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Fourthly, To look forward beyond this mortal life to the rest that remaineth for the people of God in His eternal kingdom and glory. The hope of good things to come was enough to make him willing to endure all present trials and afflictions, and to persevere in his attempts to benefit his fellow-creatures, let them act towards him as they would. He knew in whom he had believed, and that when he had fought the good fight, and had finished his course, having kept the faith, there was laid up for him a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge would give him at that day, and to all them also that love His appearing. 8 82 And therefore he could say, Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; for we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.83
Let us remember that these things are left on record in the holy scriptures for our sakes; that we may be led to follow the steps of the apostle's faith and hope in Christ, and may expect to receive the same end of our faith, the salvation of our souls. All Christians are not called to be the ministers of Christ, but all are required to use their best efforts, and to offer up their fervent
82 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8.
83 2 Cor. iv. 17; v.
84 1 Peter i. 9.
prayers, for the success of His blessed gospel. They are to give it their support, as far as they have it in their power, in the sphere which they occupy; and to pray to the Lord of the harvest to give the increase, by His blessing upon the means used for the promotion of His own cause and glory. None are to think themselves too weak or too insignificant to act in this cause. None are to be ashamed on that account to confess Christ before men. Let it be our glory that we serve the Lord Christ; then we may be assured that our dependence upon His grace will not be in vain. Let us be anxious to please Him, and to advance His honour in the world. The more singleness of eye we have to His glory, and the more simplicity of heart in His service, the more happy shall we be, and the more confidence shall we have in His protection and care for us. If we are called to suffer tribulation of any kind, and especially for His name's sake, let it be our prayer that tribulation may work patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; a hope which maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Let us seek to enjoy this love, and look beyond the afflictions of this present dying world to the blessedness of which the humble believer in Christ shall partake in the everlasting kingdom of his Lord and Saviour.
SUNDAY CALLED QUINQUAGESIMA.
1 Corinthians xiii. 13.
AND NOW ABIDETH FAITH, HOPE, CHARITY, THESE THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS CHARITY.
In the chapter of which these words are the conclusion, which is appointed for the Epistle of this day, the apostle Paul gives a beautiful and interesting description of charity or love. He states both what it is not and what it is. He shows what are the effects which it produces in the life, wherever it really subsists in the heart; and then he institutes a comparison between it and other gifts of Divine grace, which were more eagerly sought after by the Corinthians, because
they obtained more applause among their fellowcreatures than was received by means of this most excellent gift. True religion is not designed to elate, but to humble the heart of man. Yet pride and ostentation endeavour to take root even in the profession of true religion.
It was needful in the infancy of the Christian church that miraculous powers should be granted to the members of it, for the confirmation of the faith. Those who possessed them were admired for the gifts which were conferred upon them. And some of these persons, such is fallen man, were vain of the gifts which had been bestowed upon them by God, and made an ostentatious display of them, as if they were a proof of superior holiness, instead of having been vouchsafed for the edification of the church, and to promote the conversion of the heathen from the error of their ways. The apostle therefore shows that however desirable these extraordinary gifts were, the ordinary graces of the Spirit of God were much more estimable, the exercise of them being of more real benefit to the church of Christ. The miraculous powers with which some were endowed were intended principally to be a sign to them that believed not, as they showed the difference between the supernatural manifestations of Divine power, and the false and lying miracles which were continually forged by the priests of idolatry. This evidence of the truth
of Christianity being no longer needed after the authoritative establishment of the Christian religion throughout the Roman empire, miraculous powers then appear to have ceased.
In the chapter before us, the apostle first speaks of the gift of tongues, which was a most important benefit conferred upon the church of Christ at that time, since by means of it the gospel of Christ was communicated to many who would not otherwise have had an opportunity of being made acquainted with it. He shows the uselessness of this gift to its possessor, unless he were also possessed of the Christian grace of charity or love. He says in his own person, Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. The gift of tongues seems to have been greatly desired by many persons, as a mark of superiority; so that the apostle deems it needful to enlarge on the subject very particularly in the following chapter. He shows that the most extensive gift of tongues or knowledge of languages, united to the greatest fluency and eloquence of utterance, would be of no avail unless the talent were made use of to promote the glory of God and the salvation of mankind. The gifts were not bestowed in order to cause the persons who received them to be admired by their fellow-creatures, but to enable them to make known the gospel of Christ to