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The Sabbath of Christ Found in Meekness.

by Isaac Williams

from Sermons on the Epistles and Gospels for the Sundays and Holy Days

throughout the Year, Vol. II. Trinity Sunday to All Saints' Day 

Rivingtons, London, 1875.

First part of Sermon LXIV. for the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity.
 Eph. iv. 1-6.    St. Luke xiv. 1-11.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the LORD, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness..EPH. iv. 1-2.

THE strongest appeal which St. Paul makes to others in his own behalf is by his sufferings. “Remember my bonds,” he says, as by those few words implying very much; and in the Epistle for last Sunday, “Faint not at my tribulations, which is your glory.” He often expresses his joy in bonds and afflictions, not only because he counted it a privilege to suffer for Christ’s sake; but because also his own chains and sufferings partook of the power of the Cross, and most prevailed towards spreading his Master’s Kingdom. Thus when his heart had been set on going to Rome, and God intended that he should bear witness of Him with power in that great city, it was brought about by his being sent there as a prisoner. And in speaking of his success there he says, “My bonds are manifest in all the palace.” And of the confidence it gave others, “Many of the brethren waxing confident by my bonds.” And when he said to King Agrippa, “I would to God that thou, and all that hear me this day, were such as I am, except these bonds,” never were words spoken more powerful, because it was as if he had said, “As to my sufferings, I am most desirous that none should suffer as I do; but as to the blessings of the Gospel, I would to God that all might share them with me.” When in bonds at Jerusalem, he made the governor tremble, and amazed the king; when in bonds at sea, he bound the storm, and had all the ship given into his hands; when in bonds in the island, he shook off the serpent unharmed; when in bonds at Rome, he made the world captive to the obedience of Christ. And here he alludes to his bonds, not only to enforce his .testimony, but as showing also the very nature of the Christian’s calling and duties, as humbling himself to all things for love’s sake.

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. We may observe how much force these words derive from one who was at the time a prisoner for Christ’s sake: for what greater evidence of love could there be in himself than this willingness to suffer ? He wished them to be bound also, but by another chain, that of mutual love and forbearance; not the iron bands on the feet and hands, but the golden chain of God upon the heart itself, which bound them to one another and unto God. Of this he proceeds to speak: Endeavouring, with all earnestness, to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. As our Blessed Lord Himself prays for this union, “that they may be one as We are One.”  As the whole body and all its members are held together by one soul, one spirit of life, so is it with the Church of God. There is one body and one Spirit: one Spirit which animates and quickens that body, or else it would be more bodies than one. Even as ye are called in one hope of your calling. Here on earth, and in things temporal, nothing unites men so much together as having one object to desire, one end to hope for; how much more when that desire and hope is for everlasting union together through the indwelling of God? One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in you all. What greater bond is it possible to conceive than this ? It contains within it everything which can hold men together in love in this bad world, whether friends or relations of any kind. It might be likened to a chain of adamant, or any substance which nothing can rend asunder; nay more, God Himself is this chain, this chain of love, for God Himself is love. How then can it ever be broken? It is indeed so; and in Heaven, where God is, it cannot be severed; for there God is All in All, and this bond is strong as the foundation of Heaven; but here on earth, although it may become ever more and more strong, yet it is all easily broken and rent asunder by pride. It is preserved only in humility, by each esteeming other better than himself; but wherever pride comes in, alas, my brethren, it is but as the withy bands, when Samson awakens: it is all gone. And what from poor fallen nature is more inseparable than pride ? “It bindeth me about as the collar of my coat,” as Job says (xxx. 18.)  We shall not be divested of it, till the old Adam be laid in the dust, and the new man be altogether within us.

Let us now, therefore, turn to the Great Physician of body and soul, to that gracious and blessed example which the Gospel for the day presents to us, .... 

.... (for the second part, on the Gospel.)