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estimable the young man may have been, he does not take up the cross. When the state of his heart is in question he has no will for what is Christ's. He looked for righteousness in the law; and Christ, present with him, succeeds not in engaging him in another course. He said not, as Paul, “I suffer the loss of all things, and do esteem them but dung—that I may win Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is by the faith of Jesus Christ; the righteousness of God which is by faith.” Such was the effect produced by the Holy Ghost in Paul by the revelation to him of a Christ in glory. Paul saw Christ and said, “That is my righteousness, I make no count of my own." He desires not to have a human but a divine righteousness. We cannot have both; for if God gives me His righteousness, I do not present to Him that which is of myself.
Now, suppose that I had kept all the law and am without fault; such a righteousness would not be that of God, but that of a man. The law of God requires that man shall love God and his neighbour,—and that is what man does not do; but even supposing that I had kept this law in its fullest extent, I should only have a human righteousness, whereas I have a far better righteousness in Christ, even that of God Himself. Does the law demand that I should give my life in order to glorify God, and that, too, in behalf of worthless sinners? [Of a truth I should not know how to obey such a commandment]; but Christ has done so; He could say, "I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do”—and He was obedient even unto death, the death upon the cross.
The manner, too, in which Christ gave himself up on the cross altogether exceeds all that we could have done, even if we suppose that we had the power to fulfil the law. Christ has glorified God as man, and is now glorified with God. It was thus that Paul saw Him; and he said " That is the Righteousness which suits me well.”
In how amazing a manner has God been manifested in Christ Jesus! By faith I see Him on the cross, and I say to myself, I cannot do without that glorious work,
for from the moment that righteousness is of Christ it is no longer of me. Paul, when he saw Christ, had this thought 56 Behold in heaven the One who has communicated to me a divine righteousness;" and his expression necessarily is that I may be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by faith, the righteousness of God.
So long as we seek a human righteousness, it is evident we do not know the righteousness which is of God. Paul having seen the glory of God, stops not before he has said, “ I shall be there where Christ has the right to be. He is entered into heaven with a divine righteous
There is my place too: all else is but dung, and dross, and loss. Yes, all else is for me loss."
If Christ is thus before our eyes, all that is not Christ is an embarrassment. We must win Christ. Faith having once apprehended the righteousness of God, can no
nger put up with the righteousness of man; there is a needs be to faith to walk in a more excellent way. The riches which the young man valued had no longer any attraction for the heart of Paul; he had seen Christ, His righteousness, the end and prize of the heavenly calling
In Mark x. 25, Jesus said, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Great was the astonishment of all; and they said, “Who then can be saved !” Jesus concealed not the truth, “ It was impossible with inan, but all things were possible with God!" As to man, however excellent may be his pretensions, it is impossible; he loves money; he is ambitious; to cut the matter short, if man's ability to save himself is in question, Jesus Christ declares it is impossible. But let us suppose that we have left all, as Peter said, “Lo! we have left all and followed Thee;" and in truth they had, by the grace of God, really followed Jesus. The hearts of the disciples were really attached to Jesus, affection was really awakened in them towards Him,- they had done that, grace helping, which the young man could not make
his mind to do; even as the Lord said, Verily I say unto you, there is no one who has left
father or mother, etc., for my sake and for the Gospel's, who shall not receive in this present life a hundredfold with persecution, and in the world to come life everlasting.--You have been obliged to break, for my sake, ties here below: well, you shall find the same, stronger and, more perfect, among the children of God and, at the end, eternal life.” There are souls who have apprehended these things, and who have set out, and that sincerely, as pilgrims with Jesus; but on that road we have to follow Jesus, and Jesus has passed by the cross: we shall meet then that which will fully put us to the proof. “ And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And He took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto Him." We may say to ourselves, perhaps, what a blessed thing to have Jesus immediately before us! But the disciples were amazed: we desire to be in the way with Christ and to follow Him, but we are ignorant of what the costs may be; the disciples walked in it, and they found what the difficulty was: if Jesus went to Jerusalem, it was to be put to death there. The Jews would crucify Him, yet go thither He would. His disciples were filled with fear as they followed, because they had not the Holy Ghost; still they forsook not, as yet, their Master, yet they were amazed and in trouble.
Jesus is the good shepherd; He leads forth His sheep, He walks before them and the sheep follow Him. The disciples were afraid as they followed Jesus, Jesus led them to the cross.
The cross is on the road which leads to glory. Well! that was just what Paul desired. The disciples were amazed and afraid; Paul's state (Phil. iii.) was far different, “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection ... being made conformable unto His death.". Instead of being frightened, Paul thought, “I shall be partaker of the sufferings of Christ! I shall
, then, have much more of Him; I shall die to sin, to the world; I shall be much more conformed to the likeness of Christ, and all that destroys the flesh destroys that which hides Christ.” It was no imaginary danger;
Paul's trial was at hand--the alternatives of the question were life or death; death was before him, but he saw that it was the means of having more of Christ; so that he said, “I willingly take all that, for it is Christ.” He had no desire to have sufferings, but to have the fellowship of His sufferings, to be made conformable unto His death.
For us the cross is light in comparison of that which Paul had to suffer. Nevertheless, it is the cross which takes from us all that which hinders our realizing Christ in glory: What a contrast between the disciples, amazed and afraid when going up to Jerusalem to the cross was in question, and the apostle Paul, who gloried in every thing that could communicate to him any thing more of Christ. He knew that in passing through death, he should die to death. When Christ died, He died not as to communion with the glory of the Father. On the contrary He therein only realised that He had done with the guilt which, for our sakes, pressed heavily upon Him, done with the world which was a desert land-land of drought where no water was. Death was to Him to depart and enjoy, in His Father's presence, eternal blessedness; for us, death is not aught else. Therefore, as Christ said, " Father, into Thy hands I
, commit my Spirit,” so Stephen, “ Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” If death gives us more conformity to Christ, we need not stop to consider what suffering the flesh may find therein; we find our profit in it, because it is death to all that is not Christ, and we glory in it because it makes us more like to Christ. Is the cross before me? Good! I shall have more of Christ: the
energy of the Spirit makes me say: “if by any means I attain unto the resurrection.” I see Christ in glory; well, I desire to be as He is and to be with Him. I desire to possess Him just as I see Him, and if to gain that, or a fuller measure of it, I must pass through death; to me to die is gain. Where there is the energy of the spirit, there is light, and a single eye which makes us judge that Christ is worth all, and that all else is worth nothing: and this purifies the saint's heart.
In Mark x. 25, we have James and John asking of
Jesus to place them one on the right and the other on the left. They desired a good place in the kingdom. James and John had faith; spite of the dangers which they saw on the road to Jerusalem, they believed that Jesus would have the glory and the kingdom, and they said, " At all events give us a good place.” But about whom were they thinking? About James and John. Then Jesus speaks to them of drinking of the cup, and again sets the cross before them, subjecting them to the will of the Father, even as He Himself was obedient thereunto. Here, we have a step in advance: the question is of glory; but the Holy Spirit has no fellowship with this “ Self.” The heart is not delivered from it until the Spirit has guided our thoughts to Jesus. So was it with Paul, in whom we find altogether another thing than “myself”—(I will labour hard to have a good place). Paul is occupied with Christ more than with Paul: “ That I may win Christ.” 'Twas the Spirit who thus set Christ before him. The power of the Spirit had so directed his thoughts to Jesus, that Paul is, as it were, lost in Jesus. The effectual presence of the Spirit crucifies Egoïsm and gives us freedom of thought about ourselves while on the way; it occupies us with but one subject-Jesus: to be conformed to the pattern and to look to Him, is all that wo have to do, and this purifies the heart. Paul laboured more than they all; and therefore, in a certain sense, according to man's thoughts, he has a title to the most excellent place; but he did all, just because he did not seek such a place, but in seeking Christ alone. If he win Christ, what a righteousness ! If there be sufferings by the way, well, it is but conformity to Christ; if death, 'tis gain; for we look for the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our vile bodies, and render them like unto His own glorious body.
Paul thinks not of himself; the Spirit fills him with Christ Himself, and all that conceals from him Christ and His worth is rejected. The Spirit gives clearness of view and repose to the heart, through the knowledge of the righteousness of God. Then we desire to have Christ, to possess Him, and we find what is the way thereunto. * To Jerusalem and the cross! No matter;