Romans 12:1
Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Sermons
A Lesson to MinistersA. Barnes, D.D.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeS. Martin.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeW. Hay Aitken, M.A.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeT. Binney.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeA. Maclaren, D.D.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeDean Vaughan.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeCanon Miller.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeC. Short, M.A.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeR. Wardlaw, D.D.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeC. Leach, D.D.Romans 12:1
A Living SacrificeT.F. Lockyer Romans 12:1
A Reasonable ServiceJ. Wilbur ChapmanRomans 12:1
A Reasonable, Holy, and Living SacrificeDean Stanley.Romans 12:1
An Acceptable PresentHomiletic MagazineRomans 12:1
Apostolic OptimismVariousRomans 12:1
Are You GratefulW. Birch.Romans 12:1
Bodily ConsecrationT. Kelly.Romans 12:1
Christian Self-SacrificeJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:1
Consecrated and TransformedMark Guy Pearse.Romans 12:1
Doctrine and PracticeC. Neil, M.A.Romans 12:1
Entire ConsecrationC. Nell, M.A.Romans 12:1
First Sunday After EpiphanyMartin LutherRomans 12:1
Gratitude Requires ExpressionRomans 12:1
How is the Body to Become a SacrificeRomans 12:1
Living SacrificesH. Grattan Guinness.Romans 12:1
On the Attributes of Acceptable WorshipN. Macneil.Romans 12:1
Our Reasonable ServiceJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:1
Our Reasonable ServiceW. Howels.Romans 12:1
Our Reasonable ServiceJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:1
Personal Consecration for Divine ServiceW. Tyson.Romans 12:1
Personal SacrificeD. Thomas, D.D.Romans 12:1
Reasonable ServicePrincipal Edwards.Romans 12:1
Religion a Reasonable ServiceB. C. Sowden.Romans 12:1
Sanctified ReasonJ. Lyth, D.D.Romans 12:1
Second Sunday After EpiphanyMartin LutherRomans 12:1
Self-SacrificeW. Baxendale.Romans 12:1
Sunday Before LentMartin LutherRomans 12:1
The Christian's SacrificeJonathan Crowther.Romans 12:1
The Connection Between the Two Parts of the EpistleProf. Godet.Romans 12:1
The Consecrated BodyW. Hay Aitken, M.A.Romans 12:1
The Living SacrificeW. Birch.Romans 12:1
The Living SacrificeW. M. Taylor, D.D.Romans 12:1
The Living SacrificeC.H. Irwin Romans 12:1
The Relation Between Doctrine and LifeW. Arnot, D.D.Romans 12:1
The Sacrifice of the BodyAlexander MaclarenRomans 12:1
Third Sunday After EpiphanyMartin LutherRomans 12:1
True Life a PriesthoodD. Thomas, D.D.Romans 12:1
Wherein Our Christian SacrificeR. Fiddes, D.D.Romans 12:1
The Living SacrificeT.F. Lockyer Romans 12:1, 2
IndividualismR.M. Edgar Romans 12:1-3
In the oldest records that can be found of the various nations of the earth, sacrifice is always found to have formed part of their religious services. Thus we find an idea universally existing that something was needed to obtain pardon for guilt, and to express gratitude to the supreme being or beings whom they regarded as the givers and benefactors of their life. But it is only when we come to the religion of Israel that we find the idea of sacrifice having any influence upon the life. The other nations offered sacrifices, but there was no turning away from evil. Nay, in the case of many heathen countries, their acts of religious worship became, and have become, associated with immoral and degrading practices. The religion of Israel, however, taught the necessity of personal holiness. True, their religion was largely composed of rites and ceremonies, but it was a religion of practical morality also. Very plainly the Jewish psalmist recognizes that it is the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart that is most acceptable to God, and that without this it is vain to offer the blood of bulls and goats. But the high precepts of their religion were sadly neglected by the Jews in later years. In the time of Jesus Christ on earth, the religion of most of them was a religion of ritual and routine. He told the Pharisees that though they outwardly appeared righteous unto men, within they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity. But Jesus came to teach men true religion. The worship that he demands is a worship in spirit and in truth. The sacrifice that he requires is a sacrifice of our life. He wants the activities and energies of body, soul, and spirit to be consecrated to his service. This is what the apostle means when he speaks of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice.

I. IT IS TO BE A SACRIFICE OF OUR FEELINGS. The whole heart must be given up to God, so that whatever is right may be strengthened, and that whatever is wrong may be taken away. Many Christians render to Christ an imperfect sacrifice in this respect They keep back part of their life from him. They allow themselves to be dominated by feelings which are inconsistent with his spirit and precepts. They will excuse themselves for some besetting sin by saying, "That is my nature; I can't help it." The evil nature is still with us, it is true; but it is our duty to strive against it, to overcome it. Moses appears to have been at first a man of hasty and violent temper. Yet the Divine discipline, and no doubt also his own obedience to the Divine will, produced such a change in his character that it is afterwards recorded of him, "Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men who were upon the face of the earth." It is a natural thing to be angry when things are said or done to provoke us; but is it Christian? So with the other feelings of envy, of pride, of revenge, of hatred - instead of yielding to them or excusing them, the true Christian will be ashamed of them and sorry for them, and will do his best to overcome their influence in his heart.

II. IT IS TO BE A SACRIFICE OF OUR AFFECTIONS. The love of God should ever be the chief affection of our heart. Not that we are to love our friends less, but we are to love God more. Hence, when our natural affections become hindrances in the Christian life, they must be restrained and subdued. The strongest temptations to the Christian are not always those that come from the baser part of his nature, but sometimes those that come from the purer and better emotions of the soul. The love of a friend - it might seem strange that there should be anything wrong in that. Yet even this affection, right and natural in itself, becomes wrong when it interferes with love to God. The love of home - how can there be anything wrong in that? Yet there is wrong in it when it interferes with the call of duty. "He that loveth father or mother more than me," says Christ, "is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me." When the din of war begins to resound throughout a land, the man who has dedicated himself to the military service of his country does not hesitate to obey the trumpet-call. His farm or his business may require his presence, and may suffer seriously by his absence. It is a sore trial to tear himself away from his wife, from his family, and from his friends, whose faces he may never see again in this world. But however pressing the claims of his daily work may be, however strong his domestic ties, all these considerations must now give way to the demand of patriotism and of duty. And shall not the Christian soldier sacrifice all earthly affections rather than be unfaithful to Christ? Shall he not hear the voice of Jesus above all earthly voices? Of such complete self-denial Christ himself has given us the best example. "He pleased not himself." Not merely in his death, but in his life, he gave himself a living sacrifice. When we think of how much we owe to Christ, any sacrifice that we can make will seem but a poor and feeble effort to show our gratitude and our love. Yet we are encouraged to present even our poor sacrifice by the assurance that it will be "acceptable unto God." - C.H.I.







I beseech you.
Ministers of the gospel should be gentle, tender, and affectionate. They should be kind in feeling, and courteous in manner — like a father or mother. Nothing is ever gained by a sour, harsh, crabbed, dissatisfied manner. Sinners are never scolded either into duty or into heaven. Flies are never caught with vinegar. No man is a better or more faithful preacher because he is rough in manner, coarse, or harsh in his expressions, or sour in his intercourse with mankind. Not thus was the Master or Paul.

(A. Barnes, D.D.)

Therefore
Religion among the ancients was service (cultus), and cultus had for its centre sacrifice. The Jewish service counted four kinds of sacrifice which might be reduced to two: the first, comprising the sacrifices offered before reconciliation and to obtain it (sin and trespass-offering); the other the sacrifices offered after reconciliation and serving to celebrate it (whole burnt-offering and peace-offering). The great division of the Epistle to which we have come is explained by this contrast. The fundamental idea of Part I. (chaps. 1-11), was that of the sacrifice for the sin of mankind. Witness the central passage (Romans 3:25, 26). These are the mercies of God to which Paul appeals here, and the development of which has filled the first eleven chapters. The practical part which we are beginning corresponds to the second kind of sacrifice, which was the symbol of consecration after pardon had been received (the halocaust, in which the victim was entirely burned), and of the communion established between Jehovah and the believer (the peace-offering, followed by a feast in the court of the temple). The sacrifice of expiation offered by God in the person of His Son should now find its response in the believer in the sacrifice of complete consecration and intimate communion.

(Prof. Godet.)

The doctrinal and dispensational portions of the Epistle being ended, the apostle, as a wise master-builder, erects the superstructure of personal religion upon the foundation of redemption, which he has laid deep and substantial. "No doctrine," remarks H. W. Beecher, "is good for anything that does not leave behind it an ethical furrow, ready for the planting of seeds, which shall spring up and bear abundant harvests." The connection between doctrine and exhortation is quaintly explained by Bishop Hall: "Those that are all in exhortation, no whit in doctrine, are like to them that snuff the lamp, but pour not in oil. Again, those that are all in doctrine, nothing in exhortation, drown the wick in oil, but light it not; making it fit for use if it had fire put to it; but as it is, neither capable of good nor profitable for the present. Doctrine without exhortation makes men all brain, no heart; exhortation without doctrine makes the heart full, but leaves the brain empty. Both together make a man, one makes a wise man, the other a good; one serves that we may know our duty, the other that we may perform it. Men cannot practise unless they know, and they know in vain if they practise not."

(C. Neil, M.A.)

1. The link which unites doctrine and duty is like the great artery that joins the heart to the members — the channel of life and the bond of union. If that link is severed, the life departs. If doctrine and duty are not united, both are dead; there remains neither the sound creed nor the holy life.

2. A common cry is, Give charity, but no dogma, i.e., Give us fruit, but don't bother us with mysteries about roots. We join heartily in the cry for more fruit; but we are not content to tie oranges with tape on dead branches. This may serve to amuse children; but we are grown men, and life is earnest.

3. In the transition from chap. 11 to chap. 12, the knot is tied that binds together doctrine and duty. At the point of contact Paul defines the relations between the gifts which flow from God to men, and the service rendered by men to God. Christians having gotten all from God are constrained to render back to Him themselves and all they have. Here is a leaden pipe which, rising perpendicularly from the ground, supplies the cistern on the roof. "Water flow up? Don't mock us. Water flows down, not up." Place your ear against the pipe. Is not the water rushing upward? "Yes." The reason is that the water flowing from the fountain on the mountain's side forces the water up. So the soul is constrained, by the pressure of Divine mercy flowing through Christ, to rise in responsive love. The word "therefore" is the link of connection between doctrine and life. It unites the product to the power.

I. THE MERCIES OF GOD CONSTITUTE THE MOTIVE FORCE.

1. Paul is a scientific operator — skilful in adapting means to ends. To provide the water-power may be a much more lengthened and laborious process than to set the mill agoing; but without the reservoir and its supply, the mill would never go round at all. So Paul takes every step on the assumption that a devoted and charitable life cannot be attained unless the person and work of Christ be made clear to the understanding and accepted with the heart.

2. There is a class of men pressing to the front whose maxim is, "A grain of charity is worth a ton of dogma." But, as I have seen a mechanic, after applying the rule to his work, turning the rule round and trying it the other way, lest some mistake should occur, so it may be of use to express the same maxim in another form; "A small stream flowing on the ground is worth acres of clouds careering in the sky." In this form the maxim is nonsense; but the two forms express an identical meaning. Wanting clouds, there could be no streams; so, wanting dogma, there could be no charity. The Scriptures present the case of a man who was as free of dogma as the most advanced secularist could desire. "What is truth?" said Pilate, who was not burdened with even an ounce of dogma; yet he crucified Christ, confessing Him innocent.

3. Those who lead the crusade against dogma are forward to profess the utmost reverence for the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. But "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," was a dogma He received with approbation and died for it. Therefore, if He be not the true God, He must be a false man. Thus the Scriptures have rendered it impossible for modern secularists to reject the great dogma of the gospel, and yet retain the life of Jesus as the highest pattern of human character.

4. The word "therefore" is like the steel point which constitutes the fulcrum of the balance. To one extremity of the beam is fixed, by a long line, a consecrated life; but that life lies deep down in the dark, a possibility only as yet. No human arm has power to bring it up. Here is a skilful engineer, who has undertaken the task. What is he doing? He is making fast to the opposite extremity of the beam some immense weight — nothing less than the mercies of God as exhibited in Christ. He has fastened it now, and he stands back — does not put a hand to the work in its second stage. What follows? They come! they come! the deeds of charity.

5. Ask those great lovers who have done and suffered most for men what motive urged them on and held them up. They will answer unanimously, "The love of Christ constraineth us." They are bought with a price, and therefore they glorify God in their lives.

6. In the scheme of doctrine set forth in the first half of the Epistle, we behold the reservoir where the power is stored; and in the opening verses of the second section the engineer opens the sluice, so that the whole force of the treasured waters may flow out on human life, and impel it onward in active benevolence.

II. A CONSECRATED LIFE IS THE EXPECTED RESULT. This consists of —

1. Devotion to God, the constituents of which are —(1) A living sacrifice — the offerer's own body, not that of a substitute; and not dead, but living. It is not a carcass laid on the altar to be burned; it is a life devoted to God. Love is the fire that consumes the sacrifice; and in this case, too, the fire came down from heaven.(2) A reasonable service. It is not the arbitrary though loving command addressed by a father to his infant son, that he may be trained to habits of unquestioning obedience; it is rather the work prescribed by the father to an adult son, which the son understands, and in which he intelligently acquiesces.

2. In the remaining portion of the Epistle Paul labours to stimulate practical charity, in one place reducing the whole law to one precept, to one word — love. After devoting so much attention to the roots, he will not neglect to gather the fruit.Conclusion:

1. We must look well to our helm as we traverse this ocean of life, where we can feel no bottom and see no shore, lest we miss our harbour. But we must also look to the lights of heaven. The seaman does not look to the stars instead of handling his helm. This would be as great folly as to handle his helm vigorously and never look to the stars. So we must not turn to the contemplation of dogma instead of labouring in the works of charity; but look to the truth as the light which shows us the way of life, and walking in that way with all diligence.

2. Want of faith is followed by want of goodness, as a blighting of the root destroys the stem and branches of a tree. But does the converse also hold good? Many trees when cut down grow again. But some species — pines, for example — die outright when the main stem is severed. Here lies a sharp reproof for all who bear Christ's name. True it is also that, if from any cause the life cease to act, the faith, or what seemed faith, will rot away underground (1 Timothy 1:19). While faith, by drawing from the fulness of Christ, makes a fruitful life, the exercise of all the charities mightily increases even the faith from which they sprung. While, on one side, the necessity of the day is to maintain the faith as the fountain and root of practical goodness in the life; on the other side, the necessity of the day is to lead and exhibit a life corresponding to the faith it grows upon.

(W. Arnot, D.D.)

By the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSON EXHORTING. Whoever speaks to us in the name of God, or by a special commission from Him, has certainly a right to our attention. When we consider that the generality of men are more governed by example than precept, or the intrinsic reason of things, we must acknowledge it adds a very great force to instructions we hear from any person when they come recommended by his own practice, and that upon two accounts.

1. Because the actions of men discover most evidently to us the secret bent and disposition of their hearts.

2. Because a good example is a more moving and sensible argument to the practice of piety than the most beautiful images whereby we can otherwise represent it.

II. THE MANNER OF THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION.

1. "Brethren" is the general appellation of Christians which St. Paul uses in all his Epistles.

2. "By the mercies of God," that is, from the consideration of those great things our good and merciful God has done for us.

3. The subject-matter of the apostle's exhortation in the following words, "That you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God."(1) By presenting our bodies a "living" sacrifice is implied that we perform to God a ready and cheerful obedience, that no difficulties or discouragements step us in the course of our Christian progress.(a) "Living" may be here understood as it is opposed to those sensual lusts and passions which have their source from the body, and upon the account of which the apostle cries out (Romans 7:24). By indulging our sensual appetites we vitiate the best constitution, put the organs of the body out of tune, and by degrees perhaps do render it a sink of mortal diseases. All which disorders must necessarily render the body a very unfit and dull companion for the soul, or rather, as it were, a dead weight hanging upon it, in the more lively exercises of reason and devotion. And therefore we must take care never to indulge our bodily appetites to any excess, but rather endeavour to mortify our members which are upon the earth, that the soul operate with its full force and activity; which it is impossible we should do while we study nothing so much as to gratify our bodily appetites.(b) "Living," that is, a continual sacrifice. Our whole life in every part and period of it should be consecrated to the service of God. Our incense must burn continually before Him, and the sacrifice of our body, while we are in the body, never cease to be offered. But this leads me to consider —(2) The other affection of this sacrifice, in order to render it acceptable to God, and that is "holiness." A thing is said to be holy that is set apart to the more immediate service or worship of God. So that to present our bodies holy, is to keep them in a constant preparation for the duties of religion; to preserve them in a regular, pious, and composed temper; not to suffer our imagination to be defiled, or our sensual appetites gratified to any excess. And in particular to any of those sinful excesses which in the Holy Scriptures are termed the works of the flesh, and which are so contrary to the purity of that Divine Spirit who has chosen our bodies to be a habitation for Himself.

III. THE REASON AND GROUND OF THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION. There is nothing here required of us but what is proper to the state and condition of human nature; nothing but what is fit and "reasonable" to be done.

1. God being the Creator and absolute Governor of the world, has power to lay what restraints upon men He sees fit, not exceeding the benefits of their creation.

2. He has laid no restraints upon our natural appetites but what generally tend to our own good and the perfection of our reasonable nature.

3. We think it no injustice in secular potentates to restrain subjects in their natural rights and liberties when such liberties are found inconvenient to themselves, or others, or to the government in general.

4. We often, upon a prospect of a future and greater good, are willing to deny ourselves a present pleasure or satisfaction. Nothing is more common or thought more reasonable.

5. The restraints which are complained of in the Christian religion are no more than what some of the wisest moralists and teachers of natural religion have laid upon themselves and prescribed to others.

(R. Fiddes, D.D.)

Ingratitude is one of the meanest of vices. You know the old fable of the man who found a frozen viper and in kindness took it home and put it on his hearth-stone to be revived; but when the creature felt the warmth and began to renew its life, it bit its benefactor. This meanest of vices is often seen in men, but scarcely ever in a dog. Perhaps one of its worst forms is when it is shown towards parents; and children who are most indulged are generally the most ungrateful. Note: —

I. THE COMPASSIONS OF GOD.

1. Was it not compassionate of God to create us? There might have been so much better men in our shoes than we are. How shameful then that some of us are little better than logs in a stream! How mean that some of us should wallow in mire like swine, and then say we cannot help it! The wonder is that God can bear with us; but having in mercy created us, He has followed it up with infinite forbearance. Many people are like the Prodigal — they do not care about God until they meet with disaster. Yet God, in His compassion, does not spurn them.

2. God shows His compassion in preparing a heavenly life for us. I dare say that some mother here has taken her little son to market, and when he began to be fagged, encouraged him by saying, "Now, Johnny, be a brave lad, and when we get home I'll love you and make it up to you! " Then the little feet trot on more gaily. My weary friend, take courage! God will make it up to you in the other world.

3. Then what compassion to redeem us and to save us from our sins!

II. OUR REASONABLE SERVICE. God does not expect aa impossibility from us — only a "reasonable service." Men are ready enough to profess their willingness to love God, but they are not so ready to show their love to Him by loving one another. Some of you may be living lonely lives, but, if you will, you may people the uninhabited island of your life. You long for sympathy. Well, others feel just the same, and they very likely think you are cold and reserved. Is there not somebody to whom you can say a gentle word, or to whom you can do a kind act? This is your "reasonable service." Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Take an interest in the joys and sorrows of your fellow.creatures. Those who have money to spare should enjoy the pleasure of dispensing it while they live. When a man gives his money while he lives it is a "living sacrifice"; but when he dies, his money is no longer his. If we have not treasures in money, we have the more precious treasures of love. Some people are like the picture of a rose, which has no perfume. Be perfumed, that is, living Christians; be fragrant of good deeds, which are the sweet breath of heaven; and thus you will show your gratitude to God, be an honour to the gospel of Jesus and a comfort to mankind.

(W. Birch.)

The life of every man should be that of a priest. The earth should be trod, not as a garden, a playground, or a market, but as a temple. The text indicates that true priesthood is characterised by: —

I. INDIVIDUALITY. "Bodies" here stand for the whole nature — man himself. In this priesthood —

1. Every man is his own sacrifice. The wealth of the world would not be a substitute for himself. What does this imply?(1) Negatively; not —

(a)The loss of personality. Man does not lose himself by consecrating his existence to the Eternal.

(b)The loss of free agency. Man does not become the mere tool or machine of Omnipotence. In truth he only secures his highest liberty.(2) Positively; it includes —

(a)Yielding to God's love as the inspiration of our being.

(b)Adopting His will as the role of our activities.

2. Every man is his own minister. None can offer the sacrifice for him. He must do it freely, devoutly, manfully.

II. DIVINITY. It is a vital connection with the Great God.

1. God is the object of it. Men are sacrificing themselves everywhere to pleasure, lucre, fame, influence. There are gods many in England at whose altars men are sacrificing themselves.

2. God is the motive of it. God's "mercies," which are infinite in number and variety, are the inciting and controlling motives. The true priest moves evermore from God to God.

3. God is the approver of it. "Acceptable unto God." He approves it because it is —

(1)Right in itself;

(2)Blessed to man.

III. RATIONALITY. Its reasonableness will be seen if you consider what it really means, viz. —

1. Cherishing the highest gratitude to our greatest Benefactor. Reason tells us that we ought to be thankful for favours generously bestowed upon us. But who has bestowed such favours as God?

2. The highest love to the best of beings. Reason tells that we should only love a being in proportion to his goodness. God is infinitely good, therefore He should be loved with all our hearts, minds, souls.

3. That we should render our entire services to our exclusive proprietor. God owns us; all we have and are belong to Him. If this is not reasonable, what is? In truth religion is the only reasonable life.Conclusion: Such is true priesthood.

1. All other priesthoods are shams, mimicries, and impieties.

2. Christ's priesthood will be of no avail to us unless we become true priests to God ourselves. His priesthood is at once the model and the means of all true human priesthood.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

President Hopkins, of Williams College, used to tell his classes that if our religious feelings have no appropriate forms of expression, the feelings themselves will die out. If we do not take a reverential attitude in prayer, we shall lose the spirit of prayer. It is true that if a tree is stripped of its leaves, and kept so, it will die. If we do not express our gratitude and love to God, we shall lose what we have; but by expressing them they are increased — hence these offerings.

I. THE PERSONS ADDRESSED. "You, brethren." Church members. Paul regarded conversion as an initial step, which, to amount to anything, must be followed by a "going on to know the Lord." His favourite words were run, strive, fight, grow. He saw the potentialities of Christian manhood in the babe in Christ. This gave him weighty convictions as to the importance of prompt and proper attention to the nursing.

II. THE DUTY ENJOINED. "Present your bodies." The body, as well as the soul, is redeemed, and both must go together into God's service. It is man yielding his members, as servants of iniquity, that gives power to the kingdom of darkness. So, to be of any service in the cause of God, we must yield, not our sympathy merely, but "our members as instruments of righteousness unto God."

III. THE STATE OF CONDITION OF THE OFFERING. "A living sacrifice." Allusion is here made to the Jewish sacrifices — which, to have any moral value, must be dead; the Christian sacrifice must be presented living. Man is a priest who lays upon the altar his own living body. And as it was the business of the Jewish priest, not only to present the sacrifice, but to keep it on the altar and see that it be properly offered, so the Christian's sacrifice is to be —

1. "Holy." He is to see that his body is kept from all contact with the degrading or sensual.

2. Therefore, "acceptable to God." Jewish sacrifices were the best of their kind; and man must consecrate all his powers, or God will reject his offering as a mockery and a sham.

3. "Reasonable." Nothing more reasonable than that the creature should serve the Creator. If man was made to rule, it is equally true that he was made to obey; and in obedience is his greatest pleasure and profit.

IV. THE MOTIVE PROMPTING THE SACRIFICE. "The mercies of God." This motive is —

1. Strange. Other religions motive their devotees by the judgments and terror of their gods. None but Christianity ever thought of love as the motive to obedience.

2. Winsome.

3. Adequate.

(T. Kelly.)

The force of the aorist suggests that our self-dedication is to be entire, for once and for all. This act embraces three things — being, doing, and suffering. We must be willing to be, to do, and to suffer, all that God requires. This embraces reputation, friends, property, and time. It covers body, mind, and soul. These are to be used when, where, and as God requires; and only as He requires. Such a consecration should be made —

1. Deliberately;

2. For all coming time;

3. Without any reserve; and

4. In reliance upon Divine strength.

(C. Nell, M.A.)

I. THIS IS A SUMMONS TO A SERVICE OF WORSHIP.

1. The priestly service is required of all Christians without distinction. Every believer is assumed to be anointed, to have passed through the preliminary purification, to have been called and separated (1 Peter 2:9), and to have passed through the consecration ritual (Revelation 1:5, 6). Therefore every one of them has "boldness to enter into the holiest (Hebrews 10:19; Ephesians 3:12). And therefore they are all here summoned to holy service. Clearly the act of worship is to be continuous. The Jewish priests had to minister day by day. Morning and evening sacrifices must be offered: the altar fire must be kept burning; the lamps must be lit, and, generally, worship must be offered up continually. And these all symbolised for the people of God the necessity of constant service (1 Corinthians 10:31; Hebrews 13:12-15).

2. This priestly service of worship is to be one of sacrifice — is not indeed of atonement, for the one offering of our great High Priest needs never more to be repeated. But now, the reconciliation having been effected by that offering, we must draw near to God for holy fellowship, as in the peace-offering; to praise, as in the thank-offering; and for perpetual dedication, as in the burnt-offering.(1) The Christian must present his own body. The Jew had to present the body of an animal: the Christian must offer his own. Under the law the priest sacrificed the animal; the Christian must offer up himself. The free, intelligent soul must be the presenting priest: the body, animated by the soul, and serving as its many-mannered instrument, must be the ever-presented offering (Romans 6:13).(2) The sacrifice must be living. The servant of God is not at liberty, by neglect of the body, to put an end to its life. Rather must it be carefully preserved that its providential term may be available for Divine service. For this life belongs to God (Romans 14:7, 8).(3) This sacrifice must be holy. This holiness includes —

(a)Full and perpetual dedication to Divine service.

(b)Sanctification by the blood of Jesus, or it will become anathema.

(c)"Sanctification of the Spirit," so that all the appetites, instincts, and members of the body, and all the powers and properties of the inspiring soul, shall be brought into true harmony with the will of God.

3. This priestly service of sacrifice shall be acceptable to God. It is at once worthy of the priest, the temple, and God. That could not be said of the ritual service of the Jewish temple, except in so far as it was type of better things (Isaiah 1:11-15).

II. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THESE PRIESTS ARE REQUIRED TO PERFORM THEIR SERVICE (ver 21)

1. Negatively — "Be not conformed to this world." The special characteristics of worldliness vary according to the variations in the tendencies of thought and of ethical aim and effort at different periods, in different countries, and amongst different people's. The spirit of the age in which Moses lived was the spirit of gross, sensuous idolatry. Hence the prohibition thereof in the Decalogue. The spirit of the age amongst the Jews, in the time of the apostles, was that of dependence upon external services (Galatians 4:3, 9). The spirit of the age by which the Colossians were in danger of being contaminated was that of "philosophy and vain deceit" (Colossians 2:8-23). There is in almost every age a twofold world-spirit, each being the other's opposite, the most energetic working of which was perhaps most strikingly manifested in the early ages of monasticism, when those who became earnestly religious sought for the perfection of the spiritual life in seclusion and asceticism. Both were injurious to true spiritual religion, and the remedy will be secured by attention to the true Christian requirement. "Present your bodies," and they are as capable of true spiritual service within their sphere as are your spirits. Therefore "marriage is honourable among all" right-minded men. Therefore to "them that believe and know the truth," "every creature of God is good" (1 Timothy 4:3-5). Therefore all the honest occupations of life may be pursued in a truly religious spirit (1 Corinthians 7:29-31).

2. Positively. Observe(1) The result to be produced; a transformation into something the very opposite of that conformation to this world, which is produced by the energy of merely secular powers. The form is that of likeness to the image of the glory of the Lord (2 Corinthians 3:18).(2) This result is to be produced by the renewing of the mind, i.e., the progressive growth and ever-increasing power of Christian life, bringing the mind, and through that the whole person, into ever-increasing approximation to the perfect likeness of the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:16).(3) This renewing of the mind is a work of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5) carried on with our own free and active Concurrence. Therefore the command is laid upon us.

III. THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH THE PRIESTS ARE URGED TO ATTEND DILIGENTLY TO THIS SERVICE.

1. The apostle's personal influence. He himself had consecrated all to the service of God (Philippians 2:17). And therefore with great urgency of moral power could he say, "I beseech you."

2. "The mercies of God," in which there is at once a backward reference to the foregoing arguments and illustrations, an onward reference to the duties about to be inculcated, and a central reference to the consequential link which binds on the one to the other.

3. That ye may personally prove the will of God —(1) The thing to be proved is that which God wills, ordains, and prescribes as the rule and end of our whole activity — "even our sanctification."(2) The method of proving this will is the practical one of rendering to it obedience under the influence of saving grace. "If any man will do His will, he shall know," etc.(3) This will of God prescribes only that which is good, acceptable, and perfect. This is to be the result of the test in the personal experience.

(a)He will prove it to be good, and also productive of good.

(b)He will prove it to be acceptable both to God and man (Romans 14:18; 2 Corinthians 1:12).

(c)He proves that the course prescribed for him by the will of God is perfect.

(W. Tyson.)

The body is —

I. THE SEAT OF OUR ANIMAL PROPENSITIES. These are not necessarily criminal. They are only so when they cease to be subordinate to God. When we are living in His power, the question will not be, Is this self-indulgence right, or wrong? but, Does it interfere with the work of the Holy Spirit within me, and the fulfilment of the mind of God in my life?

II. THE SEAT OF OUR SENSUOUS EXPERIENCES. Is the love of music to be indulged, or may we take long journeys for pleasure? Surely none of these things are wrong in themselves; but with the child of God the question is not, How shall I most gratify my sensuous propensity? but, How most please God?

III. THE SEAT OF OUR PHYSICAL SENSIBILITIES — those which are acted upon by the sense of pain, pleasure, lassitude, etc. A duty has to be done, but it is a hot day, and we have some approach to a headache, and we do not feel disposed to do it. What is it will enable us to rise above that? Why, to be filled with the Spirit, and then the body will present itself to God's service joyfully.

IV. OUR MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION WITH THE PHYSICAL WORLD. Now, it is not a bad thing that we should have to do with the physical world; but what effect is our bodies producing upon this world? Is it the better for us? Is "Holiness to the Lord" written upon the very vessels of our households? If we are filled with the Spirit of God, our bodies will be the medium through which this world will be continually affected by Him, etc.

V. THE MEDIUM THROUGH WHICH WE HOLD INTERCOURSE WITH MANKIND. Now, what is the nature of that influence? If we are filled with the Holy Spirit, it will be a revelation of Christ. In these bodies we should carry about the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. The tone of our voice, the line of our conduct, the look of our eye, everything about us, will speak of Christ.

VI. THE VEIL WHICH CONCEALS THE THINGS UNSEEN. Strip off these bodies, and in a moment we are landed in the presence of invisible realities. There is only this between me and eternity, between me and God. Now, that is something for which to be thankful. If it were not for this veil it would be impossible for me to fulfil the work of my probation. At the same time, the devil employs it as a means of deadening our spiritual sensibilities. When the Holy Spirit has free course within our being, then the veil becomes almost transparent. There are times when God draws so near to us that it seems more like seeing than thinking, more like touching than simply contemplating.

(W. Hay Aitken, M.A.)

The key of this chapter is found in the preceding verse. The law of the universe, the great march of all things is from God, through God, to God. But all things about us are wrought upon by a great compulsion. From reason, not from blind necessity, we yield ourselves to the sweep of this great law. Yet there is a compulsion even for us — nobler, as our service is nobler, viz., love: "by the mercies of God."

I. THE ENTREATY: "I beseech you." But we object to be besought to do a reasonable thing. Show us that a thing is reasonable, and at once and of course we do it. Think, then, that for our highest good we have to be besought! For God alone we play not the part of reasonable men. How amazing that we should have to be urged when God invites us to give ourselves to Him that He may give Himself to us! "That ye may prove what is that good... will of God." The ear is deaf to the voice of God, calling us to Paradise again. This is the entreaty of a man —

1. Who was living this life of blessedness. Of, through, and to God, was the rhythmic flow of his whole being. And then, in all the consciousness of this blessed life, he thinks of the half-hearted, of those who come far enough out of the far country to lose the husks of the swine, but not far enough to get the bread of the father's house, who, like the fabled coffin of Mahomet, lie suspended between earth add heaven, unclaimed by either, and yet fretting for each. To these the apostle cries, "I beseech you," etc.

2. Who had lingered at the Cross until its great love possessed him. He had seen something of God's unspeakable gift. With that mercy kindling his soul he asks, What acknowledgment can we make? Only ourselves. The power that prompts and sustains this consecration is only here — the love of God in Jesus. There let us seek it.

II. THE CONSECRATION TO WHICH WE ARE URGED. Turn again to the great law of all things and trace its application.

1. Nothing in God's world is any good until it is given up to that which is above it. What is the worth of the land, however fruitful, and whatever title we may have to it, unless we can do something with it? The soil must minister to us, or it is merely waste land. The seed again and all its products — what should we give for them if we could do nothing with them? And what use are cattle and sheep, except as they clothe and feed us? And what are we for? Here lies our worth and our good, in giving ourselves "a living sacrifice" to Him, of, through, and to whom are all things.

2. Every thing by sacrifice not lost, but turned into higher life. Very beautiful is this law of transformation. Listen to the parable of the earth. "Here am I," it mutters, "so far away from Him who made me, without any beauty of form, or richness of colour, or sweetness of smell! How can I ever be turned into worth and beauty?" And now there comes the seed, and whispers, "Earth, wilt thou give me thy strength?" "No, indeed," replies the earth, "it is all I have got, and I will keep it for myself." "Then," saith the seed, "thou shalt be only earth for ever. But if thou wilt give me thy strength thou shalt be lifted up and be turned into worth and beauty." So the earth yields, and the seed takes hold of it. It rises with wondrous stem; it drinks in sunshine and rain and air, mingling them with the earth's strength and changing all to branch, leaf, flower, and fruit. The parable repeats itself in the case of the seed. It has a kind of life, but all unconscious. It cannot see, or hear, or move. But it yields itself to the animal, and then its strength is turned into part of the seeing eye, the hearing ear, the subtle nerve, the beating heart. And the animal gives itself in turn to serve man, and is exalted to a thousand higher purposes. And man gives himself up to God, and is transformed — into what? Ah! who can tell of that wondrous transformation when it is completed? Once when I was a schoolboy going home for the holidays, I embarked at Bristol with just money enough to pay my fare, and thought in my innocence that that included meals. By and by came the steward with his bill. "I've got no money," said

I. "What is your name and address?" I told him. "I should like to shake hands with you," he said instantly, with a smile. Then came the explanation — how that some years before some little kindness had been shown by my father to his widowed mother." I never thought the chance would come for me to repay it," said he, pleasantly; "but I am glad it has." I told my father what had happened. "Ah," said he, "see how a bit of kindness lives! Now he has passed it on to you. Remember, if ever you meet anybody that needs a friendly hand, you must pass it on to them." Years went by, and I had forgotten it all, until one day I was at a railway station, and saw a little lad crying. "What is the matter, my lad?" I asked. "If you please, sir, I haven't money enough to pay my fare. I have all I want but a few pence; and I tell the clerk if he will trust me I will be sure to pay him again." Instantly flashed the forgotten story of long ago. Here, then, was my chance of passing it on. I gave him the sum he needed, and told the little fellow the story of the steward's kindness to me. "Now, to-day," I said, "I pass it on to you; and remember, if you meet with any one that needs a kindly hand, you must pass it on to them." My story is the illustration of the law of God's great kindness that runs through all things. Here lies the earth, and it says: "I have got in me some strength. It belongs to God." Then it whispers to the seed, "I will pass it on to you." Then the seed passes it on to the animal, and the animal to man, who completes the circle. Think how all things minister to him. If he serves not God, he hinders all things, and diverts them.

III. THE RESULT OF THIS CONSECRATION. "Be not conformed to this world." How great a drop is this! We were dreaming of heaven, and now we have a string of moral commonplaces. Be not wise in your own conceits. Be given to hospitality. Be not slothful in business. Live peaceably with all men. But that this should seem a coming down makes the lesson all the more needful. Do we not too often think that our way upward is first to be right with ourselves, and then to be right with the world, and then somewhere far off we may some day come to be right with God? No, the order is reversed. First right with God, then, and then only, right with all things. First "present your bodies a living sacrifice" unto God; then the world, and all belonging to it, is put in its right place. How vain are all other attempts at curing conformity to the world! There never was a time when there were so many man-made, church-made Christians. Who does not know the receipt? Tie up the hands and say, "You must not do that." Tie up his feet and say, "You mustn't go to such and such places — at least, when you are at home." Cut him off from certain things at which society is shocked, and there is your Christian: a creature with his heart hungering for the world as fiercely as ever. To "present our bodies a living sacrifice" to the opinions of religious society is no cure for conformity to the world. This is the only way — a glad, whole-hearted giving up of ourselves to God. Then comes the being "transformed by the renewing" of the "mind." Transformed, not from without, but from within; exactly as the earth is transformed when it gives itself up to the seed. "That ye may prove," etc. The renewed mind has new faculties of discernment — new eyes to see the will of God, and a new heart to do it, and to be it. We cannot know God's will until we are given up to it. Once as I meditated on these words I heard the children pass my study door. "I sha'n't," rang out a little voice. "This won't do," said I, gravely; "you must stand in the corner until you come to a better mind." "Think now," said I to myself, "if she should say, 'Well, I suppose it is my father's will, and I must submit to it,' should I not answer, 'Nay, it is dead against your father's will? Your father's will is that you should be in the garden playing with the others, but you have gone against your father's will, and now your father's will has gone against you.'" And as I turned it over, I thought I saw where all the crosses come from. When God's will goes one way and our will goes another, there is the cross. When God's will and mine are one the cross is lost. Already the crown is ours — for what makes heaven? Not white robes, not golden streets, not harps and anthems, but this only — the eternal harmony of wills; and we can have that down here. And what is hell? The eternal collision of wills. We may have that here, and this it is that makes the madness of many a life. Conclusion: And now here is a thing to be done. It shall help us nothing to know all this, to believe it all, and yet to stop short of doing it. Will you do it?

(Mark Guy Pearse.)

Let thine eye look upon no evil thing, and it hath become a sacrifice; let thy tongue speak nothing filthy, and it hath become an offering; let thy hand do no lawless deed, and it hath become a whole burnt-offering. But this is not enough, we must have good works also. Let the hand do alms, the mouth bless them that despitefully use us, and the ear find leisure evermore for the hearing of Scripture. For sacrifice can be made only of that which is clean; sacrifice is a firstfruit of other actions. Let us, then, from our hands, and feet, and mouth, and all our other members, yield a firstfruit unto God. Such a sacrifice is well-pleasing, and not, as that of the Jews, unclean, for "their sacrifices," says the Scripture, "shall be unto them as the bread of mourners." Not so ours. Theirs presented the thing sacrificed dead; ours maketh the thing sacrificed to be alive. For when we have mortified our members, then we shall be able truly to live. For the law of this sacrifice is new, and the fire of a marvellous nature. For it needeth no wood under it, but liveth of itself, and doth not burn up the victim, but rather quickeneth it. This was the sacrifice that God sought of old. Wherefore the prophet saith, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit." And the three children offered this when they said, "At this time there is neither prince, nor prophet, nor leader, nor burnt-offering, nor place to sacrifice before Thee, and to find mercy. Nevertheless, in a contrite heart and an humble spirit, let us be accepted."

( Chrysostom.)

Here is —

I. SOMETHING TO BE DONE. Note —

1. The terms of the text.(1) "Present" is elsewhere rendered "yield" (Romans 6:13, 16, 19), a word commonly used for bringing to offer in sacrifice (Luke 2:22).(2) "Bodies," a part of human nature, is here used to represent the whole. Our whole nature consists of body, soul, and spirit. But as the body is the visible part of our nature, the organ of practical activity, as soul and spirit cannot now be devoted to God, except as connected with the body, nor themselves without the body, and as the body cannot be presented as a sacrifice separate from the spirit; moreover, as the allusion to the ancient sacrifices required the recognition of the material part of our nature, we may conclude that by "your bodies" is intended "yourselves."(3) The animals required by the law were brought alive to the altar, and in offering them up they were slain. So soon as the offering was made they were dead sacrifices. Yield yourselves a sacrifice in life, a sacrifice for life, a sacrifice rich in life.(4) "Holy," not nominally but really, cleansed from guilt, purified; passively and actively, not ceremonially, but experimentally; not outwardly only, but inwardly.(5) "Acceptable"; the sacrifice real, the bringing of the offering sincere; the Mediator recognised in the offering, therefore acceptable, i.e., well-pleasing unto God. The sacrifices under the law were pleasing to God as representing certain ideas and facts, and as expressing certain sentiments; but the sacrifice before us is in itself an object of Divine complacency (Psalm 147:11; Isaiah 62:4, 5; Malachi 3:16, 17).

2. That which is here required is not "devotions," but devotion. Present the offerings of true worship, but above all, present yourselves. All that we are is required, beside that which we have. Bring money, time, and influence as offerings, but above this, offer yourselves, your natural selves, your redeemed selves, the best in yourselves, and the whole of yourselves.(1) That you may be what He requires, His children, servants, witnesses, and as such, poor or rich, least or greatest, according to His will.(2) That you may do what He requires, in obedience as a son, and in work as a servant, and in testimony as a witness, etc.(3) That you may suffer and submit to all that He requires.

3. Now there are three things necessary to this —(1) Knowledge of God. No such sacrifice as that described in my text was ever offered to an unknown God.(2) Reconciliation to God. There can be no devotion or consecration where there is indifference or alienation.(3) Love to God.

II. A STRONG MOTIVE POWER BY WHICH TO DO IT.

1. "The mercies of God," which are the manifestations of His goodness recorded in the previous part of this Epistle (see Romans 2:4; Romans 5:8, 20, 21; Romans 8:38, 39). But there are mercies which Paul does not mention, and which the Christian shares with all men. The mercies of God are countless in number, infinite in variety, and inestimable in value. Gratitude is a strong motive-power, by whose aid we may present our bodies an offering for life, holy and acceptable.

2. And is there not some force in the statement that this offering is a reasonable service? The victims under the law were irrational. This yielding ourselves to God is a reasonable service because —(1) Worthy of our nature and constitution as rational beings.(2) In harmony with the object of man's creation.(3) The natural fruit of our redemption to God.(4) A meet and right acknowledgment of our obligations to God.(5) It commends itself to our judgment and conscience and heart.(6) While involving thorough enthusiasm, it is far from all fanaticism and superstition.

3. And is there not something due to the earnestness of Paul in this matter? "I beseech you." This man knew what it was to offer himself a sacrifice to God, and did what he recommends, by powers and aids within reach of all Christians. Here lies the secret of his power (2 Corinthians 12:9; Philippians 4:13).Conclusion:

1. Young brethren, render my text into life. In the school, home, place of business, present yourselves living sacrifices. The religious habits you now form are of immense moment to you. Let them be right habits even from the beginning.

2. Lukewarm and backsliding brethren, my text shows you what you ought to be, and indirectly what you are. A sacrifice it may be, but to self, to vanity, covetousness, pleasure, etc.

3. False brethren, why do you creep into our churches? You are as wood, hay, and stubble in our spiritual building, You are a cancerous growth on the body of Christ. Why do you not leave Christians alone? If you be an infidel, be honest, and do not profess to be a Christian. Go to your own company, but know that there is forgiveness for your falseness if you repent and turn from your evil ways.

4. And let the Pharisees of doctrine and of ritual digest my text. Theory without practice, doctrine without duty, a creed without spiritual life, will avail you nothing.

(S. Martin.)

I. THE MOTIVE of the sacrifice: "the mercies of God" — the most cogent motive that can possibly influence a Christian soul.

II. THE METHOD. It is to be an act of presentation. "Here am I; send me." Make what use of me Thou canst and wilt.

III. THE SUBJECT. "Our bodies."

IV. THE OBJECT. "Acceptable to God."

(W. Hay Aitken, M.A.)

We have here —

I. A HIGHLY FIGURATIVE BUT EXCEEDINGLY SIGNIFICANT REPRESENTATION OF PRACTICAL AND DAILY VIRTUE. It is given under the form of a presentation.

1. The Romans could not fail to be alive to its meaning. They had always been accustomed to sacrifice and splendid ritualism. They had to turn away from this, and to become members of little private societies, in which there was nothing of the kind. And I can imagine that they would almost feel the want of it; and in consequence of the absence of it to the heathen they did not seem to have any God or religion at all. But the Christian convert was now taught that he himself was a priest of God, that everything he did should be presented on the altar of a religious faith.

2. By the term "bodies" we are to understand the whole person. Though the body is the instrument, yet the mind is that which we always consider as acting. Of course you may take the term as it stands. You are to present your hands by keeping them from violence and fraud, and putting them to honest work. You are to present your eyes by turning them away from objects which may excite concupiscence, or fill you with the workings of unholy passion. The senses and appetites must all be controlled; and the understanding must learn to cultivate the knowledge of truth.

II. "BE NOT CONFORMED TO THE WORLD, BUT BE YE TRANSFORMED."

1. Here, again, the primitive Christian would have a stronger feeling than we can have. The Church and the world were things very distinct then. On the one side were the idolatry, godless philosophy, and vicious habits of heathen society; on the other a little flock, bearing the marks of that holiness which the Christian faith was designed to produce. But things are so wonderfully intermixed now that we do not know where the Church ends and where the world begins. There is a kind of border land; and there they are, going to and fro. Of course there are a number of things which the Church and the world must do in common, and in many cases non-conformity to the world consists, not so much in doing different things as in the different feelings that underlie what we do. "Why," says the apostle, "if you are not to come in contact with certain persons, you might just as well be out of the world." If an unbeliever ask you to dine with him, and you are disposed to do so, go; only bear in mind that you are a Christian, and that whether you eat or drink, or whatsoever you do, you are to do all to the glory of God. Now there can be no doubt at all about one thing. If anything presents itself as sinful there must not be conformity. Well, then, if you are really wishing to be a Christian; and if you find something which is injurious to you — you are not to enter into the question whether it is injurious to your neighbour; if you find it injurious to you do not be conformed to it. You may be conscious, e.g., that a certain kind of reading or music is a hindrance to your religious life. Take care, then, that in these respects you "be not conformed to the world." So with respect to anything that is doubtful with regard to the expenditure of time or money. Let me here whisper to you young people — whenever you find anything condemned by your intelligent and cultivated elders, you may depend upon it that there is something right lying at the bottom of their antipathy.

2. But besides this negative abstinence outwardly, there is to be a positive opening and development of the mind and affections towards that brighter world of Divine truth and goodness, to which it becomes us to be conformed. You must not be contented with outwardly resisting and inwardly longing. There is plenty of non-conformity to the world in the inside of a jail. Butts there the renewal of the mind? Unlike the man coming out of prison, who immediately returns from the force of the life that is within him to the things from which he has been parted for a season, there must be in you such a renewal of the soul that you will detest the things which have been given up; you must feel that you have meat to eat which the world knoweth not of. You will then have the satisfaction of another kind of life within you.

III. THE RESULT OF THIS IS THAT YOU MAY KNOW BY A POSITIVE, SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE THE WILL OF GOD, how beautiful, how perfect, how good it is; how it is just the thing for which man was evidently made.

1. There have been men of great genius who have been very immoral. "Well, now, let us suppose such a man to have studied Divine truth until he apprehends it just as he might apprehend astronomy. He has knowledge; he has a perception of the beauty of the system, but he has not tasted and seen. There it is, lying above the intellect just as the stars lie above the sky; he has not within him the sense of an actual loving spirit, instinct with the spirit of truth.

2. Take a man of inferior faculties — who, having some little to begin with — the lessons of his father, the prayers of his mother, by which his young heart was early, taught to love holiness and to hate sin; having very few ideas, and those not well arranged, but still daily presenting himself as a living sacrifice unto God, and going on learning the truth by loving it — oh, what different feelings will such a man have, as the whole system of truth gradually opens and reveals itself to him, and he gets more and more an apprehension of it! That is the way in which I want you to come to a knowledge of the Christian system.

IV. THIS SACRIFICE IS A VERY REASONABLE THING. It is a service agreeable to your rational nature. Take the case of a man who does not believe in God; suppose that man to come in contact with another who is disgracing humanity by drunkenness or licentiousness. Can you not conceive him saying, "Well, now, you know you were not made for that"? Or if he did not believe man to have been made at all, can you not imagine him saying, "However, you were made, considering what your mind is, and what society is, with your own knowledge of what is becoming, it is a most irrational thing for you to sink down into such a low, gross existence"? Ay, and we say to the man who talks thus, "Sir, if there's a God that made him, and you, and me; and if the relations which we sustain to Him as reasonable creatures are far more important than our relations to one another, then is it not required by our rational nature that we should not only avoid the abominations which you have denounced, but that, by the culture of what is good and beautiful and pure, we should present ourselves to God "as a living sacrifice?"

V. THE EXHORTATION IS ENFORCED "BY THE MERCIES OF GOD." The word "therefore" connects the exhortation with the preceding argument of the apostle, and without referring to that you cannot understand what are the mercies to which he especially refers. That argument bears principally on two points — the mediation of Christ, and the work of the Spirit. These are the two pillars on which the mercies of God are inscribed. You are to "present yourselves a living sacrifice"; you are not to be "conformed to the world," but to be "transformed by the renewing of the mind." Hard sayings. But you are not to take them by themselves. There is a provision to meet your weakness.

(T. Binney.)

This verse makes a transition from the first to the second half of this letter. All before it is what we call doctrinal, the most of what comes after it is practical. There are many men that say, "Give us the morality of the New Testament; never mind about the theology." But you cannot get the morality without the theology, unless you like to have rootless flowers and lamps without oil. On the other hand, many forget that the end of doctrine is life, and that therefore the most orthodox orthodoxy, divorced from practice, is like the dried flowers which botanists put between sheets of blotting-paper — the skeletons of dead beauty. Let us, then, always remember this little word "therefore," that binds together indissolubly Christian truth and Christian duty. Note —

I. THE SUM OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE.

1. Sacrifice means giving up everything to God. That is the true sacrifice, when I think as in His sight, and will, and love, and act as in obedience to Him. And this sacrifice will become visible in the sacrifice of the body, when in all common actions we have a supreme and distinct reference to His will, and do, or refuse to do, because of the fear and for the sake of the Lord. The body has wants and appetites; you have to see to it that these are supplied with a distinct reference to, and remembrance of, Him, and so made acts of religious worship. The excess which dulls the spirit and makes it all unapt to serve Him, the absorbing care about outward things which checks all the nobility of a man's life, are the forms in which the body comes in the way of the soul, and the regulation and suppression of these are the simplest parts of the offering. There is no need in this generation to preach against asceticism. Better John the Baptist's garment of camel's hair and his meat — locusts and wild honey, if, like John the Baptist, I shall see the heavens opened, and the Spirit of God descending on the Son of Man, than this full-fed sensualism which is the curse and the crime of this generation.

2. This offering makes a man live more nobly and more truly than anything else. Not mutilation but consecration is the true sacrifice. We are not called upon to crush our desires, tastes, appetites, or to refrain from actions; only they are to be controlled and done in obedience to God.(1) Now and then circumstances may come in which it is Christian duty to put your hand down there on the block and take an axe in the other and chop it off. But that is second-best; and if the man had always consecrated his faculty to God, he would never have had need to cut it off. To harness and tame it, to yoke it to the cart, and make it work, not to shoot the wild beast, is the right thing to do.(2) Thus to consecrate one's self is the way to secure a higher and a nobler life. Just as when you take a flower out of the woods and put it into a greenhouse and cultivate it, you will get a broader leaf and a finer flower than when it was wild, so the disciplined, consecrated man is the man whose life is the richest every way. If you want to go all to rack and ruin live according to your own fancy and taste.

3. This sacrifice is "your reasonable service." The antithesis is with the material sacrifices, and the Revised Version gives the true meaning in its marginal rendering "spiritual." It is a service or worship rendered by the inner man, transacted by the mind or reason, and thus, as indicating the part of our nature which performs it, is reasonable. Now there is no need to depreciate outward forms of oral worship. But still we have all need to be reminded that devout daily living is true worship. Where the common food is eaten with thankfulness and in the consciousness of His presence, it is holy as the Lord's Supper. The same authority that said of the one," This do in remembrance of Me," said by His apostle of the other, "Whether ye eat or drink, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus." "To work is to pray," if done from a right motive. The bells on the horses may bear the same inscription as blazed on the high priest's mitre, "Holiness to the Lord," and the shop-girl behind the counter may be as truly offering sacrifice to God as the priest by the altar. The mere formal worship is abomination without this. There are people that think they have done a meritorious thing in coming here to this service, and whose only notion of worship is a weary sitting in this place for an hour and a half. Do you think that is of any use? The sacrifice of praise is right, "but to do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

II. THE GREAT MOTIVE OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE. By "the mercies of God," the apostle means the great scheme of mercy set forth in the previous chapters. The diffused and wide-shining mercies, which stream from the Father's heart, are all, as it were, focussed as through a burning-glass into one strong beam, which can kindle the greenest wood and melt the thick-ribbed ice.

1. Only on the footing of Christ's sacrifice can we offer ours. He has offered the one sacrifice of His death in order that we may offer the sacrifice of our life. He has offered the dying sacrifice which is propitiation, in order that, on the footing of that, we may offer the eucharistic sacrifice of grateful surrender of ourselves to Him.

2. These mercies are also the only motive power that will be strong enough to lead to this consecration of ourselves to Him. The fierce wants, passions, and appetites that rage and rule in men will be subdued by nothing short of the mighty motive drawn from the great love of God revealed in the dying love of Jesus. There is one magnet strong enough to draw reluctant hearts and reluctant limbs, and that is Jesus lifted up on the Cross. Other restraints from propriety, prudence, or even principle will reach their breaking point at a much lower strain than the silken bonds of Christ's love.

III. THE GENTLE ENFORCEMENT OF THIS GREAT MOTIVE FOR CHRISTIAN SERVICE. Law commands, the gospel entreats! "Christ's yoke is easy," not because His precepts let down the ideal of morality, but because the motive is love, and the manner of command gentle and beseeching. Hence its power; for hearts, like flowers, which could not be burst open by the crow-bar of law, may be wooed open by the sunshine of love. Surely as the morning sunrise drew a note from the stony lips of the statue, which storm and thunder could not awaken, His pleading voice will bring an answer that could not have been won by any commandments, however rigid, or by any threatenings, however severe.

(A. Maclaren, D.D.)

The words are very familiar, or they certainly would strike us powerfully. None of us ever saw a sacrifice; but the readers of this Epistle knew the sight well; and whether they as Gentiles thought it a mere ceremony, or, if they argued about it, as the Scriptures almost compelled an Israelite to argue, they must have been startled at Paul's words. "Does he mean us," they may have said, "to treat our bodies as either sinful and to be got rid of, or as things so sacred, that to offer them in self-devotion will have power to make peace for us with God?" A little reflection would show them that neither of these interpretations could be the right one. St. Paul held the body in high honour; but, on the other hand, there was no thought in his heart, when he spoke of the body as a sacrifice, of anything meritorious. We shall best grasp the apostle's meaning if we consider —

I. THE TERMS USED. St. Paul had never yet visited Rome, and could not say as he said to the Thessalonians, "Remember ye not that when I was with you I told you of these things?" And therefore he has gone with great fulness into the whole system of grace and redemption, and now he turns to the practical inference.

1. He appeals to his readers "by the mercies of God." They for whom God has done all these great things had, by their very nature, no claim whatever to the love of God; and therefore mercy, "kindness to the undeserving," is the right word for God's dealings with them; and if mercy is to be indeed a blessing, it must lead to something in the heart and life, responsive and corresponding to it.

2. "Your bodies." St. Paul gave no encouragement to that sort of religion which dreams and cultivates beautiful ideas and rapturous feelings, and there stops. If he had written "minds" he might have given the notion of an intellectual attainment; if "souls" he might have opened the door to a languid and useless existence, such as hermits and mystics delight in; but when he says "bodies" he strikes at the root of all such errors. The word he uses is not "carcase," but "living body"; which includes all the powers of intercourse and exertion.

3. "Present" applies to the worshipper who places his victim by the altar and to the priest who officially makes the presentation, in either of which senses the word would be suitable here. In the one sense the Christian is the priest of his own sacrifice. Scripture speaks of us as offering up "spiritual sacrifices," as being ourselves "a royal priesthood." In the other sense the Christian places his offering by the altar that Christ may offer it up to God, and so make it acceptable. There is no conflict between the two; for, if the Christian is God's priest, he is so in virtue of the one process and the one sacrifice, and the moment he would officiate independently he becomes a priest of Baal.

4. "Sacrifice" was of two kinds.-1Leviticus 16, with its commentary in Hebrews 9; Hebrews 10, is the great study of "the sin-offering." There we find how absolutely this is restricted to the work done on Calvary. It would be blasphemous to apply the term to a human being as meaning atonement. When we even speak of atoning for a sinful past we are going perilously near to the edge of this precipice.(2) But though the sin-offering is absolutely Christ's, it is not quite thus with "the burnt-offering," the essence of which is the penetrating, transfiguring fire, the emblem of the sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost. The "sacrifice" here is the life indwelt, kindled, inspired, transformed by the fire of the Holy Spirit.

II. THE CLAUSE AS A WHOLE.

1. It prepares us for a somewhat painful life. "Sacrifice" implies death. "Look, then, upon yourselves as men who have already died with Christ, and who are now being burnt upon God's altar." The figure sets before us the life of a Christian as a life through which a fire is passing, that it may come out from it in a new form, the sinful having become pure, the earthly heavenly, and the whole man "meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." A process like this must be painful if the holy flame is really alight, if the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire is really at work in us, consuming our base passions, etc.

2. The painful life is also a glorious life. There is something in the word to which all but hearts of earth and stone are responsive. What will not a friend sacrifice for his friend? Will he not go through fire and water may he but prove his love? "Present your bodies a living sacrifice." Wherefore? and for what? To show that you feel what God has done for you in Jesus. If Christian ambition were just a refurbishing and regilding of this poor tarnished thing which sin and the fall has made us, I can well imagine noble hearts saying, "I will none of it. I despise your decencies and decorum." But men cannot speak in this way of the sacrifice of the body, of the flame kindled at the cross-altar, and kindling the creature and the sinner into the sufferer and into a doer and into a darer. Man would give worlds to live that life if he could. He cries in his shame and bitterness, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." One reason why there are not more Christians is because so few have entered into the thought of the inward fire which alone can make the outward surface aught but a delusion or a hypocrisy.

(Dean Vaughan.)

These words breathe the fervour of a heart which has made the surrender to which it would constrain others, and had they been read to us for the first time without context we might have pictured the apostle not dictating a letter, but standing as he does in the cartoon of Raffaelle with uplifted arms pleading with men. We have here —

I. A DEMAND.

1. The living sacrifice stands in contrast with the animals which were slain in order to be presented to God, and the holiness which is to mark it has reference to the Mosaic sacrifices which had to be without spot or blemish. Believers as a royal priesthood are here exhorted to offer that spiritual sacrifice prefigured by the burnt-offering, without which the sacrifice of praise by the lips, and of almsgiving with the substance, will be unacceptable to God. Remember that the expiatory sacrifice has gone before, and by virtue of it only are we priests unto God (Revelation 1:5, 6). When the Jewish priests were consecrated the blood of the sacrifice was applied to the ear, the hand, and the foot, signifying that it needs a blood-stained ear to listen to the Divine commandments, a blood-stained hand to minister before God, a blood-stained foot to tread His courts. So being now consecrated by the blood of the atoning sacrifice, believers are to offer the eucharistic sacrifice of the text.

2. The body does not signify here the whole man. True, the altar on which this victim is offered is the heart, but the reference to the body is not to be frittered away. The body shared largely in the fall, and is to share largely in the redemption. It is the temple of the Holy Ghost, and an instrument in Divine service, and is to be transformed in the likeness of our Lord's glorious body. So, then, we are called upon to present our bodies to God in useful service, and to take heed that it is not withheld or impaired by indolence, allowance of evil habit, or lack of self-discipline.

II. THIS DEMAND IS ENFORCED BY A TWOFOLD PLEA.

1. It is our reasonable service, which has been understood to point a contrast between the Christian sacrifice and those made prior to the Divine command, or those which are superstitious, or mechanical, or carnal. It is enough, however, that the service is dictated by reason in response to a reasonable demand. Granted the apostle's premises, no one can deny the rationality of this his conclusion. Hence sin is identified with folly, and wisdom constantly defined as being the fear of God and the keeping of His commandments.

2. The mercies of God. Note the emphatic "therefore," one of many which constitute the links of an irresistible argument for consecration based upon the mercy of God in Christ. It would be enough to mention God's temporal mercies, but in Paul's view these sink into insignificance compared with God's redeeming mercies, which form the substance of the Epistle.

(Canon Miller.)

As the smith casts the iron he wishes to mould into shape into the fire, so the apostle has been smelting the minds of his readers in the fires of sacred argument, till now they are prepared to receive those strokes of his hammer which are to shape them into practical Christians. The object of all Christian doctrine is to fuse the life of a man with Divine fire, and mould it into a Divine form, so that it shall not be conformed to the fashion of any passing age, but transfigured by the renewal of the mind with the life and beauty of God. Note —

I. THE CONSECRATION OF ONE'S SELF TO GOD.

1. In our human relations we know the nature of such self-consecration and what it involves. When two human beings give themselves to one another they swear in the name of love that they will be true to each other as long as life shall last. If the surrender be really entire and mutual, then marriage is really a holy sacrament, consecrating each to each as under the eye of God. It means such a oneness of life henceforth as shall not tolerate the thought of division; such mutual devotion that each shall lose himself in the service of the other — and the anguish of the thought of parting at death is consoled by the confident hope of reunion hereafter.

2. Our relations to God being spiritual cannot always be realised with the same intensity as our visible relations. But some things help to make them stronger and nobler.(1) Think of the motives that constrain our consecration. Love is the only guarantee for the enduring fellowship of souls, whether Divine or human. But the love of two human beings may not endure for ever But if we have come to know God's love in Christ, a love that does not depend for its existence or strength upon our love to Him, or upon the continuance of our love, but has its origin in infinite and eternal goodness, we have a motive for love and consecration which transcends all others that can affect the heart. Hence the force of the appeal "by the mercies of God," etc.(2) We can now understand also the purpose of such a consecration. Why do two human beings give themselves to one another? What does love mean by the surrender of self? Identity, so that two become one "like perfect music joined to noble words." And this is what the soul means when it gives itself unto God, that we may become one with Him, that our hearts may beat in sympathy with His, that our wills may keep time with the Divine will, that we may help in the accomplishment of His plans.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS CONSECRATION VOW IS FULFILLED. "And be not conformed," etc. The offering of ourselves, and the carrying out of the vow, are two different things. The one act is the work of a moment, the other is the work of a lifetime. The one is coming to God under the constraint of His love; the other is abiding in Him and growing up into Christian manhood. When a young man inflamed with the passion for scholarship is sent to the university, he enters his name upon the college books, and becomes pledged to the life of a student. But he is not yet therefore a learned man. He must attend classes, scorn delights, and live laborious days. If he can learn to love hard work and stern self-discipline he shall become at length what his first ambition aimed at. When a soldier takes the oath of allegiance it is but the first step of a soldier's life. He will have to pass through much monotonous drill before he is fit for service; and if ever called into the field of battle he will have to endure fatiguing marches and brave death itself. And we can be good soldiers of Jesus Christ only upon the same conditions. The case sometimes happens that a profligate man is smitten with the love of a pure woman and swears that if she will give him her love he will become a new man. And if she believes his promise and accepts his love, and he earnestly sets himself to redeem his vow, do you think he is able to become a new man in a day? Yes, in purpose, but not in achievement. The battle with former habits cannot he completely fought out at once, but the victory is won at last because the battle has been faithfully fought under the inspiration of a love that has been stronger than all his other passions. And what a pure earthly love is able to accomplish for a man, shall not the love of God in Christ accomplish for us?

2. We are to become transformed by the renewing of the thinking faculty. That is, instead of being occupied, as we once were, in thinking and planning about the old life and ways, we are to busy our thoughts with the new life, and not only try to feel right, but to think right. And so we shall cease to be conformed to this world, and become transformed by the progressive renewal of our minds till we learn by experience that the will of God is good, and acceptable, and perfect.

III. SUCH A SERVICE TO GOD IS IN THE HIGHEST DEGREE REASONABLE.

1. The religion of Christ appeals to all our highest faculties. It recognises also our understanding as well as our affections, and says that one of the great arguments for the surrender of the life to God is that it is eminently a right and reasonable thing. With some religion is all feeling, all sentiment; with others it is a round of dull proprieties, or a scrupulous and painful performance of prescribed duties; with others it is cloistered communion; with others it is all a matter of reason and argument. Now the apostle intimates that faculties the widest apart are to be brought into the closest alliance in the service of God. Love and reason, the mercies of God, and the judgment of man seem to be things far asunder, and yet here they are united in the apostle's argument.

2. We live in the most enlightened age the world has seen; when all claims are brought to the bar of reason. Christianity itself cannot escape this test. But if we are true to the teaching of Christ, and insist that consecration to God means the highest love to God and the purest love to men, need we fear that the most enlightened sages can gainsay that doctrine? For is not such love the richest outcome of the nature of man? Is self-sacrifice reasonable or unreasonable? Conclusion: The two things most needed in the religion of our day are a greater spirit of consecration to God, and a greater conviction of its reasonableness. We need greater love and more reason in our religion. A love that shall cast out sordid fear and low-minded calculations of the profit and loss of our religion; a love that can render greater service to God and greater service to the needs of our fellow-men: and in conjunction with this, a more enlightened reason that shall teach us to be afraid of no foes to religion but falsehood, indifference, or superstition.

(C. Short, M.A.)

The expression may include —

I. ACTIVE SERVICE. The victims slain could do no further service. But the sacrifice spoken of here is that of a living, voluntary agent, presented, not by others, but by himself, and presented for life in all his powers.

II. CONTINUED DEVOTEDNESS. The victims at the altar could be offered but once, and could never appear at the altar again. But the "living sacrifice" is one which is presented anew every day in the unremitting homage of the life.

III. As the apostle is addressing himself to believers, we ought to include the idea of the NEW LIFE as distinguishing them from the world and from their former selves when they were in a state of spiritual death. The sacrifice must not possess mere animal life, but must be instinct with the new life of holy sensibilities and spiritual principles to which the soul is "born again by the incorruptible seed of God's Word" and the power of the Spirit.

IV. Although it is a living sacrifice, it is a sacrifice READY FOR DEATH, should God require it. The life is to be so devoted to God as to be at all times and entirely at His service, and, if need be, cheerfully surrendered for His glory. It includes, in a word, willingness to be, to do, or to suffer whatever He may see fit to appoint.

(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)

Ellerthorpe, the hero of the Humber, who had rescued many from drowning, was at his duty on board ship, when a cry was raised, "A child overboard!" In an instant he was in the sea, and soon both were again on deck. Next day the mother took the child up to the brave man and said, "This is the gentleman who saved you from the sea; what are you going to give him?" For a moment the child was speechless, not knowing what to answer. But suddenly she put out her hands and said, "If you please, I have nothing else, but I will give you a kiss." The rough sailor had received many valuable presents, but he declared that the child's kiss was more to him than all beside. Why? Because she had given all she had — her love. Such is what Paul here asks for God. Note —

I. PAUL'S EARNESTNESS. "I beseech." He was a man in earnest, and nothing quenched his zeal; and this one man's zeal sufficed to carry the standard of the Cross in all directions. It is the earnest man who wins, as is shown in the cases of Luther and Wesley. Rowland Hill once said, "Because I am in earnest men call me an enthusiast. When I first came into this part of the country I saw a gravel pit fall in and bury three human beings. I lifted up my voice for help so loud that I was heard in the town near a mile away. Help came and rescued two of the sufferers. No one called me an enthusiast then; and when I see eternal destruction fail upon poor sinners and call aloud on them to escape, shall I be called an enthusiast now? "There was much force in the suggestion of a Scotchman when they were discussing where to put the new stove in the church. "You had better put it in the pulpit," said he, "for it is awful cold up there." Yes, put fire in the pulpit, but the best way of getting it there is to have plenty of it in the pews. Consecrated earnestness is needed in Church and Sunday-school work and by seeking sinners.

II. OUR DUTY TO GOD. We have been so busy in talking about saving souls that we have left no time to think about the body. Christ had but little to say about souls, but much about bodies. It is not without meaning that Paul says, "Present your bodies." This sacrifice must be —

1. Personal. "You," "ye," "your." We may transact business by proxy, but religion is a personal matter. Earnest efforts may bring blessings upon others, but a man must repent and believe for himself. A teacher cannot save his class, nor a minister his congregation, nor a mother her child.

2. Voluntary. Present yourselves. There is no compulsion. Christ made whips and drove out the buyers and sellers from the temple, but He has not made scourges to drive them in. The driving business has made many hypocrites, but never a saint. Christ knocks at the door, but the door has to be opened from within.

3. Living. God wants no dead or formal offering, but real living service. I would give Him the best buildings, singers, preachers, but unless we give Him living service all else is but the painted flower. A road surveyor, who was just finishing the levelling and paving of a long stretch of street, asked me in an enthusiastic tone if I did not think it splendid. "You see," he added, "I am trying to put my Christianity into the streets I make." That is just it. Drive your engines, make your coats and boots and chairs for Christ.

III. THE ARGUMENT BY WHICH PAUL ENFORCES ALL THIS — a threefold cord which cannot be broken.

1. "By the mercies of God."

2. That God will accept us. Without this encouragement we might expect to be rejected, for we are rebels.

3. It is our reasonable service.

(C. Leach, D.D.)

The ivy, twining its delicate stem round the tree, gradually increases in size and strength until the tree is overlapped and destroyed. Likewise, if allowed to grow up round the spirit of man, the selfish nature will increase in power until his life is as a stunted tree without any branches on which the fruit of love can grow. Christianity gives to the believer a new energy, which cuts off the ivy of selfishness and enables him to bring forth everlasting fruit. Christ put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and we are besought to follow His steps and to copy His example.

I. THE MERCIES OF GOD are —

1. Repentance — not like the repentance of the sailor in the time of storm, who throws his goods overboard, and in the time of calm wishes he had them back, but it is a repentance unto life which gets rid of all sin and joyfully leaves it behind.

2. The remission of sins. As the dying Israelites of old who, when they looked to the serpent of brass, were saved, so we have looked to Christ on the Cross, and as we looked we believed, and we have received life.

3. Adoption into the family of God and the witness of the Spirit. When the prodigal is clasped in his father's arms the passer by may say, "I do not believe the lad knows that he is forgiven." Others add, "I do not believe that anybody can know that his sins are forgiven till he dies." But that prodigal says, "My beloved father is mine and I am his."

II. DIVINE MERCIES PROMPT THE CHRISTIAN TO BECOME A SACRIFICE UNTO GOD.

1. Living. In the olden time the bullock had to be dragged to the altar, but the Christian comes willingly. After the bullock had been dragged to the altar he was slain, but the real Christian sacrifices while he lives, and does not put off till death, as some do when they bequeath so much to the cause of God because they cannot hold it any longer.

2. Holy. If Christianity can help only our outer life we can do without it. But it enters within the body, cleanses our inner nature. God makes us to be temples for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He is the filter in the muddy heart making to spring from it a fountain of holiness.

3. "Acceptable unto God" is not only praising God in the church, but praising Him with the melody of our daily words and actions, helping the helpless, and keeping ourselves unspotted from the world.

(W. Birch.)

This "therefore" has in it the accumulated momentum of the whole preceding portion of the Epistle, wherein the apostle has established the doctrine of that justification which is open to every one who believeth, and which is inseparably connected with sanctification of heart.

I. THE DUTY WHICH PAUL HERE LAYS UPON US.

1. There were two kinds of offerings under the Law — the one of expiation, the other of oblation; and two orders of priests — the high priest who went in alone every year into the holy of holies, and the ordinary priests who ministered daily at the altar. Under the new economy there is but one high priest and one sacrifice of expiation, but every believer is consecrated for the daily presentation of thank-offerings to God.

2. So Paul says, "Present your bodies." That, of course, does not mean that we are to do with ourselves as Abraham thought to do with Isaac, but neither does it mean that we are to give the body apart from the soul, which would be formalism and hypocrisy. Therefore many would take "your bodies" as equivalent to "yourselves." But that diminishes the force of the original. Paul is anxious to impress the truth that the transformation of the soul should be made manifest through the body, either because the body is the organ of practical activity, or as an indication that sanctification is to extend to that which is most completely under the bondage of sin. Paul found many disposed to undervalue the body, but he confronts this error by exhorting his readers to consecrate it unto the Lord. The words are equivalent to "yourselves in the body." As it is through the body that the evil in the unrenewed heart comes forth into manifestation, so it is through the body that the gracious principles and affections of believers reveal themselves. Note the singular rite of consecration (Exodus 29:20), the significance of which clearly was that the priest's ears, hands, and feet were sacred to Jehovah. Similarly each member of the body is to be held by the believer as specially consecrated to God.

II. THE QUALITIES THAT THIS SACRIFICE SHOULD POSSESS.

1. Life in contrast with the dead victim which could do no farther good in the world; but the living body, inhabited by the Holy Ghost, is to be constantly employed. The Jewish victims could be offered only once, but the Christian sacrifice continues while the life lasts. Here is a field for the display of heroism. It is easier to die for Christ than it is to live for Him.

2. Holiness. The word literally means set apart, but it is also that which is used for the Hebrew term signifying "without blemish and without spot." The idea is that it should be free from those things which would cause it to be rejected.

3. Acceptableness to God. Not only such as God can accept, but offered on such a ground as shall be well-pleasing in His eyes. Peter supplements Paul when he says, "Acceptable to God by Jesus Christ."

4. Rationality, i.e., a service which rests on rational grounds, or one in which the reason is engaged. Our sacrifice is mental and spiritual, and so distinguished from those which were merely ceremonial and external. It requires that the thoughts of our minds, the affections of our hearts, the decisions of our wills, and the admonitions of our consciences should all be Christianised.

III. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH THE OFFERING IS ENFORCED. The term mercy as generally used denotes kindness shown, irrespective of character, but in the New Testament it designates favour done to the undeserving. That is its meaning here, for the apostle is referring not to the ordinary gifts of God's providence, but to justification, adoption, sanctification, and glory. Tracing all these to the free mercy of God, he shows us the obligations under which we are thereby laid to dedicate ourselves to God. We see, thus, how false the assertion is that the preaching of justification by faith undermines morality. It does not discourage good works; but, instead of encouraging the sinner to purchase his salvation by his deeds, it makes good works the offering of the grateful heart for the salvation which it has believingly received. Thus the slave becomes the child, and duty is transfigured into choice.

(W. M. Taylor, D.D.)

God always must be served, and that by all. Angels refused to serve Him in heaven and were cast down to hell. Man refused to serve Him and was driven out of Paradise. There are four courses open to us. We may refuse by attempting to oppose and overcome God, or to escape Him, or to endure His wrath; or, we may submit and serve Him. Which of these shall we take? We cannot succeed in the first, the second, or the third; there is nothing therefore left but the fourth.

I. WHAT YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE IS.

1. The sacrifice to be offered must be —(1) Holy. But how can we dare to lay any such sacrifices upon His altar? And if we dared, how could He accept? Turn aside and see how the priests used to act. Having killed the animal, they cut it open, and took out all that was unclean; and then, having, washed it, they consumed it on the altar with fire before the Lord. So our Great High Priest would wash us externally from our guilt in His own blood, and then, laying us open, would remove all that is corrupt within us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, that thus we may be laid as holy sacrifices upon the altar, and consumed before the Lord.(2) Complete. Entire. "Your bodies" means yourselves. When the lamb was brought to the altar, the body was brought, and all that it contained. Your bodies are like precious caskets containing the more precious jewels of your souls and spirits. Keep back nothing. Ye are not your own, therefore "glorify God in your bodies," etc. If you want examples read Hebrews 11, or take the case of Paul; or, nobler far, look at Jesus, "who gave Himself for us."

2. The manner of offering it.(1) Freely "present." Do not wait to be obliged, but come of your own accord. The principle is love. If you love God, you will present yourselves to God. Suppose you have a poor friend who asks for a small loan. If you love your money better than your friend, you will keep your money. If you love your money as much as your friend, you will, most likely, waver, and at last give it grudgingly. But if you love your friend better than your money, you will give the money freely.

3. Daily. When a lamb was brought to be offered, it was first cleansed, then bound, and then burned. Now that you may be living sacrifices, it is necessary that you should be daily cleansed, bound, and burned.

II. PAUL "BESEECHES YOU BY THE MERCIES OF GOD" TO PERFORM IT.

1. It is an appeal from the altar of God, from one who was himself, through the riches of the grace of God, a living sacrifice.

2. Look back through the Epistle for the mercies of which he speaks. Mark how he points out —

(1)Our sin and ruin.

(2)The mystery of our salvation through the riches of the grace of God.

3. If you have made the resolve to present yourselves to God, be encouraged to do so, for the text declares that this sacrifice is "acceptable to God." You see the altar, the cords for binding the sacrifice, the fire for burning it, the sacrifice laid on the wood, bound with cords, and burned. Now look to Him who sits upon the mercy-seat, in the most holy place, accepting it! And that you may understand how acceptable it is, remember that it is "bought with a price" — a "member of Christ" — and a "temple of the Holy Ghost."

(H. Grattan Guinness.)

1. When Christianity dethroned the previous religions of the world, it immediately did that which proved its sovereign right to the position which it claimed. It took the names, institutions, and ideas which it found, and gave them a new and better meaning; or even if it destroyed them, it immediately planted something corresponding in their place. Take, e.g., its treatment of sacrifice, so universal in the old, religions. In its ancient sense Christianity rejected it altogether; but in a higher sense Christianity is, above all others, a religion of sacrifice. It is a religion founded on the greatest of all sacrifices, and one whose whole continuance in the world depends on continual sacrifice — the sacrifice of the heart and mind in thanksgiving (Romans 15:16; Hebrews 13:15), the sacrifice of good deeds (Hebrews 13:16; Psalm 1:23), and broken hearts and contrite spirits (Psalm 51:17), the sacrifice of the whole man in the dedication of himself to God (Psalm 1:23; 1 Peter 2:5; Romans 12:1; Philippians 2:17).

2. There have been times when this sacrificial act must have been true to the very letter. In the ages of persecution, Christians must have felt that they were indeed presenting themselves victims in the cause of God and truth. Soldiers, too, on the eve of some great battle, must, if they reasoned at all, have felt that they were sacrificing themselves in the literal cease of the apostle's words. But in the less exciting days of our ordinary lives we can enter into every word of the apostle's appeal. We many of us feel its whole meaning, when at the Lord's table we "present to God ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice to Him." We feel it with an especial force in the beginning of the new year, when new hopes and new resolutions rise within us, and when we determine to enter on a new course of life. We feel it still more when we are entering on a new crisis, career, or position, which to be worthily fulfilled requires the sacrifice of all our energies to this one purpose.

3. Let us note the characteristics of this sacrifice. It is —

I. REASONABLE. It is a dedication, not of mere impulse, fancy, affection, but of our intellect; a sacrifice in which our minds go along with our hearts. How is this to be done? The service, which the God of reason and of truth requires of us, first and foremost —

1. The sacrifice of truth. Not to authority, freedom, popularity, fear, but to truth. This is, no doubt, a hard sacrifice. Custom, phrases bound up with some of our best affections, respect of persons or acquiescence in common usage, these are what truth compels us to surrender. Dear, no doubt, is tradition, the long familiar recollection, venerable antiquity on the one hand or bold originality on the other; but dearer than any of these things is truth.

2. The preference of "the Word of God," as it appears in the Bible, is above all human opinions. This, too, is a sacrifice often hard to make. To search the Scriptures thoroughly, to make out their true sense, and not force our opinions on them, is a task which may involve many a sacrifice of time and thought and ease. The Bible doubtless contains many "things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable may wrest to their own destruction." But take it with all its difficulties and all the imperfections of the human agencies by which it has come down to us, and it is still true that no more reasonable service can be offered up by man to God than the study of the Scriptures. "Thy Word is tried to the uttermost," tried by the investigations of science, by the undue claims made upon it, by the misunderstanding of its enemies, by the exaggeration of its friends; and yet, in spite of all, "Thy servant loveth it," because he knows there is nothing else which will so well repay all the trouble which its study involves.

II. HOLY. To what a world beyond ourselves does this word carry us! how near to the Great White Throne! how far away from this selfish, sinful world! How easy to feel its meaning! how difficult to apply it! A life, a worship, consecrated from the low, narrow, impure influences which dry up our better thoughts; a life set on higher aims, a life which has within it something at least which recalls the world to the sense of the saintly, the heroic, the heavenly, the Divine! Where shall this holiness be sought?

1. The Bible is the fountain and bulwark of truth; it is no less the fountain and the bulwark of holiness. There is a holiness in the Bible which speaks for itself. The spirit which breathes through it is indeed the spirit of the saints. To live in that exalted atmosphere which nursed the faith of Abraham, and the unselfishness of Moses, and the courage of Joshua, and the devotion of David, and the hope of Isaiah, and the energy of Paul, and the love of John, is better than any rule or form which scholastic ingenuity or ascetic piety has ever devised. Take even a single Psalm. Read over Psalm 15; Psalm 51, or 101; or even a single verse from 1 Corinthians 13, or the Sermon on the Mount; act upon it throughout a single week, make it the rule of a single family; what a holy sacrifice, salted with the salt of God's special grace, would then be offered up!

2. And if we ascend from the Bible to Him of whom the Bible speaks, what a lifting up of our hearts above the toil, and dust, and turmoil, and controversies, and doubts of the world, if we could declare that we embraced with our whole souls the true religion of Christi Ask spiritual counsel from all quarters, but ask it especially from Him who must be above every other religious teacher. Ask not of Him questions of times or seasons, or this world's knowledge and power, which He refuses to answer; but ask of Him the questions how we are to please God, to serve our brethren, to deal with sin and error, and assuredly we shall receive an answer, not of this world, nor of this age, nor of the will of man, nor of any sect or party, but the answer of the eternal mind of God Himself, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

III. "LIVING." There have been those who have offered to God a reasonable sacrifice, but one cold, hard, philosophic, without warmth, sympathy, or action; a holy sacrifice, but shut up within books, or walls, the dry bones of religion. Our sacrifices must not be like the dead carcases of the ancient victims, thrown away to perish or to be burned; they must be living, walking, speaking, acting in the face of day. We know what we mean when we say that a child or a man is "full of life." That is what our sacrifice of ourselves should be — happy and making others happy, contented and making others contented, active and making others active, doing good and making others do good, by our vivid vitality — filling every corner of our own souls and bodies, and every corner of the circle in which we move, with the fresh life-blood of a genial Christian heart.

(Dean Stanley.)

I. THE PURPORT OF THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION. Here is —

1. Something to be presented unto God. "Your bodies." Not that Paul was unmindful how important it was that they should present their souls. He had already acknowledged that they had "obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which had been delivered" unto them; but he probably thought there was some danger lest they should not to the requisite extent "serve of righteousness."

2. The purpose for which this presentation must be made. It is not a gift — something which we have a right to present, or to withhold; nor a loan, to be returned, nor a service or benefit to be rewarded, but a sacrifice; i.e. —(1) An acknowledgment of what is due to God.(2) An entire resignation of it to the Divine use and disposal.

3. The manner in which this sacrifice must be presented. It is to be(1) A living sacrifice, i.e. —(a) According to the original a sacrifice alive. "Present your bodies a sacrifice" would startle those who associated the term with death; and hence the necessity of the assurance that it was life, not death, that God required. We are neither to devote ourselves to destruction, as many of the heathen do, to satisfy the claims of their idols, nor to embitter and waste our lives by austerities, as many of the papists do.(b) Or the apostle may have meant that the "sacrifice" was not to be a solitary act, nor even a frequent repetition of such acts, but the prevailing habit of our lives. There are indeed particular seasons when the sacrifice should be formally presented; but "whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do," we must "do all to the glory of God."(2) A "holy" sacrifice — i.e., solemnly set apart for the Divine service. As "living" implies perpetuity, "holy" intimates entireness. Under the law that the sacrifice might in all cases be entire, the poor were permitted to present "a pair of turtle-doves, or two young pigeons." So we are not to appropriate our bodies to one master and our souls to another, nor to reserve any faculty of body or of soul.(3) "Acceptable unto God." Under the law the mode of presentation had to be attended to, or the sacrifice was spurned as an abomination. The place in which the sacrifice was to be offered was defined, and it had to be presented through the priest. And so we must take care that our sacrifice be presented at the proper altar, viz., Christ, by whom alone our gifts are sanctified. And by Him, as our High Priest, the sacrifice is to be offered to God.

II. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION IS URGED. He might have urged terrific motives, viz., that, should they fail to present themselves, God would hereafter seize upon them for a prey. Or he might have reminded them how just and right it was, or how advantageous. Instead of this he appeals only to their gratitude. Why?

1. Considering their spiritual state, it was the most powerful motive which he could possibly employ. Had he been writing to persons who were strangers to the grace of God, or had received that grace in vain, it might have availed but little, and the other motives might have availed much. But "the mercies of God" strike the chord of a Christian's tenderest and best affections, and touch the mainspring of all his conduct. The apostle knew this from his own experience.

2. This is the motive best suited to the character and intent of the sacrifice required. Had the apostle been exhorting us to present our bodies as a sacrifice for guilt, the motives would have been drawn from the Divine justice. As the sacrifice is a thank-offering, the apostle presses on us those considerations which may tend especially to animate our gratitude.

3. They only who have obtained mercy are capable of the sacrifice. They only can present —(1) "A living sacrifice." The man who has not yet obtained mercy, in any sense in which he may be said to live at all, lives to himself, and not to God. Or supposing that, by formal "service," he presents a living body, yet while the soul continues "dead in trespasses and sins," it is but a dead sacrifice he offers.(2) A holy sacrifice. The sin which reigns in that man's heart who is a stranger to grace makes his sacrifice abomination.(3) Acceptable to God. In order to this the sacrifice must be preceded by the pardon of sin. For how can God accept an offering from His enemies with whom the purity of His own nature constrains Him to be angry every day?

(Jonathan Crowther.)

I. WHEREIN IT CONSISTS.

1. Not in particular acts of self-denial, or in undertaking certain painful duties.

2. But in full consecration to God, and in the maintenance of a living, holy, and acceptable walk before God.

II. WHAT IT REQUIRES.

1. The renunciation of the world.

2. The renewing of the mind.

3. The practical proof of the perfect will of God.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Pousa the Chinese potter, being ordered to produce some great work for the Emperor, tried long to make it, but in vain. At length, driven to despair, he threw himself into the furnace, and the effect of his self-immolation was such that it came out the most beautiful piece of porcelain ever known. So in Christian labour it is self-sacrifice that gives the last touch and excellence and glory to our work.

(W. Baxendale.)

I. THE LEADING MOTIVE OF THE GOSPEL.

1. Not self-interest; not the reasonableness, beauty, and dignity of virtue.

2. But a grateful sense of God's many and great mercies.

II. THE SUMMARY OF CHRISTIAN DUTY. Self-dedication to God, or the consecration of ourselves to do His holy will.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

Acceptable to God
I. NOTICE SOME OF THE ATTRIBUTES OF ACCEPTABLE WORSHIP IMPLIED AND EXPRESSED IN THE TEXT.

II. CONSIDER THE ARGUMENTS USED BY THE APOSTLE TO ENFORCE THIS DUTY.

1. Advert to the reasonableness of the service. It has been thought by some that the apostle, in this phraseology, has an allusion to the irrational animals which were offered in the service of God under the Levitical law; but that His service is much more simple, and the reasons of duty much more obvious to the understanding of the worshipper under the present than they were under the former economy. This is certainly true in point of fact. But recollect that, however various the sacrifices, and however complex the service of God during the preceding dispensations, yet His worship, in itself considered, ever has been, and ever will be, "a reasonable service." We lie under peculiar obligations, however, to bless the Lord, that the bondage and comparative darkness of the preceding economy is past, and the true light now shineth. The natural imbecility of reason in a fallen creature has been much overlooked; and her appropriate province in revealed religion much misunderstood by many of the disputers of this age. Christians also have much erred on the same subject. Instead of her having been used as an humble, submissive handmaid, to sit at the Saviour's feet, and implicitly receive the authoritative dictates of heaven from His lips, she has frequently been tricked out in the fantastic drapery of infallibility, and that also, sometimes, in the very temple of God, above all that is called God, or worshipped. Now recollect it is one leading design of the revelation of mercy to humble her haughty looks, and to level all her lofty pretensions in the dust, and to draw her deluded votary to the feet of the Saviour, as an eternal debtor to free mercy, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and complete redemption (1 Corinthians 1:4, 5, 30, 31). Glad should we be if sinners were but prompted to reason justly upon their immortal interests and on the unqualified claims which the great salvation has upon the human heart. But it is not enough that our reasoning powers first of all yield unreservedly to God's appointed plan of redemption for pardon and peace, everlasting consolation and good hope through grace; they are brought into the school of Christ to be tutored for eternity, and to acquire the elements of implicit submission to the whole council of God. This is not so much the duty of a day as a labour for life. But, reason thus tamed, and thus taught — thus guided, and thus governed — by the principles of pure and undefiled religion is the decided enemy to all error — the sworn foe to all corruption — a powerful advocate of the honours of truth and righteousness — and a firm friend to the doctrine of the Cross, and all the social ordinances and commandments of Christ. Allow me further to observe that a well-principled mind will not dare to reason against any part of the revealed will of God. A Christian, living under the vivid impressions of the fear of God, will consider that every part of the truth as it is in Jesus demands and deserves personal obedience, for its own and its Author's sake; and he will give to each of its parts that degree of attention which its relative importance in the economy of redemption properly claims.

2. We shall now briefly notice our last, though not least powerful argument, used to enforce the duty in the text: "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God." There is no law in the universe more powerful than that of love. What heart can possibly withstand the tender mercy of the Most High! It is firm as the mountains — free as the air-boundless as the ocean — durable as the pillars of heaven — and efficacious in its operations, as the sun shining in the greatness of his strength.

II. APPLICATORY REMARKS.

1. The absolute necessity of a renewed mind in order to any person serving God with acceptance.

2. The importance of Christians being deeply embued with the spirit of devotion in order to their personal comfort and public usefulness.

3. A Christian Church ought to give a fair representation of the spirit of devotion — the institutions of the kingdom of Christ — the principles of benevolence — and the standard of morals in the place where they live.

(N. Macneil.)

Homiletic Magazine.
(Children's sermon): —

I. WHO THE PRESENT IS FOR. We read of all kinds of presents for all sorts of persons. Jacob brought one to Esau (Genesis 32:13), and sent one to Joseph (Genesis 43:11); Abigail to David (1 Samuel 25:18); Naaman to Elisha (2 Kings 5:17); Queen of Sheba to Solomon (1 Kings 10:10). Then there are birthday and Christmas presents, and the more imposing testimonials given to men and women for special work. But the present we speak of is for God. Why should we give presents to every one but Him? The wise men brought Him presents; why should not we?

II. WHY SHOULD WE GIVE IT.

1. We give presents to those whom we love — to parents, etc., and if we loved God we should bring something to show our love. Mary brought an alabaster box of ointment, worth about £9, to show hers.

2. We give to those who deserve well of us — especially if they have done or suffered much on our behalf. Masters give pensions to old and faithful servants, and the Queen medals to her brave soldiers. If some one were to save you from drowning or fire you would want to give something to show your gratitude. How much has God done for us!

3. We give presents to those who we think will be pleased to receive them. We know it gives them pleasure partly because of the value of the present, but chiefly because of the love that prompts it. So with God (Isaiah 43:24).

III. WHAT SHOULD WE GIVE.

1. Something worth giving. What costs little is usually worth little. The gift is valuable according to its value to the giver as Jesus taught in the parable of the widow's mite. God complained that His people gave Him the blind and lame. He was not pleased with it because it cost them nothing (see also 2 Corinthians 14:24). What we bring must be worth something to us or it will be worth nothing to Him.

2. Something God will care to receive. We avoid what our friends already have, or what would be unacceptable, and find out what they would like. Money, gold, jewellery, land, etc., are of no value to God. The only thing we can give is our. selves — our bodies, including our souls; and God will be pleased with nothing else. But how? By using our hands to work for Him, our tongues to speak for Him, etc. A missionary tells of an Indian who offered his blanket, gun, wigwam — but got no blessing till he offered himself.

IV. LESSONS.

1. We are to give, not lend. Seneca says, "There is no grace in a benefit that sticks to our fingers."

2. We should give our bodies while young and worth giving.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

Your reasonable service
I. THE SACRIFICE. We bring not slain beasts, but living souls and bodies.

II. THE SANCTUARY. Is not of this world, but the Church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

III. THE PRIESTS. Are not Levites, but Christian believers, renewed in the spirit of their minds.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

Yes; there is nothing so reasonable — nothing that gives, and will ever give, reason its full powers, but the religion of Jesus Christ. Our intellects are destined to travel much further into the moral than into the natural perfections of Jehovah; whence we see that those who spurn the religion of Jesus Christ insult their intellects as well as their hearts; robbing themselves at the same time of the sublimest pleasures God Himself has to confer upon any of His creatures. We are destined, moreover, to be more intimately acquainted with the moral perfections of God than with anything else. We shall know more of God a great deal than we shall know of each other. Here then is a sublime feast for the human intellect as well as for the human heart. Worship, then, the Lord in the beauty of holiness. What is so reasonable? Is there anything more reasonable than that a child should obey the father on whom he is dependent for everything? Indeed, communion with God is absolutely necessary, to enable us to extract all the sweets of learning or science. We must learn the happy art of leaving everything more and more with Jehovah, and then we shall be led by Himself into Himself in everything, and participate throughout the revolving ages of eternity in His purity and bliss. Contrasting what I am now telling you with what we see in Scripture, we shall find a strong reason for calling sin folly. There is nothing so opposed to right reason as sin. God's service is a reasonable service; the slave of sin and Satan is the most unreasonable of all beings.

I. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH AS A DUTY. It is due to God from every being who hears the gospel without one single exception. All beings must be, and for ever will be, indebted to God for three reasons: — His own perfections — the relationship subsisting between Him and His creatures — and the many obligations conferred upon them.

II. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH AS A PRIVILEGE. If asked which is the most glorious, the obedience of vision above, or the obedience of faith below, I should be obliged to say I cannot tell. I can do many things here on earth in the service of God and my fellow-creatures, which I could not possibly do if body and soul were separated from each other. There is a something which involves in it the glory of God in a peculiar degree in the triumph of faith here below. But there is another thing to be considered. The principle of obedience is, indeed, the gift and creation of God — it is likewise the purchase of One who is God. It not only involves the power of Jehovah, but His worth. It is in these, when connected together, the natural and moral perfections of Jehovah shine in all their glory, in calling into existence, and preserving in existence, true religion in the human heart on this side eternity. The believer is "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Peter 1:5). And we must necessarily connect our obedience here below with the obedience of the Son Himself in glory at the present moment. He has triumphed; and the body He wears now will, in its perfect similitude, be worn for ever and ever by all His family. My brother, revere thyself! consider whose thou art! — who bought thee! — who redeemed thee! — thy high parentage! — thy glorious destiny! Consider, too, whoso representative thou art intended to be, so long as thou art a stranger and sojourner here on earth!

III. THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH IN ITS ADAPTATION TO THE STATE OF THE CHURCH MILITANT. The dispensation under which we are living richly blends justice with mercy. It is but just to God to require what is due to Himself. In His mercy, however, He accepts the weakest offering, proceeding from a contrite heart; while, at the same time, the blessing of perfection is reserved for His family, and He will assuredly make them what He Himself would have them to be for ever and ever.

IV. IT IS IN THE OBEDIENCE OF FAITH ALONE WE CAN BE CONSCIOUS OF AN INTEREST IN CHRIST. Let me once be conscious that I love God and delight in Him, I have no more to doubt then. Let the principle of obedience be sublimated, as it may, nay, must be, even here, and I shall immediately echo the language of Paul, "I know whom I have believed." Lessons:

1. The obedience of faith was destined to preserve man from all extremes — from his legality — from his licentiousness. It is in this obedience we are preserved; and obedience is salvation on this side eternity.

2. Are there any here strangers to Christ? You tell me you cannot come to Him. Invite Him, then, to come to you. But you have many and mighty enemies. He is determined to overcome every enemy.

3. Election is full of every possible encouragement. To whom? To every one who hears the gospel.

(W. Howels.)

If we examine our own nature, everything within, everything around us indicates that religion is a reasonable service, and that man was intended to present it. First, because he is a weak, dependent creature. Survey him in infancy, helpless, needing parental fondness! Thus the first feelings of nature indicate his want of protection, and lead him to seek it from those whom he conceives more powerful than himself. The same sentiment is evident through the whole of his life. Conscious of his inability to guard against the numberless dangers that surround him, conscious of his insufficiency to procure the means of happiness, his desire of protection and assistance is one of the strongest ties that binds him to political society; and for the sake of this he is willing to sacrifice a part of his property, and in many cases a considerable portion of his natural rights. Yet after all he is liable to innumerable evils and dangers, from which no care of his own, and no protection of his fellow-creatures can guard him. Even in the midst of the gayest scenes of pleasure the heart feels a void, and a very slight circumstance is sufficient to render the cup of worldly bliss tasteless. But will the fun of prosperity always shine unclouded and serene? In short, in whatever view you consider man, he is a dependent being; he feels this to be the case, and naturally seeks for assistance and support. The misfortune is, that he applies to the wrong object: instead of trusting to the Rock of Ages, he leans on a feeble reed that will break under him, and wound the hand that reclined upon it, More especially will this appear when we consider that the God on whom we depend is a Being in whom every perfection centres; whose benevolence inclines Him to communicate happiness, and who has given us a rule of faith and conduct which, if we observe, He has solemnly promised that He will make all things to work together for our ultimate and greatest good. Is not religion then the reasonable service of a dependent creature like man to the God on whom he absolutely depends? Religion is likewise our reasonable service, as it is the exercise of the best affections of the heart, and of those which are most influential on the moral conduct. In the habitual exercise of that piety and devotion which religion inspires, we contemplate the ever-living source of all perfection and happiness; an object which fills the mind with pleasing astonishment, enlarges our views, elevates our sentiments and excites us to an imitation of that which we cannot but admire. That religion is a reasonable service which man was intended to present will further appear if we consider that the hopes which it inspires are consonant to his nature, and necessary to his happiness. Of all the creatures that inhabit the world, man alone is the child of hope. But alas! every expectation which has this world for its object must, inevitably perish, and man were the most wretched of creatures if all his hopes were confined to the present life. As hope is thus essentially necessary to human happiness, how excellently adapted to our nature is the religion of Jesus, which tends to improve, exalt, and direct this turn of the affections to objects more durable, sublime, and satisfactory, than any this world can afford. The glorious and Divine hope of life and happiness eternal, which is brought to life in the gospel, is the only true source of felicity to man. Every grateful idea which cheers the mind, together with every pleasing sensation that warms and dilates the heart, is the legitimate offspring of this enlivening principle. The mind of the sincerely pious Christian, inspired by the promises, invigorated by the principles, and supported by the prospects of the gospel, rises superior to every affliction. Thus is religion happily suited to the nature of man, as a dependent creature, as a moral agent, and as the child of hope. To enjoy the consolations it affords, to be inspired with the amiable dispositions it promotes, to be animated with the encouraging hopes it suggests, we must not be satisfied with the mere profession, but must diligently cultivate its duties, and endeavour to imbibe its principles.

(B. C. Sowden.)

1. To sacrifice ourselves.

2. To renounce the world.

3. To regard ourselves as members of the body of Christ.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. ITS NATURE.

1. The word rendered "reasonable" means what belongs to the reason, as distinct from the belongings of the body, or external law. Hence reasonable service means the service of mind.

2. The word "service" means worship; and reasonable service will therefore mean the worship of mind.

3. Consequently "reasonable service" stands in contrast to "body." What you present is the body, but it is the worship of your mind.(1) As much as to say on the one hand, that no act done by the body is worship, is acceptable to God unless accompanied by an act of thought. Every thoughtful mind rises above being satisfied with external rites. Suppose the expression of our love to our dearest friends were a simple ceremony not representing any inward feeling, it would be worthless. If man is dissatisfied with empty rites how much more God!(2) On the other hand, the words imply that no feeling towards God is adequate worship. There must be the presentation of the body to perfect the worship of the mind. There must be something more than thinking of God, than admiring the greatness of God's works, than even acknowledging that God is kind; and what that is we have in this verse.

4. The essence of worship is self-dedication; the perfection of worship is entire self-sacrifice, and we cannot sacrifice except in the body. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the best example of this great act of worship. He loved us from eternity. There was no sacrifice in His love; because there was no sacrifice, there was no merit.; because there was no merit there was no salvation. Now what must He do in order that His love may take the form of self-sacrifice? He must become man, and be able in the body to do bodily acts, and these bodily acts of suffering and dying will enable Him to sacrifice Himself. To die is not a great thing externally. Little children do it. Creatures who have no souls do it. Yes; but in that small act of dying on the Cross the infinite Son of God was able to do the very same thing as the little child in that cottage. He was able in that simple act to do the greatest spiritual self-sacrifice that was ever done from all eternity. He created the worlds; but something greater than creation is here. He died, and in dying showed how the infinitely rich, great, powerful, became the infinitely poor, small, weak, and how He who is the Fountain of Life sacrificed His own life for others. Now that is the highest act of worship.

II. HOW TO RENDER IT. This verse begins the second part of the Epistle. The doctrine of the previous chapters is justification by faith; what is the connection between that and sacrifice of self? Justification means — 50. That a man is profoundly convinced that he is a sinner. He is filled with shame in the presence of God. That shame is the beginning of self. sacrifice. There are other things, plenty of them, to make us feel small, but they do not create self-sacrifice.(1) I am small in space; how small compared with the stars! Yet I do not see that I ought to consecrate my whole being to the stars, for I can weigh them in my scales. I can count them on my fingers; they cannot count us or weigh us. We are greater than they.(2) Rise to the higher world. How small is man compared with the great truths of God's intellect! Yet there is no worship of truth. Naked truth, mere abstract ideas, will never create love and self-sacrifice. No man ever did it, not even Socrates at his best.(3) Rise once more to the moral law, greater than ideas, commanding me to submit myself to its omnipotence, telling me that there is an eternal difference between being good and being bad; that there is a greater difference between goodness and evil than there is between the greatest and the least creature in God's universe. And now in the presence of this awful power what is the result? Oh, I am ashamed of myself before God's law. I wish the mountains would crush me out of my very being, and that is the beginning of self-sacrifice.

2. Justification by faith means that you and I realise deeply that our only salvation is in trusting God. Trust not works. Trust not your own struggles for eminence. Simply trust in the unchanging goodness of God. Paul realised that great truth. That is the secret of this man's apostleship. It is the explanation of his spiritual life. He felt convinced when he was conquering himself and his pride and the world, he was able thus to conquer through simple trust. It is in that that I see the possibility and the progress of self-sacrifice and self-consecration. And then, oh! how easy it is to say, "Thy will be done"! That is worship. Not singing hymns with a loud voice and a hardened heart; not uttering words of prayer with wandering thoughts; not gesticulations and appearances before men, but a profound, calm, deep readiness to say, "Thy will be done."

(Principal Edwards.)

teaches us —

1. How to serve God.

2. How to use the world.

3. How to estimate ourselves.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

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