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pressed that apostle, as a seducer and tempter, with marks of great displeasure and resentment. “He turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me; for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men,” ver. 23. And when those sufferings were near at hand, and Peter began to make resistance, that he might not be apprehended by the Jewish officers, he said to him : “ The cup, which my Father has given me to drink, shall I not drink it?" John xviii. 11. Ånd, “ Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he should presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” Matt. xxvi. 53.
That is the second thing, Christ's poverty, and the cheerfulness with wbich he submitted to it, and to all the inconveniences attending it.
III. The next thing observable in the words of the text is the moving cause of it, or the end aimed at and proposed in this poverty, which is our benefit, that we might be rich.
I need not say, that hereby is not particularly intended earthly riches; that the persons, to whom St. Paul is writing, or others, followers of Jesus, might have a great deal of wealth, or large estates, and worldly pomp and honour. There is no reason to doubt, that usually, or however, very frequently, good christians may have an equal share of worldly good things with other men, by the practice of the virtues of sobriety, diligence, prudence, and moderation, which his doctrine recommends; nevertheless that is not what is here particularly intended, but somewhat higher. Any thing that is valuable may be represented by riches, for which men ordinarily have a great esteem. This language is common in profane authors of the best note, as well as in the sacred writings. They who are wise, whatever is their outward condition, are reckoned rich in some sense by the judicious. In the figurative style of Solomon, in the book of Proverbs, Wisdom there says: “ Riches and honour are with me, yea, durable riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver. I lead in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of judgment; that I may cause those that love me to inherit substance; and I will fill their treasures," Prov. viii. 18, 19.
It is in this sublime and exalted sense, that the apostle ought to be here understood, when he says, “ for your sakes Christ became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich." For this is agreeable to his style in other places. So he says to the Corinthians, “ I thank my God always in
your behalf, that in every thing ye are enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge,” 1 Cor. i. 4,5. In like manner, in the seventh verse of this chapter, wherein is the text: “ Therefore as ye abound in every thing, in faith, in utterance, and in knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.”
There are several branches of this kind of riches, with which christians are enriched by Jesus Christ, and which he proposed to enrich them with. There are riches of knowledge and understanding in divine things, riches of virtue and holiness, riches of good works, riches of inheritance, riches of comfort, and riches of future glory and happiness.
First, there are the riches of knowledge and understanding in divine things. This is a fundamental blessing, on which many others depend. “ In Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” Col. ii. 3. From his fulness christians have received. They gain by him a clearer knowledge of God, and the way of serving him, and approving themselves to him, than others have, or than they had, before they had heard of him and had learned of him. Says the apostle to the Galatians : “ But now after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements ?" Gal. iv. 9. They have juster notions of the future state of recompences, than others. Through Christ, these Corinthians, and other Gentiles, had gained a clearer and more delightful knowledge, and fuller assurances concerning the wisdom, goodness, and mercy of God, and many other religious truths, than they had before.
Secondly, There are also the riches of graces or virtues, the truest riches in the world, and the most valuable of all attainments. Such as the love of God and our neighbour, moderation for earthly things, meekness, patience, gentleness, long-suffering, the government of ourselves and all our passions. To have these virtuous dispositions, especially to excel in them, is great riches. St. James speaks of some, who were “ rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him," Jam. ij. 5. Christ has become poor, and has given himself for us, that we might have these riches of virtue and holiness, and that we might abound therein, excelling in love, meekness, patience, zeal, and fortitude of mind in the profession of truth, and the practice of virtue.
Farther, thirdly, There are the riches of good works, when the virtuous dispositions, just mentioned, are exercised, and show themselves in their proper fruits. St. Paul requires Timothy to “ charge them that are rich in this world, that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate," 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18. He himself is here exhorting the Corinthians to be rich in that way. And at the beginning of this chapter he commends the churches of Macedonia for the riches of their liberality.
4. There are also the riches of inheritance, or expectation. And Christ became poor for this end, that we might be entitled to a glorious and heavenly inheritance. Though Gentiles, once afar off, we through Christ have been brought nigh unto God, and admitted into his family, and made children. “ And if children, then heirs," says St. Paul, " and joint heirs with Christ,” Rom. viii. 17. And St. James : " Has not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to them that love him ?" Jam. ij. 5. So christians are rich in hope and expectation.
5. Consequently, they are likely to be rich in comforts. Since their expectations are vast, and also well founded, they have sources of consolation which cannot easily fail. In every condition, whether they want, or abound, as to earthly goods, they will enjoy contentment, and in all their tribulations have peace and comfort. As St. Paul says:
Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access into this grace—and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also,” Rom. v. beg. especially when they happen on account of services for the interest of true religion : “knowing, that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. And hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us."
6. The riches, which the apostle here speaks of, must include also the riches of future glory and happiness. And that is true riches, a treasure laid up in heaven, liable to no violence, nor accidents, nor decays. They who, according to the directions of Christ, and his apostles, seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness in the first place, who rightly improve their present advantages, doing good, and being rich in good works, lay up for themselves in store a good foundation,” or a good treasure, “ against the time to come, and will obtain eternal life,” 1 Tim. vi. 18, 19.
Thus Christ “ became poor, that we through his poverty might be ricb,” in religious knowledge, in virtue, in good
works, in the hope and expectation of a heavenly inberitance, in contentment, peace and comfort of mind now, and at length in glory, the perfection of holiness and happiness.
IV. It may be now fitly inquired by us: How does Christ's poverty conduce to our riches ? It does so many ways.
For by Christ's living in this world in a mean condition, we have better assurance of the reality of his miraculous works, and consequently of the truth of his doctrine, than otherwise we should have had. The evidence of them is now much more clear and credible, than it would have been if he had lived in splendor, and had enjoyed external power and authority. For in that case it might have been suspected, that some were disposed to ascribe great works to
is no pretence for such a suspicion.
As a teacher of the principles of true religion, a low and mean condition was on many accounts preferable, and more likely to subserve the great ends which he had in view. And therefore he submitted to it, and even chose it.
Hereby he has been a pattern of all virtues, especially the most difficult. In a word, he has given an example of virtue, suited to the afflicted, tempted state and condition which we are in.
They of low rank are a large part of mankind. He has set a pattern of the virtues suited to their condition—meekness, patience, resignation to the will of God, trust in Divine Providence. Hereby also men of higher rank are instructed to be thankful and useful in their stations. Moreover moderation for all earthly things is a disposition necessary even for the richest and the greatest. And they ought to be prepared for poverty, and every kind of abasement; forasmuch as no condition in this world is set above a liableness to the most surprising changes and vicissitudes.
V. One thing more, which we are led to observe, is “ the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ :” his goodness, his benevolence, his munificence in “ becoming poor,” that others might be rich.”
Ye know this, says the apostle. The Corinthians, and other christians at that time, had been acquainted with it by those who had preached the gospel to them. We know it likewise from the history of our Lord's life, recorded in the gospels, and from the enlargements upon the subject of the love of Christ, which we find in the epistles of his apostles.
We may know it also by the conviction we have of the great difference between wealth and poverty, the advantages of the one, and the disadvantages and inconveniences of the other; the respect and homage paid to the one, the contempt and neglect which are often the portion of the other. We know it by observing how seldom respect and esteem can be secured by the most exalted virtue, and the most useful services of men of low condition. And we see what opposition our Lord met with, what contradictions he endured in the course of his ministry; which might have been prevented if he had been in power and authority; if he had not chosen to be in this world, and among his disciples, as one that serveth, and to maintain this character to the end, and lay down his life for his sheep, even those of the people of Israel, and for those who were not of that fold, but were afar off among the Gentiles.
VI. APPLICATION. Let me now add a word or two by way of application.
1. We are all here furnished with a powerful motive to condescension, meekness, forbearance, and every virtue conducive to the welfare of our fellow creatures.
66 We know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We need not therefore to bave frequent and earnest admonitions to works of kindness. We have always at hand a consideration that may make us ready of ourselves to every good work, as occasions offer.
2. Let then every rational, every unprejudiced, and welldisposed mind, give honour and praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. Wbat, and who is he, to whom Jesus does not appear amiable in his words, in his works, and in the whole of his conduct ? Is generosity amiable in others? Why not in Jesus, who has given the most extraordinary and unexceptionable proofs of that great virtue?
By his grace in becoming poor, we have been made rich. For to what else, or to whom, so much as to him, do we owe our just sentiments in religion, or any measure of virtue which we have attained ? To whom are we so much indebted as to him, for the comfort of our minds, for support under afflictions, and for a well grounded bope of eternal life?
We may owe something to reason. We also owe a great deal to revelation, especially to the revelation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he taught in a mean condition, and confirmed by his willing and patient death. We are indebted to the faith of Abraham, the self-denial of Moses, and to all the noble exploits of others who have been ani