And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?…
Be collected, that you may be strong; stand still, and stand firmly, if you can do nothing else; do not slip back, or step aside, or attempt anything wrong or questionable. Patience is not merely a passive submission to evil, a dull, stupid, unfeeling indifference, like the insensibility of wood or stone; it is the result of thought; it implies effort; it is a sort of active bearing up of oneself under the pressure of calamity, which at once indicates self-possession and secures it; it reacts upon that from which it proceeds, and causes it to become stronger and stronger. I wish now to request your attention to some of the advantages which flow from obedience to the precept, in the case of Christians, when called to suffer great affliction, or when exposed to the fear of impending calamity.
1. In the first place, there is the consciousness of not increasing the affliction by sin. If a Christian is impatient, and gives way to fretfulness and temper, or other forms of restiveness under trouble, he not only loses the advantage of calmness and self-possession, but his conscience receives a fresh injury; his proper religious feelings are hurt; his inward personal peace is disturbed; and thus the trouble presses upon him with double weight. It is a great blessing not to be exposed to this.
2. In the next place, self-possession in a time of trouble will enable an individual to take a just view of his actual circumstances, and of the nature and ends of the Divine infliction. We are under the rule and guidance of One who has always an object in what He does — an object worthy of Himself, and connected with the peace and holiness of His Church.
3. In the third place, the man who has full possession of himself in a time of affliction will be able to engage in certain exercises of mind which trouble calls to, but which are impossible, or next to it, when the soul is disturbed by agitation and excitement. "In the day of adversity consider." "Call upon Me in the day of trouble." "Glorify Me in the fire." "Enter into thy chamber." "Be still, and know that I am God." "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of Him." But none of these things can be done, or done well, if the man is not quiet, patient, and self-possessed; if he is the victim of hurry, alarm, consternation, and surprise.
4. Observe, fourthly, that it is only by such self-possession as the text inculcates, that an individual will be able to select and apply the proper means of escape from calamity, or which may help him to meet it, or to counteract its effects.
5. In the last place, obedience to the text, explained as an exhortation, will best prepare a man for the end and result of trouble, whatever that result may be. If the cloud and the calamity pass away, and the man be fully delivered from it, he will be able to look back with serenity and gratitude, free from self-reproach or shame. If it terminate fatally, for himself or others, he will be able to acquiesce, with intelligent faith, in the Divine will.
(W. Binnie, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they asked him, saying, Master, but when shall these things be? and what sign will there be when these things shall come to pass?