For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
(1) that every minister and teacher has a special blessing for the Church; and
(2) that all such agents are but messengers from the court of heaven, and distributors of the blessings of God.
I. WE MAY TAKE CREDIT TO OURSELVES ONLY FOR OUR WANTS AND FOR OUR CAPACITY. Why should any man be proud, when he remembers that he was born a helpless babe; that he was dependent upon the kind services of others for the preservation of life; that he has learned nothing which he was not taught; that he enjoys nothing except through the good offices of his fellow men? And why should any Christian be "puffed up" with spiritual conceit, when he remembers that all he brought to the Scriptures, to the Church, to the Lord, was just his necessities and his capacity to receive spiritual blessings?
II. WE ARE INDEBTED FOR ALL THINGS TO HUMAN MINISTRATIONS. When we regard our circumstances, our worldly possessions, our education, our position in life, our family, our friends, this fact is obvious enough. But the same is true of our religious advantages, our spiritual blessings. The Bible was secured to us by human efforts and labours; the gospel was preached to us by human lips; the Church has been to us the fellowship of our human teachers and brethren; our religious knowledge has been conveyed to us by human interpreters; our piety has been inspired by human examples,
III. DIVINE MERCY HAS MADE HUMAN MINISTRIES SUBSERVIENT TO OUR SPIRITUAL WANTS. It is not wise or just to discriminate too nicely between human gifts and Divine. The human gifts are Divine gifts bestowed by human hands. It is the privilege of the devout and enlightened mind to look through the seen to the unseen; to recognize in every Christian helper and friend the messenger of God, the minister of Christ. The form, the voice, may be earthly, but there is behind a spiritual presence and a Divine power. It is the Giver of every good gift and every perfect gift who is so near. - T.
For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?
I. TO THOSE WHO MAY BE INCLINED TO DESPAIR. They fix their eye upon brilliant examples, and say, "How is it that we are not glorious and powerful like these?" Now this thing is really not so bad as it looks. There are compensations. You wish to be like the great calculator I have named. Let me tell you that on almost every subject but numbers Jedediah Buxton was little better than an imbecile. His admirers once took him to the opera, and when he came back he said, "Wonderful, she took so many steps in so many minutes!" Now will you change with him? And as for the Polish count he knew everything, but he built nothing, was brilliant but not solid. You should set one thing over against another. Every daisy has its own little bit of colour. Remember the tortoise and the hare. Instead of dwelling on your defects dwell on your gifts. If you have little you might have had less. If you stammer you might have been dumb. Though you have no wings you have good strong limbs.
II. TO THOSE WHO PRIDE THEMSELVES ON THEIR GIFTS AND POWERS. The apostle referred to these, and asks a question of those who are puffed up, which might well make them modest and thoughtful: "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?" He makes every man a debtor. Strength is from God, so is skill, so is opportunity. But one man has ten thousand a year, and another man can hardly live; what about such contrasts as these? Let me tell you.
1. A man may require a ladder ten thousand steps high before he can see any Providence at all, and another man can see God in the raiment of the lilies and the livelihood of birds.
2. One man may be able to bear the prosperity represented by ten thousand a year, and another might be crushed by the golden load.
3. And wholly apart from all such considerations, it still remains graciously true that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
III. TO THOSE WHO WONDER HOW IT IS THAT ONE MAN IS SAVED, AND ANOTHER MAN IS LOST.
1. God is far more concerned for the salvation of the human family than it is possible for man to be. He will do all that can be done. Let me leave the awful problem in His good hands.
2. The judgments of God are founded upon the gifts of God. When much is given, much will be required; where little has been given, little will be required.
3. It is not for me to say who will be saved, and who will not. I may not ask, "Lord, are there few that be saved? "or He will instantly answer: Strive to enter in at the straight gate! He will throw me back on my own obligations, and withdraw me from problems too deep for my immature and presumptuous mind.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
I. WHEREIN GOD HATH MADE US TO DIFFER.
1. Many of us differ from others in God's providential dealings towards us. Many of God's beloved children are in the depths of poverty, while some of us who are here have all that heart can wish. Let us gratefully ask, "Who maketh us to differ?" Perhaps none of us can ever know, until the great day shall reveal it, how much some of God's servants are tried, and if God hath made our path more pleasant, it is owing only to His grace, and we will not be high-minded, but condescend to men of low estate. The more God has given us the more we are in debt. Why should a man boast because he is deeper in debt than another? But the best way for you to feel this is to go into the hospital; then go round the neighbourhood to the sick who have lain for years upon the same bed, and after that go and visit some of God's poverty-stricken children.
2. Many differ in regard to God's gracious dealings.(1) Ask yourself, Why am I not at this very hour hearing the Word with my outward ear, but rejecting it in my inward heart? Have I made myself to differ? God forbid that such a proud thought should defile our hearts. The only reason is because He hath made thee to differ. Who are more hardened than those to whom we have alluded?(2) There are some of whose salvation, if it were to be wrought by man, we must indeed utterly despair for their hearts are harder than the most stubborn steel. How is it that my heart is melted, my conscience is tender, and that I know how to pray and to groan before God on account of sin?(3) But the lowest class of sinners do not mingle with our congregations, but are to be seen in our streets and lanes. How frightful are the sins of drunkenness, of blasphemy, of lasciviousness! "Who maketh thee to differ?" Some of you have experienced redemption from these very iniquities.(4) How is it that the minister has not forsaken his profession? How is it that the deacons have not turned aside unto crooked ways? How is it that so many members of this Church have been kept so that the wicked one toucheth them not? Let Abraham be deserted by God, he equivocates and denies his wife. Let Noah be deserted, he becomes a drunkard. Let David be left, and Uriah's wife shall soon show the world that the man after God's own heart hath still an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Then give all glory to the only wise God your Saviour who has kept you thus.(5) Since you and I have joined the Church how many who were once our companions have been damned whilst we have been saved? Oh, why is it you are not already a fiend; who is it that has given you a good hope through grace?
II. NOW WHAT SHALL WE SAY TO THESE THINGS? If God has made you to differ —
1. You should pray, "Lord, humble us. Take away pride out of us. O God, forgive us, that we should ever be proud."
2. Why may He not make others to differ toot "After the Lord saved me," said one, "I never despaired of anybody." Will you ever give up praying for anybody now that you are saved? Let me serve Him more than others. "What do ye more than others?"
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. I begin with reminding you that EVERY BLESSING WE POSSESS IS THE GIFT OF GOD, and that we have nothing which we did not receive from Him. That this is the case with respect to natural endowments will readily be admitted. A quick apprehension, a retentive memory, a lively imagination, and other mental powers are favours which the great Author of our being dispenseth to whom, and in what measure, it pleaseth Him; and never was any man so arrogant as to pretend that he bestowed these qualities upon himself. It is no less evident that the light of Divine revelation is an additional blessing which flows immediately from the same fountain of beneficence. We see every day that earthly things are estimated, not by their use, but by their scarcity; though, in fact, the things that are truly precious, because most necessary, instead of being rare, are scattered abroad with the greatest profusion. Thus doth God dispense temporal benefits: the best, that is the most useful, are universally given out in greatest abundance. And it may justly be affirmed that spiritual blessings are dispensed in the same way. The most comprehensive blessing, the unspeakable gift of Jesus Christ, is of all others the most free and liberal. In like manner the great rules of duty, and the truths that are best adapted to purify our hearts, and reform our practice, are dispersed, as it were, around us in the greatest plenty and variety. This affords a glorious display of the wisdom and goodness of our great Lawgiver and Judge. But, alas! we thwart His merciful intentions. Overlooking what is near, we roam abroad in quest of other things that lie at the remotest distance from us, and have the feeblest influence upon out' temper and practice. To correct this false taste, by recalling men's attention to the most simple and practical truths, ought, in my apprehension, to be the principal aim of a gospel minister. Life is short, and souls are precious, and therefore things of eternal consequence ought in all reason to be preferred.
II. To select some PRACTICAL LESSONS was the second thing proposed, to which I now proceed.
1. If all the blessings we possess be the gifts of God, the effects of His free and unmerited bounty, then surely we ought to be humble.
2. From the same principle, with equal ease and certainty, we may deduce our obligation to thankfulness and praise.
3. To humility and gratitude I add resignation to the will of God. Surely if no wrong be done us, we have no right to complain. We ought rather to adore that goodness which at first bestowed the gift, gave us the comfortable enjoyment of it, and continued it with us so long.
4. Did we attend to this truth we should not dare to employ any means that are unlawful for improving our circumstances, or acquiring the good things that belong to a present world, and even in using the means that are lawful, we should constantly look up to God for success, and implore His blessing upon our honest endeavours.
5. The importance of enjoying the blessing of God, with all the gifts which His bounty bestows upon us. From this alone ariseth their value, and nothing else can impart to them that sweetness which renders the possession of them truly desirable.
(R. Walker.)John 3:27; John 6:65; James 1:17; 1 Corinthians 3:7; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 2:13). There are other passages which teach us that God deals out His mercies according to His own free grace, without regard to any real merit on the part of those, His fallen creatures, who are the objects of His gracious and Fatherly care (Acts 17:24, 25, 28; Exodus 33:19; Isaiah 65:1; Matthew 20:15; Luke 19:10; Romans 9:16; Romans 11:33; Ephesians 2:8, 9).
1. Of this doctrine of God's free grace in the distribution of His manifold gifts, the following practical uses may be made. First, we are never to suffer our not being able to understand the counsels of God to perplex our minds, or to prevent us from fulfilling the various duties which He hath given us to perform. We know enough of God's moral government over us to know this great truth, that whatever comes from Him must be right and good, however unable we may be to explain all His dealings towards the children of men. We are therefore to go on with the work of God, the salvation of our immortal souls, with constancy and holy zeal.
2. We are, secondly, to rest satisfied with what hath been already made known to us, waiting for more perfect knowledge of the ways of God in the world to come.
(H. Marriot.)1. That inequalities do exist is one of the most patent and enduring of facts. And we cannot but reflect that it might have been otherwise. The moral law, indeed, could not have been other than it is consistently with the nature of its Author; but we might conceivably have had a world upon which a law of equality might have been stamped as plainly as it is in fact everywhere absent. Nor is grace in this matter the antithesis of nature.
2. The great truth which the apostle suggests is that the author of differences is the infinitely wise and good God. It is not chance; it is not a fatal outcome of inexorable law. We differ from one another —
I. IN EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. Of these inequalities, England is, perhaps, beyond any country in Europe, the great example. The contrast presented by the east and west ends of the metropolis is probably not to be found in any other capital; and, considering the small area and vast population of this country, the actual distribution of land and wealth might seem to approach the proportions of a social danger, and to threaten some form of destructive change.
2. There are answers enough to the apostle's question. These differences, we are told, are begotten of ancient injustice; they are a legacy of feudalism, or they are traceable to more recent eras of misgovernment; they represent the traditional selfishness of one class and the chronic inertness and degradation of another. Let the truth of all this, here and there, be granted, yet vast differences will still remain, due to the simple fact that God makes one man to differ from another in productive power, and hence there is inevitably a corresponding difference in the amount produced. If to-morrow you could cut up the land into strips, that every Englishman should have his tiny share in it, a fortnight would not pass before the reign of inequality would have begun again. Nature and fact would assert themselves against theory; and property varying in amount concomitantly with each man's productive power, would find its way into the hands of a minority — though, no doubt, a new minority — of the people.
3. What is this, then, but the old story of the Church ever upholding privilege against right, wealth against poverty, the few against the many? What is this but an endeavour to stereotype wrong by making God responsible for it, and by interposing Divine sanctions between it and its correction? And if we point in reply to a future in which inequalities will be for ever redressed, we are fiercely warned that this faith of ours in a future stands in the way of efforts to improve man's present lot. No, you misunderstand us. If property be of a kind to make crime almost the instinct of self-preservation; if the lack of education means no ruling moral principles in the conscience; if human beings are huddled together into dwellings which deny to purity its simplest safeguards, then, most assuredly, the Church of Christ would be false to her Master if she did not, at whatever risks, urge a remedy. Nay, more, whenever Christianity is really believed and acted on, it tends to lessen the general inequalities of life. Its charities throw bridges over the abysses which separate classes; its spirit of self-sacrifice prompts the free abandonment of wealth and station for the sake of others. Yet when all that can be done in this direction has been done, great inequalities must remain, because they are due to inherited differences of personal capacity.
II. IN THE PERSONAL ENDOWMENTS WITH WHICH OUR CREATOR HAS SENT US INTO THE WORLD.
1. Race differs so widely from race, that these differences have been exaggerated into one of the stock arguments against the unity of the human family. But members of the same race often differ from each other scarcely, if at all, less widely. Not seldom does this original inequality traverse, as if with a disdainful irony, the other inequalities of external circumstances which you have inherited from those who have transmitted to you their name and blood.
2. Here we are encountered by the doctrine of heredity. We are told that every quality in the individual has its roots and germs in the ancestral past. Undoubtedly this doctrine rests on a basis of fact; but if you say that most of the differences between man and man can be explained by it, does this do anything more than postpone the larger question which lies behind? Why should a given individual have this particular ancestry? Nay, why should there be anything to be transmitted, or any law of type to govern its transmission? In presence of these questions, science is wisely silent; but religion is not silent. And the answer to them leaves man, as he was of old, in the pre-scientific days, face to face with the Almighty Creator.
III. IN THE RELIGIOUS ADVANTAGES AND OPPORTUNITIES WHICH HAVE BEEN BESTOWED ON US. Our homes are, in this respect, very different; in some God is practically ignored, in others His will and honour are made a first consideration. The schools to which we have been sent are very different; in some religion is all but forgotten, in others it is the life and soul of the whole system. Our friendships are very different; and there are times in life when, religiously speaking, a friendship may have decisive consequences. Who maketh thee to differ from another? Who stands behind the opportunities of youth, behind the intellectual and moral environments of manhood, behind the subtle predispositions, which from the early days of life exercise a propelling influence in this direction or in that? Who gave his mother to St. , and his father to John Stuart Mill? These differences come from God; and if we ask why they should exist, we find ourselves face to face with abysmal mysteries, cut of which issues the warning, "Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?"Conclusion:
1. But is not this disappointing? Might we not have hoped that Christ, in whom all are brethren, and who makes all free indeed, would also have made us equal? But let us note that inequality of gift does not imply that God loves less those to whom He gives less. He gives as we can bear His gifts; He withholds, as He bestows, in love. Nay, underlying the great differences there is a much truer equality than we may think. As in a well-ordered state all are equal before the law, so in the Church all are equal before their Maker and Redeemer. We are equal, in that —(1) We all have before us the solemn moment of death.(2) We shall all be judged relatively to the gifts and opportunities we have enjoyed.(3) We must all of us be washed in the precious blood of Christ, and sanctified by the Eternal Spirit.(4) We are all of us receivers, although some of us may have received five talents, and others one.
2. What hast thou that thou hast not received? Is there nothing? Yes, one thing, only one — sin.
3. The temper in which we should think and act in view of the truth before us has three characteristics.(1) Disinterestedness. Any gift, possessed by others, and used for the glory of the Giver, should excite in a Christian pure and disinterested pleasure. If He has not given them to us individually, what does that matter, so far as our appreciating them is concerned?(2) Anxiety. Anxiety for others lest they should misuse God's bounty; but great anxiety for ourselves, if any of us have reason to think that we have been entrusted with anything considerable. "Be not high-minded, but fear."(3) Self-consecration. It may be little that you can give, give it to God; it may be what men deem much, give it unreservedly.
(Canon Liddon.)1. The Corinthian Church was exceedingly gifted: Alas! its grace was not in proportion to its gifts, and consequently a proud spirit was developed. Parties were formed who gloried in men that other men might glory in them.
2. There is great wisdom in Paul's rebuke. He did not cry down their talents. You very seldom lower a man's opinion of himself by undervaluing his gifts. He remembers the fable of the fox and the sour grapes. Pride is not to be cured by injustice: one devil will not drive out another. Pride often finds fuel for itself in that which was intended to damp its flame. The apostle follows a far more sensible course; he asks where the talent comes from.
3. The questions of the text may well humble us; but to this end we need the assistance of the Holy Ghost, for nothing is more difficult than to overcome our self-conceit. Pride hides itself under numberless disguises. Many take a pride in what they call having no pride about them. When Diogenes trampled on his valuable carpets and said, "I trample upon the pride of Plato!" "Yes," said Plato, "and with greater pride." Note —
I. A GREAT AND COMPREHENSIVE TRUTH. "Every good gift," &c.
1. Temporal advantages. Men boast of —(1) Strength and beauty; but these are gifts, not virtues. Some consider the strongest man to be the best, forgetting that horses and elephants can bear greater loads, and lions and tigers can be fiercer in fight. As for beauty, one of its most potent charms lies in its modest unconsciousness. These personal advantages are distributed at the Divine pleasure. The Lord has made one athletic while another is born a cripple, &c.(2) Position. But what determined the circumstances of our birth? and after all we are all on a level if we trace our pedigrees to their common meeting-place. Some claim to have made their own position; nay, to have made themselves. Yes, and worship their supposed maker. But "who gave you your opportunity and the force of character which have brought you to the front?"(3) Talent and knowledge; but to whom do they owe those natural predilections and talents which have been denied to others who have been equally industrious? Whence also has come the health which has enabled the student to persevere in laborious research?(4) Wealth. Certainly it is to a man's credit that he has not squandered his money in waste and self-indulgence; but still, what has he that he did not receive? His habits and discretions may be traced to training, or to force of mind, or to happy example, and they are, therefore, things received. And then his success, it is not alone due to industry, for sickness or accident might have made him unable to earn his bread. "Thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth."
2. Gracious privileges. Those who have been saved by Divine grace differ greatly from what they used to be, and from others still unregenerate. How comes this? It has been by the hearing of the gospel as the means, but we must ascribe it to Divine grace, and not to chance, that we were born where the gospel was preached, and not left under the influence of heathenism. The sovereignty of God is to be seen, again, in the fact that one should be found under a cold, dead ministry, and another should hear a soul-saving preacher. Yet further, there were some who heard the same sermons as you did and were not converted, and you were. How came that about? It is true you did pay more earnest attention, but what led you to do so?
3. Spiritual blessings. Conviction of sin; did that arise spontaneously, or did the Spirit convince you of sin? Repentance towards God — was that wrought in you by the Holy Spirit, or was it the outgrowth of your own free will? You have faith, but faith is the gift of God. Since your conversion you have exhibited some measure of holiness, but was that wrought in you by the Spirit, or is it the fruit of your natural excellence? Who distinguishes thee now? Suppose thou wert left to thyself, couldst thou continue in thy state of grace? And who shall make us to differ in days to come? Are we our own keepers?
II. ITS TEACHINGS.
1. It is a rebuke to pride. Let any one of us look back to our first estate, and we shall surely be compelled to silence every boast for ever. Think of what we should be if grace left us!
2. An excitement to gratitude. If all I have and am is due to the distinguishing grace of God, then let me bless the Lord in the depths of my soul. This gratitude should take the shape of continual obedience.
3. A reminder of responsibilities. Where much is given much will be required. It is to be deeply regretted that some of those who have the most ability to do good are doing the least.
4. A suggestion of great tenderness in dealing with others. "Who maketh thee to differ?" You met the other day with a man fast bound with bad habits, and you said, "Nothing can be done with such a wreck. I will not waste words upon him." It would be better to drink into the spirit of John Bradford, who, when he saw a condemned malefactor, was wont to say, "There goes John Bradford but for the grace of God." I have never despaired of the salvation of any man since the Lord saved me.
5. An encouragement for seekers. Now, you know some eminent Christians; remember that there is nothing good in them but what they have received from God. The Lord can give the like grace to you. "Then what have I to do?" Simply, according to the text, to be a receiver; and that is the easiest thing in the world.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. A QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED WITH EASE. When we are asked, "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" the answer is," God": and if we are asked, "What hast thou that thou didst net receive?" we reply, "We have nothing but our sin." We are the more glad to hear Paul say this, because he was what is nowadays styled a "self-made" man. Yet though he was "not a whit behind the very chief of the apostles," he said, "I be nothing." "By the grace of God I am what I am." Our question is easy to answer, whether it be applied to natural gifts or to spiritual ones.
II. A QUESTION TO BE ANSWERED WITH SHAME. "If thou didst receive it," &c. When we glory in anything we have received —
1. We rob God of His honour. Every particle of praise we take to ourselves is so much stolen out of the revenues of the King of kings.
2. We leave our truthful position. When I confess myself to be weak, helpless, and ascribe all I have to grace, then I stand in the truth; but if I take the remotest praise to myself, I stand in a lie.
3. We are sure to esteem our Lord less. If Christ goes up self goes down; and if self rises Jesus falls in our esteem.
4. We undervalue our fellow Christians, and that is a great sin. "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones"; but if we over-estimate ourselves we do so.
5. We miss the right course as to our gifts, and forget that they are only lent us to be used for our Master. It is required of stewards that they be found faithful, not that they vaunt themselves and deck themselves in their Master's goods. Some boast —(1) Because God has placed them in office. What mighty airs some give themselves! "Honour to whom honour is due" — they have learned by heart, and seen a personal inference in it.(2) About their experience. This also is vanity. Let the man who does this remember that he has gone nowhere except as the Lord's hand has borne him onward. Suppose a garden were proud, and boasted of its fruitfulness!
III. OTHER QUESTIONS WHICH THESE QUESTIONS SUGGEST.
1. Have I ever given to God His due place in the matter of my salvation?
2. Have I the spirit of humble gratitude?
3. Seeing I have been a receiver, what have I done towards giving out again? They make in the north of England earthenware saving boxes for the children. You can put what you like in, but you cannot get it out until you break the box; and there are persons of that sort among us. Some have died lately, and their estates have been reported in the Probate Court. We ought not to be as a stagnant pond, but like the great lakes of America which receive the mighty rivers and pour them out again, and consequently keep fresh and clear.
4. Since what I have had I have received by God's grace, might I not receive more? Covet earnestly the best gifts.
5. If all that Christians have they have received, sinner, why should not you receive as well as they?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)I. TO THOSE WHO FOSTERED THE PERSONAL WORSHIP OF THE MINISTERS — that is, of themselves.
1. The qualities which are requisite for the higher part of the ministry are — great powers of sympathy; humbleness; wisdom to direct; knowledge of the world; and a knowledge of evil which comes rather from repulsion from it. But those which adapt a man for the merely showy parts are of an inferior order: fluency, self-confidence, tact, a certain histrionic power of conceiving feelings, and expressing them. Now, it was precisely to this class of qualities that Christianity opened a new field in places such as Corinth. Men who had been unknown suddenly found an opportunity for public addresses, activity, and leadership. They became fluent talkers; and the more shallow and self-sufficient they were, the more likely it was that they would become the leaders of a faction. And how did the apostle meet this? By inculcating (ver. 7) Christian dependence: "Who maketh thee to differ?" Christian responsibility: "What hast thou that thou didst not receive?"
2. This tendency besets us ever. Even at school brilliancy is admired, whilst plodding industry is sneered at. Yet which of these Would St. Paul approve? Which shows fidelity? The dull mediocre talent faithfully used, or the bright talent used only for glitter and display? St. Paul did not sneer at eloquence, &c.; but he said, These are your responsibilities. You are a steward: you have received. Beware that you be found faithful. Woe, if the gifts and manner that have made you acceptable have done no more. In truth, this independence of God is man's fall. Adam tried to be independent; and just as all things are ours if we be Christ's, so, if we be not Christ's, then our pleasures, gifts, honours are all stolen; "we glory as if we had not received."
II. TO THOSE WHO UNDULY MAGNIFIED THE OFFICE.
1. There were men who exercised lordship over the congregations. Place vers. 8 and 9 side by side, and think, first of all, of these teachers — admired, flattered, made rich, and then going on to rule as autocrats, so that when a Corinthian entertained his minister, he entertained his oracle, his very religion. And then turn to the apostolic life. If the one be an apostle, what is the other? If one be the high, the Christian life, how can the other be a life to boast of?
2. Remark here the irony. People who look upon Christianity as a mere passive, strengthless thing, must needs be perplexed with passages such as these. But remark how gracefully it turns with Paul from loving though angry irony, to loving earnestness: "I would to God ye did reign." Would to God that the time for triumph were come indeed, that these factions might cease, and we be kings together!
3. See here the true doctrine of the apostolical succession. The apostolical office is one thing; the apostolical character is quite another. And just as the true children of Abraham were not his lineal descendants, but the inheritors of his faith, so the true apostolical succession consists not in what these men pride themselves upon — their office, attainments, &c.; but rather in a life of truth, and in the suffering which inevitably comes as the result of being true.
4. Now, therefore, we can understand the passage with which he ends: "Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me" (ver. 16). Only do not misread it. You have here no mere partisan trying to outbid and outvie others. He says that the life he had just described was the one for them to follow. In this — "Be ye followers of me," he declares the life of suffering, in the cause of duty, to be higher than the life of popularity and self-indulgence. He says that the dignity of a minister, and the majesty of a man, consists not in "Most Reverend," or "Most Noble," prefixed to his name; but it lies in being through and through a man, according to the Divine idea; a man whose chief privilege it is to be a minister, a follower of Him who "came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many."
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
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