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Life of Christ-Only True Idea of Self-Devotion.

Life of Christ-Only True Idea of Self-Devotion.

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Published by glennpease
BY HENRY EDWARD MANNING, M.A,


PHILIPPIANS ii. 21.
" All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ s."
BY HENRY EDWARD MANNING, M.A,


PHILIPPIANS ii. 21.
" All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ s."

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 21, 2013
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LIFE OF CHRIST-OLY TRUE IDEA OF SELF-DEVOTIO.BY HERY EDWARD MAIG, M.A,PHILIPPIAS ii. 21." All seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ s."THERE is something peculiarly touching in the saddened tone of these few words, in which St. Paulglances at the slackness of his fellow-labourers.It must have been a cross almost too heavy tobear without complaining, when from his prison-house at Rome he saw his brethren in Christdrawing off, one by one, from the hardness of theirMaster s service. It must have been a provocationalmost beyond endurance to see, day by day, tokensof a faint heart and a selfish purpose coming out inthe words and acts of those on whom he most depended. It added to his bondage the worst formof desolation the loneliness of a high, unbrokenspirit in the throng of shrinking and inconstantmen. He had before now seen, in faithless andfearful Christians, open apostacy and undisguisedXL] THE LIFE OF CHRIST THE OLY, ETC. 147abandonment of Christ and His Gospel. Butkeenly as that must have entered into his soul, hehad in this to endure a still sharper trial. It wasthis that pierced him to the quick : for they of whom he here writes were not open apostates.They were not men who fell from the body of theChurch, and were severed wholly from his fellowship ; but men openly professing faith in Christ,keeping up with him the same outward relation aspartakers in the same labour of love, and yet failing him in the moment of danger, in the very pinchof severe trial. Such, for instance, was Demas ;who is often, but by mistake, supposed to have beenan apostate from the faith : he did not renouncehis Christianity, but fell back from the hardshipsof an apostle s life. "Demas hath forsaken" notChrist nor the Gospel but "me, having loved
 
this present world." 1 He had no like zeal or self-devotion with St. Paul : they were unequally yokedtogether. Demas was hurried, beyond his ownchoice, into dangers and toils ; he found St. Paula perilous companion ; he loved the Gospel, butnot less he loved his own life and ease ; and he fellback, from an apostle s standing, to be an ordinaryChristian.This is probably a fair example of what St. Paulintended, when he told the Philippians, that he1 2 Tim. iv. 10.148 THE LIFE OF CHRIST THE OLY [SERM.must needs detach Timothy, and send him untothem ; for " I have no man like-minded, who willnaturally care for your state : for all seek theirown, not the things which are Jesus Christ s."We see, then, what he would express. It was thestate of men in whom the first fervours of conversion had subsided. In an hour of ready zeal, theyhad forsaken all, and undertaken an apostle s work.It may be they were, for a long season, forward andstedfast, foregoing much, and enduring more ; butat the last they grew weary of the monotonoushardship of preaching and suffering. And first, itmay be, they began to spare themselves, and to usetrifling evasions, or to keep unseasonable silence,and secretly to long for their discharge from a service now grown irksome. And this hidden disloyalty of the heart shewed itself in low views of whatwas possible in Christ s service, and in overratingdifficulties, in discouraging views, in untimely ob jections, and in expostulations at the very moment of action. In some of these ways theybetrayed the disappointing truth, that self-regardhad mastered them, and that love of self outweighed their love of Christ. There was a counter-attraction overcoming the constraining love of theirLord. This, then, is the heart-sin of which St.Paul writes : it is a refined selfishness, so plausiblydefended, so strongly entrenched in reasonable
 
XL] TRUE IDEA OF SELF-DEVOTIO. 149pleadings, as to leave him no more to do than toexpostulate and to be silent; to give them a fairopening to do high service for their Master ; andthen to pass them by, and choose some worthierand bolder men.And here we see one of the worst antagonistsof the Church of Christ, a fair profession of Christianity with a predominant regard of self. Thedeepest wounds have been given, not so much bythe sword of persecution, or by the grosser formsof sin, as by the overmastering powers of self-regard. Every body will admit that this is true, atthe first hearing; but few really know the subtleinsinuations and the full extent of this spiritualdisease.The peculiar danger of this fault may be seenby the following remarks :1. It may consist with all that the Church requires of her people as a condition to communionin her fullest privileges. A man may be under thedominion of this paralysing fault, and yet reallylive in many ways a Christian life. A man maylive a pure life, and blameless ; he may be benevolent, and do many works of charity ; he may bevery systematic in his religious duties ; and haveno little zeal in works of a directly religious character ; and yet, after all, it shall be not more trueof Demas than of such a man, that he loves this150 THE LIFE OF CHRIST THE OLY [SEBM.present world, that he habitually and deliberatelyseeks his " own, and not the things that are JesusChrist s." For all the tokens of Christian life thatI have spoken of, fall within the limit at which aman s self-regard is put on trial. There is a largefield of commonplace Christian duty, in which aman may toil without so much as ever once be

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