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“ Christ had showed him,” by crucifixion. Yet he is calm, he is in the possession of his faculties : his last thoughts are about those whom he is to leave behind him in the world; those who through his preaching “ had obtained the like precious faith " with himself.” What are the sentiments that he breathes, what is the information which he conveys to them at so solemn a moment? That he has devolved his power upon another? that he has left them in the hands of an infallible guide ? Nothing can be more foreign from his thoughts, or more alien to his expressions : on the contrary, his last effort seems to be to enable them to dispense with such a guide, says,
“ after his decease,” by “stirring “ them up," by “ putting them in remem“ brance” of Gospel truths, though they “ knew them already.” Neither does one vestige appear throughout this whole Epistle of the place at which it was written. What conclusion we should draw in point of doctrine from these undeniable facts, needs no more explanation. Those which we should draw with respect to practice are, that we adhere with fidelity to the only guide which the Apostle here appears to have any anxiety to leave behind him, the word of God. Let us study it zealously, and practise it faithfully, submitting ourselves to its injunctions, controlling our passions by its precepts, in the humble hope of its rewards when our Maker shall see fit to call us hence.
ON THE VANITY OF HUMAN PURSUITS.
PHILIP. i. 21.
For to me to die is gain.
WHOEVER considers duly the hardships and sufferings of those persons on whom the duty was imposed of planting and propagating the Christian religion must confess that, except for the accomplishment of the great object which they had in view, life was not to be wished for on the terms on which they had it. Its prolongation could not be desired from those motives which are usually called personal, private, or selfish.
First, if we contemplate their situation during the ministry of their Divine Master, the adherents of one who was himself exposed to every species of insult and obloquy, could have few of those worldly enjoyments or distinctions which captivate the affection of the sensual, greedy, or ambitious. It is certain indeed that the humble stations which
many of them had quitted at the divine call promised a more assured competence of the good things of this life than the new course into which they entered. At the earlier period also of their attendance on our Saviour their faith, which was but young, must have been proportionably weak and wavering. They must have been frequently haunted with apprehensions of the doubtful issue of so singular an enterprise. But doubts gave way to certainty after that inspired declaration of St. Peter to the inquiry made by his Master, “Whom “ thou art that Christ, the Son of the living 6 God.”
say ye that I am ? And Simon Peter “ answered and said, Thou art the Christ, “ the Son of the living God.” “Then Simon “ Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall
we go? thou hast the words of eternal life: and we believe and are sure that
a St. Matt. xvi. 15, 16.
Yet even from henceforth what was their worldly condition ? Not one which could be contemplated without dismay, or of which the prolongation could be courted, except from the hope of the eternal reward which was to come hereafter. They were present with their Divine Master during all his sufferings and agonies; they saw the close of them in a death of ignominy and torture. And what then must have been their reflections, when he who had never deceived them on any other subject had also pointed out to them individually and colleetively a life of want and insult like his own, to be terminated by a death such as they had then witnessed ; a death, the apprehension of which had, in a moment of predicted weakness, made the most zealous among them shrink from his duty, and deny all fellowship with him on whom it was about to be inflicted ? “ Behold,” says our Saviour, whilst yet with them, “I send you
b St. John vi. 68, 69.