"Holding forth the word of life." — Philippians 2:16
The apostles did this supernaturally. They received their commission immediately from God, and were preserved from all mistakes in delivering his counsel, and could work miracles in confirmation and in defence of it.
Ministers do this officially. They pretend to no original communications from God, no new discoveries; they derive what they publish from the Scriptures, and they call upon you to prove whether these things are so. Yet their preaching is a divine ordinance, a work which an angel might covet, the simple design of which is to hold forth the word of life.
But there are many ways of doing this, common to all Christians. And they are the persons the apostle here addresses. They may hold it forth by their profession. This is not to be considered as a substitute for experience, but as flowing from it. Experience is a secret thing between God and their own souls, but their religion is to be visible as well as real. They that are in darkness are to show themselves; and we are to confess with the mouth as well as to believe with the heart, unto salvation. They may hold it forth by example. This must evince the sincerity, and conduce to the efficacy of your profession. You are required to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called, and to constrain others, by your good works which they behold, to glorify God in the day of visitation. Nothing is so eloquent as the silence of a holy, consistent, and lovely life. Actions speak louder than words, and by these you can cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of, or adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. It is thus all can be "holders forth," whatever be their condition, and without leaving their place and station. This is the way in which servants are to preach to their masters and mistresses, and children to their parents. Indeed, with regard to all of us,
"Thus shall we best proclaim aloud
This is not however to hinder express exertions. By these, when the life is in accordance with them, much may be often done. There are few so situated and limited, as not to have some opportunities and influences by which they may be useful, and in a much greater degree than they are aware of, if they will seize them with simplicity, and diligence, and prayer. The talents of men are various; but the servant who has only one talent will be condemned if he wraps it up in a napkin. When we cannot do much individually, we can do something by joining with others, and recommending and aiding those institutions which aim at the diffusion of the cause of Christ. We cannot translate the Scriptures into other tongues, but we can circulate them. We are not at liberty to go abroad ourselves, but we can be fellow-helpers to the truth, by contributing to missions. Silver and gold we have none, but we can apply to those who have. We are not donors, but we can be collectors.
What should induce us to hold forth the word of life? Interest. The regard we pay to the gospel will bless ourselves; for, like its Author, it says, Them that honour me I will honour. We seldom labour in vain in this work; but if our efforts should prove successless, in some way or other they will return into our own bosom. The most respected and the most happy Christians are the unselfish, the active, the fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.
Benevolence. The gospel is not only wonderful, but all-important. It is the gospel of our salvation. It is the bread, the water of life. For dying souls it is the only remedy. It has done more already for even the public welfare of nations than all the civil institutions of men, and by this alone will the wilderness and solitary place be made glad, and the desert rejoice, and blossom as the rose.
Piety. It is thus God's perfections are displayed. It is thus his enemies are to be diminished, and his subjects increased. It is thus his kingdom comes. And what claims has he not upon us for our service? Whose are we? Who bought us with a price?
Our relation in the Church. Why have we joined ourselves to a religious society, and placed ourselves under the ministry of the word? Is it only to commune together in privilege? Is it not also to co-operate together in usefulness?
Morning Exercises For Everyday In The Year
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