Great Texts of the Bible
The Harvest of the Justified
Being therefore justified by faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand; and let us rejoice in hope of the glory of God.—Romans 5:1-2.
1. The Epistle to the Romans is the first treatise in Christian theology, and the mother of all others. But it is very far from being merely a theological treatise. Its spirit is not scholastic, but experimental, and the problems it deals with are not mere men of straw, but vital to the religious life of him who wrote it, and of those for whom it was first written. This may seem, perhaps, to make it less relevant to the needs of men to-day, and it is quite true that we cannot but be daunted by the obscurity of many of its references, and by the unfamiliar form in which its teaching is cast. But, for all that, we may easily discover that the questions it deals with, under Jewish form, are live questions still, and have an intimate bearing on the spiritual experience of Christians to-day. This is notably the case with the great subject of justification—the central theme at once of this Epistle and the whole Pauline theology. Paul’s insight into human nature was never more clearly shown than when he fixed upon this as the very centre of man’s needs in relation to God. And the question as to how a man can be justified before God is still the question on which religious men need to think clearly and believe strongly if they would attain that peace which the world cannot give.
2. The text mentions two things which follow upon justification. These two things are Peace and Glory. The one is present, the other future. The one is to be realized as the immediate result of our justification; the other is to be looked forward to as its consummation. Both are sure. Yet both have to be made sure. For we are always responsible for the exercise of faith, that channel along which these and all other gifts of Christ are sent to us. Let us therefore, being justified by faith, have peace with God and keep it; and let us exult in the sure hope of future glory. Perhaps the clearest way of explaining the text will be to take its clauses separately and in their own order.
Justified by Faith
“Being therefore justified by faith.”
1. The Apostle Paul has been called “the great ergoist,” because the word “therefore” is of such frequent occurrence in his writings. It is one of the keynotes of his Epistles, as “verily” is of the preaching of Christ. The difference is significant. “Therefore” is the word of argument; while “verily” is the word of authority. Here the word “therefore” refers to the whole argument, begun at Romans 3:31 and ended at Romans 4:25, but especially to the statement of Romans 4:25 itself: “Who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification.” Christ’s death and resurrection have not been in vain: there are those who have actually been justified in consequence. Let us therefore have peace with God.
2. It is an argument from experience. It is very interesting to observe this prominent use in the reasoning of the Apostle Paul of what we have learned to call “the argument from experience.” Some appear to fancy this argument one of the greatest discoveries of the nineteenth century; others look upon it with suspicion as if its use were an innovation of dangerous tendency. No doubt, like other forms of argumentation, it is liable to misuse. It is to misuse it to confound it with proof by experiment. By his use of the argument from experience Paul is far from justifying those who will accept as true only those elements of the Christian faith the truth of which they can verify by experiment. There is certainly an easily recognizable difference between trusting God for the future because we have known His goodness in the past, and casting ourselves from every pinnacle of the temple of truth in turn to see whether He has really given His angels charge concerning us, according to His word.
It is a matter of common knowledge how in Luther’s experience the experience of the Apostle Paul was almost repeated in the strangest and most effective fashion. He, like the Apostle, had been living the life of the law, had been trying to win favour with God by doing things, had been trying to make himself a clean and honest man by his own efforts, and had failed. He was utterly miserable, because of his failures; and—as Paul was too—perhaps Luther was miserable because of the failure of the whole Church and the people round about him. He tells us how his desire is to do anything and everything that this Christ requires. Under the impulse of it he takes his journey to Rome that he may obtain whatever merit the pilgrimage may bring. He tells us with what feelings he faced the Eternal City, and journeyed on the road trodden by all the pilgrims of the past. In order, as he says, to leave no stone unturned, and to do whatever a man might, he began to crawl on his hands and knees up that sacred Santa Scala staircase, in the vain hope that he might win peace and freedom from purgatory. It was as he was creeping up that a voice came to him: “The just shall live by faith.” And he felt in a moment what a fool he had been. He realized how it was not penance or pilgrimage or anything that he could do that would bring him nearer to Jesus Christ. What he needed was not what he was doing, but what Christ had done. From that moment, just as from the moment when the Apostle Paul saw a light on the road to Damascus, his whole horizon changed. Life became a new thing to him, and he understood that his business henceforth was simply to accept in gratitude the grace and pity of God, and not to go on striving to work out his own salvation and so attempt an impossible task. Thus the essence of the work of Jesus Christ came to be for Luther the fact that in Him God was giving Himself to and for men, and that in Him there was no longer any condemnation for sin, but an utter and absolute expression of the love of God. As he puts it, using the Apostle Paul’s words, he was justified by faith. And for that reason the word justification became the great key-word of the Reformation.1 [Note: W. B. Selbie.]
ii. Being justified
There are two, and only two, possible meanings to be attached to the word which we translate “justify” in Paul’s writings. It may mean either make righteous or count righteous, i.e. it may be either a moral term or a legal, judicial, or forensic term. And the great question is, In which of these two senses did Paul use the word? There can be no hesitation about our answer. It is the latter sense only which he uses. With him the term is a purely forensic one, and means to count or reckon as righteous. In spite of much opposition this meaning has gradually vindicated itself against the other, and is now almost unanimously held by all scholars who have a right to speak on the subject.
A poet has described the secret moment when new life stirs within the earth at spring-tide, and which, though no man sees it, carries with it all the rich bloom of summer—
There is a day in spring
When under all the earth the secret germs
Begin to glow and stir before they bud.
The wealth and festal pomps of midsummer
Lie in the heart of that inglorious day
Which no man names with blessing, though its worth
Is blest of all the world.
That is a symbol of all that lies in the first movement of new life in the soul; no man may know or name it, but God knows and names it with the name of Christ.1 [Note: Walter Lock, St. Paul the Master-Builder, 77.]
iii. By Faith
1. Justification comes by faith. As the Apostle says, in the case of Abraham his faith was reckoned to him for righteousness; therefore, he, too, was justified by faith. What, then, is faith in this connexion? We must remember that in all his treatment of his subject the Apostle is advocating and expounding a doctrine of salvation by grace alone, in opposition to the familiar Jewish doctrine of salvation by works. God saves men out of His boundless love. But who are the men whom He saves, and how do they appropriate the salvation He gives? Are all saved, or only some? and, if so, how is the selection made? It cannot be by merit, for that would be salvation by works. It is, says St. Paul, by faith. Men receive and appropriate the benefits of Christ’s saving work as they trust in Him and enter into that union with Him which perfect faith involves.
2. Faith is necessary in the adjustment of the legal relations of the saved sinner, called justification, in a peculiar sense and for a peculiar reason. The peculiar sense in which faith is necessary to justification is that, inasmuch as we must receive the righteousness of Christ in order to enjoy its legal benefits, we must have an instrument, or means of receiving it; and faith is that instrument. The peculiar reason why faith is necessary, and no other grace is available, is found in its own nature as adjusted to the work of receiving things. It is not because of its superior moral value to other graces of the Spirit, for Paul makes it equal in this respect to hope, but inferior to charity. It is exclusively related to justification, because it is a natural gesture of acceptance. The hand is the bodily organ for receiving things; it is naturally adapted for that purpose. It would be absurd to require one to receive an offered gift on the back of the head, because it has no natural adaptation for the purpose. Faith, and not love, joy, or hope, is the instrument of justification, because of its adaptation, as a natural gesture of acceptance, to receive the free gift of the righteousness of Christ, which carries justification and all the other elements of salvation with it.1 [Note: C. R. Vaughan.]
3. Words would fail one to describe the immense power which justification by faith has wielded in the experience of Christian men. Wherever you find a Christianity that is not merely formal, but vital and experimental, and try to probe to its foundations, you will reach at last the belief that a man is justified by his faith. This is the great tap-root out of which spring the sanctified life, the full assurance of faith, the peace that passeth understanding, the everlasting hope.2 [Note: W. B. Selbie.]
If you want to do any good with a poor miserable sinful outcast, a wastrel of humanity, your first step must be to establish confidence between yourself and him. You will find that he is a very bundle of suspicions, and that until you can get his confidence, all your well-meant efforts will fail; and it is just so between man and God. The natural attitude of sinful man towards a holy God is one of suspicion. It seems almost impossible to believe that He will not require something tremendous from us, that He can let bygones be bygones, and take and help us just as we are. And nothing but the sense of our justification can give us this confidence, the feeling that our redemption is God’s matter, not ours, that He takes us at a higher valuation than we dare set upon ourselves, and asks us not to do something for Him, but to let Him do everything for us. This it is which has been as the very opening of the prison-house to thousands of caged souls, and which has caused natures, starved and cold, to blossom out into new, warm, lovely life. And this it is which can deliver us from our bondage, and put a new song in our mouths.1 [Note: W. B. Selbie.]
Peace with God
“Let us have peace with God” (R.V.).
1. The rendering of the Authorized Version is, “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The alteration is very slight, being that of one letter in one word, the substitution of a long o for a short one. The majority of manuscripts of authority read “let us have,” making the clause an exhortation and not a statement. But is not all that Paul has been saying just this, that to be justified by faith, to be declared righteous by reason of faith in Him who makes us righteous, is to have peace with God? Is not his exhortation an entirely superfluous one? No doubt that is what the old scribe thought who originated the reading which has crept into our Authorized Version. The two things do seem to be entirely parallel. To be justified by faith is a certain process, to have peace with God is the inseparable and simultaneous result of that process. But that is going too fast. “Being justified by faith, let us have peace with God,” really is just this—see that you abide where you are; keep what you have. The exhortation is not to attain peace, but retain it. “Hold fast that thou hast; let no man take thy crown.” “Being justified by faith,” cling to your treasure and let nothing rob you of it—“let us have peace with God.” The declaration of “not guilty” which the sinner comes under by a heartfelt embracing of Christianity at once does away with the state of hostility in which he had stood to God, and substitutes for it a state of peace which he has only to realize.
In the Isle of Wight massive cliffs rise hundreds of feet above the sea, and seem as if they were as solid as the framework of the earth itself. But they rest upon a sharply inclined plane of clay, and the moisture trickles through the rifts in the majestic cliffs above, and gets down to that slippery substance and makes it like the greased ways down which they launch a ship; and away goes the cliff one day, with its hundreds of feet of buttresses that have fronted the tempest for centuries, and it lies toppled in hideous ruin on the beach below. We have all a layer of “blue slipper” in ourselves, and unless we take care that no storm-water finds its way down through the chinks in the rocks above they will slide into awful ruin.1 [Note: A. Maclaren.]
2. Is it not very beautiful to see how the Apostle here identifies himself, in all humility, with the Christians whom he is addressing, and feels that he, Apostle as he is, has the same need for the same counsel and stimulus as the weakest of those to whom he is writing have? It would have been so easy for him to isolate himself, and say, “Now you have peace with God; see that you keep it.” But he puts himself into the same class as those whom he is exhorting, and that is what all of us have to do who would give advice that will be worth anything or of any effect. He does not stand upon a little molehill of superiority, and look down upon the Roman Christians, and imply that they have needs that he has not, but he exhorts himself too, saying, “Let all of us who have obtained like precious faith, which is alike in an Apostle and in the humblest believer, have peace with God.”
3. The conception of peace is here distinguished by the addition of “with God,” not merely from false peace, the peace with the world, which is destroyed by the Operation of Christ (John 16:33), in that the latter calls forth a struggle against sin; but also from that higher degree of peace, that inward peace of soul, the peace with self, which St. Paul also calls “peace of God” (Php 4:7; Colossians 3:15), and Christ in St. John’s Gospel “my peace” (John 14:27). The two stand, in fact, in the same relation to one another as justification and sanctification; justification, or the reckoning for righteousness, gives at once reconciliation, and with it peace, the consciousness of being in a state of grace, the contrary to which is enmity against God. (See Romans 8:7.) No doubt this state contains within itself sanctification in the germ, but also only in the germ; because the old man still lives, inward harmony of life is at first only partially restored. The completeness of this harmony is only a fruit of life in the Spirit (Romans 8:6; Galatians 5:22), whilst the life of faith begins with peace with God, because this flows at once from the first act of grace. As the author of peace in every form, God Himself is moreover called “the God of peace” (Romans 15:33; 2 Corinthians 13:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:16).
There is a clear distinction between peace with God and the peace of God, though they are so intimately connected that they are rarely if ever separated. There are doubtless some cases in which there is peace with God, while the poor trembling heart, not being assured of the blessing, is not enjoying the peace of God; but there are none who know the peace of God without being first brought to peace with God; for the peace of God is the holy, happy, peaceful rest which is granted to the heart which is no longer at enmity, and no longer under the burden of unforgiven sin. It is clear, therefore, that there must be the forgiveness before there can be the peace.1 [Note: E. Hoare.]
4. Peace with God is reconciliation. It is the blessed fellowship between God and the sinner, when every barrier is removed, and the two, instead of being at variance, are at one. God’s law being satisfied and His righteousness maintained, He is no longer called to shut the sinner out from His presence, but can, without the compromise of His own holiness, give him a welcome to His home in all the fulness of parental love. And the sinner is reconciled to God, for his hard heart is softened, his rebellion is at an end, his affections are changed, he hates that which he once loved, and loves that which he once hated, so that instead of being an enemy to God by wicked works, he loves Him, he delights in Him, he seeks Him, he follows Him; the joy of his heart is to do His will, and his great sorrow is that he cannot serve Him better. And thus it is that instead of enmity there is peace, instead of separation union, and instead of a conflict which involved rebellion on the one side and condemnation on the other, there is now such a union that we are able to say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father.”
Peace is the special legacy bequeathed by Jesus to His disciples (John 14:27; John 16:33); it is also the word used, with deep significance, after miracles of healing, attended with forgiveness (Mark 5:34; Luke 7:50). Boswell notes a remark of Johnson’s upon this word. “He repeated to Mr. Langton with great energy, in the Greek, our Saviour’s gracious expression concerning the forgiveness of Mary Magdalene: ‘Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace’ (Luke 7:50). He said, ‘The manner of this dismission is exceedingly affecting’ ” (Life of Johnson, chap. iv., under the date 1780). For other illustrations of this supreme and unique phase of the Christian life, we may turn to the hymns of Cowper, especially those stanzas commencing “Sometimes a light surprises,” “So shall my walk be close with God,” “Fierce passions discompose the mind,” “There if Thy spirit touch the soul”; or to some of the descriptions in the Pilgrim’s Progress.1 [Note: W. Sanday.]
5. What does peace with God cover and include?
(1) It is peace with God’s retributive righteousness. God governs the world, and the laws He has issued for obedience are holy, just, and good, and in keeping of them there is great reward. Seriously handicapped as man is by hereditary weakness and evil bias, he still can obey the law of faith, and through it the law of love. Disobedience ought, therefore, to be followed by punishment. Indeed, not to follow disobedience by punishment would be for God to confess His law defective or too severe, or else He Himself unable to punish. But God is able to punish. He can dash in pieces like a potter’s vessel the kings of the earth; none can stay His hand. The wrath of God, therefore, is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and unrighteousness. How, then, can transgressors be at peace with this retributive righteousness of God? Only by being justified through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2) And, secondly, we have peace with God’s revealed truth; that is, that God is the Heavenly Father, that Jesus is His Christ and Son, who died for sin, and rose again from the dead. We are not only not opposed to or in doubt in respect of it, we are strongly assured of its eternal truth. Believing in God’s grace, we experience its power; we know the power of Christ’s death and resurrection. In the peace and moral power within us we have the inward witness to the truth; our faith has become the evidence of the thing not seen, the substance of the thing hoped for.
(3) But being justified by faith, let us also have peace with God’s holy commandment. The whole question of keeping God’s commandment is simply a question of disposition, as the whole question of justification is simply a question of position with God. Love is simply good disposition, and love is the fulfilling of the law. A disposition right and good towards God and man constrains to the fulfilment of God’s purpose and precept. Being justified by faith, we receive this disposition. In justification God takes up the position towards us, not of an exacting Lawgiver, but of a gracious Father, offering us salvation through Christ. Believing in this position of God towards us we see the pure, infinite love of God, and, in receiving peace, we feel the greatness of the love which gives us such rich peace, enabling us to fulfil and to enjoy life.
(4) And then, being justified by faith, let us have peace with God’s disciplinary providence through our Lord Jesus Christ; for our justification is overwhelming proof that God is not against us. If God had forgotten us He would never have sent His Christ on our behalf. If God were indifferent to our welfare He would not have given up that Christ to death. If God were not solemnly and profoundly in earnest to do us good He would not at so great a cost to Himself have come to us offering freely acquittal and acceptance. It cannot be that God, having done so much for us, is against us in these minor matters! No; His will is good to us, His heart is love to us, though our life bleeds and staggers beneath the burdens and the wounds.
Then, welcome each rebuff
That turns earth’s smoothness rough,
Each sting that bids nor sit nor stand but go!
Be our joys three-parts pain!
Strive, and hold cheap the strain;
Learn, nor account the pang; dare, never grudge the throe.1 [Note: R. Browning.]
“Through our Lord Jesus Christ; through whom also we have had our access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.”
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we ask, What part does Christ play in all this? According to St. Paul, it is all through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is the one object of faith, and it is the acceptance of His work on our behalf which justifies us before God. And the Christian man so justified is spoken of as being in Christ, and as therefore being no longer under condemnation. The life in Christ is a life of faith and freedom, and is the direct and immediate consequence of our justification. Faith in Christ is more than mere belief about Him; it is a vital and spiritual union with Him by which we share His righteousness, and appropriate His work on our behalf. And herein we find the real, as in the process of justification we find the formal, content of our salvation. These two are not identical, but both different sides or aspects of the same process. We are justified, not through any works or merit of ours—past, present, or future—but through Christ, and in virtue of our relationship with Him by faith. Or, as the matter is sometimes stated, our faith causes God to see us, not as we are, but as we are in Christ.
2. Access. Jesus Christ gives us “access.” Now that expression is but an imperfect rendering of the original. If it were not for its trivial associations, one might read, instead of “access,” introduction,—“by whom we have introduction into this grace wherein we stand.” The thought is that Jesus Christ secures us entry into this ample space, this treasure-house, as some court officer might take by the hand a poor rustic, standing on the threshold of the palace, and lead him through all the glittering series of unfamiliar splendour, and present him at last in the central ring around the king. The reality that underlies the metaphor is plain. We sinners can never pass into that central glory, nor ever possess those gifts of grace, unless the barrier that Stands between us and God, between us and His highest gifts of love, is swept away.
I recall an old legend where two knights are represented as seeking to enter a palace, where there is a mysterious fire burning in the middle of the portal. One of them tries to pass through, and recoils scorched; but when the other essays an entrance the fierce fire sinks, and the path is cleared. Jesus Christ has died, and, I say it with all reverence, as His blood touches the fire it flickers down and the way is opened “into the holiest of all, whither the Forerunner is for us entered.”1 [Note: A. Maclaren.]
3. Access into this grace. There is clearly a metaphor here, both in the word “access” and in that other one, “stand.” “The grace” is supposed to be some ample space into which a man is led, and where he can enjoy security and liberty. Or, we may say, it is regarded as a palace or treasure-house into which we can enter. Now, if we take that great New Testament word “grace,” and ponder its meanings, we find that they run something in this fashion. The central thought, grand and marvellous, which is enshrined in it, and which often is buried for careless ears, is that of the active love of God poured out upon inferiors who deserve something very different. Then there follows a second meaning which Covers a great part of the ground of the use of the phrase in the New Testament, and that is the communication of that love to men, the specific and individualized gifts which come out of that great reservoir of patient, pardoning, condescending, and bestowing love. Then there may be brought into view a meaning which is less prominent in Scripture but not absent, namely, the resulting beauty of character. A gracious soul ought to be, and is, a graceful soul; a supreme loveliness is imparted to human nature by the communication to it of the gifts which are the results of the undeserved, free, and infinite love of God.
The one gift assumes all forms, just as water poured into a vase takes the shape of the vase into which it is poured. The same gift unfolds itself in a variety of manners, according to the needs of the man to whom it is given; just as the writer’s pen, the carpenter’s hammer, the farmer’s ploughshare, are all made out of the same metal. So God’s grace comes to you in a different shape from that in which it comes to me, according to our different callings and needs, as fixed by our circumstances, our duties, our sorrows, our temptations.1 [Note: A. Maclaren.]
This House of Grace is the home in which the Christian lives. Its foundation is the Rock of Ages; its dome is in heaven. Its entrance is by that “new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh.” Like the Father’s house, it has many rooms; and all of them are tapestried with the beauties of holiness. Over its door is the legend, “The Just shall live by Faith.” Its table is spread with a feast of fat things and wine upon the lees; and this feast is furnished with guests clothed in fine linen clean and white.2 [Note: D. J. Burrell.]
4. Wherein we stand. This word “stand” is very emphatic here. It does not merely mean “continue,” it suggests the Christian attitude. Two things are implied. One is that a life thus suffused by the love and enriched by the gifts and adorned by the loveliness that come from God, will be stable and steadfast. Resistance and stability are implied in the word. One very important item in determining a man’s power of resistance, and of standing firm against whatever assaults may be hurled against him, is the sort of footing that he has. If you stand on slippery mud, or on the ice of a glacier, you will find it hard to stand firm; but if you plant your foot on the grace of God then you will be able to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” And how does a man plant his foot on the grace of God? Simply by trusting in God, and not in himself. So the secret of all steadfastness of life, and of all successful resistance to the whirling onrush of temptations and of difficulties, is to set your foot upon that rock, and then your “goings” will be established.
The grace wherein we stand is the same as that on which Abraham stood, a righteousness reckoned, or imputed, to him when he had none of his own. The justified believer is made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, and that righteousness is the rock on which he Stands. He does not stand on his efforts, or his intentions, or his tears, or his joys, or his varied feelings of either joy or sorrow. But he Stands on the righteousness of his Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. He Stands on the great fact that the Son of God has been his Substitute on the Cross, and that as the Son of man He is now his representative before the throne.1 [Note: E. Hoare.]
5. By faith. “By faith we have access.” That is no arbitrary appointment. It lies in the very nature of the gift and of the recipient. How can God give access into that grace to a man who shrinks from being near Him; who does not want “access,” and who could not use the grace if he had it? How can God bestow inward and spiritual gifts upon any man who closes his heart against them, and will not have them? My faith is the condition; Christ is the Giver. If I ally myself to Him by my faith, He gives to me. If I do not, with all the will to do it, He cannot bestow His best gifts any more than a man who Stretches out his hand to another sinking in the flood can lift him out, and set him on the safe shore, if the drowning man’s hand is not stretched out to grasp the rescuer’s outstretched hand.
We are all “solifidians” now. The word is obsolete; but it was eloquent in its time. It means depending on faith alone. The guests at this table claim no personal merit. They recognise the value of morality, but are frank to confess that in their works, however good or many, there is neither expiatory value nor earning capacity. The only meritorious thing they have ever done is to believe in Christ; which is not the purchase price but the condition affixed to the gift of everlasting life. And even that faith is not their own; it is the gift of God.1 [Note: D. J. Burrell.]
In Hope of the Glory
“And let us rejoice (exult) in hope of the glory of God.”
1. What is the glory of God? It is the Glory of the Divine Presence (Shekinah) communicated to man (partially here, but) in full measure when he enters into that Presence. Man’s whole being will be transfigured by it. The phrase, “the glory of God,” is, in the Old Testament, used specially to mean the light that dwelt between the cherubim above the mercy-seat; the symbol of the divine perfections and the token of the Divine Presence. The reality of which it was a symbol is the total splendour, so to speak, of that divine nature, as it rays itself out into all the universe. And, says Paul, the true hope of the Christian man is nothing less than that he shall be, in some true sense, and in an eternally growing degree, the real possessor of that glory.
The very heart of Christianity is that the Divine Light of which that Shekinah was but a poor and transitory symbol has “tabernacled” amongst men in the Christ, and has from Him been communicated, and is being communicated, in such measure as earthly limitations and conditions permit, and that these do point assuredly to perfect impartation hereafter, when “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” The Three could walk in the furnace of fire, because there was One with them, “like unto the Son of God.” “Who among us shall dwell with the everlasting fire,” the fire of that divine perfection? They who have had introduction by Christ into the grace, and who will be led by Him into the glory.
The glory of the Christian is not simply to behold the glory of his risen and glorified Lord. Oh, marvellous grace, he is to participate in it! For the same Christ who made that imperative prayer in the upper room gave this promise also, “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.”1 [Note: D. J. Burrell.]
2. Rejoicing in hope of the glory. The word here translated “rejoicing” is “boasting” or “exulting.” Sometimes it is used in the New Testament in a bad sense, of a proud boasting in something as one’s own; sometimes in a good sense, of thankful rejoicing in God’s presence or gifts, as here. Such rejoicing is possible only upon justification. Or at least only then is it safe. No doubt if you can make a man look forward, you do him a wonderful good, you raise him in the scale of existence; he is not a mere grovelling animal any longer. It is not surprising, therefore, that people have talked so much about the advantage of expecting another state of existence, of the good which must come from hoping for its blessings; of the watchfulness which is awakened in a man who is taught how he may escape a distant evil that is threatening him. There has been no exaggeration in statements of this kind, there scarcely can be any. But there may be the most fatal omissions in them, omissions which make that which is told worse than a mockery.
The argument for a future state, as Butler has so well shown, arises from the sense of continuance which there is in our minds. That which is, must be assumed to go on, unless you can bring some decisive proof that it is interrupted. There is no proof, from the reason of the thing or from the analogy of nature, that death is such an interruption. If not, the belief in a present state involves the belief in a future one. But what is to continue? What is it that is not interrupted? It is my existence. It is I whom death cannot dissolve; when it has destroyed everything that is about me, all the conditions in which I am living, it yet leaves me. What is the use of telling me about felicities hereafter or miseries hereafter, if you tell me at the same time, if my own heart and conscience tell me, that I shall be the same, with the same capacity for making a hell of heaven or a heaven of hell which I have now? It can be no message of peace to me, that there is a futurity of bliss or a futurity of misery, unless you can first reveal to me something about myself, unless you can reveal to me how I may not be the subject of a perpetual intestine war. And this must be a present message. It cannot be merely of something which is to be. Watchfulness to avoid future evils may be a very desirable quality. But what is it, if I think that I am myself the great evil of which I need to be rid? Hope may be the most glorious of all possessions. What can I hope for, if my own being is my continual terror and torment?1 [Note: F. D. Maurice.]
Man’s life is but a working day
Whose tasks are set aright:
A time to work, a time to pray,
And then a quiet night.
And then, please God, a quiet night
Where palms are green and robes are white;
A long-drawn breath, a balm for sorrow,
And all things lovely on the morrow.2 [Note: C. G. Rossetti.]
The Harvest of the Justified
Armitage (W. J.), The Fruit of the Spirit, 27.
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