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loss, that, "when he had nothing, he accounted himself as possessing all things;" and actually "took pleasure in all his necessities and distresses, from a consideration of the benefit which would accrue from them to himself, and the glory to his Lord and Masterk." St. Peter confirms this view of the subject most fully, and in terms too which are peculiarly applicable to the case before us: for he declares, that the sufferings of God's people are "Christ's sufferings;" that from them arises much honour to God, and much benefit to the soul; and that they are rather to be accounted grounds of joy, than occasions of sorrow and regret'. To these I will only add the testimony of our Lord himself, who, in the epistle to the Church of Smyrna says, "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty; but thou art rich"."
After such testimonies as these, we cannot but approve the conduct to which our text refers.]
From this subject then we may SEE,
1. How erroneous are the views of worldly men!
[The men of this world set a high value on the things of time and sense, whilst sin appears in their eyes but a light and venial evil. By them, suffering is more dreaded than sin: and the loss of an opportunity of honouring God is of no account in comparison of the loss of great honours and great emoluments. They will strain every nerve to combine the irreconcileable services of God and mammon: and, if the one or the other must be sacrificed, they will hold fast their pleasures, their riches, and their honours, instead of parting with them for the Lord, "To forsake all and follow Christ," is to them a hard lesson, which they cannot, and will not, learn. But the example of Moses must be followed by us all, so far at least as our circumstances are similar to his. We must all confess Christ openly before men. We must all unite ourselves to his people, and take our portion with them. Whatever cross may lay in our way, we must take it up cheerfully, and bear it after him, "going forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach".' We are not indeed of necessity called to renounce the highest distinctions: because they may be held, and the most important offices in the state may be executed, in perfect consistency with our duty to God; as no doubt they were by Daniel: but if the hope of acquiring eminence, or the fear of losing it, deter us from the performance of any duty, or lead us to a compliance with any sin, we are then called to take the decided part that Moses did, and to forsake all for Christ. Let us then not seek great things
i 2 Cor. vi. 10. m Rev. ii. 9.
k 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10. 1 1 Pet. iv. 12-14. n Heb. xiii. 13.
either for ourselves or our children: or, if we possess them, let us not seek our happiness in them, but in God alone. If we possess not his favour, though we had kingdoms in our possession, we are poor: but if he be our God, then, though bereft of every thing else, we are rich.]
2. How blessed they are who live by faith!
[True it is that the whole of their life is foolishness in the eyes of unconverted men: and they must of necessity meet with many reproaches and persecutions for the truth's sake. But, notwithstanding all that they are, or can be, called to endure for righteousness' sake, the very worst of their portion is better than the best of the portion of ungodly men: the best that the world can give, is its treasures: and the worst that the believer can receive, is its reproaches and persecutions: yet is the reproach which the believer sustains for Christ's sake, greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt. How superior then must the believer's portion be in the eternal world! If the believer in a dungeon is richer, and happier, than the unbeliever on a throne, what must his portion in heaven be when compared with the unbeliever's in hell! Be not dejected, then, ye who are despised or persecuted for Christ's sake, but by faith view your privileges, and expect your reward. Our blessed Lord has set forth the worst of your portion, and pronounced you in the midst of all "blessed." And he has set forth the best of the unbeliever's portion, and denounced nothing but "woes" against him in the midst of all. Take but eternity into your estimate of things, and have respect unto the recompense of your reward in heaven; then will every sacrifice be small, every suffering light, every service easy. In such a frame you will rejoice to suffer shame for Christ's sake, and account death itself, though of the most violent and cruel kind, a subject of desire rather than of fear, of self-congratulation rather than of sorrow P.]
• Luke vi. 20-26.
P Phil. ii. 17.
FAITH SEEING THE INVISIBLE GOD.
Heb. xi. 27. He endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
NOT any one of all the catalogue of worthies in the Old Testament, not even Abraham himself, stands higher than Moses; who, when possessed of all that rank and affluence could confer on man, abandoned
it all, that he might participate the lot of his oppressed and persecuted brethren. He was assured, indeed, that God would compensate to him all the losses which he sustained; and "he had respect to the recompence of that reward." But he would not have been able to maintain his stand as he did, if he had not found a present support from God. On his first attempt to deliver Israel, about forty years before, he had failed, partly through precipitation, in killing the Egyptian, and partly through fear, in fleeing from the grasp of his enraged enemies. But now he maintained his steadfastness, and executed his commission with undaunted courage; because he saw, by faith, that God who is invisible to the eye of sense: "he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible."
This remarkable expression will lead me to shew, I. The peculiar faculty with which believers are endowed
By nature, they possess no other faculty than is common to the unregenerate world and to represent piety as proceeding from, or as indicative of, a new sense, is to open a way for the grossest enthusiasm, or rather for the entire exculpation of all who do not possess it: for, a man who never possessed the sense of seeing or hearing could contract no criminality whatever by acting as one who was blind or deaf. Yet, if I may be allowed to follow the paradoxical expression of my text, the believer has a faculty peculiar to himself, a faculty of "seeing" an object that is invisible, even "God himself, who is invisible."
Believers do see the invisible God
[God, it is true, is, in his essence, invisible: "he dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto; and no man hath seen him, or can see." Yet does faith bring him so powerfully before the mind of believers, that they may be said to 66 see" him; because they are as much assured of his presence, as if they beheld him with their bodily eyes. We all know the effect of glasses of different forms; either as magnifying an object, so as to make it visible, notwithstanding
its smallness; or as bringing it near to us, notwithstanding its vast distance, within the reach of our visual organs. I mean not to say that there is any just comparison between these artificial aids and faith; but, when we consider what we ourselves can effect by such helps, we may, without any great difficulty, imagine the power which God himself has given to faith.]
They have a realizing sense of his presence with them
[It is manifest that Moses saw God with him, just as Elisha " saw the chariots of fire and horses of fire" that encompassed him. Thus does every believer, in proportion as his faith is lively and operative, view God present with him. God is with his people, as a witness, to observe their conduct: he is with them, as a protector, to deliver them from danger: he is with them, as a provider, so that, "though lions do lack and suffer hunger, they that serve him shall want no manner of thing that is good." He is with them, too, as a comforter, who will make their consolations to abound above all their afflictions: and as a rewarder will he recompense into their bosom all that they either do or suffer for him. In all these views, Moses, no doubt, beheld him: and to the very end of time will he thus reveal himself to all his believing people.]
This being their exclusive privilege, I will proceed
II. The advantage they derive from it in the divine life
From this realizing view of the Divine presence, believers obtain,
1. Firmness in acting—
[Moses was undaunted by the menaces of Pharaoha. Nay, more: he, in his turn, warned Pharaoh, that all the firstborn of Egypt, even of Pharaoh's own household, should die that very night; and that the very courtiers around the throne should come bowing to him, and entreating him with all the children of Israel, to depart out of the land: and that then he would go, whether Pharaoh should consent to it or not. Such is the firmness which a sense of the Divine presence will give to every believer. Whoever it be that threatens him, or whatever the threat contain, his answer will be, "Whether it be right to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but do the things which God
has required of us." Thus it was that faith operated in the Hebrew Youths. In vain was the furnace lighted before them: they could not be diverted from their purpose to serve the Lord. Their reply to the enraged monarch was decisive: "Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy godsd." Trials to the same extent are not at this day experienced amongst us: but there will be enough to prove the courage of all who profess to serve the Lord: and whilst the unbelieving are intimidated and turned back, the true believer will "endure, as seeing Him that is invisible."] 2. Composure in suffering
[It was no grief to Moses that he had given up all the treasures of Egypt, or that he had undertaken to "suffer affliction with the people of God." "The yoke of Christ to him was both light and easy." And thus it is to every true believer. The Apostles, when beaten for their fidelity to Christ," rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his sakee." And Paul and Silas, with their feet in the stocks, and their backs torn with scourges, "sang praises to God at midnight'." Thus, in all cases where a man has a realizing sense of the Divine presence, the cross which he has to bear, is rather a ground of glorying than of complaints, and causes him to "rejoice and leap for joyh." The light of God's countenance lifted up upon him, infinitely more than counterbalances any bodily pains; so that, however his afflictions may abound, his consolations outweigh them all.]
3. Confidence in conflicting
[Moses, as we have seen, had no doubt about the issue of the contest between him and Pharaoh. And to every true believer this will be a self-evident truth: "If God be for me, who can be against mei?" Extremely animated is the prophet's description of this state of mind: "The Lord God will help me therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint; and I know that I shall not be ashamed. He is near that justifieth me: who will contend with me? let us stand together: who is mine adversary? let him come near to me. Behold, the Lord God will help me: who is he that shall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax old like a garment; the moth (the weakest creature in the universe) shall eat them up." To this effect St. Paul speaks at large, defying all the creatures in the universe to separate him
c Acts iv. 19, 20. f Acts xvi. 25. Rom. viii. 31.
d Dan. iii. 17, 18
k Isai. l. 7-9.
e Acts v. 41.