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Mornings In The College Chapel by Francis Greenwood Peabody

XX DYING TO LIVE

2 Corinthians iv.13.

Paul repeatedly described his spiritual experiences under physical figures of speech; and most of all he writes of himself as living over in his spiritual life the incidents of the physical life and death of Jesus. He is crucified with Christ; he is risen with Christ; he bears about in his body the dying of Christ. |Death worketh in us, but life in you.| This sounds like exaggerated and rhetorical language. It seems a strange use of words to say that the death of self is the life of the world. But consider how it was with this man Paul. He had been ambitious, sanguine, impetuous, and it had all come to nothing, and worse than nothing. He had been led to persecute the very faith which he had soon found to be God's truth. And then he gives up everything. He throws away every prospect of honor and public respect and social ambition. He simply dies to himself, and gives himself {55} to the service of Christ; and, behold, that death of self is the beginning of life and courage to generation after generation of Christian followers.

The same story might be told of many a man. Just in proportion as self-seeking dies, life begins. A man goes his way in self-assertion, self-display, the desire to make an impression, and he seems to achieve much. He gets distinction, glory, the prizes of life. But one thing he fails to do; he fails to quicken spiritual life in others. His work is stained by self-consciousness, and becomes incapable of inspiration. It is life to him, but death to the things that are trusted to him. Then some day he absolutely forgets himself in his work. He buries himself, as we say, in it. His conceit and ambition die, and then out of the death of self comes the life of the world he serves. That is the paradox of life. Life is reproduced by sacrifice. The life that is lost is the only life that is saved. The dead self is the only life-bearer. Only the man who thus sinks himself in his cause is remembered as its apostle.

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