1 Peter 4:17
For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God?
Sermons
Fiery Trial Among the ChristiansR. Finlayson 1 Peter 4:12-19
The Joyous Aspect of Suffering for Christ a Help to Persecuted ChristiansC. New 1 Peter 4:12-19
Suffering, Shameful and GloriousU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 4:15-19
The Character and Privileges of a ChristianJ. Parsons.1 Peter 4:16-19
The Christian DescribedW. Jay.1 Peter 4:16-19
The Pious Sufferer Exhorted to Glorify GodSketches of Four Hundred Sermons1 Peter 4:16-19
The Two-Fold SorrowE. J. Hardy, M. A.1 Peter 4:16-19
A Faithful CreatorW. Braden.1 Peter 4:17-19
A Solemn AppealThe Christian Magazine1 Peter 4:17-19
Afflictions Amongst the People of GodJohn Rogers.1 Peter 4:17-19
Difficulties in the PursuitR. Hall, M. A.1 Peter 4:17-19
God's FaithfulnessNewman Smyth.1 Peter 4:17-19
God's Judgment of the WorldHomilist1 Peter 4:17-19
If So -- What ThenC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 4:17-19
Judgment Beginning At the House of GodJ. Trapp.1 Peter 4:17-19
Judgments of GraceJ. P. Lange.1 Peter 4:17-19
Salvation Difficult to the ChristianC. G. Finney.1 Peter 4:17-19
Saved with DifficultyD. A. Clark.1 Peter 4:17-19
Scarcely SavedW. L. Watkinson.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Christian's Duty Under TrialsThe Lay Preacher1 Peter 4:17-19
The Church's VisitationR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Church's VisitationR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Criminality and the Consequences of UnbeliefJ. Alexander.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Difficulties of SalvationAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Difficulties that are to be Encountered in the Way of SalvationBp. Stillingfleet.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Difficulty of SalvationC. H. Coleman.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Difficulty of SalvationR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
The End of the DisobedientHomilist1 Peter 4:17-19
The End of the UngodlyPryce Thomas.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Faithful CreatorJ. C. Finlayson.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Keeping of the SoulThe Evangelist1 Peter 4:17-19
The Righteous Scarcely SavedT. De Witt Talmage.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Righteous Scarcely Saved, and the Misery of the WickedJ. Sedgfield.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Saint's Hiding Place in the Evil DayR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Salvation of the Righteous DifficultT. Hannam.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Salvation of the Sinner ImpossibleC. H. Coleman.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Sin and Danger of not Obeying the GospelPulpit Studies1 Peter 4:17-19
The Soul's RefugeT. Adams.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Support of Good Men Under Their Sufferings for ReligionAbp. Tillotson.1 Peter 4:17-19
The Ultimate Destiny of the WickedHomilist1 Peter 4:17-19
The Ungodly's MiseryR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
Tranquillity in SufferingAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 4:17-19
What is the Doom of Those Who Die ImpenitentA. G. Brown.1 Peter 4:17-19
Why God Will have the Righteous with Such Difficulty SavedR. Sibbes.1 Peter 4:17-19
For let none of you suffer as a murderer, etc. The apostle is still dwelling on the "fiery trial." All trial to the Christian is a fire that

(1) gives great rain;

(2) destroys evil;

(3) purifies the good. Notice -

I. SUFFERING FOR WRONG-DOING IS CERTAIN AND IS SHAMEFUL. "Let none of you suffer as a murderer," etc. This is strange counsel to Christians. That it is thus given to them:

1. Reminds us of the classes from which the first converts were drawn. No doubt many were not only from the poorest, but from criminal, classes. Hence the apostle's reminder after he has described some of the basest of characters, "Such were some of you."

2. Suggests to us to be on our guard against sins to which before we became Christians we were addicted. The old taint is a peril. Perhaps tow now need fear being "murderers" or "malefactors," but many may be on their guard against being "meddlers." "Lay aside the sin that so easily besets." "Them that obey not the gospel." Here is another class whose sufferings will bring shame. The climax of judgment is for them. Who can tell what their" end" will be? "The house of God" is under his control, and all in it must suffer for their wrong-doing. Those who know the claims of the gospel, the possibilities it offers, and yet despise it and reject it, "do not obey it," must have even severer suffering than Christians who have blundered into error or been overborne by evil, for they at least have

(1) resignation;

(2) hope of better life;

(3) conscious fellowship with a forgiving God.

II. SUFFERING FOR RIGHT-DOING MAY BEFALL US, BUT WILL BE A SOURCE OF GLORY. This Peter noted in earlier paragraphs, and reverts to again. "Suffer as a Christian," that is, because he is a Christian. The very name was at first one of scorn. And the name of scorn has become a name that glorifies God. So with all the sufferings that the character of those who truly wear that name has ever brought upon them. Are they the sufferings of

(1) poverty,

(2) unpopularity,

(3) contempt,

(4) persecution?

They are sufferings none need be ashamed of, but in which they may, as the noblest of men have done, glorify God.

III. SUFFERING FOR RIGHT-DOING MUST BE ENDURED IN THE RIGHT SPIRIT. The words of the nineteenth verse, the final words about "the fiery trial," are addressed to those who suffer because they are Christians.

1. They "suffer according to the will of God."

(1) Because he wills it;

(2) along the course of his wise providence.

2. In such sufferings they are to "commit their souls, in well-doing unto a faithful Creator." Here is the obligation of:

(1) Trust. "Commit;" deposit the treasure.

(2) Dutifulness. "In well-doing;' keep on doing the right.

(3) Trust in and dutifulness towards God. Faithful Creator. He knows - he cares: he will be faithful to his creation, and emphatically to the trustful ones. He who gave the soul its existence: and knows its capacities and needs, is its loving Guardian. - U.R.T.







Judgment must begin at the house of God.
How we may know when some judgment approacheth. God usually, before any heavy judgment, visits a people with lesser judgments.

1. "This, and this have I done," saith the Lord, "and yet ye have not returned unto Me" (Amos 4:6, 7). There be droppings before the ruin of a house.

2. Again, usually before some great calamity, God takes away worthy men, "the councillor, and the captain, and the man of war" (Isaiah 3:2, 3). This is a fearful presage that God threateneth some destruction, for they are the pillars of the church and the strength of the world; for they keep away evil and do good by their example and by their prayers many ways.

3. God usually visits a people when some horrible crying sins reign amongst them, as —

(1)Atheism.

(2)Idolatry.

(3)When divisions grow amongst a people. Union is a preserver.

4. Again, when sin goes with some evil circumstances and odious qualities, which aggravate the same in the sight of God, as when sin grows ripe, and abounds in a land or nation.(1) When it is impudent; when men grow bold in sin, making it their whole course and trade of life.(2) When sin grows common and spreads far. It is an ill plea to say, Others do so as well as I. Alas! the more sin the more danger.(3) When there is a security in sinning, without fear of the Almighty, as if men would dare the God of heaven to do His worst.

5. Unfruitfulness threateneth a judgment upon a people. When God, the great husbandman in His Church, sees that upon so great and continual cost bestowed upon us, we remain yet unfruitful, He will not suffer us long to cumber the ground of His Church.

6. Decay in our first love is a sign of judgment approaching.

(R. Sibbes.)

I. THAT THE CONDUCT OF GOD TO HIS CHURCH IS SUCH, THAT "JUDGMENT" MAY BE SAID TO "BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD," AND "THE RIGHTEOUS" TO BE "SCARCELY SAVED."

1. The Church is here often subject to persecution.

2. The Christian life is a painful course of exertion and warfare.

3. Many serious apprehensions and fears are felt by the people of God respecting their final salvation.

4. "The righteous is scarcely saved," as, to be saved, he must endure to the end.

II. We proceed to THE SOLEMN INQUIRY, which the apostle infers from such a conduct of the Lord toward His servants; "What shall be the end of those who obey not His gospel? where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear; if judgment begin at the house of God; if the righteous be scarcely saved?"

1. Now if these require such a process of afflictive correction and purification, what shall be the doom of those who experience none; those who live without God? If His corrective dealings were so severe, what will be His severity, when justice alone, without mercy, shall preside?

2. The saints are prepared for glory by a course of privations and endurances; by learning to deny themselves: what then may be expected by those who never aimed at following the will of God as their rule? those that live at large after the desires of the flesh and the mind.

3. If the righteous had so many fears and anxieties regarding their state; what then shall be the portion of those who had no such fears, who lived in a reckless disregard of all that is most serious?

4. The followers of Christ, in the midst of all their difficulties, endure to the end: but if thus only are they saved, what shall be the doom of those who persevered in an opposite path? acquiring only, at every step, fresh degrees of obduration, a more fixed habit of resistance to the will of God! "Where shall they appear?"

(R. Hall, M. A.)

I. THE CHURCH OF GOD IS HIS OWN HOUSE.

1. God hath two houses, the heavens, which are called His house, because He manifests His glory there, and the Church here below, wherein He manifests His grace. Yea, the whole world, in a sort, is His house, because He manifests His power and wisdom in it; but heaven and His Church, in a more peculiar manner; and that in these respects —

1. Because God by His graze hath residence in His Church.(2) Because by the means of salvation — the Word and sacraments there administered — He doth feed His Church, as in a house.(3) A man rests and takes contentment in His house; so God takes His best contentment in His Church and people; they are the most beloved of all mankind.(4) As in a house we use to lay up our jewels and precious things; so God lays up in His Church whatsoever is precious — His praises, His graces, yea, whatsoever is good and of high esteem, that He bestows upon His Church and people.

2. God provides for His Church as His own house. First, a man provides for his family; so doth God provide for His Church. And as a man protects his house from all enemies, so will God protect His Church and people, and be a wall of fire, and a defence round about them.

3. The heart of true Christians is God's private closet. And as in every house or building, there are some open places, and some private closets, etc., so is it here. God hath His private chamber, and His retiring place, which is the heart of every true Christian.

II. THE HOUSE OF GOD NEEDS VISITING AND PURGING.

1. Such is the weakness of man's nature, that evil things soon discourage us; and good things, except we wrestle with our spirits, prove a snare to the best. Even the Church of God, after a long time of peace, is apt to gather corruption, as water doth by standing, and as the air itself will do if it have not the wind to purge it.

2. Most certain it is that the Church of God cannot be long without some affliction, considering that it is now in a state of pilgrimage, absent from God, in another world as it were.

III. GOD WILL COME TO VISIT AND PURGE HIS HOUSE WHEN NEED IS. He afflicts His own people before others, because —

1. They are of His own family, and are called by His name (Numbers 6:27). Now the disorders of the family tend to the disgrace of the governor of it.

2. The gospel suffers much through the sins of professors.

3. The sins of the godly are more heinous than others.

(1)Committed against more light.

(2)More benefits and favours.

(3)Sacrilege.

(4)Idolatry.

IV. GOD APPOINTS A PARTICULAR TIME FOR HIS VISITATION.

1. The time of visiting the Church of God is from Abel to the last man that shall be in the earth. The whole days of the Church are a time of persecution.

2. The Church is afflicted when the light of the gospel hath most clearly shined.

3. Now is the time of the Church's affliction.

V. JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD. God begins with His own Church and people —

1. Usually because He uses wicked men and the enemies of His Church for that base service, to correct and punish them.

2. To take away all excuse from wicked men.

3. That His children might be best at last.

4. That when He sends them good days afterwards, they might have the more taste and relish of His goodness.

(R. Sibbes.)

I. AFFLICTIONS MUST BEGIN WITH GOD'S SERVANTS. Jacob's house first, afterwards the Egyptians, felt the famine; first the Israelites were oppressed, afterwards the Egyptians; the Jews were first carried into captivity, but afterwards the Assyrians were destroyed by the Medes and Persians.

1. In respect of their sins, they are full of terror ere they can get any comfort, and when they have obtained it, it is often eclipsed, and they go mourning.

2. They are subject to many sicknesses, grievous pains, diseases, losses, crosses, disgrace, persecution at the hand of the wicked, etc.(1) To humble them for sin past.(2) To fetch them into the way from wandering, and teach them obedience.(3) To humble them.(4) To mortify their lusts, wean them from the world, and quicken them to duty.(5) Hereby also God showeth that He will not bear with sin in His dearest servants.(6) To confute the devil, and show that God's people serve Him not for wages.(7) To show them their happiness is to come, and that if God thus school His servants, that then He will deal severely with the wicked, so that this may be a looking glass to them.

II. IT IS OF NECESSITY THAT GOD'S SERVANTS MUST HERE SUFFER TROUBLES.

1. In respect of God's will. He hath appointed us thereunto.

2. In respect of our necessity. Sin is so riveted into us, and in our very nature, as it must be no easy thing to pluck it out from us.

(John Rogers.)

Homilist.
I. THE HUMAN WORLD MORALLY IS DIVIDED INTO TWO GRAND SECTIONS.

1. "The house of God." All good men are members of one great family, They have one Father, one Elder Brother, one spiritual life, and one common home.

2. Those who "obey not the gospel of God."

II. THESE TWO SECTIONS ARE ALIKE SUBJECT TO SUFFERING.

1. The best men, in their greatest suffering, feel that their sufferings are deserved.

2. That they are disciplinary.

III. THE SUFFERING OF THE ONE IS FAR MORE TERRIBLE THAN THAT OF THE OTHER.

1. The one has resignation to the Divine will; the other has not.

2. The one has peace of conscience; the other has not.

3. The one has the hope of a better life; the other has not.

4. The one has fellowship with the Father; the other has not.Learn: —

1. The transcendent importance of moral character.

2. The fallacy of judging from appearances.

3. The influence of the gospel upon man's destiny.

(Homilist.)

The stormy shower lighteth first on the high hills, and having washed them, settleth with all the filth in the valleys.

(J. Trapp.)

It is necessary to distinguish the judgment of grace from the judgment of wrath, and temporal punishment from eternal.

(J. P. Lange.)

What shall the end be of them that obey not
? —

I. NOT ANNIHILATION.

1. Future punishment of some kind seems essential to the moral government of God.

2. The fact of there being various degrees in punishment makes it impossible for that punishment to be annihilation.

3. All that is said about the sinner's doom shuts out the idea of annihilation (Luke 12:4, 5; Matthew 13:41, 42; Mark 9:43).

II. NOT MERELY A TEMPORARY PUNISHMENT. The most general argument brought against eternal punishment is that it is opposed to the perfect justice of God. "The punishment," they say, "being eternal must at last exceed the sin." In order to understand aright the nature of the sin, you must bear in mind the being against whom the sin is committed. It is against Jehovah, the Infinite One, and against one to whom we are under infinite obligations. "But," say others, "God is infinitely merciful, and the very idea of eternal suffering is opposed to that attribute." it may be according to your idea of that mercy, and yet not against that mercy itself. Remember God is as just as He is merciful. That mercy can permit eternal suffering is proved by the fact that it does in the case of Satan and the rebel angels. There will be nothing in hell to refine or alter the sinner. Hell fire is no "refiner's fire," to purge the dross away.

(A. G. Brown.)

Homilist.
The question concerns those who "obey not the gospel." Observe, the gospel is not to be treated as a mere subject for study; although a more noble subject comes not within the reach of man. Nor as a means of mere excitement. It is not a book for entertainment, such as a tale, a poem, a drama. The gospel is a statute, a law to be obeyed; it comes with the highest authority. Unless it is translated into our lives, and embodied in our actions, it is a curse.

I. The question in the text is one that it is IMPOSSIBLE TO DETERMINE WITH CERTITUDE. No less than three theories have been propounded, in order to render an answer to this tremendous problem's utter extinction — eternal torment- ultimate restoration.

II. CERTITUDE ON SUCH A SUBJECT IS OF NO VITAL IMPORTANCE.

1. Genuine religion is the one thing essential for man.

2. Genuine religion is independent of any certitude of the future.

3. Whilst genuine religion is independent of any certitude of the future, it is dependent upon the knowledge of some things, and these things are clearly revealed.

(1)Our great moral obligations.

(2)Our means of spiritual improvement.

(Homilist.)

This is a verse of implication. It affirms nothing, but by its own species of argument causes us to gather some very striking lessons.

I. We have implied THE MEANING OF RELIGION. "Obedience." This is God's due as —

1. Creator.

2. Father.

3. King.

II. We have implied THE LAW ON WHICH OBEDIENCE IS TO BE FOUNDED. "The gospel of God." The gospel is the revelation of good —

1. On account of its Author.

2. Purport.

3. Practical influence.

III. We have implied THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE UNBELIEVER WILL BE SEVERE. The answer, left here as a great hiatus, is fully given in other parts of Scripture —

1. In the threats which it utters.

2. In the examples it affords.

3. In the logical course of sequence.

IV. We have implied A WARNING TO THE SINFUL. They stand on the brink of an awful precipice, in which at any moment they may fall.

V. We have implied A CONSOLATION TO THE RIGHTEOUS. If their lot here is hard, it is nothing to that in store for the disobedient. Sin may be pleasant for a season, but it brings forth death.

(Pryce Thomas.)

Homilist.
I. THAT THERE IS AN END TO THE UNCONVERTED.

II. THAT THIS END IS FRAUGHT WITH FEARFUL CONTINGENCIES.

III. THAT THE NATURE OF THIS END DEMANDS URGENT AND CAREFUL CONSIDERATION.

IV. THAT THIS END IS SHROUDED, EVEN TO THE MOST EARNEST INVESTIGATION, IN OBSCURITY.

(Homilist.)

Pulpit Studies.
I. THE GREAT PRIVILEGE OF HAVING THE GOSPEL.

1. It is good news, the best news that ever reached our fallen world — news sent from heaven, news of a reconciliation for a fallen world.

2. Though it was intended for universal man and suited to meet all his spiritual wants, yet through the supineness of the Church its universal proclamation has been withheld, and millions of our fellow creatures left without it. But we are blessed with it in all its purity, freeness, and fulness (Psalm 16:6; Hebrews 4:2).

II. THE GREAT SIN OF NOT OBEYING THE GOSPEL. It is not enough to go and hear the gospel, to converse about it, to approve it, unless we obey it (Titus 2:11-14).

III. THE AWFUL CONSEQUENCES OF NOT OBEYING THE GOSPEL.

1. It will be the end of their hope and happiness, but not of their existence.

2. It will be to die, not only under the curse of the law, but under the gospel.

(Pulpit Studies.)

I. THE SEEMING PROSPERITY OF THE WICKED SHALL HAVE AN END. See what a fearful judgment follows the wicked! That which he sins for — his honour, riches, delights — all shall vanish and come to nothing.

II. THE HAPPINESS OF THE WICKED IS MOMENTARY, THEIR MISERY ENDLESS. When we are tempted to any sin or unlawful course, consider thus with ourselves: "Shall I, for a pleasure that will end, have a judgment that shall never end? For the favour of men that will fail, shall I lose the perpetual favour of God? Shall I, for a little profit, lose my soul eternally?" I beseech you therefore, whenever you are solicited to sin, for profit or pleasure, etc., set before your eyes the perishing condition of these things, and the everlastingness of that judgment which attends upon them.

III. THOSE THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL.

1. Sins against the gospel are sins against those attributes wherein God will glorify Himself most, as His grace, mercy, loving kindness, etc.

2. Sins against the greatest light are most sinful.

3. Another aggravation of sins against the gospel is that they sin against the better covenant.

(R. Sibbes.)

I. THE CRIMINALITY OF YOUR DISOBEDIENCE. This will appear if you consider —

1. The excellency and importance of that gospel which you have hitherto disbelieved.

2. The source in which your unbelief has originated.

(1)Immoral conduct.

(2)Inattention and inconsideration.

(3)Worldly mindedness.

(4)Self-righteousness.

3. The motives and appeals which your unbelief has resisted.

(1)Birth in a Christian family

(2)Afflictive dispensations.

(3)Conversion of ungodly companions.

(4)Impressions and convictions.

4. The injurious influence which your unbelief may have produced on the minds and destiny of others.

II. THE RUINOUS CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR DISOBEDIENCE.

1. You are now in a state of condemnation.

2. You are in the greatest danger of being suffered to continue in impenitence and unbelief. What will be your condition in the next world?

(J. Alexander.)

If the righteous scarcely be saved
To be saved is what the generality of persons in the world wish for. I am satisfied that the genuine sense of our text hath a particular reference to temporal salvation from calamity, for the copulative particle "and" makes a connection between it and the foregoing verses, where we have the apostle speaking unto God's people about their suffering for the cause of Christ. He tells them of judgment beginning at the house of God, by which we are to understand affliction and calamity, wherewith God exercises His people. But the text need not be particularly confined to this sense, but may hold good with respect to eternal salvation.

1. That the people of God are a righteous people. They are called so in the text, not that they are so in themselves or by nature. They are righteous in the righteousness of Christ, who is called the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30). A principle of righteousness is planted in them at their conversion, from whence flows a righteousness of conversation (Luke 1:6).

2. That the people of God shall be saved. Our text plainly supposes it, though while in the world they are persecuted. Now what is it for them to be saved but to be delivered from sin and misery, and brought into the enjoyment of eternal glory by Jesus Christ. "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation."(1) They shall be delivered from sin and misery. From sin, both from the guilt, filth, power, and being of it.(2) They shall be brought to the full enjoyment of eternal glory; and their bodies shall also be saved.

3. That though the righteous be saved, yet it is with abundance of difficulty. In temporal calamity the Lord may suffer things to run to the very last extremity before He appears for His people's salvation. Now their being scarcely saved is not for want of power in God, for "He is able to save to the uttermost," nor is it for want of will, for He win give grace and glory (Psalm 84:11), nor is it for want of an appointment, for He hath not "appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:9); but the difficulty lies in the things they meet with in the way to salvation.(1) At their entrance into the way to heaven they meet with abundance of difficulty. The gate of conversion is strait, and a crowd of oppositions meet them at their entrance. Many temptations does Satan lay before young converts, and such a mighty advantage has he against them, their corruptions being strong and grace weak, that they find it a very hard thing to escape. The world also, sometimes with its charms and sometimes with its frowns, bears hard upon the poor creature, so that if he escape being entangled it is with great difficulty.(2) In their progress on the way to heaven they meet with so many oppositions that they are but scarcely saved. The way to heaven is but a narrow way. God's people, like those in the shipwreck with Pard, escape all safe to land, yet it is with a scarcely, they get over the turbulent sea of this world. Oh, the snares that are laid for them!(3) At their exit out of the world they meet with abundance of difficulty, so that though they be saved, yet it is with a scarcely; their enemies would not suffer it if they could hinder it. When their souls are ready to take their flight into another world, then is Satan most busy to hinder their salvation. Now though it be impossible for him to hinder their salvation, yet he may so molest them as to make it difficult to obtain salvation, so that they shall find they are but scarcely saved.This further appears —(1) From the frequent apprehensions they have of their being in danger of hell and destruction.(2) This is further evident from the fears there are in the people of God about their salvation.

4. That as it is impossible for the ungodly and sinner to be saved as such, so their misery is unspeakable. Where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?(1) Negatively, I shall show where they shall not appear. Not in heaven. Not in the presence of God, for the foolish shall not stand in His sight; He hateth all the workers of iniquity. Not among the righteous. Sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous. Where, then, shall the wicked appear?(2) Positively, they shall appear in hell. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." They shall appear at the awful tribunal of God, before His judgment seat. And are the righteous scarcely saved? Hence learn —

1. That going to heaven is not so easy a thing as some imagine. It is not an empty profession of religion that will serve the turn.

2. Are the righteous scarcely saved? Hence we learn what a miserable disappointment many meet with, who, instead of getting to heaven, fall into hell.

3. If the righteous be scarcely saved, then we may from hence learn the miserable condition of the wicked in the other world, who are not saved.(1) O ye sleepy, secure sinners! where will you appear?(2) O ye drunkards! where will you appear — you that waste your time and estates, that spoil your constitution, and abuse the good creatures of God?(3) O ye fornicators and adulterers! where will you appear?(4) O ye sabbath breakers! where will you appear?(5) O ye swearers! where will you appear?(6) O ye scoffers at religion! where will you appear?

(J. Sedgfield.)

? — "Scarcely saved" points out the difficulty of salvation. It is no light thing to be saved; omnipotent grace is needed. It is no trifling thing to be lost, but it can be done by neglect.

I. THE FACT. "The righteous scarcely are saved."

1. From the connection we conclude that the righteous are saved with difficulty because of the strictness of Divine rule.

2. From the experience of saints we come to the same conclusion. They find many saving acts to be hard, as, for instance —

(1)To lay hold on Christ simply, and as sinners.

(2)To overcome the flesh from day to day.

(3)To resist the world, with its blandishments, threats, and customs.

(4)To vanquish Satan and his horrible temptations.

(5)To perform needful duties in a humble and holy spirit.

(6)To reach to gracious attainments and to continue in them.

(7)To pass the tribunal of their own awakened and purified conscience, and to receive a verdict of acquittal there.

3. From the testimony of those who are safely landed (Revelation 7:14).

II. THE INFLUENCE FROM THE FACT. "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

1. If even the true coin is so severely tested, what will become of the "reprobate silver"?

2. If saints scarcely reach heaven, what of the ungodly? What can they do who have no God? What can they do who have no Saviour? What can they do who are without the Spirit of God? What without prayer, the Word, the promise of God, etc.?

3. If saints are so sorely chastened, what will justice mete out to the openly defiant sinner?

III. ANOTHER INFERENCE. Where will the mere professor appear? If the truly godly have a hard fight for it —

1. The formalist will find ceremonies a poor solace.

2. The false professor will be ruined by his hypocrisy.

3. The presumptuous will find his daring pride a poor help.

4. He who trusted to mere orthodoxy of creed will come to a fall

5. Height of office will do no more than increase responsibility.

IV. ANOTHER INFERENCE. Then the tempted soul may be saved. It seems that even those who are truly saints are saved with difficulty; then we may be saved, though we have a hard struggle for it.

V. ANOTHER INFERENCE. How sweet will heaven be! There the difficulties will be ended forever. There the former trials will contribute to the eternal bliss.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS HERE SPOKEN OF.

1. The righteous.

(1)None are such legally (Romans 3:10; Job 9:15).

(2)They are such as have believed in Christ, are pardoned and justified (Romans 3:25, 26).

2. The ungodly sinner. They are such as remain in their native, unconverted state. Particularly they are such —

(1)Over whom Satan exercises an uncontrolled dominion (Ephesians 2:2).

(2)Alienated from the love of God (Ephesians 4:18).

(3)Rebellion against God (Romans. 28-32).

(4)Neglecting, perhaps rejecting, the only way of salvation by Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:3; Hebrews 10:28, 29).

II. THE DIFFICULTY OF THE SALVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS.

1. The text admits that the righteous shall be saved; their salvation is certain upon their being found faithful unto death.(1) The testimony of Scripture secures it (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:17; 1 Peter 1:3-5. This is the purpose of God concerning them (2 Thessalonians 2:13).(3) It was the ultimate end of Christ's sufferings (Hebrews 2:10).(4) Of His ascension into heaven (Hebrews 6:20).(5) God hath promised it (Revelation 2:10).(6) The work of salvation in the righteous is already begun (Philippians 1:6).

2. Nevertheless, their salvation is here represented as being with difficulty obtained.(1) This difficulty is not owing to any deficiency in the love of God, which is universal (John 3:16).(2) Nor in the death and merit of Christ, which are infinite (Hebrews 2:9; 1 John 2:2).(3) Nor in the influence of the Spirit (John 14:16, 17; John 16:7, 8). But it is owing chiefly —(4) To the difficulty of the work they have got to do (Titus 2:11-14).(5) The opposition they meet with from the world.(6) The influence of evil example which abounds in the world (John 15:19).(7) The opposition they meet with from Satan (chap. 1 Peter 5:8).(8) The remains of corruption within.(9) The instability of some Christians (James 1:8), and the apostasy of others (1 Timothy 1:19, 20).

III. THE CERTAIN AND DREADFUL MISERY THAT AWAITS THE UNGODLY SINNER. The question in the text relating to such may refer —

1. To a time of popular calamity (Luke 21:25, 26).

2. To death (Psalm 9:17).

3. To the day of judgment. Let the wicked tremble for the consequences of their conduct. Should they live and die such, their destruction is inevitable.

(T. Hannam.)

Let us consider the solemn truth assumed — "If the righteous be scarcely saved." The meaning of this is that the righteous are saved with difficulty, or, as Steiger well expresses it, "it costs believers much to remain steadfast in their endurance of trials and to glorify God." The radical cause of the difficulty is with the righteous — original sin. The external causes of the difficulty are around believers — the world, which is in league with their infected nature, and offers corresponding objects to all its evil propensities. It is readily admitted that they are surrounded also with the helps of the Church. Now to notice the particular causes of such difficulty. Observe, first, that the faith of the righteous, which is always imperfect, has, like a physical power, a constant tendency to decrease in strength and firmness through its exercise being neglected. The temptations to such neglect are many and great. The righteous, for the most part, are leading a busy life. Hence they are tempted not to find time for the exercise of faith. Besides, sensible things ever surround them, try to press into their souls by every avenue of their senses, and exclusively, fill their affections and engage their thoughts; hence their disinclination to exercise faith would be proportionately increased. True, if the righteous are exposed to temptation to neglect the exercise of faith, they have incentives to attend to the duty. One incentive is a sense of sin. Another incentive is special temptation, or trouble, or difficulty, which often besets them, and urges them to look to their Saviour for deliverance or support. A third incentive is the impulse of the Holy Spirit, inciting thoughts of Christ. Further, the faith of the righteous is liable to decrease in strength and stability, through their failure to properly seek its nourish meat. Thus may their faith decline and waver through defect in spiritual appetite or neglect of spiritual food. And their exposedness to this may hardly be obviated by the frequent calls they may have to the healthy and invigorating exercises of devotion. Again, the faith of the righteous is liable to decrease in strength and firmness, through being exposed to attacks from the unbelief of their fallen nature, called in Scripture the evil heart of unbelief. Natural unbelief, therefore, needs to be much watched and prayed against, and an increase of faith to be much encouraged and prayed for. But further, the danger which their faith is in does not only arise from the unbelief of their fallen nature, but from the encouragement which such unbelief meets with in the world — ah! and the professing Church. For infidelity in sonic degree, practical or avowed, is everywhere manifest. The manner of such injury to their faith will be different at separate times. Sometimes, to notice the two extremes, when it is violently assailed by doubts within and infidel expressions and actions without, its injury will be sudden and apparent, like that of a plant which in spring is smitten with the blast of the east wind, so that one hour its roots are firm and its leaves green, the next its roots are loose, and its leaves dried up and withered. At other times, when its exercise or its nourishment is neglected through a worldly spirit, its injury will be gradual and imperceptible, like that of a plant which, while it is left uncultivated, has a worm at its roots. The righteous are saved with difficulty, secondly, because, in consequence of the general causes mentioned, their holiness is exposed to some degree of failure. It is exposed to this through decrease of faith, like the fruit of a tree through injury of its root, and also, like faith, through its exercise and nourishment being neglected. The holiness of the righteous is exposed to failure in measure through temptations. Again, the holiness of the righteous is exposed to failure through trials. Further, the righteous are saved with difficulty, because they are exposed to failure, in measure, in holiness, through difficulty in certain parts of obedience. It is no easy matter for the righteous, depraved as they are in nature, to perform their various duties in their entirety. But even this is not all; some duties which the righteous have to perform are especially difficult, through their direct opposition to their natural tendencies. I mean such as are involved in the following sayings of the Master: — "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14). Now I have two inferences to draw from this solemn subject.

1. The first is, if the righteous are thus scarcely saved, must not many professors of religion be in a sad mistake?

2. The second inference is that the righteous have great cause for earnest striving that the evidences of their conversion may be clear to themselves and to others.

3. In a word, let them "work out their own salvation with fear and trembling," and "give all diligence to make their calling and election sure."

(C. H. Coleman.)

1. The faith in Christ of the righteous is maintained with difficulty. But the ungodly and sinners have no living faith in Christ at all. Thus they not only have not faith and seek not after it, but they yield themselves to be bound and fettered in infidelity. Yet without faith is it not impossible that the ungodly and sinners should be saved?

2. I observe, the holiness of the righteous is maintained with difficulty in resisting and overcoming the evil dispositions which are inherent in their fallen nature. But the ungodly and sinners are entirely destitute of holiness in principle and in practice. How, then, can the ungodly and sinners be meet for heaven?

3. The righteous often find it difficult to bear their trials with Christian consistency, being liable to impatience and irritability, through want of watchfulness in trials comparatively light and transient, and strongly urged to discontent and resistance of will, through distrust of God and failure in spiritual firmness, in trials severe and lasting. But the ungodly and sinners almost always, under any trials, allow themselves in discontent, bad temper, and resistance, whether the trials come the more evidently from God or from man. But the ungodly and sinners being thus refractory under trials, how is it possible that they can be finally saved?

4. The righteous frequently experience great difficulty in performing some of the harder duties of the Christian life. But the ungodly and sinners neglect them altogether. If they render bodily service, they render no spiritual service to God. How is it possible, then, that the ungodly and sinners can find favour before the judgment seat?

(C. H. Coleman.)

I. WHY THE SALVATION OF THE RIGHTEOUS IS DIFFICULT. The difficulty in the salvation of either the righteous or the wicked turns not on any want of mercy in the heart of God. It is not because God is implacable and hard to be appeased. Again, it is not in any lack of provision in the atonement to cover all the wants of sinners. But, positively, one difficulty is found in the nature of God's government, and in the nature of free agency in this world. God has so constituted man as to limit Himself to one mode of government over him. This must be moral, and not physical. That physical omnipotence which sweeps the heavens and upholds the universe could find no difficulty in moving lumps of clay so small and insignificant as we. But mind cannot be moved as God moves the planets. Physical force can have no direct application to mind for the purpose of determining its moral action. Such being the case, the great difficulty is to persuade sinners to choose right. God is infinitely ready to forgive them if they will repent; but the great problem is to persuade them to do so. God may and does employ physical agencies to act morally, but never to act physically. There are a great many difficulties in the way of converting sinners, and saving them when once converted. One class of these difficulties is the result of an abused constitution. When Adam and Eve were created their appetites were doubtless mild and moderate. They did not live to please themselves and gratify their own appetites. Their deep and all engrossing desire and purpose to please God was the law of their entire activities. Sin introduced another law — the law of self-indulgence. Every one knows how terribly this law tends to perpetuate and strengthen itself. Their appetites lost their proper balance. No longer subordinate to reason and to God, they became inordinate, clamorous, despotic. Now in order to save men, they must be restored to a state in which God and reason control the free action of the mind, and appetite is held in due subjection. Here is the difficulty. Some have formed habits and have confirmed them until they have become immensely strong, and it becomes exceedingly difficult to induce them to break away. The rescue must be effected by moral, not by physical means, and the problem is to make the moral means powerful enough for the purpose. Again, we must notice, among the difficulties in question, the entanglements of a multitude of circumstances. I have often thought it well for Christians that they do not see all their difficulties at first. If they did, its discouraging effect might be disastrous. The great difficulty is living to please self rather than God. It is wonderful to see how much this difficulty is enhanced by the agency Satan and sin have had in the framework of society. It would seem that a bait is held before every man, whatever his position and circumstances may be. There is a man chained to a wife who is a constant source of temptation and trial to him. There is a wife who sees scarce a peaceful moment in all her life with her husband — all is vexation and sorrow of spirit. Many parents have children who are a constant trial to them. They are indolent, or they are reckless, or they are self-willed and obstinate. Their own tempers perhaps are chafed, and they become a sore temptation to a similar state of chafed and fretted temper in their parents. On the other hand, children may have equal trials in their parents. Who but God can save against the power of such temptations? Many children have been brought up in error. Their parents have held erroneous opinions, and they have had their moral constitution saturated with this influence from their cradle and upwards. How terrible such an influence must inevitably be! Or the business of their parents may have been such as to miseducate them. When the mind gives itself up to self-indulgence, and a host of appetites become clamorous and impetuous, what a labour it must be to bring the soul into harmony with God! How many impulses must be withstood and overcome l how great the change that must be wrought in both the physical and moral state of the man! No wonder that the devil flatters himself that he has got the race of depraved men into his snares and can lead them captive at his will. Many are not aware of the labour necessary to get rid of the influence of a bad education. Ofttimes the affections become unhappily attached, yet the attachment is exceedingly strong, and it shall seem like the sundering of the very heart strings to break it off. Sometimes we are quite inadequate to judge of the strength of this attachment, except as we may see what strange and terrible means God is compelled to use to sever it. Oh, what a work is this which Christ undertakes that He may save His people from their sins! How strange and how complicated are the difficulties 1 Who could overcome them but God? Again, the darkness of nature is so great and so gross that it must be an exceedingly great work to save them from its influence and pour the true light of God through their intelligence. Indeed, Christians never know themselves except as they see themselves in God's own light. Finally, the greatness of the change requisite in passing from sin to real holiness — from Satan's kingdom into full fitness for Christ's, creates no small difficulty in the way of saving even the converted, Remarks: We see why the Scriptures are so full of exhortations to the Christians to run, run, and especially to run by rule. They must, however, give all diligence. A lazy man cannot Bet to heaven. To get there costs toil and labour. For his will must be sanctified. The entire voluntary department of his being must be renovated. The Christian is also commanded to watch — not to close his eyes for a little more sleep and a little more slumber. We see, also, why the Christian is to pray always. We may also see why Christians are exhorted to separate themselves from the world. Mark, also, why Christians are exhorted to spend the time of their sojourning here in fear, and to walk softly and carefully, as before God, through all the meanderings of their pilgrimage. When candid men come to consider all these things — the human constitution, the tendency to unbelief, the impulses towards self-indulgence, and the strength of temptation — they cannot but see that there is abundant occasion for all those faults in Christian character and conduct which they are wont to criticise so stringently. Yet often, perhaps commonly, wicked men make no allowance for the faults of Christians, but assume that every Christian ought to be spotless, while every sinner may make so much apology for his sin as quite to shield his conscience from conviction of guilt.

II. SHOW HOW AND WHY THE SALVATION OF THE WICKED IS IMPOSSIBLE. Vitally important to be considered here is the fact that the governmental difficulty in the way of being saved, growing out of your having sinned, even greatly, is all removed by Christ's atonement. The difficulty in the way of saving sinners is not simply that they have sinned, but that they will not now cease from sinning and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. The salvation of sinners is therefore impossible.

1. Because it is impossible for God by any means He can wisely employ to persuade them to desist from sinning. It may not be wise for God to bring all the moral power of His universe to bear upon the sinner in this world. If this were wise and practicable, it might avail — for aught we can know; but since He does not do it, we infer that He refrains from some wise reason. Certain limitations are fixed in the divine wisdom to the amount of moral influence which God shall employ in the case of a sinner. It is in view of this fact that I say God finds it impossible to gain the sinner's consent to the gospel by any means that He can wisely employ.

2. Again, the sinner cannot be saved, because salvation from sin is an indispensable condition of salvation from hell. The being saved from sin must come first in order. If salvation implies fitness for heaven, and if this implies ceasing from sin, then, of course, it is naturally and forever impossible that any sinner can be saved without holiness.

3. The peace of heaven forbids that you should go there in your sins. What sort of happiness, congenial to his heart, could the sinner hope to find there? And now will heaven let you in? No. Nothing that worketh abomination can by any means go in there.

4. Besides, it would not be for your own comfort to be there. You were never quite comfortable in spiritual society on earth.

5. The justice of God will not allow you to participate in the joys of the saints. His sense of propriety forbids that He should give you a place among His pure and trustful children.

III. If, then, the sinner cannot be saved and go to heaven, WHERE SHALL HE APPEAR? The question is a strong negation. They shall not appear among the righteous and the saved. This is a common form of speaking. Nehemiah said, "Shall such a man as I flee?" No, indeed. Where, then, shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? In no desirable place or position — certainly. Not with the righteous in the judgment, for so God's Word has often and most solemnly affirmed. It is asked, Where shall the ungodly appear? I answer, Certainly not in heaven, nor on the heavenly side.

(C. G. Finney.)

I. THE PEOPLE OF GOD WILL BE SAVED WITH DIFFICULTY.

1. Owing to their strong remaining corruptions.

2. To their long and inveterate habits of sin.

3. To the strong and numerous foes that oppose his march.

4. A great amount of labour will be requisite to push him forward in his heavenly pilgrimage.

5. There will await him many other dangers, of which he can have yet no conception.

II. BUT "WHERE SHALL THE UNGODLY AND SINNER APPEAR?" All the difficulties, and more yet, that obstruct the way of the Christian heavenward, are surely before the man who has not commenced his route thither.

1. The man who is not a Christian has yet to enter upon the way.

2. He may have yet more corruptions. He may have taken a more wayward course.

3. But his iniquities must all be uprooted.

4. He has more foes, in addition to those planted in the way of the Christian.

5. He must do more labour than if he had set out earlier.

6. The same, and more yet dangers await him than await the Christian.Remarks:

1. Would I have the sinner despair, lie down and die? Will not heaven be worth all the efforts he has yet to make?

2. Oh, then, how anxious should sinners be to commence the great work of their salvation!

3. How anxious, too, should the Church be that sinners might live!

(D. A. Clark.)

That the righteous should scarcely be saved seems hardly reconcilable with the grace and deign and promises of the gospel. Did not Christ come to save sinners?

I. IN WHAT SENSE THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SAID TO BE SCARCELY SAVED. That may be understood two ways.(1) With respect to accidental difficulties arising from the particular circumstances of times and persons. For the difficulties of religion are not alike in all times, nor to all persons; for they are not like a geometrical measure, which is always exactly the same; but rather like a voyage at sea, which is to be managed by the same compass and to the same port; hut it sometimes proves calm and pleasant, and at other times stormy and tempestuous. Which chiefly happens when a religion appears new, or goes about to reform the old; for then it is sure to meet with all the opposition which the passions and interests and prejudices of partial men can raise against it. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God; and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? i.e., Christ hath foretold desolation and ruin to come upon the Jewish nation. Sincerity and constancy are the necessary conditions of salvation, which may be tried much more in some than it is in others. We must all have the same journey's end if we hope to get to heaven, but some may meet with a freer road, and a calmer season, and better company, in their journey than others. But herein mankind are apt to be deceived, as though all the difficulties lay in a suffering condition; whereas a soft and careless life is rather more dangerous to their souls, because persons are less apt to suspect their danger. The temptations of the suffering side are apt to awake the sleepy powers of the soul, whereas the gentle and easy condition of life often lays them asleep. But this is not all; for there are many things which make it more difficult to some than others, which are of another nature. Some tempers are more flexible and pliable than others; more capable of hearkening to reason, and more apt to reflect on their own actions; whereas others are naturally stiff and obstinate, who stick fast to an opinion or prejudice which they have once taken up. Some, again, are very easily convinced of a fault, but very hardly reclaimed. Again, some have had the advantage of a pious and religious education. For although the difficulties be not alike in all, yet, of one kind or other, they are such as cannot be overcome by ourselves without the power of Divine grace exciting, preventing, and assisting of us.(2) Having thus showed what difficulties there are which arise from the different circumstances of times and persons, I am now to consider those which arise from the terms of salvation, which are common to all persons and times.Here we must suppose salvation to be the thing aimed at as the chief end or happiness of such men, and here are two kinds of difficulties to be inquired into.(1) Such as are implied in the general pursuit or happiness. For happiness is not a thing of chance or necessity, but a matter of choice and design.(1) That happiness did consist in one uniform design of life, i.e., that a man must choose one proper and chief end to himself, and so order his thoughts and actions that he may attain it.(2) That there must be a careful and attentive mind to pursue this design.(3) That any man who desired to be happy must, above all things, take pains about himself.(4) That those who consulted most the ease and pleasure of mankind were forced to put men upon some hard and unpleasant things to make anything like happiness to consist in pleasure. For they cast off all riot and excess, because the pain which followed exceeded the pleasure; and therefore they made temperance and chastity necessary to the true pleasure of life. So that all were agreed that it was impossible to attain to anything that looked like happiness without some real difficulty, which was necessary to be undergone, although the success Were uncertain.(2) Let us now consider the difficulties relating to salvation, or that happiness which Christians expect. And here I shall show —(1) It is more reasonable to expect difficulties in the way of salvation. For the more excellent and desirable the happiness is, the more it is worth the while for us to take pains about it; especially when there is a certainty of attaining it(2) The difficulties in our way to salvation are not such but we may reasonably hope to overcome them; i.e., if we set ourselves about it; otherwise a very mean difficulty will appear too great for us.And there are two things to show that we may hope to overcome them.(1) That the most difficult duties are in themselves reasonable to be performed by us.(2) That God offers His gracious assistance for the performance of them.

II. AND THIS HELPS US TO RECONCILE THE DIFFICULTY OF SALVATION WITH THE EASINESS OF THE TERMS OF THE GOSPEL. For that which is not only hard, but impossible to us, in our own strength, may, by the mighty power of Divine grace, become not only possible but easy to us.

III. And from hence we see WHAT ENCOURAGEMENT THERE IS STILL FOR US TO HOPE TO BE SAVED, IF WE BE RIGHTEOUS. There is none for the ungodly and sinner. "But what is it," some may say, "to hear that the righteous are scarcely saved, when we are so conscious to ourselves of our own unrighteousness?"

(Bp. Stillingfleet.)

This imports not any uncertainty in the thing itself as to the end, in respect of the purpose and performance of God, but only the great difficulties and hard encounters in the way, "fightings without, and fears within." All outward difficulties, however, would be us nothing, were it not for the incumbrance of lusts and corruptions within. Were a man to meet disgraces and sufferings for Christ, how easily would he go through them, yea, and rejoice in them, were he rid of the fretting impatience, the pride, and self-love, of his own carnal heart! And many times, after much wrestling, he scarcely finds that he hath gained any ground: yea, sometimes he is foiled and cast down by them. And so in all duties the flesh is dragging downwards! When he would mount up, he finds himself as a bird with a stone tied to its foot; he hath wings that flutter to be upwards, but is pressed down with the weight fastened to him. What struggling with wanderings and deadness in hearing, and reading, and prayer! And what is most grievous, is, that, by their unwary walking and the prevailing of some corruption, believers grieve the Spirit of God, and provoke Him to hide His face and withdraw His comforts. How much pain to attain anything, any particular grace of humility, or meekness, or self-denial! And if anything be attained, how hard to keep and maintain it against the contrary party! How often are they driven back to their old point! If they do but cease from striving a little, they are carried back by the stream. And what returns of doubtings and unbelief, after they thought they were got somewhat above them, insomuch that sometimes they are at the point of giving over, and thinking it will never be for them! And yet, through all these, they are brought safely home. There is another strength than theirs, which bears them up and brings them through. But these things, and many more of this nature, argue the difficulty of their course, and that it is not so easy a thing to come to heaven as most imagine it.

(Abp. Leighton.)

The Christian Magazine.
I. Consider the appeal IN ITS REFERENCE TO TEMPORAL CALAMITIES.

1. The righteous are saved, when the existence of the Church is preserved.

2. The righteous are saved personally, when their lives are preserved.

3. The righteous are saved, while the life and welfare of their souls are secured, whatever may otherwise befall them.

II. Consider the appeal IN ITS REFERENCE TO SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL SALVATION.

1. The righteous are scarcely saved —(1) Because their salvation could not be purchased but at the greatest conceivable expense.(2) Because the purchased redemption could not be applied but by supernatural power.(3) Because even when salvation is thus attained, it is not persevered in without the same supernatural aid, and the utmost diligence.(4) Because after death is the judgment. The righteous shall be saved, but it will be scarcely when the matter comes to a scrutiny of sterling evidence.

2. It remains now to ponder the inference which the apostle chiefly designs to impress on our minds, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" It is as if he had said, How certain their doom!(1) How certain! "Where shall they appear?" Not surely in a saved state. This is the simple answer to the question.(2) How dreadful must it be! The abrupt and pungent form of expression suggests the horrors of their doom.(3) How reasonable will be their doom! For this, too, the question strongly implies, not only as an appeal to reason, leaving themselves to decide, but as an allusion to the mode of procedure in courts among men. "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" On what ground shall they stand? What can they plead in their own behalf at the bar of the eternal Judge? Inferences:

1. What construction ought to be put on the little difference made between the righteous and the wicked in the dispensations of Providence. This has often been mistaken by the former (Psalm 73), and abused by the latter, as if religion were of no value. A real distinction exists, and will eventually be manifested. The ungodly have no reason to glory, indulging atheistical thoughts because of the sufferings of the godly.

2. What views ought to be entertained of spiritual salvation? It is not that easy trifling matter which many take it to be. "Who then can be saved?"

3. Propose this question to yourselves in a less limited form, "Who can be saved?" Through the grace of God, all sinners, even the chief. But, who will be saved? Only those who live a life of faith, and make their calling and election sure.

(The Christian Magazine.)

The way to come to salvation is full of difficulties —

1. Because there is much ado to get Lot out of Sodom, to get Israel out of Egypt.

2. Again, it is hard in regard of the sin that continually cleaves to them in this world, which doth, as it were, shackle them, and compass them about in all their performances.

3. Besides, it is a hard matter in regard of Satan; for he is a great enemy to the peace of God's children. Pharaoh after the Israelites.

4. Then, by reason of great discouragements and ill-usage which they find in the world from wicked men.

5. Besides this, scandal makes it a hard matter to be saved; to see evil courses and evil persons flourish and countenanced in the world.

6. This, likewise, makes the way difficult; we are too apt to offend God daily, giving Him just cause to withdraw His Spirit of comfort from us, which makes us go mourning all the day long; wanting those sweet refreshments of spiritual joy and peace we had before. When Christ wanted the sweet solace of His Father upon the Cross, how did it trouble Him?

(R. Sibbes.)

God will have it thus to sweeten heaven unto us. After a conflicting life peace is welcome; heaven is heaven indeed after trouble. We can relish it then. Because God will discard hypocrites in this life, who take up so much of religion as stands with their ease and credit in the world, avoiding every difficulty which accompanies godliness, but, so they may swim two ways at once, go on in their lusts still and be religious withal. This they approve of. Therefore, God will have it a hard matter to be saved, to frustrate the vain hopes of such wretches. Alas! it is an easy matter to be an hypocrite, but not to live godly.

(R. Sibbes.)

Peter means this, "If Christians have such a hard tug to get into heaven, there is no chance at all for anybody else." The soul that has long been driving before the winds of pleasure cannot so easily turn round and cut the wind's eye. If religion were something you could wear like a cane in your hand, or a band of crape on your hat, or if it were portable, in the shape of a Bible or Psalm book that you could carry under your arm, it would not seem so hard; but to have it as a principle in the soul, looking over your shoulder when you write out your ledgers, coming in to make suggestions when you are making a trade, breaking over the walls of Sunday, and running by your side from Monday morning to Saturday night, verily that seems a troublesome religion. How many postpone conversion because they think that it is so easy to become religious — they can begin at any time! They can shed sin as naturally as a bird his feathers, or a tree its bark. One crack of the whip of resolution will frighten out the drove of their iniquities. No! no! St. Peter himself was "scarcely saved." It was not until every passion of his soul was in agony of earnestness that he fastened on to life. Oh, if in this instance it required the girding up of the soul in order to obtain the hope and joy of Christ's salvation, what shall become of those who make no effort, reach forth no strong prayer, lay hold of no Bible promise, and sleep when peril stands at the helm? If the righteous be "scarcely saved," where will the ungodly and sinner appear? But after pardon is obtained, there are batteries of strength which must be passed on our way into the heavenly harbour. All the Christian's foes are marshalled under three sturdy generals — the World, the Flesh, and the Devil. Business, entrenched behind counters, and bales of goods, and safes, attempts the overthrow of our souls. Disappointments fret, and fraud exasperates us, and meddlesome curiosity makes our lip curl. Gains lift us up, so that losses can better hurl us down. The Christian has to contend against temptations which made Adam disobey, and Abraham lie, and Moses get angry, and Job swear, and David sin against chastity, and Peter deny his Master. Satan makes assault. Having gathered skill by six thousand years of chicanery in making devotion profane, and integrity lie, and honesty cheat, and humility proud, and generosity tight-fisted, he knows just where to strike the Christian. Bad spirits are ever on the wing, coming to us on steps of sunshine, and floating on the dark wave of midnight, seated on the wings of the morning, and dropping with the evening dew. Guns cannot shoot them, swords cannot pierce them, fire cannot burn them, cold cannot freeze them. They fly with wings tireless, eye dimless, swifter than arrows, deadlier than plagues, cutting like hail, drowning like surges, crushing like rocks. Who can resist them? Only that arm which clasps God's arm, and that heart sustained by God's heart. If, with heavenly shield and sword, the righteous are only scarcely saved, where, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

(T. De Witt Talmage.)

The victorious general in the hour of triumph has not unfrequently reason to remember how nearly, through oversight or miscalculation, he had lost the day: a little more pressure on this wing or that, a trifling prolongation of the struggle, a few minutes' further delay in the arrival of reinforcements, and his proud banner had been dragged in the dust. The pilot guiding his barque safely into port sometimes knows how through lack of seaman ship he nearly made shipwreck. And the successful merchant remembers crises in his history when he found himself on the brink of ruin, when the last straw only was wanting to precipitate the catastrophe. Men who have won the prizes of life have cause to wear their honours meekly when they recall the errors of judgment, the lack of courage, the acts of rashness, the ignorance, the credulousness, the hesitation, which so nearly deprived them of fame and fortune. Our religious history furnishes parallels to these narrow escapes on the lower level.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Commit the keeping of their souls to Him
Wherein consider —

1. That the state and condition of God's children is to suffer.

2. The dispensation of that suffering, they suffer not at all adventures, but according to the will of God.

3. Their duty in this estate, namely, to commit the keeping of their souls to God.In the duty we have these particulars comprehended —

1. An action, to commit.

2. An object, what we must commit, the soul.

3. The person to whom, to God.

4. The manner, in well-doing.

5. The reason which should move us hereunto, implied in these words, as unto a faithful Creator.Observe —

1. That the state of God's children is to suffer, yea, to suffer of God; for sometimes He seems to be an enemy to His dearest servants, as unto Job. But chiefly they are in a militant estate here.(1) Why God's children must suffer here. Because they live among those that they cannot but suffer from, wheresoever they live.(2) They must suffer also in regard of themselves; for the best of us all have many lusts to be subdued, and a great deal of corruption to be purged out, before we can come to heaven, that holy place into which no unclean thing can enter. In the best estate there will be suffering one way or other. Then, suspect thyself to be in a bad estate, for every true Christian suffers in one kind or other, either from without or within. We must be conformable to our Head before we can come to heaven. But the dispensation of our suffering is according to the will of God. God's will concerning our suffering is permissive in respect of those that do us harm; but in regard of our patient enduring injuries, it is His approving and commanding will. We are enjoined to suffer, and they are permitted to wrong us. It seems, then, there is some excuse for those that persecute the saints. They do but according to God's will; and if it be so, who dares speak against them? It is not God's commanding will, but His suffering will. He useth their malice for His own ends. But observe further, that we never suffer but when God will. And His will is not that we should always suffer, though generally our estate be so in one kind or other. God is not always chiding (Psalm 103:9), but hath times of intermission, which He vouchsafes His children for their good. And this the Lord doth out of mercy to His poor creatures, that they might not sink before Him, but gather strength of grace, and be the better fitted to bear further crosses afterwards. And it is for matters better than life that God lets His children suffer here; for, alas! this life is but a shadow, as it were, nothing. I beseech you, therefore, considering all our sufferings are by the appointment and will of God, let us bring our souls to a holy resignation unto His Majesty, not looking so much to the grievance we are under as to the hand that sent it.

I. NOW THIS WELL-DOING MUST BE DISTINGUISHED INTO TWO TIMES.

1. Before our suffering. We must not go out of our sphere, but serve God in our standings, that if trouble comes it may find us in a way of well-pleasing, either doing works of charity or else the works of our particular calling wherein God hath set us.

2. So likewise in suffering we must commit our souls to God in well-doing in a double regard.

1. We must carry ourselves generally well in all our sufferings.

2. In particular, we must do well to them that do us wrong. First, I say, in affliction our carriage must be generally good in respect of God, by a meek behaviour under His hand, without murmuring against Him.

3. In regard of the cause of God, that we betray it not through fear or cowardice, through base aims and intentions, etc., but endeavour to carry it with a good conscience in all things. When we make it clear by managing anything, that we are led with the cause and conscience of our duty, it works mightily upon them that wrong us.

(1)It wins those that are indifferent.

(2)Confounds the obstinate, and stops their mouths.Therefore, let us carry ourselves well, not only before, but in suffering. We should have an eye to God, and an eye to ourselves, and an eye to others, and an eye to the cause in hand; so we shall do well. We must not commit our souls to God in idleness, doing nothing at all, nor yet in evil-doing, but in well-doing. But I cannot do well, but I shall suffer ill. Labour, therefore, to carry thyself well in suffering evil, not only in the general, but even in particular, towards those persons that do thee wrong; endeavour to requite their evil with good. There is a great measure of self-denial required to be a Christian, especially in matter of revenge, "to pray for them that curse us, to do good to them that persecute us," etc., and so "heap coals of fire upon our enemies' heads" (Proverbs 25:22; Romans 12:20). How is that?

1. Coals of conversion.

2. Coals of confusion.Some will say, Christianity is a strange condition, that enforceth such things upon men, that are so contrary to nature. It is so, indeed, for we must be new moulded before ever we can come to heaven. But suppose a man carry himself ill in suffering. There is not the least promise of comfort in Scripture to such a man, unless he return, and seek the Lord by timely repentance; for all encouragement is to well-doing.

II. BUT WHAT MUST WE COMMIT TO GOD IN WELL-DOING? The keeping of our souls. The soul is the more excellent part, witness He that purchased the same with His dearest blood. Therefore, whatsoever estate thou art in, let thy first care be for thy soul, that it may go well with that. You know in the firing of an house, that which a man chiefly looks after is his jewels and precious things, "I have some wealth in such a place, if I could but have that I care for no more, let the rest go"; so it is with a Christian, whatsoever becomes of him in this world, he looks to his precious soul, that that may be laid up safely in the hands of God. But what should we desire our souls to be kept from in this world? From sin and the evil consequences thereof. But must we not commit our bodies and our estates to God, as well as our souls? Yes, all we have; for that is only well kept which God keeps; but yet in time of suffering we must be at a point with these things. If God will have our liberty, if He will have our life and all, we must hate all for Christ's sake; but we must not be at such a point with our souls, we must keep them close to God, and desire Him to keep them in well-doing. Suppose it come to an exigent, that we must either sin and hurt our souls, or else lose all our outward good things? Our chief care must be over our souls. We must desire God to preserve our souls, whatsoever becomes of these; our principal care must be that that be not blemished in the least kind; for, alas! other things must be parted with first or last. The soul is the better part of a man, and if that miscarries, all miscarries. If the soul be not well, the body will not continue long in a good estate. Bernard saith sweetly, "Oh, body, thou hast a noble guest dwelling in thee, a soul of such inestimable worth that it makes thee truly noble." Considering therefore that it is Satan's aim to unloose our hold from God, by defiling our souls with sin, oh! let it be our chief care to see to that which Satan strikes at most!

III. BUT TO WHOM MUST THE SOUL BE COMMITTED? To God. Indeed, He only can keep our souls.

IV. BUT WHY MUST WE COMMIT OUR SOULS TO GOD? Because He is a faithful Creator. Whence observe — That the soul of man being an understanding essence, will not be satisfied and settled without sound reasons. Comfort is nothing else but reasons stronger than the evil which doth afflict us; when the reasons are more forcible to ease the mind than the grievance is to trouble it. It is no difficult matter to commit our souls to God when we are once persuaded that He is a faithful Creator. We must take God here as a Creator of our whole man, body and soul, and of the new creature in us. Yea, God became man to enrich us with all grace and goodness, to free us from the hands of Satan, and bring us to an eternal state of communion with Himself in heaven.

(R. Sibbes.)

The Lay Preacher.
I. CHRISTIANS MUST EXPECT TO SUFFER.

1. Sometimes by adversity. Poverty; Christ so suffered; so did His disciples; bodily affliction, etc.

2. In their reputation. Holiness of life and zeal in religion will provoke the ungodly (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33; Hebrews 11:25, 26).

3. In their property. Persecution in olden times; spoiling of their goods; loss of custom; piety a bar to temporal promotion.

4. In their liberty and life. Though the age of martyrdom has passed, let us cherish and honour the memory of those, etc.

II. CHRISTIANS SUFFER ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD.

1. These sufferings are for the trial of faith (vers. 12, 13; 1 Peter 1:7). It is the day of battle that tests the valour and fidelity of soldiers. Then the believer feels his own helplessness and trusts in God alone.

2. They promote spiritual prosperity and happiness. The graces of the Spirit generally languish under worldly prosperity (Matthew 13:22). Under trials God gives "more grace"(2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).

3. They promote the glory of God. Show what His grace can do in supporting the mind of the sufferers, and in filling their hearts with gratitude. "He hath done all things well."

III. THE CONDUCT OF CHRISTIANS UNDER SUFFERINGS.

1. They should be characterised by well-doing. Obedience a sign of resignation. The more we are tried the stronger must be our attachment to Christ (Job 5:19-22) Active usefulness a cure for trouble.

2. The soul is to be more valued than the body.

3. Enlarged views of the love and care of God.

4. The actual surrender of the soul to His keeping. "What can separate us?" etc.Application:

1. See the dignity, wealth, and happiness of God's people; He loves and protects them, and is their portion (Psalm 44:16).

2. Learn the folly of trusting in human resources amid the trials of life.

3. Note the folly of those who persecute the Church of God (Isaiah 54:17).

(The Lay Preacher.)

These words contain the true principle of Christian patience and tranquillity of mind in the sufferings of this life, expressing both wherein it consists and what are the grounds of it.

1. It lies in this, committing the soul unto God in well-doing. If you would commit your soul to the keeping of God, know that He is a holy God, and an unholy soul that walks in any way of wickedness, whether known or secret, is no fit commodity to put into His pure hand to keep. Therefore beware of wilful pollutions and unholy ways. Loose ways will loosen your hold of Him and confidence in Him. If thou give thy soul to Him to keep upon the terms of liberty to sin, He will turn it out of His doors, and remit it back to thee to look to as thou wilt thyself. Yea, in the ways of sin thou dost indeed steal it back, and carriest it out from Him; thou puttest thyself out of the compass of His defence, goest without the trenches, and art, at thine own hazard, exposed to armies of mischiefs and miseries. So much sin as gets in, so much peace will go out. Afflictions cannot break in upon it to break it, but sin doth. All the winds which blow upon the earth from all points, stir it not; only that within the bowels of it makes the earthquake. I do not mean that for infirmities a Christian ought to be discouraged. But take heed of walking in any way of sin, for that will unsettle thy confidence. Commit the keeping of their souls. Their chief concern is, that whatsoever be lost, this may not; this is the jewel, and therefore the prime care is of this. If the soul be safe, all is well; it is riches enough. What shall it profit a man, though he gain the whole world, says our Saviour, and lose his own soul? And so, what shall it disprofit a man, though he lose the whole world, if he gain his soul? Nothing at all. Now the way is this, commit it to God: this many say, but few do. Give your souls into His hand, lay them up there, so the word is, and they are safe, and may be quiet and composed. Learn from hence what is the proper act of faith; it rolls the soul over on God, ventures it in His hand, and rests satisfied concerning it, being there. And there is no way but this to be quiet within, to be impregnable and immovable in all assaults, and fixed in all changes, believing in His free love. The ground of this confidence is in these two things, the ability and fidelity in Him in whom we trust. There is much in a persuasion of the power of God. If He was able to give them being, surely He is able to keep them from perishing. This relation of a Creator implies likewise a benign propension and goodwill to the works of His hands. And as He is powerful, He is no less faithful, a faithful Creator, truth itself. Those who believe on Him, He never deceives or disappoints. There is another ground of quietness contained in the first word, which looks back to the foregoing discourse, "Wherefore" — what? Seeing that your reproaches and sufferings are not endless, yea, that they are short, they shall quickly end in glory, be not troubled about them, overlook them. The eye of faith will do it. A moment gone, and what are they?

(Abp. Leighton.)

I. THE SUFFERANCE OF THE SAINTS. Let this teach us two duties. First, to prepare for evils before they come; next, to make them welcome when they are come. So they shall neither meet us with fear, nor leave us with sorrow.

II. THE INTEGRITY OF THAT SUFFERANCE. They only are said to suffer according to God's will, who suffer first innocently, then patiently.

III. THE COMFORT OF THIS INTEGRITY. He that suffers for Christ's testimony is confident of God's mercy.

IV. THE BOLDNESS OF THIS COMFORT.

1. God loves us, as our Creator.

2. God is faithful to us, however unfaithful we have been to Him.

V. THE CAUTION OF THIS BOLDNESS. "In well doing."

1. The wicked man may commit his soul to God's keeping, but how is he sure God will take the charge of it? What should God do with a foul and polluted soul? The soul must at last be committed to some; now He only is the receiver of it in death, that was keeper of it in life. If Satan have always ruled it, God will not embrace it.

2. A man may do good, yet come short of this comfort; it is given to them that do well. It is not doing good, but doing well that gets God to keep the soul. You have served Me, says God to Israel, but after your own lusts. To serve God is doing good, but after their own lusts, is not doing well. To build a church is a good work; yet if the foundations of it be laid in the ruins of the poor, their children come not to pray for, but curse the builder.

(T. Adams.)

I. WHEN MEN DO SUFFER REALLY AND TRULY FOR THE CAUSE OF RELIGION AND GOD'S TRUTH, they may with confidence commit themselves (their lives and all that is dear to them) to the more especial care of His providence. When men may be said to suffer truly for the cause of religion and God's truth, and when not.

1. When men suffer for not renouncing the true religion, and because they will not openly declare against it, and apostatise from it.

2. When then they are persecuted only for making an open profession of the Christian religion, by joining in the assemblies of Christians for the worship of God.

3. When they suffer for not betraying it by any indirect and unworthy means.

4. When they suffer for the maintenance and defence of any necessary and fundamental article of it, though they be not required to renounce the whole Christian religion.

5. When they suffer for maintaining the purity of the Christian doctrine and worship; and for opposing and not complying with those gross errors and corruptions which superstition and ignorance had, in a long course of time, brought into the Christian religion.

6. When they suffer for not disclaiming and renouncing any clear and undoubted truth of God whatsoever; yea, though it be not a fundamental point and article of religion.Cases wherein men may seem to suffer for the cause of religion, but cannot truly be said to do so.

1. When they rashly expose themselves to danger and run upon sufferings for the sake of religion.

2. When they suffer not for their faith, but their fancy, and for the wilful and affected error of a mistaken conscience.

3. When they suffer for the open profession and defence of truths not necessary.

II. HOW FAR THEY MAY RELY UPON THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD TO BEAR THEM OUT IN THESE SUFFERINGS. To which I answer: that provided we do what is our duty on our part, the providence of God, will not be wanting on His part to bear us out in all our sufferings for His cause, one of these three ways.

1. To secure us from that violent degree of temptation and suffering, which would be too strong for human strength and patience.

2. In case of such extraordinary temptation and trial, to give us the extraordinary supports and comforts of His Holy Spirit.

3. In case of a temporary fall and miscarriage, to raise us up by repentance, and a greater resolution and constancy under sufferings.

III. WHAT GROUND AND REASON THERE IS FOR GOOD MEN TO EXPECT THE MORE PECULIAR AND ESPECIAL CARE OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE IN CASE OF SUCH SUFFERINGS. The providence of God extends to all His creatures, according to that of the Psalmist: "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works." But He exerciseth a more peculiar providence towards mankind; and more peculiar yet towards those who study to please Him by obeying Him and doing His will (Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:18). When, in all our sufferings for the cause of religion, we may, with confidence, commit ourselves to the more especial care of God's providence.

1. Provided always that we neglect no lawful means of our preservation from sufferings, or our deliverance out of them.

2. Provided, likewise, that we do not attempt our own preservation or deliverance from suffering by evil and unlawful means.

3. Provided, also, that we do trust the providence of God, and do indeed commit ourselves to it; relying upon His wisdom and goodness, and entirely submitting ourselves to His will and disposal, both as to the degree and duration of our sufferings.

4. Provided yet further, that we pray earnestly to God for His gracious help, for His merciful comfort and support under sufferings; that He would be pleased to strengthen our faith, and lengthen out our patience, in proportion to the degree and duration of our sufferings.

5. Provided, moreover, that we be not confident of ourselves, and of the force and strength of our resolution.

6. Provided furthermore, that, according to our ability, we have been much in the exercise of alms and charity.

7. Provided, above all, that we be sincere in our religion, and endeavour to be universally good, and "holy in all manner of conversation," and "to abound in all the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the praise and glory of God." This is the largest sense of well-doing, and the most necessary, to prepare us for sufferings, and to give us courage and constancy under them; and likewise to engage the providence of God to a tender care of us, and concernment for us, if He shall see it fit to bring us into a state of suffering.

(Abp. Tillotson.)

The Evangelist.
I. OBSERVE BOTH THE MYSTERY AND THE MERCY OF THE BELIEVER'S SUFFERINGS IN THIS WORLD.

1. It is a mystery that God should be pleased to subject His people to suffering.

2. Though we may sometimes deem it a mystery we may readily see that it is a mercy — it is according to the will of God — both as to the end to be answered by it, and as to the measure and degree.

II. THERE IS ONE SUPREME SUBJECT WHICH IN ALL OUR SUFFERINGS SHOULD BE OUR CHIEF CARE — THAT IS THE SOUL.

1. It is infinitely more precious than the body.

2. Everlasting happiness depends upon committing the soul to God now.

III. THE TEXT SHOWS US WHO ALONE IS QUALIFIED TO BE THE KEEPER OF THIS INVALUABLE TREASURE — OUR IMMORTAL SOUL.

1. The soul belongs to God.

2. This Divine and merciful Creator has provided for the keeping of our souls. Sent a Saviour for them — engaged to accept and keep them.

IV. HERE IS AN ACT OF SACRED RESIGNATION AND CONFIDENCE TO WHICH ALL, AND ESPECIALLY ALL SUFFERERS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS' SAKE, ARE INVITED. Let them commit the keeping of their souls to Him, etc.

1. This is an act of faith resting on His promise of salvation through a Mediator.

2. This act must be accompanied with well-doing. It must be in the way of righteousness.

(The Evangelist.)

A faithful Creator
This is one of those Biblical phrases upon which in many a time of need the souls of men may fall back and rest, The phrase was intended originally for the support of some in the early Church who had been compelled to suffer for Christ's sake. Commit your souls, the Apostle writes to such, in well-doing to God as a faithful Creator. The first truth involved in this simple, large phrase is that the Creator has character. A certain well known and fundamental character, that of faithfulness, we are warranted by this Scripture in ascribing to the Creator. It is one of the general characteristics of revelation throughout the Bible that it attributes to God certain distinct moral qualities; that it brings out by these the character of God, rather than the nature or mode in which God may be conceived to exist or to create. This is the grand peculiarity of the Old Testament. This one feature lifts it up above all the literature of the ancient times, as a clear mountain above a jungle; this feature renders it an inspiring Bible for the world, that it exalts the Lord God as having character — true, holy, righteous, merciful, supremely moral character. You have known some man who had this character of faithfulness. He may have accomplished little which men will remember; but he has kept on his way faithfully. He was always to be found where others had reason to expect to find him. Many a faithful woman's life has been the one scarce noticed, continuous thread, slight, but not to be broken, on which has been bound and kept together all the happiness and success of sons and daughters. A faithful life resembles the sure, unceasing roadway, which runs on and on over the hills, and through the woods, and by the homes of men, into which we may always come back at evening time, no matter how far we may have wandered afield or how long we may have followed the winding brook, at our own sweet will during the day. Now this familiar, homelike, often unnoticed, but fundamental character is described by this Scripture directly to our God. He is the faithful One. Other Scriptures ascribe to Him characters more transcendent, and the very glory of them renders God to our thought unspeakable and high as the heavens above us. Carrying our thought of this character a step further, observe, secondly, that in this Biblical phrase is included the truth that God has some regular method in whatever He does. For regular habit, or methodical action, is a quality of faithfulness. The person who is here and there and everywhere, and whose belongings are never in their place; the person whose life follows no conceivable method may have some other attractive qualities, but would not be counted on as faithful. So that in speaking of the Creator as faithful we must mean that He has followed some method in creation. We say that our God has His regular habits of procedure: that He does not deal with His creation now on one plan and then on another; that He does not let His divine affairs run on of themselves from age to age without thought, system, or order. The faithful Creator is the God of regular habits, the God of system, the God who has His own time and place for everything. Now, think how very much it means for us to know that God is methodical, whether in the realm of nature or of redemption. Two helpful things in particular let me mention as of daily importance for us in the methodical habit of the Divine faithfulness; the one is that because God all through nature and history has been following His one chosen method, we can study what He has been doing, and find out to some extent at least what His method is, and as we find it out we can trust it and adjust our plans of life and our efforts and hopes to it. So we can live surely, as we live in accordance with God's method. Consider thus God's method in the natural creation. It is the business of all our sciences to find that out. And as our science discovers God's method in nature, we may learn to use it in our acts. We propel our street cars, we light our houses, we run our machinery, we multiply our conveniences, because we have found out something about God's regular habit or method of the light and the electricity and the admirable mechanics of the creation, to which from the beginning He has been faithful. As we learn what the laws of life are — the laws of development, survival, and fruitfulness — we discover still further truth concerning the methods of the faithful One from eternity; and we; must trust these laws of life, and adjust our free action to them, or we shall perish. It is so, likewise, in the kingdom of heaven. God has His providential methods of soul training, and soul enlarging, and soul ripening. Experience discloses to some extent these spiritual methods of the faithful One; and there is life, hope, and peace in submitting our souls to them. The other particular which I would bring out from this general truth of the methodicalness which the faithful Creator observes is this: a good method, as we know, is not to be set aside every now and then because it may seem not to meet exactly all cases and contingencies. So the fact that God has method, and must have it in order to be faithful, is reason enough why He does not vary the course of His providence to meet some of our desires, however much the good God might wish to gratify us. We indeed some times have to change our methods, because we find that they do not work. But God's regular ways of doing things, whether in the evolution of the creation or in His redemptive work of making all things new — God's methods have been formed in wisdom, and are on the whole the methods which can be trusted to work out the largest amount of possible creaturely good. There is no new reason, therefore, arising in any juncture of natural forces, or even from any emergency of human history, which should lead God to change the laws of life or to give to His Church some different method of redeeming love than that which has been followed, and is now pursued, by the Divine wisdom on this earth. If, then, God's persistency in keeping straight on along His well known ways of nature and grace may seem at times to work incidental evil; if God's steadfastness in letting fire burn, and lightnings blast, and devouring floods overwhelm, as well as the sweet sunshine restore and fructify, may at times destroy human homes or lay desolate for a season human hearts — nevertheless, it is His faithfulness which is involved, and that same faithfulness holds in its own persistent method the possibility of future good in place of present evil, and of even larger and eternal good in consequence of temporal hardship. A third element goes with those just mentioned. This text contains also the kindred truth that God has aim or object. Faithfulness is fidelity to one's aim or object. It requires that the goal be kept in sight. Faith fulness in the highest is for us to be true to our ideals. It is the same kind of loyalty in the Creator. This likewise is a grandly uplifting thought for us, that the Creator from the beginning, and through all the method of His working, has never lost sight of the goal; that He is faithful to the divine ideals; the divine ideal of a free life of the creature capable of sinning and suffering, because made also to achieve a righteousness and love which only along the way of spiritual freedom can ever be reached; the divine ideal also of embodied spirit, capable of being raised through death to celestial perfection. This likewise belongs to the faithfulness of God. One other characteristic might be added to these three elements of moral character, method, and aim, which are comprehended in the faithfulness of our God — viz., responsibility. This last, however, might be regarded rather as the resultant of all the others, or as a consequent of faithfulness. God is responsible. Think of that in relation to your own personal being and life, as well as in relation to the affairs of God's world. Perhaps we are more ready to think of it in the latter relation, and to admit God's responsibility for the world at large and its government, than we are to trust it in reference to our own individual lives. But it is equally true of both. We must assume the Divine responsibility on the large scale of history. When brave Martin Luther was once hard pressed, and inclined to be over anxious concerning the prospects of the Reformation, quiet Philip Melancthon by his side would say to him, Martin, let God be Governor of the world. The faithful Creator is the responsible One. There is not a verse of prophet or apostle, there is not a word spoken by Jesus Christ, to lead us to suppose for an instant that God on high would avoid His responsibility for His world; or that He would for a moment put off upon any man the least of His Divine responsibility for affairs. There would be indeed no use and no hope for anything we may do or say to make things human better were it not for this prior and this final responsibility of God, the faithful One from eternity to eternity. Let Martin Luther do and dare as the great reformer, because God is Governor of the world. Let us do with our might whatsoever our hands find to do, because we are but servants, and the responsibility is God's. Finally, let us take this same truth into our daily thought of ourselves, and of those with whose lives ours are bound in this world and beyond. God gave you and them power to live together in common affections and pursuits. He will be faithful to His own gifts. He will not deny Himself in the being and the powers of life, of thought, of love, which He has given you and them. God made these human hearts capable of love immortal, and even in their mourning capable of proving and deepening their power of love; He is faithful; He cannot deny Himself in the human hearts which He has made.

(Newman Smyth.)

Suppose, in the place of God as Creator, we substitute chance, or fate, or law, what a blank we have at once in the highest regions of thought and feeling! If you are only the offspring of a blind, unintelligent, unknown force; if you are the product of something that men call "a tendency" or law, are you not immediately let down from a conscious dignity, which has been one of the most ennobling factors and influences of your life? As a child of God you have a supreme motive to be Godlike; as a creature of force you are deprived of all such motives.

I. GOD THE CREATOR IS FAITHFUL IS HIS RELATIONS TO US HIS CREATURES. It is surely not a presumptuous thing to assert that God has assumed, by the very act of creating us, something like responsibility for our well-being. We cannot conceive of a God calling sensitive creatures like ourselves into existence, and then leaving us to our own poor hapless devices. We reason from analogy — we say, in the common arrangements of society, that parentage involves the idea of obligation. But let us come to declarations and facts — the declarations of Scripture and the facts of human life. In the Book we read, from one end to the other, that God has the charge of our existence; that He acknowledges our claim, as His creatures, as His children, on His bounty and wisdom and love. We take the third step in the inquiry, and look at the facts of life. Just as a parent will seek to adapt the surroundings of a child to its powers and capacities, to place him in a position where he shall obtain all the enjoyment that is compatible with his growth and development; so God has provided the things that are. He has furnished the world as the fitting nursery and schoolhouse for the family of man that He is educating for an immortal and perfect life.

II. GOD THE CREATOR IS FAITHFUL TO THE GREAT PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE MADE US HIS CREATURES. We here and now cannot see what the design in the creation of mall is — that is, not to the full of what God purposes to make of us; how He intends by and by in another state of being to use us. We are here only preparing for the sublime work of some future, preparing to fulfil what our Father has had in view for us from the beginning. It could have been for no insignificant position and service that He did actually make men in His own likeness, giving them the high honour of resembling Himself in those spiritual characteristics which constitute the essence of His being. Some time since I stood looking with melancholy interest on the magnificent desolations of Kenilworth Castle. It was a spectacle that filled the heart with regret, but beneath one part were some workmen busily engaged in introducing new layers of stone. On inquiring what they were doing, I was told they were supporting the ruin to prevent its getting any worse. That was all that the owner of that once famous place could do — support the ruin! With that he must be content; but it would not be surprising if he left it alone to the swift process of decay. Human nature is ruined, but not left to decay, not simply kept from getting worse. The will of God is complete recovery, restoration to even greater glory in all its parts, and to this end nothing the Divine Father could expend that would serve this purpose has been withheld. A faithful Creator! Who is like unto Him? He has never left and never forsaken us. And He will not until we again reflect His glory in the fullest measure, and are prepared to take that high place and do that grand service for which we were originally designed. Being faithful to us, can we not trust Him and commit our souls to Hint?

(W. Braden.)

I. GOD IS FAITHFUL IN RESPONDING TO THE CLAIMS OF HIS CREATURES. Even of the animal creation this is true. God's "tender mercies are over all His works." The "springs of the valleys give drink to the beasts of the field." "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle." "Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father." And surely God is faithful also in responding to the claims of man. The appetites, desires, and affections with which man has been endowed, have theft' correspondent means of satisfaction in the world around him. There is nourishment for his body — for his intellect — for his heart. If God is thus faithful in responding to the claims of His creatures, surely He is faithful also in the sense of being worthy of our trust.

II. GOD IS FAITHFUL IN ADHERING TO HIS ORIGINAL PURPOSE IN CREATION. Humanity, in His idea, is a holy and blessed thing; and this idea must yet be realised. God has not created sin, but He will triumph over it. As man has chosen that he shall not be educated by standing firm, he must be educated by and through his very fall. And so the "faithful Creator" becomes the merciful Redeemer. How faithful is that love which will even send sorrow upon us — yes, and take sorrow upon itself — rather than permit us to come short of the destiny for which it created us. It is God's purpose to make you holy and blessed. For this He created you. For this Christ died. For this God is educating you. And surely, if He is thus faithful in adhering to His own purpose concerning you, He is faithful also in the sense of being worthy of your trust. If He crosses your wishes and thwarts your projects, this may be simply because He is unwilling to let you ruin yourself. He would lead you into humility. He would subdue your selfishness and self-will. He would enrich your whole spiritual nature. He would lead you to Christ or into closer sympathy with Christ.

(J. C. Finlayson.).

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