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Christian Life and Death.

Christian Life and Death.

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Published by glennpease
BY JOHN DURY GEDEN



" For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh
this is the fruit of my labour : yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am
in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to bo with Christ, which is far better : nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." — Philippians i. 21 — 24.
BY JOHN DURY GEDEN



" For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh
this is the fruit of my labour : yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am
in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to bo with Christ, which is far better : nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." — Philippians i. 21 — 24.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 18, 2013
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CHRISTIA LIFE AD DEATH. BY JOH DURY GEDE" For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh this is the fruit of my labour : yet what I shall choose, I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to bo with Christ, which is far better : nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you." — Philippians i. 21 — 24. The Bible is the paramount revelation of God to man. It is his supreme legislation. Yet it is not an elaborate system of dogma, or a precisely drawn code of law. It is annals, history, poetry, parable ; most of all perhaps, it is the large and various record of the religious experience of a long succession of inspired persons, male and female, whom God has thus made the teachers of mankind for ever. It is easv to see, how unsuitable a revelation of mere doctrine and statute would have been to us. Such a revelation would have proved repulsive, not attracting. It would have put God further away from man, rather than have brought Him near. As it is, the Bible brings God near ; exhibiting Him not so much as the Infinitely Wise and True One, or as the Holy and Awful Lawgiver, but as dwelling with mankind upon the earth, and as communicating with his creatures in all condescension, benignity, and love. So, while the Scriptures are con- spicuously divine, they are most attractively human. God draws us to Himself by " the cords of a man." And what holy men of old knew, felt, and did in relation to God and 232
 
CHRISTIA LIFE AD DEATH. unseen things — the views which the Spirit gave them of the majesty and excellence of God ; the praises which they offered to God by the same Spirit , the ends which, under the same supernatural enlightenment and influence, they proposed to themselves as the scope of life ; and the glorious prospects beyond the grave, which they declare, opened to their view, when " the hand of the Lord " was upon them — become to us the infallible and authoritative word of God, true, perfect, and everlasting. We have a notable example of this kind of inspired teaching in the text. Christ's apostle, St. Paul, a man appointed and trained by God to be the chief founder of Gentile Christianity, and one of the two great ew Testa- ment expositors of the Gospel — St. John being the other  — after a course of unexampled labour and suffering for Christ, is shut up in prison in Rome; and there, moved by the Holy Ghost, writes letters to various churches or individual believers, in whose welfare circumstances gave him a special interest. Amongst others, he directs the letter, from which the text is taken, to the Christian com- munity at Philippi, where he and Silas had first planted the Gospel. Many subjects are treated of in this prison epistle, to which reference need not now be made. In the beginning of it, however, there is a passage, which is closely knit up with the text, and explains it. The Philippians had heard of the apostle's imprison- ment, and they grieved over it. They grieved for the sake of the apostle himself; they grieved also for the gospel's sake. St. Paul adverts to these two grounds of their uneasiness. With respect to the gospel, he would have
 
them understand, that the things which had befallen him had turned out rather to the furtherance than to the CHRISTIA LIFE AD DEATH. 233 hindering of it. And with regard to himself, the grace of God had sufficed him. He had not succumbed to his trial. On the contrary, Christ had been glorified, as aforetime, in all his humiliations and distresses. After speaking thus, he goes on to express his feeling and purpose concerning the future. He did not know what the future might be. He might live : he might die. All was uncertain. or was he greatly concerned. If he lived, he should live the life which he had long lived ; Christ and Christ's cause in the world would be the alpha and omega of his being. And this would be heaven by anticipation. On the other hand, if he died, he should compass a still higher personal blessedness, for he should be for ever with the Lord. In fact, he found himself in a strait, and scarcely knew whether to desire to die or to live. For his own sake, no doubt, it would be better to depart. But for the Philip- pians' sake, for the sake of the churches in general, it would not be better. And this being so, he thought it likely that, in the Providence of God, he might continue to live, and might make yet fuller proof of his ministry as Christ's apostle to the Gentiles. ow in all this we have precisely what has been spoken of. A man of like passions with ourselves relates his per- sonal history, describes his personal feeling, and explains his personal intentions and hopes, to other men, also of like passions with us ; his words, meanwhile, being those of an inspired person, formally and authoritatively address- ing Christ's servants on the great matters of the common salvation — addressing them in language, which the con- temporary Church recognized as the voice of God : and, as the nature of the case and a large analogy show, under the homely guise of St. Paul's experience as a Christian

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