed the highwayman who knocks us down with his bludgeon, but the pickpocket who steals our purse as he sits in the same carriage by our side.