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Is the Christian Life Worth Living

Is the Christian Life Worth Living

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY AUSTIN PHELPS, D.D.



Richakd Baxter was a lifelong sufferer. In-
curable disease kept him for years at death's door.
" I live with one foot in the grave," he used to say.
For twenty years he probably did not know the
sensations of health. The jubilant spring of life
in other men became a forgotten joy to him. As
if this were not enough, he was persecuted for his
religion.
BY AUSTIN PHELPS, D.D.



Richakd Baxter was a lifelong sufferer. In-
curable disease kept him for years at death's door.
" I live with one foot in the grave," he used to say.
For twenty years he probably did not know the
sensations of health. The jubilant spring of life
in other men became a forgotten joy to him. As
if this were not enough, he was persecuted for his
religion.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Apr 10, 2014
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 IS THE CHRISTIA LIFE WORTH LIVIG? BY AUSTI PHELPS, D.D. Richakd Baxter was a lifelong sufferer. In- curable disease kept him for years at death's door. " I live with one foot in the grave," he used to say. For twenty years he probably did not know the sensations of health. The jubilant spring of life in other men became a forgotten joy to him. As if this were not enough, he was persecuted for his religion. For preaching five sermons he was con- demned to imprisonment for five years. Sermons were costly luxuries in those days, — a year of pris- on-life for each one ! He escaped only by the in- terposition of his physician, who swore that the execution of the sentence would cost him his life. ot a very fascinating life this, to the looker-on ! We should not have thought him querulous against the providence of God, if he had been the author of an essay published not long ago, entitled, u Is Life Worth Living?" But the invalid and per- secuted preacher published no such thing as that. He had no time to ask or answer such a question. He was living, and he made the best of it by liv- ing to some purpose. He published a hundred and forty-five distinct works in the intervals of his 245 i 246 My Study: and Other Ussays.
 
pains. He was one of the busiest of men, as, indeed, Christian invalids have commonly been. Of all men in the world, he was the one who was moved to write " The Saint's Rest." And so understanding^ did he write of it, that to a mil- lion of readers since his day, it has seemed as if he must have had a foretaste of the heavenly blessedness himself. It is supposed that nearly half a million of copies of that book have been pub- lished, and the popular verdict upon it has every- where been the same. It is one of the few books so profoundly written from the heart, that their insight into truth borders on inspiration. Danto wrote of purgatory so feelingly, that people, meeting him on the street, used to say, " There goes the man who has been in hell." To Baxter's million readers, it has seemed that he must have been on the other side of the " great gulf." Such are the contrasts and contradictions of Chris- tian living. Suffering men are the happiest men. Women on beds of anguish sing most honestly our hymns of Christian triumph. Men in prisons know most of Christian liberty. People who have least of this world, have most luminous foresight of heaven. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich ; having nothing, yet pos- sessing all things; such ideally is the privilege of holy living. St. Paul appears to have been another of the great Christian contradictions. As one reads his autobiography, it does seem to lend reason to the Is the Christian Life Worth Living f 247
 
conundrum, "Is life worth living?" He is a man of bold nerve who would select St. Paul's life as a model of his own. On the human scale of meas- urement, the apostle can not be pronounced a happy- man. He was not hilarious in his temperament. He did not sing many comic songs. Men who do, can not make much of him. The world would not call his life a lucky one. It went hard with him at the best. What a history of ill-luck he gives us ! Flogged like a slave in the market-place five times, and three times in court ; shipwrecked three times ; pelted with stones by vagabonds till he was left for dead ; in prisons so many that he does not count them ; hungry, cold, thirsty, naked, robbed ; hunted by murderers, with nothing but a wicker basket between him and death ; betrayed by friends whom he trusted and prayed for ; in the city, in the country, in the wilderness, on the sea, everywhere in the wide world, beset by dangers ; always guiltless, yet always an outlaw; he was saved at last from being clothed with pitch, and used as a candle to light the streets of Rome, by having his head cut off. And as if the cruelty of man were not enough, he must find the Devil on his track, and must put to hazard body and soul in fight with invisible foes, more ferocious than the beasts of Ephesus. o: this u bald-pated Galilean," as Lucian con- temptuously calls him, was not a lucky man. I have somewhere read of a man who, on a journey of many weeks, encountered a continuous succes- 248 My Study: and Other Essays. sion of accidents. He fell through broken bridges, he was buried under a wrecked rail-car, he was caught in a mountain freshet, highway robbers

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