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TEXTS FOR THE TIMES:
BY THE VERY REV. J. J. STEWART PEROWNE, D.D., DEAN OF PETERBOROUGH.
For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself,'-PHILIPPIANS III. 20, 21.
THESE words are the expression of a forcible contrast. The Apostle had been speaking of men who called themselves Christians, whose lives filled him with sorrow. They professed to be followers of the Crucified, but they had not learnt the sublime lesson of His death. They were enemies of His Cross. They were not crucifying the flesh, with its affections and lusts; they were the miserable slaves of their appetites. They had sunk into that lowest depth of human degradation, in which man bows down, not before stock and stone, but before the projected image of his own vile affections; they sacrificed at the altar of lust and sensuality those bodies which they should have yielded 'a living sacrifice' to Him Who made and redeemed them; they gloried in their shame. It is a terrible picture. And the Apostle cannot think of it without deep commiseration; he is moved even to tears. And he turns away from it with thankfulness, as he remembers the high privilege, the exalted blessedness of the Christian indeed. The Christian is called not only to renounce the works of the flesh, he is called to live a heavenly life. He is 'a citizen of no mean city,' even that city' which hath the foundations, whose builder and maker is God.' 'Our conversation is in heaven.' 'Our conversation'-or, as the word means more exactly, our city-the state of which we are members, the city of which we are citizens, is in heaven. It is there already; it is there an ascertained fact; it is there a present possession. We enjoy its rights, we are governed by its laws, we may exercise its privileges now. Heaven lies about us,' not only in our infancy,' but in a deeper and truer sense, in our ripe manhood, if we are Christ's. This is the great ideal of the Christian life: it is,' not it shall be,' a life in heaven. 'Ye are come'-not 'ye shall come,' but 'ye are come to Mount Sion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, and to the....Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to
VOL. V.-SIXTH SERIES.