Colossians 1:28
Whom we proclaim, admonishing every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ: whereunto I labour also, striving according to his working who worketh in me mightily.

I. THE DUTY OF MINISTERS. It is to preach Christ.

1. It is not to preach morality. Though it is right and necessary to exhibit moral duties in the light of the cross.

2. It is not to preach a philosophy or a thaumaturgy.) 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.)

3. It is to preach Christ crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:3.) Some preach Christ's incarnation as the grand hope of man, but this is to present a broken hope, if it is not supplemented by the death of Christ.

4. It is to preach Christ as the only Saviour. "Neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12). There is no salvation in ordinances, in saints, in angels, in images, in pictures, in works of righteousness.

5. It is to preach Christ as a sufficient Saviour. He is mighty to save, and "able to save to the uttermost."

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH CHRIST IS TO BE PREACHED.

1. "Admonition." "Admonishing every man." This implies:

(1) The duty of rebuke in the case of those who repair to other saviours than Christ. Preachers must, likewise, rebuke sin (Isaiah 58:1; 2 Timothy 3:17; Hebrews 9:10).

(2) Preaching is to set forth examples of admonition (1 Corinthians 10:11).

(3) Great is the profit of admonition to those who receive it aright (Proverbs 28:13).

(4) It implies that all men need admonition, for all are apt to err or sin.

2. Teaching. Christianity is not a thaumaturgy, not a spectacular religion; it is the exhibition of Christ through the gospel of truth. The understanding must be informed.

(1) There is the promise of the Spirit to lead us into all truth (John 14:26).

(2) There is the Word of truth, which preachers are rightly to divide (2 Timothy 2:15).

(3) We need to be instructed, for we are ignorant and prejudiced.

(4) There is immense variety in truth. "In all wisdom." Preachers must preach wisely - not in the "wisdom of words" (1 Corinthians 1:17), but in the truly Divine wisdom which enables us "to understand our own way" (Proverbs 14:8), which teaches us humility - "becoming fools that we may be wise (1 Corinthians 3:18); to walk not as fools, but as wise (Ephesians 5:15); and "to consider our latter end, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom" (Psalm 90:12).

III. THE DESIGN OF THIS PREACHING OF CHRIST. "That we may present every man perfect in Christ."

1. Perfection is the aim. It will be attained in glory. It implies perfection in knowledge as well as holiness. We are to seek perfection

(1) in doctrine (Hebrews 6:1);

(2) in faith (James 2:22);

(3) in hope (1 Peter 1:13);

(4) in love (1 John 4:18);

(5) in understanding (1 Corinthians 14:20).

2. Perfection is only to be realized in Christ.

(1) Its ultimate realization comes through him (Philippians 1:6).

(2) This thought ought to make saints seek a closer intercourse with Christ.

3. It is a perfection designed for all saints. "Every man." It is not for an inner circle of disciples, an initiated few, but for "every man." This universality of blessing marks the distinction between the gospel of Christ and the schools of Judaeo-Gnostic speculation.

IV. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH MINISTERS OUGHT TO LABOUR IN THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST.

1. They must labour and strive. The ministry is a severe labour to body, mind, and spirit. The apostle "laboured more abundantly than they all." The Lord's work cannot be done negligently (2 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 5:12).

2. Ministers must labour, not in their own strength, but in the Lord's strength. "Striving according to his working, who worketh in me mightily." It is the Lord who works in his ministers for the salvation of souls. Paul may plant, and Apollos water, but "it is God that giveth the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6). - T. C.







Whom we preach.
I. ITS SUBSTANCE. "Christ."

1. In the dignity of His person (verses 12-19.)

2. Therefore Christ only. Some preach themselves, morality, human systems, philosophy.

3. Christ always. If I come into the pulpit with another theme, concluding I shall have other opportunities, and so compel Him to give place, it may be the last time I shall preach. Christ in you, the hope of glory. This includes two things

(1)Christ, in His intimate relation to the believer.

(2)Christ, in all the animating hopes of futurity. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." This can counteract the darkness of the future.

II. ITS MANNER.

1. Warning.(1) Fidelity demands this. The world must not only be instructed, but admonished. Let us take warning. A few blessings yet remain; but they will soon be gone; let us not trifle with them also.(2) The voice of death urges this upon us. (Read Ezekiel 33:2-9.)

2. Teaching. Here two things are essential.(1) Simplicity. No one can teach who does not make himself understood. There must be ability to communicate. Some lock up their ideas as the miser his wealth, and perishes with it.(2) Diligence also is necessary. We must be "instant in season and out of season."(3) This must be done individually, "teaching every man." Here much care, prudence, and promptitude is required. Let men see how intent we are on their salvation.(4) Wisely also — "In all wisdom," seeking out suitable season to speak to the heart. Various means must be employed, and we must accommodate ourselves to the capacities of those whom we address.

III. ITS END.

1. A final presentation. Christ is to present all to the Father, and the minister all to the Son.

2. A personal presentation, i.e., all must stand before Him.

3. A presentation of acceptance; therefore all will not be presented.

4. It is a perfect presentation — "That we may present every man perfect."(1) It is a perfection of knowledge — "What I do, thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter."(2) It is a perfection in righteousness.(3) As to the perfection of glory, "Eye hath not seen," etc. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be."

5. It is a ministerial presentation. The minister must of necessity be a witness as to the reception or rejection of his ministry, and give an account.

(W. B. Collyer, D. D.)

I. THE GREAT SUBJECT of an evangelical ministry. We preach Christ.

1. In the dignity of His person.

2. His deep humiliation.

3. His infinite atonement.

4. His distinct offices as Prophet, Priest, and King.

5. The fulness and sufficiency of His grace for all the purposes of our present, complete, and everlasting salvation.

6. The purity of His character, "leaving us an example that we should follow His steps."

7. As our great Leader to a mighty and glorious victory.

8. As our judge.

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS SUBJECT IS TO BE APPLIED TO THE UNDERSTANDING AND THE CONSCIENCE.

1. Warning every man of the danger of

(1)Denying Christ.

(2)Substituting anything in the room of Christ.

(3)Slighting Christ or neglecting Him in any way.

(4)Perverting the grace of Christ or neglecting to improve it.

2. Teaching every man(1) His privilege — to enjoy through Christ remission of sins — to be adopted into God's family — to be sanctified wholly — to obtain a seat at last in the kingdom of God's glory.(2) The way to obtain these privileges — "Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."(3) His duty

(a)to God, to love, serve, honour, and obey Him, and that until death;

(b)to the nation, of which he is a subject, "to fear God and work righteousness."

(c)To the world, of which he is a citizen.

III. THE GREAT END WHICH A CHRISTIAN MINISTER HAS TO KEEP IN VIEW. That every man may be —

1. Perfectly instructed in the doctrines, privileges, and duties of the Christian faith.

2. Perfected in the love of Christ.

3. So as to be presented blameless at the coming of Christ.

(J. Waterhouse.)

I. WHOM A GOSPEL MINISTER SHOULD PREACH. Christ.

1. On the cross. No other sacrifice but His could avail to roll the reproach from a guilty world. There is salvation in none other.

2. In the grave triumphing over death, bringing life and immortality to light, becoming the pledge of our resurrection.

3. On the throne able to save, protect, rule.

4. On the judgment-seat.

II. HOW A GOSPEL MINISTER SHOULD PREACH.

1. Warning every man

(1)by the threatenings of the Divine law;

(2)of his responsibility for religious privileges.

2. Teaching every man —

(1)The love of God.

(2)The duty of man.

III. THE GREAT END OF THIS PREACHING. To present every man —

1. Perfect in the attributes of a renewed and glorified nature.

2. To be secured by union with Christ.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

I. THE NATURE of the Apostolic Ministry — "Preach."

1. Paul was no ritualist. The day for ritualism was gone by. The Christ dimly seen in the world's childhood through the old economy was now fully revealed, and must be presented in a manner suited to the reason and heart of full-grown men.

2. Paul had no philosophy to elaborate; the realities of the gospel had superseded its speculations useful as they once were.

3. Paul was a preacher. He proclaimed war against sinners, peace to the penitent.

II. ITS SUBJECT.

1. A personal act, not a sublime legend or poetic myth.

2. Christ as distinguished from every other person.

(1)From angelic or saintly mediators.

(2)From himself, "We preach not ourselves," etc.

3. Christ as a Person as distinguished from Christianity any part of it as a thing. Christ, and not merely

(1)Christ's example.

(2)Christian theology.

(3)The sacraments.

III. ITS CHARACTERISTIC was to so present Christ that the Master might do His own work in His own way. Hence his ministry was —

1. Admonitory.(1) He preached a Saviour. So as to show that the cost and character of His salvation were such as to involve those to whom He was offered in a tremendous responsibility.(2) He preached Christ as the only Saviour, and thus set the issues of accepting or rejecting Him clearly before men.(3) As the Judge.

2. Instructive. Paul teaches every man by

(1)Setting forth the Instructor.

(2)The Teacher as the education — "That I may know Him."

(3)Wise. "In all wisdom."

(4)Universal. "Every man."

IV. ITS AIM.

1. Christ is the sphere in which Christian perfection is to be attained.

2. In Christ the believer is perfect.

3. Perfect in Christ we are presented for acceptance, consecration, work, warfare, and reward.

(J. W. Burn.)

The false teachers had a good deal to say about a higher wisdom reserved for the initiated. They apparently treated the Apostolic teaching as trivial rudiments only fit for the vulgar crowd. They had their initiated class to whom their mysteries were entrusted in whispers. Such absurdities excited Paul's special abhorrence. He had broken with Judaism on the very ground of its exclusiveness. These dreamers were trying to enforce an intellectual exclusiveness quite as opposed to the gospel. So the apostle takes up their phrases — "Mystery," "perfect" or initiated, "wisdom," and presses them into the service of the principle that the most recondite secrets of the gospel were for every man. Our business is to tell out as fully and loudly as we can to all, all the wisdom we have learned.

I. THE APOSTLE'S STATEMENT OF HIS WORK.

1. Not a theory or a system, but a living Person.(1) The peculiarity of Christianity is that you cannot take its message and put aside Christ. His Person is inextricably intertwined with His teaching, which centres in Him who is "The Truth." You may separate between Buddha's and Confucius's teaching and themselves, but you cannot do so with Jesus. If we think less of Him than Paul does in this chapter, we shall scarcely feel that He should be the preachers theme; hut if He is to us what He was to him, then our own message will be "Behold the Lamb." Let who will preach abstractions, the Christian minister has to preach Christ.(2) To preach Him is to set forth His person, and the facts of His life and death, and to accompany these with that explanation which turns a biography into a gospel. "The gospel which" Paul preached was "how that Christ died." That is biography, and to stop there is not to preach Christ; but add "for our sins," etc., and you preach Christ.(3) A ministry of which Christ is manifestly the centre may sweep a wide circumference, and include many themes. The requirement bars out no province of thought or experience, but demands that all themes should lead up to Christ, and that His .name, like some deep tone on an organ, shall be heard sounding on through all the ripple and change of the higher notes.

2. The manner of the Apostle's activity.(1) "We proclaim," tell out fully, clearly, earnestly. We are not muttering mystery-mongers. We cry in the streets to every man.(2) This implies that the speaker has a message, that he is not a speaker of his own words or thoughts, but of what has been told him to tell.

3. This connection of the minister's office.(1) Contrasts with the priestly theory. "We preach," not we sacrifice, work miracles at any altar, or impart grace by any rites, but by the manifestation of the truth discharge our office, and spread the blessings of Christ.(2) Contrasts with the false teacher's style of speech, which finds its parallel in much modern talk. Their business was to argue and refine and speculate. They sat in a lecturer's chair; we stand in a preacher's pulpit. If the Christian minister allows the philosopher in him to overpower the herald, and substitutes his thoughts about the message or his arguments in favour of it for the message itself, he abdicates his office.

4. We hear many demands to-day for a "higher type of preaching," which I would heartily echo, if only it be preaching, the proclamation of the great facts of Christ's work. But many are trying to play up to the requirements of the age by turning their sermons into dissertations, philosophical, moral, or aesthetic. We need to fall back upon this "Whom we preach," and oppose that to the demands of an age one half of which "require a sign," and would degrade the minister into a priest, and the other calls for "wisdom," and would turn him into a professor.

II. THE VARYING METHODS BY WHICH THIS ONE GREAT END IS PURSUED.

1. Warning or admonishing.(1) The teaching of morality is an essential part of preaching Christ. But the moral teaching which is confined to general principles is woefully like repeating platitudes and firing blank cartridges; yet if the preacher goes beyond these toothless generalities, he is met with the cry of "personalities." But there is no preaching Christ completely which does not include plain speaking about plain duties.(2) Nor is such preaching complete without plain warning of the end of sin. People like to have the smooth side of truth always uppermost; but there are no rougher words about what wrong-doers come to than some of Christ's; and he has only given one half of his Master's message who hides or softens "the wages of sin is death."(3) But all this must be connected with and built on Christ. Christian morality has Jesus for its perfect exemplar, His love for its motive, His grace for its power. Nothing is more impotent than mere moral teaching.

2. "Teaching." In the facts of Christ's life and death, as we grow up to understand them, we get to see more and more the key to all things, and the Christian minister's business is to be ever learning and teaching more and more of the manifold wisdom of God. He must seek to present all sides of truth, teaching all wisdom, and so escaping from his own limited mannerisms. The Christian, ministry is distinctly educational, and is more than the "simple preaching" which is the "avoidance of mere dogma" or the repetition of "Believe." The New Testament and common sense require more from a teacher.

3. Observe the repetition of "every man," which is Paul's protest against an intellectual aristocracy, and his affirmation that Christianity is for all.

III. THE ULTIMATE END OF THESE DIVINE METHODS.

1. Presentation at the Judgment.

2. Perfection. The word may be used in its, technical meaning of "initiated," but negatively it implies the entire removal of, all defects, and positively the complete possession of all that belongs to human nature as God meant it to be.

3. This completeness is attainable only in Christ, by that vital union with Him brought about by faith, which will pour His Spirit into ours.

4. This is possible for every man. There are no hopeless classes.

IV. THE STRUGGLE AND THE STRENGTH WITH WHICH PAUL REACHES TOWARD THIS AIM.

1. He has found that he cannot do his work easily. That great purpose made a slave of him. I not only preach, I toil like a man tugging at an oar, and putting all his might into each stroke. Perhaps there were people who thought the preacher's life an easy one, and so the apostle had to insist that the most exhaustive work is that of heart and brain. The minister who is afraid of putting all his strength into his work, up to the point of weariness, will never do much good.

2. There must be not only toil, but conflict, "striving," contending with hindrances, without and within, which sought to mar his work.

3. Now for the strength. The measure of our power is Christ's power in us. He whose presence makes the struggle necessary, by His presence strengthens us for it. We have not only His presence beside us as an ally, but His grace within us. Let us take courage then for all work and conflict.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Suppose that a man has heard of a great physician who understands his complaint. He has travelled a great many miles to see this celebrated doctor; but when he gets to the door they tell him that he is out. "Well," says he, "then I must wait till he is in." "You need not wait," they reply, "his assistant is at home." The suffering man, who has been often disappointed, answers, "I do not care about his assistant, I want to see the man himself: mine is a desperate case, but I have heard that this physician has cured the like; I must, therefore, see him." "Well," say they, "he is out; but there are his books; you can see his books." "Thank you," he says, "I cannot be content with his books; I want the living man, and nothing less. It is to him that I must speak, and from him I will receive instructions." "Do you see that cabinet?" "Yes." "It is full of his medicines." The sick man answers, "I dare say they are very good, but they are of no use to me without the doctor: I want their owner to prescribe for me, or I shall die of my disease." "But see" cries one, "here is a person who has been cured by him, a man of great experience, who has been present at many remarkable operations. Go into the inquiry-room with him, and he will tell you all about the mode of cure." The afflicted man answers, "I am much obliged to you, but all your talk only makes me long the more to see the doctor. I came to see him, and I am not going to be put off with anything else. I must see the man himself, for myself. He has made my disease a speciality; he knows how to handle my case, and I will stop till I see him." Now, if you are seeking Christ, imitate this sick man, or else you will miss the mark altogether. Never be put off with books or conversations. Be not content with Christian people talking to you, or preachers preaching to you, or the Bible being read to you, or prayers being offered for you. Anything short of Jesus will leave you short of salvation. You have to reach Christ, and touch Christ, and nothing short of this will serve your turn. Picture the case of the prodigal son when he went home. Suppose when he reached the house the elder brother had come to meet him. I must make a supposition that the elder brother had made himself amiable; and then I hear him say, "Come in, brother; welcome home!" But I see the returning one stand there with the tears in his eyes, and I hear him lament, "I want to see my father. I must tell him that I have sinned and done evil in his sight." An old servant whispers, "Master John, I am glad to see you back. Be happy, for all the servants are rejoiced to hear the sound of your voice. It is true your father will not see you, but he has ordered the fatted calf to be killed for you; and here is the best robe, and a ring, and shoes for your feet, and we are told to put them upon you." All this would not content the poor penitent. I think I hear him cry — "I do not despise anything my father gives me, for I am not worthy to be as his hired servant; but what is all this unless I see his face, and know that he forgives me?" We are not content to preach unless Jesus Himself be the theme. We do not set before you something about Christ, nor something that belongs to Christ, nor something procured by Christ, nor somebody that has known Christ, nor some truth which extols Christ; but we preach Christ crucified. We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

You will be interested in hearing the particulars of the final interview between the Prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.) and the late Bishop of London (Porteus), which have lately been communicated to me. Among other good people with whom my informant is intimate is Mr. Owen, minister of Fulham, who was in a manner the Bishop's parish clergyman, and long his chaplain. It seems his Royal Highness had sent out a summons for a great military review, which was to take place on a Sunday. The Bishop had been confined to his house, and did not hope, nor, I suppose, wish, ever in this world to go out again. He ordered his carriage, however, upon hearing this, proceeded to Carlton House, and waited upon the Prince, who received him very graciously. He said, "I am come, sir, urged by my regard to you, to your father, and to this great nation, who are anxiously beholding every public action of yours. I am on the verge of time; new prospects open to me; the favour of human beings, or their displeasure, is as nothing to me now. I am come to warn your Royal Highness of the awful consequences of your breaking down the very little that remains of distinction to the day that the Author of all power has hallowed, and set apart for Himself." He went on in pathetic terms to represent the awful responsibility to which the Prince exposed himself, and how much benefit or injury might result to the immortal souls of millions by his consulting or neglecting the revealed will of the King of kings; and, after much tender and awful exhortation, concluded with saying, "You see how your father, greatly your inferior in talent and capacity, has been a blessing to all around him and to the nation at large, because he made it the study and business of his life to exert all his abilities for the good of his people, to study and to do the will of God, and to give an example to the world of a life regulated by the precepts of Christian morality; he has been an object of respect and veneration to the whole world for so doing it. If he has done much, you, with your excellent abilities and pleasing and popular manners, may do much more. It is impossible for you to remain stationary in this awful crisis; you must rise to true glory and renown, and lead millions in the same path by the power of your example, or sink to sudden and perpetual ruin, aggravated by the great numbers whom your fall will draw with you to the same destruction. And now, were I able to rise, or were any one here who would assist me, I should, with the awful feeling of a dying man, give my last blessing to your Royal Highness." The Prince upon this burst into tears, and fell on his knees before the Bishop, who bestowed upon him, with folded hands, his dying benediction; the Prince then, in the most gracious and affecting manner, assisted him himself to go down, and put him into his carriage. The Bishop went home, never came out again, and died the fifth day after. On hearing of his death, the Prince shut himself up, and was heard by his attendants to sob as under deep affliction. I think I have now given you a brief but faithful account of this transaction as I heard it.

(Memoirs of Mrs. Grant of Laggan.)

John Elias was a Welsh preacher of great power. On one occasion he went to Rhuddlan to preach in the open air on Sunday, during which a fair was held there to sell and buy articles used in the time of harvest. Scythes, sickles, etc., were sold there on that day. Crowds of ungodly people were present. Mr. Elias ascended some steps near a public-house, as a messenger of God to denounce the desecration of His day. His prayer arrested at the commencement the attention of all present. He acknowledged with trembling voice how the people in the fair were bringing God's wrath upon their heads by violating His holy day. The contagion of serious apprehension of danger spread through the throngs in the fair. They hid their sickles and scythes as if the Judge of the world had come to call them to account for their rebellion against Him. Mirth and music were hushed under the power of the dread which ruled all hearts. At the conclusion of his discourse the people quietly but quickly wended their way toward home, glad that a storm of fire and brimstone had not consumed them.

There was a devoted clergyman of the Church of England, Mr. Mackenzie, of Holloway, London, who used to go down to Wemyss Bay every year for his holiday; and then he would also preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. God laid His hand heavily upon that godly minister, and when he was lying on his death-bed, the saintly Mr. Pennefather, of Mildmay, went to see him; and the dying minister looked up at his kind visitor and said, "If God should raise me up from this sick bed, I should not preach the doctrines less, but I should preach the person of Christ more."

(Mr. Wilson.)

We read that the Rev. Charles Simeon kept the picture of Henry Martyn in his study. Move where he would through the apartment, it seemed to keep its eyes upon him, and ever to say to him, "Be earnest, be earnest; don't trifle, don't trifle"; and the good Simeon would gently bow to the speaking picture, and, with a smile, reply, "Yes, I will be in earnest; I will, I will be in earnest; I will not trifle, for souls are perishing, and Jesus is to be glorified." Oh, Christian, look away to Martyn's Master, to Simeon's Saviour, to the omniscient One. Ever realize the inspection of His eye, and hear His voice of tenderest importunity, "Be instant; entreat with all long-suffering and tears. Be faithful unto death; for lo, I come quickly, and My reward is with Me."

(S. J. Moore.)

When Dr. Chalmers occupied the chair of philosophy in the College of St. Andrews, he used to gather into his own: house each Sabbath evening the poorest and most ignorant of the vagrant children of the neighbourhood; and his biography states that for that audience he prepared himself as carefully, with his pen in his hand, as for his class in the University. So, on a winter day, through frost, and in the face of a driving snow-storm, you might have seen him walking five miles to fulfil an appointment of religious worship with a little company of rustic people at Kilmany — and there, amid some illiterate, shivering cottagers, too few for a church or chapel, met in a damp room — an audience that many men would have thought it expedient to dismiss at once, "on account of the weather," and many more would have put off with some crude, unpremeditated talk — he preached as laboured and as eloquent a sermon as would have moved to rapture and wonder the learning and fashion of Glasgow or of London. It is only of such earnest stuff as this that the truly commanding persons in any of the elevated ranges of action or of learning are made.

I was seventeen years old when I went to Boston. On Sunday I went into a Bible-class in one of the churches. I had been there but a few Sundays before that teacher came down into the shoe-store where I was engaged, and put his hand on my shoulder, and spoke to me about my soul. He was the first man that ever spoke to me about my soul. He shed tears. I forget now what he: said, but I never will forget the pressure of his hand and those tears. Seventeen years rolled away, and one dark, rainy night I was speaking in Worcester; a young man, after the meeting, came up the aisle and said to me, "I have heard my father speak of you, so after that I thought I would like to become acquainted with you." "Who is your father?" "Edward Kemble." My old teacher! The thought passed across my mind, "Oh, if I could do for his son what he did for me." I put my hand on his shoulder, and said, "Henry, are you a Christian?" The tears started as he said, "No, sir; but would like to be." Thank God for that! I preached Christ to him; but he could believe all that was in the Bible against sinners, like many others, but not what was for them Briefly, he believed at last, and comforted his dying mother with the knowledge of this fact. And his sister's conversion followed.

(D. L. Moody.)

A story is told of a traveller who was journeying in the darkness along a road that led to a deep and rapid river, which, swollen by sudden rains, was chafing and roaring within its precipitous banks. The bridge that crossed the stream had been swept away by the torrent, but he knew it not. A man met him, and after inquiring whither he was bound, said to him in an indifferent way, "Are you aware that the bridge is gone?" "No," was the answer. "Why do you think so?" "Oh, I heard such a report this afternoon, and I think you had better not proceed." Deceived by the hesitating and undecided manner, the traveller pushed onward. Soon another, meeting him, cried out in consternation, "Sir, sir, the bridge is gone." "Oh, yes," replied the wayfarer, "Come one told me that story a little distance back; but from the careless tone with which he told it, I am sure it is an idle talk." "Oh, it is true, it is true!" exclaimed the other. "I know the bridge is gone, for I barely escaped being carried away with it myself. Danger is before you, and you must not go on." And in the excitement of his feelings he grasped him by the hands, and besought him not to rush upon manifest destruction. Convinced by the earnest voice, eyes, gesture, the traveller turned back and was saved.

(W. Baxendale.)

Perfect in Christ Jesus
In one of the compartments of the London Express the other day, an eminent artist was trying to hurt the feelings of a Baptist minister who was travelling in his company. The artist said, contemptuously, "Preaching is such a very low occupation!" The minister replied, "Pray, sir, will you tell me what is your chief object in life?" The painter said, "Why, of course, my chief object is to make great pictures." The minister observed, "Well, that may be a worthy object; but, in my opinion, the highest aim in life is to make good men. Pictures perish; men are everlasting." "Ah," said the painter, "you are right; the humblest preacher who by example as well as precept inspires goodness in men is much more useful to the world than the most eminent artist."

(W. Birch.)

I. THE FAITHFUL ARE SAID TO BE PERFECT.

1. Comparatively with the unconverted. Religion will make a man perfect in comparison of that which by nature men can attain unto.

2. They may be said to be perfect who want nothing that is absolutely necessary for salvation.

3. In righteousness there is perfection, .and so they shall be absolutely perfect at the day of judgment, and are already perfect in respect of justification; yea, this word is given to the sanctification of the faithful, and that two ways —(1) As to be perfect notes nothing else but to be a strong man in Christ (Hebrews 5. ult.).(2) As to be upright is accepted with God for perfection, by the benefit of the covenant of grace and the intercession of Christ. Thus I think the very word is used in these places: 1 Corinthians 2:6, Philippians 3:15, James 1:17, Hebrews 6:1, 12, 13, Thus there is perfection in doctrine (Hebrews 6:1), in faith (James 2:22), in hope (1 Peter 1:13), in love (1 John 4:18 and John 17:23), in understanding (1 Corinthians 14:20).

II. BUT WHO IS A STRONG MAN IN CHRIST OR A PERFECT MAN?

1. He that can forgive his enemies, and pray for them, and do good to them (Matthew 5:48).

2. He that finishes his work; he doth not begin slightly and work for a spirit, but perseveres (John 17:4).

3. He that holds constant amity and holy communion with God's children (1 John 4:12; John 17:23).

4. He that renounces the world, denies himself, and consecrates his life to God (Romans 12:12).

5. He that is not carried away with every wind of doctrine, but follows the truth with all constant unmovableness (Ephesians 4:13, 14).

6. He that presseth after perfection (Philippians 3:13, 14, 15, 10: 9).

7. He that hath a plerophory or full assurance of the will of God towards him (Colossians 4:12).

8. He that can digest the stronger doctrines of religion (Hebrews 5:14).

9. Patience hath in him her perfect work (James 1:4).

10. He sins not in word (James 3:12).

11. He keeps the word (1 John 2:5).

12. He is settled in the love of God, and hath not fear, but boldness (1 John 4:17, 18).

(N. Byfield.)

Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable. They who aim at it and persevere will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.

(Lord Chesterfield.)

At present the believer is like the marble in the hands of the sculptor; but though day by day he may give fresh touches and work the marble into greater emulation of the original, the resemblance will be far from complete until death. Each fresh degree of likeness is a fresh advance towards perfection, It must then be when every feature is moulded into similitude, when all traces of feebleness and depravity are swept away for ever, the statue breathes, and the picture burns with Deity — it must be that then we "shall be filled." We shall look on the descending Mediator, and, as though the ardent gaze drew down celestial fire, we shall seem instantly to pass through the refiner's furnace, and leaving behind all the dishonour of the grave, and all the dross of corruptible humanity, spring upward, an ethereal, rapid-glowing thing, Christ's image extracted by Christ's lustre.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The thing which is most perfect, if it be susceptible of growth at all, will have the most sure and rapid growth. Which grows most and in the best manner, the flower which is whole and perfect in its incipient state, or that which has a canker in it, or is otherwise injured in its parts? Which will grow the most rapidly and symmetrically, the child which is perfect in its infancy, or one that is afflicted with some malformation? Facts of this kind make it clear that, although it is possible for a person who is partially holy to grow in holiness, a person who is entirely holy will grow much more.

(T. G. Upham, LL. D.)

The process of Christian perfection is like that which a portrait goes through under the hand of an artist. When a man is converted, he is but an outline sketch of a character which he is to fill up. He first lays in the dead- colouring; then comes the work of laying in the colours; and he goes on day after day, week after week, year after year, blending them and heightening the effect. It is a life's work; and when he dies, he is still laying in and blending the co]ours and heightening the effect.

(H. W. Beecher.)

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