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GENERAL BAPTIST MAGAZINE.
"THE FELLOWSHIP OF HIS SUFFERINGS."
Philippians iii. 10.
BY THE REV W. EVANS.
It is a truth, in dwelling on which we never weary, that Christ fully enters into the feelings of His followers; that His sympathy is so perfect, that "in all their affliction He is afflicted;" that "He suffered, being tempted," and is therefore "able to succour them that are tempted;" that He not only "bare our sins," but that He also "carried our sorrows." Nor is it a matter for wonder that we should love to dwell upon this truth knowing, as we do, how impossible it is that we should perfectly sympathize with each other.
There are times, it is true, when we feel that there are some who are able to understand us, and to feel with us; and a consciousness of their sympathy is almost sufficient to make us forget our grief; but there are seasons when "the heart knoweth its own bitterness," and then it is that we feel the preciousness of the One Friend who can be "touched with the feeling of our infirmities."
While, however, we may well linger over this truth, and draw from it the strength and encouragement which it is calculated to impart, we shall do well to bear in mind that we are VOL. LXXII.-NEW SERIES, No. 10.
called to the high privilege of sharing in the sufferings of Christ.
If we are not mistaken it was of this latter truth that Paul desired a fuller knowledge. He desired not only to have the assurance of his interest in the sufferings of Christ, but also to participate in them. He wanted not merely to know that the Saviour suffered for and with His disciples, but also that he himself as a disciple suffered for and with the Saviour.
This was one of the first truths which Christ sought to impress upon the minds of His disciples. "Who
soever doth not bear his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple;" and the sons of Zebedee expressed their willingness to suffer with their Master if they might but share in His glory. "Are ye able," said the Saviour, "to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? And they said, we are able."
If we had heard them utter these words we should have been ready to have said, "surely He will rebuke their presumption, not only in de
siring the most distinguished places and needed supplementing. Sucha
that were in any way incomplete in His kingdom, but more particularly in supposing that it was possi- thought would be most dishonouring ble for them to drink of His cup, to Christ. He completed His atonand be baptized with His baptism;" ing work—“there remaineth no more and yet, strange to say, instead of sacrifice for sin ;” and the suffering telling them that they could not do which that atonement involved both this, He distinctly assured them that in its intensity, and in its moral they could and should participate in aspect godward and manward stands His deepest suffering. He said to entirely alone, and neither needs to them, “Ye shall, indeed, drink of be nor can be repeated or supplemy cup, and be baptized with the mented. Our "fellowship" is rather baptism that I am baptized with.” a proof of the completeness of His
He knew that their union with sacrifice, and that the spirit of that Him would necessitate their sharing sacrifice is working in us. Our sufin His bitter pain, though they, in fering with Christ is the sign of the all probability, when professing their presence and development of the new readiness to do so, did not fully com- life which has come to us through prehend the meaning of His cup and His perfect work. baptism. Peter, in after years, laid While, however, we carefully guard hold of the truth to which the against falling into such an error, it Saviour gave utterance in the words will be well for us if we can underjust given, and he sought to impress stand in what way, and to what exit upon the minds of the persecuted tent, it is possible for us to suffer “strangers” to whom he wrote. with Christ? “Rejoice," said he, “inasmuch as What are we to understand by ye are partakers of Christ's suffer- “Bearing His Cross," " Drinking ings." How fully Paul grasped the of His cup, and being baptized with truth, and how often it was before His baptism,” “Filling up that which
' his mind, may be gathered from his is behind of the afflictions of Christ?" frequent reference to it. When Will the scourging, imprisonment, writing to the Colossians, and refer- hunger, nakedness, and toil to which ing to himself, he said, “Who now the disciples were subject sufficiently rejoice in my sufferings for you, and
and explain these words? We think not. fill up that which is behind of the Great as their sufferings were in afflictions of Christ for His body's these respects they only formed a sake, which is the church.”
part, and we venture to think a small That tender remonstrance which part, of the fellowship of which Paul fell upon his ears on the road to speaks. Did the poverty and weariDamascus, “Why persecutest thou ness and persecution which Christ me,” taught him not only that Christ endured constitute His cross, suffered with His persecuted fol- cup," and "baptism?” Will these lowers, but also that the followers things sufficiently account for His suffered with Christ; that there was "strong crying and tears," His being a real community of suffering be- sorrowful even unto death,” His tween Christ and His disciples; and blood-like sweat ? Ah! no. These ever after he desired to enter more expressions tell us of an anguish of fully into this fellowship.
soul which no merely physical causes Let us, however, be sure that we could have produced, which we cando not make a fatal mistake concern- not fully understand, but in which ing the import of the above passages. we must share in virtue of our union Let us not think that by any suffer- with Him. If the followers of Christ ing of ours we can add anything to can only be said to have fellowship the sacrificial work of Christ, as if with Him in His sufferings when
their outward circumstances but the world's guilt, in all its magsimilar to His, then thousands of nitude and hideousness, was present disciples in our day could not be to His mind.
And it always apsaid to have this fellowship at all. peared the same to Him.. In whatHow many
of those who read this ever form it presented itself, its paper can, with any degree of truth- loathsomeness was in no way difulness adopt the words of the Master, minished; it remained the same “The foxes have holes, and the birds foul abhorrent thing from which of the air have nests, but the Son of His soul recoiled. Man hath not where to lay His head.” Let Mark take us to Gethsemane,
What have we ever been called and tell us again what he has told upon to give up on account of our us so many times, and let us try to adherence to Christ ?
catch the import of his words. persecuted us on account of our reli- When narrating the circumstances gion ? Not one in a thousand of us which took place on the night in know "the fellowship of His suffer- which the Redeemer was betrayed, ings” in these respects; but if we
“And. He taketh with Him can be brought to understand what Peter and James and John, and beHe meant by His ' cross,' cup, gan to be sore amazed, and very and “baptism,” we shall doubtless heavy.” The word here rendered be able to see how we may partici- amazed is expressive of astonishment pate with Him in these things inde- mingled with fear. At what, then, pendently of any outward circum
sore amazed ?" At what stances. Mark then, that Christ, the was He astonished ? What caused perfectly pure one, must have been the trembling to take possession of intensely pained by the very exis- His heart ? Was it the prospect of tence of evil.
the judgment hall, and the scourge Most of us have, at some time or and the mocking and the cross ? other in our lives, been brought into To think this would be to degrade contact with something exceedingly the Saviour below many of His folloathsome, from which our whole lowers who have welcomed the gibsoul recoiled. Now and then we bet, the block, or the stake. hear of some revolting deed which But it was not these things only fills us with horror, and we can which perplexed His soul and made scarcely help exclaiming, “Oh, how the tabernacle quake, but rather His dreadfully wicked.” What, then, full view of, and His perfect feeling must Christ have felt, meeting with with regard to the root whence all sin, as He did, in its blackest forms ? the hatred and violence of His eneWe, purblind with sin, often fail to mies sprung; or as Langre forcibly see the loathsome thing; and when puts it, “The traitorous, false, dewe do see it, we are in constant spairing world represented in Judas danger of becoming unconcerned as fills Him with horror to amazeto its existence. But it was not ment. He shudders before it, before so with Him. No sin escaped the abyss of wickedness in this His eye. He saw it lurking in the spiritual hell.” Now great as the heart of the professed disciple as well Saviour's bodily sufferings must as in those "whited sepulchres" have been (and God forbid that we whom He so fearfully denounced. should ever think lightly of them) And more than this, He took in at a we cannot help thinking that this glance the corporate evil of the whole perfect knowledge of, and perfect world. His soul was not only op
feeling with regard to the world's pressed as ours may be, by the guilt sin, must have filled His soul with connected with the individual acts such anguish as would outweigh all which He daily saw around Him, His bodily sufferings. And may we
have fellowship with Him in this ? | suffering ? It cannot be. The “old We not only may, but if we are dis- man” clings to us too tightly to be ciples we must. We repeat that His put off without a struggle. Crucisufferings will always rise infinitely fying "the old man" is a slow and above ours in intensity; but there painful process. Mortifying the can be no real union with Him with- deeds of the body is no mere child's out a participation in them, and the play. But this “ putting off," this degree of our suffering with Him will crucifying and mortifying, has to be be regulated by our likeness to Him. done even though it may involve an Still as the films of sin are removed amount of anguish equal to that from our eyes, we shall understand occasioned by the cutting off of a more fully what the world's sin right hand, or the plucking out of a really is.
Still, as our moral sensitiveness, Christ's conflict with evil has to be which sin has deadened, is restored repeated in us, and if the final result to its proper tone, we shall feel some- is to be the same, namely, victory, thing of the horror and loathing the accompanying result will be the which the Sinless One felt, and be same, namely, suffering. able to spell out a part of the mean- Again, Christ not only suffered in ing of the words, “Himself bare
the way to which we have referred, our sins.” We shall know “the fel- but He had the fullest knowledge of lowship of His sufferings.”
all the sorrow and misery which sin But then the perfect feeling of brought in its train ; and in spite of Christ toward the world's guilt was the fact that men had brought this but one element of His suffering. sorrow upon themselves, the comHis life was one continued conflict passionate Redeemer took it into with evil, and in this conflict He His own heart. The world was suffered.
groaning under the weight of its Had it been possible for Him to sorrows, and Christ's love prompted have been conscious of the existence Him to assume the burden as His of the evil without coming into own. This is the truth of which direct contact with it, even then, we the prophet spoke when he said, think, it must have been to Him a “Surely He hath borne our griefs, source of intense pain; but He did and carried our sorrows;" and who not come into the world to be an can conceive the depth and intensity idle spectator of its sin, but He of the anguish which He endured ? came to battle with it; and in this Every throb of agony that shot contest, although He conquered, He through the hearts of men lodged in did not escape unscathed.
the heart of the “ Man of Sorrows," bruised its head, gave it its death till at length that heart broke with blow, but it bruised His heel.” It the weight of its load. And we are is true that the Sinless One had no called to have fellowship with Him evil in Himself to subdue but in its in this. If “the same mind be in approaches to Him, and its attempts to us which was also in Him," then the overcome Him, we are distinctly told same causes will produce similar rethat He “suffered, being tempted." sults, differing only in degree. If
And here you will readily perceive the sorrows of the world so oppressed how the disciple may have fellow- Him, they will be sure to oppress us ship with his master. At the mo- in proportion as we are living under ment of our union with Christ we the influence of His mighty love. enter upon the same conflict. And But His sympathy was no mere pasis it likely that we shall ever gain sive thing. He did not merely sigh any decisive victory over the evil over the world's woes, but was prethat is in us and about us without pared to make any sacrifice in order
to remove them. He would cheer- I could wish that myself were acfully have taken the load Himself; cursed from Christ for my brethren, but men, for the most part, madly my kinsmen according to the flesh.” refused to avail themselves of His Do not these words indicate a closeproffered aid, and
it may be that ness of fellowship with the Master to this opposition to His loving desires which most of us are strangers ? and efforts formed the bitterest in- Did not the writer enter into the gredient in His cup, the sharpest very spirit of Christ's life and sacripang of His cross.
But how weak fice, in being willing to sacrifice at and inadequate words are to express least) his highest earthly good in the keenness of His anguish. When order to save his brethren? Hear He Himself gave utterance to His him again—"My little children, of emotions, how far short we fall of whom I travail in birth again, until fully comprehending their depth. Christ be formed in you.” Here you
And yet we cannot fail to catch see he evidently participates in the at least some faint idea of what He soul-travail of Christ. Nothing less must have felt when His intense than the pangs of maternity will love, deep anxiety, and bitter dis- fully represent his suffering, love, appointment blended in that piteor and anxiety for his fellow-men. Nor wail, “If thou hadst known, even can it be otherwise with us when we thou, at least in this thy day, the experience as fully as the apostle did things which belong unto thy peace! the power of Christ's life working but now they are hid from thine
But the longer we dwell Be it ours, then, disciples of Jesus, upon this theme the more we must thus to bear the cross and seek to feel how little we at present know of know more fully the power of His “the fellowship of His suffering. resurrection, and the fellowship of
And yet some of Christ's followers His sufferings, being made conformhave had such close fellowship with able unto His death.” Let us cherish Him that, as we study their lives a deeper abhorrence of sin, and an and words, we are almost ready to intenser love for the sinful. Let our doubt our discipleship. Listen to lives be one continued effort to lessen one of them—“I say the truth in the sin and sorrow of the world by Christ, I lie not, my conscience also leading men to Christ, and if we thus bearing me witness in the Holy enter into the sufferings, we shall also Ghost, that I have great heaviness, “enter into the joy of our Lord.” and continual sorrow
in my heart, for Stalybridge.
NOTES ON IGNORANCE. 1. It seems to be very full of assump- now? A little Latin, rather a smaller tion and presumption does that remark quantity of Greek, you can recite a of yours—“He is an ignorant fellow !" few lines from “Paradise Lost," and I am not quite sure as to your incurring | do it tolerably well. Oh! yes!.your the danger of an action for libel. Pray tutor did suggest that you should not how much less does he know than your- think of “Paradise Regained.” But self? Some years ago he was the better do you know any more relatively than fellow of the two. At any rate he he does ? It is quite true he is only understood the đuties and the demands an agricultural labourer, but is he less of his calling, and you were only a efficient in his calling than you are in curly-haired young urchin whose yours? Is he oftener put to confusion greatest mystery was your humming- or led to extreme measures at a venture top. You have been “educated" since than you are! If he is not, he knows then! And pray what do you know quite as much as you do. He knows