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hearts,"—then shall we “discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not!"
May that day and that hour ever be in our thoughts ! When we rise, when we lie down; when we speak, when we are silent; when we act, and when we rest : whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, may we never forget that “for all these things God will bring us into judgment”." For “He cometh quickly, and His reward is with Him, to give every man according as His work shall be."
“Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Blessed will they be then, and only they, who, with the Apostle, have ever had on their lips, and in their hearts, the question,
Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do * ?" whose soul “hath broken out for the very fervent desire that it hath alway unto His judgments;" who have “made haste and prolonged not the time to keep His commandments";" who have not waited to be hired, nor uncertainly, nor beaten the air, nor taken darkness for light, and light for darkness, nor contented themselves with knowing what is right, nor taken comfort in feeling what is good, nor prided themselves in their privileges, but set themselves vigorously to do God's will.
Let us turn from shadows of all kinds,-shadows of sense, or shadows of argument and disputation, or shadows addressed to our imagination and tastes. Let
1 Mal. iii. 18.
4 Acts ix. 6.
3 Eccles. xi. 9.
3 Rev. xxii. 12. 5 Ps. cxix. 20. 60.
us attempt, through God's grace, to advance and sanctify the inward man. We cannot be wrong here. Whatever is right, whatever is wrong, in this perplexing world, we must be right in “ doing justly, in loving mercy, in walking humbly with our God;" in denying our wills, in ruling our tongues, in softening and sweetening our tempers, in mortifying our lusts ; in learning patience, meekness, purity, forgiveness of injuries, and continuance in well-doing.
Saintliness not forfeited by the Penitent.
In nothing am I behind the very chiefest Apostles, though I be nothing."
-2 Cor. xii. II.
So says St. Paul, after recounting his privileges, his
sufferings, and his services through many chapters, or rather through his whole Epistle. His Corinthian converts had learned to undervalue him, and he confesses that he was by himself as weak and worthless as they thought him. “I am the least of the Apostles," he says, “that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.”
“ Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves." And in the text he speaks of himself as being “nothing." Yet though such, viewed in himself, far other was he in fact, that is, in the grace of God, which had been shed upon him; or in his own words, “ But by the grace of God I am what I
which was bestowed upon me was not in vain, but I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." Again, “But our suffi
ciency is of God.” And again, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." And again, “I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest Apostles"." And in the text, “In nothing am I behind the very chiefest Apostles, though I be nothing."
And in both Epistles he enumerates in detail many of the fruits and tokens of this grace which had been given to him, who was once "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, , and injurious.” “Even unto this present hour," he says, "we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; and labour, working with our own hands : being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” Again, “In all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, 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." And again, “Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man.” And again,
« In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft ; . ., in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness : . ... Who is weak,
11 Cor. xv. 9, 10. 2 Cor. ii. 5; xii. 9; xi. 5.
and I am not weak? who is offended, and I burn not?” And again, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong!!!
Is it possible to conceive a greater contrast than is placed before us in the picture of Saul the persecutor of the Church, and of St. Paul, Apostle, Confessor, and Martyr ? Who so great an enemy of Christ? who so true a servant ? Nor is St. Paul's instance solitary; stranger cases still have occurred in the times after him. Not unregenerate sinners only like him, but those who have sinned after their regeneration; not sinners in ignorance only, like him, but those who knew what was right and did it not; not merely the blinded by a false zeal and an unhumbled heart, like him, but sensual, carnal, abandoned persons; profligates, who sacrificed to Satan body as well as soul; these, too, by the wonder-working grace of God, have from time to time become all that they were not; as high in the kingdom of heaven as they were before low plunged in darkness and in the shadow of death. Such awful instances of Christ's power meet us every now and then in the course of the Church's history; so much so, that by a mistake, great but not unnatural, it has sometimes been laid down as a sort of maxim, “The greater the sinner, the greater the saint;" as if to have a full measure of Christ's cup, a man must first have drunken deeply of the cup of devils.
Such a doctrine of course is simply wicked and detestable; but still it derives some speciousness from 11 Cor. iv. 11–13. 2 Cor. vi. 47; vii. 2; xi. 23. 27. 29; vi. 10.