April 8 PDF Print E-mail
"If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead." — Philippians 3:11.

Here the subject of consideration is, the resurrection of the dead. But it is obvious the Apostle does not refer to it as an event for as an event it will be universal, and we shall be the subjects of it, whether we are willing or unwilling, for there will be "a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and of the unjust." But he refers to it as a privilege. That can hardly be called a deliverance that takes a man out of a bad condition, and consigns him to a worse. What is it for a criminal to be led out of prison to be tried, and condemned, and executed? What is it for the body to be revived, but not renovated, inheriting the principles of all the evils entailed upon it by sin, and rendered immortal for the duration of misery? The grave is better than hell. But while some will come forth unto the resurrection of damnation, others will come forth unto the resurrection of life — a resurrection that shall change the vile body, and fashion it like the Saviour's own glorious body, and complete all that the Saviour has procured for us, and the Gospel has promised to us.

With regard to the acquisition of a share in this blessedness, the Apostle makes use of language that implies valuation, difficulty, variety, submission: "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

It implies valuation of the object. Things may be important in themselves, and not prized by those whom they concern. And we see this with regard to the blessings of the Gospel: for though they are as superior to all worldly good as the heavens are higher than the earth, yet men make light of them and were we to judge of eternal salvation by the regard paid to it by the multitude, we should consider it a trifle unworthy a moment's serious thought. But what is it in the view of awakened souls? The "pilgrim," when leaving the City of Destruction, and implored by his friends and family to return, put his fingers in his ears, and ran, crying. "Life! life! eternal life!" Such wait for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning. They hunger and thirst after righteousness. "They count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord." "Every thing," says Paul, "compared with this, is nothing." This is the prize of my high calling. If I miss it, I am undone for ever. If I reach it, the possession will realize all my hopes and desires. The very prospect, as I can make it my own, enlivens and cheers me in all my labours and sufferings. "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead."

It implies the difficulty of the acquirement. All excellent things require application and diligence; and he who rationally expects success must be determined, and bring his mind to exertion and endurance. What pains and patience are necessary to attain human learning! " There is no royal way to geometry." And is Divine wisdom the prey of the idle and careless? Must we labour for the meat that perisheth; and can we, without labour, obtain that meat which endureth unto everlasting life? No, says the Saviour, even in the very passage in which he speaks of "giving it;" where it is obvious, therefore, that the giving is not opposed to diligence, but desert. How readest thou? "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling." "Fight the good light of faith, and lay hold on eternal life." But take those who, in their religion, know nothing of the privations and hardships of the soldier; nothing of the unbending alacrity of the racer; who never redeemed their time; whose day is only distinguished from their night by the substitution of sloth for sleep; who exercise no self-denial; who never mortify the deeds of the body; whose souls do not follow hard after God — would it not be perfectly absurd for one of these to say, "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead!"

It implies variety in the manner of reaching glory. This does not apply to the procuring of the blessing. This is done already. Jesus said, as he expired, "It is finished." He made peace by the blood of his cross, and brought in everlasting righteousness, and all that believe on him are justified from all things. At the Deluge people could be drowned any where; but there was only one ark. The way of salvation has been always the same from the beginning, but the methods by which this salvation is applied are various. Various are the means employed in our conversion, and various are the courses of duty in which we actually obtain the promise. All the Lord's people obey, for he is the author of eternal salvation only to them that obey him; but they are called to obey in very different ways. One is required to act the Christian in single, another in relative life. One fills a public station; another, a private. Some are to receive with gratitude; others are to give with cheerfulness. Some must discharge the duties of prosperity; others those of adversity. Our sufferings, too, vary as well as our services. One glorifies God by bearing reproach and persecution; another by enduring bodily pain and infirmities. These have much outward trouble, and those more inward conflict. Each is to take up his cross, and to follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. For,

Finally, it implies submission; not prescribing, not objecting, but referring every thing to the divine pleasure: "If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Whatever they are, I bow to them." This implicit submission is necessary, to evince the earnestness, and even sincerity of our conviction. If a patient really believes, and feels his disease and danger, he will show it by readiness to yield to the remedies the physician enjoins, however trying they may be. Here, indeed, the great contention lies with many. It does not regard the end: they would have heaven, but not by any means; it must be by those of their own devising or choosing. Are not the rivers of Damascus better than all the waters of Jordan? May I not wash in them, and be clean? But when a man is at the point to die for ever, he will acquiesce in any means of deliverance, however mysterious to his reason, however humiliating to his pride, however adverse to his sin and sloth.

God will have the whole management of our case, or he will have nothing to do with it. And he ought to have it. The submission is an homage due to his sovereignty. We have no claim upon him, and it is mercy and grace the most wonderful, that he will save and bless us at all. We owe it, also, to his wisdom and goodness; for, though he is a Sovereign, in the exercise of his prerogative he does not act arbitrarily, but does all things well; his work is perfect. The issue, too, is such as to justify our submission to any means in securing it. In earthly things, the honey does not always pay for the sting; nor the rose for the thorns. But here the success will infinitely more than remunerate all our services and sacrifices. And the success also is sure. How many cases are there, in which means, any means, may be used in vain? The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. In every department of human enterprise, the successful candidates are few. Yea, the event in no other pursuit is infallible. But if you are like-minded with Paul, you need not fear the result. The gate of mercy was never yet shut against a returning sinner. Their heart shall live that seek God.

Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
By Rev. William Jay

 
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