Plain Sermons by contributors to the "Tracts for the Times."
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
(for St. Matthias' Day): — The words in themselves sound simple enough; they might seem to speak of no more than all human beings must undergo, by the necessity of their mortal nature. All our days are few: they are but as grass, they are gone almost before we can count them. All our places, stations, and offices, whatever they may be, must soon pass away from us, and another take them in our place. But this, the common lot of all, is here turned into a fearful and peculiar curse, for those who slight high privileges, and betray sacred trusts. The instance of Judas is a very plain one, for showing forth the dealings of God's providence in this respect. His short life as an apostle would have been a blessing, had he been such as St. James, the first of the twelve who came to his great reward: he would have departed, and been with Christ so much the sooner. But as it was, what judgment could be more fearful? Thus his days were signally cut short; and as to another taking his office, St. Peter reminded the disciples that the Scriptures concerning him were of course to be fulfilled, especially two which he specified: "Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein;" and, "His bishopric let another take." Now, it is a serious thought for us all, If Judas Iscariot, who, favoured as he was, had never received the Holy Ghost; if the Jewish people, whose highest privileges were but a shadow of what we receive in Baptism, — if they had their days cut off by so dreadful a sentence, and their place in God's world given over to others: what are Christians, what are Christian pastors to expect, should they prove, after all, unclean and unworthy? The nearer Christ has called us to Himself, the more dangerous surely are the first beginnings and whispers of sin; and the nearer we have ventured to approach, the greater advantage have we given to Satan, except we tried in earnest to purify our hearts and desires. No doubt, St. Matthias himself may have had trembling thoughts like these, wherewith to keep himself lowly and humble, when he was called to so great an honour, so high a place in the Church. What must have been the new apostle's thoughts, when he was thus put in mind of Judas's place! How earnestly must he have prayed in his secret heart, that such place, or a worse, might never be his own! I say a worse; for must it not be worse for those who, besides Judas's other privileges, have also that which is above all, union with Christ by His Holy Spirit, and yet fall away as Judas did? That privilege Matthias received within a few days, when the Holy Ghost came down upon the assembled apostles, and he never forfeited its; he went on glorifying God as an apostle, until he was permitted to glorify Him as a martyr. Or how can a sinner ever be thankful enough that it is not yet over with him; that he has still time, he knows not how much, to humble and punish himself heartily for his great imperfection and unworthiness; to watch and break himself of all beginnings of sin; to subdue the flesh to the Spirit; in all things; to acquaint himself with God in all the ways of His Church; to fear always; and to be more faithful and true in every part of his calling towards God and man?
(Plain Sermons by contributors to the "Tracts for the Times.")
Parallel VersesKJV: Let his days be few; and let another take his office.