Reading Life
Galatians 4:1-2
Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;…

There is nothing final in the character of this world. But all betrays infancy. Everything is in a state of preparation. We move up and down amidst the reflections of the future. Certainly the material world has not reached its destination. The air we breathe — the sky we look on — the soil we tread — are only to go to make a "new heaven and a new earth." And the Divine government, which is now, is mainly to illustrate the government which is to come. We have churches now; but they are only to prepare us for a state where there shall be no church — because every spot shall be holy. This world, then, is one large training-school, where we are placed for a little while, to learn to fulfil the duties of that great service for which we were destined and created. Training consists of three things: instruction, which is the imparting knowledge, and giving new ideas; education, which is the drawing out, and directing, the powers of mind and heart; and moral discipline, which is the moulding character, and the formation of good habits. This is just what life is.

I. We are here TO GET KNOWLEDGE, and new ideas about the things of God. How shall we enter heaven without some previous knowledge of it: its conditions — its employments? And if there is no greater pleasure on this earth than to get a new idea, what must it be when the new ideas are these: to inform the mind about God; to see every day some new, fresh beauty in Jesus; to impregnate the understanding with the Infinite?

II. But let me speak to you, secondly, of your EDUCATION for another world — according to the strict meaning of the word education. You are probably aware that the word "education" means "to draw out," "to educe." So that when we educate a child, it is, literally and properly, that we draw out what is in the child. The gardener does not make the branches and the tendrils; but he lays them out, he guides them, he gives each its proper place and order. He lops what is redundant; he fastens and makes sure what is good. But, be sure of this, there is that in you which, if you will, and if you will only let it, can expand into all that is happy, and all that is holy, and all that is useful, and all that is Divine, here and for ever.

III. Now, thirdly, the way in which this is to be done, we call DISCIPLINE, the third part of training. Selfdiscipline, and God's discipline. And yet they are not two, for God's discipline is to make and to take effect through self-discipline. Do not count discipline a hard word. In God's vocabulary, discipline is only another word for love. There cannot be discipline without friction — without struggle. But a victory over self is such a very pleasant thing. And the compensations are so accurate, and so great, that discipline itself soon loses to you its sterner sense, and becomes the element of all happiness. Discipline is to form habits. Do not forget that you are placed here mainly to form habits, to learn to do and be what you are to do and be eternally. To form a good habit must always involve the unforming a bad one. So you begin to hold yourself in hand, to exercise self-control, to cultivate pious thoughts — acts of devotion and religious communion, and a holy walk — which are the things you are to do for ever and ever. Meanwhile, all outward things are working for you, You will find yourselves in strange circumstances. But all to practise and increase some grace — and especially a lacking one.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;

WEB: But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a bondservant, though he is lord of all;

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