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If, in the past year, we have had a quarrel with any, now is the time to shake hands and make friends. If we think ourselves wronged, now is the time to seek redress; not after the old fashion, by returning evil for evil, but by overcoming it with good. If we have stood out till now, and nursed our anger against any of our brethren, now is the time to dismiss such unchristian feelings, and hold out the hand, and be reconciled.
Let us on Christmas-day, brethren, of all days in the year, have our hearts quite emptied of all rancour, all bitterness, all the least unpleasantness of feeling towards any one. Let us be at peace, and in perfect charity with all men !
And all the more for the words that follow in the Epistle,—The Lord is at hand! Nearer and nearer each Christmas that we live must the day be drawing. We have none of us long to wait. The Master may come at
any moment and call for may come when least we expect Him, and when least we are prepared for Him. The insecurity of life is a lesson forced upon us by every funeral bell we hear, by every fresh gap in our family circle, by every sign and symptom of decaying strength that we find in our own bodies.
May it not be without its use ! may this feeling of life's shortness, life's uncertainty, stop us from all boastful reckoning on to-morrow! may it im
press us with the necessity of agreeing with our adversary, while he is in the way with us, laying aside malice, and enmity, and harshness, and exercising ourselves in the law of kindness — doing to our fellow-men as we would that the Lord when He comes should do to ourselves !
Such is surely the Christian's best way of keeping Christmas ; and Christmas so observed will leave no sting of regret behind it- it will leave only a blessing. It will leave us all the happier, all the stronger, better fitted for the call of our Master, and for the fellowship of His saints
-more really Christian in heart and temper, with more in us than we had before of the mind the gentle, forgiving, long-suffering, compassionate mind—which was in Christ Jesus !
SUNDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS-DAY.
FORGETTING THE PAST.
PHILIP. iii. 13.
Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth
unto those things which are before.
The whole of the passage, of which these words are part, is very instructive, and deeply to be pondered. Brethren, writes St. Paul, I count not myself to have apprehended-grasped, taken hold of — but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
The first thing that strikes us on reading this is, how entirely St. Paul puts himself on a level with his converts—how far he was from pride or boastfulness, because of his superior attainments in religion.
If any Christian had ever cause for boasting, it was St. Paul. If any Christian might count on heaven as certain, it was St. Paul. He had given up all for Jesus Christ. He had suffered on behalf of Christ, and in preaching His gospel, more than any other man.
He had been persecuted for His sake — imprisoned, scourged, stoned, shipwrecked, made as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things. At the very moment of his writing to the Philippians he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ, in bonds at Rome waiting his trial. He had, indeed, suffered the loss of all earthly goods, and counted them as nought in his zeal for Christ. And yet for all this—for all, too, that he had been favoured with tokens and visions, and seen with his eyes the Lord Christ, and heard from His lips that he was a chosen vessel unto Him,chosen to bear His Name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel ; for all this, St. Paul is not puffed up or proud. He writes as if he were the least amongst Christians. He puts forth no claim to a reward. He does not speak as if he were sure of salvation. Quite the contrary; he speaks doubtfully. He represents himself to be as a man in a race, whose course was much of it yet to be
before whom the prize was set to encourage him; but the winning of which was yet uncertain, dependent on his running well. Not as though I
had already attained, either were already perfect : but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended : but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Now, out of this passage I have taken only a portion for our meditation at present—that part in which St. Paul speaks of forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before.
The text divides itself into two parts : First, The forgetting those things which
are behind. Secondly, The reaching forth unto those things which are before.
And, first, of forgetting those things which are behind. This, remember, was St. Paul's own principle of life. In the race in which he was engaged, he declares that this was his plan - to forget the things that are behind; and we can at once see how good a plan it is. If a man running a race were for ever to be casting his eye back, to see what was behind him to see how far he had got, where he had stumbled, and the like—that man, we are sure, would never come in as winner. The time lost in looking back would be fatal to