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39Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.


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39. He who findeth his life Lest the former doctrine, which is very difficult and troublesome to the flesh, should have little weight with us, Christ confirms it in two ways by this statement. He affirms that persons of excessive caution and foresight, when they look upon themselves as having very well defended their life, will be disappointed and will lose it; and, on the other hand, that those who disregard their life will sustain no loss, for they will recover it. We know that there is nothing which men will not do or leave undone for the sake of life, (so powerful is that attachment to it which is natural to us all;) and, therefore, it was necessary that Christ should employ such promises and threatenings in exciting his followers to despise death.

To find the life means here to possess it, or to have it in safe keeping. Those who are excessively desirous of an earthly life, take pains to guard themselves against every kind of danger, and flatter themselves with unfounded confidence, as if they were looking well to themselves, (Psalm 49:18:) but their life, though defended by such powerful safeguards, will pass away; for they will at last die, and death will bring to them everlasting ruin. On the other hand, when believers surrender themselves to die, their soul, which appears to vanish in a moment, passes into a better life. Yet as persons are sometimes found, who heedlessly lay down their life, either for the sake of ambition or of madness, Christ expressly states the reason why we ought to expose ourselves to death.

It is uncertain if the discourse, which is related by Luke, was delivered on another occasion. There, too, our Lord exhorts his followers to bear the cross, but does not dwell upon it at equal length. To support this sentiment he immediately adds two comparisons, of which Matthew takes no notice: but as the subject treated is substantially the same, I have not scrupled to introduce in this place what we find in Luke.




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