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Ah, brethren, are we nit far from living under the habitual realization and influence of this thought? How much of our time is idly spent! How many of our means of usefulness are wasted! And we think it hard to labour incessantly, and to take up our cross daily, and esteem a little, aid perhaps not a littlp, sloth and self-indulgence a luxury! Ah, little do we think how precious a treasure is in our hands, and what inestimable joys we are trampling under foot! What! is it not enough to sweeten labour to think that God will smile approvingly upon our toil P Is it not enough to make our deeds of Christian kindness delightful to think that the eternal Judge will hereafter say, "Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me"? Is the future "recompense of reward" so trivial that it is outweighed by the fatigues of present labour, or the pains of present sacrifice P Might we not rather justly say, Would that labours and self-denials might be a thousand times multiplied, if all might in a similar manner be rewarded! Are not they most privileged who have most to do and most to bear, and who bear and do it most cheerfully and most diligently?
The idea before us is the more worthy of being deeply pondered, because of the place which it evidently holds in God's method of dealing with us. Not only is there a natural adaptation in the system of reward to stimulate our zeal anitustain our patience, but it is the method which God, in his infinite wisdom ^d grace, has devised for this purpose.; "He knoweth our frame," and estimates justly all the sensibilities with which he has endowed it; and it is in his wisdom M»t le makes to us this appeal. He thinks that the various tokens of his approbation which it is in his power to confer will recompense in a manner intensely gratifying to us every labour and every sacrifice, however numerous, or however were, and that in creating opportunities of attaining them he does us an inestimable kindness. And do we, by a practical disregard of his method, mean to tell him that there is nothing in his rewards worth aspiring after, nothing fitted to kindle cur ambition, or to make amends for our endurance P Ah! how different it was with his first-born Son, "who, for the joy set before him, endured tie cross, despising the shame "!
ffl- It will be said, however, probably, that it is not easy to bring this Divine 7'tem of reward into practical operation; and we will therefore proceed, in tie third place, to some illustration of the mode in which this may be most effectually done.
1- In the first place, the subject should be kept clearly and broadly distinct from the question of our acceptance with God. With that, as we have already said, the conception of reward has nothing, to do, and we cannot allow the WO to come into contact in our experience without creating confusion. The proper method is to regard our justification before God as a change already fffected in our condition, and complete; a change effected by our exercise of faith 10 Christ, a transaction past, and never needing to be renewed. Then there is clear scope for the conception of reward, and facility for its practical application. But if, as is often the case, the question of our justification before God is a question never settled, but always in debate, the conception of reward cannot be entertained without mixing itself up with another, and one from which it ought to be kept entirely separate. Think not of it, therefore, dear reader, until you «e satisfied that, being justified by faith, you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: after that, not as a rebel still needing release from condemnation, but as a child holding a conscious position in your heavenly Father's love, have respect to the recompense of reward by which every token of your filial love to him shall be rendered back into your bosom.
2. In the second place, keep clearly before your eyes the nature of the rewards you are to expect. Understood in the letter, the Scriptural descriptions of these may be unattractive to you, inconsistent with your feelings of humility now, and witb. the humble position which you would anticipate for yourself in the heavenly
world. You should recollect, however, how entirely figurative these descrip tions are, and how utterly unlike them all is the reality which they are intended to exhibit to you. All that God beholds in you to recompense is love the love wherewith you render him service, and bear your cross : and, in strictness, al with which he will recompense it is love-his love to you, in tokens of kindly acceptance and approval of yours to him. This may perhaps—perhaps must be an honour not only equal to, but far exceeding, that of wearing earthly crowns or sitting on earthly thrones ; but, however that may be, it is a recompense which you cannot either despise or reject. It belongs essentially to your renovated character that the love of God should be your greatest happiness. It is 80 NOW, and it must be so hereafter. Thrones and crowns you might despise, bu expressions of the love of God you must ever receive with reverent thankfulness and ineffable delight.
3. In the third place, sedulously cultivate the motive which will entitle you to reward. Note carefully, and set it down in your habitual recollection, that what is to be rewarded is neither service in itself, nor self-denial in itself, bu the motive which ought to actuate both the one and the other. This motive is love, for which God looks, and on which he will smile ; but where this is want. ing he sees nothing which can afford him gratification. Ah, how sadly we are wanting here! How much, even of religious duty, is done as a mere matter of duty or of routine! How many acts of service and of self-denial are rendered without much, perhaps without any, of the living power of love! And these all lose their reward! There is nothing in them to win Divine recompense Alas, great is our folly! Olet us see to it that what we do is done from love that, at all events, it may be not unsusceptible of reward.
In the method which we have thus cursorily illustrated we may pursue daily course, having, like Moses, “respect unto the recompense of reward. Faith may be to us, as to him, the realization of things not seen, and the substantiation of things hoped for; while futurity shall grow rich with the accumulating element, and its full manifestation shall constitute an inestimable part of the glory to be revealed.
"BY THE REY. BENJAMIN PREECE.
* Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." -John xiv. 27. THIS passage is generally and rightly re- | burden their minds with a long chapter a garded as containing in few words Ohrist's promises which they could but imperfectly legacy to his people. Christ was now about remember and but faintly understand, leaving his disciples for the home of his compresses this bequest into one shcr Father in the skies, and, not wishing to doentence, and in few words gives them th
disciples wero concerned about temporal food, we hear of something of greater moment to him than the supply of his bodily wants. "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work." Then, again, when the cup of bitterness was in his hand from which his very nature seemed to recoil, with a majestic calmness, a serene spirit, and a sweet acquiescence, looking up to heaven, he could ask, "The oup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" It must not be forgotten either that Christ was under no obligation to enter the work and to endure the lot he did. It was his own free choice. But so ready was he, so far elevated above everything else in •importance appeared the will and the appointment of his Father, that he is represented as entering upon it with the exclamation, "I delight to do thy will, O God."
3. It was a peace springing from a confiding trust in the purpose of God. -Christ came into the world to achieve the most stupendous work that was ever attempted. To reform society, to lead man back to God, to heal the world's woes, and to win over the world to the acceptance and the practice of the truth of God. But who could have said, judging from outward appearances at his death, that his work was a success? We find him after a brief ministry of three years, during which, with much opposition and persecution, he had scattered a few seeds of living truth, and made a few poor, humble, unlettered, despised disciples, preparing for the most ignominious and degrading of all deaths, yet with the confident assurance that he had triumphed, that he had conquered the world, that he had struck the keystone of sin's arch, that he had sapped the foundation of Satan's empire, that he had given birth to principles that would revolutionize the world and bring all nations under the sway of truth and righteousness. The outward circumstances that surrounded him at his death, adverse and unpropitious as they appeared, produced not a ripple upon the calm surface of his soul; his Father's purpose, in which he had an abiding confidence and trust, was more to him than all these. Although his life appeared cut short in its prime; although his work appeared arrested before even the foundation was laid; although, judging from outward appearances, sin, Satan, and the
world had triumphed, he could die i peace, assured that the purpose of hi Father would be realized. It was not tY success that had attended his ministry, I was not the auspicious circumstance) tin closed his earthly career, but a confidirj trust in the purpose of his Father thi enabled him to say as he contemplated W departure, " I have glorified thee upontlj earth; I have finished the work which ttol gavest me to do." Such then was Christ! peace, and such is the peace he has tN queathed to us. Look,—
II. At the mode of its communicatio and enjoyment. "My peace I give lint you." Note the mode, " I give." It >, blessing that comes to us not as the fru of obedience, not as the reward of dutj but as Christ's free gift. It is a gift < grace out and out. It is not a thing to » done, but a thing to be received; not' peace of which we are to be the creator! but a peace of which we are to be tn recipients. Let us endeavour to illustrst it by the peace which we have seen Cto enjoyed.
1. It is a peace springing from anaoidio) consciousness of G-od's favour. The was of a sense of God's favour is one ofTM bitterest sources of our unrest and di* quietude. Now the favour of God u blessing not to be bought, not to be m rited, not to be won; not one for«» we have to labour and to toil: but »j one that Christ gives us. It is a blew"! which Christ has recovered for us and # cured to us by his humiliation, his agot his sufferings, and his death. Are we many of us seeking this peace in the ww way? Are we not labouring, and to'K and praying, and singing, and attend"1?
this duty and to that, with the hope
the expectation that we shall obtain
favour, and consequently inward p* thereby? Quite wrong. If our faj'h Christ be an appropriating faith, the fa'0' of God is ours before and independent!; all these. The favour of God is o""9 account of what Christ has done, andn< on account of anything we oan ao o self es. The work of Christ therefore, W not any services, not any duties, not w. prayers, not any works, not any feel"1? not any experiences of ours, must be ground of our confidence for the p09feiSvy( and the enjoyment of God's favour. are reconciled to God, we are God s' ones—it is a thing done, and not that» has to be done. You may ask, Is tncre
value or importance to be attached to the things we may do ourselves? Yes, they are valuable aud important as an effect, but not as a cause. See by a homely illustration. At autumn you go into your garden, and in the middle of it you see a tree hanging with delicious fruit. Now you would not say that that fruit was the eause of the sun's Bhining; you would not say that it drew forth and gave brightness and energy to the sun's rays. But you would reason quite the opposite. You would regard that fruit as the evidence or the effect of two things—of the tree's enjoyment of the rays of the sun, and of the tree's power of appropriating to itself all the nutriment which the sun's rays call ■uto existence. That fruit would be valuable and of service to you, not as a power or a means of giving existence to the sunshine, but as an evidence of the tree's enjoying and rightly appropriating it. Just ■° with us aud God's favour. Just put <W« farour in the place of the sunshine, yourselves in the place of the tree, and your good works and services in the place of the fruit, and you have just the right poiition J?d relation of these to one another. Jot Obrist gives us that sunshine; by his finished work he cleared our sky of all the clouds that sin and evil had caused to o>'her there. We have now to appropriate and to enjoy it. And we may bask m it as freely and as fully as we may bask m the rays of tho sun of nature in summer. and the more freely and fully wo enjoy it, the more numerous will be our works of faith and labours of love, the more ardent •»I be our zeal and constant our service. And where the favour of God is thus realized, where the sun of his love is al'owed to shine in upon the soul in all its power and glory, there there must be peace. What if all the world be up in arms; "bat if meu frown . what if false fr;ends
"*•»»! what if foes obstruct; what if "wjthing g°es Ctobs and adverse—we can ** mto thesecresy of our own souls, and there realize the love, the favour, the jniles, and the friendship of our heavenly *«ther. If Christ be yours, this is the PjWe he gives you—the favour of God in Jtlita fulness, in all its plenitude, in all its TM». and in all its power. Open your "*"• and let it flow in in full stream and volume. The favour of God is already J°M«; it is Christ's gift, he has purchased ,. w' you, and it is his wish that you would enjoy it, and rest in peace.
2. It is a peace springing from a cheerful submission to God's appointment. Discontent with our earthly lot is another source of disquietude and unrest. But this, too, Christ removes by the peace he gives. But he gives it, remember. You cannot obtain it by labour, or school yourself into it by discipline. Your lot may appear a hard one, your path may appear rugged and thorny, you may think your lot the hardest and the worst of any. Now it is evident that as long as you entertain such views and feelings you cannot enjoy peace. From what quarter, then, can relief come? Not from any outward source. You have tried a thousand ways and a thousand times to alter your lot, but you have met only with failure and disappointment. Tho peace you want is a peace that shall spring up from within, and not dependent upon anything without—a peace springing from a cheerful submission to God's appointment and a sweet contentment with your lot. But to enjoy such a peace you must have the assurance that your present lot is one of the best, and one that God can and will turn to the best account. This is the peace that Christ gives you. He tells you by his life and by his word that it matters but little what your earthly lot may be; that the thing of highest moment to you is soulculture and preparation for heaven; that the moet humble circumstances are frequently the most favourable to it; and that frequently the most adverse circumstances call into play and develop the highest aud noblest powers. He tells you that one of the purposes secured by his death is not only that all your sins may be forgiven, but that all things may work together for your good. See, then, this great result is not to be the effect of any cause you may put in operation; not the fruit of any labour or toil on your part; not to be the issue of any bright or ingenious scheme your own wisdom may devise: it is a reBult already secured by Chri?'s work. It is the regulating principle ol ull God's appointments and dealings wit . ou. Where this assurance which Christ gives is accepted there there must be peace. If, then, Christ has died to secure this result, and if God has pledged himself to bring it about, let God have his own way; let him do with you as it seemeth him good; and knowing that this is the process now actually going on, let your language ever be, "father, not my will but thine be done," and in that will you may find repose.