“Bought With A Price”
“You are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
OUR beloved Brother, Thomas Cook, who has for so long a time served this Church as an honored deacon, has fallen asleep in Christ. We have laid his earthly remains in the tomb–his spirit rejoices before the Throne of God. This day we thank God for his useful life, and ask for Divine Grace to imitate it. Before he closed his eyes in death he left a text of Scripture for the pastors–“Christ is All, and in all.” And he left another for his fellow Church members, for all of you this day who are members of the body of Christ. And this is the legacy, which now, as a spiritual executor, I present to you–“You are not your own. For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
I have no doubt the intention of our departed brother was to promote God’s glory by speaking to us even after he was dead concerning our sanctification that we might be stirred up to a greater consecration to the Lord our Savior. You will notice that in this chapter the Apostle Paul has been dealing with sins of the flesh, with fornication and adultery. Now, it is at all times exceedingly difficult for the preacher either to speak or to write upon this subject. It demands the strictest care to keep the language guarded, so that while we are denouncing a detestable evil we do not, ourselves, promote it by a single expression that should be other than chaste and pure.
Observe how well the Apostle Paul succeeds–for he does not mask the sin–he tears the veil from it and lets us know what it is that he is aiming at. Yet there is no sentence which we could wish to alter. Here he is a model for all ministers, both in fidelity and prudence. Be sure, also, to note that the Apostle, when he is exposing sin, does not trifle with it, but like a mighty hunter before the Lord pursues it with all his might. His hatred to it is intense. He drags it forth to the light. He bids us mark its hideous deformity. He hunts it through all its territory, hotfoot, as we say. He never leaves it breathing time–argument after argument he hurls like javelins upon it.
He will by no means spare the filthy thing. He, who above all others speaks most positively of salvation by Grace, and is most clear upon the fact that salvation is not by the works of the Law, is at the same time most intensely earnest for the holiness of Christians and most zealously denounces those who would say, “Let us do evil, that good may come.” In this particular instance he sets the sin of fornication in the light of the Holy Spirit. He holds up, as it were, the sevenbranched candlestick before it, and lets us see what a filthy thing it is.
He tells us that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and therefore ought not to be profaned. He declares that bodily unchastity is a sacrilegious desecration of our manhood, a violation of the sacred shrine wherein the Spirit takes up its dwelling place. And then, as if this were not enough, he seizes the sin and drags it to the foot of the Cross–and there nails it hand and foot–that it may die as a criminal. For these are His Words–“You are not your own. For you are bought with a price”–the price being the blood of Jesus. He finds no sharper weapon, no keener instrument of destruction than this.
The redemption worked on Calvary by the death of Jesus must be the death of this sin, and of all other sins, wherever the Spirit of God uses it as His sword of execution. Brothers and Sisters, it is no slight thing to be holy. A man must not say, “I have faith,” and then fall into the sins of an unbeliever. After all, our outer life is the test of our inner life. And if the outer life is not purified, rest assured the heart is not changed. That faith which does not bring forth the fruit of holiness is the faith of devils. The devils believe and tremble. Let us never be content with a faith which can live in Hell, but rise to that which will save us–the faith of God’s elect which purifies the soul–casting down the power of evil, and setting up the Throne of Jesus Christ, the throne of holiness within the spirit.
Noticing this as being the run of the chapter, we now come to the text itself, and in order to discuss it we must take it piece by piece, and I think we shall see in it at once three things very clearly. The first is a blessed fact, “You are,” or as it should be rendered, “You were bought with a price.” Then comes a plain consequence from that fact, a consequence of a double character, negative and positive–“You are not your own.” “Your body and your spirit are God’s.” And out of that there springs inevitably a natural conclusion–“Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.”
- Let us begin, then, first of all, with this BLESSED FACT–“You are bought with a price.” Paul might, if his object were to prove that we are not our own, have said–“You did not make yourselves.” Creation may well furnish motives for obedience to the great Lawgiver. He might also have said, “You do not preserve yourselves–it is God who keeps you in life–you would die if He withdrew His power.” The preservation of Divine Providence might furnish abundant arguments for holiness. Surely He who feeds, nourishes, and upholds our life should have our service!
But Paul prefers, for reasons known only to himself, but which it would not be hard to guess, to plead the more tender theme, Redemption. He sounds that note, which if it does not thunder with that crash of power which marked the six days' labor of Omnipotence, yet has a soft, piercing, subduing tone in it. A tone, which, like the still small voice to which Elijah listened, has in it the Presence of God. The most potent plea for sanctity is not, “You were made,” or, “You are nourished,” but “You are bought.”
This the Apostle selects as a convincing proof of our duty, and as a means to make that duty our delight. And truly, Beloved, it is so. If we have, indeed, experienced the power of Redemption we fully admit that it is so. Look back to the day when you were bought, when you were bondslaves to your sins, when you were under the just sentence of Divine Justice, when it was inevitable that God should punish your transgressions. Remember how the Son of God became your Substitute? How He bared His back to the lash that should have fallen upon you, and laid His soul beneath the sword which should have quenched its fury in your blood?
You were redeemed then, redeemed from the punishment that was due to you, redeemed from the wrath of God, redeemed unto Christ to be His forever! You will notice the text says, “You were bought with a price.” It is a common classical expression to signify that the purchase was expensive. Of course, the very expression, “You were bought,” implies a price, but the words, “with a price” are added, as if to show that it was not for nothing that you were purchased. There was a something inestimably precious paid for you. And I need scarcely remind you that, “you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold,” but, “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”
Ah, those words slip over our tongue very glibly, but we may well chide ourselves that we can speak of Redemption with dry eyes. That the blood of Christ was shed to buy our souls from death and Hell is a wonder of compassion which fills angels with amazement! And it ought to overwhelm us with adoring love whenever we think of it–glance our eyes over the recording pages–or even utter the word “Redemption.” What meant this purchasing us with blood? It signified pain. Have any of you lately been racked with pain? Have you suffered acutely? Ah, then at such times you know to some degree what the price was which the Savior paid.
His bodily pains were great. His hands and feet nailed to the wood, and the iron breaking through the most tender nerves. His soul pains were greater still. His heart was melted like wax–he was very heavy, his heart was broken with reproach–he was deserted of God, and left beneath the black thunder clouds of Divine wrath. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death. It was pain that bought you.
We speak of the drops of blood, but we must not confine our thoughts to the crimson life-floods which distilled from the Savior’s veins. We must think of the pangs which He endured, which were the equivalent for what we ought to have suffered–what we must have suffered had we endured the punishment of our guilt forever in the flames of Hell! But pain alone could not have redeemed us. It was by death that the Savior paid the ransom. Death is a word of horror to the ungodly. The righteous has hope in his death.
But as Christ’s death was the Substitute for the death of the ungodly, He was made a curse for us, and the Presence of God was denied Him. His death was attended with unusual darkness. He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” O think earnestly on this! The Ever-Living died to redeem us! The Only-Begotten bowed His head in agony, and was laid in the grave that we might be saved! You are bought, then, “with a price”–a price incalculable, stupendous, infinite–and this is the plea which the Apostle uses to urge upon us that we should “be holiness to the Lord.” I desire upon this theme–which is a very simple and an everyday one, but which is, nevertheless, of the weightiest consideration–to remind you, dearly Beloved who profess to be followers of Christ, that this matter of your being “bought with a price” is an indisputable fact to every Christian.
To every person here present it either is a fact or not. I scarcely need to ask whether any of you are prepared to renounce your Redemption. And yet, professor of the faith of Christ, I shall put it to you now–are you willing to have the negative put upon this? Will you deny that you were “bought with a price?” Will you now confess that you were not redeemed on Calvary? You dare not, I am sure! You would sooner die than renounce your belief of it. Well, then, as certain as is your redemption, so certain is it that you “are not your own,” but belong to God, and should glorify Him!
It is inevitable that if you are “bought with a price,” you have ceased to be your own property, and belong to Him who bought you. Holiness, therefore, is necessary to all the redeemed. If you cast off your responsibility to be holy, you at the same time cast away the benefit of Redemption. Will you do this? As I am sure you could not renounce your salvation, and cast away your only hope, so I charge you by the living God be not so inconsistent as to say–“I am redeemed, and yet I will live as I wish.”
As redeemed men, let the inevitable consequences follow from the fact, and be you evidently the servants of the Lord Jesus. Remember, too, that this fact is the most important one in all your history. That you were redeemed “with a price” is the greatest event in your biography! Even your birth–what was it unless a second birth had been yours? Might you not say–“Let the day perish in which I was born and the night in which it was said, there is a man child conceived”? Would it not have been to you the direst calamity to be born into the world if you had not been rescued from the wrath of which you were the heir?
You left your father’s house, and it was an important step in life. Perhaps you crossed the great and wide sea. It may be you aspired to high office in the State and you obtained it. It is possible you have been sorely sick, or it may be you have sunk from affluence to poverty. Such events leave their impression upon the memory–men cannot forget these great changes in their lives. But they all shrivel into less than nothing compared with this fact that you were “bought with a price”! Your connection with Calvary is the most important thing about you. Oh, I do beseech you then, if it is so, PROVE IT!
And remember, the just and righteous proof is by your not being your own, but consecrated unto God. If it is the most important thing in the world to you, that you were “bought with a price,” let it exercise the most prominent influence over your entire career. Be a man, be an Englishman, but be most of all Christ’s man. A citizen, a friend, a philanthropist, a patriot–all these you may be–but be, most of all, a saint redeemed by blood! Recollect, again, that your being “bought with a price” will be the most important fact in all your future existence. What say they in Heaven when they sing? They would naturally select the noble topic and that which most engrosses their minds, and yet in the whole range of their memory, they find no theme so absorbing as this–“You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.”
Redeeming love is the theme of Heaven. When you reach the upper realms your most important memory will not be that you were wealthy or poor in this life–nor the fact that you sickened and died–but that you were “bought with a price.” We do not know all that may occur in this world before the close of its history, but certainly it will be burnt up with fire, and you, in yonder clouds with Christ may witness the awful conflagration. You will never forget it. There will be new heavens and new earth, and you, with Christ may see the new-born heavens, and earth, laughing in the bright sunlight of God’s good pleasure.
You will never forget that joyous day. And you will be caught up to dwell with Jesus forever and ever. And there will come a time when He shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father and God shall be All in All. You will never forget the time of which the poet sings–
“Then the end, beneath His rod
Man’s last enemy shall fall.
Hallelujah, Christ in God,
God in Christ is All in All.”
All these divinely glorious events will impress themselves upon you, but not one of them will make an impression so lasting, so clear, so deep as this–that you were “bought with a price.” High over all the mountain tops, Calvary–but a presence all others hide their diminished heads! “You were slain”–the full chorus of Heaven shall roll it forth in thundering accents of grateful zeal. “You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood.” The saints shall remember this first and foremost. And amidst the cycles of eternity this shall have the chief place in every glorified memory.
What then, Beloved? Shall it not have the chief place with you now? It has been the fact of your life up to now. It will be the fact of your entire eternal existence–let it saturate your soul, let it penetrate your spirit, let it subdue your faculties–let it take the reins of all your powers and guide you where it will. Let the Redeemer, He whose hands were pierced for you, sway the scepter of your spirit and rule over you this day and world without end. If I had the power to do it, how would I seek to refresh in your souls a sense of this fact that you are “bought with a price”? There in the midnight hour, amidst the olives of Gethsemane, kneels Immanuel, the Son of God! He groans! He pleads in prayer! He wrestles–see the beady drops stand on is brow! Drops of sweat, but not of such sweat as pours from men when they earn the bread of life, but the sweat of Him who is procuring life itself for us!
It is blood, it is crimson blood–great globs of it are falling to the ground. O Soul, your Savior speaks to you from Gethsemane at this hour, and He says–“Here I bought you with a price.” Come, stand and view Him in the agony of the olive garden, and understand at what a cost He procured your deliverance! Track Him in all His path of shame and sorrow till you see Him on the Pavement. Mark how they bind His hands and fasten Him to the whipping-post. Look, they bring the scourges and the cruel Roman whips. They tear His flesh. The plowers make deep furrows on His blessed body, and the blood gushes forth in streams–while rivulets from His temples, where the crown of thorns has pierced them–join to swell the purple stream.
From beneath the scourges He speaks to you with accents soft and low, and He says, “My child, it is here I bought you with a price.” But see Him on the Cross itself when the consummation of all has come–His hands and feet are fountains of blood–His soul is full of anguish even to heartbreak. And there, before the soldier pierces with a spear His side, bowing down He whispers to you and to me, “It was here I bought you with a price.” O by Gethsemane, by Gabbatha, by Golgotha–by every sacred name collected with the passion of our Lord! By sponge and vinegar, and nail and spear, and everything that helped the pang and increased the anguish of His death–I plead with you, my Brothers and Sisters–to remember that you were “bought with a price,” and “are not your own!”
I push you to this. You either were or were not so bought–if you were, it is the grand fact of your life. If you were, it is the greatest fact that ever will occur to you. Let it operate upon you, let it dominate your entire nature, let it govern your body, your soul, your spirit. And from this day let it be said of you not only that you are a man, a man of good morals and respectable conduct, but this–above all things–that you are a man filled with love to Him who bought you, a man who lives for Christ, and knows no other passion!
Would God that Redemption would become the paramount influence, the lord of our soul, and dictator of our being! Then were we, indeed, true to our obligations–short of this we are not what love and justice both demand.
II. Now let us pass on to the second point. Here is A PLAIN CONSEQUENCE arising from the blessed fact. You were “bought with a price.” Then first it is clear as a negative, that, “You are not your own,” and secondly, it is clear as a positive, that, “Your body and spirit are God’s.”
Take first the negative–if bought, you are not your own. No argument is needed for this, and indeed, it is so great a benefit in itself that none of us could find it in our hearts to object to it. It is a great privilege not to be one’s own. A vessel is drifting on the Atlantic here and there, and its end no man knows. It is derelict, deserted by all its crew. It is the property of no man. It is the prey of every storm, and the sport of every wind. Rocks, quicksands, and shoals wait to destroy it. The ocean yearns to engulf it. It drifts onward to no man’s land, and no man will mourn its shipwreck.
But mark well yonder boat in the Thames which its owner surveys with pleasure. In its attempt to reach the sea it may run ashore, or come into collision with other vessels. Or in a thousand ways suffer damage. But there is no fear, it will pass through the floating forest of “the Pool.” It will thread the winding channel, and reach the Nore because its owner will secure a skillful and apt pilot.
How thankful you and I should be that we are not derelict today! We are not our own–not left on the wild waste of chance to be tossed to and fro by fortuitous circumstances. But there is a hand upon our helm. We have on board a Pilot who owns us, and will surely steer us into the Fair Havens of eternal rest. The sheep is on the mountain side and the winter is coming on. It may be buried in the snow. Perhaps the wolf may seize it, or by-and-by, when the summer crops have been eaten, there may be little fodder for it and it may starve. But the sheep’s comfort, if it could think at all, would be this–it is not its own–it belongs to the shepherd, who will not willingly lose his property.
It bears the mark of its owner, and is the object of his care. O happy sheep of God’s pasture! What a bliss it is to you that you are not your own! Does any man here think it would be a pleasure to be his own? Let me assure him that there is no ruler so tyrannical as self. He that is his own master has a fool and a tyrant to be his lord. No man ever yet governed himself after the will of the flesh but what he, by degrees, found the yoke heavy and the burden crushing. Self is a fierce dictator, a terrible oppressor–imperious lusts are cruel slave drivers!
But Christ, who says we are not our own, would have us view that Truth of God in the light in which a loving wife would view it. She, too, is not her own. She gave herself away on a right memorable day of which she bears the golden token on her finger. She did not weep when she surrendered herself and became her husband’s. Nor did they muffle the bells, or bid the organ play the “Death March”–it was a happy day for her. She remembers it at this moment with glowing joy. She is not her own, but she has not regretted the giving herself away–she would make the same surrender again to the selfsame beloved owner–if it had to be done.
That she is her husband’s does not bespeak her slavery, but her happiness. She has found rest in her husband’s house, and today, when the Christian confesses that he is not his own, he does not wish that he were. He is married to the Savior. He has given himself up–body, soul, and spirit–to the blessed Bridegroom of his heart. It was the marriage day of his true life when he became a Christian, and he looks back to it with joy and transport. Oh, it is a blissful thing not to be our own! So I shall not want arguments to prove that to which every gracious spirit gives a blissful consent.
Now, if it is true that we are not our own, and I hope it is true to many here present, then the inference from it is, “I have no right to injure myself in any way.” My body is not my own, I have no right then, as a Christian man, to do anything with it that would defile it. The Apostle is mainly arguing against sins of the flesh and he says, “the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord. And the Lord for the body.” We have no right to commit uncleanness, because our bodies are the members of Christ and not our own.
He would say the same of drunkenness, gluttony, idle sleep, and even of such excessive anxiety after wealth as injures health with carking care. We have no right to profane or injure the flesh and blood which are consecrated to God. Every limb of our frame belongs to God–it is His property. He has bought it “with a price.” Any honest man will be more concerned about an injury done to another’s property placed under his care than if it were his own. When the son of the Prophet was hewing wood with Elisha, you remember how he said, when the axe head flew off into the water, “Alas, Master, for it was borrowed.”
It would be bad enough to lose my own axe, but if it is not my own, then I doubly deplore the accident. I know this would not operate upon thievish minds. There are some who, if it were another man’s, and they had borrowed it, would have no further care about it–“Let the lender get it back, if he can.” But we speak to honest men, and with them it is always a strong, argument–your body is another’s, do it no injury. As for our spirit, too, that is God’s, and how careful we should be of it! I am asked, sometimes, to read an heretical book. Well, if I believed my reading it would help its refutation, and might be an assistance to others in keeping them out of error, I might do it as a hard matter of duty. But I shall not do it unless I see some good will come from it. I am not going to drag my spirit through a ditch for the sake of having it washed afterwards–for it is not my own.
It may be that good medicine would restore me if I poisoned myself with putrid meat, but I am not going to try it–I dare not experiment on a mind which no longer belongs to me. There is a mother and a child, and the child has a book to play with, and a black lead pencil. It is making drawings and marks upon the book, and the mother takes no notice. It lays down one book and snatches another from the table, and at once the mother rises from her seat, and hurriedly takes the book away, saying–“No, my Dear, you must not mark that, for it is not ours.”
So with my mind, intellect, and spirit. If it belonged to me I might, or might not play tomfool with it, and go to hear Socinians, Ritualists, Universalists and such like preach. But as it is not my own, I will preserve it from such fooleries and the pure Word of God shall not be mingled with the errors of men. Here is the drift of the Apostle’s argument–I have no right to injure that which does not belong to me–and as I am not my own, I have no right to injure myself.
But, further, I have no right to let myself lie waste. The man who had a talent and went and dug in the earth and hid it, had not he a right to do so? Yes, of course, if it was his own talent, and his own napkin. If any of you have money and do not put it out to interest, if it is all your own, nobody complains. But this talent belonged to the man’s master, it was only entrusted to him as a steward–and he ought not to have let it rust in the ground. So I have no right to let my faculties run to waste since they do not belong to me. If I am a Christian I have no right to be idle. I saw the other day men using picks in the road in laying down new gas pipes. They had been resting, and just as I passed, the clock struck one, and the foreman gave a signal.
I think he said, “Blow up.” And straightway each man took his pick or his shovel, and they were all at it in earnest. Close to them stood a fellow with a pipe in his mouth, who did not join in the work, but stood in a free-and-easy posture. It did not make any difference to him whether it was one o'clock or six. Why not? Because he was his own–the other men were the master’s for the time being. He, as an independent gentlemen, might do as he liked, but those who were not their own fell to labor. If any of you idle professors can really prove that you belong to yourselves, I have nothing more to say to you. But if you profess to have a share in the redeeming sacrifice of Christ, I am ashamed of you if you do not go to work the very moment the signal is given. You have no right to waste what Jesus Christ has bought “with a price.” Further than that, if we are not our own, but “are bought with a price,” we have no right to exercise any capriciousgovernment of ourselves. A man who is his own may say, “I shall go where I will, and do what I will.” But if I am not my own, but belong to God who has bought me, then I must submit to His government. His will must be my will, and His directions must be my Law. I desire to enter a certain garden, and I ask the gardener at the gate if I may come in. “You should be very welcome, Sir, indeed,” says he, “if it were mine, but my master has told me not to admit strangers here, and therefore I must refuse you.”
Sometimes the devil would come into the garden of our souls. We tell him that our flesh might consent, but the garden is not ours and we cannot give him space. Worldly ambition, covetousness, and so forth, might claim to walk through our soul, but we say, “No, it is not our own. We cannot, therefore, do what our old will would do, but we desire to be obedient to the will of our Father who is in Heaven.” Your will be done, my God, in me, for so should it be done where all is Your own by purchase. Yet, again, if we are not our own, then we have no right to serve ourselves. The man who is living entirely for himself, whose object is his own ease, comfort, honor, or wealth–what knows he concerning Redemption by Christ?
If our aims rise no higher than our personal advantages, we are false to the fact that we “are bought with a price.” We are treacherous to Him in whose Redemption we pretend to share. But time would fail me if I dwelt upon this, or, indeed, at any length upon the positive side of this blessed fact–I will therefore only say a word or two concerning it. Our body and our spirit are God’s. And, Christian, this is certainly a very high honor to you. Your body will rise again from the dead at the second Resurrection. Because it is not an ordinary body, it belongs to God–your spirit is distinguished from the souls of other men. It is God’s spirit, and He has set His mark upon it, and honored you in so doing.
You are God’s, because a price has been paid for you. According to some, the allusion price here is to the dowry that was paid by a husband for his wife in ancient days. According to the rabbis there were three ways by which a woman became the wife of a man, and one of these was by the payment of a dowry. This was always held good in Jewish law. The woman was not her own from the moment when the husband had paid to her father or natural guardian the stipulated price for her.
Now, at this day, you and I rejoice that Jesus Christ has espoused us unto Himself in righteousness before ever the earth was. We rejoice in that language which He uses by the Prophet Hosea, “I will betroth you unto Me forever.” But here is our comfort–the dowry money has been paid–Christ has redeemed us unto Himself, and Christ’s we are, Christ’s forever and ever. Remember that our Lord has paid all the price for us. There is no mortgage or lien upon us. We have, therefore, no right to give a portion of ourselves to Satan. And He has bought us entirely from head to foot, every power, every passion, and every faculty–all our time, all our goods–all that we call our own, all that makes up ourselves in the largest sense of that term. We are altogether God’s.
Ah, it is very easy for people to say this, but how very difficult it is to feel it true and to act as such! I have no doubt there are many persons here who profess to be willing to give God all they have, who would not actually give Him five shillings. We can sing–
“Here, Lord, I give myself away,”
and yet if it comes to yielding only a part of ourselves, if it requires self-denial, or self-sacrifice, straightway there is a drawing back. Now, was the Cross a fiction? Was the death of Christ a fable? Were you only fancifully “bought with a price,” and not in deed and in truth?
If Redemption is a fable, then return a fabled consecration. If your purchase is a fiction, then lead the fictitious lives that some of you lead with regard to consecration to Christ. If it is only an idea, a pretty something that we read of in books, then let our belonging unto God be a mere idea and a piece of sentiment. But a real Redemption demands real holiness. A true price, most certainly paid, demands from us a practical surrendering of ourselves to the service of God. From this day forth, even forever, “you are not your own,” you are the Lord’s.
III. And now I must close, and oh, may God give power to His Word while I beg to speak upon the last point, namely, THE NATURAL CONCLUSION. “Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit.” I am not clear that the last few words are in the original. A large number of the old manuscripts and versions, and some of the more important of them, finish the verse at the word “body.” “Therefore glorify God in your body.”
It was the body the Apostle was speaking about, and not the spirit, and there is no necessity for the last words–still we will not further raise the question, but take them as being the inspired Word of God. But still I must make the remark that according to the connection, the force of the Apostle’s language falls upon the word, body. And perhaps it is so because we are so apt to forget the Truth of God that the body is redeemed and is the Lord’s, and should be made to glorify God.
The Christian man’s body should glorify God by its chastity. Pure as the lily should we be from every taint of uncleanness. The body should glorify God by temperance, also. In all things, in eating, drinking, sleeping–in everything that has to do with the flesh. “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” or as the Apostle puts it elsewhere, “whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.” The Christian man can make every meal a sacrament, and his ordinary avocations the exercise of his spiritual priesthood.
The body ought to glorify God by its industry. A lazy servant is a bad Christian. A working man who is always looking for Saturday night–a man who never spends a drop of sweat except when the master is looking does not glorify God in his body. The best Christian is the man who is not afraid of hard work when it is due–who works not as an eye-servant or man pleaser–but in singleness of heart seeks to glorify God. Our bodies used to work hard enough for the devil–now that they belong to God we will make them work for Him . Your legs used to carry you to the theater. Be not too lazy to come out on aThursday night to the House of God.
Your eyes have been often open upon iniquity–keep them open during the sermon–do not drop asleep! Your ears have been sharp enough to catch the word of a lascivious song–let them be quick to observe the Word of God. Those hands have often squandered your earnings in sinfulness–let them give freely to the cause of Christ. Your body was a willing horse when it was in the service of the devil–let it not be a sluggish hack now that it draws the chariot of Christ. Make the tongue speak His praises! Make the mouth sing of His Glory. Make the whole man bow in willing subservience to the will of Him who bought it!
As for your spirit, let that glorify God, too. Let your private meditations magnify God. Let your songs be to Him when no one hears you but Himself, and let your public zeal–let the purity of your conversation, let the earnestness of your life–let the universal holiness of your character glorify God with your body and with your spirit. Beloved Christian Friends, I want to say these few things and have done. Because you are God’s, you will be looked at more than others, therefore, glorify Him. You know it is not always the thing itself, but the ownership that causes curiosity. If you were to go to a cattle show and it were said, “such-and-such a bullock belongs to Her Majesty,” it may be it is no better than another, but it would be of interest to thousands as belonging to royalty.
See here, then, such-and-such a man belongs to God! What manner of person ought he to be? If there is anyone in this world who will NOT be criticized, depend upon it, Christian, it is not the Christian! Sharp eyes will be upon him, and worldly men will find faults in him which they would not see if he were not a professor. For my part I am very glad of the lynx eyes of the worldlings. Let them watch if they will! I have heard of one who was a great caviler at Christian people, and after having annoyed a Church a long time, he was about to leave, and therefore, as a parting jest with the minister, he said, “I have no
“No,” said the pastor, “I shall be sorry to lose you.” “Why? I never did you any good.” “I don’t know that, for I am sure that never one of my flock put half a foot through the hedge but what you began to yelp at him, and so you have been a famous sheepdog for me.” I am glad the world observes us. It has a right to do so. If a man says, “I am God’s,” he sets himself up for public observation. You are lights in the world, and what are lights intended for but to be looked at?
A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Moreover, the world has a right to expect more from a Christian than from anybody else. He says he is “bought with a price.” He says he is God’s. He therefore claims more than others, and he ought to render more. Stand in fancy in one of the fights of the old civil war. The Royalists are fighting desperately and are winning apace, but I hear a cry from the other side that Cromwell’s Ironsides are coming. Now we shall see some fighting! Oliver and his men are lions.
But, lo! I see that the fellows who come up hang fire, and are afraid to rush into the thick of the fight! Surely these are not Cromwell’s Ironsides, and yonder captain is not old Noll? I do not believe it–it cannot be. Why, if they were what they profess to be, they would have broken the ranks of those perfumed cavaliers long ago, and have made them fly before them like chaff before the wind! And so when I hear men say, “Here is a body of Christians.” What? Those are Christians? Those cowardly people who hardly dare speak a word for Jesus? Those covetous people who give a few cheese-parings to His cause? Those inconsistent people whom you would not know to be Christian professors if they did not label themselves?
What? Such beings followers of a crucified Savior? The world sneers at such pretensions! And well it may! With such a Leader let us follow bravely. Bought with such a price, and being owned by such a Master, let us glorify Him who condescends to call such poor creatures as we are His portion–whom He has set apart for Himself. And let us remember that by men who profess to be “bought with a price,” the name of Christ is compromised if their behavior is unseemly. If we are not holy and gracious, ungodly men are sure to say, “That is one of your Believers in God. That is one of your Christians.”
Do not let it be so! Every soldier in a regiment ought to feel that the renown of the whole army depends upon him, and he must fight as if the winning of the battle rested upon himself. This will cause every man to be a hero. Oh, that every Christian felt as if the honor of God and the Church rested upon him–for in a measure it certainly does! May we so seek God that when we come to die we may feel that we have lived for something. That although our hope has rested alone in what Jesus did, yet we have not made that an excuse for doing nothing ourselves. Though we shall have no good works in which to glory, yet may we bring forth fruit that shall be for the glory of our Lord.
I feel I so desire to glorify God–body, soul, and spirit while I breathe–that I would even do so on earth after I am dead. I would still urge my Brethren on in our Lord’s cause. Old Zizka, the Hussite leader, when about to die, said to his soldiers–“Our enemies have always been afraid of my name in the time of battle. When I am dead take my skin and make a drum-head of it, and beat it whenever you go to battle. When the enemy hears the sound they will tremble, and you will remember that Zizka calls on his Brethren to fight valiantly.”
Let us so live that when we die, we live on, like Abel, who being dead yet speaks. The only way to do this is to live in the power of the Immortal God and under the influence of His Holy Spirit–then out of our graves we shall speak to future generations. When Doctor Payson died he desired that his body should be placed in a coffin, and that his hearers should be invited to come and see it. Across his breast was placed a paper bearing these words, “Remember the words which I spoke unto you, being yet present with you.”
May our lives be such that even if we are not public speakers, yet others may remember our example and so may hear what our lives spoke while we were yet on earth. Your bodies and your spirits are God’s–oh, live to God, and glorify Him in the power of His Spirit as long as you have any breath below, that so when the breath is gone, your very bones, like those of Joseph, shall be a testimony. Even in the ashes of the saints their fires live on. In their hallowed memories they rise like a phoenix from their ashes.
The Lord make us more and more practically His own, and may His name be glorious, forever and ever. Amen, and amen. PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON–1 Peter 1.