Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. As THEY ARE USEFUL; as they tend to promote well-being. And here we should note that their usefulness is greater:
1. As they affect character rather than circumstance.
2. As they are free from drawback; for the usefulness of many a course of action is the difference between the intentional good and the incidental evil that is wrought.
3. As they are permanently influential and therefore reproductive. Many a deed, being done, is done with; it has no appreciable results; but many another is as seed in the soil - there is a fruitful harvest to be reaped from it in the after-time.
II. ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT IN WHICH THEY ARE DONE. If useful things are done in the spirit of rivalry, or for the purpose of display, or in the hope of social or material remuneration, their worth in God's sight is nothing or next to nothing. If they are done to honor and to please Jesus Christ, or prompted by pure benevolence, or in the spirit of filial obedience, they have a real worth and are the objects of Divine approval. But the teaching of our text is that actions are worthy -
III. MEASURED BY THEIR UNSELFISHNESS. If at heart they are selfish, then in the judgment of God they are without virtue; in proportion to their generosity, and that is to say, to their costliness, they are beautiful, and even noble.
1. The gift of money. The widow's mite was more in the sight of God than the rich men's gold; and it was so because they gave of their abundance a sum the loss of which they would not feel - a sum that entailed no reduction of their comfort and constituted no sacrifice at all; but she gave all that she had - a sum she would miss much, a truly generous sacrifice. How often we applaud the donation of some hundreds of pounds, when the ten shillings contributed by some struggling worker has a higher place in the heavenly ledger!
2. The gift of time. The man whose easy circumstances allow him to give much time to religion or philanthropy may be less worthy and may be making a really smaller contribution than he who, pressed hard by pecuniary obligations and having a heavy burden of family responsibility to carry, yet squeezes a few hours from toilful days to ]end a helping hand to the cause of Christ and of man. The horae subscecivae are of more account than many leisure days.
3. Active service in the field of Christian labor. Some men are so constituted that they can render service in the pulpit, on the platform, in the class-room, almost without cost; they can speak without previous preparation and without subsequent exhaustion. But others can only serve at much cost to themselves; their strength is taxed to be ready for the hour of opportunity, they expend themselves freely in the act of utterance or in the outpouring of sympathy and they know what the miseries of prostration mean. A slight service, as reckoned by the time-table or the census, on the part of these latter may be more than equal to very prominent and much-appreciated work rendered by the former.
4. The sacrifice of life. It might seem that those who gave their life for their Lord or for their kind were all offering a gift of the same value. But not so. Life has very different values at different stages. It is comparatively little for the man who has spent his days and his powers to surrender the short and uninteresting remainder; it is much for the young man who has all the pleasures and prizes of life within his reach to part with the bright, inviting future in order to serve his fellows; the deed is nobler, for the sacrifice is greater.
(1) Let us take care that we do not judge by the appearance only, or we shall be unjust.
(2) Let us be sure that every true act of worthy service is appreciated and will be owned of Christ. - C.
John 2:19). He, however, compared it with his body; we may without any impropriety make the comparison with a human spirit - with the man himself. We look at it in regard to its destructibleness.
I. THE BUILDING ITSELF, AND OUR BEING ITSELF. The temple was the pride and the delight of every Jew. Among other things that gratified him, he rejoiced in its strength; he felt that it was secure. Generations of men would come and go, but that building would remain. Built of the most durable materials, it would defy the action of the elements; placed in the strong city and guarded with such ramparts, the enemy would assail it in vain. Where it then stood, there after many centuries it would be found. But the Jew was wrong; already those elements were at work which would bring on the fatal conflict, and that generation was not to pass (ver. 33) until that glorious fabric should be cast down and "not one stone left upon another." A very slight thing in comparison with such a great and imposing structure seems a human being How easily destroyed I "crushed before the moth;" "destroyed between the morning and the evening." Yet is there within the compass of the smallest and feeblest man that which is more lasting than the temple, that which will survive the strongest structure that art or nature ever reared. Not that the human soul is absolutely indestructible: "He can create and he [can] destroy it." But it is created and intended for immortality. And if only it be on the side of truth and in the service of God - in Christ Jesus, it is destined for immortality; it will survive the strongest temples and the most impregnable castles; no wrath of man, no lapse and wear of time, no shock of material forces, can destroy it; it is indestructible.
II. ITS STRENGTH AND BEAUTY, AND OUR OWN. The temple was "adorned with goodly stones and gifts." But strong as these massive stones were, and carefully as those gifts were guarded, the day came, and came in the experience of that very generation, when not one stone was left upon another, and nothing of the exquisite offerings was preserved; everything perished in the fire or was ploughed up by the ruthless share. Now, there is one thing which no fire can consume and no violence shatter - a spiritually strong and spiritually beautiful character; a holy and lovely character rooted in Christ and sustained by his indwelling Spirit. Buildings massive and solid, fortunes large and brilliant, kingdoms fortified by great armies and costly navies, - these may be broken to pieces and perish. But the character of a Christian man, who is simply loyal to his Master, cannot be broken. Character that is not rooted in faith and that is not sustained by devotion may fall and be broken, and great and sad is the fall of it. But
(1) let a man build on the foundation which is laid for it, even Jesus Christ;
(2) let him abide in Christ by a living faith;
(3) let him seek the continual sustenance of the Spirit of God; - and no opposing or wasting forces will touch him to harm him. The strength and beauty of his character will remain, will become stronger and fairer with the passing years, will be the object of commendation when the eye of the great Judge shall rest upon them at last. - C.
I. OUR LORD WARNS THE DISCIPLES AGAINST FALSE ALARMS. (Vers, 7-9.) He indicates that many false Messiahs will arise, declaring their Messiahship and the speedy approach of the end. They are to be for the most part of the military type, for this was the kind of Messiah Israel wanted. The result will of necessity be "wars and tumults." But the disciples ought not to be alarmed at these mere preliminaries. The end would not be "immediately" (Revised Version). It is well known that between our Lord's time and the destruction of Jerusalem quite a number of military and mushroom Messiahs arose, "making confusion worse confounded." They were only the outcome of the people's false hopes, and of no prophetic import.
II. THE DISCIPLES, AS THEIR LORD'S WITNESSES, WOULD EXPERIENCE BOTH PERSECUTIONS AND INSPIRATIONS. (Vers. 10-19.) And here the Lord states that persecution of his people would precede national and natural troubles. War, earthquake, and pestilence would be the providential judgment upon unrighteous persecution. But the persecuted witnesses should receive the inspiration needful to speak resistlessly. They might be betrayed and martyred, but no real injury would overtake them. "There shall not an hair of your head perish." In this remarkable deliverance of our Lord about persecution he implies that his people are really imperishable. The world might do its best to annihilate them by fire and sword; their bones might be scattered, no marble tells whither; but the Lord who loves and prizes his people's dust will reorganize the scattered remains, and demonstrate how absolutely imperishable his people are. Hence he urges patience. "In your patience," he declares, "ye shall win your souls." So that it was a most wonderful preparation of these marked men for martyrdom and all preceding tribulation. Were we more dependent on Divine inspirations, we should be There calm and influential before a hostile world.
III. THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM. IS DISTINCTLY FORETOLD AS AN INSTANCE OF DESERVED VENGEANCE. (Vers. 20-24.) And here the Lord gives his people directions to escape from the doomed city as soon as they should see the armies gathering round it. The siege was drawn upon it by no misconduct of theirs, but by the misconduct of their enemies: why, therefore, should the Christians lay down their lives for a false policy and cause? Their duty was, if possible, to escape. He also hires at the horrors of the siege, and how mothers with their infant children would suffer terribly. The issue of the investment would be the slaughter of multitudes and the exile of the rest, The Jews became wanderers and exiles from that moment.
"Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast, IV. REDEMPTION MAY BE DISCERNED AS DRAWING NIGH. (Vers. 25-33.) Our Lord. indicates that distress of nations, perplexity, and faint-heartedness through fear will precede his second coming. But his people need be no sharers in this fear. So far from this, as soon as the judgment-signs begin they are to lift up their heads, assured that redemption is drawing nigh. The outlook may be wintry for the world, but it is summer for the saints of God. And here we may notice: 1. The parable of the spring trees. (Vers. 29, 30.) Our Lord reminds the disciples that every spring, in the buds and shoots of the various trees there is the promise of the summer. The progress is gradual, yet noticeable. In the same way his people are to look for the signs of coming summer, and to manifest a hopeful spirit in beautiful contrast to the despairing spirit of the world. 2. The imperishable character of the Christian stock. (Vers. 31-33.) All the world's opposition and persecution will not annihilate the Christian stock. As the martyrs fall before their persecutors, it is only to summon fresh witnesses for the Master from the ranks of their enemies. The Christian stock abides. There need be no fear. Let this be left to the unbelieving world. V. THE LORD'S PEOPLE OUGHT CONSEQUENTLY TO BE WATCHING AND PRAYING FOR THE ADVENT. (Vers. 34-38.) And in the conclusion of this discourse our Lord clearly indicates: 1. That it is possible to escape the judgments which are coming on the earth before the advent. For there is no merit in allowing one's self to be involved in judgments which others by their unbelief have invited. It is our duty to escape, if possible, the catastrophe. 2. It can only be by a watchful and prayerful spirit. Self indulgence, everything that would dull our sense of the impending advent, must be avoided. It is to come as a thief and a snare upon those that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Hence the imperative necessity of watching. And it is prayer which will help us in our watching. We must wrestle with the coming King, that he may count us worthy to escape the world's judgments and to stand before him. 3. How great a privilege it will be to be permitted to stand in the presence of the Son of man! No such privilege is afforded even by the greatest of earthly kings. It becomes us, therefore, to be in downright earnest about this privilege, and by persevering prayer to secure it. VI. OUR LORD GAVE THE DISCIPLES THE EXAMPLE OF THE WATCHFUL PRAYER REQUIRED. (Vers. 37, 38.) For it would seem that, in the closing days, the people came so early to the temple to be taught, that he could not go as far as Bethany to spend the night. He went out, therefore, at nightfall to the Mount of Olives, and spent the night-watches more in prayer than in sleep. He was showing what persevering prayer in the crises of history must be. Let our Lord's Gethsemane habits call each of us to privacy and patient prayer such as will alone secure the proper public spirit. - R.M.E.
IV. REDEMPTION MAY BE DISCERNED AS DRAWING NIGH. (Vers. 25-33.) Our Lord. indicates that distress of nations, perplexity, and faint-heartedness through fear will precede his second coming. But his people need be no sharers in this fear. So far from this, as soon as the judgment-signs begin they are to lift up their heads, assured that redemption is drawing nigh. The outlook may be wintry for the world, but it is summer for the saints of God. And here we may notice:
1. The parable of the spring trees. (Vers. 29, 30.) Our Lord reminds the disciples that every spring, in the buds and shoots of the various trees there is the promise of the summer. The progress is gradual, yet noticeable. In the same way his people are to look for the signs of coming summer, and to manifest a hopeful spirit in beautiful contrast to the despairing spirit of the world.
2. The imperishable character of the Christian stock. (Vers. 31-33.) All the world's opposition and persecution will not annihilate the Christian stock. As the martyrs fall before their persecutors, it is only to summon fresh witnesses for the Master from the ranks of their enemies. The Christian stock abides. There need be no fear. Let this be left to the unbelieving world.
V. THE LORD'S PEOPLE OUGHT CONSEQUENTLY TO BE WATCHING AND PRAYING FOR THE ADVENT. (Vers. 34-38.) And in the conclusion of this discourse our Lord clearly indicates:
1. That it is possible to escape the judgments which are coming on the earth before the advent. For there is no merit in allowing one's self to be involved in judgments which others by their unbelief have invited. It is our duty to escape, if possible, the catastrophe.
2. It can only be by a watchful and prayerful spirit. Self indulgence, everything that would dull our sense of the impending advent, must be avoided. It is to come as a thief and a snare upon those that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Hence the imperative necessity of watching. And it is prayer which will help us in our watching. We must wrestle with the coming King, that he may count us worthy to escape the world's judgments and to stand before him.
3. How great a privilege it will be to be permitted to stand in the presence of the Son of man! No such privilege is afforded even by the greatest of earthly kings. It becomes us, therefore, to be in downright earnest about this privilege, and by persevering prayer to secure it.
VI. OUR LORD GAVE THE DISCIPLES THE EXAMPLE OF THE WATCHFUL PRAYER REQUIRED. (Vers. 37, 38.) For it would seem that, in the closing days, the people came so early to the temple to be taught, that he could not go as far as Bethany to spend the night. He went out, therefore, at nightfall to the Mount of Olives, and spent the night-watches more in prayer than in sleep. He was showing what persevering prayer in the crises of history must be. Let our Lord's Gethsemane habits call each of us to privacy and patient prayer such as will alone secure the proper public spirit. - R.M.E.
afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness. Concerning any course we take the question how it affects us now is not so important as is the question to what it leads, or, in the words of the text, "to what it turns." And while that which is very pleasant often "turns to" much that is painful and bitter, or even shameful (see Revelation 10:10), on the other hand, that which is very trying and even saddening at the time often "turns to" an issue that is full of honor and of joy. The context suggests that -
I. PERSECUTION TURNS TO TESTIMONY - to a most valuable proof of sincerity and faithfulness. When a man endures the blows and buffetings of the cruel hand of the persecutor, "we know the proof of him;" we write him down a true, loyal, noble servant of Christ. To how many men, not of the earliest age only but of all ages, has this steadfastness in the hour of trial been accepted by us as a "testimony" of the very greatest worth, so that their names are treasured by us as those of men that have done highest honor to their race! And their martyr-sufferings have turned to a testimony in the heavenly country; they have gained for them there the commendation of their Lord and the greeting of their glorified brethren. When, from "wandering in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth," the persecuted Christians of Madagascar came forth to be welcomed by those who were then living under a kindly rule, they were greeted as such faithful and heroic men deserved to be; their persecution had turned into a testimony. In a similar way we may say that -
II. TOIL TURNS INTO ACHIEVEMENT. The toil of the desk, of the field, of the shop, of the factory, may be hard and wearisome; our back may bend beneath our burden; our mind may be strained to its utmost capacity of continuance; but let us take courage and work on at our task; further on is the precious goal of achievement; after a while we shall look with unspeakable satisfaction on the work that has been done, the result that has been reached.
III. PRIVATION TURNS INTO ENRICHMENT. Sad and serious indeed are the privations, the losses, which are suffered when men are suddenly reduced in their temporal possessions, or when they are bereaved of near relatives or most intimate friends. Yet is there something more than compensation when the loss of the one leads, as it has often led, to the enrichment of the soul, by its finding refuge in God and in his service; or when the loss of the other has brought to the soul the fullness of the sympathy and friendship of Jesus Christ; privation has turned to enrichment.
IV. SERVICE TURNS INTO RULE. The soldier in the ranks becomes an officer of the army; the apprentice becomes the master; by long and faithful service in any one of the fields of human activity we prepare to rule. Thus is it in the spiritual realm. Obedience to Divine law turns into a perfect self-command, which is another name for liberty. And a lifelong service of Jesus Christ will turn to an occupancy of that heavenly sphere for which our fidelity shall have fitted us; the "faithful and wise servant" his Lord will "make ruler over all his goods" (Matthew 24:45-47). Faithful service here "turns to" happy and helpful rule hereafter.
V. PATIENT WAITING TURNS TO BLISSFUL PARTICIPATION. Some souls have much waiting for the hour of deliverance, for the redemption of our body; it is a weary and a trying time. To "learn to wait" is the hardest of all lessons. But though the night seem very long, the morning will come in time; and if the steadfast soul wait patiently the holy will of God, the long endurance shall turn to a full and joyous participation in the glory that is to be revealed - the "glorious liberty of the children of God." - C.
I. THE SEVERITY OF THE TRIALS THAT WERE BEFORE THEM. Jesus Christ had already indicated the fact that fidelity to his cause would entail severe loss and trial; here he goes into detail. He says that it will include:
1. General execration. They would be "hated of all men." This is a trial of no small severity; to move among men as if we were unworthy of their fellowship; to be condemned, to be despised, to be shunned by all men; to be the object of universal reprobation; - this is a blow which, if it "breaks no bones," cuts into the spirit and wounds the heart with a deep injury. Fidelity to their Master and to their mission would entail this.
2. Desertion and treachery on the part of their own friends and kindred. (Ver. 16.) Very few sorrows can be more piercing, more intolerable, than desertion by our own family, than betrayal by our dearest friends; it is the last and worst calamity when "our own familiar friend lifts up his heel against us." Those who abandoned the old faith, or rather the Pharisaic version of it, and who followed Christ had to be prepared for this domestic and social sorrow.
3. Death. (Ver. 16.)
II. THE UNFAILING RESOURCES ON WHICH THEY COULD DEPEND.
1. Everything they suffered would be endured for the sake of Jesus Christ; all would be "for my Name's sake" (ver. 17). We know how the thought that they were experiencing wrong and undergoing shame for Christ's sake could not only alleviate, not only dissipate sorrow, but even turn it into joy (see Acts 5:41; Philippians 1:29). To suffer for Christ's sake could give a thrill of sacred joy such as no pleasures could possibly afford.
2. They would have the shield of the Master's power (ver. 18). Not a hair of their head should perish until he allowed it. That mighty Friend who had kept them in perfect safety, though enemies were many and fierce, would be as near to them as ever. His presence would attend them, and no shaft should touch them which he did not wish to hurt them.
3. They should have the advantage of his animating Spirit (vers. 14, 15). Whenever wisdom or utterance should he needed, the Spirit of Christ would put thoughts into their mind and words into their lips. His animating power should be upon them, should dwell within them.
4. They should triumph in the end; not, indeed, by martial victories, but by unyielding loyalty. "In patience" (in persistency in the right course) "they would possess their souls." Losing their life in noble martyrdom, they would save it (ch. 9:24); loving their life, they would lose it; but "hating their life in this world, they would keep it unto. life eternal" (John 12:25). The bright promise of an unfading crown might cheer them on their way, and help them to pursue without flagging the path of devoted loyalty.
1. Similar trials await the faithful now. The dislike, the aversion, the opposition, of some, if not the active and strong hatred of all; the opposition, perhaps quiet enough, and yet keen and injurious enough, of our own friends or relatives; loss, struggle, suffering, if not fatal consequences of enmity. Downright loyalty to Jesus Christ, tenacity and intensity of conviction, usually carry persecution and trial with them.
2. We have the same resources the apostles had.
(1) The constant, sustaining, inspiring sense that we are enduring all for Christ our Savior - for him who suffered all things for us.
(2) His protecting care.
(3) His indwelling, upholding Spirit.
(4) The strong assurance that he will cause us to triumph, that he will help us to be faithful unto death, and will then give us the crown of life; that by "patient continuance in well-doing" (patience, perseverance) we. shall have "eternal life" (shall possess our souls). - C.
I. ITS CHARACTER. It is not, like the first, distinctively and purely spiritual. That was; men were yearning for a political revolution and redemption. But the kingdom of heaven was not to be "of this world;" it was to be wholly inward and spiritual; it was to be our redemption from sin and restoration to the favor and the likeness of our Divine Father. But the second redemption is not distinctively and primarily that of the soul; it is to be "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). It will have a gracious and beneficent effect, a redeeming and elevating influence, upon the soul; but in the first instance it is a redemption from a troublous and trying condition; it is being taken away, by the appearance of Christ, in the providence of God, from a state in which happy service is almost impossible; it is a removal from storm to calm, from hostile to friendly forces, from turbulence to serenity; from hard conflict, or tense anxiety, or painful suffering, to "the rest which remaineth for the people of God." It is a blessed and merciful change from unfavourable to favorable conditions.
II. OUR HUMAN NEED OF IT. We are not of this world, we who have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and renewed by the Spirit of God. And we may be nobly, even grandly, victorious over it, being "always caused to triumph" by that Divine Spirit that dwells within us, and "strengthens us with all might." Yet are we actually, and by universal experience, seriously affected by it, and we suffer many things as we pass through it. We may suffer, as the early Christians did (to whom these words were addressed), from persecution, and thereby be made "most miserable" (1 Corinthians 15:19). Our life may be made worthless, or worse than worthless, to us by the cruelties of our fellow-men. Or we may suffer so much from privation of privilege, or from the struggles of daily life, or from grief and disappointment, or from a steadily advancing decrepitude, that we may earnestly long for this second redemption, the redemption of our body. We may be in sore need of its approach, of its presence.
III. ITS KINDLY SHADOW. It will then be much to us, perhaps everything; that our redemption draweth nigh.
1. It is something that at any moment we may be within a step of the heavenly sphere; for anything we know, Christ may be about to say concerning us, "This day ye shall be with me in Paradise."
2. It is more that we may be confident that a life of holy activity will rapidly pass away and bring us to the day of rest and of reward.
3. It is very much indeed that the duration of the blessed future will prove to be such that any number of years of earthly trouble will be nothing in comparison.
4. It is also a truth full of hope and healing that every day spent in faithful service or patient waiting brings us that distance nearer to the blessedness that lies beyond.
"We nightly pitch our moving tent
I. CHRIST'S CONSCIOUS CONNECTION WITH THE ETERNAL FATHER. Had there not been in him a profound and abiding consciousness that, in a sense far transcending our own experience, God dwelt in him and he in God, these words would have been wholly indefensible; they would have been in the last degree immodest. Proceeding from any other than the Son of God himself, they would have simply repelled us, and would have cast grave discredit on every other utterance from the same lips. It was because he was Divine, and felt the authority which his Divinity conveyed, that he could and did use such words as these without any trace of assumption; without violating that "meekness and lowliness of heart" which he claimed to possess - the possession of which neither friend nor enemy has attempted to dispute.
II. THE PERMANENCE OF TRUTH COMPARED WITH THE TRANSITORINESS OF MATTER. It is only in a limited and figurative sense that we can speak of material things as eternal. The hour will come when they will perish; indeed, they are perishing as we speak. The immovable rocks, the everlasting hills, are being disintegrated by sun and rain; the fixed earth rises and falls; the "changeless rivers" are cutting new courses for their waters. Only truth abides; it is only the words in which the thought of the Eternal is expressed that do not pass away. Fashions do not touch it with their finger; revolutions do not overthrow it; dispensations leave it in its integrity. We look particularly at -
III. THE IMMORTALITY OR THE THOUGHTS OF CHRIST.
1. We have found him a true Prophet. Events have happened according to his word.
2. We are finding hint to be the Divine Teacher of truth to-day. He has that to say to us which, in our better moods and worthier moments, we hunger and thirst to hear. In his deathless words there are still treasured for us salvation from our sin, comfort in our sorrow, sanctity in our joy, strength in our struggle, companionship in our loneliness, and peace and hope in our decline and death. Unto whom shall we go if we sit at his feet no longer?
3. We shall find him the Source of truth in the after-life. Death will not make his words less true, even of it makes some of them less applicable than they are here and now. His thoughts will never lose their hold upon our heart, never cease to affect and shape our course. The truths which Jesus spake eighteen centuries ago will beautify our life and bless our spirit in the furthest epochs and the highest spheres of the heavenly world.
(1) If we would render the truest service to ourselves, we shall do our utmost to fill our minds with the thoughts of Christ; for these will prepare us for any and every condition, here or hereafter, in which we can possibly be placed.
(2) If we would serve our race most effectively, we shall consider in how many ways we can impress his thoughts upon the minds of men and weave them into the institutions of the world. And we shall find, at any rate, these three:
(a) The testimony of a Christian life.
(b) The utterance, in public or in private, of Christian doctrine.
(c) The support of Christian institutions. - C.
I. A WISE ORDINATION OF GOD. Surely it is in pure kindness to us that God has ordained that if we will not work neither shell we eat; that possession and enjoyment involve thoughtfulness and activity on our part. To be provided with everything we could wish for without the necessity for habitual consideration as well as regular exertion is found to be hurtful, if not positively disastrous to the spirit. The necessity for care, in the sense of a thoughtful provision for this life, involves two great blessings.
1. The formation of many homely but valuable virtues - the cultivation of the intellect, forethought, diligence, sobriety of thought and conduct, regularity of daily habits, the practice of courtesy, and the avoidance of offense, etc.
2. The practice of piety; there is perhaps no better field in which we can be serving God than in that of our daily duties as citizens of this world. Whether it be the counting-house, the desk, the factory, the shop, the home, the school, - in each and in all of these there is a constant opportunity for remembering and doing the will of God; there will true and genuine godliness find a field for its exercise and its growth.
II.. OCCASION FOR FILIAL TRUST. Care, in the sense of anxiety, about our temporal affairs is an evil to be met and mastered by Christian thought. Christ has said to us, "Take no thought [be not anxious] for your life" (Matthew 6:25); Paul writes, "Be careful [anxious] for nothing," etc. (Philippians 4:6); Peter says, "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you" (1 Peter 5:7). Clearly our Christian duty is to do our best with head and hand, by thoughtfulness and diligence, to ask for God's direction and blessing, and then to put our trust in him, resting humbly but confidently on his Word of promise. This is a promise where there is much occasion for filial trustfulness. When the way is dark we must not yield to an unspiritual anxiety, but rise to a holy, childlike faith in our heavenly Father.
III. A SPHERE FOR DETERMINED LIMITATION. The great and the growing temptation is to fill our lives and hearts with the affairs of time. No more needful or seasonable counsel could be given us than this of our Lord, "Take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be overcharged with.., the cares of this life." Undue and unwise carefulness about these mundane interests does two evil things: it wears out that which is good - good health, good spirits, good temper; and it shuts out that which is best - for it excludes the worship and the direct service of God; it leaves no time for devout meditation, for profitable and instructive reading, for religious exercises, for Christian work. It shuts men up to the lesser and lower activities; it dwarfs their life, it starves their soul; they "lose their life itself for the sake of the means of living." Two things are requisite, requiring a very firm and vigorous hand.
1. To resist the temptation to enlarge our worldly activities when such enlargement means spiritual shrinkage, as it very often does.
2. To insist upon it that the cares of life shall not exclude daily communion with God and the culture of the soul. If we do not exhibit this wise care against the unwise carefulness, we shall
(1) displease our Divine Lord by our disobedience;
(2) sacrifice ourselves to our circumstances;
(3) be unready for the advancing future; that day will come upon us unawares, and we shall not be "worthy to stand before the Son of man" (see next homily). - C.
(1) the relation which we have voluntarily sustained to himself - how we have received his invitation, and with what fullness we have accepted him as the Redeemer, the Friend, the Lord of our heart and life;
(2) the way in which we have served him since we called ourselves by his Name - i.e. how closely we have followed him, how obedient we have been to his commandments, how earnest and faithful we have Showed ourselves in his cause; in tact, hove true and loyal we have proved to be as his servants here.
II. CONFORMED TO HIS LIKENESS, Will not our Lord expect to find those who professed to be his disciples, who had access to so many and such great privileges, stand before him such as he lived and died to make them.t We know what that is. "He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity;" he has "called us to holiness;" he came and wrought his work in order that he might make us to be in our spirit and character the children of God, bearing our heavenly Father's image. He will therefore look to those who stand before him as his redeemed ones for:
1. Purity of heart; the abhorrence of all that is evil, and love for that which is good and true and pure.
2. A loving spirit; a spirit of unselfishness, of devotedness, of generosity, of tender solicitude for the well-being of others.
3. Reverence and consecration of heart to God.
III. READY FOR THE HEAVENLY SPHERE, To "stand before" the king meant to be ready to fulfill his royal behest, prepared to do at once and to do effectively whatever he might require. To stand before our Divine Sovereign means to be ready to do his bidding, to execute his commandments as he shall employ us in his heavenly service. We naturally and rightly hope that he will entrust us with the most honorable errands, will appoint us to elevated posts, will charge us with noble occupations that will demand enlarged ability and that will contribute great things to his cause and kingdom. We may be sure that the devoted and faithful discharge of our duties here will prove the best preparation for celestial activity and usefulness, lie that is faithful in a few things now will be made ruler over many things hereafter. He who puts out his talents here will be found worthy to stand before the King, and to be employed by him in broad and blessed spheres of service there. If we would be "accounted worthy" to do this, we must "watch and pray."
1. We must spend much time with God - in the study of his will and in supplication for the quickening influences of his Spirit.
2. We must often examine our own hearts, observing our progress or retrogression, ready for the act of penitence, or of praise, or of reconsecration as we find ourselves declining. We must also observe the forces that are around us, and distinguish carefully between the hostile and the friendly, between those which make for folly and for sin and those which lead up to wisdom and to righteousness. - C.