Mark 13
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
In the case of the Jews a natural and venial fault, if not carried to excess. Esteemed the type and pattern of architectural excellence, and one of the wonders of the world. Herod's rebuilding was on a scale of magnificence unknown to their ancestors. The essential features of the temple of Solomon were restored, but these were "surrounded by an inner enclosure of great strength and magnificence, measuring, as nearly as can be made out, one hundred and eighty cubits by two hundred and forty, and adorned by porches and ten gateways of great magnificence; and beyond this, again, was an outer enclosure, measuring externally four hundred cubits each way, which was adorned with porticoes of greater splendor than any we know of attached to any temple of the ancient world; all showing how strongly Roman influence was at work in enveloping with heathen magnificence the simple templar arrangements of a Shemitic people" (Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible'). Josephus, in his 'Antiquities,' 15:1l, 3, speaks of stones "each in length twenty-five cubits, in height eight, in breadth about twelve;" and in the 'Wars,' 5:5, 6, of "some of the stones as forty-five cubits in length, five in height, and six in breadth." Many of these were of sculptured marble. The reply of Jesus may be read either affirmatively or interrogatively, or with a mixture of both assertion and question. The apodosis is, "There shall not be left here stone upon stone," etc. Thus their lingering gaze is quietly but grandly rebuked, and their thoughts directed with solemn, practical earnestness to the Divine future in which all that pomp of masonry and decoration was to have no place.

I. THE NATURAL MIND IS MOST IMPRESSED BY WHAT IS GREAT AND BEAUTIFUL IN OUTWARD APPEARANCE. The simple Galilean peasants were carried away with enthusiastic admiration of the princely buildings, so unparalleled in their experience. To such an extent was this the case that they were in danger of being ensnared.

1. Sensuous admiration is easily confounded with spiritual attachment. The mind, in order to correct this error, must dwell on the spiritual truths of which external objects are but the symbols, and realize that, whilst the latter shall pass away, the former must endure for ever.

2. The world, in its sensuous totality, is similarly pregnant with temptation to the soul that has not learnt to look through the visible into the invisible and eternal.

II. THAT WHICH FAILS OF ITS DIVINE IDEA, OR OPPOSES THE DIVINE PURPOSE, SHALL BE DESTROYED. The splendid building upon which they were gazing had ceased to minister to the higher spiritual life of the people, and had, through its officers and representatives, rejected the Son of God. It had thereby sealed the warrant of its own extinction: not one stone should stand upon another. So is it with the individual, institution, or nation which fails to realize its chief end.

1. This is penal. There was no process of natural decay, no growing beautiful with age - the sensuous slowly merging into the spiritual; no succession of normal changes ensuring expansion, adaptation, and continuity; but sudden, awful destruction, accompanied by unheard-of misery. God must witness to his righteousness even in judgment. The soul that sins shall die.

2. It is in order to give place to a worthier realization of the Divine will. The "house not made with hands" was nearer when this external sanctuary, which had been defiled, was removed. "The hour cometh, when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:21-24). Not until the temple had been destroyed would the temple's Lord make advent to the world. Judgment must begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). "But on all these points the first and great question is not what is to be done, but who is to do it. Is the reform of the Church to be consigned entirely to politicians and economists, who only look at the goodly stones and gifts of the temple, some with an anxious, others with a greedy eye, and care nothing about the service of the sanctuary nor the edification of the worshippers? Or will any part of the work be put into the hands of sincere and zealous and enlightened lovers of the Church? In the latter case we may securely hope for the best. In the other, it is to be feared that, if beneficial changes ever take place, they will have been purchased by great losses and a disastrous experience" (Thirlwall," Letters,' vol. 1 p. 107). - M.

This chapter relates almost exclusively to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Yet in its testimony to the Divine power of foretelling future events, it has its evidential value to all students of the person of our Lord; while its central and simple lesson, "Watch! the day of your Lord's coming ye know not," may be profitably reiterated with frequency in the ears of all. One of the disciples, on passing out of the temple, drew the attention of the Master to the massiveness and grandeur of its building. How great! how stable! how wondrous! In this, as in so many instances, he saw what they saw not; and his thoughts were not as theirs. It must have been to their great surprise that he declared, "There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Sad and doleful words follow, as strikingly in contrast to the expectations of his questioners as were the former. The eager desire to know "when shall these things be," was met by threats of deception, war, earthquakes, and famines, the mere presages of trouble, to be followed by personal afflictions, persecutions, hatreds, and deaths, mingled with the uttermost national and religious confusion. The dire symbols were, "the sun shall be darkened," "the moon shall not give her light," "the stars shall be falling from heaven." We who read these words with the picture of Jerusalem's destruction before us, and in the light of modern Jewish history, see a depth of meaning in them which, the words being words of prophecy, the disciples failed to see. Pitifully do our hearts move towards Israel according to the flesh, and pray for the lifting up of the veil that is upon their eyes, that they in a true sense may "see and believe." The lesson is founded upon this prediction of judgment. In interpreting it in its application to ourselves we must see that it teaches -

I. THE EXTREME PERILOUSNESS OF HINDERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN BY UNFAITHFULNESS. The Jew was favored as was no other nation under heaven. Fidelity to the great trust reposed in that people would have been attended with unmeasured Divine blessing; while unfaithfulness resulted in the direst calamity and judgment. Who shall describe the bitterness to Israel of those dread days? A free and wider diffusion of the spiritual kingdom followed. But Israel, in giving birth to a gospel of blessing to the nations, suffered throes of travail "such as there hath not been the like from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and," happily, "never shall be."

II. IN OUR IGNORANCE OF THE TIMES OF GREAT AND SUDDEN CHANGES IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, OUR HIGHEST WISDOM IS A DILIGENT ATTENTION TO THE DUTY OF THE HOUR. The hour is always uncertain when the Lord cometh to judgment. The indolent spirit that is deluded into neglect because there is no sign of his coming, will be inevitably found "sleeping." How often has the Church been lulled thus to slumber! How often have the most responsible trusts been unfaithfully held! Times of judgment awake the sleepers often to find their work neglected or undone. The watching spirit that momentarily devotes itself to the doing of the Lord's will is the only safe spirit. Such a spirit is never surprised, never taken unawares. It matters not when "the lord of the house cometh," whether "at even, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or in the morning." The watching servant hails and rejoices in his lord's approach.


1. The gracious words of warning stimulate to effort.

2. The help of the Divine Spirit is comfortingly promised to the suffering. "It is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost."

3. The perseveringly patient one shall reap in due time. "He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved."

4. The scattered ones whom cruel persecution has driven into all lands shall finally be restored, and the felicities of the heavenly life compensate for the sufferings of earth. "He shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven." The Lord's one command, holding all within itself, is "Watch? "Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing." - G.



III. THE EDUCATION OF ILLUSIONS. (See F. W. Robertson's sermon on 'The Illusiveness of Life!') God in history is God in disguise. To detect his presence is not always easy. Surface and show are constantly taken for truth and reality.

IV. VAGUE TROUBLES PRECEDE GREAT CHANGES. We live in restless times. "Something is in the air." We know not what is meant; but something is meant. The beginning of a process must not be mistaken for the end.

V. A MORAL PRINCIPLE AND PURPOSE LIES IN ALL CHANGE. This is the secret leaven which occasions all the ferment. Deep was the truth expressed by the philosopher when he said, "War is the father of all things." Or in the myth, conflict and love are close companions. In convulsed times, be sure Divine love is profoundly working. Persecution represents the expiring struggles of error and its fellow, passion.

VI. THE CONSTANT HEART NEED FEAR NO EVIL. Nothing can bring us peace but loyalty to principle. Nothing can exempt us from unmanning fears but the sense that truth is on our side. The only secret of eloquence lies here. There is no salvation for the coward, the untrue, and the disloyal. For the true heart there is salvation from every possible danger. - J.


1. Distribution of prophetic intimations. Great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the predictio

Mark 13:3-5 (and the rest of the chapter generally)

I. THERE IS A CURIOSITY CONCERNING THE FUTURE WHICH Is NATURAL AND LEGITIMATE. The disciples were not rebuked when they came with their inquiry. It was not so when Peter asked, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" (John 21:21). Some inquiries concerning the future are therefore lawful, others not. How are we to distinguish between them? We may ask concerning things the knowledge of which is necessary to the rational direction of spiritual aims and efforts. God has chosen to make known the general scheme of redemption in its evolution in the world's history. The prophecies of Scripture ought, therefore, to be studied in the light of contemporary events. The teaching of Christ on this occasion was manifestly the germ of the Apocalypse.

II. THIS CURIOSITY IS GRATIFIED BY OUR SAVIOUR FOR MORAL AND SPIRITUAL ENDS. (Vers. 5, 7, 9, 13, 23, 34-37.) The great discipline of the disciples was to take place after their Master's death, and before the general inauguration of his kingdom. The three general directions of Christ are:

(1) Take heed unto yourselves;

(2) beware;

(3) watch. It does not behove us to know time and hour, but to observe the signs antecedent to the judgment of God' (Starke). The Holy Spirit is promised, amid all trials and difficulties, to them who truly believe. The gospel itself was to receive universal proclamation, notwithstanding the perils and evils that were to take place. So that the disciples were assured, whatever might occur in the external life of the world, of ultimate glorious realization of all the spiritual ends of God's kingdom.


1. The catalogue of woe is long, detailed, and specific: spiritual delusions; wars, earthquakes, and famines; persecutions; pollution and destruction of the temple; political and cosmical revolutions.

2. These are all to pass, in their process tempered and modified by Divine mercy and guidance.

3. And they were to result in the advent of the Divine kingdom. The gospel was to be proclaimed and the universal communion of saints to be realized. The political and natural troubles were to be justified by their being made instrumental of moral and spiritual benefits. So in the general experience of Christians all things work together for good.' - M.

I. SACRED LITERATURE, LIKE NATURE, IS FULL OF HINTED TRUTH. "Truths in nature darkly join." So in Scripture. The mystic element in Daniel and Scripture generally was fully recognized by Christ.

II. PRUDENCE IN MEN IS THE REFLECTION OF PROVIDENCE IN GOD. It is the light within us. In unsettled times we must be more than usually on our guard. Keen love of truth will make the mind critical and sceptical of the talk that goes on. Let us not have to say, surprised by calamity, "We might have known this before."

III. THERE IS A METHOD AND A SELECTION IN THE WAYS OF PROVIDENCE. When the observer of physical nature finds a principle of "natural selection," he finds only the visible counterpart of a law in the kingdom of God. God, through all changes, "gathers his chosen" from the end of the land to the end of the sky.

IV. CHANGES IN THE SPIRITUAL KINGDOM ARE NATURAL, AND THOSE THAT ARE NATURAL HAVE A SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE. Changes in plants visibly show forth changes in institutions. Below both is truth, is life. And as Christ is one with life and truth, his words abide. There is a moral conservation of force through all evolutions. - J.

I. IMMEDIATELY PROXIMATE SIGNS. Hitherto we have had the signs, more or less remote, of Christ's coming at the fall of Jerusalem, and so an answer to the second part of the question contained in ver. 4. Here, however, we have the immediately proximate sign, or rather an answer to the first part of the question of that same verse, namely, "When shall these things be?" Along with the sign here intimated, we have instructions about the ways and means of escape. But with respect to the immediately proximate sign or time of the destruction of Jerusalem, we read that it is "the abomination of desolation" foretold by Daniel. The expression is regarded as relating to the Roman army, that brought desolation on the holy city; but whether the actual reference be to the besieging host itself, or to their standards, the eagles, as objects of idolatry, or to the outrages of the Zealots in the sacred courts, is not so certain. The parallel expression in Luke 21:20, "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh," is deemed by some conclusive for the reference being to the Roman armies; most commentators understand the expression of the Roman eagles planted in a holy place, that is, round Jerusalem, first by Cestius Callus A.D. , then by Vespasian two years after, and two years later still by Titus; while a third explanation refers the sign to the atrocities of the Zealots at this time. In this way the sign was twofold - internal and external; the latter consisting of the Roman legions now drawn round the city, the former of the abominations of the Zealots, causing the cup of Jewish iniquity to overflow, and thus directly leading to the desolation that immediately ensued. Two circumstances seem to favor this last view of the matter: the holy place is properly referable to the temple, and the sign of the Roman eagles would be rather indefinite, as they had been seen in Palestine for a considerable period previously. Inward desecration caused by sin in some way issued in outward desolation.

II. PRECAUTIONS SUGGESTED. It is not the duty of Christians more than of non-Christians to rush unnecessarily into peril any more than into temptation; we are not to endanger life and limb recklessly and negligently. Our first duty is self-preservation when no principle is compromised and no matter of spiritual moment is at stake; we are required to use all legitimate means for the preservation of our own lives and the lives of others. Confessors, indeed, have taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods, and martyrs have cheerfully shed their blood, rather than surrender a jot of truth or renounce their allegiance to the Savior; but there are special occasions and particular circumstances when our duty is to escape from, not court, danger. The disciples, when persecuted in one city, were to flee to another. Our Lord himself, passing through the midst of the wicked Nazarenes, went his way, when they had led him to the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, and would have cast him down headlong. And now he gives directions beforehand for his followers not to imperil their lives needlessly and uselessly, when, by signs of which he forewarns them, they should know that the ruin of Jerusalem was imminent and inevitable, and when the wrath of God was about to be poured out on their unbelieving countrymen. The methods of escape were various. Those who found themselves in Judaea were to flee to the mountains. These, with caves and rocky fastnesses, were favourite places of refuge in time of danger in the land of Palestine; thus, Lot was. urgently pressed by the angel to flee to the mountain. "Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed;" David was hunted by Saul as "a partridge in the mountains." Such as were already on the house-top, or could readily reach it by the steps outside, were not to return into the house to carry off with them any article of property, however prized or valuable, but to hasten their flight with all speed along the fiat roofs of the houses till they reached the city walls, and thence make good their escape. Persons engaged in field labor, at which the outer garment (ἱμάτιον) was usually stripped off and laid aside, were not to act so indiscreetly as to run the risk of life itself by returning for the sake of saving an article of raiment probably of no great value.

III. THE THIRD GREAT MORAL LESSON. This, as we have already stated, is prayerfulness. Our Lord, after the particular directions enumerated, bethought himself of other cases to which those directions were inapplicable owing to the inability of the persons concerned to comply with them. With tender females in such circumstances of delicacy as precluded the possibility of flight, and with nursing mothers whose womanly affections forbade the thought of abandoning their offspring - with persons thus unfitted for flight, so encumbered as to retard it except through an impossible sacrifice - our Lord expresses the deepest sympathy and tenderest compassion. If, however, we may trace the sequence of thought in the mind of the Savior as in the human mind in general, the thought of weakness by the law of contrast suggests a power which the weakest can wield and the strongest cannot dispense with, and which in the most untoward circumstances commands success. "And pray ye," says our blessed Lord, "that your flight be not in the winter. "St. Matthew adds," neither on the sabbath day." The same God who has appointed the end has appointed the means that conduce to that end. One great means is prayer. The end and means are connected as links of the same chain. Other means of escape, had been prescribed, and even urged on such as could employ those means; some there would be who, from circumstances already indicated, would be precluded from availing themselves of those means; besides, both these classes must, in the dark outlook into the future, anticipate circumstances over which they could have no possible control, such as the season of the year, or the day of the week when the predicted calamities might suddenly burst over them. What, then, was the course to be pursued? Where means were available, prayer was a leverage which imparted to the means a potency multiplied manifold; where the means were not available, prayer was the only element of power that could be employed; while in both cases there were certain obstacles which human power could not overcome, and certain circumstances with which it was incompetent to grapple. It was only by prayer that difficulties of this sort could be vanquished. The subject-matter of the prayers our Lord graciously condescends to suggest. They were to pray for the avoidance of the winter, when its cold and inclemency would greatly aggravate the general distress, or when its heavy rains, swollen streams, and winter torrents might render flight or escape impossible. They were to pray that they might not be necessitated to infringe the sanctity of the sabbath, on which a lawful journey did not exceed a mile; and when, the city gates being closed, would either shut them in or shut them out, and in either case cut them off from a place of safety; or when they might expose themselves to punishment from the cruelty of fanatics for a breach of the sabbath law. Our Lord suggested to them such topics of supplication, putting desires into their hearts and words on their lips.

IV. GOD'S GOODNESS TO HIS CHOSEN. "For the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days." His elect are his chosen - chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, chosen of God and precious, a chosen generation, called, chosen, and faithful. The privileges of God's people are very many and very great. God avenges his own elect; nothing shall be laid to the charge of God's elect; he will gather them at last from the four winds; while here we learn that those days of direst disasters and unspeakable horrors were shortened for their sake. How great the blessedness of being children of God! The psalmist had affirmed the blessedness of such centuries before; he had affirmed it on the highest authority and for the best of reasons. "Blessed," he said, "is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee, that he may dwell in thy courts By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation."

V. GOD'S PROVIDENTIAL DEALINGS WITH HIS PEOPLE. The dispensations of God's providence prove, while they illustrate, his goodness to his people. In the present instance the Savior warned his followers; this was the first link in the chain of his love. Acting on this warning, they fled; and God, in his mercy, favored their flight and facilitated it. In answer to the petitions previously taught them and presented, we may be sure, by them, their flight was not in winter, or at least needed not to be so, for the siege commenced in the October of ; the final siege began in the April or May of the year of our Lord 70. Thus they had the opportunity of flight before or at the beginning of the siege, and consequently before the rigours of winter had set in; or, if perchance any delayed their flight and lingered on till near the concluding catastrophe, they in like manner avoided the winter. The consequence was that the Christian Jews effected their escape to Pella, now Tabathat Fakkil, near the northern border of Peraea, among the hills of Gilead, on the other side of Jordan, and a hundred miles from the besieged city. The merciful dealings of Divine providence were also manifested by the curtailment (ἐκολόβωσε) of the period of distress. In the midst of wrath he remembered mercy, and for his elect's sake he so overruled matters that the siege was brought to a speedy termination. So terrible was the time that, in the words of the evangelist, "except the Lord had shortened the days, no flesh would have been saved." The Scripture statement is fully confirmed by the historical details of Josephus, who makes it abundantly evident that the wretchedness of men and the wickedness of men had then culminated. Unprecedented before, they have remained without parallel since. It was Passover time, and multitudes thronged the city. What from this state of matters inside the city and the siege outside, famine ensued; its usual attendant, pestilence, followed. Men and women seemed to have divested themselves of the instincts of humanity; nameless barbarities were perpetrated. The city was torn by sedition within - three factions being in constant conflict with each other; war raged without, hundreds of Jewish prisoners being crucified in sight of their friends. More than a million Jews perished in the siege, and ninety-seven thousand were taken captive - some of them sold into slavery, some sent to Egyptian mines, and others reserved for the gladiatorial games. "Those days shall be affliction," according to the correct rendering; and never was prediction fulfilled with more terrible literality. But two circumstances, under Providence, abridged this reign of terrors: one was the terrible energy of the besieger, who pressed the siege and at last stormed the city; and the other was the fearful infatuation of the besieged. The city, which had withstood Nebuchadnezzar more than a year and a quarter, fell before the power of the Roman general in less than five months. Had things continued much longer, Judaea itself would have been desolated, and its inhabitants, including, no doubt, many sincere Christians, would have perished. But God, for his people's sake, shortened those days of shocking suffering and unspeakable sadness. The Savior again, and for the third time, repeats his exhortation to heedfulness against those who at such a crisis deceived, either consciously or unconsciously, themselves, and who should deceive others by holding forth hopes of deliverance by the coming of the Christ. - J.J.G.

I. THE GREATNESS OF THE EVENT. Whether our Lord's coming shall be pro-millennial or post-millennial we stay not to inquire. The great importance attaches to the fact of the second coming of the Son of man, which this section describes and which all Christians believe. The future coming of the Son of man naturally leads us back in thought to his first coming. The world had waited long for that blessed day. Patriarchs had looked forward to it, but it was in faith; prophets saw it, but it was in vision; saints sighed for its approach, but it was still a great way off - they hoped for its arrival, but they died before the promise was fulfilled; servants of God longed for its coming, and when it at length arrived they felt so satisfied that there seemed nothing further for them to desire - the language of Simeon expressed their thoughts, "Now, Lord, lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Angels celebrated it on the plains of Bethlehem, and sang in heavenly carol, "Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and good will to men." The people of God look forward with equal longing and equal eagerness to the day of Christ's second coming. They look and long for it as the period of complete redemption; they expect it as the time of home-gathering of all their brethren in the Lord; in anticipation of that great deliverance and of that blessed reunion they cry, "Even so, Lord Jesus, come quickly."

II. THE GLORY OF HIS COMING. He will come, we are taught to believe, personally, visibly, and gloriously. He will come "in the clouds. The clouds of heaven serve many important purposes; they screen from the heat of the sun by day, and moderate the radiation of the earth by night. Sometimes they supply from their contents moisture to plants, and bring gladness to the thirsty ground; sometimes they pour down the water that originates springs or swells rivers; sometimes they cover with snow the polar regions. Those cloud-masses, as they float in the atmosphere, now approach within a mile of the earth, again ascend to the distance of five or six miles above its surface. Sometimes they curl in thin, parallel, silvery streaks; sometimes they form dense conical or convex heaps; sometimes, at the approach of night, they spread out in wide low-lying horizontal sheets; sometimes, fraught with storm, they move like a dark canopy overhead; again they unite and form various combinations. At all times they claim our attention, and commend themselves to our admiration by their fantastic forms, their changing colors, their varying density, and their strange combinations. The views of a kaleidoscope are nothing compared with the manifold aspects of the clouds. The clouds of heaven, then, are objects of great beauty, grandeur, and glory. The ancient heathens had a just appreciation of the magnificence of the clouds, and accordingly associated them with their highest conceptions of majesty. They represented their deities as clothed with clouds, or seated on clouds, or surrounded with clouds, as if to hide from mortal gaze their excessive splendor. In Scripture, also, the true God is represented as making the clouds his chariot, and walking upon the wings of the wind; and, again, we read that his pavilion round about him were dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies." When Isaiah predicts the destruction of Egypt and the confusion of its idols from the hand of the Lord, he uses the sublime representation, "Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt." Daniel employs similar language in relation to the Son of man: "Behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him." The representation before us here is in accordance also with our Lord's reply, when, in answer to his question about his Messiahship, he directed their attention from the humility of his first to the honor of his second coming, saying, "Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." So also, when he was going to part from his disciples, when he was going to leave our world, when his feet last stood on Olivet, when he was about to ascend to his Father and our Father, to his God and our God, the cloud became his vehicle, and coming under him received (ὑπέλαβεν) him out of the disciples' sight; and in that car of cloud he rose onward, and mounted upward to the right hand of the Father everlasting. Thence he shall come again with glorious majesty, according to the promise, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." Further, in the Apocalypse, the Apostle John's representation of Christ's coming with clouds is designed and calculated to signify the grandeur and the glory, the solemnity and the sublimity of his second advent: "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."

III. THE GLORY AND POWER WITH WHICH HE COMES. Every manifestation of glory shall attend him; every symbol of unspeakable splendor shall accompany him; every token of dignity shall signalize him; every adjunct of might and magnificence shall mark his advent. The Son of man shall come with great power and glory; all the holy angels shall swell his train. The dead in Christ shall rise first, and swell that assemblage; they that are still alive, and remain till that dread day, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Can anything be grander than this? Can anything be more august? Can anything be more solemn? Can anything be more awe-inspiring? Is there anything more calculated to overwhelm with consternation the wicked? Is there anything more fitted to create deep and universal alarm among the ungodly? What, on the other hand, can be more inspiriting to the believer? What more encouraging and comforting to the child of God? What more suitable to nerve to high effort and holy purpose than the prospect of being presented faultless in that day, and amid that assembly, and before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy?

"A hope so great and so Divine
May trials well endure,
And purge the soul from sense and sin,
As Christ himself is pure."

IV. THE OBJECT or his coming. We may now reflect for a moment on the great purposes for which Christ shall come the second time. At first he came in weakness, but at his next coming he will take to him his great power and reign. At first he came in dishonor, born in a stable, cradled in a manger, being "despised and rejected of men;" but then he shall come in dignity, and so that "every eye shall see him," every tongue confess him, and every knee bow before him. At first he came in a servile, suffering state; but then in awful majesty and glory everlasting - in his own glory, and in the glory of his Father. At first he came to call sinners to repentance; but then to summon each to his reward, be it recompense or retribution, and "to give every man according as his work shall be." It is true that the coming of the Son of man described in the verses immediately before us has for its specific object the grand assemblage of his saints to meet him; the accessories of the resurrection, the transformation of the living, and the general judgment are left out of sight. From the tribulation connected with the fall of Jerusalem the Savior had looked far forward into other days, when great changes, whether literal and cosmical, or figurative and political, shall precede and serve as precursors of the second coming of the Son of man. If the language is understood figuratively, the darkening of the sun may denote the eclipse of ecclesiastical authority; that of the moon, the collapse of civil polity; while the stars or potentates shall be falling or waning (the form of the future made up of substantive verb and participle, implying a more durable effect than the simple future). In the parable of the fig tree, however, he reverts to the precursors of the dissolution of the jewish state and the destruction of its capital; and affirms that, as the tender leaf-buds of the fig tree signified the near approach of harvest-time (θέρος), so the signs already specified in an early part of this chapter indicated the fast-approaching destruction of the sanctuary and city of Jerusalem. If, then, the statement of ver. 30, "that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done," be referred to the end of the Jewish state, the word γενεὰ retains its ordinary sense of generation or contemporary race, which some insist on. If, on the other hand, the end of the age or world be referred to, whether the coming of the Son of man be for the purpose of ushering in the millennium, that is, pre-millennial, or for the final winding up of all things, the word γενεὰ must be understood as equivalent γένος, race, that is, the people or nation of the Jews, or, according to some, the race of men in general, more especially the generation of the faithful.

V. THE DIFFERENT FEELINGS WITH WHICH HIS COMING IS REGARDED, The visit of some distinguished person to our neighborhood or to our habitation may, according to circumstances, awaken emotions of a very different or even diverse character. Our feelings in view of the expected visit will be either pleasant or painful, according to the character of the visitor or the object of his coming. If he comes as a friend to further our interests, to favor our fondly cherished hopes, and to confer on us certain benefits, we naturally hail his coming with delight and rejoice at the prospect of his speedy advent. If, on the contrary, we have reason to believe that his intentions are hostile, that he means to oppose our plans, that he has some unpleasant measure to enforce or some punishment to inflict, we just as naturally dread his arrival and recoil from his approach. With similarly opposite views and feelings, saints and sinners, believers and unbelievers, look forward to the coming of him to whom this passage refers. - J.J.G.

I. THE WHOLE SOCIAL, POLITICAL, AND NATURAL CONSTITUTION OF THINGS WAS INFLUENCED BY, AND MADE SUBSERVIENT TO, ITS ACCOMPLISHMENT. Compare the history of the world from the death of Christ to A.D. . A period of destruction, calamity, and revolution. Judaism deposed from its spiritual leadership, robbed of its prestige, discredited, stunted, and stultified by the very circumstance which awakened and intensified the spirit of Christianity, and (in the Roman empire) led to its world-wide diffusion. The suffering, uncertainty, and newly discovered solidarity of the race tended to prepare mankind for a more spiritual and universal religion. Through the Spirit of Christ the Jewish Christians conquered their conquerors and overcame the world. Witness the testimony of Tertullian as to the number of Christians in the Roman empire in his time.

II. THIS WAS FORETOLD BY JESUS CHRIST. It was a marvellous insight and foresight which could look through such a series of evils and destructions to the ultimate success of his kingdom. And it had not a little to do with the bringing about of the effect anticipated. The period can only be adequately explained from the standpoint of universal history or the philosophy of history, as one of spiritual evolution conditioned and determined by the peculiar doctrines Of Christianity.

III. THE VERIFICATION WAS COMPRISED WITHIN THE LIMITS OF INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE. "This generation shall not pass away, until all these things be accomplished. If the destruction of Jerusalem be the terminal point of the various series of events foretold in this chapter, then this generation "must be literally understood as referring to the persons alive at the time Christ spoke. And, allowing for poetic hyperbole (as in the figurative expressions, "heaven and earth," "sun," "moon," and "stars, "earth- quakes," etc.) and the general style of prophetic imagery, the careful student must believe that in the destruction of Jerusalem the great, imminent coming of the Son of man was actually effected, as history proves that circumstances that might fittingly be described by the words of Christ took place and in the order he announced. - M.

I. A PREDICTION OF IT. The date of these utterances and their authorship beyond all reasonable question. A daring forecast, identifying the fortunes of Christianity with vast cosmical movements. Insight such as this more than human; dependent upon perception of unseen principles and absolute faith in God. The immediate effect of the changes predicted is acknowledged to be adverse to the outward circumstances of his followers; yet inwardly and ultimately the result is regarded as beyond question, and declared with unfaltering authority. This predictive element in the gospel not accidental, but essential; its entire credibility as a word of God to man being made to depend upon its fulfillment as a prophecy.

II. A SUSTAINING PRINCIPLE THROUGH IT. The faith of Christians is fostered:

1. By the fact that all things were foretold: "I have told you all things beforehand."

2. By their intelligent. perception of the. signs, the method, and the outline of God's working.

3. By their experience of special Divine grace -

(1) in guidance and indwelling of the Holy Ghost;

(2) in experience or' special Divine favors, e.g. the shortening of the days of tribulation; and

(3) in the inward spiritual comfort and edification of the precepts and promises of the gospel.

III. A CAUSE OF IT. As representing the eternal moral principles which underlie and determine the historic evolution of the race. An exciting cause of the hatred to Divine things which was the motive of so much that was done. A directive influence in shaping the destinies of the new institutions and movements which were evolved from the chaos of the old world.

IV. A SURVIVAL FROM IT. Not one has passed away. The great doctrines of Christendom have slowly but surely formulated themselves in sympathetic relation to the experience and progress with which they have been associated. As a system of truth, they can be more comprehensively grasped now than at any previous time. The fulfillment of its predictions did not exhaust the moral fullness and depth of Christian truth, or its applicability to the extant problems of future ages. The gospel is thus seen to be, not only for a time, but for all time, the central principle of progress and destiny for the human race. - M.

I. TO WHAT IT RELATES. "That day or that hour." Proximately and very evidently these words refer to the precise date of the inauguration of Christ's kingdom, through the destruction of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), about forty years subsequent to their utterance. Through that period it was possible for any of those addressed to continue alive, and consequently they were all admonished with respect to it. But, secondarily, the absolute, final coming of the Son of man is referred to adumbratively, and so also all intermediate advents connective of these two terms of the progress of his coming. That the attention of the hearers was specially or particularly addressed to this secondary coming does not appear. There were other words which more clearly indicated it.

II. WHOM IT AFFECTED. That it should affect believers could be understood, although at first to them it must have been an occasion of perplexity; that angels should not know might be explicable on the ground that it was an earthly evolution of events, and that although in a state of blessedness and spiritual illumination their nature is finite; but that the "Son" should be ignorant is a great mystery. Yet there are considerations which throw some light even upon this. "The Father's absolute omniscience, and his consequent absolute prescience, is assumed by the Savior, even although the object of the prescience is chronologically conditional on millions of intervening free acts on the part of millions of free agents. When absolute prescience, however, is denied by the Son on the part of himself, he is, of course, referring to himself as Son, begotten on a certain day (Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33) in the Virgin's womb (Luke 1:35). He is, in other words, referring to himself, as he was self-realized in his finite nature, to be for ever distinguished from that infinite essence in which he made the worlds (John 1:3), sustains them (Colossians 1:17), sees the end from the beginning (John 6:64), and 'knows all things' (John 21:17) It is only when we proceed on a 'monophysist' hypothesis, and assume that our Savior's divinity was his only mind, and the soul of his humanity, that overwhelming difficulty is encountered" (Morison). Apart from this, although intimately connected with it, there were moral reasons for Christ's remaining ignorant. As "Christ's not knowing rests upon his knowing rightly (in a natural manner), or upon the holy extension of his range of vision (Lange), it follows that this ignorance, referring to a subject of such transcendent consequence in relation to his own work amongst men, must have formed an important element and condition of his moral and spiritual subjection to the Father. He rose through weakness, limitation of knowledge of Divine counsels (although not of Divine principles), and finitude of nature, to the full comprehension of the mind of God, and realization of the perfection of the Divine-human personality, beyond the cross. To the spiritual and perfect Christ, therefore, belongs all power; for he was made perfect through suffering and subjection. His obedience was perfect, and his gradual moral development in act and consciousness because of this limitation of knowledge.

III. HOW IT IS TO BE REGARDED BY BELIEVERS. The parabolic form of Christ's teaching here is very beautiful and striking. Vers. 34, 35 should be translated thus: "As a man away from home, having (or, who has) left his house, and given the authority to his servants, and to each his work, also commanded the porter to watch - 'Watch, therefore' (i.e. so say I, 'Watch,' etc.), ' for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh,'" etc.

(1) With watchfulnsss; that is, sleepless vigilance, which comprehends and leads to

(2) prayer and

(3) diligence. And these duties are of universal obligation (ver. 37). - M.

I. AN ELEMENT OF UNCERTAINTY MINGLES WITH ALL THAT IS MOST CERTAIN. We know that certain things must happen, certain forces exert themselves, certain laws be executed in the course of things. But where, when, how? "The rest is silence." And this is spiritually profitable. Imagination and faith live and thrive in the clear-obscure of thought.

II. THERE WERE THINGS UNKNOWABLE EVEN TO JESUS. It is but a small portion of truth that can be rendered into definite conceptions and expressed in words. "Truth in closest words must fail." But Jesus "received from the Father all desirable knowledge" (Godwin).

III. THE MOOD AND HABIT OF MIND IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DEFINITE KNOWLEDGE. Living is better than any theory of life. Being ready for any emergency is better than being certain about when this or that emergency will arise. "We should be ready every day for what may come any day."

IV. A BRIGHT AND QUICK INTELLIGENCE. IS ABOVE ALL NECESSARY FOR THE CONDUCT OF LIFE. We must not dare to "fall behind the times." We must be punctual. It was said of one that he was always "a day too late." Sleepy men and institutions will certainly be shocked out of their lethargy. Christ's warning has been unheeded. Ecclesiastical Christianity has always been a day too late; has risen later than science, than business energy, than private zeal. We lean on one another too much. It is as if each sentinel should go to sleep, trusting to the vigilance of his comrade. Every Christian worker and watcher should act as if the fate of the host depended on him alone. - J.

I. TRANSITION FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM TO THE DAY OF JUDGMENT. Again our Lord passes from the typical event to the anti-typical consummation of all things - from the destruction of the holy city to the dissolution of things visible. The limitation of our Lord's knowledge with respect to "that day and that hour" must be understood of his human nature as the Son of man, in which he was subject to such other sinless conditions of humanity as increasing in wisdom, growing in stature, feeling hunger, thirst, lassitude, and the like; or it did not come within the sphere of his prophetic office to reveal it, as it belonged to "the times or the seasons which the Father hath set within his own authority." Our Lord, according to Meyer, knew this κατὰ κτῆσιν, i.e. with respect to possession, of which, however, in his humiliation he had divested himself; not κατὰ χρῆσιν, in regard to use, viz. for revelation.

II. THE GREAT EVENTS CONSEQUENT ON HIS COMING. One of these events shall be the resurrection of the dead. "Now," says the apostle, "is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept;" but then shall be this world's great harvest-day. Then shall a shout be heard, so loud, so piercing, that it will reach the dull, cold ear of death; the voice of the archangel shall re-echo through the dismal recesses of the tomb, and call to life the buried dead; the trump of God shall resound through the caverns of earth and the caves of ocean, till earth and sea shall give up the dead that are in them. Then shall be fulfilled the saying of our Lord elsewhere recorded, that "the hour is coming, in the which all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and come forth; they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." Further, on his coming at the day or hour here spoken of, the Son of man shall judge the world in righteousness. The dead, small and great, shall stand before him; the judgment shall be set, and the books opened. All nations, and kindreds, and tongues, and peoples shall be assembled at that bar of God; "we must all appear before that judgment-seat of Christ, to give an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or evil." The decisions of that day shall be final, allowing no alteration, no appeal, and no reversal. Not only so; based on the unvarying principles of justice and equity, righteousness and truth, they shall commend themselves to the consciences of all concerned. The condemned and justified alike shall acquiesce in them; sinners shall assent to them as just; saints shall approve of them as gracious; angels shall applaud them as worthy of the Judge; and all intelligences shall acknowledge them to be as impartial as irreversible.

III. THE FOURTH PRACTICAL DIRECTION. The fourth great moral lesson of the chapter is watchfulness. This lesson our Lord insists on, repeating it with great earnestness, and conjoining with it the duty of prayerfulness: "Take ye heed, watch and pray;" "Watch ye therefore;" and again, "Watch:" The two duties of watchfulness and prayerfulness are frequently associated; thus, "Watch and pray, lest ye enter into temptation." Both together represent Divine and human strength in co-operation with each other. If we watch without prayer, we depend on human strength, and dispense with Divine aid; if we pray without watching, we depend on Divine strength alone, and despise the human means of help which God himself has commanded us to employ. They are the two strong arms of defense against the evil one; and we may not, we cannot, without serious dereliction of duty and gravest danger, part with either of them. This duty of watchfulness is enforced by a beautiful parabolic illustration; though it is not a formal parable, as the words supplied in the Common Version make it. Those words, "For the Son of man is," should be struck out; equally unnatural is it to supply the words, "The kingdom of heaven is;" neither is Kuinoel's mode of supplying the ellipsis by ποιῶ any better; while Euthymius, who seems to refer the words to Christ and to understand the future of the substantive verb, as though it were, "I shall be as a man setting out on a far journey," is even less satisfactory. In addition to this, απόδημος, said of one "already abroad, or an absentee from his people," is confounded with ἀποδημῶν, which signifies "going abroad." Fritzsche rightly explains as follows: - "Res ita habet ut - die Sache verhalt sich so wie," and compares therewith the Horatian use of ut si in the words, "Ut tibi si sit opus liquidi non amplius urna." So also the Revised Version, correcting both the errors of the Common Version, renders correctly: "It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch." This translation helps us much in the right understanding of the illustration. The man is already abroad; but before he went abroad, he, as a matter of course, left his house, having previously to leaving given authority to his servants in general to manage matters for him in his absence, and having appointed to each in particular his special work; and when on the threshold, as it were, he gave a charge to the porter also to watch, and so be prepared for his return.

IV. REASONS FOR THE WATCHFULNESS ENJOINED. Though there is no express application of the illustration, a circumstance which adds much to the ease and grace of the narrative, we are at no loss for, and find no difficulty in making, that application. The Master of the house is our Lord; his disciples, in the first place, are the domestics whom he entrusted with the management of the household when he himself took his departure to the goodly land afar off, appointing each believer his own sphere of labor and the special duty he was bound to perform, and leaving a strict charge of watchfulness with the porter who kept the door; that is, either the ministry in general, who are watchmen on the walls of Zion, or Peter in particular, to whom had been entrusted the power of the keys in opening the door of faith to Jew and Gentile. Nor do we thereby concede anything to the Romanist in reference to Peter's supremacy - a rank which the apostle himself never claimed. Be this as it may, however, the duty of watchfulness is enjoined on all,

(1) because the time of the Master's coming back is unknown. We know neither the day nor the hour of our Lord's return. No fellow-creature can tell us; no minister nor man can inform us; no angel can give us any intimation; no messenger from either world can bring us word. "Of that day and of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of God." Now, though the coming of the Son of man is not to be confounded with death - for the two events are quite distinct - yet for all practical purposes, and as far as our personal interests are concerned, death is the coming of the Son of man to us individually; for whether he come to us or he call us to him, it is virtually the same thing for us, as then our destiny is finally and for ever fixed. We are urged to watchfulness

(2) because this event, which, though not the coming of the Son of man to the Church in its universality, is tantamount to his coming to the Christian in his individuality, is uncertain as to time. This great event may be near at hand while we least expect it. This day may be our last, on earth, and our first in the spirit-world; on this very night the soul may be required. This very day our lamp may lose its oil and go out in darkness; this very day our tabernacle may totter and tumble into dust; this very day our wondrous harp, with its thousand strings, may go out of tune and lose its melody. "What is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." What is your lease of life? It is the breath in your nostrils, and at any moment that breath may be withdrawn. In any case -

"Determined are the days that fly
Successive o'er thy head;
The number'd hour is on the wing
That lays thee with the dead." Further, watchfulness is indispensable, because

(3) at his coming he will deal with us separately and singly. We shall be assembled in the aggregate, but dealt with in detail. The great fact is as prominently stated, as it is positively sure, that we must each stand in his lot at the end of the days. You, reader, and I and all must soon give an account of our stewardship - must soon be reckoned with for the talents, whether ten, or five, or one, that God gave us; whether we have buried them in the earth, or brought them forth employed, improved, and augmented; whether we have wasted our Lord's goods, or used them in his service and for his glory; whether we have occupied till the time of his coming, or loitered out our day of life. We are required to be watchful, for

(4) in the last great day each and all - the one and the many - shall stand face to face with the Judge of all the earth. If we pause and ponder the vastness of that crowd, we are almost overwhelmed by the thought. Let us think of all the people of a single nation being brought together; what a crowd they would make! Let us think of all the subjects of a great empire being assembled at one place and at one time; what an assembly that would be I Let us then think of all the inhabitants of one of the quarters of the globe being congregated; what an immense mass-meeting would be thus formed! Yet the thought of the great congregation at the coming of the Son of man far outgoes all that. The assemblage which it implies, and which shall one day take place, shall consist, not only of the inhabitants of a province, or a nation, or an empire, or even a quarter of the globe, but shall comprehend the inhabitants of all provinces, nations, empires, and quarters of the globe, down along the ages and throughout all the centuries of time. And yet not one in all that crowd shall be hidden from the eye of him that cometh in that day; not one shall be able to evade his presence, not one escape his sentence, not one shall be so remote as to be unable to catch a glance of him, not one on whom his eye shall not rest. "Every eye shall see him!" - the eye that contemplated his goodness and his grace; the eye that "beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;" the eye that looked and longed for his appearing; the eye, on the contrary, that looked only on the objects of sense and sin, the pomps and vanities of the world, and the follies of life; the eye that never gazed upon the cross, or never cast more than a passing glance thereat, and then turned away in coldness or carelessness, or perhaps contempt; the eye of friend and follower; the eye of foe and false professor. Oh, what a sight to the unpardoned sinner, to the godless transgressor, to the swearer, to the sabbath-breaker, to the slanderer, to the adulterer, to the murderer, to the drunkard, to the liar, to the lewd and licentious, to the unholy and the unjust, to the impure and impenitent! Gladly would the wicked shut their eyes on that sight; gladly would they sink into the bowels of the earth or the depths of ocean to escape the glance of that searching eye! Earnestly will they pray, who never prayed before, for the mountains and rocks to fall on them and hide them from the face of the Judge. But no, that cannot be; for it is added in another Scripture, "They also that pierced him." We all, whether ministers or members of the Church of Christ, are bound to watchfulness - "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch!" - and that lest

(5) we should be found among those that pierced him. This refers to his actual murderers in the first instance - the Jews that condemned him, the Romans that crucified him, the scribes and Pharisees that plotted against him, the priests and people that persecuted him, the passers-by that wagged the head, the men that scoffed him, and those that scourged him, and they that spat upon him; the fierce mob that cried, "Away with him! away with him!" the judge that condemned him, the disciple that betrayed him - all that imbrued their hands in his precious blood or had aught to do with his death. But we may not stop here. Others have pierced him, too; for we read of those who "crucify Christ afresh, and put him to an open shame." Ah! is there any of ourselves included in that number? Is there any of us who have pierced his heart by our sin, by our disobedience, by our ingratitude, by our backsliding, by our coldness, and by our carelessness? Ah! is there none of us to whom he can say, "See, here are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends"? "Watch ye therefore!" is repeated once and again and a third time. While one of the terms used signifies to keep awake and remain sleepless, the other means to awake or arouse from sleepiness; and thus the sense seems to be, if the distinction is admitted, to guard against sleep overtaking us at the post of duty; or, if unhappily we have been overtaken by drowsiness, to rouse ourselves at once from our slumber and repent of our sinful somnolence. And all the more as we are left in such entire uncertainty and ignorance of the hour when the Master shall come and reckon with us in our individual capacity, and, if we are found culpable, condemn us with the wicked. That hour may be at any of the four watches of the night - nine o'clock, or twelve, or three, or six in the morning. So important is this lesson that our Lord, in St. Matthew's Gospel, enforces it by two parables - that of the virgins and that of the talents; the former inculcating watchfulness over the spirit, and probably implied in ver. 36 of the present chapter; the latter quickening faithfulness in duty, and seemingly epitomized in the two preceding verses of this same chapter.


1. The truth of Scripture. Besides the lessons already noticed, there are others to which we can only advert. The lessons scattered through this chapter are like flowers in a summer field. Another of these is the truth of Scripture. "Heaven and earth shall pass away." The frame of nature, stable as it now seems, has in it the elements of change. There are changes in the geological strata of the earth beneath us, in the sky above us, in the natural world around us. Great changes have already taken place in earth and sea and sky; great physical changes are daily going on; still greater changes may be expected to occur in time to come. The surest inductions of science point to such changes and collapses. "But my words," said our Lord, "shall not pass away." His words have passed into the spiritual fibre of his people, living in their lives, exhibited in their conduct, illustrated by their character, and consoling them in the hour of dissolution. Statesmen have been guided by them, lawgivers have framed laws by them, philosophers have made more use of them in building up their systems than they have been willing to acknowledge to others, or have even been conscious of, themselves. The words of Christ have for eighteen hundred years or more blended with the inspirations of the poet; they have almost moved in the marble of the statuary, and spoken from the canvas of the painter. Time has not exhausted their fullness; no taint has touched their freshness, nor has aught of their fragrance decayed. Further, the inspiration of Scripture is safely inferred from the statement in ver. 11, "It is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost," compared with St. Luke's parallel statement, "I will give you a mouth," the expression," and wisdom," the matter to be expressed.

2. The publication of the gospel among all nations. The gospel must first be published. Here was the great end to be attained. We have seen how this was virtually accomplished before the fall of Jerusalem; but the world has widened its boundaries since then. Continents and islands have been added to it; navigation and travel have enlarged geography, and geography has added to the dimensions of the globe, or at least has revealed those before unknown. And still the gospel is preached, and shall be.

"Jesus shall reign where'er the sun
Doth his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more."

3. Watchfulness the lesson of the ages. Scenes similar to those that preceded Christ's coming at the fall of Jerusalem may be repeated, and repeated over a wider area and on a grander scale. Then, as before, there may be wars - some actual, others rumoured - great international conflicts, and fatal internecine strife; then, as before, there may be physical catastrophes, providential visitations, as the travail-throes of greater events - the travail-pangs in the genesis of the new order of things; then, as before, there may be persecutions, prolonged and repeated, and the severance of the nearest ties of kinship, with universal hatred for the Savior's sake. Yet, through all, men must possess their souls in patience, or rather, according to the correcter reading, gain their souls, their real life, by patience - patient endurance, not violent resistance. Men may be worn with watching, pining for peace, and aweary for rest; still the same lesson has to be repeated, the same duty practiced: "What I say unto you I say unto all, Watch!" Watchfulness is still the duty of the Church and of the Christian.

"Yet saints their watch are keeping;
Their cry goes up, 'How long?'
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song." J.J.G.

The circumstances under which these words were uttered imparted to them peculiar solemnity. Our Lord had left the temple for the last time, and in the waning light was walking home to Bethany, when he sat himself down to gaze with lingering love on Jerusalem. The evening sun was still glorifying her palaces; but the light was fading, darkness was coming; and he talked with his disciples of darker shadows about to fall, which would leave her bereft of the light of God. But he looked beyond that - to the time when he would return from the "far country," and, gathering his servants around him, would give each one recompense according as his work should be. During his absence he has given "to every man his work." This clause suggests several thoughts concerning Christian service.

I. THE UNIVERSALITY OF CHRISTIAN SERVICE. It is appointed for "every man" who is in the Lord's household. God works in us in order that we may will and do of his good pleasure. He gives us love to others, and understanding of his Word, an experience of his faithfulness, mental and spiritual faculties, in order to fit us for serving him. Science teaches us that natural agents are so closely related that they are mutually convertible. Motion passes into heat, heat into electricity, electricity into magnetism, magnetism into animal force, and so on in an endless circle. In the sphere of nature God arouses no force which does not arouse another; and though the primal energy passes on into many manifestations, it does not return to him void. So is it in the spiritual realm. He excites in your heart love to Christ, and that arouses thought about him, speech concerning him, activity for him; and these go forth like advancing waves of influence into the lives of others, and none can foresee the end. The Church is not meant to be like the phantom ship of which the poet sings, manned by a dead crew; but is likened to a living "household," in which all the servants are eager, watchful, and diligent; for their Lord has,given "to every man his work." (Show the variety of capacities distributed amongst the old and young, the rich and poor, and the diverse forms of Christian service to which these point.)


1. Earnestness. Too often this is fitful. It passes from us uselessly when in contact with the worldly, just as electricity passes off when insulation has been neglected. We want insulation of spiritual force. A modern Christian, surrounded by symbols of idolatry, would not always have "his spirit stirred" within him as Paul did at Athens. The present age is enlightened rather than enthusiastic; self-complacent rather than self-sacrificing.

2. Love to Christ and love to souls is the true inspiration of successful Christian service. It is gained at the foot of the cross.

"A life of self-renouncing love
Is a life of liberty."

3. Constancy. Such as Paul had, who, amid temptations to indolence, and amid persecutions which might have made him falter, pressed forward steadfastly. "This thing I do" was the motto of his life. Is it ours?

4. Watchfulness. A special exhortation to this lies in the passage before us. Let us watch

(1) for opportunities of service,

(2) for results of work, and

(3) for the coming of the Lord.


1. There is blessing to be found in doing it. On the inactive mind and irresolute will doubts will gather, as limpets do on a motionless rock. Powers fairly exercised, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual, develop by use.

2. There is blessing awaiting us when we have done it. It was not without reason that our Lord spoke (ver. 28) of the signs of his coming as being like the indications that "summer is nigh." His advent will be to his people not a winter, but a summer, from which gloom and death will be banished, and in which there will be fruit-gathering after toil, and manifestation of beauty and glory arising from the discipline of the past. That summer the faithful! The world is ripening for it. Our work is preparing for it. Then shall the faithful reap fruit unto life eternal. - A.R.

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