And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.…
I. EVERY BEING MUST HAVE ITS OWN PLACE. Nothing can be more obvious than the exact adaptation to each other and to the region in which they dwell, of the objects and beings of this world.
1. Everything which is earthly, whose being belongs to, and will terminate with earth, is in its own place. Who can doubt that the bird, with its curious mechanism of eye and wing, was intented to exist in air; or-that the fish has been expressly formed for its watery abode; or that the beast .of prey is at home in its forest haunts; or that man himself, physically considered, was intended for his abode and position here, and that if removed to another world, differing at all in its constitution from the present, they must either cease to exist, or exist only in a state of disorder and distress?
2. We may extend the observation to the world itself; and say, that our globe moves year after year along its own path, that it revolves in the very orbit for which it was designed.
3. And certainly it is true of the human intellect, that it has been provided with proper objects and occasions for the exercise of its powers, that it is placed in the midst of circumstances which are fitted to educate its faculties. It is required for earthly uses; and it has been accurately adapted to the purposes for which it is required.
4. Spiritual beings have likewise their "own place"; that although it may not be the case here, yet elsewhere, moral natures will find their own appropriate abode, will move amidst scenes and society with the spirit of which they can truly sympathise. The being who loves holiness and truth, must, in its perfect and proper condition, consort only with beings who love holiness and truth, and dwell in a region of holiness; and the being who loves evil and error, must, in its final and proper condition, consort only with beings who love evil and error, and dwell in an abode of evil. And the Scriptures uniformly represent the final abodes of men, as being severally adapted to the righteous and the wicked. But it is evident that these separate states can never exist on earth, nor be entered by those who are yet in the flesh. The infirmities of the body, as well as the influence of external things, must hinder a consummate manifestation of holiness, as well as a perfect development of evil.
II. THE LIGHT WHICH THIS PRINCIPLE THROWS UPON OUR PRESENT STATE. Like Judas while still on earth, we are not now in our own place, but we are going there. Our position is temporary and imperfect. And its difficulties can be explained, only by regarding it as introductory to our perfect and permanent condition. The evil and the good are now joined together in a confused and discordant mass. They are travelling in companies along the same road, and strange appears the disorder and disunion in which they now proceed; but their common path will soon branch into two avenues, along which they will move in separated groups, each in its proper character, and each perfectly united in its course. Think of Judas associating with his fellow apostles and with his Lord; his utter want of sympathy with them; the irksome restraint, of which he must have been ever conscious. He is a type and example to ourselves. Are there any who have a love for holiness? Then earth is not their home, and cannot be their abiding place. Like Judas, they are living amidst circumstances in which they have no delight; among companions with whom they have no fellowship. Are there any who have a love for evil? Like Judas, they must often come among the true disciples of our Lord; but then, like Judas, they would rather be away. They are not now in their own place.
III. THE LIGHT WHICH THIS PRINCIPLE THROWS UPON OUR FUTURE STATE. This principle is applicable to the explanation of the difficulty, that while the varieties of moral character are almost innumerable, we should be told of only two states after death. With respect to the holy or the utterly depraved, there is no difficulty. Heaven is plainly fitted for the one, and hell for the other. But the majority of mankind occupy a medium position; we can hardly affirm that they belong to the one or the other, displaying continually as they do the characteristics of both. There seems no reason why they should spend their eternity with saints; nor in the outer darkness "prepared for the devil and his angels." Then, again, there are vast numbers who may more easily be described by saying what they are not, than by saying what they are. These, again, appear to be without fitness, as without merit, for an abode either with angels or with fiends. Now to this difficulty, our text, taken in connection with other Scriptures, seems to give a decisive explanation. Judas is represented as going unto "his own place," as if, when his soul after death came at once under the dominion and influence of a spiritual law, which removed it to the sphere which was properly its own. And the difficulty will be at once removed, if we can assign this law, and show that it must take effect on every spirit dividing the souls of men into two classes, according to one decisive characteristic which, whatever be their varieties of moral character, either is or is not clearly inscribed upon them all. This law our Lord has Himself asserted. Of every being it may be affirmed either that it does or does not love God. And according to their possession or their want of this affection will some go away to the kingdom prepared for them, and others to that "prepared for the devil and his angels." There are some souls in a state of indifference, and some in a state of hatred to God. But both these want the principle, which alone can make heaven their own place. And there are other souls which love God and are in affinity with Him; such, when they leave earth, must proceed at once to heaven. It is "their own place," for God is there, and they are spiritually united unto Him; for Christ is there, and where He is, there must they also be; for it is an abode of holiness, and they have been sanctified by Almighty grace, they have been made meet for that inheritance of light.
(G. S. Drew, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.