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name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God, and I will write upon him my new name.
To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. * Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.t Oh, set your faces like a flint, to resist the world, the flesh, and the devil. Parley not with temptation. Touch not the unclean thing. Yield no secret connivance, where you
would be ashamed to avow yourselves openly. Receive not the contaminating mark of the beast in your hand, any more than in your forehead. In every transaction, private as well as public, set the Lord before your eyes, not only as a past benefactor, and present witness, and comforter, and helper, but also as a future rewarder of them that diligently seek him.Ị Be faithful unto death, and he will give you a crown of life. For he is not unrighteous to forget your work, and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name; and we desire that every one of
you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises. || For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth why doth he yet hope for? but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. T Rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation:** seeing it is written, Blessed is the man that endureth trial; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.tt
You will observe, my brethren, that in every case the reward is proclaimed to be a gift, not a debt; a free grant, a gracious promise from God. It is a fundamental principle of sound reason, no less than the authoritative declaration of holy Scripture, that no creature can have merit, properly so called: that no creature can make God his debtor, on the ground of retributive justice: for what has he, that he has not received? what is he, that he has not been made? what can he do, that he is not sustained and enabled every moment to do? that it is not his bounden duty to do? and even when perfectly obedient, is he not still an unprofitable servant? But God can make himself his own debtor, by uttering a promise. He has spoken. The word is gone forth from him in faithfulness, and
* Rev. ii. 7, 11, 17, 26-28, and iii. 5, 12, 21. + 1 Cor. xv. 58. Heb. xi. 6. & Rev. ii. 10. il Heb. vi. 10–12. Rom. viii. 24, 25. ** Rom. xii. 12. tt James i. 12.
shall not return void. The faithful and true Witness, the Amen, God manifest in the flesh, has said, “Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward. * And now, if God were not to reward works of faith, and love, and hope; it would be unrighteous in him, not because they deserve, but because he hath promised; not because there is a title in them, but because there is truth in him. This is the basis of the doctrine before us; not the desert of a creature meritoriously working, but the faithfulness of the Creator graciously promising. Faithful is he who promised, who also will do it!
It is most important to keep this distinction in mind: if we would avoid, on the one side, the Popish heresy of ascribing merit (ex condigno) to a creature's works; and, on the other side, that over-refinement of an anxious but too systematic scrupulosity, which, in its spiritual zeal for free grace, would go far towards erasing from the Bible the oft-recurring word, reward: and so would confine the believer to the impulses of gratitude, and deprive him of the attractions of hope.
And are the attractions of hope small, or inoperative? I would ask you, from your own experience, honestly reviewed, what are the things which possess the strongest hold upon your affections, and, consequently, exercise the most powerful influence over your lives? Are they things past, however delightful in themselves, and fragrant with emotions of gratitnde? or are they things to come? Is memory the mainspring, , or is hope? I fearlessly appeal to the experience of the human heart. Take an instance in one of the earliest and sincerest stages of the human character-that of boyhood. What is most influential over him? What are the boy's most practical feelings? Recollections of former happiness, of benefits conferred, and kind attentions shown by his parents and friends? Is it the remembrance of these, expatiating over years that are past, and invigorating his gratitude at every stage of the review? Or is it hope? Hope! hope is the bounding, buoyant power that wings the heart, and nerves the arm.
Take another instance. Contemplate the husbandman. What has most power over him? What most habitually occupies the play of his inner man, and thus gives its real complexion to his character? It is gratitude, in warm and influential recollections, of the past mercies of a bountiful God, in giving and preserving to his use, the kindly fruits of the earth? Or, is it hope, in the anticipation of the coming harvest-home? Again, contemplate the merchant. What has most power
* Matt. x. 42.
over him? What intertwines itself most constantly around his waking thoughts-presenting itself, unbidden, on the surface of those meditations which flow instinctively from the fountains of his heart, and form part and parcel of his real self? not perhaps of what he seems to be to most men who know him, but of what he is, in the sight of God. Is it a grateful remembrance of former operations, successfully brought to issue? Or, is it hope, picturing in lively colours, the winding up of present open and yet pending transactions?
It may, indeed, be said, that such instances fail in their application, because they are all derived from the natural character of the man in his unconverted state; whereas Christianity sanctifies and strengthens the principle of gratitude, and so makes all the difference.
But will it be alleged that Christianity sanctifies gratitude, and leaves hope unsanctified? Will it be maintained, that an instrument of such power over the natural heart, has been overlooked in the practical working of true religion, by Him who knew what was in man? Oh, no! The truth is, that the whole moral machinery of the human heart and mind becomes sanctified, under the power of the Gospel, by being supplied with holy objects to work upon; but the mode of working remains the same. Faith works by motives, as truly as the natural will: though the motives are derived from a different class of objects. By faith Moses refused, choosing, for he
, hoped.* He refused Egypt, choosing Christ, for he hoped for glory. Without faith, he would have refused Christ, choosing Egypt; for his hope would have been worldly wealth and distinction. The mode of the mental operation, and the consequent practical influence over the life, is the same in both cases: and if hope be, as we have seen it is, the mainspring of active energy in the natural heart, so it is also in the regenerate. Who, with the Bible in his hand, can hesitate to admit, that the Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ is held forth as the grand object, the morning star, nay, the rising sun of the believer's hope? And does it not therefore follow, by undeniable consequence, that the doctrine of the Second Advent is truly a practical doctrine?
God hath done all things well for us. By the gracious power of the Holy Spirit, given unto us freely, according to the distinguishing purpose of everlasting love, our hearts are drawn to contemplate Jesus Christ, and him crucified. The world is crucified to us, and we unto the world.
Thus we become detached from the inordinate affections of things below. But this is not enough. We need an object of attachment.
* Heb. xi. 24, 25, 26.
, &c. And we have it, in Jesus Christ, and him coming again. Thus hath God provided for us, in the cross, a power of separation from this fallen earth: and in the crown, a power of attraction towards the new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Let us joyfully avail ourselves of both: and while, looking back unto Jesus crucified, we experience and cultivate the constraining love of him who first loved us, let us look forward also, and realize the quickening energy of what the Apostle Paul calls, that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ. *
The Second advent practical! What saith the Scripture? Is watchfulness a Christian duty? "Watch, therefore," saith the Lord, "for ye know not the day, nor the hour, when the Son of Man cometh.”+ Is patience a Christian duty? "Be patient, therefore, brethren,” saith the Apostle, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and the latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”I
Is moderation, in the use of all the possessions and enjoyments of this world, a Christian duty? Hear another Apostle _"Let your moderation be known unto all men: the Lord is at hand.”'S In a word, is the path of Christian duty the path of universal obedience? Hearken to a third and fourth Apostle—“Seeing, then, that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens, being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless, we, according to his promise (laying hold of that promise, the food of the faith which worketh by hope; we, so believing and hoping, according to his promise) look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." “And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he (Jesus) is pure.”
Go then, beloved brethren, and, reposing the sure and quiet confidence of your souls on the word of the Lord, plough, and sow, and water, and wait in HOPE, for faithful is he who hath promised, who also will do it. And, He that shall come, will come, and will not tarry.
EVEN SO COME!
* Titus ii. 3. H 2 Pet. iii. 11-13.
+ Matt. xxv. 13.
| 1 John iii. 2-3.
I James v. 7, 8.
§ Phil. iv.5.