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By John William Burgeon
Col. iii. 3. Your life is hid with Christ in God. In my last Saint's-Day Sermon, — I spoke of the busy life of S. Paul ; and set it in strong contrast with the meaningless, useless, pointless, purposeless lives of some of ourselves. The unkindest and most uncongenial feature of that short Sermon was, that I seemed to imply, — and in fact, I did intend to say, — that some part, too much a great deal, of all our lives, is of this indefensible character. I propose to-day to explain myself a little more fully on a subject which cannot but be one of deep interest to all who have any real thoughtfulness or earnestness about them. I desire to guard myself against misconception : — JJot in the way of self-defence ; but as persuaded that it is of reol importance lo \\io^^ >nI\o would
THB U EVE TFUL LIFE.
profit by what was said before, (as far as there^ was any truth in it,) that they should have both sides of the question sketched in outline. I pro*^ pose to-day to say something of the uneventful life as distinguished from the aimless life. And the present Festival which we keep in memory of S. Matthias, affords me a convenient
opportunity for speaking of the Uneventful Life. We know nothing of the great Saint whose name is connected with the day, — except that he wets^ one of those who had "corapanied with*' the Apostles '*all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out" among them, — " beginning from the Baptism of John, unto that same day that He was taken up from them." The only thing we know besides, is, that two out of the whole company were finally made choice of ; and that, an appeal being made to the Searcher of hearts to decide between the two, — to " shew whether of these" He Jiad chosen to take part in this ministry and Apostleship, — "the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the Eleven Apostles." It is obvious to remark on the appropriateness of this Festival to the Ember Season, into which it often, and near to which it alwaj^, i^^* Ohvioas also is it to remark on llae aSLeeUw^
S. MATTHIAS S DAY. and stirring spectacle of the Croivn which should have graced another'' 8 trow bestowed upon one who expected nothing less. The unstispected Saint supplies us with another hint ; and the Decision ly lot, with yet another. But we will speak to-day of the life of S. Matthias as being, — for aught that appears to the contrary, — an tineventfid life: and therefore the type or pattern of full many a life of our own.
The uneventful is to be distinguished from the uimless life. Most lives must needs be of the former class : no one ought to be able to endure the reproach conveyed by the second. That life is "uneventful" which provokes little attention from contemporaries, and none from posterity, — the life which is seen only in its effect on others and on self. It may be as well to describe and explain a little more particularly what it is we mean. Whatever the theory of any may be on the subject, the actual experience of most persons is the same ; viz. that the texture of our lives is woven out of exceedingly homely materials. Let anyone note closely the character of the incidents of every passing day, and he will probably be struck by nothing so much as by their sameness, — their insignificance, — their ephemeral chaJBi
THE U EVB TFUL LIFE. racter. Tbere come certain imperious demands on our time and attention, but not by any means about things of real, abiding moment: tbere come not a few hindrances, or what we feel to be such, — which prevent us from doing the things on which we are really bent : there come at least as many temptations to be frivolous. We are all made, — or are invited to make ourselves, — ministerial to an extraordinary extent : (by which I mean the rendering of services of some sort, to others :) — all persons know something of disappointments and petty vexations. What heart owns not with gratitude that it knows a great deal more of little kindnesses, and
tokens, slight it may be yet precious, of consideration and good-will ? I have spoken of the texture of an ordinary day, as we find it in the main made for us. We do not make the fashion of our lives. Let any one try to do so ; and he will be surprised to find how slightly he is able to effect his purpose. It is like swimming against a stream; and, as life advances, it seems like swimming against a torrent. The endeavour to make the ordinary texture of one's life other than we find it, is well-nigh impossible. But are we therefore to consider that our lives are pur^o^A^^^ o
s. Matthias's day. and vain? I cannot think it. They are un^ eventful, but that is all. They need not be aimless. They will not be aimless, pointless, useless, unprofitable, — unless we make them so. It has been well said that "Earthly Care is a Heavenly Disciplinfe." It is certain that out of such materials as make up our earthly life, the perfectness of the saintly character may be confetructed. Transfigured by the glories of Heaven, the texture of the earthly conversation will be made glorious also : even as the raiment of our Lord on the Holy Mount is described as resplendent, and of dazzling whiteness. What? Had it not then been woven in an earthly loom? fabricated by human hands? fashioned by a mortal workman ? Yes. But it was made so glorious, because it had been accepted by, — Jbecause it belonged to, — ^because it was worn upon, — Him !
The hidden life of God's Saints is a thing which cannot be well discoursed of, precisely because it is a thing which is hidden. When^ jever a glimpse is obtained of it, the unearthly character of what meets our view is ^hat chiefly strikes us. A holy man who had benefited the Church exceedingly by his writings, and brought y^ace to tens of thousands, wa^ wimjaAsd ^ he
THE U EVE TFUL LIFE.
drew near his end that his works would be a blessing to many when he was gone. "O don't talk to me of my Works/* (he exclaimed, with a look far more expressive than words :) " they are whited sepulchres'' ... It is astonishing, whenever one obtains a glimpse at the inner life of the just, what a very unearthly thing it is. The best description one is able to give of it is that it seems to be a life which is " hid with Christ in God." The brief record of Holy Scripture is ever fuller than it seems at first sight to be. The account we have of S. Matthias afibrds a clue to his character ; gives the outline of the saintly life. He was — where Christ was. He consorted — with those who consorted with Christ. He was from the beginning — where the Lord Jesus " went in and out." Accordingly, God, who knows the heart, knew his to be His ; and proclaimed it outwardly ; made him an Apostle, There was but one vacant Chair; else "Barsabas who was surnamed Justus" may very well have been one who would also have been recog*
nized as worthy of the Apostolic Office. It is joy to think how many there must be who, like Barsabas, only wait the Rjea\VTt^e i\o\v morning to be known for God's Ixvie ^«ffiXa*
S. MATTHUS'S DAY. They persevere in their quiet unobtrusive goodness, conscious that their life is a warfare : but they are made more than conquerors by Christ. Every act of every day, they do — or seek to do — or grieve that they have not done — to Him. The thought of this sweetens their privations, — warms their prayers, — fashions their speeches, — ^regulates their lives. Their life is not aimless, for it aims at pleasing Him : — their actions are not profitless, for they will be by Him accepted : — their words are not meaningless, for their meaning is to promote, in whatever way, His Glory : — what can be called useless which is useful to the formation of the saintly life ?
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