But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great fight of afflictions;…
"Knowing that ye have yourselves as a better and an enduring possession."
I. THE TRUE POSSESSION. We own ourselves only on condition of being Christian men. For, under all other circumstances and forms of life, the true self is brought into slavery and dragged away from its proper bearings by storms, and swarms of lusts, and passions, and inclinations, and ambitions, and senses. A man's flesh is his master, or his pride is his master, or some fraction of his nature is his master, and he himself is an oppressed slave, tyrannised over by rebellious powers. The only way to get the mastery of yourselves is to go to God and say, "Oh, Lord! I cannot rule this anarchic being of mine. Do Thou take it into Thine hands. Here are the reins; do with me what Thou wilt." Then you will be your own masters, not till then.
II. THE SUPERIORITY OF THIS POSSESSION.
1. It is better in its essential quality. The apprehension of union with God is the one thing that will satisfy the soul; the one thing which having, we cannot be wholly desolate, however dark may be our path; and without which we cannot be at rest, however compassed with succours and treasures and friends; nor rich, however we may have bursting coffers and all things to enjoy.
2. It is an enduring possession. These things, the calm joys, the pure delights of still fellowship with God in heart and mind and will — these things have in them no seed of decay. These cannot be separated from their possession by anything but his own unfaithfulness. There will never come the time when they shall have to be left behind. Use does not wear these out, but strengthens and increases them. The things which are destined "to perish with the using" belong to an inferior category.
III. THE QUIET SUPERIORITY TO EARTHLY LOSS AND CHANGE WHICH THE POSSESSION OF THIS TREASURE INVOLVES. When you strike away the false props, the strength of the real ones become more conspicuous. If we possess this true treasure which lies at our doors, and may be had for the taking, we shall be like men in some strong fortress, with firm walls, abundant provisions, and a well in the courtyard, and we can laugh at besiegers.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;