1 Thessalonians 4:16
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise.
Sermons
Anxiety About the State of the Christian DeadR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The ResurrectionB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
The Order of the Second AdventW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 4:15, 16
A Child's Faith1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
An Exulting Prospect1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Being Ever with the LordJ. McKinlay, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Christian ComfortT. Massey, B. A.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Christ's ComingJ. Gritton, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
EverG. Swinnock, M. A.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Ever with the LordW. H. Davison.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Ever with the LordS. Martin.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Forever with the LordG. D. Evans.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Forever with the LordC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Heavenly Comfort1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Preparing for Heaven1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Dead in ChristT. G. Horton.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Doctrine of the ResurrectionC. Simeon, M. A.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Duty of Comforting One AnotherA. Farindon, B. D.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Gospel Telescope1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Order of Events At the Second AdventT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Resurrection of the DeadDr. Beaumont.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The Second Coming of ChristJ. Hutchison, D. D., Bp. Alexander.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
There is ComfortC. S. Robinson, D. D.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
Words of ComfortR. W. Betts.1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
The apostle justifies his statement by a fuller revelation of the truth. He sets forth the order of events.

I. THE DESCENT OF THE LORD FROM HEAVEN. "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God."

1. It will be a descent of our personal Lord. "No phantom, no providential substitute, no vicarious spirit;" the same Person that ascended is he that will descend

2. It will be a descent with awe-inspiring accompaniments.

(1) "With a signal shout" by the Lord himself, which will be taken up and prolonged by

(2) "the voice of the archangel;" for he is to come, "bringing with him all the holy angels" (Matthew 25:31); and

(3) "the trump of God," for "the trumpet shall sound" (1 Corinthians 15:52), and "he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet" (Matthew 24:31). It is God's trumpet because employed in his heavenly service. It will be the sound of a literal trumpet, like that which was heard upon Sinai (Exodus 19:16, 19). These various sounds are to herald the descent of the Lord, and to gather the elect together from the four winds of heaven.

II. THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD SAINTS. "And the dead in Christ shall rise first." There is no allusion to the resurrection of the wicked. The apostle is concerned at present with the destinies and glories of a single class. So far from the sainted dead being overlooked, the priority of resurrection is to belong to them.

III. THE CHANGE OF THE LIVING SAINTS. This wonderful transformation is here rather implied than asserted. "For we shall not all die, but we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:51).

IV. THE SIMULTANEOUS ASSUMPTION OF BOTH CLASSES OF SAINTS. "Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air."

1. As one united band, the saints, in spiritualized bodies, will be caught up in clouds - those "clouds which are his chariot" - just as he himself ascended "in a cloud," and "a cloud received him out of their sight" (Acts 1:9). The new bodies of believers will be able to pass with ease through the air.

2. The saints will then "meet the Lord in the air - not in heaven as he leaves it, nor in earth as he approaches it, but between heaven and earth. The apostle does not say whether they will at once descend to earth and return with him to heaven. He is silent upon the question of the judgment or the entry into final glory.

V. THE PERPETUAL RESIDENCE OF THE SAINTS WITH THE LORD. And so shall we ever be with the Lord."

1. It will be a meeting without a parting. The intercourse begun will have an endless duration. Believers shall "go no more out."

2. It implies an intimate fellowship with the Lord.

3. It will be the fulfillment of our Lord's prayer: "That they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory" (John 17:24).

VI. THE CONSOLATORY INFLUENCE OF ALL THESE TRUTHS. "Wherefore comfort one another with these words." Chase away your sorrow; the dead are not lost or forgotten; they shall share in the glories of the advent. There was surely deep and lasting consolation in such truths. - T.C.







For the Lord shall descend from heaven with a shout
I. THE LORD'S DESCENT. "He" and no other, in His august personal presence, in that same human body, too, with which He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:11). And yet, while Himself unchanged, how changed the surroundings! He will descend, not in humiliation to tabernacle with men, but to take His people to Himself, in heaven; not emptied of His glory, but with the symbols of majesty and Divine power.

1. With a shout, one which indicates command. The word is used of a charioteer's call to his steed, a huntsman's call to his dogs, the call, by voice or sign, of the boatswain giving time to the rowers, the music played to set an army or fleet in motion. The angelic host and company of the spirits of the just are compared to a vast army, and Christ, the Captain of salvation, by His word of command, sets it in motion, and it, in the alacrity of joyful obedience, accompanies Him to judgment (Jude 1:14). The shout will possibly be, "Behold the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet Him."

2. The voice of the archangel. "The Lord Himself" and "the archangel" cannot be identified. Here and in Jude 1:9, the word designates the leader of the angelic hosts. Angels have been, and will yet be, Christ's ministering spirits. They served Him when on earth; they ascend and descend upon Him in the advancement of His cause; they will be His ministers of judgment hereafter. The shout may be that of command caught up by the archangel from the lips of the Lord, and repeated to the gathering hosts.

3. The trump of God, belonging to God, used in His service; that probably of Revelation 11:15. Under the old dispensation there is special prominence assigned to the trumpet. By it assemblies were summoned, journeys started, feasts proclaimed. It is employed by our Lord, as in the text. Paul calls this "the last" (1 Corinthians 15:52); and as such it will gather up all previous meanings. It will call together the rejoicing saints to the heavenly Zion; like Joshua's trumpet, it will be to some the signal of dismay; it will mean weal or woe according to the character of those who hear.

II. THE RESURRECTION AND CHANGE OF CHRIST'S PEOPLE AT HIS COMING.

1. "The dead in Christ shall rise first." The emphasis rests on "first," and is designed to bring comfort to the Thessalonian mourners. Their departed friends, so far from being placed at a disadvantage, were to occupy a position of privilege. Those who are living will be "caught up." "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed," not unclothed of their bodies, but clothed upon with immortality, a kind of death and resurrection in one. Thus changed, these shall be caught up "together" with the others in one united and rejoicing company; "caught up" with a quick and resistless rapture, as the word implies, rising from the troubled and imperfect earth — changed and sublimated, as the blossom of the fabled Indian tree, transformed into a bird, flies upward into heaven. "In the clouds"; not into, nor in multitudes (Hebrews 12:1), but as if in a triumphal chariot. Nor do clouds represent a veiling of the awful transaction, but simply supply an imagery which lends grandeur and awe to that event which is awful beyond all human language and thought.

2. The meeting place: "In the air." We naturally place alongside this the ascension of Elijah, or that of our Lord. In this, as in all else, He has gone before His people and pointed out for them the way. "The air" is not the atmosphere, but infinite space as opposed to earth. The ancients fancied that the milky way is the path trod by the immortals to the palace of the King. The fable is but a distorted reflection of the truth. What it fancied the apostle declared — a pathway in the skies on which the saints are yet to pass to meet their Lord, that He may conduct them home.

3. "And so shall we ever be with the Lord." Less than this can never satisfy Christ's saints; more than this they cannot desire or conceive — perfect security, sinlessness, happiness, glory.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)Of all the solemn associations connected with this verse few can surpass the following: "At the earthquake of Manila (1863), the cathedral fell on the clergy and congregation. The mass of ruin overhead and around the doomed assemblage was kept for a time from crushing down upon them by some peculiarity of construction. Those outside were able to hear what was going on in the church, without the slightest possibility of clearing away the ruins, or of aiding those within upon whom the building must evidently fall before long. A low, deep, bass voice, doubtless that of the priest officiating, was heard uttering the words, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord." As this sentence came forth, the multitude burst in a passion of tears, which was soon choked. For some deep groans issued from within, apparently wrung from the speaker by intense pain, and then the same voice spoke in a calm and even tone, as if addressing a congregation, and all heard the words: "The Lord Himself shall descend," etc.

(Bp. Alexander.)

One coming — once, for one act — the simultaneous gathering of all before the judgment seat. All this is a far-off view — the regarding the Second Advent in a kind of prophetical foreshortening. Seen near, this one event is manifold, having chronological order, and falling into many acts.

I. THE ACTUAL COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AND ITS GLORY.

1. In the glory of His Father (Matthew 16:27).

2. In His own glory (Luke 9:26).

3. With His angels (Matthew 16:27; Mark 8:33; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

4. Coming in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64; Acts 1:11).

5. Bringing His saints with Him (1 Thessalonians 3:13; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14).

II. THE EVENTS WHICH WILL FOLLOW THE COMING OF CHRIST IN THE AIR.

1. The resurrection of the bodies of the sleeping saints. "The dead in Christ Shall rise first."

2. The change into a glorified condition of all the living saints (1 Corinthians 15:51). All shall meet the Lord in the air. All this august series of events precedes judgment. This is the very dawn of the day of the Lord. Later on will be the judgment on the nations, judgment on Israel, judgment on apostate Christendom, judgment on Satan; but from all that the saints are safe; they are already and forever with the Lord.

III. THIS COMING OF THE LORD IS FOR SAINTS — raised saints, living saints, both quick or dead, quickened or changed saints, and saints only.

1. Will His coming be for me? Shall I certainly have part in that glorious first resurrection? If I remain till He come, shall I certainly be changed in that moment of wondrous rapture?

2. Consider who are saints (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Timothy 2:22; 1 Peter 2:9). Such only are looking for that blessed hope; and such only will see Christ with joy.

(J. Gritton, D. D.)

I. THE CERTAINTY OF THE RESURRECTION. The heathen quite derided the idea of the resurrection (Acts 17:18, 32), deeming it incredible (Acts 26:8); and some who professed Christianity explained away the doctrine relating to it, and represented the resurrection as a merely spiritual change which had passed already (2 Timothy 2:18). Even some of the Thessalonian Church did not appear to be well grounded in it; and hence St. Paul affirmed that it was a doctrine on which they might fully rely.

1. They did believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. On these two facts all Christianity was founded. If Jesus had not risen, all their faith in Him, and all their hope from Him, was altogether in vain (1 Corinthians 15:13-18). These two facts admitted, the resurrection of man would follow, of course. The resurrection of Jesus Christ was both an evidence that God can raise the dead, and a pledge that He will. The same omnipotence that raised Him can raise us. He is "the first fruits of them that sleep."

II. THE ORDER IN WHICH THE RESURRECTION WILL BE EFFECTED. This, perhaps, is a matter of curiosity, rather than of any great practical importance; but Paul would not that the Thessalonian Christians should be ignorant of it, and therefore it is worthy of our attention.

1. The dead will be raised from their graves. All that have ever departed out of the world will be restored to life, each clothed in his own proper body.

2. Those who remain alive upon the earth will be charged. They will remain unchanged until all the dead are raised. Their change will be instantaneous. Without dissolution as preparatory to it, the mortal will put on immortality, the material will assume the spiritual. All will then be in that form which they will bear through the ever lasting ages. What an amazing difference will then appear in them! The godly — how beautiful! the ungodly — how deformed! and both having either heaven or hell depicted in their very countenance!

3. Then will they be caught up to meet the Lord. Yes, into the presence of their Judge they must go; and as the earth would not be a theatre sufficient for such an occasion, they must meet the Lord in the air. Blessed summons to the godly! awful indeed to the ungodly!

III. THE ISSUE OF THE RESURRECTION TO THE SAINTS.

1. They will receive a sentence of acquittal, or, rather, of unqualified approbation — "Well done, good and faithful servants."

2. They will ascend with Christ and His bright attendants to the heaven of heavens.

3. They will then behold His glory which He had with His Father before the world was. Oh, how bright their vision of His glory! how unbounded their fruition of His love! Nothing now could add to their felicity; nor could anything detract from it. That, too, which constitutes its chief ingredient is — that it will be "forever." Were this supreme happiness to be only of limited duration, it would be incomplete; the idea of its ultimate termination would rob it of half its value. But it will be pure and endless as the Deity Himself.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

I. THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST DIE. They are not exempted from the common fate.

1. To walk by faith, not sight, is their rule of life; hence there is this barrier between themselves and the unseen universe.

2. Subjection to death is an essential part of moral discipline to the righteous. Christ Himself became obedient unto death, and was made perfect through suffering.

3. The dying scene affords occasion for the greatest triumphs of grace and displays of God's mercy and love. How many, by such a spectacle, are moved to repentance and faith in Christ!

4. The death of Christians is needful to render the resurrection of them at all possible. A true and complete conquest over death demands that his victims should be recovered from his dominion.

5. Saints die to express God's irreconcilable hatred to sin. They just taste one drop of the bitter cup which Christ has drunk for them, and feel one lash of the chastisement which He has endured. This gives them a keener sense of the value of salvation.

II. BELIEVERS AFTER DEATH ARE STILL IN CHRIST. They retain their innocence before God, their purity, their enjoyment of the Divine favour, their hope of final and perfect happiness. Nay, in all these respects their position is incomparably superior to what it was on earth. They are with Christ in paradise. Hence death is no real evil to them. It is an immense boon to them. It cuts them off from some enjoyments, but it enriches them with enjoyments of a far surpassing order, while also it snatches them away from all care, pain and fear, for evermore. Applications:

1. To believers in anticipating death. Look forward to it calmly, acquiesce in its infliction resignedly, and triumph over its terrors in the full assurance of faith.

2. Here is comfort for the bereaved. If your deceased friends are among the dead in Christ, you may be assured of their perfect happiness, and may hope soon to be reunited with them.

3. Address the unconverted. You are not in Christ — yet you will die! And think of the dead out of Christ — how horrible their eternal doom! Oh! then, now seek an interest in Him, that for you to live may be Christ, and to die, gain.

(T. G. Horton.)

Just as the ripe ears of corn which grew on the plains and the mountain sides of Palestine wore immediately brought into the Temple, and waved before the Lord, as a pledge that every ear of corn standing on and growing in Palestine should be safely reaped and gathered in, so the resurrection of Christ is a demonstration that we, His people, shall be raised again. If we sleep in Jesus, God will raise us with Him; because He lives, we shall live also. Dry up your tears, then. Sometimes you go to the churchyard; sometimes you attend the remains of your relatives to their long homes, you go to "The house appointed for all living"; and sometimes you see the bones lying round the grave, and you are tempted to take them up, and ask, "Can these bones live? Can these dishonoured, dishevelled, and denuded bones live? Can the dead live again?" "Come, see the place where the Lord lay." As surely as the sepulchre of Christ became an empty sepulchre, so surely the sepulchres of His people shall become empty sepulchres; as surely as He got up, and sang a jubilee of life and immortality, so surely shall His people come out of the grave. How beautifully has the Prophet Isaiah expressed it: "Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust; for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."

(Dr. Beaumont.)

And so shall we ever be with the Lord
The phrase implies —

I. NEW, LIVING, DIRECT SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE REDEEMER. There is more intended than being associated together in one glorious scene. It is not only to see Him and live in His house, one of His family, always in His presence; it is the getting rid forever of what is unChristlike in character, the gaining of the real perfect sympathy with the Christ life. We are with our Friend, not only when we are in His society, but when we blend our thought, our love, our life with His; when we become His other self. There is here the intimacy and closeness of spiritual fellowship and spiritual resemblance: "We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." We shall be like Him in faith, in spiritual emotions, in purpose, in tendency, in character. We shall then reach our lost ideals of manhood. The spotless radiance of the perfect Christ shall then be associated with a perfect Church, which He has loved and redeemed, every member of which shall be "without spot, and blameless." "Perfect in Jesus Christ." We shall be with the Lord in perfect holiness, "unblamed and unblamable," and "unreprovable"; in untemptable purity, in power not to sin. The spirit shall with Him be possessed of indestructible good.

II. We shall be with the Lord also IN THE UNFOLDING LIGHT OF HIS NEW REVELATIONS. We shall see light in His light. Truth shall no longer be seen in broken parts and through media which distort and mislead. Now the glass is flawed, and much we see is out of harmony and proportion. There are faults in ourselves which hinder the perception of Truth's harmony and beauty. There are also Divine withholdings of Truth which now we cannot bear or receive. But when we live our life with the Lord, all will be changed. We shall know Him, who is the Infinite Truth, and "that which is in part shall be done away."

III. We shall be with Him IN THE BLESSEDNESS OF HIS OWN PERFECT LIFE, AND REIGN AND JOY, Fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore are with Him. Holy desires shall only be cherished, to be satisfied out of the Infinite fulness. The life will surpass all we have known or can imagine. We call it, therefore, from its plentitude, and perfection, and blessedness, Eternal. It is the adjective of quality, not of duration. It exceeds exceedingly; is "a joy unspeakable and full of glory," "an eternal weight of glory." The joy is the joy of marriage. We sit down "at the marriage supper of the Lamb." The life is ever new, the joy is ever fresh, the fulness exhaustless. "Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasure."

IV. And the crown of all is SECURITY, CHANGELESSNESS, CONTINUANCE. "Ever with the Lord." They go no more out forever. No possibility of fall is here. There is no change here. "Change and decay in all around we see." The familiar faces are missed. Every Sabbath is an anniversary of our losses. Every act of our life has in it the memory of a past joy, which was and is not. The social life of heaven will complete its blessedness. The thought throws a halo of tenderness and affection over that world. The relational emotions are not cut off and sundered by death. The new life will be ordered by them. What the most hallowed sacramental experience foreshadows and typifies will be then enjoyed in full sweetness and elevating power. The sacred signs will not be needed, because we shall have the reality in its unspeakable grace.

(W. H. Davison.)

I. THE LOFTIEST IDEA OF THE GLORIFIED LIFE. To be with the Lord. Our conceptions of the future are coloured by our human tastes and prejudices.

1. To some it is a state. It is all within. Perfect freedom from sin, and the joy of spiritual fellowship with Christ.

2. To others it is a place. There must be trees, rivers, golden pavements, etc.

3. Probably a combination of both will give us the true idea. State and place combine to make complete happiness.

4. But more is required — social enjoyments. The idea of those who have been bereaved is reunion. But the saint exclaims, "Whom have I in heaven but THEE!" "The altogether lovely." The Saviour reciprocates this desire. "I go to prepare a place for you." "Father, I will that they whom Thou hast given Me be with Me," etc.

5. The duration augments the joy of this fellowship. Here it is intermittent; there it will be "forever."

II. WHAT THIS IDEA OF A GLORIFIED LIFE ENSURES.

1. Continual contemplation of Christ. Here that meditation, which is the sweetest of our spiritual enjoyments, is broken; yonder it shall be uninterrupted.

2. Continual assimilation to Christ. Here it is a slow progress, and incomplete at best; but in heaven there will be no obstacles, but every help, in growing into the likeness of our Lord.

3. Unceasing reflection of Christ. As long as the sun shines upon it, the water pours forth its gladness; but often a cloud intervenes, and night shuts out the glory. But when we stand before the throne, we shall eternally catch the light of Christ's countenance on the polished surface of our holiness, and He shall be admired of all them that believe.

III. FROM THIS IDEA OF HEAVEN LET US LEARN —

1. That heaven is the one meeting place of the redeemed. Here they are, and must be, separated.

2. That our sorrow for the departed should be restrained.

(G. D. Evans.)

We have here —

I. A CONTINUANCE. Nothing shall prevent our continuing to be forever with Him. Death shall not separate us, nor the terrors of judgment. As we have received Him, so shall we walk in Him, whether in life or death.

1. We are with Christ in this life. "Your life is hid with Christ in God." If we are not with Him, we are not Christians. Separated from Him, we are dead. We are constantly with Him —(1) In the sense of abiding union; for we are joined unto the Lord, and are one Spirit. In consequence we feel an intense joy, even Christ's own joy fulfilled in us. For the same reason we are bowed in sorrow, having fellowship in Christ's sufferings. This companionship should be manifest to others by its fruits. Men should take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.(2) In the sense that His unchanging love is always set upon us, and our love never dies out, "Who shall separate us," etc.(3) By the continual indwelling of the Holy Spirit.(4) Whenever we are engaged in His work. "Lo! I am with you alway."

2. We shall be with Christ in death. "Yea, though I walk," etc.

3. After death, in the disembodied state, we shall be "absent from the body," but "present with the Lord," as was the dying thief. And the body shall sleep in Jesus, and awake and say, "When I awake, I am still with Thee."

4. In due time the last trump shall sound, and Christ shall come; but the saints shall be with Him (ver. 14). Whatever the glory of the Second Advent, we shall be with Jesus in it.

5. There is to be a reign of Christ, and whatever that reign is to be, we shall reign also.

6. And when cometh the end and the mediatorial kingdom shall cease, we shall ever be with the Lord.

II. AN ADVANCEMENT.

1. It is an advancement on this present state for —(1) However spiritually minded, and there fore near Christ, we may be, being present in the belly we are absent from the Lord. To "be with Christ," we must "depart."(2) Though our souls are with the Lord, yet our bodies are subject to corruption, and after death the separation will continue; but the time will come when this corruptible will put on incorruption, and the whole manhood be perfectly with the Lord.

2. What this glorious state is to which we shall be advanced. We shall be with the Lord in the strongest sense of the term; so with Him, that there will be no business to take us away from Him, no sin to becloud our view of Him; we shall see Him as a familiar Friend, know His love and return it, and this "forever."

3. We shall be with the Redeemer, not as Jesus only, but as the Lord. Here we have seen Him on the Cross, and lived thereby; but we shall there see Him on the throne, and obey Him as our King.

III. A COHERENCE. "With" signifies not merely being in the same place, but a union and identity. Even here our lives run parallel in a sense. We live to Him, die with Him, so shall we rise and ascend, and then we are to be forever with the Lord.

1. By sharing His beauty.

2. By being made partakers of all the blessedness and glory He now enjoys.Conclusion:

1. This "forever" must begin now.

2. What must it be to be without the Lord?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

This will be the fruition of the brightest hopes, the fulfilment of the precious promises, the accomplishment of the purpose of Christ's Advent, departure, and coming again.

I. IN WHAT SENSE with the Lord?

1. Referring to the present state of things, Jesus said, "Where two or three are met together." And we may not overlook that presence now. He is now with us —

(1)By God's testimony in the Scripture.

(2)By personal ministrations of His Spirit.

(3)By His work within us.

(4)By His providence over us.

(5)By His government of us.And we with Him.

(a)By our faith in His testimony and use of it.

(b)By frequent thoughts of Him, and much love for Him, and close intercourse with Him.

(c)By our work for Him.

2. But the text points to being with Him personally, so as to see His glorified, but now hidden, humanity, hear His voice, and speak to Him as a man speaketh to His friend.

II. WHERE? In the place prepared by Himself, designed by the genius of His love; built up by the energy of His power, enriched by the resources of His wealth, adapted to us by the depth of His knowledge and wisdom. You have looked into the home prepared for the bride; you have looked into the cot prepared for the first born. Why so beautiful? To receive an object of love.

III. HOW LONG? Only a little time were His first disciples with Him; not long enough to know Him. None of us are long enough with each other to know each other perfectly. It is only when some loved one is taken away, and you put the different passages of His life together, and read them as one continuous story, that you can know what that life has been. While living in the bustle of life we cannot know each other. But hereafter we shall be with Christ uninterruptedly forever.

IV. WITH WHAT RESULT? Occasional absence is desirable between man and man. The wife prefers that the husband should be away for a few hours a day at least following his occupation, while she follows hers. Children are all the better for leaving home. But this has no application here. To be always with the Lord is to be always blessed by the Lord. We shall see Him as He is, be like Him, have the advantage of His ceaseless ministrations. Then all that is involved in being with Him will be forever.

1. Life forever.

2. Light forever.

3. Love forever.

4. Rest forever.

5. Joy forever.

(S. Martin.)

These words imply —

I. PERSONAL NEARNESS TO CHRIST. At present the saints may be said to be at a distance from Him. "While we are at home in the body," etc. Spiritually, of course, Christ is with "two or three who meet together in His name." But after the resurrection we shall be brought near Him, body and soul, and in His presence find fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore.

II. IMMEDIATE VISION OF CHRIST. He prayed for His disciples to be with Him, that they might behold His glory. This was seen once at the Transfiguration; but Christians are not now fitted to enjoy such glory; it would over power our sight as it did Saul's, and prostrate us as it did John. We can only see it by the eye of faith, and this partial sight is sufficient to make Christ the object of our supreme affection and esteem. But the time will come when we shall see Him with the eye of our glorified body, and be able to bear the stupendous sight. There we shall see that face, which on earth was marred more than any man's, smiling with more than the brightness of a thousand suns; that head, which was pierced with thorns, crowned with glory and honour; that body, which was arrayed in mock majesty, shining with a beauty of which we can form no conception.

III. PERFECT RESEMBLANCE TO CHRIST. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's Son. This resemblance commences at regeneration; but the features are faint at first; but by constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, they become more marked. This now is the case with the spirit; at the resurrection our bodies will be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body. And then the progress of both in likeness to Christ shall be eternal.

IV. A CONSTANT SENSE OF THE PRESENCE, LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP OF CHRIST, We have these here, but not constantly. Clouds of doubt and sinfulness on our side, and of displeasure on His, intervene. But in the heavenly world there shall be nothing to bar intercourse and manifestation for a single moment.

V. SOCIAL ENJOYMENT. Where Christ is all His people are, and none but His people. Here society is mixed, the bad blended with the good. The good are removed, and leave us to mourn their departure. But in heaven no one departs, and all are good. It is an inspiring thought that we shall forever be with all the good.

VI. FELICITY SATISFACTORY IN ITS NATURE AND ETERNAL IN ITS DURATION. Our best earthly enjoyments are unsatisfactory — they do not fill the soul; transient — they do not last. Even our highest enjoyments of Christ are not all that we should like them to be. But "we shall be satisfied when we awake in His likeness."

(J. McKinlay, D. D.)Forever with the Lord! forever! forever! were the last words of Robert Haldane.

Oh, how sweet is that word — "ever"! Ever to be happy, and ever happy; to enjoy Christ fully, immediately, and everlastingly! Certainly, as the word "ever" is the hell of hell, so it is the heaven of heaven. Frailty is a flaw in the best diamond of nature, and abateth its price; but eternity is one of the most precious jewels in the crown of glory, which increaseth its value exceedingly.

(G. Swinnock, M. A.)

Wherefore comfort one another with these words
I. FOR THE BEREAVED. Our friends are only asleep. They are with Christ, and we shall one day join them.

II. In the suggestion that PERHAPS WE SHALL NOT HAVE TO DIE AFTER ALL. Who knows when Christ shall come?

III. In knowing that WHEN CHRIST COMES IT WILL NOT BE AS THE CRUCIFIED NAZARENE, BUT AS THE SON OF GOD. Our daily prayer will then be answered, and His will done.

IV. IN HOLDING COMMUNION EVEN HERE WITH A REDEEMER OUT OF SIGHT; for our highest joys are only a foretaste of the fulness of joy to be revealed when we shall see Him as He is.

V. In the recollection THAT TIME HURRIES ON TO THE GREAT CONSUMMATION. Every hour brings the time of the Church's marriage and glorification nearer.

VI. In the thought that EVERY GRACE WE ATTAIN WILL GIVE OUR LORD PLEASURE WHEN HE COMES. Wealth and social pleasure will then go for nothing. In relation to the future these can give us no comfort.

VII. In knowing that FIDELITY IS ALL THAT CHRIST REQUIRES TILL HE COMES.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

I. CHRISTIANS ARE OFTEN IN CIRCUMSTANCES TO NEED COMFORT.

1. In time of persecution (2 Timothy 3:12).

2. In the season of affliction (Job 5:7).

3. In the prospect of death.

II. THE WORDS OF SCRIPTURE ARE PECULIARLY CALCULATED TO GIVE COMFORT (vers. 13-17). Here is promised —

1. A resurrection.

2. A triumph with Christ.

3. Rest in eternity.

III. THIS COMFORT SHOULD BE MUTUALLY ADMINISTERED.

(T. Massey, B. A.)

Comfort means help as well as consolation. When the Saviour was anointed to comfort all that mourn, it was not to speak words of kindness only, but to reach forth the hand of beneficence so that sorrow might not only be soothed but turned into joy. This also is the office of the Paraclete; and Christianity calls us to be fulfillers of the law of Christ by bearing one another's burdens. Whilst we mourn the departure of Christian friends, let us remember —

I. THAT DEATH IS NO STRANGE THING. "It is appointed unto men once to die." Were death of rare occurrence, if some only were singled out by the arrows of the last enemy, then our sorrow might admit of no mitigation, but it is not so; Flesh and blood cannot enter the kingdom of God.

II. THAT DEATH IS THE LORD'S MESSENGER SUMMONING THE SAINTS TO HIS PRESENCE. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints." It may be difficult to see the hand of God in the departure of those we love. Our selfish hearts would have prolonged their stay, forgetting that death is gain to them.

III. THAT DEATH TERMINATES THE TOIL AND WARFARE OF THIS LIFE. Whilst they were in this tabernacle they groaned, being burdened; now the burden is lifted and they have entered into rest. Here they fought the good fight of faith; there they are crowned as conquerors. Here they suffered; there they enter into the joy of their Lord.

IV. THAT DEATH IS THE BEGINNING OF PERFECTION. The best and happiest of saints were here imperfect; now they are "the spirits of just men made perfect" in holiness and happiness; for they are like Christ, because they see Him as He is.

V. THAT DEATH IS A REVIVAL OF SACRED FRIENDSHIPS, AND AN INTRODUCTION TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AND CHURCH OF THE FIRST BORN. Most of us as we look into the heavenly world can recognize a sacred kindred there. When you pass away it will be to meet with old associates, and the whole company of the redeemed. Compared with such fellowship as this, what can earth offer?

VI. THAT DEATH WILL BE A SEASON OF REUNION FOR US. They have only gone before, a little in advance. The great gulf will be crossed at the Master's call, and our communion recommence, never to be disturbed again.

VII. THAT EVERY DEATH IS PART OF THAT PROCESS WHICH WILL ISSUE IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE FULNESS OF TIMES. Heaven is enriched by the departure of every saint.

(R. W. Betts.)

I. THE PERSONS — "One another."

1. One man is the image of another, because the image of God is upon all. One man interprets another. We are as glasses, and one sees in another what he is and what he himself may also be. He may see himself in another's fear, grief, complaints. In another's sickness, he may see the disease which may sieze on himself; in another's poverty, his own riches with wings; in another's death, his own mortality. They are also a silent but powerful appeals to his compassion to do as he would be done by in like ease.

2. "One another" takes in the whole world. One is diverse from another, yet we can hardly distinguish them, they are so like.(1) From the same rock are hewn out the feeble and the strong. Of the same extraction are the poor and rich. He that made the idiot made the scribe. Who then shall separate?(2) Besides this, the God of nature has also imprinted our natural inclination which carries us to love and comfort one another. One man is as another, by himself weak and indigent, needing the help and supply of others (1 Corinthians 12:4, 5), and so provided. One man excels in wisdom, another in wealth, another in strength, that they may serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).

3. A nearer relation binds men together — their relation in Christ. In Him they are called to the same faith, filled with the same grace, ransomed with the same price, and shall be crowned with the same glory. And being one in these, they must join hand in hand to uphold one another, and so advance one another to the common glory (Matthew 22:38, 89; 1 Corinthians 12:12). As each man, so each Christian is as a glass to another. I see my sorrow in my brother's eyes; I cast a beam of comfort upon him, and he reflects a blessing upon me. And in our daily prayer," Our Father" takes in "one another," even the whole Church.

II. THE ACT.

1. Comfort is of large signification. It may be to be eyes to the blind and feet to the lame, to clothe the naked and feed the hungry. Speak and do something that may heal a wounded heart, and rouse a drooping spirit.

2. To comfort is a work of charity which is inward and outward. What a poor thing is a thought or word without a hand; and what an uncharitable thing is comfort without compassion. Then I truly comfort my brother when my actions correspond with my heart. And if they be true they will never be severed; for if the bowels yearn, the hand will stretch itself forth.

3. We must look to the motive. Our comfort may proceed from a hollow heart; then it is Pharisaical; it may be ministered through a trumpet, and then it is lost in the noise; it may be the product of fear. All these are false principles, and charity issues through them as water through mud — defiled. Christ is our motive and pattern (Mark 9:41).

4. Let us be ambitious to comfort, for we have great occasions. Every day presents some object. Here is an empty mouth; why do we not fill it? Here is a naked body; why do we not part with our superfluities to cover it? Here God speaks, man speaks, misery speaks; and are our hearts so hard that they will not open, and so open mouth and hands (Philippians 2:5).

III. THE MANNER OR METHODS — "with these words."

1. In every action we must have a right method. He that begins amiss is yet to begin, as the further he goes the further he is from the end. As James speaks of prayer (James 4:3), so we seek comfort and find not because we seek amiss. Our fancy is our physician. We ask ourselves counsel, and are fools that give it; we ask of others and they are miserable comforters. In poverty we seek for wealth; and that makes us poorer than we were. Wealth is no cure for poverty, nor enlargement for restraint, nor honour for discontent. Thus it is also in spiritual evils. When conscience holds up the whip we fly from it; when it is angry we flatter it. We are as willing to forget sin as to commit it. We comfort ourselves by ourselves and by others, by our own weakness and others' weakness, and by sin itself. But the antidote is poison, or, at best, a broken cistern.

2. The apostle's method is —(1) In general, the Word of God. For the Scripture is a common shop of comfort, where you may buy it without money and without price. The comforts of Scripture are —(a) Abiding (1 Peter 1:23) — its hope (1 Peter 1:3); its joy (John 16:22); its peace (Psalm 72:7); so all its comforts (2 Corinthians 1:20). All else is perishing.(b) Universal. Nothing, no one is hid from the light of them. But we must be careful how we apply them and prepare ourselves to receive them. God's mercy is over all His works, but it will not cover the impenitent. Nevertheless, the covetous comforts himself by the ant in Proverbs (Proverbs 6:6); the ambitious by that good ointment in Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes 7:1); the contentious man by the quarrel of Paul and Barnabas; the lethargic in God's forbearance; and thus turn wholesome medicine into poison by misapplication.(2) In particular, the doctrine of the resurrection and the coming of Christ. These are the sum of all comforts, the destruction of all ills.

(A. Farindon, B. D.)

A gentleman walking in one of the metropolitan cemeteries observed kneeling beside a tombstone a little girl about ten years of age. In her hand she held a wreath, which she placed upon the grave. Going up to her, he asked if any one very dear to her lay there. "Yes," she replied, "my mother is buried here." "Have you a father, or sisters, or brothers, little one?" inquired the stranger. "No, they are all dead, and I am the only one left. Every Saturday afternoon I come here, and bring flowers to lay on mother's grave. Then I talk to her, and she talks to me." "But, dear child, if she be in heaven, how can she talk to you?" "I don't know," was the artless reply, "but she does, and tells me to be truthful, and do what is right, so that one day Jesus will take me to live with her in heaven."

What the telescope does for science, the gospel does for those who believe it. It converts hazy conjecture into immovable certainty, and interprets the feeble hopes and dreams which glimmer in the eye of reason into demonstrated and well-defined truths. "Oh, that all my brethren," said Rutherford, when dying, "may know what a Master I have served, and what peace I have this day. This night shall close the door and put my anchor within the veil."

Rowland Hill, when very aged, preached for the Rev. George Clayton, of Walworth. The services exhausted him, and while going feebly down the aisle, after all the congregation had gone, Mr. Clayton heard him repeating softly to himself the hymn he most delighted in during his last years: —

"And when I'm to die, receive me I'll cry,

For Jesus has loved me, I cannot tell why;

But this I can find, we two are so joined,

That He'll not be in glory and leave me behind."To my heart, said Mr. Clayton, "this was a scene of unequalled solemnity; nor can I ever recur to it without a revival of that tender and hallowed sympathy which it originally awakened."

Some years ago a traveller, who had recently returned from Jerusalem, discovered, in conversation with Humboldt, that he was as thoroughly conversant with the streets and houses of Jerusalem as he himself was; whereupon, he asked the aged philosopher how long it was since he visited Jerusalem. He replied, "I have never been there, but I expected to go sixty years since, and I prepared myself." Should not the heavenly home be as familiar to those who expect to dwell there eternally?

It is rarely we read anything more touchingly beautiful than the way in which Catherine Tait, wife of the late Archbishop of Canterbury, tried to comfort her own heart and the heart of her husband after they were suddenly deprived by death of "five blessed little daughters." Other parents, who mourn because of empty cradles and desolate places by the fireside, may be strengthened by their example. Mrs. Tait writes: — "Now, constantly, with our daily prayers, we say the thanksgiving and commemoration for them: 'Lord, Thou hast let Thy little ones depart in peace. Lord Jesus, Thou hast received their spirits, and hast opened unto them the gate of everlasting glory. Thy loving Spirit leads them forth in the land of righteousness, into Thy holy hill, into Thy heavenly kingdom. Thou didst send Thy angels to meet them and to carry them into Abraham's bosom. Thou hast placed them in the habitation of light and peace — of joy and gladness. Thou hast received them into the arms of Thy mercy, and given them an inheritance with the saints in light. There they reign with Thy elect angels and Thy blessed saints departed, Thy holy prophets and glorious apostles, in all joy, glory, felicity, and blessedness, forever and ever. Amen.'".

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