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the blessings which He alone can give to us. His blessing will be prized by us as our highest good. We shall desire to realise His presence continually, that we may live as seeing Him who is invisible.33 We shall seek to hold intercourse with Him by prayer and praise. And this, not only in the house of God, and on the Lord's day; and in His appointed ordinances, where He is specially present with His waiting people; but at all times, day by day; in private, and in our families, as well as in public worship. It will be our earnest prayer, that truly our fellowship may be with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.34 We shall pray that the influence of the Holy Spirit may be vouchsafed to us for this purpose, that we may walk humbly with our God and circumspectly before Him; that the words of our mouths, and the meditation of our hearts, may be acceptable in the sight of the Lord our strength and our Redeemer. 35 There is no happiness to be found on earth like that which is derived from this source. It is indeed the happiness of heaven; for there the blessed spirits around the throne of God rejoice in partaking of His love, and in obeying His holy and blessed will.
But the apostle speaks,
Thirdly, Of the consequences, with regard to this world, of being admitted to the enjoy
33 Hebrews xi. 27.
34 1 John i. 3.
35 Psalın xix. 14.
ment of so great a privilege as that of being called the sons of God, and partaking of the love of our heavenly Father in Christ Jesus. Such a blessing is not to be enjoyed without exciting the displeasure of those who are not partakers of it. It is observed, Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not. So it is said of our blessed Saviour, that He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.36 Those among whom He was conversant would not acknowledge His Divine power, notwithstanding the repeated proofs which He gave them of it, by the miracles that He wrought, and the benefits which He conferred upon all around Him. As the people of the world in Christ's day knew Him not, or would not acknowledge His claim of being the Son of God; so in all subsequent ages of the world, the claims of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ of being the children of God are not allowed by them. If their conduct be such as becometh the gospel of Christ, 37 the people of the world feel themselves condemned by it, and in order to excuse themselves will give a hard name to those whom they dislike; which in their opinion is a sufficient answer to any thing which may be commendable or praiseworthy in their conduct. Christians then need not be surprised if the world should cast out their names as evil, but should rather be contented to follow in the path in which their Saviour went before them. If we are indeed the disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, truly believers in Him, and the sons, or children of God by faith in His name, we shall not look for our por
36 John i. 10.
37 Philippians i. 27.
tion in this life, we shall not seek our happiness · in the world, nor be surprised if the people of the world should not speak well of us. The apostles of Christ went through evil report and good report. All His followers in all ages may expect to be treated in the same manner. They are to be distinguished by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand, and on the left.38 Let us seek grace from above thus to manifest ourselves to be the children of our Father which is in heaven, that while men take knowledge of us as such, they may have no evil thing to say of us, except it be in that which relates to our obedience to the law of our God. To this let us adhere continually, that He may be glorified in us and by us.
38 2 Corinthians vi. 6, 7.
SUNDAY CALLED SEPTUAGESIMA.
THE CHRISTIAN RACE.
1 Corinthians ix. 24.
So RUN THAT YE MAY OBTAIN.
The apostle Paul was accustomed to take advantage of passing events in order to illustrate the subjects of which he was treating. Such things are calculated to excite an interest in the mind, which it is desirable to turn to a good account. In the Epistle for this day he takes advantage of a practice well known at Corinth and other cities of Greece, in order to illustrate the Christian warfare. The Grecian games are renowned in history. They consisted of chariot and horse and foot races; and of different kinds of combats and wrestlings, for which various
prizes were awarded; and their celebration brought a great concourse of people to the city. St. Paul having lived in this place a year and a half, could not avoid hearing a great deal about these games, as they must have been a matter of common conversation. He therefore endeavoured to turn the subject to a useful purpose, by showing that it became Christians to emulate the zeal and ardour of the persons who contended for the prizes at these games; and that there was much more reason for the children of God to manifest earnestness and activity in their pursuit, since the prize set before them is of infinitely greater value, and vastly more honourable than any other.
He begins with asking, in allusion to these games, Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? In these races there were many competitors for the various prizes, but the person only who outstripped his fellows, and first reached the goal, obtained the prize. The rest had merely their labour for their pains. If they had the honour of contending for it, they had the mortification of losing it. This is not the case with the Christian racer. There is no competition in this race as to which of the candidates shall gain the prize; for to every one that runs in it, so as to arrive at the goal, the prize shall be awarded.
But there are many opponents who endeavour