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stedfastness in confessing “the faith of Christ crucified, and in manfully fighting under His banner against sin, the world, and the devil ; and continuing Christ's faithful soldiers and servants unto our life's end.”
If we would not lose the crown, we must take the same course which the apostle did to obtain it. We must with the heart believe unto righteousness.62 This faith is of the operation of God the Holy Spirit in the soul. He convinces of sin. He leads the penitent sinner to flee for refuge to Christ Jesus, the hope set before us in the gospel. Until a conviction of our lost condition by nature has been fastened upon our minds by the Spirit of God, and we have been led to seek for the pardon of our sins through faith in the sacrifice of Christ, we cannot have set out at all in the Christian course. If we have thus begun our race, we shall take the word of God for our directory in pursuing our heavenly journey, and shall pray for the guidance of His Holy Spirit in all our ways. We shall be looking for a city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God, desiring a better country, that is a heavenly city, which God hath prepared for them63 that love and serve Him here on earth. May we so run that we may obtain the glorious prize; that the God of all grace may be glorified in the salvation of our immortal souls. 62 Romans x. 10.
63 Hebrews xi. 10, 16.
SUNDAY CALLED SEXAGESIMA.
THE GROUND OF GLORYING.
2 Corinthians xi. 30.
If I MUST NEEDS GLORY, I WILL GLORY OF
THE THINGS WHICH CONCERN MINE IN
The labours, the zeal, and the sufferings of the apostle Paul were most extraordinary. He was an instrument raised up by God for the accomplishment of the most remarkable purposes of His grace; and in the performance of that which was enjoined upon him, he manifested the most unwearied diligence, and encountered the most violent opposition. His zeal led him to go as a messenger of the gospel of Christ over a great part of the Roman empire. He said, From Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ : yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's
foundation ; but as it is written, To whom He was not spoken of, they shall see ; and they that have not heard shall understand. 64 Thus he went forth and preached everywhere, 66 notwithstanding the opposition and persecution that he met with, and the sufferings that he endured; some account of which is given in the Epistle for this day.
In the chapter from which this Epistle is taken, St. Paul finds it needful to vindicate his own character, as an apostle of Christ, from the calumnies which had been cast upon him by some Jewish teachers, who having come to Corinth from Judea, had endeavoured to subvert the faith of those who had received beforehand the Christian instructions which the apostle had delivered; and in order to effect this the more readily, had attempted to depreciate him in the estimation of his followers. These persons went to various places where the ministry of the apostle had been successful, and sowed divisions among those who had received the doctrines of Christianity. Their great desire was to introduce among believers in Christ the rite of circumcision, and an observance of the ceremonial law of Moses. They did this in order that they might obtain credit with their countrymen for being zealous to promote the religion of their fathers. The apostle therefore speaks of their conduct in very
64 Romans xv. 19–21.
65 Mark xvi. 20.
strong terms. He says, Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ ; and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light; therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works.66 He acknowledges the folly of praising himself, or of contrasting his own conduct with that of these men; but his usefulness seemed in some degree to depend upon or to require the vindication of his character, and therefore he thought it necessary to do so.
In the Epistle for this day he begins with saying, Ye suffer fools gladly, seeing ye yourselves are wise. He was persuaded that they would overlook the impropriety there might seem to be in speaking in his own praise, since they would see the need there was of it in this instance. They would exercise their forbearance towards him, as they had exercised so much more towards the persons of whom he had been speaking. For ye suffer, if a man bring you into bondage, if a man devour you, if a man take of you, if a man exalt himself, if a man smite you on the face. Such treatment he intimates they had borne from the false teachers, who had entangled them with a yoke of bondage, had laid upon them the grievous yoke of Jewish ceremonies, which St. Peter called, A yoke, which neither our fathers nor' we were able to bear ,67 which was quite contrary to the liberty wherewith Christ had made them free.68 They had devoured or made a prey of them, had eaten them up, as we say, by quartering themselves upon them, when they had no right to do it. They had taken of them, or extorted presents from them. They had exalted themselves, as lords over God's heritage. They had even carried their pride and insolence so far, as to punish them for not tamely submitting to them in all things. It is often found that false teachers take upon themselves to exercise great authority over those who submit to them. This may be considered as affording a sample of the extravagant pretensions of the priesthood in countries where Popery prevails. Tyranny and exaction are their characteristics.
66 2 Corinthians xi. 13–15.
The Corinthians had borne all these things from the false teachers; and these men, finding that they met with no opposition, spoke of the apostle Paul as having acted in a mean, pusillanimous, fuolish, weak manner, because his conduct had been so very different from theirs. I speak, says he, as concerning reproach, as though we had been weak. They had been taught to think disrespectfully of the apostle, and to des
67 Acts xv. 10.
68 Galatians v. 1.