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My Beloved is Mine and I Am His.

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, pp. 188-195.

Second part of Sermon LXII. for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity.
 Gal. vi. 11-18.    St. Matt vi. 24-34.

From henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body 

the marks of the LORD JESUS.—GAL. vi. 17.
(for the first part, on the Epistle.
...How does everything which tends to human glory so far impair and impede that fulness of peace which is to be found in God? So far speaks St. Paul in the Epistle. And now Christ Himself teaches us in the Gospel for the day that same lesson of whole and entire rest in God, disclosing to us in unspeakable tenderness something of that love towards us which was perfected on the cross; and which can admit of no divided affection.

No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon. It is quite impossible for a man at the same time to love two things opposite to each other; to love the ease and honour of the world, and also the self-denial and humility which is found in the cross of Christ. What then is to become of the worldly callings by which we live; of the farm, and the shop, and the wages of labour, and to the minister himself, the profits of his ministry? Ye cannot serve them, says our Lord, ye must be in heart above them, ye must make them merely secondary, and subservient to the love of God and His service; or else no doubt they are sinful; they prevent you from loving God and cleaving to Him. They make you secretly to despise the cross, and things of Heaven.

Therefore, I say unto you; I say unto you, Who am Myself the Bread of Life, and the clothing of your shame and nakedness, I Who am Myself the Life of those that believe in Me, and their portion for ever,—I say unto you, Take no thought for your life what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Let there be no carefulness for food and raiment, much less for other things of this temporal life; for re-member how the good Mary, who had chosen the one thing needful, was praised, because she had forgotten all that pertaineth to the meat that perisheth; remember how the disciples, when they had omitted to take bread in the boat, were reproved by their Divine Master, because on this account the subject was afterwards first in their thoughts; remember how they were sent forth in need of all things, in order that they might practise this heavenly mind, as having nothing, yet possessing all things in Christ.

Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? If He gives the greater, will you not trust Him for the less? If He gives life, will He not sustain it? If a body, will He not give the clothing needful for. it? And oh, how much more may not we add with St. Paul, and say, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. viii. 32.)

Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? If these creatures that know Him not thus trust Him, will not ye to whom it is given to know Him? Are ye not capable of knowing God, of loving Him, and enjoying Him for ever? To be able to know and love God, this raises you immeasurably above the beasts that perish. Are ye not to Him of value unspeakable, beyond all that ye can think or know? are ye not infinitely more dear to Him than ye are to each other or each to himself? Does He not care for you far more than ye do for yourselves? Our Blessed Lord does not, in this passage, say all this, which might be truly said, but what is more constraining, even to the most faithless, in His exceeding gentleness and condescension He suggests nothing more than this: Are ye not much better in the sight of your heavenly Father than the fowls of the air? yet even they are by nature itself taught to trust in His care; He asks nothing more of you, for all His gifts, than that you will rely on His goodness and trust Him.

And again, after all, how unprofitable such carefulness? For which of you, by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature? Blessed be the goodness and mercy of God, Who, to keep us from such anxious thoughts, has made them to be of no avail: miserable cares, which end where they begun, and can never prosper, because they consist in a distrust of Him Who is the Giver and Disposer of all good.

And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field how they grow. Why do you think that your heavenly Father has raised around you such abundance of flowers? why are they so beautiful and wonderful in their structure, and colour, and varieties? why do they bear about your paths such tokens of His hand, and seem to make silent appeals to you, in order to call your attention? It is because God has designed them to teach you, His children, of His unceasing presence, and His care, although you see Him not, in order that you may trust Him. They toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. He spreads the beauties of nature at your feet, He gives delight and joy, He sends fear and sorrow, but it is all for one end, in order that we may trust Him. A poor man, who sees in the meanest flower the marks of his heavenly Father’s care, is richer in that knowledge than he who is dressed in a kingly robe and forgets God. What is there that a king can prize in a work of art, or an ornament of honour, or a memorial of high birth, compared with a token of God’s love to him that loves God? Because he knows full well that He will “show him greater things than these,” he accepts it as a sign of those better things in store, which “eye hath not seen nor ear heard ;“ of the hidden glories of that robe of immortality by which Christ shall cover his shame, the white vesture of those who are “made kings and priests unto God.” But what our Blessed Lord here asks of him is far less than this; it is only that, taught by these things, he should be without carefulness for that second great need of our earthly life, which is raiment.

Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven,—if even this is so contrived and adorned with the marks of God’s hand, which is of a nature so frail and perishable, and for uses so poor,—shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? It may be observed, that these exhortations of our Lord are addressed to the very poorest, such as are tempted by careful anxieties for the very necessaries of life; and they are expressions of His great tenderness and compassion for them. It is to the poor His Gospel is preached; the poor were the especial objects of His care, and the subjects of His blessings; it was their condition which He Himself put on, in order to comfort them; it was to relieve their hunger that He twice wrought a miracle; and thus these precepts are especially addressed to them; it was their carefulness, their anxiety He wished to relieve, knowing that if they had faith in Him they were rich indeed; that poverty was the best school to bring them to Him. And therefore, never was greater love expressed than with these words, which seemed to upbraid them, “O ye of little faith.” Oh, why will ye not trust in Me? It is all I ask in return for My love:  recline yourselves on Me, in My bosom ye shall find peace for all your cares. Oh, why will ye not? I have left the riches and glories of Heaven; I have emptied Myself of all My greatness, and become poorer than any of you, in order that ye may trust Me; and that trusting in Me all which I have may be yours. For why is God revealed in so much love, as your Father in Heaven, and accepting you as His children in His well-beloved Son, if ye are still to be as the heathen, without God in the world?

Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, what shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed? (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) When you think so much of these things, it appears as if there are no higher blessings which you value, and on which your affections are placed; and as if there were no Providence in the world to support you.

For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.  It is an expression of more than fatherly affection and care: He knoweth every want; there is no need ye can have which escapes His most intimate regard. “Cast your care upon Him, for He careth for you.” And now our Lord adds the sum of the whole matter in these memorable words, to be ever engraven on all we think or do: but seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Here is the reason given, why all thoughtfulness for things temporal is forbidden; it is in order that all our thought, all our care, all our desires, may be taken up in the one thing which alone abideth. Any one who looks back on life, will see not only that his worldly cares have been profitless, but that they have kept his mind from growing in grace. They have stopped him on his heavenly journey; they have thrown him back; they have been the occasion of precious (ah, how precious!) time irrevocably lost. But when the cares after the Kingdom of God occupy the first place in the heart, they lead one to perceive the hand of God’s providence much more distinctly; and to see that whether it be by hardship and poverty, or any other means, that all things work together for good to them that love God. So may we learn to live only for God, in Him, and for Him, and to desire nothing but for His sake, and that it may bring us nearer unto Him.

Take therefore no thought for the morrow. It is not the pressure of want that fills men with faithless cares, but the fear of it; it is not the need of to-day, but of the future; take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself: sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Every day brings troubles of its own, which it will be enough to bear with meekness and patience; every day brings sins and temptations against which it will require our whole undivided care and attention to contend; every day brings us nearer to those vast overwhelming changes which await us, infinite in importance, and eternal in duration, great realities of joy or misery; and every day is of consequence with regard to them; so that well do we need to be unentangled and unimpeded by faithless fears and hopes about the shadows of this short passing existence.

“Henceforth let no man trouble me,” says St. Paul, “for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Surely, my brethren, we may say this, not only to all the glory of the world, its party spirit, its controversies and self-righteousness, but we may take up the words, and apply them also to all its petty anxieties, its faithless schemes, and disappointments,—henceforth trouble me not. I bid adieu to you, in order that I may run the more readily in the service of Him Whose mark I bear; I would cast off all such things, in order that I may learn more and more the depth and height, the breadth and length of His immeasurable love, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. His mark I bear, as sworn to be His soldier and servant. His brand has gone deep in my flesh; I am His; with His cross was I signed at my baptism, in token that I should be for ever none but His alone; that His cross should be my study, my pattern, my peace. From henceforth let no man trouble me; for it is the knowledge of Christ only that I wish to learn, and far from me be everything that hinders that study: blessed and welcome be everything that helps me to it. All things are hurtful to me that impede and hamper me in this race; all things are so far only profitable to me as they aid me in this course. And what these things are Thou only knowest, O my God; I am blind, and poor, and miserable, and know not what may be good for me, towards my everlasting interest, and what not: Thou knowest. Do Thou choose for me, O my God; and grant me to love what Thou choosest, because it is from Thee; and to love it the more the more it partakes of Thy cross; for then am I more sure that it is altogether Thine, and from Thee.

And now, my brethren, may we not to-day consider the Collect, the Epistle, and Gospel, as all bound together by that one golden chain which, extending from the throne of God, holds all things that shall endure; and which is no other than the mercy of God in Christ. Thus, therefore, may we read the Collect and pray; Keep Thy Church, O Lord, we beseech Thee, with Thy perpetual mercy; or rather, as it is in the original Latin, by Thy perpetual propitiation; or, as St. Paul says, by the cross of Christ, by the mercies overflowing to us from thence, by His all-prevailing atonement, Who for our sakes became poor, that we by His poverty might be made rich; and because the frailty of our mortal nature is such that without Thee it ever falls away, ("Labitur humana mortalitas." -- Lat.) by Thy help may we be withdrawn from things hurtful, and be directed to what is profitable for our salvation.