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ing to push the conquest into other worlds, was expelled from the universe, as an evil no longer to be borne. And from that very scene where death once reigned, heaven has received its largest influx of spiritual and immortal life. And, to consummate the triumph, life on that day will be crowned with immortality. It will not be merely restored, but ennobled, exalted to the highest state of security and glory it can sustain. From the ruinous heap of every christian's grave, a living structure shall arise, built up into an imperishable monument of the resurrection and the life. In the stead of corruption, it shall be inaccessible to decay: for neither can they die any more; they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. In the stead of dishonor, it will be raised in glory, radiating a splendor which shall eclipse all sublunary glory. In the place of weakness, it shall be clothed with the vigor of immortal youth, asking no relaxation or repose; the wings of the soul accompanying and aiding it in all its untiring flights. In the place of a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body: the original grossness of its materiality shall be purged away; it shall be refined and etherialized into spirit—a robe of light rivaling the invisible essence of the soul itself; while each of its senses shall form an inlet to floods of enjoyment, and each of its organs be instinct and emulous with zeal for the Divine glory."
My brethren, the glory of the resurrection, beyond a simple exemption from death, is too great for human mind to conceive or human tongue to express. But I trust enough has been said to satisfy you of the benevolence of God in permitting the ordinary suffering and death of believers. What then, is the conclusion from all this? Let us see whether it does not furnish the most ample reason for submission, patience; and perseverance even under the severest trials.
We own that we are personally deserving of the worst which can be made to befal us, and that all our sufferings come upon us by the special appointment of God. And will not the Judge of all the earth do right? Will any man impugn His administrations, because he sees fit to send afflictions upon him? Will any man heap contempt upon Divinity by a proud insensibility or a despair
1" The Great Teacher,” page 253.
ing dejection under the chastisements of his mighty band? Think, first, that it is a God who sends them, before you become offended at your afflictions, and submit.
Think, too, it is not only yourself that suffers, but every one whom God receives. Respect the grand rule from which no one is exempted, and be patient.
And remember too, that you suffer not as a sinner, but as a son, returning over a rough and thorny road, to a peaceful and eternal home. Look upon your suffering as an exercise of paternal discipline, and endure it joyfully.
You have had earthly fathers, who chastened you through their own pleasure, and you gave them reverence; submitted to themhonored them-loved them. Why not, then, much rather be in subjection to the holy and dispassionate Father of spirits ?"
And then, again, it is all for the better. "All things shall work together for good to them that love the Lord." It is for your profit. It is true that “now no chastening seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” It will make you more holy on earth, and it will infinitely augment the glory of your final redemption. 66 Wherefore lift
the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” Though your patience has been often exhausted, renew your courage and your efforts. The hope of victory does much to strengthen the exhausted warrior; the desire to reach home invigorates the frame of the weary traveller. So let your confidence in God, and your hope that soon these conflicts will be over, and your soul expanded with the triumphs of redemption, help you to endure all that may fall to your lot. “Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.” And may God sustain thee in every adversity, and bring thee out of all thy tribulations, to join the company of those who “are before the throne of God, and serve him, day and night, in his temple.”
THE MEANS AND MOTIVES OF CHRISTIAN PERSEVERANCE.
Heb. xii. 14—29. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man
can see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected : for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. For ye are not come into the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more ; (for they could not endure that which was commanded, and if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake :) but ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assenibly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much moro shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.
But two general topics of discourse enter into this passage. The apostle first gives some directions which are to be obseryed in order to christian perseverance, and secondly enumerates some considerations which should operate as motives to christian perse
This will then be the proper course to be pursued in our exposition. 1. Christians are to make it a point to "follow peace with all
Peace is often used in the Scriptures to denote prosperityall that is good. Thus, when it is said “Go in peace,” “God give you peace,” it is to be understood in the sense of every kind and degree of prosperity and happiness. In the text, the word is used in a much more restricted sense. It denotes state of mutual agreement, wlierein men forbear from injuring one another; a state
of freedom from contentions, strifes, litigations, and wars. This is certainly a very delightful and desirable state, and one which should be pursued for its own sake. But so long as we have to do with error and depravity, it is not altogether attainable. “For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion bath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" Nor does the text say that it is altogether attainable. Hence it is said, “follow" it-pursue it; try to have it; go after it as rapidly and as far as you can.
Peace is here represented as a something that is fleeting. It flies like the hare before the hound; like a man in battle before his conquering enemy. But, as a means of preserving our fidelity to God, we are to pursue it. And although we may not obtain it, we must yet be so set after it, that if all had the same forbearing and enduring temper, it might readily be had. Pious people will have enemies, let them do as they may. But we are to cultivate a kind and forgiving spirit. The Savior has enjoined upon us to pray for, forgive, and even love, our enemies. And though they may curse us, and despitefully use us, we must yet present toward them a peaceful attitude. We must imitate him who, “when he was reviled, reviled not again." And this we are to attend to as a thing that is intimately connected with our salvation. Strife, controversy, and personal animosities, open wide doors for apostacy. As soon as angry feeling begins to steal into a christian's heart, the love of God begins to steal out of it. And there are doubtless those now on the highway to per. dition who have brought themselves to such a state simply from want of conformity to the precept before us. We may make war with sin, but not with men ; we may strive as much as we please with error and corruption, but never with our fellow creatures. And if we do it, we do it at the peril of our salvation.
2. Christians are also to make it a point to “ follow after holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is here put in the same category with peace, and the same word expresses our duty in reference to both. Whatever is implied then in regard to the one, is also implied in regard to the other. And as perfect peace is unattainable under the present arrangement of things, so also is perfect holiness unattainable. But we are to pursue the one in the same way that we are to pursue the other. We must follow
holiness as fast and as far as we can. We are to aim at perfect holiness for the simple reason that an arrow shot at the noonday sun, though it may not hit the mark, will fly higher than one shot horizontally. To fly high, we must aim high; and in order to move on in the work of “perfecting holiness," we must follow and aim at holiness.
You perceive here that this precept is put upon a double ground. It is put as a thing important to the preservation of our fidelity to God, and it is put as an indispensable requisite to the enjoyment of heaven—as a means of Christian perseverance, and as a qualification for spiritual happiness. By not aiming to curb our passions and purify our thoughts we will be sure to give Satan a hold upon our hearts, and there will be every probability on the side of our apostasy. Hence we must make it a point to pursue and struggle after holiness to secure final perseverance in the Christian course. But we must also follow holiness in order to see the Lord.” To see God, is to be admitted into his presence, his favor, and his enjoyment. But God is holy. The great glory of his character is his holiness. How then can he admit unsanctified sinners into his presence? How can he admit them into his intimate favor? Nay, how could they be happy with him? We must follow holiness then as the great qualification for heaven. It is written, Be ye holy, for I the Lord am holy.
3. Christians are also to maintain a diligent inspection of each other, and of their own hearts and conduct. “ Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” The phrase implies that the closest attention is to be given. Four points in particular are to be guarded. First. Christians are to be particular to have themselves and each other really and truly in possession of the saving grace of God. If they have not this, they will prove at best but stony-ground hearers, and, when the time of trial comes, will disappear from among believers. Consequently we should be constantly on the look out to become more and more satisfied that we are real Christians, and that our brethren around us are.
2nd. Christians are to be watchful “lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble them, and thereby many be defiled.” Error is exeeedingly insinuating. As noisome weeds spring up unobserved among the cultivated flowers, so error seeks the company and influence of truth, and works death and defilement in a way