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permitted to be like them, still remembering the ancient words of holy encouragement.
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy,
And beareth forth good seed
And bring his sheaves with him."
LOFTY AIMS AND LOWLY DUTIES.
1 COR. XV.
58, xvi. 1. “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always
abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Now concerning the collection for the saints; as I have given order for the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”
It is of considerable use for those who wish to understand the full force and meaning of various parts of Holy Scripture, still to bear in mind, that it was not originally divided into chapters and verses as we now find it in our Bibles. The division into chapters was made about six hundred years since, and that into verses not till two or three centuries after. Now, though these divisions are, in more than one respect, of great advantage, it will nevertheless be well for us constantly to recollect that they were not so placed by the inspired writers themselves, and that there are few verses or chapters which will not be better understood by reference also to those which go before and those which follow.
Let me call your attention to two or three, among many instances, where verses or chapters run as it were into each other.
In the affecting history of Joseph and his brethren, the sacred narrative is (as it were) interrupted at the end of the forty-fourth chapter. Judah finishes his address to his (unknown) brother, saying: "How shall I go up to my father, and the lad not with melest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father. “Then,” that is, at the thought of his father's distress, “ Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him.”
In the account of the conduct of the hypocritical prophet Balaam, that the full force of this most edifying portion of God's word might not be lost, the church has appointed that both the twenty-third and twenty-fourth chapters shall be read as one lesson, viz., on the second Sunday after Easter.
Again, the seventh chapter of St. John's gospel ends as it were in the middle of a verse. “Every man went unto his own house, but Jesus went unto the Mount of Olives."
In St. Paul's epistle to the Christians at Colosse, giv. ing (as we find in the third chapter) special directions to persons in various relations in life, to husbands and wives, children and parents, servants and masters; by this modern division the direction to masters, instead of being, as one would expect, the last verse of the third chapter, appears as the first verse of the fourth.
And to say no more, that the church does not consider the division into chapters and verses of any essential importance, may appear from reference to the prayer-book-to the gospel for the Sunday after as. cension day, and to the portion of Scripture appointed for the epistle on St. James's day; as also to the gospel for the tenth Sunday after Trinity: from all which it will appear that we need not be very scrupulous in attending to such divisions into chapter and verse, but of the two, rather lay aside our regard to them, when we are seeking to ascertain the force and meaning of any particular passage of God's Holy Word.
It is also worth consideration, that beside those many places where the sense or meaning of any chapter or verse is as it were incomplete, without passing on to the chapter or verse following, there are also still more to which most valuable light and illustration may be obtained, by comparing and contrasting with them what has gone before or comes after. As to mention only one or two instances a person reading or hearing the last chapter of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans, or of his first epistle to the Corinthians, might, in a light, careless mood, think himself excused if he derived no
great edification from them. The conclusion of the apostle's letter to the Romans (such an one might say), chiefly consists of mere messages to different friends: and that to the Corinthians of notices and instructions about matters of mere local or temporary interest, no way concerning us of these latter days. But persons who so think or speak must be distinctly warned: first, that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God;" and as such, is never to be heard or read but with sincere awe and reverence. In the next place, this inspired word of God is also "profitable, variously, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteous
It is always profitable: if we are not profited by it, it is our own blame and loss; its tendency uni. versally is to make "the man of God,” the Christian “perfect," that is, “thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” Particularly, in the last chapter to the Romans just referred to, how much matter for reflection is there, to say nothing else, in the mere fact, that the inspired author of this so grand and divinely magnificent epistle, should take so much pains to mention by name and with words of kindness and Christian courtesy where needful or suitable, various persons whose condition in this world doubtless was very low and obscure, and of whom all that could be said was, that they were sincere members of the church and body of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so with respect to the chapter to which the church directs our thoughts this day, we may observe that the great apostle had just before been calling the attention of his Corinthian converts to subjects as awfully mysterious, and yet withal as practically important, as any which could be offered to men's consideration.
He had been solemnly reminding them of the truth and certainty of the great doctrine of the resurrection of the dead : and in the course of his argument had (in the wisdom imparted to him by the Holy Spirit) uttered or rather committed to writing, things which had been kept secret from the foundation of the world.
From the question of the half-unbelievers : “How
are the dead raised up? With what body do they come ?" the apostle takes occasion to reveal high and awful truths concerning the last resurrection, such as eye had not seen nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man to conceive, but God had revealed them to him by his Spirit.”
" It is sown in corruption,
It is raised in incorruption.
It is sown a natural body, It is raised a spiritual body.". “There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body, and as we have worn the image of the earthly, we shall also wear the image of the heavenly." And then presently he proceeds to state particularly, some more of the awful circumstances, which as a prophet, he was enabled to foresee concerning the last advent of the Lord Jesus.
“Behold! I show you a mystery. We shall not all sleep. But we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump. For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed,”
"And when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal "shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, death is swallowed up in victory." Adding what may perhaps be considered as a most divine hymn or anthem :
“O death! where is thy sting. O grave! where is thy victory. The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God 'which giveth us the victory through our Lord
Jesus Christ.” And then after his manner the apostle subjoins his solemn practical warning, by way of inference from the great doctrinal truths he had been setting forth,
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always, uniformly, abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”