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THE GREAT MOTIVE.
COLOSSIANS iii. 17.
“Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”
He then presses
This great command is here given between some of the highest, and some of the homeliest duties of the Christian life. St. Paul, a little before, has said, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above.” He then upon the Colossians the great mysteries of the resurrection and ascension of our Lord, as incitements to a holy life. He bids them live as men dead to the world, living in and to God alone, in mortification, purity, devotion, and peace. After these high counsels of saintliness, he gives a series of minute and homely precepts to wives and husbands, parents and children, and servants and masters: and then, between these two branches of his exhortation, he says, " Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus; showing us that all duties are sacred, and that none are too little to be done for Christ's sake.
Now in these words St. Paul gives us the great motive of Christian obedience.
When God in the beginning created man in His own image, the aim or motive of his obedience was God; His will, bliss and glory. After the fall, by perversion, it became, in manifold shapes, his own self; self-pleasing, self-indulgence, and selfworship. This was the true fall of mankind. The Divine
law of order was lost, and man's spiritual being was confounded by the turbulence of his own fallen nature. It had no law, or supreme control, and so became its own bondage and affliction. This has been the source of all sin and sorrow to mankind. His nature had lost its key-stone, and fell into a ruin. It was this great want of a governing law or motive which was again filled up by the Gospel of Christ. The true principle, or moving cause, of all obedience in man is the Name of Christ. And this is what St. Paul implies in these words. Let us, then, see what this precept means to do all in the name of Christ.
First, it means, to do all things for His sake; and that because, by the redemption of the world, we have passed into His possession. We are no longer our own, but His. We were dead ; He has made us to live again: we were condemned; He has blotted out the doom that was against us: we were under the powers of sin; and He has set us free. Not only are all gifts from Him, but we ourselves have the very gift of our new and spiritual life through His incarnation and His atonement on the cross. Therefore St. Paul
in another place, “ The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (that is all died with Him :) " and that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” I “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; wherefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” ? And again, “ Ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.”
But, further, to do all in His name, means to do all in His sight. When He was upon earth, His apostles 'saw and conversed with Him. They went in and out at His bidding. All they did and said was in His presence, and in His hearing.
1 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
? 1 Cor. vi. 20.
31 Cor, üï23.
Whether they were with Him in the mountain or on the sea, by the wayside or in the Temple, He saw all and knew all. Even the words they spoke among themselves in secret, and the thoughts that arose, as they journeyed, in their heartsall was manifest to Him. So it was before He suffered. After He rose from the dead, still more. In those forty days of mysterious abiding upon earth, whether seen or no, He watched all their ways, noted every thought. They were under His penetrating gaze while they communed of Him and of His departure ; while they toiled all night upon the sea of Galilee: or wondered among themselves when He should reveal Himself again. And not lessomnay, even when He went up into heaven, after He had sent them forth into all the earth, and said, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” He sent them into all lands, and He went with them unseen. In market-places and before councils, in prisons and in travel, in the desert and on the. deep, He was always near. And His presence has abode with their lineal successors even to this hour. This high promise stands sure.
His invisible fellowship is with us still, not less than with them. What is the Church, but the presence of Christ, and the company of the apostles, drawn out unto the world's end? What is the visible Church, but the very fellowship of the eleven who were gathered in the upper chamber, then personal and local, now universal and perpetual ? With Him time is not. He reigns in time, but · His presence is neither past nor to come, but now and always : seen and unseen is nothing in Christ's kingdom ; visibleness is but an accident. He sees us here and now, as He saw them at Emmaus, or on the mountain of ascension. All our whole life bears the same relation to Him as theirs; and ought, therefore, to be governed by the same abiding consciousness. Wheresoever we be, whatsoever we are doing, in all our work,
in our busy daily life, in all schemes and undertakings, in public trusts, and in private retreats, He is with us, and all we do is spread before Him: Do it, then, as to the Lord. Let the thought of His eye unseen be the motive of
acts and words. Do nothing you would not have Him see. Say nothing which you would not have said before His visible presence. This, again, is to do all in His name.
And, once more, to do all in Christ's name, means, further, to do all as a witness for Him.
This was the commission of the apostles. He bade them tarry in Jerusalem till they had received power from on high ; and then, He said, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”! “ And ye are witnesses of these things ;” ? that is, of His incarnation, teaching, and miracles, of His passion and resurrection, of His mysteries and sacraments, of His ascension and perpetual presence, of the whole invisible kingdom of their exalted Head. This was the witness of the apostles. And they bare it by their preaching and suffering, but chiefly by their purity of life. He that overcame sin and death, when He went up on high, endowed them with His own power to overcome death and sin. "I appoint unto you a kingdom, as My Father hath appointed unto Me." 3 "All power is given unto Me, in heaven and in earth. Go
Go ye, therefore." 4 The whole apostolic ministrythe founding and expansion of the Church throughout the world—its resistless might against all opposition—its universal mastery, overthrowing altars, temples, legions, kingdoms, and whatsoever reared itself against the cross,—all this was a visi. ble witness for Christ. It proved that they were the living members of a living Head ; that in them He was still ever
1 Acts i. 8.
2 St. Luke xxiv. 48.
going forth with the armies of heaven, conquering, and to conquer. They were the witnesses of the true and only King, who reigns, conquers, and governs in heaven and in earth. And this is our work and trial now. There are, at this very hour, two kingdoms in presence of each other. The world is still divided between the kingdom of Christ and the kingdom of antichrist. For one or for the other, every man must be. These two kingdoms have their standards, powers, and tribunals. The one, loud, pompous, and majestic, gorgeous in its apparel and in the pageantry of its strength. In its train are pleasures, honors, decorations, high estate, refinement, luxury, and splendor. This is the kingdom of the world, and its glory. The other is lowly and despised—its ensign a cross, and its crown a wreath of thorns; in its retinue are
and slighted—its badges are sorrows, stigmas, and wrongs. It has no splendor of outward array-no legions but the army of martyrs--no throne but one that is set in heaven. Between these you must make your choice; and yet your choice is already foregone and past. It was made for you in your baptism. You are set here to witness_by the confession of your baptismal faith, in word and deed--by acts of visible worship, especially in the sacrament of His death and passion-by visible purity of heart—by a life like His—by His light shining in you and from you, overcoming the world, be it in the highest or the lowest paths of life, in the homeliest and the simplest duties of every day. None are too humble or too weak, to witness for the Holy Name. In the crush and struggle of the world, you are on trial at every turn; and your truth, loyalty, and faith, are being always proved. A thousand tests touch you on every side: even in the still measured round of domestic life, in the home duties of parents, children, and brethren, if your motive is His name, and your law is His