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above all cattle, and above every beast of the field ; grovelling shall they go, till they come to their end and perish. But for Christians, it is theirs to walk in the light, as children of the light, and lift up their hearts, as looking out for Him who went away, that He might return."
For the same reason, Christians are called upon to think little of the ordinary objects which men pursue, wealth, luxury, distinction, popularity, and power. It was this negligence about the world, which brought upon them in primitive times the reproach of being indolent. Their heathen enemies spoke truly; indolent and indifferent they were about temporal matters. If the goods of this world came in their way, they were not bound to decline them; nor would they forbid others in the religious use of them; but they thought them vanities, the toys of children, which serious men let drop. Nay, St. Paul betrays the same feeling as regards our temporal callings and states generally. After discoursing about them, suddenly he breaks off as if impatient of the multitude of words, “But this I say, brethren," he exclaims, “ the time is short.”
Hence, too, the troubles of life gradually affect the Christian less and less, as his view of his own real blessedness, under the Dispensation of the Spirit, grows upon him : and even though persecuted, to take an extreme case, he knows well that, through God's inward presence, he is greater than those who for the time have power over him, as Martyrs and Confessors have often shown.
And in like manner, he will be calm and collected under all circumstances; he will make light of injuries, and forget them from mere contempt of them. He will be undaunted, as fearing God more than man; he will be firm in faith and consistent, as“ seeing Him that is invisible;” not impatient, who has no self-will; not soon disappointed, who has no hopes; not anxious, who has no fears; nor dazzled, who has no ambition; nor bribed, who has no desires.
And now, further, let it be observed, on the other hand, that all this greatness of mind which I have been describing, which in other religious systems degenerates into pride, is in the Gospel compatible, nay rather intimately connected, with the deepest humility. It is true, that so great are the Christian privileges, there is serious danger lest common men should be puffed up by them ; but this will be when persons take them to themselves who have no right to them. Did I not begin with saying, that the Dispensation of the Spirit is one of awe, of “reverence and godly fear ?" Surely, then, they who pride themselves on the gift, have forgotten the very elements of the Gospel of Christ. They have forgotten that the gift is not only“ a savour of life unto life,” but“ of death unto death;” that it is possible to“ do despite unto the Spirit of grace ;" and that “it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance.”* Again ; if they do aught well,“ what have they which they have not received ?" and how know they but He, by whom their souls live, will withdraw that life, nay will to a certainty withdraw it, if they take that glory to themselves which is His? Why was it that Herod was smitten by the Angel ? O awful instance of the jealousy of God! “The people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man; and immediately the Angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory.”+ He was smitten immediately ; suddenly and utterly does our strength, and our holiness, and our blessedness, and our influence, depart from us, like a lamp that expires, or a weight that falls, as soon as we rest in them, and pride ourselves in them, instead of referring them to the Giver. God keep us in His mercy from this sin ! St. Paul shows us how we should feel about God's gifts, and how to boast without pride, when he first says, “I laboured more
* 2 Cor. ii. 16. Heb. x. 29. vi. 4-6.
Acts xii. 22, 23.
abundantly than they all ;” and then adds, “ Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."*
Accordingly, the self-respect of the Christian is no personal and selfish feeling, but rather a principle of loyal devotion and reverence towards that Divine Master who condescends to visit him. He acts, not hastily, but under restraint and fearfully, as understanding that God's eye is over him, and God's hand upon him, and God's voice within him. He acts with the recollection that his Omniscient Guide is also his future Judge ; and that while He moves him, He is also noting down in His book how he answers to His godly motions. He acts with a memory laden with past infirmity and sin, and a consciousness that he has much more to mourn over and repent of, in the years gone by, than to rejoice in. Yes, surely, he has many a secret wound to be healed ; many a bruise to be tended ; many a sore, like Lazarus; many a chronic infirmity; many a bad omen of perils to come. It is one thing, not to trust in the world ; it is another thing to trust in one's self.
But, alas ! I repeat it, how unreal in this age are such contemplations, when neither in ourselves nor in the Church around us have they a fulfilment! How is it fit to speak of thoughts and tempers which men of the day not only fail to cherish, but are eager to reprobate! Yet perchance what is lost upon the many, may gain a hearing with the few; what is lost to-day, may be recalled to-morrow; what is lost in fulness, may be retained in portions; what fails to convince, may excite misgivings; what fails with the heart, may create the wish. We must not grudge to speak, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear; knowing that “ he that observeth the wind shall not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap.”+
May we, one and all, set forward with this season, when
* 1 Cor. xv. 10.
† Eccles. xi. 4.
the Spirit descended, that so we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour! Let those who have had seasons of seriousness, lengthen them into a life ; and let those who have made good resolves in Lent, not forget them in Eastertide ; and let those who have hitherto lived religiously, learn devotion; and let those who have lived in good conscience, learn to live by faith; and let those who have made a good profession, aim at consistency; and let those who take pleasure in religious worship, aim at inward sanctity; and let those who have knowledge, learn to love; and let those who meditate, forget not mortification. Let not this sacred season leave us as it found us; let it leave us, not as children, but as heirs and as citizens of the kingdom of heaven. For forty days have we been hearing “the things pertaining to the kingdom of God."* The time may come, when we shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and see it not. Let us redeem the time while it is called to-day ; “ till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”+
* Acts i. 3.
+ Eph. iv. 13.
JOSHUA A TYPE OF CHRIST AND HIS FOLLOWERS.
First Sunday after Trinity.
Joshua xxiii. 1.--- And it came to pass a long time after that the
Lord had given rest unto Israel from all their enemies round about, that Joshua waxed old and stricken in age."
The Law came by Moses, and grace and truth came by Jesus Christ; but as if to presage what was in prospect, as if to give an omen and token of the good things to come, immediately upon Moses' death, a sort of momentary fulfilment, or at least a momentary vision of fulfilment, of the promise took place. For who succeeded Moses but Joshua? and as Moses led the people to and from Mount Sinai, and disciplined them in the barren wilderness of the Law, so Joshua, who succeeded him, led them into the rich and happy • land, and prefigured the future Saviour, who was to be gracious and true. I say, on Moses' death, a sudden gleam of heaven, as it were, came over the elder Church; the Law seemed for a while suspended, as regards its threats and punishments; all was privilege on the one side, all was obedience on the other. Joshua led the people forward, conquering ‘and to conquer ; he led them into rest and prosperity. His history is made up of these two parts, triumph and peace. First, he fought, when, in his own words