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“These things” are : 1. Lise through holy knowledge (v. 3). 2. Great and precious promises (v. 4). 3. A participation in the divine nature (v.4). 4. Faith. 5. Virtue. 6. Knowledge. 7. Temperance. 8. Patience. 9. Godliness. 10. Brotherly Kindness. 11. Charity. 12. Fruitfulness. This is Peter's ladder of life on which, round by round, he has himself climbed upward. Note : that “godliness” blossoms into the half-bloom of “ brotherly kindness,” and that into the full-blown flower of “charity.” Then (and not till then) comes the “ fruitfulness."
Matt. xiv. 12. “And his disciples came, and took up the body, and buried it, and went and told Jesus.”'
This was the headless body of John the Baptist. The progress of thought is natural and simple. 1. They “ came.” 2. They “ took up the body”-giving it funeral rites. 3. They “ buried it”-with honorable interment, mutilated as it was. 4. They “ went and told Jesus”—having done their work. 5. Jesus (see next verse) went apart from men "into a desert place.” Why?
Like John the Baptist the true minister-1. Preaches One greater than himself (Matt. iii. II; Mark i. 7). 2. Announces salvation (Matt. jii. II; Mark i. 4; Luke i. 76-79; John i. 7 ; Acts i. 5 ; xiii. 24). 3. Refuses allegiance due to his Master (Matt. iii. 14 ; John i. 29). 4. Is bold to rebuke sin (Luke iii. 19). 5. Inquires of Jesus in time of doubt (Matt. xi. 2, 3; Luke vii. 18, 19). 6. Is honored by his Lord in lise (Matt. xi. 11). 7. Is mourned at his death (Matt. xiv. 12, 13).
His were plain clothing and plainer fare ; the constant labor of preaching ; perplexities with inquirers (Luke iii. 10-18); continual self-abnegation ; the hatred of a prominent family; the imprisonment of harsh circumstances; an untimely death. But all these leave his name untarnished.
Acts xiii. 36.
“For David, after he had served his own
generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers.”
e can serve another generation only through our own ; we can serve our own generation only by helping individuals ; we can help individuals only by understanding ourselves; we can understand ourselves only by the grace of God in Christ, who was tempted in all points like as
The figure in the Greek, involved in the word “served,” is that of a rower in an ancient galley. 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day : and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
The victor crowned.
"St. Paul died ; they dragged, it may be, his corpse from the arena, and-sprinkling the white dust over the stains of his feeble blood-looked for a more interesting victim than the aged and nameless Jew; St. John died we know not where or how, and no memorial marks his for. gotten tomb; yet, to this day, over the greatest of modern cities towers the vast dome of the cathedral dedicated to the name of Paul ; and the shapeless mounds which once were Ephesus bear witness, in their name of Agiotzeologo, to no other fact than that they were trodden by the weary feet of him who saw the Apocalypse, and whose young head had rested on the bosom of his Lord.”-Farrar : “Witness of History." (Cf. Deut. xxxiv. 5-8; 1 Sam. xxviii. 3 ; 2 Kings ii. 9, 11, 12 ; Rom xiv. 7-9; Phil. i. 20, 21, 23; Prov. xi. 30; Dan. xii. 3 ; John xvii. 24 ; 1 Thess. v. 9–11.)
2. Members. Acts. xi. 24.
“For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.
Barnabas. — Blessed is such a character in life and such an epitaph in death.
“Ah! well might the Abbess Christina say of him [Tauler, the German mystic] that the Spirit of God dwelt within him as a sweet harping.”-Hours with the Mystics. Ps. cxvi. 15. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.”
Precious": Heb. " rare," like rubies and diamonds. God's saints are the jewels of earth-others are but pebbles. These he sorts and gathers for his treasure house above.
“They that are wise shall shine" there. Ps. xxxvii. 37.
"Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright : for the end of that man is peace.”
A man of integrity—teres atque rotundus, rounded and complete. There has been no haste and no waste. Such
souls are “pillar-fires, seen as we go.” (Henry Vaughan.) Job xlii. 17. “So Job died, being old and full of days.?
“God's ichor fills the hearts that bleed;
The best fruit loads the broken bough;
And, in the wounds our sufferings plough,
* Full of days”-how expressive! The cup of life could hold no more. Gen. xxvii. 2. “ And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my
Isaac. -1. Death uncertain even to the old. 2. Death to be prepared for, because of age.
“ A Christian should always have one eye upon his end, and the other eye upon his way.”—Divine Breathings. Prov. xvi. 31.
“ The hoary head is a crown of glory if it be found in the way of righteousness.”
“All things ripen, and righteousness also."— Tertullian. (Cf. Ps. lxviii. 21.)
Ps. lxxxix. 47. “Remember how short my time is : wherefore hast thou made all men in vain ?"
“ Remember, as to me, what is the age ? For what vanity hast thou created all the sons of man So runs the literal version. It is the tolling of a funeral bell. For vanity or for victory—which ?
Ps. lxxxix. 48. “What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death ? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave ?"
The question that needs no answer. There are no ex. ceptions. The Enochs and Elijahs walk among us no longer.-The remorseless grip of the grave. The skeleton hand that is extended over our feasts—as at the banquets of the Egyptians.
How different is the hand of God! It is the hand of Life!
2 Sam. xix. 36. Thy servant will go a little way over Jordan with the king.”
Barzillai, i.e.,“ strong, iron.” (Cf. 2 Sam. xix. 31, etc.; 2 Sam. xvii. 27; 1 Kings ii. 7; Ezra ii. 61; Neh. vii. 63.) This was the noble ending of a peaceful, loyal, and loving life. Note : his great age; his care of the exiled king; his dislike to be a burden;" his wish to be buried “be. side his father and mother;" his readiness to “go over Jordan” with the king.
Gen. V. 24.
“And Enoch walked with God : and he was not; for God took him.”
Gen. xv. 15.
How did the antediluvians and the patriarchs get their clear knowledge of a future life? By this case.—He disappeared from earth : God “took” him. God promises Abram that he will be his “exceeding great reward” (Gen. xv. I).
And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace ; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.”
A lovely and pleasant life, like that of Jabez (1 Chron. iv. 10), and a good old age at which to die, like Barzillai
(2 Sam. xix.). Is. xlvi. 4. “And even to your
am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you : I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.
Old age not forsaken of God.
“O welcome service and ever to be desired, in which we are rewarded with the Greatest Good, and attain to joy
which shall endlessly remain with us.”— Thomas à Kempis. Is. xxxiii. 17. “Thine eyes shall see the King in his beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.”
Death anticipated. The shepherds on the hill called “Clear" in “ Pilgrim's Progress,” who showed Christian the city through their “ perspective glass.”-1. The King :
“in his beauty.” 2. The Land : that is very far off.” Prov. xiv. 32.
The wicked is driven away in his wickedness : but the righteous hath hope in his death.”
The Christian alone has a definite knowledge of the "words of eternal life" (John vi. 68). We are saved by hope, and death to the Christian is the dark gate of glory.
“Wherfor whensõever it chaunseth the my frende, to