Luke 14:28


The circumstances under which these words were spoken will explain the strength of the language used. Jesus Christ said that he came "not to send peace on earth, but a sword," by which he meant that the first effect of the introduction of his Divine truth would be (as he said) to set the members of the same family at variance against one another, and to make a man's foes to be "they of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-36). By honouring and acknowledging him as the Messiah of the Jews and as the Redeemer of mankind, his disciples would excite the bitterest enmity in the minds of their own kindred; they would be obliged to act as if they hated them, causing them the keenest disappointment and the severest sorrow. They would be compelled to act as if they hated their own life also, for they would take a step which would remove all comfort and enjoyment from it, and make it valueless if not miserable. On the relation of Jesus Christ and his gospel to human kindred, it may be said that Christianity -

I. DISALLOWS PARENTAL TYRANNY. Such unmitigated authority as the Roman law gave to the parent over the child is not sanctioned, but implicitly condemned, by Jesus Christ. No human being is wise enough or good enough to exercise such prerogative; and to yield such deference is to cede the responsibility which our Creator has laid upon us, and which cannot be devolved.

II. DISALLOWS FILIAL WORSHIP. Such idolatrous homage as the children of the Chinese render to their parents is also distinctly unchristian; it is giving to the creature what is due only to the Creator. It is to elevate the human above its lawful level.

III. SANCTIONS AND ENJOINS FILIAL DEVOTEDNESS. Our Lord himself severely condemned the perversity of the Pharisees, who contrived to evade filial obligations by sacred subtleties (Mark 7:9-13). And amid the physical agonies and the spiritual struggles and sufferings of the cross he found time to commend his mother to the care of" the beloved disciple." His apostles explicitly enjoined filial obedience (Ephesians 6:1). And entering into the profounder spirit of our Lord's teaching, we are sure that he desires of children that they should not only be formally obedient to their parents' word, but that they should be careful to render to them all filial respect in manner; should have regard to their known will, whether uttered or unexpressed; should render the service of love and of cheerfulness rather than of constraint; should make their filial ministry to abound as parental health and strength decline.

IV. RESERVES ABSOLUTE OBEDIENCE FOR THE DIVINE REDEEMER. When Christianity is assailing a false faith, as in the first century, as in heathen lands to-day, it very frequently happens that disciples have to choose between their attachment to the earthly parent and their obligations to Christ. Then the words of Jesus Christ have a literal application; then the convert has to pass through the most severe and trying of all conflicts; he has to weigh one authority against another; he has to make a decision which will cause grief and wrath to one whom he would fain please and honour. But much as the human parent may have been to him, and strong as are his claims, the Divine Redeemer is more, and his claims are stronger still and stronger far. The Lord who created him (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16); who redeemed him with his own blood; who sought and found and restored him; who has made him an heir of eternal life; - this Lord, who has been upholding him by his power, and who is the one Hope and Refuge of his soul, has claims upon his obedience to which even those of a human parent are utterly unequal. And when the choice has to be made, as it sometimes has even here and now, there can be but one course which he recognizes as right; it is to choose the side and the service of the holy Saviour; meekly bearing the heavy cross of domestic severance; earnestly praying for the time when the human authority will be reconciled to the Divine; faithfully believing that the sacrifice which is thus entailed will bring with it, in Christ's own time and way, a large and abundant recompense (Mark 10:28-30). - C.







For which of you, intending to build a tower.
Our Lord on purpose mentioned a tower rather than any other building, perhaps to signify that the top of our spiritual building must reach to heaven, or otherwise it will be vain to build. A Christian, then, is a man that builds a tower, a noble building, not a cottage, and therefore should count the cost.

I. WHAT SORT OF A TOWER THE CHRISTIAN BUILDS.

1. A tower is no small building, but a noble structure; and so is the believer's spiritual building.(1) Infinite wisdom is the contriver of it.(2) The Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of it.

2. It is a noble building, or a famous tower, because the design of it is to preserve the soul from all its enemies, and from all dangers whatsoever, to eternal life.

3. This spiritual building may be called a tower, because a Christian is a soldier, and this building is to be his fortress; and if he builds on Christ, or rightly upon the only foundation, he need not fear all the gunshot of Satan, sin, the flesh, and the world, though he must expect to be battered severely by these enemies.

4. It may be called a tower, because the Christian builds for another world. He must gradually proceed until he reaches heaven.

II. WHY IS A CHRISTIAN SAID TO BUILD THIS TOWER?

1. Because he is to believe in Jesus Christ, i.e., to build on Him.

2. But note that it is God who finds all the materials.

III. EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD CONSIDER THE MATTER SO WELL AS TO COUNT THE COST. Why?

1. Because it will be a very costly building to him.(1) He must give up all his cursed sins and lusts, though as dear to him in times past as a right hand or eye.(2) He must expect it will cost him the loss of whatsoever he once accounted gain.(3) He must part with all his former companions, and expect they will mock and deride him, and may be his own wife also.

2. Because great storms may rise, and floods come, and beat upon his high tower; and he should count the damage he may sustain in such storms.

3. Because he is not able either to begin, nor to build, or lay one stone by his own strength; and if he knows not this, or does not utterly despair of any power or ability of his own, he will never be able to finish, and then men "will mock him," etc.

4. He must account how rich, how strong, and able he is in Jesus Christ; and if He knows that Christ is his strength, he counts the cost aright; and if he depends wholly, constantly, and believingly upon Jesus Christ, he need not fear but he shall have wherewith to finish this famous tower, i.e., the salvation of his precious soul.Application:

1. This reprehends all rash and inconsiderate persons, who, through some sudden flash of zeal (which may prove like a lava flood) set out in a visible profession of Christ and the gospel.

2. This may inform us of the reason there are so many who grow cold, and soon falter, and fall off, or decline in their zeal and seeming love to Christ, His truth, and people. They counted not the cost — what corruptions they must mortify, what temptations they must withstand, what reproaches they must expect to meet with, what enemies they may find, and what relations they may enrage and stir up against them.

3. Let all from hence be exhorted to count the cost before they begin to build, and not expose themselves by their inconsiderateness to the reproach of men, either to the grief of the godly, or to the contempt and scorn of the wicked.

4. Yet let none from hence be discouraged, or decline closing with Christ, or with His people; for if they are sincere and gracious persons, they will understand that the almighty power of God is engaged to help them.

5. Count also all the external charge, which a visible profession of Christ may expose you to; for the interest of Christ, and the charge of His Church, must be borne.

6. How great is the work of a Christian. No lazy life.

7. Let all learn on what foundation to build, and not refuse the chief cornerstone. Depend wholly upon God in Christ. His money pays for all. Yet you shall not miscarry for want of money to finish, if in all your wants you go to Him by faith and prayer.

(B. Keach.)

Baxendale's Anecdotes.
Nelaton, the great French surgeon, once said that if he had four minutes in which to perform an operation on which a life depended, he would take one minute to consider how best to do it.

(Baxendale's Anecdotes.)

Before proceeding to any work, we should weigh it. Letters are charged in the post office according to weight. I have written and sealed a letter containing several sheets. I desire that it should pass; I think it will; but I know well that it will not be allowed to pass because I desire that it should or think that it will. I know well it will be tested by imperial weights and measures. Before I plunge it beyond my reach, I place it on a balance before me, not constructed to please my desire, but honestly adjusted to the legal standard. I weigh it there, and check it myself by the very rules which government will apply. So should we weigh our purposes in the balance, before we launch them forth in action.

(W. Arnot.)

He is not, in our Lord's estimation, the true spiritual builder, such as will bring his work to a successful end, who, counting the cost, finds that he has enough, as he supposes to finish the building which he has begun; but the wise and happy builder is he who counts and discovers that he has not enough, that the work far exceeds any resources at his command, and who thereupon forsakes all that he has, all vain imagination of a spiritual wealth of his own; and therefore proceeds to build, not at his own charges at all, but altogether at the charges of God, waiting upon Him day by day for new supplies of strength.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I. TRUE RELIGION IS COSTLY. A poor man is suddenly made a prince; it will cost him the giving up of his former manners, and will involve him in new duties and cares. A man is set on the road to heaven as a pilgrim: does he pay anything to enter by the wicket-gate? I trow not: free grace admits him to the sacred way. But when that man is put on the road to heaven it will cost him something. It will cost him earnestness to knock at the wicket-gate, and sweat wherewith to climb the Hill Difficulty; it will cost him tears to find his roll again when he has lost it in the arbour of ease; it will cost him great care in going down the Valley of Humiliation; it will cost him resistance unto blood when he stands foot to foot with Apollyon in conflict. What, then, is the expense?

1. If yea would be Christ's, and have His salvation, you must love Him beyond every other person in this world.

2. Self must be hated. I must mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts, denying myself anything and everything which would grieve the Saviour, or would prevent my realizing perfect conformity to Him.

3. If we would follow the Saviour, we must bear our cross. He who has the smile of the ungodly, must look for the frown of God.

4. We must follow Christ, i.e., act as He acted.

5. Unreserved surrender of all to Jesus. If you possess a farthing that is your own and not your master's, Christ is not your master.

II. WISDOM SUGGESTS THAT WE SHOULD COUNT THE COST.

1. If you do not count the cost, you will not be able to carry out your resolves. It is a great building, a great war. Faith and repentance are a life-work.

2. To fail in this great enterprise will involve terrible defeat. Half-hearted Christians, half-hearted religious men, may not be scoffed at in the public streets to their faces, but they are common butts of ridicule behind their backs. False professors are universally despised. Oh! if you must be lost, be lost as anything but hypocrites.

III. COST WHATEVER IT MAY, TRUE RELIGION IS WORTH THE COST.

1. The present blessings of true religion are worth all the cost.

2. What recompense comes for all cost in the consolation afforded by true godliness in the article of death?

3. Christ asks you to give up nothing that will injure you.

4. Christ does not ask you to do anything that He has not done Himself.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This parable stands in juxtaposition with that of the Great Supper, and is plainly designed to supplement its lesson, and preclude any perversion of its meaning. In the one you have the freedom of gospel privileges, in the other you have the costliness of gospel responsibilities. You that are following me so readily, says the Saviour, "consider what you do." As builders of a spiritual house, are you incurring a new and a serious outlay; are you prepared to face it? As warriors on a spiritual campaign, you are challenging new and uncompromising enemies; are you able to confront them? Far better leave an undertaking alone, than, after starting it, have thereafter to abandon it, especially when, as in the present case, it attracts the observation of so many watchful eyes, and provokes the resentment of so many jealous hearts. Beware lest you waken the world's hostility by your pretensions to strength when you begin, and live to incur its mockery by your confession of weakness when you desist." That, then, is the drift of this passage. Of course, only one side of the truth is here brought before us. It is not only on account of the views of outsiders, their spitefulness when a man commences, and their contempt when he leaves off, that our Saviour bids those who would join Him count the cost. There are other and worse consequences to be faced by him who begins and who ceases in this matter, than the pointing of a worldling's finger or the wagging of a worldling's tongue, and for these we must look elsewhere. But so far as it goes the parable is both pertinent and pungent, the lesson of it plain, the application unavoidable. He that will build a tower necessarily invites attention, provokes scrutiny, sets speculation astir, and these not always of the kindest or most favourable sort. Publicly he succeeds, if success be in store for him; but publicly, too, he must fail. Exactly so is it with the assuming of a Christian position. Let a man bear in mind that for this, if for no other reason, he is wise to think well ere beginning, remembering that the eye of the world is upon him. Not only is this matter of a Christian profession and a spiritual life a necessarily public undertaking; it is also a very costly one. And the higher the ideal we erect for ourselves, the more important and commanding the position we assume, the greater the outlay we must face. True, let me remind you again, the building of the tower may turn out in the end the most gloriously profitable investment that is open to us. When the walls are complete, and the headstone brought forth with shoutings of "grace, grace unto it," it may prove a magnificent and an everlasting habitation, repaying a thousandfold, both in shelter and in splendour, the disbursements its erection occasioned. But, meanwhile, these disbursements may be trying. And let every man weigh the solemn fact, the assuming of a Christian profession and the maintenance of the Christian life may in some cases involve a serious price. Nor will any be able to say that the estimates for the building of the tower have been kept in the background by Scripture; they are clearly drawn up, and faithfully presented. And what is the expenditure they specify? This among other things (let the context testify): the hatred of father and mother and sisters and brethren, the losing of one's own life, the taking up of the cross, the forsaking all a man hath. These be strong words, but, brethren, they are Christ's, and there are those, many and many a one, who have found them no whit beyond the facts. This brings me to the third point in the parable, for which we are now prepared, namely, the consequence that too often takes place from a rash and ill-considered beginning. For a time the building proceeds. He has founded it in accordance with God's appointment, he rears it in conformity with God's plan. But there comes a period when the enterprise gets costly. It touches him on the side of his comfort, touches him on the side of his pride, and the unaccustomed drain begins. It is first a call on his time, time he wanted to use an he liked; next a wrench of affection, the severance of a tie which was dear to the flesh, but which Christian principle forbade; next, the sudden disappointing of desire — desire which only a disciple of Christ would possibly have been asked to deny himself; then an inroad on his purse. And thus there comes a time when in his own heart of hearts the ominous uncertainty begins, even though shame for a time makes him persevere. "Have I not gone too far?" he is now beginning to ask of himself, "and may not this tower of mine bear curtailing, without any loss to the general design? God will make allowance for my poverty, and the world will be unaware of the difference, or approve of it." So, lesser inconsistencies creep in; lesser incompletenesses make themselves manifest; there is a saving here and a saving there. Already the man's life has fallen below his profession; the execution of the building is not up to the plan, and the end of it all throws its shadow before. We all know what that was. Alas, he had not sufficiently examined himself; he had not sufficiently counted the cost. He did not know all he was doing when he separated himself from the world's companionship, and resolved to take up the cross of Christ. Better never to have asserted a superiority to the world at all, than, having assumed the position by leaving it, thereafter to renounce it by going back. When Pliable re-entered the City of Destruction with the mud of his expedition bespattering his clothes, and its terrors still pale on his face, the city was moved round about trim, and we read that some called him foolish for going, and others called him wise for coming back. But I can fancy that even these did not quite take the erring one back to their arms, nor forget the facts of his escapade, and that all the time he went in and out in the midst of them the consciousness never faded from their hearts, the sneer never passed from their lips. And when the man who has begun to build the tower of a religious profession, and is compelled to leave it unfinished, slinks back to the comrades his enterprise has offended, saying, "Brothers, I find I have made a mistake; I am, after all, no better than yourselves; I will henceforth make amends for my folly by dwelling in a house and sitting at a table like your own," think you that the world will have any sympathy or respect for him? It may applaud him to his face, but behind his back there will ever be the pointed finger and the whispered scoff: "That man began to build, and was not able to finish." For, oh! here is the solemn thought. The man may change his mind, but the fabric he has reared remains notwithstanding, the monument of his pride and his folly alike, unhonoured, untenanted, and unfinished. There the building stands, in the words of seeming sincerity the man has spoken, in the Christian teaching he has published, in the Christian schemes he has launched, all which he has long since abandoned, because he had failed to lay his account with the difficulties, had forgotten to count the cost. And through all time the unfinished fabric shall remain, the sorrow of the Church and the triumph of the world, ay, and perhaps throughout eternity too, as the rebuke of conscience and the taunt of the lost. Hitherto we have moved only along the strict lines of the parable, and narrowed ourselves to the special thought that the Saviour was enforcing at the time. But there are several thoughts in connection with the passage before us, which, though not exactly in it, are so closely akin to it and so naturally suggested by it, that we cannot quite omit them.

1. And first, are there any among us who have been saying to themselves, "But we have been building the tower. Ours has been a Christian profession ever since our earliest years. And really we have had no experience of the difficulties of which you speak. So far as we know, our operations have wakened no one's envy, and provoked no one's hostility." And do you think, therefore, that the statements already made as to the costliness of a Christian profession are overdrawn and exaggerated, suitable perhaps to the times in which the Saviour spoke, but scarcely suitable to our own. Remember, however, ye who speak thus, that there is an evil quite as bad as unfinished building, and that is unstable building.

2. Then, again, it follows from all this, that we are to be cautious and careful in our judgments as to those around us, whom we might have expected to build, but who seem to hesitate. Of the utterly indifferent, who have never yet faced the matter nor once realized the claims of Christ, we do not, of course, speak. But there are others who have not yet taken up a Christian position, not from want of thought, but rather because they are thinking so deeply. They, at any rate, are sensible of the cost, and are settling down to count it. And that is better than the conduct of the man who complacently offers God a service that costs him nothing, and perseveres in his presumption, or of the man who rashly begins what is costly, and then desists.

3. But thirdly, a word in closing to this very class, — the backward and reluctant. Brother, you are counting the cost. You do well to count it. Christ here counsels you to count it. And you feel, do you, that it is a risk that you cannot honestly face? Far better, do you say, to be a consistent man of the world than an imperfect professor of religion — like him who began the tower, and was not able to finish? True, again; but is your state of hesitation therefore defensible? Do you think Christ bids any man sit down and count the cost of the project only that he may renounce it altogether? Nay, verily; it is only that out of a deep sense of your weakness you may be driven to ask the needed strength from Himself, and, knowing that you have not the wherewithal to carry on the fabric He nevertheless seeks you to rear, you may be thrown on the helpfulness and ready supplies of Him who giveth liberally and upbraideth not.

(W. Gray.)

The great fact which our Lord designs to illustrate is this — that numbers embrace the gospel from reasons that are not conclusive, and when stronger reasons, as they appear to them, arise in their intercourse with social life, they lightly renounce a creed they lightly adopted.

I. First, there are THOSE WHO ACCEPT RELIGION MERELY FROM IMPULSE, They are constitutionally the creatures of impulse. One man is the creature of feeling; another is more the creature of intellectual conviction; another is more borne away or decided in his course by fact. The Scotchman must have strong arguments; the Irishman must have eloquent appeals; and the Englishman must have hard matter of fact. Each nation has its idiosyncracy; each individual his peculiar temperament. Men who are the creatures of strong and impetuous emotion, subscribe to a creed, if I may use the expression, on the spur of the moment, and because they feel profoundly, they think they are convinced, and that the creed which they adopt is demonstrable and necessarily true. Now, I answer — this will not be sufficient to keep you steadfast. This is commencing the "tower," before you have laid a fit foundation; this is plunging into a conflict whilst you have not the weapons that will enable you to conquer. Feeling in religion is right; but feeling must not be all. An eloquent appeal may move you, but it ought not to decide you.

II. In the second place, there is THE RELIGION OF THE CROWD. Many men are religious in a crowd, who are most irreligious when alone. They like what seems to be popular; they can be Christians in the mass, but not Christians when insulated from others. Many a soldier is a coward when alone, but he becomes a hero in his rank and place in the battalion.

III. There is a third sort of religion — THE RELIGION OF MERE CIRCUMSTANCE. People often accept the religion of those they love, and with whom they associate.

IV. There are others whose religion is simply the religion of tradition. An outside robe; not the inner life.

V. There is another religion which may be called, THE RELIGION OF SENTIMENT. This religion is nourished by all the beautiful and the romantic. It is the religion of Athens rather than the religion of Jerusalem —the religion of painters and of poets, rather than the religion of thinking and intellectual minds.

VI. There is another religion which is equally false; and that is THE RELIGION OF MERE FORM. It regards the outer aspect of things; not the inner light. This is not a religion that will stand.

VII. And in the next place let me add, there is THE RELIGION OF INTELLECT. If some profess Christianity from sentimental sympathy with its beautiful parts, and others profess Christianity from admiration of its ritual, or its form, there are others who profess Christianity from deep intellectual apprehension of it; and yet theirs is a religion that will not stand.

VIII. And, lastly, there is another religion which will still more surprise you when I say that it also may be a religion that will not stand — THE RELIGION OF CONSCIENCE. It is possible for conscience to be in religion, and yet your heart not to be the subject of living and experimental Christianity. You will go to the house of God because your conscience would torment you if you did not do so. But is this the beautiful, the blessed, the happy religion of Jesus? Such service is slavery; such duties drudgery; and such a religion is a ceaseless and perpetual penance, and not "righteousness and peace in the Holy Ghost."

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

THE COST ATTENDING THE CHRISTIAN PROFESSION.

1. In order to be the disciples of Christ, there is much that we must instantly renounce It is a profession of holiness: it, therefore, demands the immediate renunciation of criminal and forbidden pleasures. By His gospel, and by His Son, God has "called us, not to uncleanness, but to holiness"; so that he that despiseth the precepts of purity, despiseth not man but God.

2. The Christian profession is spiritual, and therefore requires the renunciation of the world.

3. In order to be a disciple it is necessary, in the concerns of conscience, to renounce every authority but that of Christ. The connection of a Christian with the Saviour is not merely that of a disciple with his teacher; it is the relation of a subject to his prince. "One is your Master, even Christ."

4. The cost of which we are speaking relates to what we are to expect. In general, to commence the profession of a Christian, is to enter upon a formidable and protracted warfare; it is to engage in an arduous contest, in which many difficulties are to be surmounted, many enemies overcome. The path that was trod by the great Leader is that which must be pursued by all his followers.

5. The cost of the Christian profession stands related to the term and duration of the engagement — "Be thou faithful unto death." It is coeval with life.

II. WHY, WE SAY, IS IT EXPEDIENT FOR THOSE WHO PROPOSE TO BECOME CHRISTIANS TO "COUNT THE COST"?

1. It will obviate a sense of ridicule and of shame (see the context).

2. It will render the cost less formidable when it occurs.

3. If it diminishes the number of those who make a public and solemn profession, this will be more than retrieved by the superior character of those who make it. The Church will be spared much humiliation; Satan and the world deprived of many occasions of triumph.

III. THE REASONS WHICH SHOULD DETERMINE OUR ADHERENCE TO CHRIST, NOTWITHSTANDING THE COST WHICH ATTENDS IT.

1. His absolute right to command or claim our attachment.

2. The pain attending the sacrifices necessary to the Christian profession greatly alleviated from a variety of sources.

3. No comparison betwixt the cost and the advantages.

(R. Hall, M. A.)

The cost of a Christian profession, if it be genuine and true. Alas! to be called Christian, to have the Christian name, to pass muster with the world as a Christian, is a light and little thing; and as John Bunyan well paints in his admirable portraiture of the false as well as the true professor; "There are many By-ends, who like to go with religion when religion goes in silver slippers, who love to walk with him in the street, if the sun shines and the people applaud him, but such By-ends will not pass muster in the great day." They may be esteemed members of the visible Church, but the question is, " Will they stand the test in the great day, when the Lord comes to reckon with the servants?" If, indeed, we understand the Christian profession as Jesus portrays it, we cannot suppose it is a thing that does not require to be weighed well. There is a cost, there is a sacrifice to be counted upon, there are difficulties and dangers to be looked forward to, there is much to be borne up against that will be hard to bear, and on these things we are to decide. If a man must thus deny himself in order to be a soldier of his country, how much more must he deny himself to be a soldier under the Captain of his salvation? He requires us to renounce His enemies, who are our foes, let us not forget, though we naturally regard them as our friends. Our sympathies are with them, and our desires and tastes lead us captive after them. A man must make his election; will you have Jesus to be your Redeemer? But we must not glance only at what a man must forego, but at what he must undergo; and here is the part of the cost that many shrink from. For instance, a young man is entangled in the midst of worldly connections, and he begins to look more serious, and to go to church, and to read his Bible regularly, and to find out that he is disinclined to go to the theatre, and to scenes of rioting and revelling, and to join the multitude to do evil. He knows what will follow, but the cross must be taken up. He will be laughed at by the silly and ungodly. And therefore, brethren, there is a cost; a man must undergo shame and the cross; it will not do to dismiss it, to muzzle it, to step over it even in order to escape it, for, as the Master tells us, "If any man will come after Me, he must bear his cross" daily and hourly. If a man counts the cost, he counts also the help and succour he shall find; for he knows his weakness, and he learns his strength; and if he finds himself encompassed with danger, he will not rush into the temptation, but he will nestle beneath the Almighty wings, and shelter beneath the ark of safety. In the first place, if a man count the cost of taking up the standard, and enlisting in the army of Christ, he has to obey the simple claims of Christ as one in whom there is power and authority. And then, brethren, let us not forget that if the service of Christ has its sorrows, it has its joys; if it has its self-denials, it has its self-indulgences; if here there are thorns and briers, the world above has everlasting flowers, and heavenly violets, and sweet-smelling lilies, that shed a fragrance around all and above all; and though the way may be narrow, it is a straight one; it has no pitfalls, no traps, no bitter fears, no dark forebodings, no haunting spirits, but it has the "promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." It saves a man from a thousand snares, it shields him from a thousand dark remorses, it guards him from a thousand fearful misgivings, and enables him to look God and man in the face. Can the world, or the service of the world, do that? Then, to sum up all, if we cast into the balance of gains "life everlasting," surely that must make the scale touch the ground, and the opposite scale strike the beam. "What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" "I reckon," said one, who had large experience of the world's trials, "that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Can language go further? And that is not the language of a fanatic or a fool, but of the Spirit of God, teaching us through one whom He had taught with Divine wisdom, that overcoming is heroism. The heroism of the Cross — that is true heroism.

(H. Stowell, M. A.)

I. WHAT IT COSTS TO BE A TRUE CHRISTIAN.

1. It will cost a man his self-righteousness. He must be content to go to heaven as a poor sinner saved only by free grace, and owing all to the merit and righteousness of another. "Sir," said a godly ploughman to the well-known James Hervey, of Weston Favell, "it is harder to deny proud self than sinful self. But it is absolutely necessary."

2. It will cost a man his sins. No truce with any one of them. This also sounds hard. Our sins are often as dear to us as our children: we love them, hug them, cleave to them, and delight in them. To part with them is as hard as cutting off a right hand, or plucking out a right eye. But it must be done.

3. It will cost a man his love of ease. He must take pains and trouble, if he means to run a successful race towards heaven. He must be careful over his time, his tongue, his temper, his thoughts, his imagination, his motives, his conduct in every relation of life.

4. It will cost a man the favour of the world. He must count it no strange thing to be mocked, ridiculed, slandered, persecuted, and even hated.

II. WHY COUNTING THE COST IS OF SUCH GREAT IMPORTANCE TO MAN'S SOUL. There are many persons who are not thoughtless about religion: they think a good deal about it. They are not ignorant of religion: they know the outlines of it pretty well. But their great defect is that they are not "rooted and grounded" in their faith. For want of "counting the cost" myriads of the children of Israel perished miserably in the wilderness between Egypt and Canaan. For want of "counting the cost" many of our Lord Jesus Christ's hearers went back after a time, and "walked no more with Him." For want of "counting the cost," hundreds of professed converts, under religious revivals, go back to the world after a time and bring disgrace on religion. They begin with a sadly mistaken notion of what is true Christianity. They fancy it consists in nothing more than a so-called " coming to Christ," and having strong inward feelings of joy and peace. And so, when they find after a time that there is a cross to be carried, that our hearts are deceitful, and that there is a busy devil always near us, they cool down in disgust, and return to their old sins. And why? Because they had really never known what Bible Christianity is. For want of "counting the cost," the children of religious parents often turn out ill, and bring disgrace on Christianity. And why? They had never thoroughly understood the sacrifices which Christianity entails. They had never been taught to "count the cost."

III. Hints which may help men to count the cost rightly. Set down honestly and fairly what you will have to give up and go through if you become Christ's disciple. Leave nothing out. But then set down side by side the following sums which I am going to give you. Do this fairly and correctly, and I am not afraid for the result.

1. Count up and compare, for one thing, the profit and the loss, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly lose something in this world, but you will gain the salvation of your immortal soul.

2. Count up and compare, for another thing, the praise and the blame, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. You may possibly be blamed by man, but you will have the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

3. Count up and compare, for another thing, the friends and the enemies, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. On the one side of you is the enmity of the devil and the wicked. On the other, you have the favour and friendship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your enemies at most can only bruise your heel. They may rage loudly, and compass sea and land to work your ruin; but they cannot destroy you. Your Friend is able to save to the uttermost all them that come unto God by Him.

4. Count up and compare, for another thing, the life that now is and the life to come, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. The time present, no doubt, is not a time of ease. It is a time of watching and praying, fighting and struggling, believing and working. But it is only for a few years. The lime future is the season of rest and refreshing. Sin shall be east out.

5. Count up and compare, for another thing, the pleasures of sin and the happiness of God's service, if you are a true-hearted and holy Christian. The pleasures that the worldly man gets by his ways are hollow, unreal, and unsatisfying. They are like the fire of thorns, flashing and crackling for a few minutes, and then quenched for ever. The happiness that Christ gives to His people is something solid, lasting, and substantial It is not dependent on health or circumstances. It never leaves a man, even in death.

6. Count up and compare, for another thing, the trouble that true Christianity entails, and the troubles that are in store for the wicked beyond the grave. Such sums as these, no doubt, are often not done correctly. Not a few, I am well aware, are ever "halting between two opinions." They cannot make up their minds that it is worth while to serve Christ. They cannot do this great sum correctly. They cannot make the result so clear as it ought to be. But what is the secret of their mistakes? It is want of faith. That faith which made Noah, Moses, and St. Paul do what they did, that faith is the great secret of coming to a right conclusion about our souls. That same faith must be our helper and ready-reckoner when we sit down to count the cost of being a true Christian. That same faith, is to be had. for the asking.. "He giveth more. grace" (James 4:6). Armed with that faith we shall set things down at their true value. Filled with that faith we shall neither add to the cross nor subtract from the crown. Our conclusions will be all correct. Our sum total will be without error.

(Bishop Ryle.)

I. The entrance upon, and progress in, a religious life, may, with some considerable propriety, be COMPARED TO THE BUILDING OF A TOWER. Something to be done by us. Many graces to be exercised, many temptations to be resisted, many enemies to be vanquished, and many duties to be performed. The power of religion must first be felt, then a profession of it made, and, last of all, care taken to adorn the profession; the whole of which may be compared to building a tower, because —

1. There must be a foundation to support the building. Christ — the foundation of doctrinal, experimental, and practical' religion.

2. It is a work of labour and difficulty. Requires exertion of all the strength we have, and every day fresh supplies out of the fulness of Christ.

3. A gradual work. A tower reaching to heaven. Patient continuance in welt-doing.

4. A visible work. The Christian is a spectacle to world, angels, and men. His sufferings make him so; his conduct, so different from that of others, makes him so; and though the springs of his life are "hid," yet the workings and effect of it are manifest to the world. Grace makes a visible change in the temper and conversation.

5. A durable work. True religion is like a strong and well-built tower, secure itself, and a security to its builder. The foundation and materials of it are both lasting.

II. THIS WORK CALLS FOR GREAT CAUTION AND CIRCUMSPECTION.

1. The Christian will consider beforehand the certain and necessary expense.

(1)Remorse for past sin.

(2)Conflict with spiritual enemies.

(3)Corruptions to be mortified.

2. To this he will add the possible and contingent expense. Not only what it must, but what it may, cost him. Friends may desert him, enemies assail, and a thousand obstacles be thrown in the way to discourage him.

3. There is another kind of expense which such a one will also take into account, not only what it will cost him, but what — if I may be allowed to use the expression — it must cost God, before He can finish his work. The Spirit of God must afford him His continual aid, and Christ's strength must be made perfect in his weakness. No spiritual duty can be performed without a Divine influence.

4. To the labour and expense he is at, he will oppose tim benefits and advantages hoped for. The cross is the way to the crown.

5. Where this caution and circumspection is neglected, it is an instance of egregious folly, and will expose to universal shame and contempt.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Such uncompleted buildings, open to all the winds and rains of heaven, with their naked walls, and with all that has been spent upon them utterly wasted, are called in the language of the world, which often finds so apt a word, This man's, or that man's Folly; arguing as they do so utter a lack of wisdom and prevision on their parts who began them. Such, for example, is Charles the Fifth's palace at Granada, the Kattenburg at Cassel. They that would be Christ's disciples shall see to it that they present no such Babels to the ready scorn of the scornful; beginning as men that would take heaven by storm, and anon coming to an end of all their resources, of all their zeal, all their patience, and leaving nothing but an utterly baffled purpose, the mocking-stock of the world; even as those builders of old left nothing but a shapeless heap of bricks to tell of the entire miscalculation which they had made. Making mention of "a tower," I cannot but think that the Lord intended an allusion to that great historic tower, the mightiest and most signal failure and defeat which the world has ever seen, that tower of Babel, which, despite of its vainglorious and vaunting beginning, ended in the shame, confusion, and scattering of all who undertook it (Genesis 11:1-9).

(Archbishop Trench.)

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