Imatges de pÓgina
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are called away. Add to the number of your prayers; and intersperse your necessary work with verses of the Psalms, and other holy words, which you have learnt when you were young. Take your accustomed place in Church with thankful gladness, whenever you are not hindered by sickness, or some necessary impediment. Let nothing keep you away from the Holy Communion, when it is possible for you to come. Since, with you especially, every one may make a great difference, when each may be your last.

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SERMON XXXI.

THE UNTROUBLED EVENING OF THE CHRISTIAN'S LIFE.

GALATIANS, vi. 17.

"From henceforth let no man trouble me : for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus."

GREAT trouble had been caused to the holy Apostle by the conduct of the Galatian Christians, who were his own children in the faith. For their grievous errors in doctrine St. Paul had sharply reproved them. This epistle abounds with reproofs which it doubtless pained him to administer; "O foolish Galatians," he says, "who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth.... Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. . . . I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? ..... Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? . . . . . My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice;

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for I stand in doubt of Ye did run well; who did hinder you, that ye should not obey the truth? ... I would they were even cut off which trouble you." It must have been with great pain that St. Paul, who felt so tenderly for those who had been brought to Christ by his ministry, thus severely reproved them. To seem to use sharpness towards those whom he ardently loved, and for whose welfare he was deeply anxious, was doubtless grievous to his spirit. How deeply then must he have been wounded by those faults which demanded such sharp remedies!

Having, then, used many arguments to restore them to the truth from which they had fallen, he last of all reminds them of the pain they occasioned him by their unfaithfulness. And this he does in the way of reproof: "From henceforth let no man trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." In grieving him, they were sinning against Christ, whose marks he bore as the symbols of honour. "Let no man trouble me," he says-not as if he, upon whom there came daily the care of all the Churches, were afraid of toil, and anxious to escape labour-not as if he were unwilling to spend and be spent for them; but he wished to deliver them from error, and to save them from committing sin.1 "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus," He has signed me for His own, and wholly consecrated me to Himself "let no man trouble me," lest he be condemned at last, as the enemy of Christ. Thus he wins them by tenderness, and urges them

1 Vide St. Chrysostom, in Loco.

by fear to observe carefully that teaching, by which he would lead them back again into the truth.

And are there now any among us by whom these words might suitably be used? Which of us shall presume to say, "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus?" It may be there are those among us who would not indeed dare to use such language concerning themselves; who yet, by the holiness, meekness, patience, and humility of their lives, and by their evident ripeness for a better state, may lead others to apply such language to them. There are among us aged Christians, whose inward feeling is well expressed in the former part of these words, "From henceforth let no man trouble me;” and of whom those who know them best will most readily add, "for they bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus."

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Let us contemplate for a while this blessed sight, the close of a Christian's life; the peace which God prepares for them that love Him, "even before the sons of men," even in this life. Let us behold those who, by Divine Providence, having been preserved and guided through a life more or less chequered with the shadows of adversity, and being by Divine grace well-nigh perfected, are now peacefully awaiting their departure, to be with Christ in the place of rest. And let us observe the temper of mind with which it pleases God for the most part to endue them while He prolongs their stay among us, granting us the cheering and encouraging light of their examples; and permitting us to gain wisdom from the

2 Psalm xxxi. 21.

unconscious teaching of their heaven-prompted words. For them "it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." The wearying labour, and the anxious toil of their working day is over; and the cool shadows of the evening of life yield a pleasant, yet, as it seems to most, a sober deepening covert from the rays of the sun, whose mid-day heat they bore. It is as Sabbath eve to them, and the day of the resurrection draweth on. The peacefulness of the night broods o'er their spirits, but in their hearts is the dawn of a glorious Easter. But a little time will pass, and it shall be said of them that they are fallen asleep in Christ; and already the gentle calmness of sleep is on them, and angels keep guard around them. The summer is past and gone, and the fresh and lively note of singing-birds is no longer heard; the time of the ripe fruits has come, and is passing away;—at such a time have we not seen a wonderful stillness brood over heaven and earth, before the leaves fall, and the bare trees are left to the fury of the winter blast? Then, before a leaf is fallen; the trees are seen in their full beauty; and a warm glow of colours, richer than their natural hues, melts them into the light of the setting sun, as if the glorious orb had set his own mark upon them. At such a time it would seem as if the very winds of heaven were afraid to mar the deep repose. Even so with the faithful Christian, when he is about to leave this world, in

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3 St. Luke, xxiv. 29.

It was soon after writing the above passage that the author first saw the following lines in the "Lyra Innocentium :"

"As calm eve's autumnal glow

Answers to the woods below."

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