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mind, when the prospect is actually before us of quitting for ever this transitory world. dying man, who is conscious that he is on the point of entering upon another state of existence, which will be unchangeable and eternal, every thing in this world appears unworthy of a moment's thought, in comparison with his future condition. How important is it that we should anticipate that hour which is fast hastening to us all, that we may give diligence to make our calling and election sure ;45 and not find, when it comes upon us, that we have neglected the one thing needful for our eternal happiness, the knowledge of Jesus Christ and His salvation. The multitude of mankind set their affection on earthly things exclusively and entirely. It is the duty and privilege of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to seek those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God,46 ready to dispense the blessings of His grace to the suppliants at His footstool. If we are waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, this will be the case with us; our conversation will be in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.47
46 Colossians iii. 1.
47 Philippians iii. 20, 21.
Let us ask ourselves, Is our Christianity of this description ? Does it raise our minds to things above, and to realize those which are unseen and eternal ? This is what it ought to do. If it does not, we have reason to fear that there is something materially wrong in our religious profession. There is reason to suspect that notwithstanding we may profess to believe the gospel, the testimony of Christ has not been received by us into our hearts, and therefore it has not been confirmed in us; that we are not established in it, so as to be led to seek earnestly to enjoy its benefits; but that our profession of Christianity is merely a formal and nominal one, from which no real happiness is derived. Do I address any, who are in a measure convinced of the importance of possessing true religion, but are halting between two opinions, vainly striving to serve God and mammon, or God and this present evil world? Be assured that you cannot possibly serve two such opposite masters at one and the same time. There is no agreement between them. If then you cleave to the one, you must forsake the other; if you hold to the one, you will despise the other. Inquire then, What can the world give you? What is the real worth of all its gifts, could you obtain your whole desire? All would issue in vanity and vexation of spirit. This is all that the votaries of the world toil for. And, oh! what a poor compensation is this for
the loss of the soul. But what will the Lord Jesus Christ give to them that receive His testimony, and are waiting for His coming ? Not perishing riches, not fading honours, not cloying pleasures, but an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, which is reserved in heaven for them; an exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Thither let us direct our hopes and expectations, and we shall not meet with disappointment. With what eagerness are the things of this life sought after, amidst innumerable disappointments. But those who seek first the kingdom of God will meet with no disappointment. Let them with patience wait for it, and in due time they shall receive the inestimable blessing, as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to His believing people.
The apostle was persuaded, that as the grace of God had begun the good work in the Corinthian believers, it would be carried on until it was completed. He therefore encourages them to rely upon the goodness of God to His children in Christ Jesus, by assuring them that He would also confirm them unto the end, that they might be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. So he expresses himself to the Philippians as being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. We are indebted to Divine grace at all times for our continual preservation in the good ways of God, so as to hold out to the end of our earthly course.
It is to the grace of God that we must look for our preservation day by day, as long as we live upon earth. He is able, as St. Jude declares, to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. When the accuser of the brethren brings his charges against us, in order to our condemnation, the only available reply will be, It is Christ that died, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us ; it is in Him that we put our trust as the propitiation for our sins; and our Advocate, as well as our Redeemer. Those who rely on Him shall be more than conquerors through Him that loved them; they shall triumph through Christ over all the accusations and malice of Satan; and nothing shall be able to separate them from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. The grace of God, which began and carries on, will complete the good work, until He shall bring forth the head stone of the spiritual building with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace, unto it. Let this grace of God, which is given us by Jesus Christ, be our sole and entire dependence, and we shall have continual cause for thankfulness and praise; and shall be enabled to look beyond this present life to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, having our hopes directed towards it, as the season of our highest joy and felicity.
THE NINETEENTH SUNDAY AFTER
THE CHRISTIAN SCHOLAR.
Ephesians iv. 20, 21.
BUT YE HAVE NOT SO LEARNED CHRIST; If SO BE THAT YE HAVE HEARD HIM, AND
BY Him, AS THE TRUTH IS IN JESUS.
The conduct which is inconsistent with a profession of Christianity, and that which is agreeable to it, are both enlarged upon by the apostle Paul in the Epistle for this day. The difference between a mere outward profession of faith in Christ, and receiving the truth in the love of it, is pointed out in the plainest manner. We must be taught the truth as it is in Jesus by the demonstration of the Spirit, so as to receive it by the faith of the operation of God, in order to have a right apprehension of it. We must be