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The Apostolical Christian.

"Know ye not, that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? so run, that ye may obtain."'—I COR. ix. 24.

HERE was one who came running to Christ, and


kneeled to Him, yet he did not obtain; for that haste of his and hurry was no type of the inward earnestness with which the true soul goes sedately forward unto salvation. He was one of the many who, in some sort, run the race, yet do not receive the prize, because they run in self-will, or lightness of mind. "If a man strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." "I have not sent" them, says the Lord by His Prophet, "yet they ran'." Many there are, who are not open sinners, who do not deny Christ, who honour Him with their lips-nay, in some sort with their lives-who, like the young man, are religious in a certain sense, and yet obtain not the crown. For they are not of those who, with the blessed Apostle who speaks in the text,

1 2 Tim. ii. 5. Jer. xxiii. 21.

observe the rules of the contest. They have no claim upon the prize, because they run on their own ground, or at their own time; or, in other respects, after their own pleasure. They make a religion for themselves, and they have a private idea what a Christian ought to be; and they never get beyond, even if they attain, the regulation of their lives and conduct upon this selfdevised standard of truth. They can never be said to have "finished their course," for, in truth, they have never entered on it. Or they begin it, and turn aside in some other direction, mistaking the path. "Ye did run well," says St. Paul to the Galatians; "who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth 1?"

Let us then, with this thought before us, leave for a while our own private judgment of what is pleasing to God and not pleasing, and turn to consider the picture which Scripture gives us of the true Christian life, and then attempt to measure our own life by it. He alone who gives us eternal happiness, has the power of determining the conditions for attaining it. Let us not take it for granted that we shall know them by our own common sense. Let us betake ourselves to Scripture to learn them.

Now it is very certain, that the New Testament abounds in notices, suggestions, and descriptions of the temper and mode of living of the disciples of Christ; that is, as they were characterized at the time when it was written. The idea of a Christian, as set forth in Scripture, is something very definite. We may conceive we have some general notion from Scripture what

1 Gal. v. 7.

a Jew was, but we know much more what a Christian was. As a Jew had a very peculiar character, as an Englishman has a character all his own, so the Christian, as described in the inspired writings, is like himself, and unlike any one else. He is not like Pharisee, not like Sadducee, not like Herodian, not like Greek, not like Roman, not like Samaritan; but he is like a follower of Christ, and none but him. Now, whether Christians at this day need be like what Christians were in the primitive times, is a further question. I want, in the first place, to consider what the primitive Christians were like, as represented in Scripture. As an historical question, as a matter of fact, thus only I would consider the subject; afterwards will be time enough for us to apply it to our own case, and to settle how far it is necessary for men of this day to conform their lives to the pattern given them once for all by inspiration.

Now so far is certain, that this one peculiar Christian character and life, and none but it, is attributed in Scripture to our Lord, to St. John Baptist, to the Apostles, and to Christians generally. Very different is our Lord from St. John Baptist; very different St. John from the Apostles; very different the Apostles from private Christians. John came in the garb of an ascetic, dressed in a garment of camel's hair, and eating locusts and wild honey. Our Lord came eating and drinking; He lived in the world as St. John in the desert. The Apostles were the teachers of grace, as St. John of repentance; and Christians in general were hearers, not preachers; numbers of them besides were

women, and thereby still more unlike Christ and St. John and the Apostles: and yet on the whole one only character distinguishes all of them in Scripture; Christ Himself, and the Baptist, and St. Peter, and St. John, and St. Paul, and the Christian multitude, men and women. And now to draw out what that character is; though, in doing so, I shall say nothing, my brethren, but what you know well already, and shall be doing little more than quoting texts of Scripture. And yet you have heard these texts so often, that perhaps they fall dead upon your ear, and they leave you as they found you, impressing no definite image of their meaning upon your minds.

1. Now the first great and obvious characteristic of a Bible Christian, if I may use that much abused term, is to be without worldly ties or objects, to be living in this world, but not for this world. St. Paul says, "our conversation is in heaven," or in other words, heaven is our city. We know what it is to be a citizen of this world; it is to have interests, rights, privileges, duties, connexions, in some particular town or state; to depend upon it, and to be bound to defend it; to be part of it. Now all this the Christian is in respect to heaven. Heaven is his city, earth is not. Or, at least, so it was as regards the Christians of Scripture. "Here," as the same Apostle says in another place, "we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come 299 And therefore he adds to the former of these texts, "from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." This is the very definition of

1 Phil. iii. 20.

Heb. xiii. 14.

a Christian, one who looks for Christ; not who looks for gain, or distinction, or power, or pleasure, or comfort, but who looks "for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." This, according to Scripture, is the essential mark, this is the foundation of a Christian, from which every thing else follows; whether he is rich or poor, high or low, is a further matter, which may be considered apart; but he surely is a primitive Christian, and he only, who has no aim of this world, who has no wish to be other in this world than he is; whose thoughts and aims have relation to the unseen, the future world; who has lost his taste for this world, sweet and bitter being the same to him; who fulfils the same Apostle's exhortation in another Epistle, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth, for ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory'."

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Hence it follows, that watching is a special mark of the Scripture Christian, as our Lord so emphatically sets before us: "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour Lord doth come. your .. Be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh 2" "At midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet Him. .. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh"." "Watch ye therefore, for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning; lest coming suddenly he

1 Col. iii. 2-4.

2 Matt. xxiv. 42. 44.

3 Matt. xxv. 6. 13.

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