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a time for indulging in those things which God has forbidden, and which must destroy their future hopes. They were not in a state of darkness: the light had shone upon them, displaying “the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Therefore they should put on the armour of light: clothe themselves with the light of knowledge and of grace, which would secure them against harm: the works of darkness were for those on whom “the true light” had not shined: not for those who had been called to holiness, and ought to “walk as children of light.” And as it is encouragement to one engaged in a contest, to know that victory is near; or to one striving for the prize of speed, that he has nearly reached the goal, the sight of which redoubles his exertions: so the apostle gives encouragement; saying, our salvation is now nearer than when we believed, when we first entered upon the life of faith in the Son of God. The night is far spent, the night of this dreary pilgrimage: the day is at hand, the “perfect day” of heavenly glory. When we first believed, we had a long career before us, in which to endure hardness, to deny ourselves, to strive against sin, to remain painfully on the watch against all the wiles of the devil. Now is our salvation nearer, by all the interval which has been so spent: now is the eternal day brought more nigh, by all the period of darkness which we have been passing through. Now, therefore, there is especial encouragement to take heed to ourselves; to walk homestly, as faithful disciples of the Lord, whose name we bear; not to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, but to “ follow after holiness,” as he who hath called us is holy: that those things be not lost which have been already wrought in us,” but that we “hold fast the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end,” and press onward to the mark for the prize of our high calling.
* See a like argument, Eph. v. 8–11.
The sentiment of the apostle here shows us in what light death will be viewed, by those who have rightly understood the nature of life. They will regard it as salvation; deliverance from dangers which threatened them as long as they were in the world; release from labours which they could never remit or relax whilst clothed in the body of corruption, and assailed from within and from without with evil. They might have just confidence, that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” and that “He who had begun a good work in them, would perform it unto the end.” Still there is but one way in which their calling and election could be made sure:3 and they would feel the flesh lusting against the Spirit, “the law in their members” drawing them back, and on every occasion of weakness or temptation, ready to “bring them into captivity to the law of sin.” As whilst the Israelites contended against Amalek, so long as Moses’ hands were lifted up, Israel prevailed:" but still there was no rest, no remission, no comfort, till at the going down of the sun Joshua utterly discomfited Amalek:-so is there “rest for the people of God,” when their sun is nearest its going down. Then their “warfare is accomplished:” their trials are at an end, and their salvation is perfected: and they can exclaim with our apostle himself: “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me at that day.” “Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
3 2 John 8. * Ch. xi. 29 ; Phil. i. 6. * 1 Pet. i. 10. * Ex. xvii. 11—13.
LECTURE XXXVIII. JESUS CHRIST THE CHRISTIAN'S JUDGE AND LORD.
RoMANs XIV. 1–9.
1. Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. 2. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. 3. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not : and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth; for God hath received him. 4. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant 2 to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up : for God is able to make him stand.
We read in the Acts, that after the message carried by Peter to Cornelius, his Jewish brethren “contended with him, saying, (Acts xi. 2–3,) Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them.” Peter explained his reason. By the law of Moses, certain kinds of food were forbidden. But God had now revealed to him that these outward distinctions were done away: and that “every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving.”" But all could not admit this saying. Prejudices which have been long indulged, habits which we have followed from our youth, can hardly be laid aside. Many of the Jews, though converted to the faith of the Gospel, still reverenced so highly the law in which they had been brought up, that whilst living among Gentiles, they ate herbs only; would taste no meat at all, lest unawares they should partake of meat that was unclean.” On the other hand, many of the Gentiles, not content with enjoying the liberty granted them, blamed their Jewish brethren, and treated them with contempt, because of their attachment to ancient rules. This caused dissensions; engendered bad spirit; injured brotherly love. The apostle restrains such feeling, and tells these Roman Christians, that it would be better to conform to one another's prejudices, than to endanger charity, or provoke an unfriendly temper in matters of no real consequence. A man who used all kinds of food without scruple, might do so, and please God; God hath received him. And a man who abstained from certain kinds of food for conscience' sake, might equally please God; God would receive him also.
7 2 Tim. iv. 6–8 ; 1 Cor. xv. 57.
Let neither despise the other. To his own master he standeth or falleth.
It was the same with regard to days. Besides the sabbath days, the Jews observed the new moons, together with many festivals appointed by the law, which were not binding upon Christians. Here also was a matter of indifference, and not of doubtful disputation.
5. One man esteemeth one day above another : another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.” 6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks ; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. 7. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. 8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord ; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. 9. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living.
Thus the discussion of a subject in which we are not immediately concerned, leads to a sentence in which all are closely interested. None of us lireth unto himself. We lire unto the Lord. So Paul describes the character of Christians. Is it then their character ? Looking into the world of those who profess and call themselves Christians, can it be
* So Col. ii. 16. “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath
days: which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ.”