More than Conquerors

By Rev. James Vaughan
"More than conquerors." — Romans viii. 37. nPHE key-note of Easter is victory. The Church still strikes it in the services of the day. It may be very difficult to some of us to reach it. But it is so hard, that all other conquests, whatever they are, are by this victory vanquished. " We are more than conquerors." It is the characteristic of all God's works, that whatever He does. He does with the amplitude of an abundance that exceedeth. " He openeth His hand, and filleth all things living with plenteousness." It is a principle which you know only to know that it psisseth knowledge. There is always something in excess. It is continually, — if only we could see it, — a David's cup that mantles over, or a Joseph's bough which runneth over the wall. God made the earth, and supplied it with all necessary things, and then He added over and above the necessities, for man's delight, the pretty flowers and the singing birds. Christ raised a girl to life, and there He might have stopped ; but in His great thoughtfulness He provides for the life which Himself had made, and commands that *• something should be given her to eat." I suppose, that — could we trace it — every miracle was done overflowingly. The lame man not only walked, but leapt. The wine which Jesus made for the wedding feast, I

ii8 More than Conquerors. was more than almost any company could have consumed. The very fragments of His feeding's are " twelve baskets full." He supplies all wants, and then He is at all costs beside, — *' Whatsoever thou spendest more." We just take an illustration here and there ; but it all speaks the

same great-heartedness. ow let us apply it to our Easter theme. Christ had come into this world, " that we might have life, and that we might have life more abundantly'* Than what ? More abundantly than the life of innocence; more abundantly than Adam's life — than any life which could have been, if He had not died. The life which is in union with Christ, is a more living life, — a truer and a greater life than unfallen life, than any angel's life could ever have been. " We are more than conquerors." And where has that death of Christ placed that life ? Far above the level which we had lost. We lost a garden ; we have gained a heaven. " More than conquerors." ow see the way Jesus died. I do not speak of how the nobleness of His soul socired above the agonies of His crucifixion. But see that dying Man in that mortal combat: — a prayer for His enemies, — a provision of filial tenderness for His mother, — a free pardon to a sinner, — the largess of a kingdom with a royal hand, — those were the achievements of that dying Man, — *' More than conqueror." Or see His rising. Christ's body was laid in the tomb. The victory would have been complete, the triumph absolute, if only that body had come forth again to life the same. But He did much more. The body which rose out of that grave was a far better body, — more free, more beautiful, more spiritual, than the body which went down

More than Conquerors. 119 to it. And at once it led a higher life. It was not simply that the grave was opened, and death trembled at the blow, — it was not simply that death itself died and ceased to be, — but the resurrection surpassed the death, it was swallowed up to make the dimensions of the victory greater, that He might be " more than conqueror." They sealed the stone, and they guarded the exit ; and then He walked this earth again His little while; and Mary would have held Him, — and all would have detained Him, — and this earth was dear to Him, — and there were

many with whom He might have made a stay; but where is He? His earthly work is done, — His heavenly duties call Him there, — and He is going up soaring, to work congenial with His spiritualized nature, — and a cloud is receiving Him out of their sight, for He is "more than conqueror." But is that conquest, — to leave His Church, and let His followers weep? Then mark the marvel; — He is gone, but He is more with them than before, — the seeming absence is only a more ubiquitous presence, — He is richer, and none are poorer, — He is exalted, and none are orphaned, — the problem is solved how there can be distance without separation, — how the communion can be invisible, and yet be more real than when eye meets eye, and hand clasps hand, — for He is "more than conqueror." "With His own right hand, and with His holy arm, hath He gotten to Himself the victory," — the captivity itself is captive led, — and what has He left us ? Pardon ? — more than pardon: righteousness? — more than righteousness; — spotlessness, spotlessness for a whole black world, — if they will receive it, — for He is "more than conqueror."

I20 More than Conquerors. ow the very same principle which is thus embodied into the death and sufferings of Christ operates in the experience of every believer. And I wish to trace it in one or two of its exhibitions. Every man who is in earnest about his salvation, has found, — and the more earnest he is, the more he has found it, — that he is placed to contend, — not only "with flesh and blood," — his own wicked flesh and blood, — but also "with principalities and powers, with the rulers of the darkness of this world, with spiritual wickedness in high places." In this great contest with Satan, what is God's undertaking for His people ? That they shall not be overcome? More than that. That they shall overcome ? More than that. The power of Christ that is in you shall do what the power of the presence of Christ always did, when He walked this earth. Whenever, walking this earth, an evil spirit met Christ, the evil spirit

was afraid. And they shall be afraid of you. And you need not fear what fears you. "Resist the devil," — mark the expression, — *'and he will flee from you." — "More than conquerors." It is a great matter to overcome a sin ; but a sin is never merely overcome. Whenever a sin is, by God's grace, indeed overcome, that sin necessarily becomes a virtue. I may go a step further. The characterizing sin of your unconverted state is the characterizing grace of your cpnverted life. Do not try to get rid of your besetting sin ; it is impossible ; consecrate it, consecrate it. That is what Moses did with wrong silence. That is what David did with hot passions. That is what Peter did with an impetuous temper. That is what Paul did with a determined will. It is a fine achievement when

More ttian Conquerors. 121 Satan is foiled with his own weapons, and Israel enriched, and the Church built, with the spoils of Egypt. Think of it, you who are doing such hard battle with your own wicked nature, and struggling on so hopelessly against your own heart. You will be the more useful and the more happy Christians because of that very thing which is now giving you such daily mortification. That tendency now to evil, presently, differently directed, will be the tend^icy to great good. Forgiven, conquered, changed, your present sin will be your greatest help. You will thank God for ever for that besetting sin. That shyness will become holy dignity, — that silence, caution, — that too-much speaking, eloquence for Christ, — that temper will make zeal, — that passion, love, — that sceptical, questioning mind will be the firmer faith. More than ever captive king adorned a Roman's chariot-wheels, your sin will decorate you, — and so, your worst enemy made your best friend, you will come out at last, — only believe it, — you will come out at last " more than conquerors.". Or a man falls, and he rises* again ; but now see how he rises. When that man went down into his fall, he was a proud man, and very unhappy, — he had harsh judgments upon other people. ow he has learnt his own weakness, and he does not talk in that harsh way now, — he is more

compassionate with the weakness of others, — he has a fellow-feeling with any sinner, particularly with any one who sins just 35 he used to sin, — ^he is more humble to every one, — he leans more simply, — he clings more closely, — ^he walks more softly. That man owes a great deal to that fall. Jesus would never have been half so precious to him, — sin would never have been half so bitter to him, — he would never have had that tender spirit, if he had not fallen.

122 More than Conquerors. He has g-ot up a greater man than he fell, — "more than conqueror." Or, you have a quarrel with some one, and you go, and you do an act, and you repeat it, you do many acts of kindness to that person, — what is the result? That he ceases to dislike you? So nature reasons. But not so God acts, in the plenitude of His comf)ensations. That man becomes your friend,— a better friend than if he had never been your enemy; your influence over that man becomes excessive, — he is your closest friend, — you are "more than conqueror." And what shall we say of a Christian's sorrows ? That he bears them meekly ? that he finds comfort out of them ? that they are compensated to him ? that he is able to have them at his feet ? that, notwithstanding them, he rejoices ? More ; the half could not be told. A strange and wonderful process g^ces on. The gall has in it a latent sweetness which only wants to be brought out. There are materials in every grief to make gladness, — in penitence, in shame, in bereavement. We live on to call the sadness by another name. Bedewed with prayer, — mellowed by time, — consecrated by service, — transformed by light, — moulded by the omnipotent hand of God, — these things grow happier to us than all which was once our happiest ; we would not exchange those dark memories for the sunniest of the world's hours, — there is so much of Christ in them, — so much of a tranquil mind, — so much of heaven, — and that which Jesus said is fulfilled to the very letter, — " the sorrow is turned into the joy," and we come out "more than conquerors, through Him that loved us." And so on and on for ever. We die, and through the

merits of Christ we go to heaven. The world lies behind

More than Conquerors, 123 us, it is a finished world, and a conquered thing-, and we enter into rest. But how do we enter? Do we just get in ? do we creep to our throne ? o ; but according to that striking image of St. Paul, — like a ship, at high tide, pressing with her sails full set straight into port, — so "an entrance is administered to us abundantly into the kingdom of His dear Son," and we march in the commanding name of Christ. To Him the everlasting gates lift up their heads ; and we, His body, go in, in His perfect beauty, in our oneness and our strength; we take our high seats, each one according as his work has been; and we sit down, far above the angels and the archangels, in the very presence-chamber and the court of God. And our sins, where are they? — these horrid sins I Washed, glorified, each one placed, like another ray, in the Redeemer's crown; and "more than conquerors" through Him, we lay our "more than conqueror's" wreaths at that great Conqueror's feet. Brethren, — expect great things, — take high aims, — have a holy ambition, — let that be Easter's teaching. Do not be content only to do this and that. Do not be content, — only not a sinner. Do not be content, — only to be saved. Do not be content, — only to conquer. Over Satan, — over sin, — over self, — over the world, — over sorrow, — over death, — over the grave, — command victory, and something more. The world conquers, — (we want, but we cannot find, the greater word), — the world conquers, — the Church is " more than conqueror." 1. 68 FREE BOOKS


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