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atonement and righteousness of Christ; and "count "all but loss, that you may win him, and be found "in him." Disregard the scorn and reproach of "an unbelieving world; anticipating that day when every eye shall see the despised Redeemer, and his favour be universally allowed to be of more value than ten thousand worlds." Let every one," however, "that nameth the name of Christ depart "from iniquity." "If we say that we have faith, "and have not works, will faith save us," in the day "when the Lord shall render unto every man "according to his deeds?" Alas! a dead faith, a presumptuous hope, and an unsound profession, will only increase the anguish and shame of final condemnation.
Even if we be true believers, negligence and loose walking will cloud our evidence, and weaken our warranted confidence: while the greatest possible encouragement is given to all genuine good works, by that very system which excludes boasting, and allows none of our services the least share in our justification before God. "Not a cup of cold "water given to a disciple, from love to Christ, "shall lose its reward." He will accept every kindness to those whom we look upon as his brethren, even as if we had done it to him in person: and while we forgive injuries, love enemies, deny ourselves, endure hardships, or bear any from love to his name, and desire to adorn and recommend his gospel; he notices our poor services, and will applaud and reward them before men and angels. Nay, if he observe, that we form plans and make attempts to promote his cause and be serviceable to his people; even though he see
good to disappoint our endeavours; he will kindly accept the zealous intention, and openly say, "Thou didst well that it was in thine heart."1 "Let us not therefore be weary in well-doing, for "in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." And " may we all find mercy of the Lord in that "day of retribution," and have an abundant entrance into his kingdom of everlasting glory and felicity!
1 1 Kings viii. 18.
1 TIMOTHY VI. 6.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
THE desire of gain, in one form or another, is universal for, though no one can seek "the true "riches" for himself without disinterested love to God and his neighbour, yet love to himself and thirst after happiness cannot be extinguished; being essential to our nature as God originally constituted it, and not superinduced by the entrance of sin. If, however, the apostle's compendious maxim were generally believed, how many vain projects would be superseded! what fatigues, dangers, anxieties, envies, contentions, frauds, oppressions, wars, murders, and mischiefs might be prevented!
The context is worthy of our peculiar attention. The servants in those days were generally slaves; and it frequently happened that Christians were the property of pagans, Such a condition is commonly thought very wretched, and slaves have seldom escaped cruel usage: yet the apostle elsewhere says, "Art thou called being a servant ? care "not for it." The Christian slave is "Christ's "freed man;" for, "if the Son make you free, "then are ye free indeed:" but the ungodly master' is in deplorable bondage; " for he that committeth "sin, is the servant of sin."
In this view of the subject the apostle here says, "Let as many servants as are under the yoke "count their own masters worthy of all honour; "that the name of God and his doctrine be not "blasphemed." For, if Christian servants behaved less respectfully to their masters than others did, the heathen would blame their religion, as teaching them to violate the duties of their station. "And they," says he, "that have believing mas"ters, let them not despise them because they are "brethren; but rather do them service, because
they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the "benefit." No doubt the involuntary servitude of those, who have not by atrocious crimes forfeited their liberty, is inconsistent with the moral law of God; and, if real Christianity should become universal, slavery must be finally abolished. But the apostles were not legislators or civil magistrates: as ministers of religion, they taught men how to act in their several situations, as matters then stood: and, when the rulers embraced the gospel, it was proper that they too should be taught their duty, and instructed to apply a legal and regular remedy to the evil. But it would have exceedingly increased the opposition made to the gospel, if the preachers of it had attempted, by their own influence, to subvert the existing system in this respect; or had even required Christian masters indiscriminately to liberate their slaves. Whereas, if they were taught to use them as brethren, the ends of humanity would be effectually answered, as to the individuals concerned, and the example would have the most salutary tendency.
Having stated this matter, the apostle next shewed the sources and consequences of the contrary doctrine; exhorted Timothy to withdraw from vain disputers, who "supposed that gain was "godliness ;" and then subjoined the words of the text, "but godliness with contentment is great gain;" for, says he, "we brought nothing into "this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing "out. And, having food and raiment, let us be "therewith content."
In considering the subject we may,
I. Notice the connexion between godliness and contentment :
II. Shew in what respects godliness with contentment is great gain :
III. Deduce some practical instructions.
I. We notice the connexion between godliness and contentment, as it is evidently implied in the text.
The word godliness frequently occurs in the writings of the apostles, and must therefore be understood according to the tenour of their doctrine. We must not consider it merely as a proper regulation of our affections and conduct towards God, according to the first table of the moral law; but as implying especially the dispositions and demeanour suited to a sinner under a dispensation of mercy, and invited to reconciliation with his offended God through the mediator of the new covenant.
When this has been duly attended to it will evidently appear, that deep humility and unfeigned repentance constitute an essential part of evangelical godliness; for, unless we habitually possess