A PECULIAR PEOPLE
"A peculiar people." 1 Peter 2:9
I would now select some titles which refer to our RELATIONSHIPS TO OTHERS. And first of all, to the Church of God, the spiritual body of Christ. This is one of them; and it is exceedingly important and instructive. It reads in the margin, a purchased people, a purchased possession. Purchased for God. Purchased by Christ. Set apart from earth and sin, to be his servants. Ransomed from condemnation, to be his children. Separated from the world around. Dedicated to the service of God. They are in the midst of a sinful world, a peculiar people. They are so by God's own selection and appointment; by their own agreement and devotion to his service. Am I one of them? It is a very great privilege, and it involves a very great responsibility. If I am one of this people,
1. Then I am to be SEPARATED from the guilty world around me. Separated not by mere outward ordinances, in which I unite, but which they reject; but separated in actual character and conduct, by the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart and life. I have come out from them, and my lot is no longer with them. I cannot walk in their paths. I cannot pursue their objects. I cannot partake of their pleasures. While they reject the gospel, my heart thankfully embraces it. While they live without Christ, it is my desire and delight to live for him and with him. While they are earthly in all their plans and objects, I am to seek the things which are above. There is my treasure, and there must be my heart also. Their opinions, and maxims, and plans are of no consequence to me. I cannot yield to their judgments, to their examples, nor to their authority. Not separate by any self-righteous assumptions, as if I were holier than they; but separate by the exercise and manifestation of a spiritual and heavenly mind. In everything striving to carry out my Master's wish and purpose on the earth. Living for him actually, and for him alone. God has thus separated me, and I ought to be willing to be separate for him.
2. Then I should not find my pleasures in the wilderness world. God has fenced me in for his own cultivation, a vineyard that he has chosen for himself. I may find all my happiness and pleasure in his service. He surely is sufficient for me as a portion. True joy is a serious thing. I cannot run out for the trifling vanities of the world around me. I cannot form a part of its foolish passing pageant. My duties are in the world. But my joys are in the gospel, in the service of my Savior. I would put this great fact in habitual practice. There is a happiness in communion with Christ, and in the fulfillment of his will, which the earth cannot afford. In his presence is the "fullness of joy." Surely I may find it so. I can be happy but in him. I dishonor him when I seek elsewhere for my pleasures. If I belong to him, he is enough. I wish to live upon this principle, and to carry it out constantly in my practice among men.
3. Then I have a special duty assigned me on the earth, and I ought to be engaged in it. I am made peculiar for a distinct object. There is a peculiar work for me to do--a mission for me to fulfill. The same work which engaged my Lord is to occupy me. I have my particular place and station in this work assigned me. The importance of this does not depend on outward circumstances. It is not by man's judgment that my duty is to be regulated. Everything is to be done unto the Lord. This makes everything religion. Thus am I to strive in every action to acknowledge and honor him. Whether my appointed place be more or less elevated in man's estimation, it is equally important that I should glorify God in it. "He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much." Whether I am in the kitchen, or in the field, or in the pulpit, or on a throne; I am there by Divine appointment, and I am to do the will of God there from my heart. Let me learn what God requires of me, and faithfully follow out his commands.
4. Then I ought to try to walk and live near to God my Savior. He has enclosed me in his garden, for special objects and fruits. It must be my object to bring them forth abundantly. I am his disciple, if I bear much fruit. It must never be my object to be religious merely that I may be safe; but to be holy, that I may honor my Savior in all things. That I may dwell in him, and he in me. Oh that I might bring forth fruit abundantly to his glory! I would endeavor in every good work to adorn his doctrine, and to honor him. How holy can I be? How much of his image can I obtain? How much of his mind can I acquire? Let me never be satisfied with any other principle of action, or any other pursuit. It is not enough that my course is to do no harm. I would ask how it is to honor Christ? And how can I most honor him in relationship to this, or to any other thing?
5. Surely these attributes ought to mark "a peculiar people." They are separate from the world for God. They find all their pleasure in his service. They are active in fulfilling his will. They are pressing on to be like him, and to grow up into him in all things. Thus will I try to live. I am sure he will enable me to live so. He can do it. This will make a happy life for me here. Thus shall I become ready to be happy with him forever.
More of your presence, Lord, impart;
More of your image let me bear.
Erect your throne within my heart,
And reign without a rival there.