« السابقةمتابعة »
undergoes all the fatigue of tilling, in expectation of a plentiful harvest. How much more reason has the humble Christian to " rejoice in hope of the glory of God;" and to put up with the greatest difficulties and hardships of the present state, as knowing that in due time he shall reap, if he faint not; and that "the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed." The impatient Israelites said, "Wherefore have we fasted, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge?" (Isai. Iviii. 3.) And many now there are, who, because God does not immediately send them an answer of peace, and give them the desired blessing, at the very time, and in the very manner, they expected, grow peevish and fretful, and say in their hearts, "What is the Almighty, that we should serve him; and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?" But surely, Christians, when we consider, that, when we have done all, we are unprofitable servants; that our most perfect performances have a great mixture of impurity and sin in them; we ought rather to admire the goodness that accepts, and (more still!) that rewards, such worthless and defective services; 3-a reward so glorious, beyond not only our desert, but our expectation, and even our most elevated conception, that we should think no time too long to wait, no service too hard, no sufferings too great, no commands of such a Benefactor grievous. And if at any time our hearts begin to be troubled and afraid, and we are ready to faint in our minds, and grow weary of well-doing; let us have "respect to the recompence of reward;" and, amidst the greatest
dearth of earthly comforts, refresh our drooping spirits with a believing look towards the land flowing with milk and honey.-This is not our rest," for it is polluted." Indeed, we could not rest in peace in a world so full of noise and distraction. Our most secret retirements would be broken in upon by a thousand impertinent intruders, and our sweetest enjoyments would have some disagreeable mixture. But there is a world, where the wicked cease from troubling, and where the weary are at rest ;-where the enemy shall no more sow tares among our wheat; -where ploughing and sowing, sinning and sorrowing, shall be known no more at all;-where sin, that accursed root of all bitterness, shall be entirely done away; and nothing that disturbeth or defileth shall ever find admittance into those regions of perfect purity and peace ;-where the gloomy Christian shall be an unheard-of character, and doubts and fears shall be entire and eternal strangers; -where the triumphant Christian shall stand amazed at his own blessedness, and wonder that graces so weak and languishing should produce such a rich crop of glory.
Earthly harvests yield but a short-lived joy: the husbandman has no sooner housed his corn, and allowed one day to grateful merriment, but he must begin again the toilsome round of tillage. But in Heaven it is always harvest-time. There we shall be to all eternity reaping the blessed fruits of our present labour and sufferings. Then it will be no argument of folly to say to our souls, " Soul, take 'thine ease; thou hast goods laid up for many years." God will then pull down these earthly houses of our tabernacles-I say, he will pull down
those barns, and build them greater: he will change these vile bodies, and enlarge the capacities of our souls, to receive more plentiful emanations of the divine goodness and glory. Then, what is sown in corruption shall be raised in incorruption; what is sown in dishonour shall be raised in glory; what is sown in weakness shall be raised in power; what is sown a natural body shall be raised a spiritual body. "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
THE FOOLISH VIRGINS.
MATT. XXV. 10.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready, went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
THE first words of this verse tell us that there were some that were not ready. They took their lamps-they made a profession; called themselves friends of the Bridegroom;-and went out to meet him-seemed forward and zealous as any, at first setting out; but, having no oil in their vessels, however they might sparkle for a while, it was quickly over. When the outcry was made that the Bridegroom was coming, they were all hurry and confusion: they tried to trim their lamps, but soon found that such unfurnished lamps would no longer stand them in any stead. • What shall they do?'They cringe to those they formerly despised; and, in the most abject and supplicating manner, beg if it were but a drop of oil. No,' say they, 'lest there be not enough for us and you. We cannot give grace; and if we could, we have none to spare: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for your selves.'-How could they expect any other answer? Had they not been told, again and again, the danger
of delay; that if they had no oil in their vessels with their lamps, they could never meet the Bridegroom with any comfort; that they would one day repent their foolish trifling and sleeping? But they would not believe it: they put the evil day far from them: they endeavoured to drive away the thoughts of it; and tried to persuade themselves that it would be time enough when the Bridegroom was coming.And now see the consequencé: "While they went to buy, the Bridegroom came.'
But, enough of these un-ready professors, as we have now more pleasing subjects before us :-" They that were ready, went in with him to the marriage." Here we shall inquire,
I. Wherein doth this readiness consist; and then,
II. What is implied in their entering in with Christ to the marriage.
We are, then, to inquire,
I. Wherein doth this readiness consist.
Now there is an habitual readiness, which is meant when it is said of the wise virgins that they "had oil in their vessels ;" and there is an actual readiness, implied in " trimming their lamps."
1. Habitual readiness, is to have "oil in their vessels"—that is, grace in the heart.
Grace is the one thing needful: it is more necessary than riches; it is more necessary than gifts; it is more necessary than even life itself. We may be poor, and yet happy; we may have a small share of gifts, and yet be happy; yea, life itself may be taken from us, and yet our happiness be unabated: but we cannot be happy without grace. Surely, therefore, they discover the most wisdom, who are