You too, be patient and strengthen your hearts, because the Lord's coming is near.
I. THE EXHORTATION. (Vers. 7, 8, first parts.) To wait constitutes a large portion of religious duty. Indeed, patience is not a segment merely of the Christian character; it is a spirit which is to pervade every fiber of it. In all ages spiritual wants and trials are the same; and believers, therefore, have always the same "need of patience." To "wait upon God" is a frequent exhortation of Scripture. The cultivation of this patience is perfectly consistent with holy activity. It springs from the same root of faith from which good works spring. We show our faith not only by our active "works," but also when we "endure, as seeing him who is invisible." Again, Christian patience is to coexist along with the fullest sensibility of suffering. "Long-suffering" necessarily involves the consciousness of suffering; and so does "patience," as the etymology of the word reminds us. Christian comfort does not come to us in connection with any incapability of sorrow; it comes as the result of the subjugation of the passions, and the cultivation of complete acquiescence in the Divine will. The apostle indicates the limit of this long-suffering - "until the coming of the Lord." What advent does this mean? To the early Hebrew Christians it meant mediately the impending destruction of Jerusalem. To us it means in like manner any interposition of Providence to deliver us from trouble, including our removal by death. But the ultimate reference, both for the early Church and for us, is doubtless to the Lord's final advent at the close of time. Then the Savior shall appear as the Judge of all, and shall forever put an end to tyranny and wrong. The thought of that great event is surely well fitted to "stablish our hearts," i.e. to strengthen them for patient endurance.
II. THE EXAMPLE. (Ver. 7, second part.) As an illustration of his subject, and in order to excite the grace of patience within the hearts of his readers, James introduces an allusion to the pursuits of husbandry. Think, he says, of the long-suffering of the farmer. His is a life of arduous toils and of anxious delays. He must wait for the "early rain" in the late autumn before he can sow his seed; and for the "latter rain" in April, upon which his crops depend for the filling of the ear before the harvest ripens. This patience is necessary. Although sometimes sorely tried, it is reasonable. The "fruit ' which the farmer desires is "precious;" it is worth waiting for. And his long-suffering is also full of hope. It has been rewarded by the bounty of Providence in former years; and besides, if he be a pious man, he remembers the Divine assurance that "seed-time and harvest shall not cease." Now, says the apostle, afflicted Christians are to learn from this example a lesson of long-suffering. Trial and persecution are designed to yield an infinitely more "precious" harvest than that for which the husbandman waits. This harvest is "the fruit of righteousness" - "the fruit of the Spirit." And spiritual fruit takes far longer time to mellow than the natural harvest does. So "it is good for a man quietly to wait" for it. We have the assurance that in spiritual husbandry the ultimate reward is never disappointing. "In due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
III. THE ENCOURAGEMENT. (Ver. 8, second part.) "The coming of the Lord is at hand." This implies, first of all, that the Lord is sure to come. While no farmer possesses an absolute certainty in reference to the harvest on his own particular farm, every one who in the spiritual sphere "sows to the Spirit" may rest assured that the day of an abundant and blessed ingathering will arrive. The Lord Jesus, who came to our world nearly nineteen centuries ago, is to come again, His second coming is the greatest event in the future of the Church. It is the pole-star of her hopes. When he appears, the spiritual harvest shall be reaped. We, accordingly, shall cherish the true spirit of long-suffering, only in so far as we "love his appearing," and realize that the purpose of it is to reward his people and take vengeance upon their enemies. It is a sign that our faith is weak, if we meditate seldom, and pray little, about our Lord's second coming. How different was it in this respect with the apostles and the early Church! But, if the final advent was near in the first century, it is still nearer now; and in the interval what arrears of vengeance have been accumulating! It should be our comfort in the time of trouble to reflect that "the coming of the Lord is at hand." The whole New Testament Church lies under the shadow of the second advent. It will be an event of infinite moment, and therefore it is never far away. To the view of God, with whom "one day is as a thousand years," this event is nigh; and the men of faith learn to see it from God's point of view. Compared, also, with the great eternity on the other side, the second advent seems "at hand." What an encouragement does this thought supply, in the direction of devout patience, both in working and in suffering! It should be at once a spur and an anodyne, to know that the Lord is already on his way. For, when he comes, he will reward all service, and right every wrong, and take his people home to himself. - C. J.
The husbandman waiteth.
I. A PATIENCE THAT, IN THE CONSCIOUSNESS THAT LIFE RIPENS, WAITS. This is taught in the allusion made to harvest. The husbandman waits. He waits from the season of the autumnal till after the vernal rains. These rains, and all the ripening influences of sun and earth succeed each other in unhastened order, tie waits for what is worth the waiting. To him the clusters of the grape, the sheaves of the corn, are "precious fruit." And all the time he waits, he knows that the ripening process is going on.
1. The human race advances to maturity. Notwithstanding the blight of its early spring, and the many perils of all its seasons, the great Restorer points to its harvest when He says, "Then cometh the end."
2. Our individual life is under the same law, the law of growth. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Every life ripens, every life tends to and culminates in a harvest. Towards it in all our seasons we are advancing. To the Christian man the produce, the result of his ever-ripening life, will be in its habits, experiences, and fellowships, a harvest of "precious fruit." Even now he reads pages of his own inner history, which prove that "tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope."
II. A. PATIENCE THAT, BY THE HOPE THAT CHRIST WILL COME, IS UPHELD. The expression of patience at which we have been looking is that of a somewhat spiritless resignation. Now we are summoned to a fortitude prepared for all that may happen. "Stablish your hearts." The Septuagint uses the word translated "stablish" to describe the upbearing of the hands of Moses by Aaron and Hur on the mountain. Those two men sustained the prophet's arms from hour to hour till the war was over, and the victory won. So there is a hope which our patience, though often like Moses' hands thus heavy, may be upheld. What hope?" That the coming of the Lord draweth nigh." The "coming of the Lord" may mean at least one of the three things:
1. His coming in some special dispensation of Providence.
2. His coming to judge the world.
3. His coming at our death.
III. A PATIENCE THAT IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE IS UNMURMURING. "The Judge standeth before the door," and though Judge, it is He who was the "Man of sorrows," the "despised and rejected of men." Does not His history, from the stable to the Cross, shame our murmurs? "The Judge standeth before the door," and knows the circumstances and deserts of us all. Before we judge others we need that our eye should, like Christ's, search souls as well as circumstances, and that our hand, like His, should weigh character as well as condition. "The Judge standeth before the door," and will rightly reward our destiny. Dare we anticipate His sentence? Need we?
IV. A PATIENCE THAT IN THE SENSE OF ITS FELLOWSHIPS REJOICES. High among the heroes of the good stand the prophets. Having held communion with God, they have turned to the world of men, and charged with God-given thoughts, have stood and taught in His stead. Thus, theirs has been the dignity not of mere nobility, nor royalty, but of Divinity. Their sufferings have become as famous as their mission — so famous that we are bidden to take them as examples of "suffering affliction." In our sufferings, therefore, we can look round to those that have "spoken in the name of the Lord," and wonderingly ask one and another of them, "Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?" But as eminent as their sorrows is their endurance. When we think of them we reckon them not as sad, unfortunate, pitiable. Listening to the voice that on the mountain pronounced who among men are "blessed," we know that these prophets are indeed blessed.
V. A PATIENCE THAT THROUGH CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S CHARACTER IS ALL-CONQUERING. The expression, "The end of Lord," may mean one of two things, either of which reveals Him as being "very pitiful and of tender mercy."
1. It may mean the termination to which God brings sorrow. For illustration of this, perhaps, Job's name is cited.
2. Or it may mean the object of the Lord in permitting sorrows. Well has it been said that "it is rough work that polishes. Look at the pebbles on the shore! Far inland, where some arm of the sea thrusts itself deep in the bosom of the land and expanding into a salt loch, lies girdled by the mountains, sheltered from the storms that agitate the deep, the pebbles on the beach are rough, not beautiful — angular, not rounded. It is where long white lines of breakers roar, and the rattling shingle is rolled about the strand, that its pebbles are rounded and polished. As in nature, as in the arts, so in the grace: it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their lustre. The more the diamond is cut, the brighter it sparkles; and in what seems hard dealing, their God has no end in view but to perfect His people's graces."
(U. R. Thomas.)
(Canon Liddon.)I. BEHOLD THE CONTINUED AND PERSEVERING DILIGENCE WHICH PRECEDED THE EXERCISE OF THE HUSBANDMAN'S PATIENCE, HOW various and multiplied are his labours: he ploughed, dressed, fallowed, sowed, harrowed, his fields — and for what? — to wait until the softened furrows should allow the tender grain to sprout. Can you behold his preparatory efforts without emotion? Alas I we are verily guilty in this matter. What little diligence have we evinced — how disconnected have our toils been — how unwilling to repeat the effort, which appears pretentious!
II. MAKE THE SUBMISSIVE ACQUIESCENCE WITH WHICH HE EXPECTS THE PROMISED ISSUE OF HIS LABOURS. He, indeed, knows not which field shall best prosper, or whether both shall be alike good; but he quietly, and without distraction, waits the arrival of spring, when the tender herb shall appear. And shall he be wiser in his worldly ways than you, who are the husbandmen of the Most High? In providential concerns you are perplexed, and your fears are many; but why be careful for the morrow? Of what avail is this tumult of mind, this agitation of spirit? Under tedious delays, does this rebellion of heart do other than increase your misery? Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord; observe how the husbandman waits, how deep is the conviction that impatience will never accelerate his harvest. Moreover, in your case, your hopes are delayed by this temper. Suffer not your fears-I had almost, but for pity, said, your follies — to triumph. You are no proper judge of the length of time you have waited: every minute has been to you as an hour, or as a year. You misjudge the motive of his delay; it is, that he may commend your patience, as well as reward your labours.
III. OBSERVE THE ANXIETY WITH WHICH THE HUSBANDMAN EXPECTS THE SPRINGING OF THE CORN. Man is prone to extremes; if he may not be impatient, he thinks he must be indifferent; if he is condemned for standing still, he runs like some restive horse which will either not stir, or furiously gallop. But the farmer unites the two; though not impatient, he is far from unconcerned. Do you take an equal interest, as lively a concern, in the field you cultivate for your Great Employer? Go to the husbandman, thou careless and unconcerned parent; consider his anxieties, and be wise: recollect the domestic trust confided to you.
IV. But once more, notice the CERTAINTY characterises the patient expectation of the farmer; he waits till "he receive the early and the latter rain." The expression may be considered as comprehending all the kindly and sweet influences of the heavens, which are necessary for the precious fruits of the earth; and have these ever been withheld? But the profits of our fields are not so certain, by many degrees of probability, as is the reward of grace which is ensnared by His promise who cannot lie.
1. Before we conclude, let our attention be directed to One who has towards us exemplified long patience; who has frequently come and sought fruit from us, and found none. You think much of waiting a few months for your crops; or if your desires are delayed for a year or two, prayer and effort are both discontinued. Has He not reason to expect abundant returns from you? What more could He have done for you?
2. Let me point you to those inferior husbandmen who fairly expected to have reaped from you the reward of their labours, and yet have hitherto waited in vain.
3. Should the expectations of the husbandman in reference to any of his fields fail, he will again plough up the land; and, notwithstanding a few sickly plants sprinkled here and there on the surface of the ground, sacrifice all his toils and hopes, and prepare it for another crop. Thus has the Great Husbandman dealt with the nations at large: their privileges have been taken from them, and given to such as bring forth the fruits thereof: and thus will He act towards individuals who trifle with the means of cultivation they enjoy.
I. First, then, How DOES THE HUSBANDMAN WAIT? He waits with a reasonable hope for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it until he receive the early and the latter rain. He expects the harvest because he has ploughed the fields and sown the grain. Out on the folly of those who flatter their souls with a prospect of good things in time to come while they neglect the opportunity of sowing good things in the time present. They say they hope it will be well with them at the end; but, since it is not well with them now, why should they expect any change — much less a change contrary to the entire order of Providence? The husbandman waits with a reasonable hope; he does not look for grain where he has cast in garlic. Save then that thou art a fool, thou wilt like him count only on the fruit of thine own sowing. While he waits with a patient hope, he is no doubt all the more patient of the issue, because his hope is so reasonable. And not only does he wait with patience, but some stress is put upon the length of it; "and hath long patience for the precious fruit of the earth." Now, our waiting, if it be the work of the Holy Spirit, must have this long patience in it. Are you a sufferer? There are sweet fruits to come from suffering t Have long patience for those peaceable fruits. You shall be brought out of your trouble when the discipline for which you were brought into it has been fulfilled. Have long patience, however, for not the first month does the husbandman find a harvest. If he has sown in the winter, he does not expect he will reap in the early spring: he does not go forth with his sickle in the month of May and expect to find golden sheaves. He waits. The moons wax and wane; suns rise and set; but the husbandman waits till the appointed time is come. Wait thou, O sufferer, till the night be over. Tarry thou a little longer, for if the vision tarry it shall come. Are you a worker? Then you need as much patience in working as you do in suffering. We must not expect to see immediate results in all cases from the preaching of the gospel, from the teaching of Scripture in our classes, from distributing religious literature, or from any other kind of effort. Be patient, O worker, for impatience sours the temper, chills the blood, sickens the heart prostrates the vigour of one's spirit, and spoils the enterprise of life before it is ripe for history. Wait thou, clothed with patience, like a champion clad in steel. Wait with a sweet grace, as one who guards the faith and sets an example of humility. Wait in a right spirit, anxious, prayerful, earnest submissive to the ways of God, not doubtful of His will. Disciple of Jesus, "learn to labour and to wait." With regard to the result of Christian obedience, the lesson is no less striking. The first thing that a farmer does by way of seeking gain on his farm is to make a sacrifice which could seem immediately to entail on him a loss. He has some good wheat in the granary, and he takes out sacks full of it and buries it. You must not expect as soon as you become a Christian, that you shall obtain all the gains of your religion, perhaps you may lose all that you have for Christ's sake. And, while the husbandman waits, you observe in the text he waits with his eye upward, he waits until God shall send him the early and the latter rain. None but the eternal Father can send the Holy Spirit like showers on the Church. He can send the Comforter, and my labour will prosper; it will not be in vain in the Lord; but if He deny, if He withhold this covenant blessing, ah me! work is useless, patience is worthless, and all the cost is bootless: it is in vain. Note, however, that while the husbandman waits with his eye upward, he waits with his hands at work, engaged in restless toil. He cannot push on the months; he cannot hasten the time of the harvest-home; but he does not wait in silence, in sluggishness and negligence; he keeps to his work and waits too. So do you, O Christian men I wait for the coming of your Lord, but let it be with your lamps trimmed and your lights burning, as good servants. The husbandman waits under changeful circumstances, and various contingencies. Only a farmer knows how his hopes and fears alternate and fluctuate from time to time. Yet he waits, he waits with patience. Ah, when we work for God, how often will this happen! There are always changes in the field of Christian labour. At one time we see many conversions, and we bless God that there are so many seals to our testimony. But some of the converts after a while disappoint us. There was the blossom, but it produced no fruit. Then there will come a season when many appear to backslide. Some deadly heresy creeps in, and the anxious husbandman fears there will be no harvest after all. Oh, patience sir, patience. When God shall give you a rich return for all you have done for Him, you will blush to think you ever doubted; you will be ashamed to think you ever grew weary in His service.
II. WHAT DOES THE HUSBANDMAN WAIT FOR? He waits for results, for real results; right results; he hopes also rich results. And this is just what we are waiting for — waiting as sufferers for the results of sanctified affliction. Oh that we might have every virtue strengthened, every grace refined, by passing through the furnace. And you are, also, like the husbandman, waiting for a reward. All the while till the hat vest comes, he has nothing but outlay. From the moment he sows, it is all outgoing until he sells his crops, and then, recovering at once the principal and the interest, he gets his reward, in this world look not for a recompense. You may have a grateful acknowledgment in the peace, and quiet, and contentment of your own spirit, but do not expect even that from your fellow-men. Wait till the week is over, and then shall come the wage. Wait until the sun is gone down, and then there will be the penny for every labourer in the vineyard. Not .vet, not yet, not yet. The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth. This is what we wait for.
III. WHAT IS THE HUSBANDMAN'S ENCOURAGEMENT IN WAITING? The first is, that the fruit be waits for is precious. Who that walks through a cornfield where the crops are plentiful, but will say, "Well, this was, after all, worth all the trouble and all the expense, and all the long patience of that winter which is over and gone?" If the Lord should draw you near unto Himself by your affliction, if He should make His image in you more clear, it will be worth waiting for. And if, after your labours, He should give you some soul for your reward, oh, will it not repay you? We may wait, therefore, with patience, because the reward of our labour will be precious. Above all, the reward of hearing the Master say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," is worth waiting for I Even now to get a word from Him is quite enough to cheer us on, though it be a soft, still voice that speaks it, but oh, the joy of that loud voice "Well done." A godly husbandman waits with patience, again, because he knows God's covenant. God has said "seed time and harvest, summer and winter, shall not cease," and the Christian farmer knowing this is confident. But oh, what strong confidences have we who have looked to Christ, and who are resting on the faithful word of a covenant God. He cannot fail us. It is not possible that He should suffer our faith to be confounded. The covenant stands good, the harvest must come as surely as the seed time has come. Moreover, every husbandman is encouraged by the fact that he has seen other harvests. And, O brethren, have not we multitudes of instances to confirm our confidence? Let us cheerfully resign ourselves to the Lord's will in suffering, for as others of His saints who went before us have reaped the blessing, so shall we.
IV. WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PATIENCE? To patiently wait God's appointed time is our business. Suppose a man should be impatient under suffering. Will it diminish his suffering? We all know that the irritability of temper which is caused by impatience is one of the difficulties which the physician has to battle with. "When the patient is calm there is a better chance of his recovery. O that ye would endeavour to conquer impatience. It cast Satan out of heaven, when he was impatient at the honour and dignity of the Son of God. But the benefits of patience are too many for me to hope to enumerate them. Suffice it to say, patience saves a man from great discouragement. Expect to wait for glory; expect to wait for the reward which God hath promised; and while you are waiting on the Lord your bread shall be certain, and your water shall be sure: you shall often eat meat, thank God, and take courage. The short days and long nights shall not be all charged with gloom, but full often they shall be tempered with good cheer. When we have patience it keeps us in good heart for service. Great haste makes little speed. He that believeth shall not make haste; and as the promise runs, he shall never be confounded. Above all, patience is to be commended to you because it glorifies God. The man that can wait, and wait calmly, astonishes the worldling, for the worlding wants it now. You remember John Bunyan's pretty parable of Passion and Patience. Passion would have all his best things first, and one came in and lavished before him out of a bag all that the child could desire. Patience would have his best things last, and Patience sat and waited, so when Passion had used up all his joy, and all he sought for, Patience came in for his portion, and as John Bunyan very well remarked, there is nothing to come after the last, and so the portion of Patience lasted for ever. Let me have my best things last, my Lord, and my worst things first. Be they what they may, they shall be over, and then my best things shall last for ever and for ever. There is one other respect in which our case is like that of the husbandman. As the season advances, his anxieties are prone to increase rather than to abate. In like manner we have a closing scene in prospect which may, and will in all probability, involve a greater trial of faith, and a sterner call for patience, than any or all of the struggles through which we have already passed. Perhaps I can best describe it to you by quoting two passages of Scripture, one specially addressed to workers, the other more particularly to sufferers. The first of these texts you will find in Hebrews 10:35, 36. This is sweet counsel for thee, O pilgrim, to Zion's city bound. When thou wast young and strong, thou didst walk many a weary mile with that staff of promise. It helped thee over the ground. Don't throw it aside as useless, now that thou art old and infirm. Lean upon it. Rest upon that promise, in thy present weakness, which lightened thy labour in the days of thy vigour. "Cast not away your confidence." But there is something more. The apostle says, "Ye have need of patience, after ye have done the will of God." But why, you will say, is patience so indispensable at this juncture of experience? Doubtless you all know that we are never so subject to impatience as when there is nothing we can do. Hence it is that after our fight is fought, after our race is run, after our allotted task is finished, there is so much need of patience, of such patience as waits only on God and watches unto prayer, that we may finish our course with joy and the ministry we have received of the Lord Jesus. And what about the second text? Turn to James 1:4. Seemeth it not as though patience were a virtue par excellence which puts the last polish on Christian chastity? We will hire us back to the cornfields again: I am afraid we were forgetting them. But this time we will net talk so much with the farmer as with the crops. Knowest thou, then, what it is that gives that bright yellow tinge of maturity to those blades which erst were green and growing? What, think you, imparts that golden hue to the wheat? All the while the corn was growing, those hollow stems served as ducts that drew up nourishment from the soil. At length the process of vegetation is fulfilled. The fibres of the plant become rigid; they cease their office; down below there has been a failure of the vital power which is the precursor of death. Henceforth the heavenly powers work quick and marvellous changes; the sun paints his superscription on the ears of grain. They have reached the last stage; having fed on the riches of the soil long enough, they are only influenced flora above. The time of their removal is at hand, when they shall be cut down, carried away in the team, and housed in the garners. So, too, it is with some of you. "The fall of the year is most thickly strewn with the fall of human life." You have long been succoured with mercies that have come up from mother-earth; you have been exposed to cold dews, chilling frosts, stormy blasts; you have had the trial of the vapoury fog, the icy winter, the fickle spring, and the summer drought; but it is nearly all over now. You are ready to depart. Not yet for a brief space has the reaper come. "Ye have need of patience." Having suffered thus far, your tottering frame has learnt to bend. Patience, man — patience! A mighty transformation is about to be wrought on you in a short space. Wait on the Lord. Holiness shall now be legibly, more legibly than ever, inscribed on your forefront by the clear shining of the Sun of Righteousness. The heavenly Husbandman has you daily, hourly, in His eye, till He shall say to the angel of His presence, "Put in your sickle."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Be ye also patient.I. SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRISTIAN WAITING.
1. Christian waiting follows conscientious effort. It is not until we have striven to do our duty in Divine strength; it is not until we feel ourselves hemmed in, unable to take another step, that we are to "stand still and see the salvation of God." The apostolic injunction is: "Having done all, to stand." It is not until we have laboured that we are to learn to wait. To act otherwise would be to play the part of a farmer who may be waiting for a harvest before he has sown the seed.
2. Christian waiting is an outcome of faith. Faith in the Divine promises, fidelity, ability, and love.
3. Christian waiting is patient. It is a state in which fluttering and murmuring have no place; it is a state in which there is dignified self-restraint, and sweet acquiescence to that will which is recognised to be infallible, sovereign, and good.
4. Christian waiting is expectant. It is ever on the outlook. An attendant, who was asked to wake a visitor in time to meet an appointment, was lingering hard by for the purpose, when some one exclaimed, "What, sitting here and doing nothing!" "No," was the quick reply, "I am busy waiting." The man who is truly waiting for the "salvation of the Lord" is "busy waiting" — busy like one waiting for the day-dawn, or like one waiting to take the tide at the flood.
5. Christian waiting is necessary. God does nothing hurriedly. Did the earth, with her hills and vales, lakes, rivers, and seas, dark mines, and gigantic rocks, reach her present state in swift transactions? Did Jesus sweep down from the heavens as the Saviour of man immediately He was promised? Is human life rapid in its physical, mental, and spiritual growth? The development of that which is great cannot be forced. Perfection is not reached in a leap.
II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT BY WHICH CHRISTIAN WAITING IS HERE ENFORCED. The farmer is encouraged to wait by the thought that every sunrise prepares for, and accelerates the gleeful reaping time. So the believer is incited to wait for Christ by the assurance that His coming "draweth nigh."
1. His coming in some signal dispensation of Providence may be nigh. If there is no longer a "needs be" for our waiting, we may be sure that He will speedily come to crown our temporal and spiritual efforts with appropriate success; to solve perplexing problems; to deliver from envy, slander, oppression, and to satisfy the desires which He Himself has kindled.
2. His coming at the end of the world may be said to be nigh. "Now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand." "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly."
3. His coming at our dissolution may be said to be nigh. It cannot be far distant from any one of us; every clock-tick and pulse-beat hastens it.
(E. H. Palmer.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(E. Bersier, D. D.)I. THERE IS A PERIOD HASTENING ON THAT WILL TERMINATE FOR EVER THE TRIALS OF THE GOOD. This period is not far off. It really takes place with the individual man at death. It emphatically "draweth nigh," and emphatically may it be said to us all, "The Judge standeth at the door." It is not something that is far off in the distant ages; it is all but transpiring. We shall soon have struck the last blow in life's battle, and won the crown; heaved over the last billows in life's ocean, and reached the desired haven.
II. THE TRIALS OF THE GOOD ARE CONGRUOUS WITH THE PRESENT STATE OF OUR HISTORY. It is a fitful spring with us — a moral April: the struggle of sunshine and shower — the genial glow and the nipping frost. It is a season of fluctuation, not settledness: outlay, not income: labour, not wages: seeds, not results. It is the season for burying the grain, not for plucking the golden ear. It is wise and well for the husbandman to labour patiently in the spring, for he has the assurance from testimony and experience that the glorious summer will reward him for his toil.
III. A MORAL ENDURANCE OF TRIALS IS ESSENTIAL TO AMIABILITY OF CHARACTER. The man who has not that "patience" which results from a loving confidence in the character and a loving acquiescence in the will of the Supreme Ruler, will feel an annoyance in every trial. He will pass through the trials of life, as we have sometimes seen a little cur passing through a hailstorm, barking at every step. But the man who cultivates this magnanimous quality of soul will be, in trial, like the imperial bird in the storm, when beaten down from its heavenly flight, it still keeps its wings expanded, looks calmly up, and with the first gleams of sunshine soars away into the radiant and the high again.
IV. THE GREATEST TRIALS HAVE BEEN ENDURED BY THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS MEN IN HISTORY. "The prophets" were men of genius and of God; great in talent and in virtue, the loyal servants and moral organs of Heaven; the most majestic trees in the forest, the brightest stairs in the firmament of their race. Yet they suffered (Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:32). The morally great have always been sufferers.
V. TRIALS HAVE EVER BEEN THE CONDITION OF TRULY HEROIC AND HONOURED LIVES "We count them happy which endure" — not only because affliction tendeth to spiritual good (2 Corinthians 4:17, 18), but because they are enabled by their sufferings, when rightly endured, to display the highest attributes of greatness. In the history of true men, when the sun of prosperity goes down, the brightest orbs of virtue come out to light up the moral firmament of the world.
V. ALL TRIALS BEING UNDER THE DIRECTION OF AN EVER-MERCIFUL GOD, WILL, IF RIGHTLY ENDURED, YIELD A GLORIOUS RETURN.
(H. W. Beecher.)
1. The nature; it is a submission of the whole soul. The judgment subscribeth, "Good is the Word of the Lord," &c. (Isaiah 39:9). Though it were to him a terrible word, yet the submission of a sanctified judgment can call it good. Then the will accepteth, "If they shall accept the punishment" (Leviticus 26:41); that is, take it kindly from God that it is no worse. Then the affections are restrained, and anger and sorrow brought under the commands of the word. Then the tongue is bridled, lest discontent splash over; Aaron held his peace (Leviticus 10:3).
2. Consider the grounds and proper considerations upon which all this is carried on; usually there is such a progress as this in the spiritual discourse.(1) The soul seeth God in it, "I was dumb and opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it" (Psalm 39:9).(2) It seeth God acting with sovereignty, "None can say unto Him, What debt Thou?" (Job 9:12). And elsewhere, "He giveth no account of His matters."(3) Lest this should make the heart storm, it seeth sovereignty mitigated in the dispensation of it with several attributes. With justice. With mercy, "Thou hast punished us less than we deserved" (Ezra 9:13). They were afflicted, they might have been destroyed; they were in Babylon, they might have been in hell. "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might keep Thy statutes." God's faithfulness would not suffer them to want such a sweet help. With wisdom, "God is a God of judgment "(Isaiah 30:18); it is meant in His dispensations. Let God alone; He is too just to do us wrong, and too kind and wise to do us harm.
Stablish your hearts.1. Our hearts are settled in our afflictions by the sweet promises we have from God of our deliverance. David thereof saith, "Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth them out of all." In another place to like purpose, "The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, He st)all be their strength in time of trouble." Therefore Almighty God saith to His people, "Call upon Me in the day of trouble and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me."
2. As by the promises of our deliverance our hearts are settled through patience in our oppression; so also ought they to be settled in the experience we have of the power of God in the deliverance of the righteous. If we look to others, or ourselves, we shall find experience of this truth. Hath not God delivered Moses and Israel, His people, from the army of Pharaoh? What, did not God deliver David from sundry attempts of Saul?
3. Neither thus only are our hearts settled in our miseries, but also when we cast our eyes upon the crown of glory, which we shall receive, and the glorious hope whereof we shall be partakers, if we endure with patience, we should settle and quiet our minds in our miseries. Thus Paul, exhorting the Romans to settle their hearts, and in their afflictions which by the ensample of Christ they should suffer, comforting them, telleth them that the sufferings of their mortal life were not to be compared to the glory which should be revealed to the sons of God.
4. Our hearts shall the better be settled if we would consider that nothing cometh unto us but by the will of God.
5. Our hearts shall be settled in afflictions if we know the manifold uses and good ends of the afflictions which God sendeth to the saints.
6. Our hearts in affliction shall be settled if we did consider that our time of sufferings is limited, and is but short, but the time of rest, of peace, of joy, eternal.
7. If we consider that the saints in all times have suffered adversity, that Jesus Christ Himself, the Lord of Glory, hath by many tribulations entered into His glory, that we are no otherwise fellow-heirs with Him, but upon this condition that we suffer with Him.
8. Finally, our hearts in affliction are settled when we recount often the fearful judgments of God upon them which have afflicted and cruelly persecuted His Church and saints in all times.
The coming of the Lord draweth nigh.I. EVERY YEAR BRINGS HIM NEARER TO EVERY MAN TO TERMINATE HIS CONNECTION WITH THIS EARTH.
1. What a solemnity does this give to time.
2. What significance to death.
II. EVERY YEAR BRINGS HIM NEARER TO ESTABLISH HIS SPIRITUAL EMPIRE IN THE WORLD. Indications of His approach are multiplying and brightening as years come and go. Every true thought, every moral conversion, every true revolution in the minds of individuals and nations, announce the fact that He is coming whose right it is to reign.
III. EVERY YEAR BRINGS HIM NEARER TO WIND UP ALL HUMAN AFFAIRS ON THIS EARTH. On this wonderful day He will —
1. Stop the increase of the race.
2. Terminate the infidelities of the race.
3. Open the graves of the race.
4. Settle the destinies of the race.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
(Sunday at Home.)
LinksJames 5:8 NIV
James 5:8 NLT
James 5:8 ESV
James 5:8 NASB
James 5:8 KJV
James 5:8 Bible Apps
James 5:8 Parallel
James 5:8 Biblia Paralela
James 5:8 Chinese Bible
James 5:8 French Bible
James 5:8 German Bible
James 5:8 Commentaries