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1 Peter 2:1-10 - Homiletics

I. ITS GROWTH .

1. What must be shunned . St. Paul bids us work out our own salvation. The new birth is the beginning; that comes from God—from his free grace. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." But the new man must grow; and that growth is not spontaneous; it will not evolve itself without effort from the" incorruptible seed." Progress, growth in grace, requires earnest prayer, watchfulness, constant self-denial. St. Peter bids us "grow in grace" ( 2 Peter 3:18 ). We do not bid a plant to grow; we watch its growth, we assist it. But Holy Scripture bids the Christian grow; the commandment implies the power. Our Father doth not mock us with precepts which we cannot obey. And growth in free agents implies effort. They must avoid all pernicious influences, everything which might check the growth of the precious germ. Especially they must avoid all offences against the law of love; for love is the very pulse of the regenerate life; these who are born again of the incorruptible seed must love one another with a pure heart fervently. There can be no such things as malice and guile and envy in the heart wherein the holy seed abideth; for these things come of Satan; they have the taint of hell. Christians must not speak evil of one another; it is Satan who is the accuser of the brethren. Christians must be true and real. The Lord Jesus hates hypocrisy; he condemned it sternly in the Pharisees; it is more hateful still in those who are called by his holy Name. The Christian must lay aside all these evil things; he must strip them off. They are the garments of the old man; he must put on the new.

2. What must be desired . "The sincere milk of the Word," the spiritual nourishment of the soul. They who cherish malice and envy in their hearts have no appetite for the heavenly food. They who have not holy love within themselves cannot desire the Word of him who is Love. But all who answer to the apostle's description will long for it. Those to whom he wrote had not been Christians very tong; some of them probably only a very short time—they were new-born babes. But the true Christian will always regard himself as a mere child in Christ; he will feel what little progress he has made in spiritual growth; and, feeling this, he will long for spiritual nourishment. The Word of God is the food of the soul; it is the suitable food, the food divinely provided for the soul, as milk is for infants. It is pure, unadulterated. The soul that desires it will assimilate it, will grow by its nourishing influence unto salvation, unto the measure of the stature of Christ. The Christian will desire the Word, that he may grow, thereby; not simply for present pleasure and excitement, not simply for knowledge, or for facility in preaching and theological controversy; but above all things, that he may grow thereby. The Word of God is sweet to hear, knowledge is precious, religious eloquence is a great gift; but this pleasure and this knowledge are little worth in comparison with growth in holiness of heart and life. The Scriptures are able to make us wise; the wisdom which we should seek there is that wisdom which cometh from above, which is unto salvation.

3. What leads us to desire it . Experience, the taste of its sweetness. The psalmist says, "How sweet are thy words to my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!" And in another psalm, which St. Peter quotes here, we are invited to taste and see that the Lord is good." His Word is sweet, but it derives its sweetness from him whose Word it is. We do not realize the sweetness of the Word of God till we have felt something of the sweetness of the Savior's presence. For he himself, who is in the highest sense the Word of God, is the true food of the soul. He bids us feed on him by faith; he giveth food and drink to the soul that hungereth and thirsteth after righteousness; and that food and drink, which is himself, he giveth in the blessed sacrament and in the daily life of faith to those who lift up their hearts to him with earnest longing and strong desire. Those who have known how gracious the Lord is will long more and more for increasing nearness unto him.

II. ITS CENTER , WHICH IS CHRIST ; AND OUR RELATIONS TO HIM .

1. The Church is a spiritual temple, of which Christ is the chief Corner-stone . The whole universe is in a sense the temple of God: he fills it with his presence. The heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain him; he inhabiteth eternity. Yet he vouchsafed to manifest his presence in the ancient temple—it was" the habitation of his house, the place where his honor dwelt." But that temple was the figure of a holier temple. God is a Spirit; his temple in the highest sense must be a spiritual house. It is built up of living stones, Christian men and women, living with the life of Christ, who come, drawn by the attracting force of love (as, the fable said, the stones of Thebes were drawn by the lyre of Amphion) to the one living Stone which was once disallowed of men, but is chosen of God and precious, and range themselves, or rather are built up by the power of the Holy Spirit, as chosen stones upon the one Stone first chosen, which is at once the Foundation on which the building rests, and the chief Corner-stone that holds the walls together, so that the whole building fitly joined and Compacted in all its parts groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord. The whole building is a temple; so in a true sense is each living stone therein, for the bodies of Christians are temples of the Holy Ghost ( 1 Corinthians 6:19 ); but in the fullest sense the whole Christian Church is the spiritual temple of God—it is a corporate unity, knit and framed together into one building by the chief Cornerstone, the principle of unity on which it rests, which binds its various parts into one whole. The closer Christians are bound by spiritual union with that one Corner-stone, the closer will they be bound together in the communion of saints, though they may be set as living stones in widely distant parts of the spiritual building. And God dwelleth in this temple, which is the holy Catholic Church, the whole congregation of Christian people throughout the world. He fills it, all and in every part, with his sacred presence. For this temple is very precious in his sight; each living stone is precious, and precious above all price is the chief Cornerstone which holds the whole together. "For this purpose chiefly did he make the world, that in it he might raise this spiritual building for himself to dwell in forever.… And from eternity he knew what the dimensions and frame and materials of it should be. The continuance of this present world, as now it is, is but for the service of this work, like the scaffolding about it; and therefore, when the spiritual building shall be fully completed, all the present frame of things in the world and in the Church itself shall be taken away, and appear no more" (Leighton).

2. The Church is a spiritual priesthood . As Christ is in a transcendent sense the Temple of God, and yet Christians individually and the Christian Church as a whole are temples also through his grace, so Christ himself is the one great High Priest; but though that high priesthood is his alone and incommunicable, yet his saints thank him because he has made the Christian Church to be a holy priesthood, and individual Christians to be priests unto God. Under the ancient Law the priests only entered into the temple, the high priest alone into the holy of holies, and that but once a year; but now the veil which hid the holiest place is rent in twain, and all true Christians may enter as priests into the immediate presence of God, "having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus" ( Hebrews 10:19 ). Through him ( Ephesians 2:18 ) we have access to the Father, we come having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, having with us the blood of sprinkling, pleading the atoning power of the one great Sacrifice. For as the Lord Jesus is Temple and Priest, so is he also the one true Sacrifice. Yet we, if we are priests, must have something to offer: "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?" St. Peter tells us that our offerings must be spiritual sacrifices. Such sacrifices are the prayers of the saints. "Let my prayer be set forth before thee as the incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice" ( Psalms 141:2 ). These prayers are presented before the throne in "golden vials full of odors" in the sacred imagery of the Revelation ( Revelation 5:8 ). Prayer is a sacrifice when it issues from the heart, when its sweet odor is wafted upwards with the fire of holy love. And praise is a sacrifice: "Offer unto God thanksgiving;" "Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me" ( Psalms 14:1-7 :23); but to be a sacrifice it must be that sweet and holy melody which the thankful heart singeth unto the Lord. Almsgiving, too, is a sacrifice ( Hebrews 13:16 ), when the Christian offers willingly, out of a thankful heart, seeking not the praise of men, but only the glory of God. God accepts our poor gifts when they are brought to him in faith, as the Lord Jesus Christ accepted the two mites of the poor widow. But the chief sacrifice that we can offer is the sacrifice of ourselves. "My son, give me thy heart," is the Lord's requirement. If we give him that, we give him all: it is a poor gift, worthless in itself, but yet precious in his sight because he first loved us, made more precious still by the precious blood of Christ which was shed that these hearts of ours might be cleansed and purified for a holy offering. It is all he asks, and all we have to give; if we give it, we shall be all the richer, for he giveth in return the unspeakable Gift—the gift of himself, to abide forever in the heart that is given to him. "We offer and present unto thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee." We offer these our offerings through Jesus Christ, ( Hebrews 13:15 ), pleading his merits, his atonement; and through him they are acceptable unto God. In themselves they are very mean and imperfect; not without blemish, as an offering should be; defiled with lingering taints of selfishness and earthliness; but if they are offered through him, in the faith of him, they are acceptable. For the priests of the spiritual temple are also living stones in that temple, incorporated into the mystical body of Christ, and thus their spiritual sacrifices are consecrated by his one prevailing Sacrifice, and through that Sacrifice are acceptable unto God.

3. What Christ is to true Christians . The apostle confirms his teaching by an appeal to the prophets: "It is contained in the Scriptures," he says. Search the Scriptures; they testify of Christ; we shall find treasures there, if only we search. The evangelical prophet testified of Christ long before he came in the flesh; he spoke of him as the chief Cornerstone; he speaks in the Name of God, "Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried Stone, a precious Cornerstone, a sure Foundation." God the Father is the Master-builder; it was he who ]aid the Cornerstone: "This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes." It is laid in Zion, in the Church, to be its one Foundation, the Rock on which it is built, which gives it strength and solidity; its chief Corner-stone, which gives it unity, without which it would fall to pieces. And that chief Corner-stone is elect, chosen of God from all eternity, chosen in the eternal purpose of God the Father to be the Foundation of the Church. And it is precious exceedingly, held in high honor of God, worthy of his love, for it is faultless in beauty and in strength—a polished Cornerstone without flaw and without blemish. He that resteth on that Cornerstone, built up in faith upon it, shall not be put to shame. "For God hath laid this precious Stone in Zion for this very purpose that weary souls may rest upon it" (Leighton): and he that so resteth need not make haste; he need not run hither and thither for help, for his soul is established, his mind is stayed upon God. Nothing can shake him from that sure Foundation, while he rests on it in faith, "neither death, nor life… nor things present, nor things to come,… shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." "Such honor have all his saints." This honor is for them that believe; they have the honor, high above all other honor, of indissoluble union with Christ; they rest on him, they are his and he is theirs: "My beloved is mine, and I am his." They know the exceeding preciousness of that living Stone, for they feel its strong support beneath them; its preciousness is for them; for their sakes, for their salvation, God laid that elect, that precious Stone in Zion. How precious faith is ( 2 Peter 1:1 )! it is faith that binds us firmly to that precious Cornerstone.

4. What he is to the disobedient; or to such as disbelieve (Revised Version); for, as Leighton says, unbelief itself is "the grand disobedience;" "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" ( John 6:29 ). Unbelief lies at the root of all disobedience; all disobedience flows from it; he cannot be disobedient who realizes by faith the power, the love, the presence, of God. The builders were disobedient; the priests and scribes disallowed the stones which God had chosen. So, alas! now too often the great men of the world, the builders of its policy, "leave out Christ in their building;" and not only they, but sometimes "the pretended builders of the Church of God, though they use the name of Christ, and serve their turn with that, yet reject himself, and oppose the power of his spiritual kingdom. There may be wit and learning, and much knowledge of the Scriptures amongst those that are haters of the Lord Christ and of the power of godliness, and corrupters of the worship of God. It is the spirit of humility and obedience and saving faith that teaches men to esteem Christ, and to build upon him" (Leighton). But the unbelief and disobedience of men cannot turn aside the purpose of God; the living Stone that was once disallowed is become the Head of the corner. He is exalted high above all the power of the enemy. "The kings of the earth may set themselves, and the rulers may take counsel together against the Lord, and against his Anointed.… But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh,… he shall speak unto them in his wrath,… Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." He is the Head of the corner now," Head over all things to his Church." "He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet;" then shall the King sit upon the throne of his glory, and they who have rejected him shall to their confusion see him raised "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come." But he is to the disobedient not only the Head of the corner to their confusion, but also a Stone of stumbling and a Rock of offence to their destruction. It is no light thing to reject the Son of God, to set the cross at naught, to despise the love of him who died upon the cross for us. Such sinners against their own souls must fall. He tasted death for every man; and to every man the death of the Son of God is full of momentous results—everlasting life to the believer, but to the willful and impenitent sinner what can it be save utter death? The living Stone is the Foundation, the Head of the corner; "this is the Lord's doing," and who can stand against the Lord? The Stone becomes a Stumbling-block to the disobedient; they fall upon it. One day it must fall on them, as in the vision of Nebuchadnezzar it fell on the great image which represented all the empires of the world. "Whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." For this is the Lord's appointment. That Stone must become a great mountain and fill the whole earth; and resistance to the decree of the Most High can only end in ruin and destruction; those who reject the living Stone must in the end be crushed beneath it.

5. What true Christians are to Christ .

6. What is their bounden duty . All these high and holy dignities are theirs. The estate of Christians is very lofty; they are the children of the Most High, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. They should maintain a greatness of mind, a holiness of life suitable to their exalted station; they "should show forth the praises of him who hath called them out of darkness into his marvelous light." For they were once not a people; they had no center of unity, no part in the heavenly kingdom, no hope; for they had not obtained mercy. But now God hath called them, "Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah" ( Hosea 2:2 ); they are his people; they have obtained mercy. "Ammi, my people." There is a treasure of holy meaning in that word. We are his; he cares for us; we belong to him. Then we must show forth his praises, and that not only with our lips, but in our lives. We must proclaim to others the blessedness of religion. He has called us out of the darkness of sin and ignorance into the light of his presence. That light is wonderful. Christians never cease to wonder at the glory and blessedness of that light which in times of near communion with God streams into their hearts. If they walk in that light, it must kindle a holy flame in their own souls; they must become a light also ("Ye are the light of the world," the Savior said to his chosen); they must let their light shine before men, that men may see their good works, and glorify their Father which is in heaven.

LESSONS .

1. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Having once tasted, you will long for his presence, you will desire the heavenly food.

2. Seek to be built up in Christ; not loose stones lying round the one Cornerstone, but resting upon it, joined as living stones to the one Foundation.

3. Be faithful priests unto the Lord. Offer every day the daily sacrifice of prayer and praise; renew every day the sacrifice of self.

4. Consider the great dignity of Christians; be full of thankfulness; rejoice in the Lord; show forth his praises.

1 Peter 2:11-17 - Various exhortations.

I. TO PURITY OF LIFE .

1. The ground of the exhortation . St. Peter has been dwelling on the high dignities and privileges of the Christian life. They who are living stones in God's spiritual temple must remember their close union with Christ, the chief Corner-stone; they who belong to the holy, the royal priesthood must remember that "Holiness to the Lord" is the badge of those who are consecrated to his service ( Exodus 28:36 ). The living stones in the spiritual temple are to become pillars in the heavenly temple ( Revelation 3:12 ), the priests in that spiritual temple are to be priests of God and of his Christ in the glory of the Resurrection (Rev20:6). They must remember their high destiny. Here they are sojourners and strangers; they must not follow the example of those among whom their lot is cast during the time of their sojourning. Fleshly lusts are of the earth, earthy. "The lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are not of the Father, but are of the world." And God's people are not of the world; they are sojourners and strangers in it for a little time; they must not imitate its modes of thought and life; they must live as citizens of the heavenly country.

2. The necessity of the exhortation .

II. TO OBEDIENCE TO CIVIL AUTHORITIES .

1. The extent of that obedience . "The powers that be are ordained of God" ( Romans 13:1 ); "The Most High giveth the kingdoms of the earth to whom he will;" "By him kings reign, and princes decree justice." Therefore the Christian must be loyal to the government under which God's providence has placed him. One form of government may be better than another; but any regular government is better than anarchy. St. Paul bids us pray "for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life." Government is from God; the form of it is determined, under God's overruling providence, by man. St. Peter bids us obey every ordinance of man, every human creation—all rulers, whether the sovereign or those who are set in authority under him; and that because orderly government is necessary for the well-being and the very existence of society, "for the punishment of evil-doers, and for the praise of them that do well." On the whole, the strong rule of Rome had worked for the good of mankind, for the peace and order of that vast empire. Roman governors and officers, like Festus and Gallio and Claudius Lysias, had been on the side of right against the violence of Jewish mobs; even Felix and Pilate showed some traces of the Roman sense of justice. The reigning emperor, indeed, was a monster of vice; he had treated the Christians of Rome with atrocious cruelty; the persecution would soon spread into the provinces. But hitherto the Roman authorities had generally protected the infant Church. The institutions of civil government work for the good of society; Christians must be loyal and peaceable citizens.

2. The ground and limits of that obedience . It should be "for the Lord's sake." His providence has set us where we are; we must not rebel against his will. He ruleth all things both in heaven and in earth, and he will make all things work together for the eternal good of his chosen. It is enough for us; our duty is to say, "Thy will be done," and for his sake, in the consciousness that, in obeying those who are set over us, we are obeying the King of kings, to submit ourselves to every human ordinance. But that obedience is for his sake; therefore it cannot extend to unlawful commands. St. Peter himself had once said to the high priest, "We ought to obey God rather than man" ( Acts 5:29 ; comp. also Acts 4:19 ); and the time was coming when brave Christian men and women would have to choose between renouncing Christ and the death of martyrdom. The disobedience would be "for the Lord's sake." The higher duty would overrule the lower. To "fear God and to keep his commandments is the whole duty of man;" this highest rule will guide the Christian under ordinary circumstances to obey human law and government, sometimes under exceptional circumstances to obey God rather than man. As a rule, Christians must be subject to the higher powers. Indeed, they are free; Christ hath made them free from the yoke of bondage. But they are the servants of God; his will should be the law of their lives; and his will is that Christian liberty should be orderly and sober. The soul is free from the bondage of sin; the outward life should be regulated by obedience to authority and law; and that for the glory of God, that the well-ordered lives of Christian people may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.

3. Four rules for the guidance of Christians in social life .

LESSONS .

1. Let us always remember that we are strangers here, and that the citizens of the heavenly country should he "not of the world."

2. The Christian must ever strive to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things, seeking always the glory of God.

3. He must yield a loyal obedience to human law for the Lord's sake.

4. The law of liberty is not license; Christian freedom is the service of God.

1 Peter 2:18-25 - Special address to servants.

I. THEIR DUTIES .

1. Submission to their masters . Religion touches every condition of life; none is left out. And none may make the circumstances of their life an excuse for neglecting religion. God set them where they are; their station, their circumstances, are such as he was pleased to appoint. He "will have all men to be saved;" therefore we may be sure all men may be saved, whatever may be their outward circumstances. It is for them to do their duty to God and to man in that station to which God has been pleased to call them. There are many compensations in life; riches have their cares; high rank has its responsibilities. Men must not fret and chafe against the toils and privations of their lot; they must do their duty in it, and they wilt find peace and inward satisfaction. "Brethren," says St. Paul, speaking to slaves ( 1 Corinthians 7:24 ), "let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." God has a message for servants. Their lot was very hard under the stern rule of slavery, when even men of wide views like Aristotle regarded slaves as "living tools." But Christian slaves were to take comfort; they were the Lord's freedmen ( 1 Corinthians 7:22 ); they were, equally with the highest in rank, living stones in the Lord's spiritual temple; they might gain for themselves a high place there by the quiet, faithful discharge of the humblest duties. Then let them serve their masters with all respect and reverence; and that, not simply out of gratitude, if they happened to have kind and indulgent masters, but out of submission to the holy will of God, whatever might be the character of those under whom they were placed. There is a lesson here for all who occupy subordinate positions of any sort—let them pay proper reverence and obedience to their superiors. It is their duty, not only to those superiors, but to God.

2. The motive of that submission . Consciousness of God. This high motive dignifies the humblest position in life, and makes the respect and submission which Christian servants yield to their masters, or Christians in any condition to their superiors, a beautiful and holy thing. They recognize the great truth of the presence of God; they try to live in the habitual consciousness of that presence; they try to think of God all the day long, in all the little details of their daily occupations, and to perform each duty, great or small, as unto the Lord. Thus Christians in the humblest positions may "adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things" ( Titus 2:10 ). These words of St. Paul were spoken of Christian slaves. Slaves might adorn the Church of God, and bring honor to Christ. Through the grace of God, the last are often first, the lowest in this world highest in the kingdom of heaven.

3. The reward of that submission . It is thankworthy; it is acceptable with God. The master might be much beneath his slave; the superior may be much beneath his official inferiors in all that constitutes true greatness; it has often been so, it must be so sometimes still. The Christian, in whatsoever state he is, must be content; if he has to suffer wrong, injustice, cruelty, he must take it patiently. To submit to deserved punishment, to own our fault, and to accept the consequence, is hard to our proud, selfish nature; yet it is but a plain duty; it merits no praise. But when Christians submit to undeserved suffering; when in the ancient times they endured stripes and the prison and the death of martyrdom; when now Christian men, or women, or children endure persecution, sometimes very hard to bear, from those in various ways above them, or, it may be, from fellow-servants or school-fellows;—when they take it patiently in the consciousness of God's presence, this is the work of God's grace; this is lovely in the sight of God; and the Scripture saith in God's great condescension, this is thankworthy with God.

II. THE GREAT EXAMPLE .

1. Christians are called to imitate Christ . Christians are called to suffering; the cross is the badge of their profession; without the cross they cannot be disciples of the crucified Lord. This was the meaning of your calling, St. Peter says; you knew it when you became Christians; you must not forget it in the hour of trial. Christ suffered for you, yes, for you slaves; he left behind him, when he ascended into heaven, an example for you to imitate, a sketch for you to fill up in detail. Try by the grace of God the Holy Spirit to renew the likeness of God in your hearts; look to the Lord Jesus Christ as your Model; copy one by one the features of that Divine loveliness; fill up the portrait, little by little, touch by touch, looking with fixed attention on the great Original. And, to change the figure, follow him; he goeth before you. Climb the steep ascent of heaven, stepping in the very footprints of the Divine Guide. He will lead you safe. But there is only one way—the way which he trod himself, the royal way of the most holy cross.

2. The innocence of Christ . He did not sin, yet he suffered. We have sinned, yet we murmur under our chastisements. We fret and complain all the louder, if we think that our afflictions are not the direct result of sin; all the more if we think that they are wrongfully inflicted. We fancy that there are none so hardly dealt with, none so unjustly treated; we magnify our distress; we will not be comforted; we refuse to see any alleviation, any ray of light, any evidences of mercy. But we should think of our sins, our unworthiness, our need of chastisement for our profit in holiness. Above all, we should think of the innocent Savior. "He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth." We have sinned in thought, word, and deed; let us not complain.

3. The patience of Christ . He was buffeted and spat upon and cruelly mocked, yet he opened not his mouth; he was scourged, he was nailed to the cross; he suffered through all those six hours the intensest agony; he threatened not, he did not call for the twelve legions of angels. He committed all, himself, his cause, his torturers, to him that judgeth righteously—he left it all to God. He is our high Example. We should learn of him; we should pray for those who despitefully use us: "Father, forgive them." Here is the Christian's comfort when he is unjustly treated. God judgeth righteously; he knoweth them that are his; he knows their prayers, their self-denials, their temptations. If the world judge them harshly, it matters little; God judgeth righteously; they leave all to him. And when men speak evil of them, when they impute unworthy motives and accuse them falsely, they think of Christ mocked, reviled, blasphemed, and try to learn of him meekness and patience.

4. How Christians are enabled to follow that example . Christ is our Example; but he is more—he is the Propitiation for our sins. It would be vain to set before us miserable sinners an example of perfect holiness, were it not that he bare our sins in his own body on to the tree. None other than the holy Son of God could bear that awful burden. The Lord "laid on him the iniquity of us all." He bare that tremendous load of human sin in his own body on to the tree, and there he took our sins away, dying, as he did, for all men, in our stead, suffering our punishment. Men think sin a light matter; true Christians know that it is a heavy burden, too heavy for them to bear. It was a heavy burden to Christ; it made him sweat those great drops of blood; it made him cry, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He only could bear that tremendous load. The Lord laid it on him; he took it on himself in his gracious mercy. He came to give his life a ransom for many; he was made sin for us, though he was without sin; the Lord made his soul an offering for sin. And the end of that stupendous sacrifice was that we, being dead to sin, should be enabled to copy that Divine Example, and should live unto righteousness. Such an event as the death of the Son of God must involve great and far-reaching consequences; it requires of us, for whom he died, not merely an outward change, not some slight improvement in our lives, but a death unto sin. When we look upon the cross, and think who it was that suffered there for us, we see the intense guilt of sin, we see the great love of God; and we draw from the death of Christ a hidden source of strength which helps us to crush sin out of our hearts, though the effort be like a death-struggle and the agony like a death-pang; for by his death he broke the power of Satan, giving himself in his deep holy love to suffer our punishment and to take away our sins. Therefore we must be unto sin as though we were not, as though we had departed, as though the sinful "I" was gone, and Christ was there instead: "Not I, but Christ;" "To me to live is Christ;" he who knows the meaning of those words is dying unto sin. As he dies unto sin, he lives unto righteousness; a new life dawns into his soul, new aspirations, new emotions. He is full of the energy of a vigorous life; but it is not the old life—that is gone; it is a new life which only they can know who die with Christ unto sin. It is his death which gives them life; his stripes heal their souls. They tortured and lacerated his holy body, but they heal the sickness of our souls; for it was for our sins that he submitted to that dreadful outrage. Each blow shows us the guilt and misery of sin; each drop of blood most precious cleanses the souls that turn to him in faith. He has borne our punishment, and we are free if we are his indeed, he abiding in us and we in him. Let us contemplate his sufferings with awe and reverence and gratitude, mourning for those sins of ours which added to his agony, killing them out of our hearts by the power of his death; thanking him in adoring love for his exceeding great love; bearing our little griefs patiently and cheerfully in the remembrance of his bitter cross and passion.

5. What they were; what they are now . "All we like sheep have gone astray." All have wandered from God, some in one direction, some in another, each turning to his own way. We flatter ourselves, in our folly, that we have not sinned like this or that neighbor. It may be so; his temptation was not our temptation; but our sin may be greater in the sight of God. All without exception have gone astray. But the Lord came in his mercy to seek and to save that which was lost. Happy those lost ones whom he has found, who, drawn by his grace, have returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls! For he is the good Shepherd; he knows his sheep, and cares for them; and those sheep that have returned to him shall never perish, none can pluck them out of his hand. He is the Bishop, the Overseer, of our souls. He thinks of all our spiritual wants, our temptations, our distresses. He watches for our souls; he provides for our present necessities, for he feeds us with the sincere milk of the Word, with the bread of life; for our future welfare, for he is gone to prepare a place for us in heaven.

LESSONS .

1. Christ took upon him the form of a servant; let Christians in humble positions be content.

2. Let them do their duty, taking slights and injustice patiently, as in the presence of God.

3. Let them fix their thoughts upon the great Example. He did no sin; yet he suffered; he reviled not again.

4. He is more than our Example; he is our Strength He bore our sins. He gave us power to die unto sin and to live unto righteousness. We can do all things (if we abide in him) through him that strengtheneth us.

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