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the Law, who wandered through his days, without a home? or Moses, who gave the Law, and died in the wilderness ? or David under the Law, who “ had no proud looks," and was a weaned child ?” or the Prophets, in the latter days of the Law, who wandered in sheep-skins and goat-skins? or the Baptist, when the Gospel was superseding it, who was clad in raiment of camels' hair, and ate the food of the wilderness ? or the Apostles, who were the offscouring of all things ? or our blessed Saviour, who had not a place to lay His head?” Who are the soft luxurious men in Scripture? There was the rich man, who “ fared sumptuously every day," and then “ lifted up his eyes in hell, being in torment." There was that other, whose “ground brought forth plentifully," and who said, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years ;” and his soul was required of him that night. There was Demas, who forsook St. Paul, “ having loved this present world.” And, alas! there was that highly-favoured, that divinely-inspired king, rich and wise Solomon, whom it availed nothing to have measured the earth, and numbered its inhabitants, when in his old age he “ loved many strange women," and worshipped their gods.
Far be it from us, soldiers of Christ, thus to perplex ourselves with this world, who are making our way towards the world to come! No man that warreth, entangleth himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. If a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully." This is St. Paul's rule, as has already been referred to : accordingly, in another place, he bears witness of himself that he “ died daily.” Day by day he got more and more dead to this world; he had fewer ties with earth, a larger treasure in heaven. Nor let us think that it is overdifficult to imitate him, though we be not Apostles, nor are called to any extraordinary work, nor are enriched with any miraculous gifts : he would have all men like himself, and all may be like him, according to their place and measure of grace. If we would be fol. lowers of the great Apostle, first let us with him fix our eyes upon Christ our SAVIOUR; consider the splendour and glory of His holiness, and try to love it. Let us strive and pray that the love of holiness may be created within our hearts, and acts will follow, such as befit us and our circumstances, in due time, without our distressing ourselves to find what they should be. You need not attempt to draw any precise line between what is sinful and what is more allowable : look up to Christ, and deny yourselves everything, whatever its character, which you think He would have you relinquish. You need not calculate and measure, if
love much : you need not perplex yourselves with points of curiosity, if you have a heart to venture after Him True difficulties will sometimes arise, but they will be seldom. He bids you take up your cross; therefore accept the daily opportunities which occur of yielding to others, when you need not yield, and of doing unpleasant services, which you might avoid. He bids those who would be highest, live as the lowest : therefore, turn from am. bitious thoughts, and (as far as you religiously may) make resolves against taking on you authority and rule. He bids you sell and give alms; therefore, hate to spend money on yourself. Shut your ears to praise, when it grows loud : set your face like a flint, when the world ridicules, and smile at its threats. Learn to master your heart, when it would burst forth into vehemence, or prolong a barren sorrow, or dissolve into unseasonable tender, Curb your tongue, and turn away your eye,
fall into temptation. Avoid the dangerous air which relaxes you, and brace yourself upon the heights. Be up at prayer a great while before day,” and seek the true, your only Bridegroom, " by night on your bed.” So shall self-denial become natural to you, and a change come over you, gently and imperceptibly; and, like Jacob, you will lie down in the waste, and will soon see Angels and a way opened for you into heaven.
THE YOKE OF CHRIST.
Matt. xi. 29, 30.
"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart,
and ye shall find rest unto your souls ; for My yoke is easy, and My burden is light."
THESE words, which are brought before us in the Gospel of today's festival', are also found in the address made to us upon Ash Wednesday, in which we are told that if we return unto Him who is the merciful Receiver of all true penitent sinners, if we will take His easy yoke and light burden upon us, to follow Him in lowliness, patience, and charity; this, if we do, CHRIST will deliver us from the curse of the law, and from the extreme malediction which shall light upon them that shall be set on the left hand.” A few days since we were called upon a Fast-day to take on us Christ's yoke, and now on a Festival of an Apostle, the call is repeated.
And with a particular fitness it occurs, now as often, that we celebrate the feast of St. Matthias, during Lent; for if there be an Apostle who above the rest may be taken to remind us of the duty of mortification, it is he. Our LORD, when asked why His disciples did not fast, said, they could not fast while He was with them, but that the time would come, when the Bridegroom should be taken away from them, and then should they fast in those days. That time was now come, when St. Matthias was chosen to be an Apostle. Christ had gone away. Peace and joy the Apostles had abundantly, more so than when He was with them ; but for that very reason, it was not such a joy “as the world giveth.” It was His own joy which arose out of pain and chastisement. This was the joy which St. Matthias received when he was made an Apostle. He never had been an Apostle under age. He had indeed been with our Lord, but not as an Apostle. The rest had been chosen (as it were) as children; they had been heirs of the kingdom, while under tutors and governors, and, though Apostles, had not understood their calling, had had ambitious thoughts or desires after riches, and were indulged for a while, ere new made, with the old wine, lest the bottles should burst. But St. Matthias came into his inheritance at once. He took upon him at once, upon his election, the power and the penalty of the Apostolate. No dreams of earthly prosperity could fit around that throne, which was reared over the grave of one who had been tried and had fallen, and under the immediate shadow of the cross of Him he had betrayed.
1 Preached on St. Matthias's day during Lent.
Well, then, does St. Matthias repeat to us on this day our Lord's words, “ Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me," for he had taken it on him from the first. His Pastoral Staff had ever been a crosier. He had had no youth. He had borne the yoke in his youth. He entered at once upon his long Lent, and he rejoiced in it.
The exhortation, then, which our Saviour gives in to-day's Gospel, and of which St. Matthias's history reminds us, is at the present season most suitable.
Our Saviour says,
Come unto ME," and then He adds, “ Take My yoke upon you, and learn of ME.” Thus He first calls us to Him, and next shows us the way.
Come unto Me,” He says, “and I will give you rest;" and then adds, “ Take My yoke upon you, and ye shall find rest for
your souls." He told them that they must come to Him, but did not at once tell them the way; He told them they must bear a yoke, but did not at once tell them what it was. St. Peter, in consequence, inquired about it on one occasion, and was bid to wait awhile, and he should know it more plainly. Our Lord had said, "Whither I go, thou canst not follow Me now, but thou shalt follow Me afterwards." · Ye shall seek ME,” He said, “ and
whither I go ye cannot come?.” He spoke of His yoke, the way of His cross, as St. Peter found when at length, after His resurrection, he was told plainly what should befal him. “When thou wast young,” said our Lord to him, by the lake of Tiberias, when thou wast a child in the faith, and hadst thine own way, “thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst wbither thou wouldest,” as just before St. Peter had girt his fisher's coat unto him, and cast himself into the sea; “but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not*.” And then He added, “Follow me.” St. Peter, indeed, was called upon literally to take Christ's yoke upon him, to learn of Him and walk in His ways; but what he underwent in fulness, all Christ's disciples must share in their measure, in some way or other. Again, in another place, our Lord speaks more expressly; If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow ME'." Here we have the words of the text emphatically repeated. To come to Christ, is to come after Him; to take up our cross, is to take upon us His yoke; and though He calls this an easy yoke, yet it is easy because it is His yoke, and He makes it easy ; still it does not cease to be a yoke, and it is troublesome and distressing, because it is a yoke.
Let us set it down then, as a first principle in religion, that all of us must come to Christ, in some sense or other, through things naturally unpleasant to us; it may be even through bodily suffering, such as the Apostles endured, or it may be nothing more than the subduing of our natural infirmities and the sacrifice of our natural wishes; it may be pain greater or pain less, on a public stage or a private one; but, till the words “yoke” and
can stand for something pleasant, the bearing of our yoke and cross is something not pleasant; and though rest is promised as our reward, yet the way to rest must lie through discomfort and distress of heart.
This I say must be taken as a first principle in religion; it concerns us all, it concerns young and old, rich and poor, all of whom are apt to consider it a valid reason for disregarding and speaking against a religious life, that it is so strict and distasteful.
2 John xiii. 36. 33.
3 John xxi. 18.
4 Matt. xvi. 24.