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BOUGHT WITH A PRICE.
DELIVERED ON SUNDAY, APRIL 18, 1858,
BY THE REV. J. P. COURTENAY,
IN ST. JOHN'S CHURCH, UPPER LEWISHAJI ROAD,
" Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."--I Coriuthians vi. 19, 20. The Apostle makes known to us a mighty truth in the words immediately preceding our text. He tells us that our bodies are “the temples of the Holy Ghost.” What a wondrous communication is this ! How it ennobles our fallen humanity; how it should lead us to regard with sacred awe the lemple of so great a Deity; how it should induce us to guard it from all impurity and sinful association. If it be true that our poor frail bodies have been made the dwelling place of so blessed a guest, ought it not to move us to dedicate all our faculties and to consecrate all our energies to his blessed service. No longer then may we yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but as instruments of righteousness unto God. Let no evil act, let no unhallowed desire profane this sanctuary of the Holy Spirit; let the character of him who resides within, awe us into veneration for it; let his presence ever keep us in the way of rectitude, make sin more sinful, holiness more desirable, God nearer, and the world farther from our affections. The realiza. tion of his nearness to us will strengthen us in the time of weakness, and confort us in the time of affliction. Earthly temples there are which often excite our wonder and admiration, but they are often temples without a Deity, altars without a sacrifice. If these then are worthy of calling into exercise our better feelings, how much rather should we reverence the living temples of an ever living Deity.
This brings us to consider-
III. The reason deduced" Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
1. “ Ye are not your own.” Surely this is a solemn truth; we are not our
We have been so accustomed to look upon ourelves and possessions as absolutely ours, that a statement such as this comes upon us with startling power. Oh, how it condeinns the avarice, selfishness, and heartless indifference which men manifest towards each other. How it changes the cure rent of society, introducing new motives, and setting up new objecte at which 10 aiın. But, brethren, the world at large recognizes no such “Lord,” and counts the idea of the text as a very delusion and a snare; as though we were self-created, we give ourselves the glory of the work; as though our continuance in life depended upon ourselves alone, we trust in our resources to preserve it ; as though our riches were the necessary consequence of our own efforts, and their continued possession entirely at our will. We say, “ by the might of my hand I have done it; and by my wisdom, for I am prudent;" and with a self-delusion of the most dangerous kind we hush our souls to a sleep of carnal security, saying, “take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." Alas! alas ! the great mass of mankind acknowledge no such “ lordship" over them, they are guided by their own blind wills, and impelled by their boisterous passions. The Lord has planted the vineyard and hedged it all about; he has furnished it with everything necessary to the happiness and convenience of those who inhabit it; and having accomplished the wondrous work, he has let it out to husbandmen, and has himself gone into a far country. But how sadly the scene has changed since then; these husbandmen have cast off their allegiance to their Lord; his messengers they have beaten, his blessed prophets and apostles they have been stoned ; and as the Master looked down upon this scene of disorder and conflict, pity and compassion moved him to a deed of inestimable love. * Surely they will reverence my Son!" Surely the fury of their passion shall cease, and the fierce conflict be hushed into the gentlest calm when they behold my only beloved Son; surely they will cease the strife and return again to obedience and submission, when they behold my great condescension in sending among them my Son; surely their hard hearts will melt, their eyes be filled with tears of holiest contrition, and their hands lay down their weapons of warfare for ever, when they behold my Son. We know the sequel. The presence of the heir evoked no such feelings, on the contrary, it maddened their fury, increased their hate, seared with a hotter iron their hearts, blinded their eyes with a blacker darkness, nerved their hands to greater deeds of violence, and added fuel to their fiery zeal. Earth and hell, men and devils leagued together for the work. And as they saw the heir, with a malignity scarcely human, and with the last gleam of hope which ever cheered the souls of the lost and lighted up their dark abode, they exclaim, “This is the heir, come let us kill him and let us seize on his inheritance.' And this is the second act in that great mutiny, which first defied the power of the Most High, and opened that pit of awful darkness, which first lighted up the fires that shall never be quenched, and gave food to the worm which never dies. And so tle world lieth in the arms of the wicked one; and while men are forging fetters for a never-ending slavery, they boast that they are free, deny the authority of God, and treat with utter contempt the government which He has set up. And now look upon the world, see the motives which animate men, the thoughts in which they indulge, the hopes by which they are inspired, the objects which they have set before them; and will you not find that “ SELF" is the spring and source of all their efforts, that this is the “ idol" which Satan has set up as his representative, and before which men everywhere bow down and worship. *This is the most seductive snare with which the evil one entraps our souls, under the veil of self-gratification of whatever kind, he allows our souls to swini down the side of life, our passions to carry us impetuously on; we have no conflicts, no struggles. Satan's plans, and the voice of our fallen nature mutually agree, and thus our souls pleasantly pass on until the mighty rapids beyond awake us to our danger; but, alas ! as we near the point, the stream becomes swifter, babits become stronger, self-denial becomes burden. some, and though we know the danger to be imminent, yet we shut our eyes to the fact, the grim monster comes, the dark stream of death is before us, and the gasping agonizing “ too late" leaves behind a solemn warning, to which we, who are still present, would do well to take heed. How much of our conversation, time, talents, thoughts, and desires is centred upon self? How eagerly we strive to supply its every craving, and to satisfy its every passion. How promptly we put from us everything which would humiliate it. How perseveringly we seek to render it independent both of God and man. With what costly garments we array it. With what assiduity we nourish it. How much of our precious time is expended in talking about it. How cheerily we chant its praises. How hardly we bear a slight concerning it. How blind we are to its defects. How prone we are to magnify its excellences. With what ecstatic joy we listen to those whose voice of adulation flatter it. How imperious is it in its demands. How unsatisfied with our slavelike service. How unlimited in its desires. How heartless in its caprices. Though all others depreciate it, we applaud it. Though all forsake it, we cling to it. Though all are dissatisfied with it, we still look upon it with complacent satisfaction. But, notwithstanding the fact that men have seized the vineyard as their own, and slain the rightful heir ; notwithstanding the fact that men have disowned the sovereignty of God and set up the idol self in his stead, yet the truth remains, “Ye are not your own" - we are only tenants at will, and when the Lord bids, (and how suddenly and unexpectedly the summons may come,) we must appear before his bar. We are stewards, and as such, we must give an account of our stewardship. God has variously disposed us in his vineyard. To some he has given wealth, not as an absolute possession, but simply as a capital with which to trade for Christ; not as a means of gratifying the desires of the flesh, but as an instrument by which we may carry on his mighty work of love. This wealth is not our own, it is God's; we may not, therefore, bury it in a napkin, but rather prayerfully expend it for God. To others, he has given an influence in society, the power to direct the wills of men, this, too, is God's, and, consequently, we may not use it for mere selfish purposes; it is a mighty power for good or evil, and its use cannot be a matter of indifference. It is a gift from God; we must not therefore lightly esteem it; the voice of the many must not carry us away, passion must not take the place of reason, but rather it should be our earnest endeavour to use it in that way which will give us most satisfaction in the great day of account. Public opinion would not be that strange fitful thing it is, if every influential man were first to seek God's will as to the disposal of this solemn talent; since if all men were seeking the will of God on the matter, it follows that a more blessed unity on all the great questions of interest would be the result. But, alas ! as men act now, truth is rent and torn by its professed adherents. The success of a party, or admiration for a leader, is the real object desired. To others, God has given great intellectual powers. This, too, is a talent confided to our trust. It will be well, indeed, if we use it for God. We have received it from God; to His service let us consecrate it. It is not a matter of taste or feeling whether we do so, it is indeed a duty which God has himself imposed, and for the use of which we are responsible. To others, he has given “much leisure." He has placed us above want. The world demands no service at our hands, and, therefore, we soon learn to feel “leisure" a burden, and we try to kill it by busily doing nothing. We expend it in frivolitg, or in the heartless conventionalities which society imposes; without aim, without a sense of duty, we live from day to day a sad spectacle to him who has formed us for his glory. Brethren, let me tell you that time is a mighty talent, and if in worldly concerns it is felt to be precious, how much rather is it the case in spiritual matters.
Brethren, we are not our own." May this truth have its due influence on our life and conduct. If I were to accuse you of rolibing your fellow-men, I can easily account for the vehemence with which you would deny the charge, and the flush of indignant passion with which your cheek would be covered. Will you be less careful of robbing God, will you appropriate to yourselves what belongs to him, or will you not rather seek by prayer and circumspection to realize the truth of the text-" Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
This brings me in the second place to consider the reason assigned.
II. “For ye are bought with a price." By transgression man forfeited his liberty, he took a step which he could never retrace, he performed a deed which he could never undo, he entered upon an alliance which he could never sever, he forged for himself a fetter which he could never snap asunder, he dashed the vase of human happiness to the ground, and its thousand fragments made hope less hopeful, despair more despairing. He had fallen so low that no human hand could reach him, and every effort of amendment showed how powerless was the work. How awful the condition of fallen man. The shipwrecked mariner, as he stands upon his lonely rock, in the midst of the wide waste of waters, may be saved by human aid, and therefore his case is full of hope in comparison with the wretched transgressor. Alas, how gloomy the prospect; darkness which might be felt, reigned throughout the world; and if at times the fire of hell lighted up the prospect, it made the darkness more appalling, the future more foreboding. Man would be born to die; no hope would have cheered our souls; no joy would have lightened our labours ; no love would have bound our hearts together; no separation would ever have been soothed by the prospect of a joyous re-union ; the mother's bitter hour of sorrow would never have been relieved with the birth of her first-born; the gentle maiden would find her husband's hearth as desolate as the one she had left. Humanly speaking, sympathy would not have soothed us; wealth would not have enriched us; power would not have strengthened us; no eompetition would have inspired us; no probability of attainment would have sustained us in our pursuits ; no smile of happiness would have lighted up our gloomy countenances ; no placid serenity would have stilled our throbbing hearts; no hope of rest would have cheered the weary; no bread of life would have been within our reach to satisfy our spiritual hunger. Oh, my brethren, think of this. Think of man without hope, without strength, without sight, under the just displeasure of an Almighty God, without any power to deliver himself, and without any Saviour to sare him; look at society without a bond of union, life without an aim, a world under condemnation. Think of the agonizing suspense with which we should await the execution of the Divine sentence, and then listen to me while I make known the message of gladness" Ye are bought with a price.” “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." Realize in all its fulness this wondrous truth, that Jesus Christ has given himself a ransom for all. He has suffered in our stead; he has paid the penalty of our misdeeds; he has satisfied The claims of a holy law, and he has freed us from its curec. If we calculate the worth of our souls by the costliness of the ransom, how great their value: If we estimate the worth of our blessings by the depth of agony and suffering which the Saviour bore, then what blessed privileges are ours. Whilst we remember “the price," let us not forget the redemption procured, and whilst our hearts are full of thankfulness for the gracious deliverance, let us think and meditate upon “ the price.” We were bought, but it was
“ with a price;" we were prized, and blessed truth, we were bought. Language fails me as I attempt to speak of " the price;" it is a tale of bitter suffering. Christ purchased us by his humiliation : he took our nature, and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself; he exchanged the throne for the manger, the robes of majesty for the swaddling clothes, the court of heaven for the lowly stable, the companionship of holy beings for contact with weak and sinful men. Christ purchased us by his long-suffering love. The smiters, he smote not; the revilers, he reviled not; the cursers, he cursed not; with a forbearance truly divine, he received the indignities which the world in its blind fury heaped upon him. With Almighty power, he yet threatened not. But one word, and the elements would have rid him of his enemies, the earth would have opened its mouth and swallowed them up quick, or the lightning as a devouring flame would have consumed them. But one desire, and ten legions of angels would have been ready to do his bidding, but wondrous forbearance, the Lord received with unmurmuring meekness these rude assaults of his foes. Think of his holy nature, and the exquisite torture contact with sin must have caused him; think of the bold daring of the great tempter, and the mildness of the Lord's submission through those forty days of conflict; think of the sophistry of the Sadducees, and the hypocrisy of the Pharisces; think of the treachery of the betrayer, and the weakness of all ; remember the despicable vacillation of Pilate, and the rude indignities of his soldiery; forget not the fox-like cunning of Herod, and the undisguised malignity of the Jews; think of dark Gethsemane, those drops, as it were drops of blood ; listen to the thrice repeated prayer, that the bitter cup should be taken from him, if a less painful way might be found, and then hear his willing submission—"Not as I will, but as thou wilt." See that staggering, fainting sufferer bearing the shameful cross, until the fear of losing the scene on Calvary induces the Jews to lay it on another's shoulder ; see the Lord uplifted high a spectacle to men and angels ; hear the bitter raillery of some, mark the cold indifference of others ; think of his ceaseless love, as he forgets his pains, to assure the penitent companion of his shame, that they shall join company again in a paradise of joy. And let the sympathy which nature manifested at that dread hour, tell us how great was the character of the sufferer, how deep the sin of the world. A thick black darkness gathered over the earth, symbolizing the thicker, blacker darkness of this dreadful deed. Thus " by his agony and bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his death and resurrection," he has purchased for us salvation. Hark! as that lone voice proclaims the world's redemption, “It is finished !” Thus "ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price."
Permit me to exhort you to reflect much upon this mighty love. It will soften the hardest heart, subdue the most stubborn will ; it will soothe your sorrows, heal your wounds, and drive away your fears.
" It makes the wounded spirit whole,
And calms the troubled breast; 'Tis manna lo the hungry soul,
And to the weary rest."