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authorised this interpretation, when he said to his first followers, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” And, “I am among you as he that serveth.” 2. The world also is ours, if we are true Christians. How contradictory does this seem to the general tenor of the Scriptures' But the interest in the . spoken of in the text, is very different from those things which make the world valuable to the bulk of mankind. The world is ours, because whatever is profitable in it may belong to us whenever God thinks it will be to our advantage. Suppose, however, that we have but a beggar's portion of this world's goods, yet the little we possess, if we are true Christians, is sanctified. And how much more do we enjoy such poverty than the children of this world their wealth : We know who He was who said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Persons of this character will say, What we have is freely and undeservedly bestowed, therefore far be it from us to murmur. So true is it that “a small thing that the righteous hath, is better than great riches of the ungodly.”—The world is ours, because we are content with what we have. Here, indeed, we are gainers, since “godliness, with contentment, is great gain.”—This world is ours, inasmuch as every thing in it, but sin, is more pleasant to us than to its own chosen friends. We may eat and drink, and put on our raiment, without feeling, as the world feels, the perplexity and guilt brought on by the indulgence of unlawful appetites. Even our pleasures will prove the world to be our own. We shall so select them as to experience no secret misgiving that we are wandering on forbidden ground; and when we retire from them to
the sober duties of our station, they will leave no thorn in our conscience. It is what the Scriptures term the use of the world which blesses us with all these advantages. Its abuse causes the mass of mankind to be wearied with it. Let us keep in mind, the serious warning once given to the Corinthian church; “ the time is short: it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not ; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away. I would have you without carefulness.” 3. Life is also ours, if we belong to the family of God. Our continuance in this present state, whatever be its duration, is all for our everlasting advantage. We do not regard life, as others do; that is, as a treasure to be wasted upon trifles, as a burden to hang heavy upon our hands. Life to us is a golden opportunity; “ an accepted time; a day of salvation;” the season for securing eternal peace; a period on which is suspended every hope and anxiety connected with a future state. It is ours, because we live in the expectation of something beyond it. It is our seed time, in which we prepare for a harvest of unspeakable joy and triumph. We are, in humble tranquillity, “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ;”—sometimes, indeed, looking out with eager hope for the hour when all the faithful shall “ have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” This is the use we make of life. We find it not a mere passage through this world to some other world of uncertain existence and of no promise; but it is our threshold of immortal glory. No wonder one who has long since passed into immortality should say, “To me to live is Christ;” that is, the end of my life is to serve Christ, for whom I spend it; and the consolations of his Spirit are my support during its continuance. 4. But even death, death itself, is ours, if we be true followers of Christ. Oh how this mysterious privilege marks the distinction wbich separates believers from the men of the world! To all but the sons of God death is a sad and hated subject. He is their enemy, and their terror. They would not only put off the approach of death, but even, if possible, would bribe him to return his shafts to their quiver. But this cannot be. For them he still retains his sting; and the grave still expects its victories. Yet this very object of their dread and abhorrence is ours, because it puts an end to all our sorrows, and all our sins. Partakers of our common nature, we are liable to pain, disease, accident, and all the hardships of our present state; to distress of mind, from domestic and social afflictions; and to the other various sources of human misery. Nevertheless, this anguish is not to us as it is to others. We have learned to endure it, and in patience to possess our souls. But let us wait a little longer, and death shall be ours; our release from all which mingled life's blessing with a curse. Death will unlock the prison door, and bid us go free. Sin itself, the heaviest burden, the chain which, in the prison house, bound us fastest to its walls, shall be eternally removed. The gulf is now passed. Wheu St. Paul said, “ To me to live is Christ,” he added, “to die is gain t” for by death he obtained all he wanted. His living to Christ was a grea. privilege ; but how inferior to his actually being with Christ! Indeed, the great happiness of death is not its release of the soul from the penalties of sin in this world, but its introduction of the soul into the paradise of God. The death of Jesus Christ, by opening the kingdom of heaven to all believers, removed
the sting of death. Thus it became
ours. Not but that we must meet it, and endure one last struggle : but to this succeeds an everlasting triumph. It is farther true, that death is ours, even when it happens to the wicked. Their miserable end may be improved as an awful warning. But if a Christian can gather wisdom from the dying bed of a sinner, much more is the death of the saints his. Death is ours when we approach the couch, and witness the parting hour of a believer. The exercise of his graces seems to awaken, and refit, and confirm, our own. We exult over him as another conquest gained by Christ over the grave; and we have a fellow-feeling that the same Conqueror will triumph in ourselves. We view in him a pledge and pattern of the blessedness in reserve for many, many others; even for all who are already gathered within the mystical church, and are prepared by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ for the perfect communion of saints in his presence and glorious kingdom. 5. Things present are also in the catalogue of the true Christian's possessions; since the general state of things below is ordered to his best advantage. In times of war and tumult, he has the privilege of the warnings then proclaimed of the changing nature of this earth and all its greatness; and his soul is raised above the world's prosperity, while it is not cast down by the falls of human power. In a period of peace, he is reminded of the everlasting rest of heaven, and has leisure to attend upon God with less distraction; though he is at the same time alive to the danger of relaxing his vigilance when the general calm around him tempts him to sleep as do others. —Commercial distressor failure, accidents from the violence of the winds and waves; or, on the other hand, success in worldly pursuits, security from evils affecting others; all these are his. -Public events, no matter
whether favourable or otherwise, may, in their various degrees, tend to make him wise unto salvation. In all he hears it said, “ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. All things work together for good to them that love God. Set your affection on things above. Here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.” These are the truths which, as interpreted by the actual state of the world, are always repeating in the ears of true Christians, * Things present are yours.” The course of human affairs is directed for their advantage ; and the dispensations of Providence are arranged in their favour; while irreligious persons depend for their happiness on objects of a perishable mature, though they are wearied and discontented wide they hold them, and when they lose them meet with wretchedness in some new form. 6. I proceed to another source of the Christian's wealth. “ Things to come” are yours. Of all the truths declared in the text. this seems hitherto to be the most obvious. Heaven itself, the great thing to come, is actually prepared by Jesus Christ for his true disciples: “I go to prepare a place for you.” This then is doubly ours, if we be of the number first, by purchase, as bought by the most precious blood of Christ; secondly, by inheritance, since we are coheirs with Christ. —The inhabitants of the heavenly country are ours. If they are angels, they are ministering spirits commissioned to be the guardians of our happiness, till we become eternally their companions in bliss. If they are the spirits of the just, they shall welcome our arrival, and assist in our everlasting praises. St. Paul speaks of our upion with them as already begun : “Ye are come to an innumerable company of angess, to the general assembly and church of the first born, which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.” He extends this
sublime privilege even to “God, the Judge of all,” and to “Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant.” So then, the Lord God Almighty condescends to connect himself with us. “ Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is.” To us also belongs the blood of sprinkling in all its atoning and purifying effects, particularly as those effects reach into eternity, and accordingly may be regarded as “things to come.” 7. The apostle repeats the assertion in the first clause of the text by declaring, “ All are yours,” perhaps to mark his anxiety to assure the saints at Corinth of the firm and unshaken nature of their divine privileges. As though he had said, “There is not one in this heavenly list of mercies, but what is absolutely your own. This is the list of your treasures, either in possession or reversion. Your mortal and immortal state, the scene of your pilgrimage and the promised inheritance, the frame of nature and the ‘ house not made with hands,’ the limits of time and the immeasurable period of eternity,+' all are yours.' Each has its peculiar blessings; and every blessing is for you. Do not imagine that the measures of the loving-kindness of God are scanty. Christ's own words were, * Not as the world giveth, give I unto you.’ He was unlike the world, both in the manner in which he distributed his bounty, and in the nature of the bounty itself. 8. “And ye are Christ’s.” The treasures of time and eternity having been described as belonging to believers, the owners of these treasures are then mentioned as themselves belonging to Jesus Christ. It is the mark of devout souls that they are ever willing to surrender all they have and are into the hands of their Lord. To them, as their Redeemer, he has indeed an undoubted right. The time was, when neither Paul, nor Apollos, nor Cephas, were theirs; and at that period they were not Christ's. The world was not theirs; nor life, nor death ; neither things present nor to come; none of these things belonged to them, and they were not owned by the Son of God. But things are now changed. Their possessions embrace every thing within the range even of eternity; and as these possessions are enlarged, they feel an increasing eagerness to humble themselves before Him who bought them at the costly price of his own blood. Thus the benefits which originally flowed from Him may be said to return to Him. Thus, in the mystical intercourse subsisting between Christ and his church, salvation is imparted to them from him; and all the glory (and the glory is great) is ascribed to him. Whatever they gain, they willingly give back, with a servid but humble hope, that whatever heavenly fruits of salvation are to be seen in their spirit and character, may all go to advance his glory. ... if the world be theirs, they wish all it gives them to contribute to the exaltation of Christ. How lively was the impression made npon an apostle's mind by this view of the spiritual life, when he said, “I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me!” and when he so solemnly declared to the Colossian converts, “Your life is hid with Christ in God l’” Most certainly, if any humbly judge themselves to be partakers of the redemption which is in Christ, they assume no jot nor tittle of merit to themselves, but consess, “ Thou art worthy; for thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.” If they are preserved from wickedness, they recollect that He “ redeemed them from all iniquity.” If they are unhurt by the influence of the world, this is because “He gave himself for their sins, that he might deliver them from this present evil world.” Every professor of Christianity should try and examine his religion by inquiring how far he attributes his salvation to the power and grace of the
Son of God; and whether he considers his attainments in godliness to proceed from the quickening power of the Holy Ghost, which Christ promised to all believers. The Holy Ghost is Christ's advocate in the souls of men. In this character the Divine Spirit secures the exaltation of Christ's glory by the increase and establishment of the universal church, as shewing forth the triumph of the cross; and by the final majesty of the Redeemer's kingdom in the venly state. 9. St. Paul closes his summ by declaring, “ Christ is God’s.” It appears that the whole system of the universe, natural and moral, ultimately advances the Divine glory. Christ, considered as a Mediator, as one who, for a season, obscured his godhead in human nature, as a peacemaker between the Father and sinners, is God's ; since in all he did for mankind he acted throughout with a view to secure and magnify the Divine attributes. The apostle says, “ The head of Christ is God;" and he asserts, in reference to the close of Christ's mediatorial kingdom, “Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and power; and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” This branch of the subject connects itself with that deepest mystery of godliness, “God manifest in the flesh,” which cannot be otherwise than dimly seen by any human eye, and in contemplating which it is our best wisdom not to try to know what angels themselves may not know nor desire to know, but to wonder and adore. Christ gave us a warning against undue curiosity, when he silenced an inquiry about the fewness of the elect by answering, “Striveto enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able."
The passage I have thus endea
voured briefly to explain, may be termed a description of the Christian's treasure. How true is it that “godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come!” It is indeed “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.” Yet is it true, on the other hand, that many devout persons endure a vast proportion of suffering during their journey to eternity. The same, however, may be asserted of many ungodly persons also. But the afflictions of a believer are softened and blessed by these three considerations. 1. He expected them, or at least was prepared for them; consequently, he is not thrown into confusion and wretchedness when they actually come. 2. He regards them as the soul's medicine, and receives them that his spiritual sickness may be healed. 3. Grace comes with them, and calls into action patience and a serene confidence in God through Christ, that the end will be peace. Still, therefore, all things are kis; and to the treasures above mentioned are now added resignation, hope, confidence. In conclusion, let us seriously inquire how far all things are ours; how far we possess and value an interest and property in the ministers and other means of the Gospel. Let us examine in what degree life is ours; sanctified by a wise use of it, and introducing us to the mysterious privilege of viewing death itself as a valued possession. Let us pursue the inquiry by ascertaining what we are doing with things present, and in what manner we look towards things to come. Then let us examine well whether we are Christ's, and submit ourselves without reserve to that grand scheme of redemption, which, as its chief end, magnifies the glory of God, and by which Christ is God's. If we are not Christ's, we are the property, the slaves, of this world; we are in bondage to the prince of darkness himself. “His servants ye are to whom ye obey.” At this hour, as ever since the first
preaching of the Gospel, mankind are divided into the two parties of such as are Christ's, and such as are not. Between the rival kingdoms of light and darkness, there is no ueutral ground. We are either with Christ or against him. If with him, then freely shall all things be ours; riches unsearchable, crowns incorruptible, rest everlasting. May God grant to us such riches, such crowns, such rest, through the entirely sufficient and abundant merits of Jesus Christ! Amen.
To the Editor of the Christian Observer.
As you were pleased to insert a collation, which I some time since submitted to you, of the different opinions of Bishop Wilson and Bishop Tomline on the same passage in St. Matthew, I beg leave now to offer a few similar observations. I must set out by disclaiming the intention of speaking evil of dignities, and especially of mitred dignity. Nevertheless, when I discover a marked and most important diversity of opinion between those writers of our Established Church, whose authority we are accustomed, nay, universally called on, to respect, I may venture to point out that diversity, with a view to our determining which opinion is the true one, and embracing it. It is considered as no disrespect to the most eminent writers on the sciences or philosophy, to trace the discordance of principle which appears in the works they have offered to the world. On the contrary, such a measure is approved, as indispensable to the removal of those errors which would obscure the light of scientific or philosophical knowledge. That truth should be pursued by similar means, in so high a subject as religion, scarcely requires to be established by argument. When I read the statement of the Christian doctrine of “ regeneration,” as given in the Bishop of Lincoln's “ Refutation of Calvin