1 Corinthians 15:55
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
Sermons
The Exposition and Defence of the ResurrectionJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 15:1-58
Concluding Argument and ExhortationC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 15:51-58
Death is ContemplatedJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Death Swallowed UpJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Death Swallowed Up in VictoryJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Death Swallowed Up in VictoryT. De Witt Talmage, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Mortality and ImmortalityW. Stevenson.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Believer's TriumphJ. Parsons.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Celestial Body of a Christian After the ResurrectionAbp. Tenison.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Christian's Triumph Over DeathJ. Orton.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Great ChangeJ. Cochrane, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Mind Exchanging the Mortal for the ImmortalD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Mortal ImmortalisedC. Wadsworth.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Triumph Over DeathC. Hedge, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
Victory Over DeathJ. Boyd.1 Corinthians 15:53-57
The Victory of ImmortalityJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Victory on the Last BattlefieldE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Death's Sting and StrengthR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
Certain RewardReuen Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Christian ActivityJ. Angell James.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Christian Work a Safeguard1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Constancy and PerseveranceJ. Evans, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
DeathJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
DeathJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Death and FearLittle's Historical Lights.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Death and the GraveA. J. Macleane, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Death and VictoryA. Gray.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Death in IdeaD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Fear of Death: its Causes and RemediesJohn Budgen, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Labour and Reward of a ChristianW. Gurnall.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Motives for SteadfastnessC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
No Fear of Death1 Corinthians 15:55-58
No Sting in DeathJ. Vaughan, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
On Steadfastness in the Profession and Practice of ReligionG. Goldie.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Our VictoryBp. Perowne.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Steadfastness in ReligionD. Dickson, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Steadfastness, Work, and HopeCanon Miller.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Sting of DeathLife of Simeon.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Believer's VictoryJ. Kello.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Christian's Triumph in Conflict1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Conquest of DeathJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Joy of Working for God1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Last Triumphant ConflictJ. Lyth, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Law is the Strength of SinProf. Shedd.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Lord's Workers Should be Unremitting1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Sting of DeathJ. Canghey.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Sting of Death ExtractedD. L. Moody.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Sting of Death is SinC. Hodges, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Sting of Death is SinE. Hopkins, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Strength of Sin is the LawC. Hodge, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Strength of Sin is the LawT. Manton, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Triumphant ChristianJas Hay, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The VictoryW. Jay.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Work of the LordC. Garrett.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Work of the LordCanon Miller.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
The Work of WorksD. Thomas, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Thoughts on the Last BattleC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Unmoveably SteadfastJ. P. Chown.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over DeathR. Wardlaw, D.D.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over DeathJ. Benson.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over DeathF. W. Robertson, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over Death and the GraveG. W. Bethune.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over Death and the GraveD. Moore, M.A.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Over Sin, Death, and the GraveR. Watson.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Victory Through ChristT. Heath.1 Corinthians 15:55-58
Death, as being the worst, is regarded as the representative of all human woes. Give the common and familiar sentiments about death, its sadness, its bitterness, its hopelessness, its terrible forms, its lasting separations, which prevail amongst men and even among Christians. And yet, what is death, but the soul putting aside on the shelf the tool which it has long used, but now has done with, because its work is finished? Still, philosophize as we may; get up on a high Christian platform as we ought; win the keen spiritual insight if we will; the fact remains that death has its sting, and we all feel it and live in the fear of it.

I. WHAT IS THIS STING? It is the conscience of sin; the fear of our just deserts; the conviction that due avengements of wrong doing must come in the life beyond.

II. WHAT IS THE STRENGTH OF THIS STING? It is the revealed Law of God, which, we are sure, has its sanctions. It must take cognizance of our sin. Its punishments cannot have earthly limitations. Show that the redemption in Christ Jesus plucks death's sting away, because it quiets and satisfies the Law, and forgives and removes the sin. - R.T.







O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
There are two aspects in which this language might be regarded.

1. As the sentiment of the redeemed after the resurrection. Literally, then, death will have lost its sting, and the grave its victory.

2. As the expression of an exultant sentiment which the apostle felt even now, and which may be enjoyed by all true Christians. This is the view that we now adopt. Death was to the apostle, as yet, an idea, and it is worthy of our notice that death affects us, while living, only in idea. It is a friend or foe — victim or victor — according to our mental conception. If our ideas be gloomy, it will cloud the sunshine of life; but if bright, we shall spend our days in cheerful usefulness, and view the grave as a lumined pathway to an immortal future. The passage suggests —

I. THE POPULAR IDEA. It is implied that the bulk of men viewed not death as the writer did. The popular idea —

1. Has a "sting." The allusion is to some venomous serpent, having not merely mortality, but agony, in his sting. There is no idea that stings an ungodly man like that of death.

2. A "victory." It not only stings like a serpent, but crushes like a conqueror not merely the body but the soul — the man. Some are all their lifetime subject to bondage through this idea. The boldest worldling cowers and turns pale before it. Hence on deathbeds princely fortunes have been offered for its postponement. Dr. Johnson was the slave of this idea.

3. A felt connection with sin. The sinner's sense of guilt will be according to his knowledge of law, and the terror of death will be according to his sense of guilt. The apostle means either that sin is the cause of death, or the cause of the poignancy of the idea. Both facts are equally true, but the latter is most to our present purpose. It is felt guilt that gives a "sting" and "victory" to the idea of dying. All that is horrific in the idea starts from a sin-stricken conscience. Such, then, is the popular idea of death. Wherever Christianity is not received, you find it. Hence it is pictured as a cruel hunter laying snares for men; an horrific angel, with a cup of poison in his hand; a gaunt and ghastly skeleton; a mower, with his scythe, cutting down every blade in the field of humanity; and sometimes a king of terrors, treading empires in the dust.

II. THE CHRISTIAN IDEA.

1. Has neither sting nor victory. "Where is thy sting?" "Where is thy victory?" They once existed, but are gone.

2. Instead of sting and victory, has rapture and triumph. "Thanks be unto God," etc. The victor has become the victim — the anguish of the sting has given place to the ecstacy of the song.

3. Comes to man through one medium. The old idea of death has given way to this, not through the philosophies or religions of the world, but through Christ.(1) How does Christ give this idea? The common answer is, by taking away the sense of guilt, and bringing "life and immortality to light." This chapter suggests, by awakening in the soul a new spiritual life. No intellectual conviction could ever plant this ides in a soul "dead in trespasses and sin."(2) But how does a new spiritual life do this? Because it involves —(a) A stronger sympathy with the Arbiter of our destiny than with any other being — a moral oneness with that God in "whose hands our breath is, and before whom are all our ways." Where this is not, there can never be anything but gloom in death: a dread of God must give a dread of death.(b) A stronger sympathy with the spiritual than the material. Wherever the attachments of life are on the material, the idea of death must ever be distressing, on account of the separations it involves; but where the most sympathy is with the "unseen and eternal," death will be regarded, not as severing connections, but as uniting them in closer and dearer fellowship, and will therefore be joyously welcomed.(c) A stronger sympathy with the future world than the present. Where there is a stranger sympathy with the present world than the future, the idea of severance must ever be painful; but where it is otherwise, the event will be hailed.(3) Now, this spiritual life comes to man through Christ. To give it was the object of His mission. "I am come that ye might have life," etc. What, indeed, could give a controlling sympathy with the Eternal but Christ's revelations of His infinite love? What could remove guilt from the conscience, but faith in His sacrifice? What could awaken a generous sympathy with the spiritual and the future but His disclosures of the "many mansions"? His doctrines, works, example, death, spirit, all are to quicken the spirit in this new life. Conclusion: The subject supplies —

1. An argument for the value of Christianity. The world's idea of death is a miserable one: whatever mind it possesses, it paralyses. Christianity alone can destroy this idea, and help man to meet his fate with a halcyon soul.

2. A criterion of character. What is your idea of death? Are you its victim or its victor? I take this to be a testing question. Fear of death is heathenism, not Christianity.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I. WHAT IS THIS "STING OF DEATH"? It is not So much any actual pain in dying. We go through greater pains very often during life. It lies in —

1. The parting. The very thought of being separated from those we love is anguish.

2. The general dread of the unknown. No hand to clasp! No voice to hear! However we have lived, it will be a solitary thing to die.

3. A sense of shame. "I am ashamed to meet some whom I shall see again. I am ashamed to give up a life so little used, so sadly wasted!"

4. The sense of actual sin. "I am going to a God I have offended, and whose law I have broken. Must He not in very justice cast me out?" And where shall I go? What suffering do I not richly deserve? And the fear rankles in the breast, and conscience wakes up its phantoms and its horrors.

II. ITS CURE. The whole "sting" of sin, and therefore the whole "sting of death," passed into Christ, and death is left stingless to all who believe and accept Him. See the actual results.

1. Parting? It is nominal. Death does not change or interfere with the communion of saints. For a little while the departed are invisible, but they will very soon be visible again.

2. The darkness cannot be. If He is there who is the light, how can there be darkness?

3. How can the passage be lonely? "When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee." And are we not attended by angels?

4. And shame, Am I not clothed in His perfect righteousness? And Jesus is with me. Where is the shame? And be my sins what they may, they are cast into the depths of the sea; they will not be mentioned; they are no more.

5. And what room can there be for fear? "Fear thou not, for I am with thee."

(J. Vaughan, M.A.)

The reason I like the gospel is that it has taken out of my path the worst enemies I ever had. My mind goes back to twenty years ago, before I was converted, and I think very often how dark it used to seem at times as I thought of the future. There was death! what a terrible enemy it seemed! I was brought up in a little village in New England. It was the custom there when a person was buried to toll out the age of the man at his funeral. I used to count the strokes of the bell. Death never entered that village, and tore away one of the inhabitants, but I always used to count the tolling of the bell. Sometimes it would be away up to seventy, or between seventy and eighty; beyond the life allotted to man, when man seemed living on borrowed time when cut off. Sometimes it would be clear down in the teens and childhood, for death had taken away one of my own age. It used to make a solemn impression on me; I used to be a great coward. When it comes to death, some men say, "I do not fear it." I feared it, and felt terribly afraid when I thought of the cold hand of death feeling for the cords of life, and thought of being launched into eternity, to go to an unknown world. I used to have dreadful thoughts of God; but they are all gone now. Death has lost its sting. And as I go on through the world I can shout now, when the bell is tolling, "O death, where is thy sting?" And I hear a voice come rolling down from Calvary: "Buried in the bosom of the Son of God." He robbed death of its sting; He took away the sting of death when He gave His own bosom to the stroke.

(D. L. Moody.)

I. WHEREIN IT CONSISTS.

1. Christ has overcome death; delivers them that were in bondage through fear of death; takes away the sting in the article of death.

2. Has conquered the grave by His resurrection, and brought life and immortality to light by the gospel.

II. HOW IT IS SECURED.

1. By faith in Christ, which destroys sin and satisfies the law.

2. By abounding in the work of the Lord.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. IT IS FROM ACTUAL SIN THAT DEATH DERIVES HIS POWER. We speak of death as coming in the course of nature; but it is a penal infliction, and pertains to man, not as a creature, but as a sinner. But for sin, death had never been. I have no doubt that from the mind of Christ when He was on earth, this association was never absent. In all the temporal woes which He witnessed, He saw sin. If this association were more strongly and habitually in our minds we should benefit more than we do by scenes of death and visits to the grave. Every time we are reminded of our mortality we ought to be reminded of our sinfulness and the consequent value to us of salvation,

III. IT IS FROM CONSCIOUS SIN THAT DEATH DERIVES HIS TERRORS. I grant there is something that awes the spirit in the unknown sensations of dying, in the dissolution of soul and body, in the dissolution of the ties that connect us with friends, and in the darkness and loathsomeness of the grave. Yet admitting all this, still it is no one nor all of these that constitutes the cause of our dread in the anticipation of death. It is the assurance that "after death" is "the judgment." Could this be removed, what a large proportion of the terrors of death would be instantly dispelled! An awakened conscience is fearful; yet an unawakened conscience is still more so.

III. IT IS BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST THAT DEATH IS BEREFT OF HIS POWER. If the power of death arise from sin, then the only way in which it can be done away is by the expiation and forgiveness of sin; sin must be atoned if death is to be destroyed. The Bible accordingly is full of this doctrine. The death of Jesus was the finishing of His atonement. In His resurrection we bare the Divine attestation of the atonement having been satisfactory and accepted; His rising from the dead was His full release as the Substitute of the guilty for whom He died. But how is it, then, that Christians die? It is not God's plan that the final destinies of individuals should be publicly manifested and settled before the time; it would supersede the final judgment, and interfere with the grand final manifestation of the power of the risen Lord in the winding up of the scheme of redemption. But observe —

1. The curse is taken out of death to all who are in Christ. Death is the messenger of peace that calls their souls to heaven.

2. The power of death is destroyed by the death of Christ, inasmuch as then was the virtual, though not the actual destruction of that power. "I am the resurrection and the life," etc.

IV. IT IS BY FAITH IN THE DEATH OF CHRIST THAT DEATH IS DIVESTED OF HIS TERRORS. If a sense of guilt inspires the fear, by what can the fear possibly be quelled but by a firm belief in the Divine propitiation? It was when Jesus "through death destroyed the power of death," that He "delivered them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage"; but that deliverance can only be enjoyed through faith in Him, who gained the victory, who "spoiled principalities and powers," etc.

(R. Wardlaw, D.D.)

I. DEATH AND ITS STING.

1. Sin gave death his being, and it also gives him his terrors. With the utmost propriety is sin compared to a sting; for it at once pierces, pains, and poisons. Sharpened by temptation, and nicely smoothed and polished by a thousand alleviating circumstances and plausible excuses, it enters insensibly into the soul, and, before we are aware, torments our consciences with pain, and poisons our faculties with its malignant influence. Its power pierces, its guilt pains, and its pollution and defilement are its poison. And every time we commit it, it wounds us afresh, puts us to fresh pain, and spreads its poison wider and deeper: and, alas! so often have we committed it, that our whole soul is infected, and all its powers corrupted.

2. Now sin derives its strength from the law. Not that the law encourages sin: far from it. The law forbids it, and denounces "indignation and wrath" upon all that commit it. But, the fountain of our nature being polluted, and continually pouring forth the most baleful streams, the law, like a mound placed in the way of a torrent, opposes, indeed, the rapid course of this overflowing of ungodliness, but, not drying up its source, only makes it rise the higher, and, in the end, flow with greater force and rapidity. For men, finding that they have sinned, and are still inclined to sin, and that they are condemned on that account, are wont to grow desperate in sin, till sin, thus manifested, irritated, and increased, "by the commandment, becomes exceeding sinful."

3. In the meantime the sinner, while urged forward by "the law in his members," which "wars against the law of his mind," observes how be perpetually advances towards the precipice of death, and is led to fear he shall fall into "the lake burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Hence, oppressed with horror and despair, he cries out, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? "Who shall draw the sting of death, and show him to be a disarmed enemy? This is the language of every awakened sinner's heart. Being enlightened to see the spirituality, obligation, and extent of the Divine law; being convinced he has repeatedly transgressed it, and is, therefore, involved in the curse of it, he finds himself in dreadful bondage through fear of death. And in this condition he continues till he becomes acquainted with Him who took part of our flesh and blood, that "by death He might destroy him that had the power of death," etc.

II. HOW DEATH IS DISARMED OF HIS STING AND WE ARE ENABLED TO TRIUMPH OVER HIM. It is Christ who disarms death of his sting, and this He does by removing the guilt, breaking the power, and washing away the defilement of sin. When we come under grace as a living and powerful dispensation, sin hath no more dominion over us, and the wrath of God being removed with the guilt of sin, and an accusing conscience departing with the power of sin, we have peace both within and without, and "rejoice in hope of the glory of God." And thus our fear of death and hell is exchanged for a blessed hope of immortality and joy.

(J. Benson.)

The apostle has demonstrated the resurrection by an elaborate argument, and states his conclusion as the fulfilment of Isaiah's prophecy (Isaiah 25:5). He remembers the promise of God by Hosea (Hosea 13:14), and in a burst of eloquent exultation he defies his former enemies.

I. THE CHALLENGE (ver. 55).

1. Where is the sting of death? Alas! and is it nothing to die? Is it nothing to leave this fair earth, our pleasant homes, our loving friends, etc., and to be buried and become as dust beneath the sod? Has death no sting when we hold the beloved, who made life precious and the world beautiful, by so frail, brief, melancholy a tenure? Has it no sting in that "life-long pang a widowed spirit bears"? Is there one among us such a miracle of uninterrupted happiness, so insensible to others' grief, as not to have felt its keen and lingering sharpness?

2. Where is the victory of the grave? Where is it not? Power cannot resist it. Riches can purchase no allies skillful to avert it. There is no discharge in this war for wisdom, or youth, or virtue, or strength.

3. Yet, were there nothing beside this, the calamity would be light. A gloomy anticipation, a few tears, a sharp pang, and all would be over. We should sleep, and dream not. But there is more than this. Whence came death? God is angry with us. and death is the executioner of a Divine sentence, the avenger of a broken law. Death had no sting for man, and the grave no victory, till sin entered into the world; but now "death hath passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." The law of God, which condemns the sinner, gives death power to seize and hold him fast. Wherever there is sin, its wages are death. Wherever death is, there must be sin. Yes! even in the death of the sinless Lamb of God, for He bore our sins. Here is the sharpness of death's sling. It is the evidence and punishment of sin. What a strange lethargy must that sinner be in who feels it not, but sleeps stupidly on, dreaming of lust, and gain, and pride, till death wakens him with eternal agony!

4. Here we see the strength and valour of Christian faith; for, knowing that he must die, and the grave cover him, Paul stands up bravely, and flings defiance in their faces. To learn the secret of his courage, we must consider —

II. THE THANKSGIVING (ver. 57). This, with the preceding verse, answers three questions:

1. Whence is the victory? God gives death its sting and the grave its victory. So long as God arms them, it is impossible to resist them. God, therefore, alone can give us the victory, by becoming our Friend. When He is our Friend, His ministers, which were our enemies, must be our servants.

2. How is the victory given? Death is the penalty of sin, and, while the law condemns the sinner, he must remain captive to death and the grave. But Christ, by satisfying the law, plucked out the sting of death, and ravished the victory from the grave (Hebrews 2:14, 15). More than this, He demonstrated His victory over the grave; bursting the bars asunder, He dragged forth captivity captive, making an ostentation of His spoils, openly triumphing. But the full manifestation of His triumph and ours is kept for the day of the resurrection.

3. Wherein does our victory consist? The believer triumphs —

(1)In Christ's perfect atonement.

(2)In Christ's resurrection.

(3)In the final resurrection.

(G. W. Bethune.)

The fear of death is almost universal. It affects individuals in various degrees, but suffers few to entirely escape it. Let us examine, then, the causes which render death so formidable, and then the considerations which will deprive it of its sting, and the grave of its victory. A primary cause, which renders death so formidable to mankind, consists in their natural love of existence. This is an instinct held in common with the brutes. All kinds of life cling to their being with inveterate tenacity. Even the martyr or patriot, sacrificing their lives for their country or faith, experience a secret disinclination to make the offering. The discontented — the wearied — the afflicted in mind, body, or estate — at the last dread, and, if possible, avoid the conflict. God has implanted in man an instinct which will not permit him to yield existence without a struggle or a pang. The solemnities, too, with which we surround it, invest death with many of its terrors. We render it as ghastly as possible. It should rather be regarded as a passage from the troubles of life into the happiness of eternity. Presented under this light it is a joyful occurrence, and therefore should be less drearily apparelled. The obscurity, moreover, which veils the eternal state, arms death with many of its terrors. Unbelievers, of course, labour under no uncertainty. Materialists by conviction, death in their view is followed by annihilation. Or, should this creed be erroneous, condemnation must be the result of their unbelief. Any way their case is lost. Hence, by them death is regarded with peculiar dread. Nor are believers without their misgivings as to the future. Even though certain as to a future state, doubts will arise as to their position in it. They know the conditions of salvation, but have they been fulfilled? is their title good to the promised inheritance? Remorse of conscience, too, with many, produces similar results. Recollection of the past gives sorry promise for the future. While death is distant the harsh monitor may be hushed. But, when nigh, death is sure to rouse it, if guilt lies heavy on the heart. Even the unbeliever cannot avoid its stings, nor the hardened repel them. The sick-bed bears frequent witness to the agonies which they inflict on the stricken reprobate. Neither is the Christian entirely free from them, The best have much to answer for. And, lastly, fear of punishment makes him an object of dread to many. But are there no means of diminishing this influence which death possesses over us? Christians have been known to meet death cheerfully, and for their faith even court its embraces. In Christianity, then, we shall discover the means of emancipation from this slavery. From the gospel we shall obtain power to deprive death of its sting, and the grave of its victory. Are we too enamoured of life? Do we put on it too high a value? Do we cling to it with too much tenacity? Let us learn from the gospel to prize it no higher than its real worth. Surrounded with gloomy pomp, with sombre trappings, do we regard death with superstitious dread? Let us learn from the gospel to strip it of these adventitious terrors. Do we fear death as the tyrant, which separates us from friends and relatives — which entails loss of wealth and honour, of title and substance? Let us learn from the gospel to estimate these advantages at their real value — to consider them as transitory, mutable, and unsatisfactory. Do we doubt as to the state beyond the grave? Is it to us an unknown country? Or, known, do we question our title to its possession? Let us go to the gospel. There life and immortality are brought to light. Is remorse active? Has conscience sharpened its stings? By the gospel, again, we learn that no case is hopeless while life remains; that there is balm for the most wounded spirit, and that to the prayer of repentance and faith no request is denied. And do we dread the retribution beyond the grave? Let us again turn to the gospel. There we shall find words of hope and consolation. There we shall find means of escape from impending judgment. There we shall discover that "with the Lord there is mercy, and with Him is plenteous redemption."

(John Budgen, M.A.)

When tyrants are overthrown the nations of the earth breathe freely; from prince to peasant all rejoice, and every heart is raised to heaven, and hallelujahs go up to the throne of God, and the Prince of Peace is blessed for bringing back hope to the world, and driving fear from its dwellings.

I. "The sting of death is SIN." The shame and the deformity of guilt, the degradation of a nature fallen from the image of God, the pains of remorse — these are some of the forms in which death stings the soul through sin; and who that has seen the terror-stricken conscience craving a few more days of life.

II. But what if death cannot sting the soul in the hour of its last life-trial, it can surely sting THE HEART. "All that a man hath will he give for his life"; it is sad to part with this. To leave the work of our hands for others to perfect, to give up our pleasant ministry and all the rewards that went with it, surely this is bitter, and herein at least death has for a moment its victory and its sting. Such is not the experience of faithful hearts, hearts which have been taught that "to live is Christ and to die is gain"; who have learnt that if to abide in the flesh be pleasant for the sake of those who remain, to depart and be with Christ is far better.

III. Let it be granted, then, that death has no sting for the soul of the Christian, nor can he fasten his sharp fangs upon the heart which is taught of the Spirit of God. But what of THE BODY? Can we look upon that thin frame so worn that the very mother scarcely knows her own child, and then deny that death at least can torture the body if it cannot torment the soul of the faithful? When death laid his hand upon the Son of God, and saw His body, weary with watching and worn out with persecution and agony, sink under the burden of His Cross, and then lifted up and nailed through His tender hands and feet to the tree He was too weak to carry, He may have cried in triumph, "Behold, the sting of death!" And yet it was that very agony that enabled His Victim and His Conqueror to say as He gave up the ghost, "It is finished." When the faithful heart is taught by grace how glorious it is to be made partaker of the sufferings of Christ, that its pains are not sent in wantonness, but to remind it of its Redeemer's power to help and presence to heal, that every pang that waits on the soul's last struggle to be free is another step towards the liberty it so desires, then the sense of physical suffering is swallowed up in the prospect of what lies so nigh.

IV. But if the sting of death affects the dying Christian himself neither in body nor in spirit, there are surviving hearts in tears and deep sadness. Here, then, is THE STING OF DEATH PIERCING THE SOULS OF THE LIVING, if it has no torment for the dying.

V. Death then retires before the power of faith and acknowledges that its power is gone, the sharpness of its sting made void. But THE GRAVE! there is the victory; there is the curse carried out to its humbling accomplishment; "dust thou art, and to dust shalt thou return." Alas, how are the mighty fallen! humbled indeed to the dust and brought down to the dwelling of the worm! O grave, great is thy victory, if this be all of what was once so great and dear and beautiful and good. But is it all? What do we read? "It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption," etc.

(A. J. Macleane, M.A.)

Consider —

I. THE INTERROGATORY OF THE APOSTLE.

1. What is the sting of death?(1) The sting of natural fear. The feeling is one common to all nations. Our very nature chills at the thought of it.(2) But the manner of death is a part of the sting, and many consequently are afraid of their supports failing them in the last encounter — their mind's decay, their adversary's concentrated strength and malice.(3) To the apostle, however, the sting of death lay in its retributive character. Hence, when men are afraid of death, it is not so much nature trembling at what she may have to suffer, as conscience affrighted at the penalties it feels to deserve. We call death the king of terrors, and that which makes him so, which makes his reign terrible, his night gloomy, his valley dark, is the implanted feeling of our nature that he is the commissioned magistrate of heaven come to reckon with us for our sins. "The wages of sin is death."

2. But our text assumes these wages to have been paid, and this king of terrors to have been disarmed. Now, this change in the moral aspect and attributes of death, whilst as an endured penalty it must remain, is effected by Christ —(1) As the destroyer of death by the Cross. The lordship of death stands in this, that he is the executioner and instrument of the law of God which man has broken. But Christ satisfied, discharged, magnified this law, and thus vanquished the death which had its strange behests to do. And now this minister of justice lacks his authority. There is no judge to deliver us to the officer. "There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." "Who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died." "O death, where is now thy sting?"(2) As the Lord of the invisible world. "O grave, where is thy victory?" Seeing that beyond the third day the soul of Christ was not left in the grave, neither did His flesh see corruption? Yet not for Himself did Christ obtain this victory. It was rather in order to an exhibited demonstration of His sovereignty over the mansions of the dead, a comforting assurance to those who were about to walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death that they need fear no evil.

II. SEEING, THEN, WE HAVE SUCH A HOPE IN THE PROSPECT OF DEATH, "LET NOT YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED, NEITHER LET IT BE AFRAID."

1. It may be a part of the sting of death to think that thereby thine eyes must close eternally on the things of this present world; but if "blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, for they rest frown their labours, and their works do follow them," O death, where is that sting?

2. It may be a part of the sting of death to think of the friends you must leave behind you; but if, besides re-union with these friends, we are to have converse with the Redeemer, with angels, what becomes of that sting?

3. It may be a part of the sting of death that your children will be fatherless and your wife a widow; yet if He is faithful that promises, "Leave the fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in Me," then what becomes of that sting?

(D. Moore, M.A.)

I. ITS BITTERNESS.

1. Death has a sting.

2. The grave a victory.

II. ITS ISSUE.

1. The sting drawn.

2. The victory reversed.

III. ITS CERTAINTY SECURED TO EVERY BELIEVER.

1. Through Christ.

2. In the hope of the resurrection.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

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. —

Death: —

I. ITS STING. Sin occasions the pangs of —

1. Separation.

2. Conscience.

3. Fear at the prospect of meeting God.

4. Apprehension in the thought of judgment.

II. ITS POWER. Derived from the law, because —

1. It announces the penalty of sin.

2. Manifests the evil of sin.

3. Enforces the punishment of sin and perpetuates it.

III. ITS DEFEAT.

1. Through Christ.

2. Achieved by every believer.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

I. UNVEILED. It derives —

1. Its power from actual sin.

2. Its terrors from conscious sin.

II. CONQUERED.

1. Christ takes away its power.

2. Faith takes away its terrors.

(J. Lyth, D.D.)

When Sir Henry Vane was condemned and awaiting execution, a friend spoke of prayer, that for the present the cup of death might be averted. "Why should we fear death?" answered Vane. "I find it rather shrinks from me than I from it."

(Little's Historical Lights.)

Among the few remains of Sir John Franklin that were found far up in the Polar regions there was a leaf of the "Student's Manual," by Dr. John Todd — the only relic of a book. From the way in which the leaf was turned down, the following portion of a dialogue was prominent: "Are you not afraid to die?" "No." "No! Why does the uncertainty of another state give you no concern?" "Because God has said to me, 'Fear not. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.'" This leaf is preserved in the Museum of Greenwich Hospital, among the relics of Sir John Franklin.

As his (Simeon's) drew near, he broke out, "It is said, 'O death, where is thy sting?' "Then, looking at us as we stood round his bed, he asked, in his own peculiarly impressive manner, "Do you see any sting here?"

(Life of Simeon.)

That is, death would have no power to injure us if it were not for sin. This is true for two reasons.

1. Because if there were no sin there would be no death. Death is by sin (Romans 5:12).

2. Because sin gives death, when it has been introduced, all its terrors. If sin be pardoned, death is harmless. It can inflict no evil. It becomes a mere transition from a lower to a higher state.

(C. Hodges, D.D.)

I. THERE IS A STING IN DEATH.

1. That there is such a sting in death appears from —(1) The horrors of wicked men when they come to die.(2) The unwillingness, even of the dearest of God's children, to undergo this last, rude, and violent shock of death.(3) The attitude of Christ towards it (Matthew 26:39).

2. What there is in death that should make its sting so sharp and poignant, and cause such a natural antipathy against it in us?(1) The harbingers, which go before it, to prepare its way — languishing diseases, racking pains, etc.(2) Its annihilation of all the comforts and enjoyments of life.(3) The separation of those dear companions, the soul and body.(4) The consideration of those dishonours and disgraces which shall befall the body upon this separation.(5) The deliverance over into eternity, which we have deserved, should be infinitely miserable to us.

II. THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN.

1. It was only sin that brought death into the world (Romans 5:12).

2. Death received its terrors from sin (Hebrews 2:15).Conclusion: If sin be the sting of death —

1. Let us beware that we add not more poison to this sting.

2. Then the only way to disarm death is by cleansing thyself from sin.

3. How unspeakably happy are those to whom the sting of death is taken out by the death of Christ!

(E. Hopkins, D.D.)

A slight acquaintance with man will convince us of the truth of two propositions.

1. That every man is labouring to obtain some object.

2. That according to the intensity of the interest he feels in the object will be his delight in pursuing it. The merchant is looking onward to retirement from business. The same principle actuates the warrior on the battle-field. His object is military glory, a name in the annals of fame, the applause of the brave. You have an object before you — a happy dying hour — rest after the storms of life are past. That is the object before you; and, if you would secure it, you must get rid of the sting of death, you must go on to perfection. We lay down, then, for our discussion, one proposition — that, if a happy and triumphant death-bed be desirable, and if a gloomy and miserable death-bed is to be deprecated, then go on to perfection. We do not mean to dwell upon the nature of Christian perfection, but simply upon the results of perfection upon a dying hour. How solemn is life's last hour! The journey is ended, the immortal candidate is on life's last shore. Memory retouches all the past, and in a few minutes he seems to live the whole of life over again. Here the soul seems to say to the body, "We have been companions long, we have travelled together life's rough road, but now home is in view. the spirit has now launched into eternity; it has commenced its upward flight; the earth, like a little dark spot, grows less and less; heaven opens upon the vision. There is nothing in heaven or earth can give a ray of light to an expiring infidel. How are we to account for these gloomy death-bed scenes among professors of religion? I answer — First, a want of regeneration; many of them have never been born again. Secondly, backsliding. "I was converted," says one; "I could tell the time and place of my conversion." Ah! but you are a backslider now. Thirdly, remaining depravity. Can you say, I have been free from the slightest touch of sin since I believed? I don't think one of you can say so! The remains of sin in the heart are like powder; and only let a spark fall into it, and there will be an explosion. There has been powder enough in our hearts, and this world is full of sparks. One is saying, "I contracted an unsuitable marriage; I was unequally yoked, and all has been wrong ever since." Another is saying, "I formed an improper connection in business." "I," says another, "fell — gave way to bad tempers, angry passions; and, oh! there are a thousand witnesses in my own breast." Conscience bears witness — loud, distinct, and clear; but God has brought the wanderer back — back to the throne of grace. If you harbour and indulge these enemies of God in your heart, what kind of a death will you have? Only get this sting removed, and your nature purified, and then you will have a happy death-bed. Bless God, you may start for glory, and never strike a rock! See! see that vessel leaving the port of Liverpool. She passes the pier-head; she jostles her way through the crowd of shipping that obstructs her passage; she clears every dangerous point; she escapes the sandbanks that lie concealed under the waters; she gets fairly out on the ocean; by and by she gets an overhaul, and all's right. Every inch of canvas is now crowded on, and on she bounds before the breeze. At length the shout, "Land ahead!" is heard; she heaves in sight of port; she reaches it. As the captain steps ashore his friends hail him with sparkling eyes, "Well, captain, what sort of a voyage?" "Oh, capital; 'tis true we have had a few tremendous gales, but we have never split a sail, snapped a rope, or lost a spar; and here we are safe in harbour!" "Well, captain, we congratulate you on your voyage." Glory to God! you may yet get safe out of harbour, clear every rock and pass, full sail, into the port of glory, amidst the congratulations of the heavenly host. "My grace is sufficient for you." If you would have a happy death, go on to perfection. A holy Christian will have a happy death; this is the rule; I know there are exceptions to every rule, and there are exceptions to this.

(J. Canghey.)

This must be the law of God in its widest sense; not the Mosaic law, which would make the declaration amount to nothing. The law is the strength of sin, because —

I. WITHOUT LAW THERE WORLD BE NO SIN (Romans 4:15). The very idea of sin is want of conformity on the part of moral creatures to the law of God. If there be no standard to which we are bound to be conformed, there can be no such thing as want of conformity. Sin is the correlative, not of reason, nor of expediency, but of law. If you take away law, men may act unreasonably, or in a way injurious to themselves or others, but they cannot sin.

II. IF THERE BE NO LAW THERE CAN BE NO CONDEMNATION. Sin is not imputed where there is no law (Romans 5:13).

III. THE LAW not only reveals and condemns sin, but EXASPERATES AND EXCITES IT, AND THUS GIVES IT STRENGTH (Romans 7:8-12).

(C. Hodge, D.D.)

The law —

I. DISCOVERS SIN, and makes it appear in its own colours; the more light and knowledge of the law, the more sense of sin, as in transparent vessels dregs are soon discerned (Romans 7:9). When by a sound conviction disguises are taken off from the conscience, we find sin to be sin indeed. Paul was alive before — that is, in his own hopes — as many a stupid soul makes full account he shall go to heaven, till conscience be opened, and then they find themselves in the mouth of death and hell.

II. GIVES STRENGTH TO SIN IN REGARD OF THE OBLIGATION OF IT; it bindeth over a sinner to the curse and wrath of God. God has made a righteous law, which must have satisfaction; and till the law be satisfied, we hear no news but of a curse, and that makes death to be full of horrors (Hebrews 10:27).

III. AUGMENTS AND INCREASES SIN BY FORBIDDING IT; lusts are exasperated and rage upon a restraint, as the yoke makes the young bullock more unruly. Now, put all together, and you will understand the force of the expression, "The strength of sin is the law." The discovery of the law stops the sinner's mouth, and the curse of the law shuts him up, and holds him fast unto the judgment of the great day, by which restraint sin grows the more raging and furious; all which, put together, make death terrible; not an end of misery, but a door to open into hell.

(T. Manton, D.D.)

1. Any man who thinks or feels at all about sin knows that it is the strongest principle within him. His will is adequate for all other undertakings, but it fails the moment it attempts to conquer and subdue itself. The experience of the Christian likewise demonstrates that sin is the most powerful antagonist that man has to contend with. Nay, more, this heat and stress of the Christian race and fight evinces that man must be "strong in the Lord" in order to overcome sin.

2. The cause of this mighty strength of sin is the law of God. By the law is meant the sum of all that a rational being ought to do, under all circumstances and at all times. It is equivalent to duty, and includes all that is implied in the word "right," and excludes all that we mean by "wrong." At first sight it appears strange that this should be said to be the strength of sin. Yet such is the assertion here and in Romans 7:8, 9, 11; and we cannot understand these statements unless we take into view the difference in the relation which a holy and a sinful being respectively sustains to the moral law. St. Paul means that the law is the strength of sin for a sinner. For the saint, on the contrary, it is the strength of holiness. In a holy being, the law of righteousness is an inward and actuating principle; but for a sinful being it is only an outward rule. Law does not work pleasantly within the sinner, but stands stern outside of and over him, commanding and threatening. If he attempts to obey it, he does so from fear or self-interest, and not from the love of it. The "law of sin" is the sole inward principle that rules him, and his service of sin is spontaneous and willing.

3. Hence the Scriptures describe regeneration as the inwardising of the moral law (Jeremiah 31:33). To regenerate a man is to convert duty into inclination, so that the man shall know no difference between the commands of God and the desires of his own heart. The two principles, or "laws," of holiness and sin, in order to have efficiency, must be within the heart and will. They are like the great fruitful laws that work and weave in the world of nature. All these laws start from within and work outward. The law of holiness cannot bear fruit until it ceases to be external and threatening. and becomes internal and complacent. So long as the law of God is a letter on the statute-book of the conscience, but not in the fleshy tablet of the heart, so long must it be inoperative, except in the way of death and misery. This righteous law, then, is "the strength of sin" in us, so long as it merely weighs down with a mountain's weight upon our enslaved wills, so long as it merely holds a whip over our opposing inclination, and lashes it into anger and resistance. How can there be any moral growth in the midst of such a hatred and hostility between the human heart and the moral law? Flowers and fruits cannot grow on a battle-field. As well might we suppose that the vegetation which now constitutes the coal beds grew up in that geological era when fire and water were contending for possession of the planet, as to suppose that the fruits of holiness can spring up when the human will is in obstinate and deadly conflict with the human conscience. So long as the law sustains this extraneous relation to the heart and will —

I. THERE IS NO GENUINE OBEDIENCE.

1. For genuine obedience is voluntary, cheerful, and spontaneous. The child does not truly obey its parent when it performs an outward act, outwardly insisted upon by its superior, from no inward genial impulse, but solely from the force of fear. Here lies the difference between a moral and a religious man. The moralist attempts, from considerations of prudence, fear, and self-interest, to externally obey the external law. It is not a law that he loves, but one which he would keep because of the penalty attached to it. And yet, after all his attempts at obedience, he is conscious of utter failure. But the renewed and sanctified man "obeys from the heart the form of doctrine that is delivered" unto him. The Holy Spirit has inwardised it. He acts naturally, he acts holily, and when he sins he is uneasy, because sin is unnatural to a renewed heart.

2. Everything that is genuine, spontaneous, and voluntary wears the garb of grace and beauty; while that which is false, pretended, and constrained has the look of deformity. We admire the living plant, but we turn away from the artificial flower. So is it with the appearance which the moralist and the believer respectively presents. The one is rigid, hard, and formal; he rather endures his religion than enjoys it. The Other is free, cheerful, pliant; the Son hath made him free, and he is free indeed.

3. Another criterion of genuine obedience is love. But so long as the law sustains this extraneous and hostile relation to the heart and will, there is no love of it or its Author. No man can have a cordial affection for it until it becomes the inward and actuating principle, the real inclination of his will. Yet the law overhangs him all this while; and since it cannot produce the fruits of peace and holiness, it betakes itself to its other function, and elicits his corruption, and exasperates his depravity.

II. OBEDIENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE.

1. For the law is entirely outside the executive faculty. It is in the conscience, but not in the heart. It consequently gives no impulse and aid to right action. The law sternly tells the man that by his own determination and fault he is "dead in trespasses and sins," and condemns him therefor; but so long as it is merely didactic and comminatory, and not impulsive and indwelling, he derives from it none of that strength which empowers to righteousness.

2. But in the Christian, the law of holiness, by virtue of his regeneration and union with Christ, has become inward, spontaneous, and voluntary. It is no longer a mere fiery letter in his conscience, giving him knowledge of his sinfulness, and distressing him therefor; but it is a glowing and genial impulse in his heart. His duty is now his inclination, and his now holy. inclination is his duty.Conclusion: This subject shows —

1. That it is an immense work to make such an entire change and reversal in the relations that now exist between man's will and the Divine law. The problem is, to transmute the law of God into the very inclination of a man, so that the two shall be one and the same thing in the personal experience, and the man shall know no difference between the dictates of his conscience and the desires of his heart.

2. It is the work of the Holy Ghost. It is the result of God's "working in man to will and to do."

(Prof. Shedd.)

I. THE STING OF DEATH.

1. Sin brought death into the world. Men could be more content to die if they did not know it was a punishment. "In Adam all die." By his sin every one of us become subject to the penalty of death.

2. That which shall make death most terrible to man will be sin, if it is not forgiven. Consider a man dying, and looking back on his past life. To feel remorse is to have eternal torment commenced within the soul.

3. But if sin in the retrospect be the sting of death, what must sin in the prospect be? The moment we die the voice of justice cries, "Seal up the fountain of forgiveness" he that is holy let him be holy still; he that is filthy let him be filthy still. The hour of death is like that celebrated picture of Perseus holding up the head of Medusa. That head turned all persons into stone who looked upon it. What I am when death is held before me, that I must be for ever.

II. THE STRENGTH OF SIN IS THE LAW. Most men think that sin has no strength at all. "Oh," say many, "we may have sinned very much, but we will repent, and we will be better; God is merciful, and He will forgive us." The strength of sin is the law in that —

1. The law being spiritual, it is quite impossible for us to live without sin. It is not merely the act, it is the thought; it is not the deed simply, it is the very imagination, that is a sin. Oh, now, sinner, how canst thou get rid of sin? Thy very thoughts are crimes. Is there not, now, strength in sin? Hath not the law nerved sin with such a power that all thy strength cannot hope to wipe away thy transgression?

2. It will not abate one tittle of its stern demands. It says to every man who breaks it, "I will not forgive you." You hear persons talk about God's mercy. Now, if they do not believe in the gospel they must be under the law; but where in the law do we read of mercy? The law thunders out, without the slightest mitigation, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." If any of you desire to be saved by works, remember, one sin will spoil your righteousness.

3. For every transgression it will exact a punishment. The law never remits a farthing of debt. Now, if ye consider all this, are you prepared to take away the sting of death in your own persons? If you think so, go, O foolish one, go, twist thy rope of sand; go, build a pyramid of air; but know it will be a dream with an awful awakening.

III. THE VICTORY OF FAITH. Christ has taken away the strength of sin.

1. He has removed the law. We are not under bondage, but under grace. The principle that I must do a thing — that is to say, the principle of law, "do, or be punished, or be rewarded," is not the motive of the Christian's life; his principle is, "God has done so much for me, what ought I to do for Him?"

2. He has completely satisfied it. The law demands a perfect righteousness; Christ says, "Law, thou hast it: find fault with Me; I am the sinner's substitute." "Who shall now lay anything to the charge of God's elect?" Now the law is satisfied, sin is gone; and now surely we need not fear the sting of the dragon.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. THE VICTORY. Victory supposes warfare, and warfare enemies. Let us mention a few of these.

1. Sin. This is the cause of all the rest, but the name of Jesus was given to the Saviour because He was to save His people from their sins. His people consider sin as their chief enemy, and they rejoice that their Saviour gave Himself for them "to redeem them from all iniquity," etc. Let us examine this victory. Sin, even now, is to be found in a believer; but though sin lives in him, he does not live in sin, and though sin be not destroyed in him, it is dethroned in him. There is as much difference between sin found in a Christian, and sin found in a natural man, as there is between poison found in a serpent, and found in a man. Poison is found in a serpent, but it does him no injury — Why? Because it is natural to him, it is a part of his system; but poison in a man makes him sick, it is no part of his nature.

2. The world. Our Saviour said to His disciples, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." But what is this victory? It is not fleeing from the world — fleeing is not fighting — but it is your abiding in the calling in which you are placed by God; discharging with diligence and zeal the duties pertaining to it; resisting the temptations belonging to it; and using all the opportunities it affords to do good. The man who thus lives overcomes the world. "Who is he that overcometh the world?" etc.

3. Satan. "I will put enmity between thee and the woman," etc. "For this purpose, therefore, was the Son of God manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil." But you say, Did He not fall in the struggle? True, but it was in falling that He conquered. "He spoiled principalities and powers," etc. "And because the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same," etc.

4. Death and the grave. He certainly conquers death —(1) Who is not and cannot be injured by it, and to whom it is therefore expressly harmless. This is the case with every Christian. Death stung once, and a dreadful sting it was; it stung our Surety, who took our place for us; but it left its sting in Him, so that there is none for the Christian.(2) Who will be improved by it. The Christian rises with a better body than he laid down.(3) Who will rise above the apprehension of it (2 Corinthians 5:1).

II. THE ACQUISITION. In other cases winning a victory is gaining a victory, but here —

1. It is given. It is true we gain it; but He gives it. It is true we fight; but it is He causes us to triumph. He not only furnishes the crown, but He also gives us the capacity by which we acquire it.

2. It is dispensed through the mediation of the Lord Jesus. From the beginning to the end of our salvation, the propriety, expediency, necessity of Jesus as a mediator is not for one moment left out. "He is all in all."

3. It is gradually exemplified and accomplished. It is not said that He will give, though this is true, for it is already promised; nor that He has given us the victory, though this is true, for that is already promised; but He giveth us the victory; and this is true because it is gradually confirmed and experienced.

III. THE GRATITUDE. If you feel gratitude to your fellow-creatures for their favours, surely you will not forget the boon of your salvation. There is nothing perhaps so vile as ingratitude. But how are we to express our thanksgivings? Gratitude consists in the return of a benefit received, and though we cannot make an adequate return, yet we may make a suitable return. "Thanksgiving," says Philip Henry, "is good, but thanksliving is much better." The best way in which a scholar can testify the honour of his tutor is by his proficiency. And our Saviour says, "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit." As a stimulus to gratitude.

1. Dwell upon the blessings themselves.

2. Get an increasing sense of your own unworthiness.

3. Get an assurance of your own interest in the blessedness of the Lord.

(W. Jay.)

I. OVER SIN.

1. The great fault and peril of sin is not so prominent as it was. Is there not too often the sanguine expectation that the disease will be cured by external remedies? You persuade, for instance, the drunkard to take the pledge, but you have not changed his heart. You destroy the rookery, and build the model lodging-house, but you have not destroyed the fascinations of crime. Unless we deal with sin, all our attempts at reformation will be in vain; the malady lies too deep for our superficial applications.

2. The gospel does not palliate sin; on the contrary, it drags off its disguises, and reveals it in its naked deft fruity. It shows sin to be a perversion of the moral being; it is the alienation of the heart from the love, the alienation of the will from the law of God; it is rebellion; it is that which God hates; it is that which must be put away before man can enter into fellowship with God. The gospel alone dares to reveal sin, because it gives us the power to conquer it.(1) In presenting to us a perfect life it shows us what human nature is capable of, and its present degradation. It first reveals sin in placing it in the full light of the Divine example, and secondly, in the light of the Cross it condemns sin. It shows it there in all its iniquity which only the blessed blood of the spotless victim can remove.(2) But if Christ had only been this, He would not have been our Saviour (ver. 17). If He had only died, then death had the mastery over Him; we must be still crushed under the burden of sin, for we have no atonement; there is no righteousness in which we can be clothed; we cannot be partakers of a new life, since there is no source of life for us. "But now is Christ risen from the dead"; and in the power of this resurrection we have the victory over sin. God, in raising Him from the dead, has not only proclaimed that He has accepted the propitiation, but has exalted Him to be a Prince and a Saviour to lift off from us the burden of guilt, and to pour into our diseased spirits the life of His resurrection, the life of His Spirit, that we may gain the victory over sin. In no other way can we gain it; no efforts to lop off here and there the heads of that hydra-headed monster will prevail. The desire we thought we had beaten down, the passions we thought we had conquered, will reassert their mastery. But He, the risen Lord, has given us His life, has made us one with Himself, and in that loving union with Him the victory is ours.

II. OVER DEATH. Death is a very real enemy. The fear of death; is not this the most terrible fear that assaults men? What is the fear of sickness, poverty, sorrow, old age, natural infirmities, compared with the fear of death? It is an awful thing to die; above all, if we do not know where we are going.

1. Death is an agony, for it is the separation of body and soul; it is the dissolution of the man. And yet regarded in this light men do not always recoil from it. There are those who, not only in the excitement of battle, can meet death with steady nerve; there are those who, tired of life's efforts and disappointments, have welcomed death as a friend, and the bed of death has been like a sleep.

2. The agony of death does not trouble all, but the mystery of death, the thought of passage from a world of known existence to an undiscovered country, where men must give an account of deeds done in the body, this has made the bravest heart tremble. Two officers were riding together just before a battle. One of them, an earnest Christian, turned and said to the other, "Are you prepared to die?" "Death; don't talk to me of death," was the reply, "it will unnerve me." The man was not a coward, but death was an awful thing to think of. No wonder that Paul speaks of men being subject to bondage through the fear of death.

3. Then beside, there is the anguish of bereavement. How many hearts has death broken, how many lives has he made desolate? Who has not felt that awful power? Must we shudder, and walk with faltering steps in presence of this dreadful enemy? "No," says the apostle. "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." St. Paul insists upon this fact as involving the resurrection of mankind. For it is not a simple human being that rises out of that grave; it is the everlasting Lord of Life, who, having life in Himself, took our human nature, and in that nature confronted death, and vanquished death, and rose victorious from the tomb. Conclusion: Are we partakers of this victory? We may repeat the Creed, "I believe in the resurrection of the body," and yet, alas! we may have no victory over death. How many baptized Christians have no doubt of another life, and yet live and die as if this world were all? And yet there is such a victory. Christ's risen life may be ours. It is by a close actual union with Christ that we share in His victory. "Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die."

(Bp. Perowne.)

I. "THE STING OF DEATH IS SIN." The meaning is, that, to a man conscious of unpardoned sin, death is armed with a peculiar pungency. Consider —

1. The loss of the world. Has be been a man of pleasure? His pleasures vanish. Is he a man eager in his pursuit of wealth? His plans are broken, and his wealth goes to others. Has he ranked among the proud and mighty? The grave which opens for him knows no distinction (Isaiah 14:10). When these thoughts pass through the mind, how they sting!

2. On the approach of death sin is presented in its true aspect. Its nature is to deceive. It assumes the forms of pleasure, interest, nay, sometimes of virtue. But when death approaches and lets in the searching light of eternity, all these false appearances are dissipated. Memory opens her secret stores; aggravations, before thought little, now appear great; sins against light, mercy, warning, conviction, resolutions, appear in all their enormity. The man is unfit for a holy heaven, and must, if no mercy intervene, be thrust out.

3. It renders terrible that presence of God, into which, after death, the soul must immediately enter. Is he in the presence of the Father? He has refused His calls, and slighted His love. Is he in the presence of the Son? Will he not then remember the "agony and bloody sweat," and not be filled with horror at his ingratitude? Is he in the presence of the Holy Spirit, "grieved" often, and now for ever "quenched"?

4. The banishment of the soul from God. Whither shall he go? (Jude 1:6).

II. THE STRENGTH OF SIN IS THE LAW. Because —

1. It is that which connects the penalty of death with sin. "Where no law is, there is no transgression."

2. In proportion as the law is manifested, sin is aggravated; and therefore its condemning power is increased. "The law entered, that the offence might abound; not that men might sin, but see the abounding of their sins. What strength, then, has sin to condemn in our day! The law was manifested to the patriarchs, more clearly to the Jews, most clearly to us; and hence our guilt is aggravated beyond all previous example.

3. Its rigour is never abated. It cannot relax, because it is "holy, just, and good." If "holy," it can never sanction unholiness; if "just," it must demand the penalty; if "good," or benevolent, it must be enforced; for it is mercy to the whole creation to punish offenders.

4. It is eternal. The subjects of its government are immortal. They will always be under this law, which has no remedy for their sin, and yet eternally enforces its own penalty.

III. THANKS BE TO GOD, WHICH GIVETH US THE VICTORY.

1. The means by which the victory is made possible; "through our Lord Jesus Christ." This work of Christ had several parts.(1) His incarnation. What He was to do was for us, hence He had to assume our nature.(2) His sacrificial death. He came to take the penalty of our sin; to magnify the law, and redeem us from its curse. Hence He died as our substitute.(3) His resurrection. He rose to plead His death in our behalf.(4) The effusion of the Spirit. He gives the Spirit to awaken us to a sense of our condition; to lead us to Himself and cure the plague of sin, the sting of death, in our consciences.(5) His judgeship, that, at the resurrection, He might claim His own people, and glorify them. for ever with Himself. Yet even this gives us not the victory. If Christ be neglected and slighted, this but heightens the guilt and envenoms the sting. There is, then —

2. A victory for us. How do we obtain it? Faith in the atonement secures deliverance from the curse of the law. The sense of pardon takes away the sense of guilt. The spirit of bondage gives place to the Spirit of adoption, Behold, then, victory —(1) Over death. He, too, must die. Yet it has no sting; for he is saved from sin. He is at peace with God, and in another world he shall be at peace with Him.(2) Over the grave. It has had its victory, which has been nearly universal over the strength, the art, the conditions, the pleasures, the cares, and tenderest relations of men. Yet upon the brink of the all-devouring grave itself may the Christian stand, and shout, "O grave, where is thy victory?" It has been once conquered — on the illustrious morning of our Lord's resurrection. Its key was taken into His hand. It holds the dust of His saints but as a deposit; and it shall yield them up at His call.

(R. Watson.)

This is a subject which can never be unnecessary to a Christian auditory, when death's shafts have been flying thick around us. On this side and on that we see our friends or relatives dropping like leaves in autumn. Death spares neither the poor from pity, nor the rich from terror.

I. THE IMPORTANT TRUTHS STATED IN THE TEXT.

1. "The sting of death is sin." Death, properly speaking, is not a debt due to nature, but to the justice of God. Man did not die from the same physical necessity as plants or animals. God could have also communicated to them everlasting duration; but He did not see meet to do so. Man alone was created immortal, and he forfeited his immortality by sinning against God.

2. "The strength of sin is the law." "Where there is no law there is no transgression"; and did not man transgress and violate God's holy and righteous law, death should never have had dominion over us.

3. God in His rich and sovereign grace has given us the victory over sin and death, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, what an unspeakable source of consolation is here opened to our view! That death, our worst enemy, is converted into our best friend; and now he is constrained, like Haman, to confer splendour and fell dry on "the man whom the King" of heaven "delighteth to honour." Christ by His death destroyed death. He wrested the sword from his hand, and so destroyed this mighty foe with his own weapon. In consequence of the Divine dignity of His person, He not only fulfilled the law to the uttermost, both in its precept and its penalty, but has in fact magnified the law and made it honourable, so that it is more dignified and exalted by the Redeemer's righteousness than it was dishonoured and degraded by man's transgression. The law, then, which is the strength of sin, instead of being hostile to our salvation, demands from Divine justice, as the price of Christ's atonement, that the bodies of all who sleep in Jesus shall be raised up from the dead incorruptible and glorious.

II. THE FERVOUR OF MIND EXPRESSED IN OUR TEXT.

1. The words of the apostle express victorious faith. Whence is it, then, that our faith is so inferior to his in ecstasy and felicity? Whence is it that our hearts are so intimidated and alarmed when looking forward to our conflict with the king of terrors? Is it because the promises of God are less precious and unchanging now than they were then? Is it because the sacrifice of Christ has lost the chief of its virtue and efficacy in the service of the whole Church hitherto? Is it because the arm of the risen Redeemer has become shortened that it cannot save? or is His ear become heavy that He cannot hear? Ah, no! But it is because of our unbelief.

2. The words are expressive of lively gratitude. Paul is very joyful to award the praise and the glory to Him to whom alone it is due, "who loved ,us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood." He does not ascribe the victory to the work of his own hands. He had long before that period learned to renounce his own righteousness, which was of the law; and to rely entirely and implicitly on the righteousness which is of God by faith. Nor does he ascribe the victory to his tears of penitential sorrow — tears which he never spoke lightly of — which God beholds with pity, and which cause joy among the angels of heaven. But he rejoices in Christ Jesus alone, having no confidence in the flesh.

III. THE TRIUMPH ANTICIPATED. "O death, where is thy sting?" "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Death still reigns, and is conducting millions of millions to corruption in the grave, from which no power in earth or heaven can restore them, till that appointed morning when "pains and groans, and griefs and fears, and death itself, shall die." It is this glorious and joyful event to which the apostle looks forward in the preceding verses. In the text he anticipates the glorious and final triumph which all the ransomed of the Lord shall then obtain over sin and death and hell, as conquerors, yea, and more than conquerors, "through Him that loved them." He speaks as if the believer had already entered into the heavenly temple, in both body and soul perfectly conformed to the image of the Saviour, to dwell for ever with the Lord. Neither is this presumptuous confidence, or hope that will make ashamed. The great God our Saviour has "said it, and He will do it; He has spoken, and He will make it good."

1. Whence is it that the Christian, though justified by the blood of Christ, and saved from wrath through Him, is yet subjected to death? I answer, that Christ has relieved us so far as it is a curse inflicted by the broken law. There is nothing penal in the believer's death. It is not now God's vengeance, but is conducted in love as a rich new covenant blessing, purchased with the Saviour's blood.

2. Nothing but a life of faith in the Son of God can render the prospect of death pleasing or desirable. It is told of the mother of a celebrated deist, who had been once accustomed to read the Scriptures with pleasure, but had been brought at length to adopt the infidel opinions of her son, that she made this bitter reflection on her death-bed — "My son has deprived me of the comfort and serenity I once possessed in my Bible; and, with all his philosophy, he has not been able to substitute anything in its place."

(Jas Hay, D.D.)

Whose language is this? whom does it suit? or when may it be used?

1. It suits believers, and it may be used by them in view of their own dissolution, Feeling that they are mortal, having received the sentence of death in themselves, and contemplating the corruption of the grave as their speedy and unavoidable portion; faith in the promised glories which await them, dissipates the gloom that is ready to arise, inspires with joy, and elevates to triumph. Thus a personal comfort is attained, a dying bed loses its horrors, and the stings of heaven employ the soul even among the wrecks of nature. To such an application the apostle has directed us (2 Corinthians 5:1).

2. The language is suitable, when our believing friends and relatives become the prey of death, and we are called to commit their mortal remains to the tomb. These are some of the heaviest trials of the present state. But when nature fails, faith administers relief.

I. CONSIDER THE ENEMIES HERE VIEWED BY THE SOUL, AND WHICH ARE THE OBJECTS OF ITS TRIUMPH.

1. Death and the grave are here conjoined. The former prepares for the latter; and in a sense both are inimical to the believer. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." It is such in itself, though by grace its nature is utterly changed. Death separates the soul from the body. Death dissolves all natural ties. Death removes us from a present world, to which we can never more return. Death fits for the grave. That is the common receptacle for the subjects of death, and as such is noticed in the text. The gravel how gloomy its prospect! how affecting its appearance! how awful its dominion!

2. Death and the grave are distressing and destructive to those who become their prey. What arms death with terrors, and the grave with a curse? It is sin. As sin occasioned the entrance of death, and procured the grave for mortals, so it is the continued cause of all the pains, the sorrows, and miseries these occasion to the human race.

3. The dominion of death, and the power of the grave, form a part of the righteous dispensation of God. They are under His immediate direction and government, and are made subservient to the purposes of His glory. God's faithfulness to His threatenings, His indignation against sin, and His inflexible righteousness in punishing it, are marked in every fear of death by which we are agitated — in every bereaving providence with which we are visited — and in every opening grave that presents to our view.

II. THE TRIUMPH OVER DEATH AND THE GRAVE. "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" "Put forth and strike with the one, show and maintain the other, if you can. One that is mighty hath interposed, and we are, and shall be, more than conquerors in and through Him." Concerning this attainment we must observe it is a triumph of faith. The circumstances and the situation of believers in a present world, render this grace needful, give occasion for its exercise, and manifest its strength and excellency. The inquiry here arises, What are those discoveries of faith which have such a transporting influence on the soul? answer to this inquiry, I shall only refer to this chapter, in which those truths are declared, the discovery of which by faith makes the soul thus to boast and triumph.

1. Death and the grave are changed in their nature and their original design. In itself death is a curse: it is an evil brought upon mankind by their fall: it is the executioner of the Divine threatening. As descriptive of the change that hath passed on them, the apostle represents the condition of believers, who have become their prey, by sleep (ver. 18). Such a discovery gives occasion for the exclamation in the text. "What power hast thou, O death, to hurt me? or why should I be affrighted at thee, O noisome grave? Death will only put an end to my sorrows, and the grave prove a place to me, where the wicked shall cease from troubling, and my weary limbs shall experience rest." Another discovery of faith is —

2. The advantage derived by believers from death and the grave. So far are these from being prejudicial, that they prove highly beneficial. Death, though an enemy to nature, is a friend to grace. In the inventory of the believer's privileges, drawn up by infinite wisdom, and written by an inspired pen, we read — "Life or death — all are yours" (1 Corinthians 3:22). The same truth is explained and confirmed in this chapter (vers. 18, 19). "To me to live (said the apostle) is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). "Where now is thy sting, O death? Where is thy boasted victory, O grave? My best interests are beyond your reach, my everlasting benefit and glory shall be promoted by your instrumentality."

3. Faith descries their final destruction, which is another cause of its triumph. This is foretold in the Word of God, and shall be accomplished by His power. The bands of death shall be broken — every grave shall be opened — the dead shall be raised — and not one be left behind. Then "this corruptible shall put on incorruption," etc.

III. THE SOUL'S THANKFUL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF DIVINE GRACE, AS THE CAUSE OF THIS HIGH ATTAINMENT.

1. This triumph is obtained through the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ alone. Our faith, our hope, our comfort — all must perish if we lose sight of Him.

2. An experience of Divine grace is the cause of this triumph. Grace is not only provided; it is also applied and communicated. The victory is sure — the victory is gained — it is our attainment, happiness, and honour.

3. This attainment excites the soul to praise. God is acknowledged to be the author of this happiness, and the soul renders the whole glory of it to Him.Lessons:

1. How astonishing are the exploits of the Saviour's love!

2. How needful is a saving interest in the Lord Jesus Christ for us!

3. What a source of consolation have we when our godly friends and relatives are removed from us!

4. How much does it concern us, living and dying, to exercise faith upon our Lord Jesus Christ!

(J. Kello.)

I. A GREAT DUTY — Thankfulness. In all things giving thanks; but more especially for what pertains to our eternal interest.

II. A GREAT GIFT — Victory — over sin, over sorrow, over death.

III. A GREAT MEDIUM — Through Jesus Christ. It was His work that rendered our victory possible. It was accomplished —

1. By His life.

2. By His work.

3. By His death.

IV. A GREAT GIVER — God. Thanks be to God, the highest object in the universe, the source of all power, glory, and honour. He does not require our thanks, but He will accept them.

(T. Heath.)

I. THE AWFULNESS WHICH HANGS ROUND THE DYING HOUR. It is no mark of courage to speak lightly of dying. We may do it in bravado, or in wantonness; but no man who thinks can call it a trifling thing to die. He has been waiting for death all his life, and now it is come; and through. out all eternity that sensation can come but once.

1. Now what in general makes it a solemn thing to die?(1) The instinctive cleaving of everything that lives to its own existence. It is the first and the intensest desire of living things to be. What are war, trade, labour, and professions but the result of struggling to be? Now it is with this the idea of death clashes. When we die, we are surrendering all with which we have associated existence.(2) The parting with all round which the heart's best affections have twined themselves.(3) The sensation of loneliness. If we have ever seen a ship with its load of emigrants, we know what that desolation is which comes from feeling unfriended on a new and untried excursion. This is but a feeble image of death. We die alone. Friends are beside our bed, they must stay behind.

2. But none of these ideas the apostle selected as the crowning bitterness of dying. "The sting of death is sin."(1) There is something that appals in death when separate acts of guilt rest on the memory. All these are sins which you can count up and number, and the recollection of them is remorse.(2) But with most men it is not guilty acts, but guiltiness of heart that weighs the heaviest. This is the sting of sinfulness, the feeling, "God is not my friend; I am going on to the grave, and no man can say aught against me, but my heart is not right. It is not so much what I have done; it is what I am. Who shall save me from myself?"

3. All this power of sin to agonise is traced by the apostle to the law, by which he means to say that sin would not be so violent if it were not for the attempt of God's law to restrain it. Law is what forbids and threatens; law bears gallingly on those who want to break it. And St. Paul declares this, that no law, not even God's law, can make men righteous in heart, unless the Spirit has taught men's hearts to acquiesce in the law. It can only force out into rebellion the sin that is in them.

II. FAITH CONQUERING IN DEATH

1. Before we enter upon this topic, note —(1) The elevating power of faith. Nothing ever led man on to real victory but faith. Even in this life he is a greater man who is steadily pursuing a plan that requires some years to accomplish, than he who is living by the day. And therefore it is, that nothing but faith gives victory in death. It is that elevation of character which we get from looking forward, till eternity becomes a real home to us, that enables us to look down upon the last struggle, and only as something that stands between us and the end.(2) Ours is not merely to be victory, it is to be victory through Christ. Mere victory over death is no unearthly thing.(a) Only let a man sin long and desperately enough to shut judgment altogether out of his creed, and then you have a man who can bid defiance to the grave.(b) Mere manhood may give us a victory. We have steel and nerve enough in our hearts to dare anything. Felons died on the scaffold like men; soldiers can be hired by tens of thousands, for a few pence a day, to front death in its worst form.(c) Necessity can make man conqueror over death. We can make up our minds to anything when it once becomes inevitable. Death is more dreadful in the distance than in the reality:

2. It is quite another thing from all this that Paul meant by victory. It is the prerogative of a Christian to be conqueror over —(1) Doubt. We pray till we begin to ask, Is there one who hears, or am I whispering to myself? We see the coffin lowered into the grave, and the thought comes, What if all this doctrine of a life to come be but a dream? Now Christ gives us victory over that terrible suspicion.(a) By His own resurrection. We have got a fact there that all the metaphysics about impossibility cannot rob us of.(b) By living in Christ. All doubt comes from living out of habits of affectionate obedience to God. By idleness, by neglected prayer, we lose our power of realising things not seen. Doubts can only be dispelled by that kind of active life that realises Christ. When such a man comes near the opening of a vault, be is only going to see things that he has felt, for he has been living in heaven.(2) The fear of death. It may be rapture or it may not. All that depends very much on temperament. Generally a Christian conqueror dies calmly. Brave men in battle do not boast that they are not afraid. There are more triumphant death-beds than we count, if we only remember this — true fearlessness makes no parade.(3) Death itself by the resurrection. This is chiefly what the apostle means. And it is a rhetorical expression rather than a sober truth when we call anything, except the resurrection, victory over death. We may conquer doubt and fear when we are dying, but that is not conquering death. It is like a warrior crushed by a superior antagonist bearing the glance of defiance to the last. You feel that he is an unconquerable spirit, but he is not the conqueror. And when you see flesh melting away, etc., the victory is on the side of death, not on the side of the dying. And if we would enter into the full feeling of triumph here, we imagine what this world would be without the thought of a resurrection — the sons of man mounting into a bright existence, and one after another falling back into nothingness, like soldiers trying to mount an impracticable breach, and falling back crushed and mangled into the ditch before the fire of their conquerors. Misery and guilt, look which way you will, till the heart gets sick with looking at it. Until a man looks on evil till it seems almost a real personal enemy, he can scarcely conceive the deep rapture which rushed into the mind of Paul. A day was coming when this sad world was to put off for ever its misery, and the grave was to be robbed of its victory. Conclusion: If we would be conquerors, we must realise God's love in Christ. Take care not to be under the law. Constraint never yet made a conqueror; the utmost it can do is to make either a rebel or a slave. Never shall we conquer self till we have learned to love.

(F. W. Robertson, M.A.)

I. DEATH.

1. Death has a sting. The fear of death is the commonest and strongest of all man's fears.

2. The sting of death. What is it?(1) Some say the pain of dying. But this is not necessarily greater than many non-mortals. The pain of dying is but the smart of a wound which the sting of death inflicts.(2) Others say the distressing changes that accompany death. Death separates friends, etc.(3) Paul says, "The sting of death is sin" — that which gives death the power to wound, to torment, to kill.(a) This sting is unlike that of other stings which are material, and can only hurt or kill the body. But the sting of death wounds, poisons, and destroys the soul.(b) This sting inflicts a dreadful kind of killing. No tongue can portray the case of a murdered soul. And this sort of killing is not soon over: it is a work of eternity.

3. The strength of sin is the law: its passive strength, its strength of resistance is dealt with in the process of sanctification. Its active strength is now meant, and it lies in the law. The law attaches a curse to sin; and thus gives sin its stinging power. If the law had no curse for sin, sin would not be terrible, though it would be hateful.

II. THE VICTORY OVER DEATH.

1. The conquerors of death. "Us" — i.e., believers. Each of us meets him in single combat, one by one, and severally bruise him under their feet!

2. The nature of the victory.(1) Negatively. It does not consist —(a) In giving death the slip. In war, by masterly maroeuvres, sometimes advantages may be secured, having all the value of a decisive victory, although the enemy's face has never been seen. In this way Enoch and Elijah overcame. But not thus did Christ, nor will His followers.(b) In sustaining no immediate hurt from the encounter. Rarely, indeed, does the conqueror win without injury. In the believer's conflict with death the feelings may be wounded, and the body is always laid low for a time. Even Christ was brought down to the grave.(c) In contempt of death. There are enemies who may be overcome in this way. A powerless foe has no chance, unless he can hide his imposture and work upon our fears; to despise him is to disarm and to conquer him. But death is not powerless. Contempt of him is not victory over him.(2) Positively. The victory over death consists simply in being too strong for him.(a) In prevailing over him, and thereby frustrating his attempts and defeating his designs.(b) In subduing him. He is not only hindered from doing what he wants to do, he is compelled to do something very different. He seeks to be the master and the tyrant; he is reduced to the state of a slave, and is forced to co-operate with the angels in translating the believer to heaven.

3. How is it brought about? "Through our Lord Jesus Christ." In a fight amongst men, much of the issue may depend on a single champion or leader. Christ, is the champion and the leader of His people, and as such He enables them to conquer death.(1) Through His achievements. The sting of death was paralysed by Christ, because He took upon Himself the curse of the law.(2) Through His arrangements and preparations. The soldier's success in the day of battle depends much upon these.(a) Christ furnishes His people with faith. This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.(b) Christ washes His people in His own blood, in consequence of which believers are not only invulnerable, like Achilles, in every place but one — they are invulnerable everywhere. Death has not even a chance against them.(c) Christ removes the sting of death. He deprived the sting of its strength by enduring the curse. But He does more. As death approaches, the sting is not growing larger, but, on the contrary, is ever growing less, until at last the sting disappears altogether.(d) Christ fixes the time of the believer's conflict with death, and takes care that it shall not happen before the believer is ready. Death is Christ's Captive, and cannot assail the believer till Christ gives him leave.(3) By His encouragements. Believers have the encouragement of —(a) Christ's example. An example of cowardice has a tendency to make cowards of us; and an example of courage has a tendency to make us bold.(b) Christ's presence. You know what deeds of gallantry a warrior may perform, when he fights under the eye of his leader or his sovereign.(c) Christ's words. It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. "All things are yours" — life is yours, death is yours, and as to the ultimate destiny of death. And there shall be no more death.(d) Christ's Spirit. This it is which makes every other encouragement tell. We are strung with a Divine energy, and stirred to a dauntless courage by the Holy Ghost.

4. Its fruits and rewards. We are not to suppose that "thanks" are here given for a barren victory.(1) It closes the Christian's warfare for ever. It is like one of those decisive battles by which the wars of hostile nations are terminated.(2) The believer will enter into life. Death overcome, there is nothing between him and life.(3) The believer will receive a heavenly inheritance.

5. To whom the honour of a victory so great and so fruitful pertains — "to God."(1) To the Sacred Three collectively — in respect of the eternal covenant of redemption.(2) To God the Father — in respect of the gift of the Son.(3) To God the Son — in the way we have seen.(4) To God the Holy Ghost — in respect of His work in the human nature of Christ; and inasmuch as Christ employs Him to take away the sin of believers, and to arm them, and give them effectual encouragement.

(A. Gray.)

There are two symbolic works of art, the Laocoon and St. George and the Dragon, which may be taken as setting forth in contrasted forms the irrepressible conflict of man with the alien forces of the spirit world which underlies all mythologies and religions. In the Laocoon, that peerless work of ancient sculpture, the death-like struggles of the priest-father as he vainly endeavours to tear the coiling serpents from himself and children presents a picture of man contending in his own might against the mightier powers of evil. The artist has caught the passion at its highest point, as Lessing with fine critical insight has pointed out. In the midst of a tempest of agony there is a calm like the peaceful depths beneath the wind-tossed surface of the sea. But the calm which overspreads the face, suffusing with sublime power the lines of pain, is not the calm of resignation or of hope, but of mute, heroic despair. The Laocoon is a confession in marble of the failure of man at his best to gain the mastery over evil. In St. George and the Dragon the same struggle is portrayed, but here the saint is victor. Entering the lists against the devouring, anarchic principle, of which the Dragon is the emblem, he returns from the conflict in triumph. The greatest object of human effort is attained, the highest hope of the human heart is met, the Dragon is slain, and man delivered. Deliverance is wrought out through the interposition of another. One whose heart heaven has touched with the spirit of holy chivalry wins, with his own strong arm, redemption for the weak. Fit emblem of the greater victory won by the "Strong Son of God," who came down to earth to rescue perishing souls from the powers of darkness and sin!

Therefore,... be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord
I. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE DUTIES INCULCATED.

1. A steadfast adherence to the faith of the gospel, in opposition to prevailing error. "Be steadfast." See that your faith do not stand in the wisdom of men, but by the power of God. Light shines around; it beams with steady lustre from the oracles of truth; and will you, with the means of having your feet guided in the ways of peace, prefer the glimmerings of human reason, allow yourselves to be blinded by the influence of error, and walk in that road of sin which leads directly to the chambers of hell?

2. Unshaken firmness in maintaining the profession of the gospel, in opposition to every temptation and danger. Be "unmovable," or unmoved. Is there nothing dangerous in the corruption of our own hearts — in those remaining roots of sin which so often spring up unsuspected, and overspread our minds with the noxious weeds of carnal affection, unhallowed passion, licentious desires, and even sinful resolutions? These are enemies too near us to be viewed with indifference; and to submit to their influence is virtually to renounce the profession which we ought habitually to maintain. Is there nothing dangerous in those allurements of the world which are scattered around us? Is there nothing dangerous in those unseen yet real temptations with which the enemy of God and of man assails us? These are temptations that require caution as well as fortitude — watchfulness and faith and prayer. In opposition to these and similar dangers, we are exhorted to be steadfast and unmoved. And why shrink from these conflicts of patience and faith? — why relinquish the hopes with which our Divine Master encourages us to perseverance?

3. We are exhorted to be habitually and increasingly employed in the service of Christ — "always abounding in the work of the Lord." the duties of the Christian life are emphatically styled a work and a labour. Its difficulties do not arise wholly from external temptations, nor is the service which it requires confined to the resistance of sin. There are graces and virtues which must be brought into actual and vigorous exercise, and duties which every man in his own station must labour diligently and faithfully to perform. Shall we not feel every labour sweetened, every pain alleviated, to believe that we are thus expressing our gratitude to Him who loved us and gave Himself for us — our obedience to Him who ransomed us from destruction by His own precious blood? Where is there a relation in which we stand to God or to our fellow-men, in discharging the duties of which He did not stand forth the pattern of perfection to the universe and to us? What energy must it impart to the Christian, farther, to be persuaded that strength shall be furnished him for this service! Yes, it is a labour in the Lord. He who has been perfected through sufferings — He who possesses all the treasures of knowledge, and wisdom, and grace, is the strength of His disciples. He is their sun and their shield, their light and their life. Finally, on this part of the subject we are exhorted to abound always in the work of the Lord. How little have we done for the glory of God and the advancement of our own holiness, in comparison of what we might and should have done! Not only how imperfect, but how polluted often are our services. Let us arise, then, and be found retrieving what we have lost; doing what we ought already to have done; more habitually abounding in the work of our Lord. Let us set no limit to our exertions; let us not measure our attainments by those of others, far less let us sit down in sloth and carelessness.

II. THE POWERFUL INCITEMENT BY WHICH THE PRACTICE OF THESE DUTIES IS ENFORCED. "Your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord." Even the hope of success is a strong incitement to exertion; what influence, then, must not the certainty of attaining our object have? This is possessed by all who abound in the work of the Lord.

1. Even in this world they reap the fruit of their labours. The more enlarged views of Divine truth which they gradually acquire — the more habitual conformity to the image, and submission to the will, of their Lord which they attain — the progressive dethronement of the power of sin, which is the result of this belief of the truth and sanctification of the Spirit — and that more steady zeal for the interests of pure and undefiled religion in themselves and in the world to which they are excited — are the sources of a happiness pure as the fountain from which it springs, and motives to increased alacrity in the work of the Lord.

2. The resurrection day is appointed as the period when the complete triumph of the Christian shall commence. Are you, then, the humble yet praying and faithful followers of Jesus? Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might, giving glory to God; and through Him your admission into heaven is sure! Why should you be sorrowful? why languid? why unbelieving? why unsteady in your course? Your labours may be severe, your difficulties numerous, your duties painful, your afflictions heavy; but they shall not be in vain, if endured in the Lord.

(D. Dickson, D.D.)

Next to sincerity, and indeed as very closely connected with it, fixedness or steadiness may properly be considered as a general qualification, which ought to run through every branch of the Christian temper.

I. EXPLAIN THIS QUALIFICATION.

1. The Christian temper and course must be habitual and constant, in opposition to that which is merely occasional, or by fits and starts. It is not enough that now and then we attend to religion; but the ordinary bent of our spirits must run this way, and customary practice correspond with it.(1) Our design and purpose should be for a constant adherence to God and our duty at all times.(2) Religion must be made our stated and ordinary business, to denominate us with any propriety constant in it.(3) Deliberate and presumptuous sins must be carefully avoided; or a breach will be made upon our constancy and steadfastness in the work of the Lord, in the mild and favourable sense of the gospel.(4) Upon any known falls there should be a speedy and proportionable repentance.

2. The Christian temper and course must be persisted in to the end of life. This is to be steadfast and unmovable in it.(1) That we be not wearied out by the length of our way.(2) That we suffer not ourselves to give over our work in despondency, because of the slow progress and small success we discern.(3) That we are not affrighted from our steadfastness by the approach of sufferings, but resolutely adhere to God and a good conscience, "withstanding in an evil day, that having done all we may stand."(4) That we suffer not ourselves to be drawn aside from the faith or practice of the gospel by giving heed to them that lie in wait to deceive; but "beware, lest being led away by the error of the wicked, we fall from our own steadfastness" (2 Peter 3:17).(5) That we be not insensibly drawn on to apostacy by the importunate allurements of present temptations.

II. THE NECESSITY OF THIS QUALIFICATION OF STEADFASTNESS IN THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN TEMPER AND WORK.

1. It is necessary to our acceptance with God and our final happiness by Divine constitution.

2. It is necessary to the credit of our holy profession. Nothing is so great a disparagement to religion, and so freely opens the mouths of its enemies, as any scandalous falls, and especially the open apostasy of those who have made a distinguishing pretence to it.

3. It is necessary, in conformity to our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may prevailingly bear His resemblance, though we cannot in this world do it perfectly.By way of reflection —

1. We have here a rule for trying the goodness of our state, as far as we are advanced in life, by inquiring into the evangelical constancy of the Christian temper and course, since we have given up our names to be the Lord's. Whether it has been the daily settled bent of our souls to please God and avoid every known sin?

2. The best have room to censure themselves for the lesser unevennesses of their frames and course.

3. We have all reason to be excited to the greatest concern and care that we may always be steadfast and unmovable in the work of the Lord.

(J. Evans, D.D.)

I. EXPLAIN THE EXHORTATION IN THE TEXT.

1. The first particular in the text is steadfastness, which refers both to doctrine and practice.(1) First, then, to doctrine. Men often embrace opinions without examining sufficiently into the foundations of them. When the assent is thus hastily given, it is easily shaken, and every succeeding teacher is thus able to subvert the tenets of his immediate predecessor. Before a man forms an opinion, he ought to judge maturely; and, after it is formed, he ought to be open to conviction. There is an obstinacy in persisting in a wrong opinion which is as culpable as unsteady adherence to a right one. Having embraced the truth, we ought to continue in it, that we may grow up in all things to Him, who is the head.(2) Again, we must be steadfast in practice. The steadfastness which the apostle enjoins takes the law of God for the rule of conduct, and by this law it abides. It makes religion the unremitting business of life. It is a regular, uniform, and persevering principle; it neither rises nor falls; it neither ebbs nor flows; it neither blazes forth with extravagant fervour, nor is chilled with frigid indifference. The path of the steadfast is as the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

2. The duty of being "immovable" has probably a reference to those temptations to which, in the early ages of Christianity, all were exposed who embraced the gospel; and which, considering the weakness of human nature, had a strong tendency to remove them from the good way which they had so lately chosen. But though we have nothing to fear from religious persecution, and though our faith be not tried by sufferings such as theirs, there are still many temptations that may render us movable. Riches still catch the eye, and kindle the desire of the covetous. Licentious pleasures still allure the voluptuous. There are still honours to tempt the ambitious. And these render men as movable as persecution itself. To be immovable implies that we live under habitual impressions of religion; and though from infirmity, from the strength of passion, or the power of temptation, we may be led astray, yet it is our earnest desire to walk in the ways of holiness, and to have respect to all God's commandments. This is to be the prevailing desire of the heart. This is to be the predominating principle of the conduct. Nothing is better calculated to render us immovable in our Christian progress than a firm and lively faith. Would all the pleasures or riches of the world tempt a man under a thorough conviction that by gaining them he should lose his own soul?

3. By "the work of the Lord" we are to understand a life and conversation regulated by the precepts of the gospel. "Abounding" in this work implies that we embrace every opportunity of doing our duty; that in situations in which we are called forth to exhibit our duty to God, we perform it in conformity to His Holy Word; that a similar performance is given to what refers to our fellow-creatures; that in all things respecting God, our neighbour, or ourselves, our conduct is directed by His law, and agreeable to it. But it is not enough that we acquire all the virtues of the Christian character; these we must possess in the highest degree; we must make continual progress in holiness; we must be advancing from one degree of grace and perfection to another; we must study to arrive at the fulness of the stature of the perfect man, which is in God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH WE HAVE TO COMPLY WITH THE EXHORTATION IN THE TEXT. "Our labour in the Lord is not in vain."

1. It is not "in vain" even in this world. Though piety and virtue be not attended with a complete reward in this life, and though, in some cases, they may expose to temporal loss, yet the advantages resulting from them are more than sufficient to counterbalance any sufferings to which their practice may expose us. Peace of mind and inward satisfaction are their peculiar reward. A good man is at all times satisfied from himself; a good conscience is a perpetual feast. Happiness, indeed for a time, may be changed into misery; health, in the course of human life, may be turned into sickness, but the peace of conscience continues for ever. "Great peace have they," says the psalmist, "which love Thy law." But the reward of the virtuous consists not merely of inward peace. In the ordinary transactions of life the effects of piety and virtue are seen and felt. It will be found that, even with regard to temporal affairs, "he that walketh uprightly, walketh surely." A fair character and unsullied reputation carry a man forward in the world, and contribute more effectually to promote his prosperity than all the unworthy arts of falsehood and dishonesty.

2. It is in the future life that the rewards of the righteous will be full and adequate. There the seeds that are now sown shall arrive at maturity, and flourish for ever; there the righteous shall receive that crown of glory which fadeth not away; there they shall be priests and kings unto God, and live with Him for ever.

(G. Goldie.)

There are many places in St. Paul's writings where the "therefores" are to be carefully noted. But there is no place, except perhaps in Romans 8:1, where the "therefore" is so emphatic as here. We have not only hope in this life, our faith is not vain, etc., therefore "be ye steadfast," etc. We know by what is revealed in this chapter that our labour is not in vain, "therefore" let us labour. We have here —

I. IMMOVABLE STEADFASTNESS. In what?

1. In the belief of the actual resurrection of Christ. It is the apostle's design to show that that is the foundation of our faith, and that if that can be overthrown all our hopes are vain; but that if Christ be indeed risen, then we are to feel assured that our forgiveness is secure, and that we have a full answer to the demands of the broken law of God.

2. But we are warranted in regarding this exhortation as also pointing to steadfastness in every fundamental Christian truth. There are many questions on which men may differ with the widest charity. But we are not allowed to give and take on such matters as the atonement, etc. And in these days when men are being driven by every wind of doctrine away from their moorings it is specially needful for us to pray to be kept steadfast in the faith. Of course it is the duty of the Church to adapt itself to the changed circumstances of the age, but with regard to the truth of God there must be no compromise.

II. ABOUNDING WORK.

1. Before we get outside our own homes, before we use our telescopes to look for distant objects, understand that the Lord's work is your own proper duties discharged as unto God. The first way in which the humblest and the highest is to do the work of the Lord is by bringing the religion of Jesus in its lofty principles and noble motives into the duties of daily life. The Christian servant can do the work of the Lord by being a good servant, the young man in a place of trust by promoting his employer's interest. Before you talk of Sunday-schools, Christian associations, etc., go to the kitchen, counting-house, etc., with the feeling — this is the work which God has given me to do.

2. Yet there must be many who by self-denial and economy can undertake some religious work. A heart hungering for duty will be sure to find it. If you are ready to say, "Lord, give me some work to do," the Lord will respond. Here I would appeal particularly to young women, for they have greater opportunities — are you working for God or killing your time — pretending to do work with your fingers which is all but useless or, far worse, poisoning your mind with frivolous or impure novels?

3. But the apostle presses you further. He asks not only are you working, but are you abounding in the work. "Herein is My Father glorified that ye bear much fruit" — not a little or an occasional bearing of fruit. Religion is not a thing of fits and starts, a life of spiritual spasms.

4. Paul presses you still further. "Always." You are to err rather by excess than by defeat. And while so much is being done, how much remains to be done!

III. A SURE HOPE. It is not forasmuch as ye trust, speculate, think, but "know," that your labour is not in vain. It is not in vain because —

1. No real work for God can be in vain. We are constantly tempted to think we have failed; yet we must know a great deal more about providence, the issues of things, and the hearings of what we have done before we so conclude. Many a minister, Sunday-school teacher has so felt about men and boys who are now earnest Christians.

2. For every work of God there is a reward — not of merit, but of grace. "God is not unrighteous," etc. "Well done, good and faithful servant."

(Canon Miller.)

The apostle had been proving the resurrection, yet he was not to forget to make practical use of the doctrine which he established. He was not like those who hew down trees and square them, but forget to build the house therewith. He brings to light the great stones of truth: but he is not content with being a mere quarryman, he labours to erect the temple of Christian holiness. He does not merely grope among the lower strata of truth; he ploughs the rich upper soil, sows, reaps, gathers in a harvest, and feeds many. Thus should the practical ever flow from the doctrinal like wine from the clusters of the grape. Note here —

I. TWO GREAT POINTS OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

1. "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable." Two things are wanted in a good soldier, steadiness under fire and enthusiasm during a charge. The first is the more essential in most battles, the most essential virtue for victory is for a soldier to know how, "having done all to stand."(1) Be ye steadfast.(a) In the doctrines of the gospel. Know what you know, and, knowing it, cling to it. There are certain things which are true; find them out, grapple them to you as with hooks of steel. Buy the truth at any price and sell it at no price.(b) In not being changeable. Some have one creed to-day and another to-morrow, variably as a lady's fashions. There are many like those described by Whitfield, "you might as well try to measure the moon for a suit of clothes as to tell what they believed." How can a tree grow when perpetually shifted? How can a soul make progress if it is evermore changing its course?(c) In character. Alas! many Christians have started aside as a deceitful bow. Their integrity was once unquestioned, but now they have learned the ways of a faithless world; truth was on their lip, but now they have learned to flatter; they were once zealous, but are now careless. Be ye not corrupted by evil communications.(d) In attainments. Is not Christian life with many like the sea which spends its force in perpetual ebb and flow: to-day all earnest, to-morrow all indifferent; to-day generous, to-morrow mean? What they build with one hand they pull down with the other. Be ye steadfast. "When ye climb ask for grace to keep there. Columbus would not have discovered a new world if he had sailed a little way and then had turned his timid prow towards port.(e) In Christian work. Perseverance is at once the crown and the cross of service. Have you taken a class in the Sabbath school? The novelty of it may carry you through a month or two, but be steadfast and hold on year after year, for therein will lie your honour and success. Noah preached for 120 years, and where were his converts? Be may have had a great many, but they were all dead and buried with the exception of himself and family.(2) "Be ye unmoveable." Be "steadfast" in times of peace, like rocks in the midst of a calm and glassy sea; be umnoveable like those same rocks when the billows dash against them. Be unmoveable —(a) When you are assailed by argument. No man can answer all the queries which others can raise, or reply to all objections which may be brought against the most obvious facts. It will be your right course to be unmoveable, that your adversary may see that his sophisms are of no avail.(b) When you are met by bad example. The world never overcame the Church in argument yet, for it has always refuted itself; but its example has often told upon the soldiers of Christ with powerful effect. The current of the world runs furiously towards sin, and the fear is lest the Lord's swimmers should not be able to stem the flood.(c) In the fear of the world's persecutions and its smiles.

2. "Always abounding in the work of the Lord."(1) Every Christian ought to be engaged "in the work of the Lord." True, our every-day labour ought to be so done as to honour His name, but every Christian should be labouring in some sphere of holy service.(2) He is to abound in it. Do much, very much, all you can do, and a little more. Our vessels are never full till they run over.(3) He is to be "always abounding." Some Christians think it enough to abound on Sundays. When you are young abound in service, and in middle and old age.(4) In the work of the Lord. We must never become proud, but remember that it is God's work, and whatever we accomplish is accomplished rather by God in us than by us for God.

II. THE MOTIVE WHICH URGES US TO THESE TWO DUTIES. Let us be steadfast, for —

1. Our principles are true. If Christ has not risen, then we are the dupes of an imposition, and let us give it up. But if Christ hath risen, then our doctrines are true, and let us hold them firmly and promulgate them earnestly. Since our cause is a good one let us seek to advance it.

2. Christ is risen, therefore what we do is not done for a dead Christ. We are not contending for an effete dynasty, or a name to conjure by, but we have a living King, one who is able both to occupy the throne and to lead on our hosts to battle. If it could be proved to-morrow that Napoleon still lived, there might be some hope for his party, but with the chieftain dead the cause faints.

3. We shall rise again. If what we do for God were to have its only reward on earth it were a poor prospect. Never think of diminishing your service, rather increase it, for the reward is at hand. And remember that as you will rise again, so those whom you come in contact with will also rise.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

There is no tautology here. Be "steadfast" when all goes well, and "unmoveable" when it goes otherwise. That is where many fail. They are steadfast so long as all goes pleasantly; but when the slightest cross comes, then they go; they are not unmoveable. Yonder oak is steadfast in the summer sunset, when the western glory rests its blessedness upon its head, and the evening breeze whispers through its branches; it is unmoveable in the black midnight when the howling storm tears through the forest, and every other tree is uprooted and flung to the earth. That rock in the sea is steadfast when the ocean around it is only a broad, bright mirror to catch the glories of heaven and pour them back again on the sky; and it is "unmoveable" when the ocean storm is raging round, and seeks to hurl it from its base or tear it up from its foundations.

(J. P. Chown.)

(to the young): —

I. OUR WORK. Work is the law of the universe. Man is the only idler. God works in nature, providence, and grace. The law of the Church is work. Our work must begin with ourselves. It is very much easier to recommend religion to others than it is to secure it ourselves. Religion, like charity, must begin at home.

1. "Be steadfast," settled, decided. "Unstable as water thou shalt not excel."(1) That is the weak place with thousands of young men and women. They are tossed about by every wind, halting between two opinions. And remember, the man who has not decided is decided not to be a Christian.(2) You must decide yourself. Your mother can plead for you, but she cannot decide for you. God Himself cannot decide. Christ says, "I have died for you." The Spirit says, "I have striven for you"; heaven and earth are waiting for you. God help you to say, "His people shall be my people, and their God my God."

2. Having got right, keep right — "unmoveable." That is not easy work. You have mighty foes. You are bound for the kingdom, and the devil is bound to hinder you if he can. The world comes in. What are you to do? You are on the rock —(1) Now fortify yourself — "add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge," etc.; build these all round you, and then when the sweep of the wave comes you will be "unmoveable."(2) Treasure the promises. Faith must have God's Word to stand upon.(3) Read carefully the history of God's dealings with His people. Some people are all promises, but God is a performing God. Read the record outside the book, for God has not left off working.(4) Keep up your close union with God. "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Do not be content with a second-hand religion; it does not wear well. If a man has once tasted honey, all the scientific men in the world cannot persuade him that it is not sweet.

3. Care for others. The Christian religion is the determined and constant enemy of selfishness. Did Jesus teach us to pray, "take me to heaven"? No. "Thy kingdom come." The work of the Lord is the same kind of work that Jesus did, who left us an example that we should tread in His steps. "He went about doing good." The Church is the body of Christ, and we as members of that body must ask, "Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?" Some people seem to fancy that they cannot be doing the work of the Lord unless they get into a pulpit or take a Bible-class. Jesus fed the hungry, comforted the sorrowful, healed the sick, saved the lost. Everything that is for the good of man is the work of the Lord. Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, said that the work of the Lord was to make earth like heaven and every man like God. Now, set to work at home; try to make your home like heaven. Practise good temper. Do everything you can, remembering that you are Christ's representative. Do you know of a young man out of work? Try to get him a shop. There is a poor fellow going wrong; now you try and get him to sign the pledge.

II. HOW ARE WE TO DO THIS WORK?

1. Heartily, "abounding." We are not hirelings; we are sons and daughters. We serve Him not grudgingly or of necessity, but our hearts are in our word. Not only are we not hirelings, but we are not Jews. They were surrounded by a network of law; but we are under love, and love does not want commands — it only wants opportunity. Under the dominion of love you are not asked for an Eight Hours Bill. Love can never do enough. Think of a mother with an Eight Hours Bill!

2. "Always abounding" — in youth, in manhood, in old age. Not spasmodic. Some of our people are rockets. You hear nothing of them except when some revival is on. Then you think they are going to take the world by storm; but in a month you cannot find them anywhere.

III. THE REWARD. It is not in vain.

1. It will make you strong. How is the arm made strong? By putting it in a sling? No; by using it. Whom do you go to when you want money? Not to the man who never gives, but to the man who is always giving.

2. It will make you happier. I have heard wives say they dread their husbands being out of work because then they are always grumbling and out of temper; but when there is plenty of work they are all right. So it is with religion.

3. You will have an exceeding great reward by and by. Christ will never forget a kindness. "I was hungry and you fed Me," etc. "Enter into My joy, and sit down on My throne!"

(C. Garrett.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN HAS A LORD. We all know that we have in Christ a Saviour, and we realise and live upon this every day. But we do not so constantly bear in mind that because He is our Saviour He is our Lord. And yet read Romans 14:7, etc. Israel, the type of God's people, were redeemed from a service to a service; they were redeemed from the brick kilns of Egypt to be the grateful servants of the God who had delivered them. And so with the Christian. The same blood which speaks our peace with God is the ransom which buys us back to loyal service to our Master. Paul chose as his highest title — "A servant of Jesus Christ." "Whose I am, and whom I serve."

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S LORD HAS A WORK FOR HIM TO DO. How solemnly is this brought before us in our Lord's parable of the talents! "He left unto every man his work"; not to some of them, but "to every man." So we find, that when men are really converted to God they become working men. Paul reminds the Thessalonians of the effect which the gospel had upon them when he speaks of their work of faith; not talk of faith and labour of love: not your mere emotion, excitement of love. We would not so preach as to make you imagine that you are to enjoy no sweet and tranquil emotions; but we would most solemnly warn you against that religion which is the result of mere feeling and excitement, and we would solemnly call upon you if you profess Christ as the Lord, to work for Him. Oh! it makes one's heart sink to see how many there are with time and energy, which is frittered away for vanity, for the world. How few bees there are, and how many butterflies! The bee enjoys the "shining hour," but improves it also. The Christian has an aim, which is the aim of every day, week, year, of his whole life — the very same end which is before the archangel who stands highest to the throne of God, viz., the glory of God; and we may well thank God when by promoting the salvation of the sinner or a little child we are at the same time promoting the glory of that God who made him, and the glory of that Saviour who bought him with His blood. How strikingly your Lord Himself is an example of devotedness to the great work for which He came into the world! As a child He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" In His mid career, "My meat," He says, "is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." And then at the end of His career, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." Here is not only your Lord, but your pattern.

III. THE CHRISTIAN IS TO BE ABUNDANT IN CHRIST'S WORK.

1. This expression not only seems to imply much labour, but a cheerfulness of heart in doing our work. Oh! what a thing it is to do one's work cheerfully — to recollect that we are not to be doling out to Christ as little as we possibly can. This was the case with the early Christians and with the apostle himself (ver. 10; Romans 16:12; Philippians 4:3).

2. And what is to give us the motive for this cheerful and this abounding exertion? (Galatians 2:2). And when once that motive gets into the heart there is no sacrifice, no labours too great for it to carry you through.

3. Here is a question for us all. What action can we put our hands upon now, and say, in the sight of God, that action was done from love to Christ? We could have no difficulty in proving that we love our parents, that we love our children, etc.

IV. THE CHRISTIAN'S WORK FOR CHRIST IS A CONSTANT WORK. "Always abounding." We are not to be Christians by fits and starts. Some Christians are full of activity and effort one day, when they have taken up something new; but when the novelty has gone off there is a collapse. There must be a perseverance in every work we undertake for Christ, and there must be an endeavour to have Christ's glory continually before us. There is no work for Christ which deserves so much of Christian per- severance as the work of Sunday-school teachers. Young persons especially are apt to form an unreal view of the work they are going to undertake. They think there is something beautiful, romantic, in feeding the lambs of Christ's flock. And when they enter the Sunday-school, what have they got? Perhaps a class of idle, wayward, fretful, dull children; and they find that the feeding of the lambs of Christ's flock is a far heavier trial of their Christian principle and their Christian faith than they had any idea of. And what is the result? How many are there of those who, having entered the work under mistaken notions of it, are going on in it without throwing their hearts into it, and consequently without efficiency! Go into Sunday-school after Sunday-school, and see those six or eight little children sitting down there: and they are doing nothing. Why not? There is no teacher present. He is not kept away by the providence of God; but it was not convenient or pleasant for him to come that morning; and the little children go home, and are constrained to report to their parents that they were at school, and that there was no one there to teach them. Conclusion: Do not think I am not recognising what God has done by means of many faithful teachers; but I have long ago come to this conviction, that the teacher makes the class, and consequently that teachers make the school. And therefore the work really is a solemn responsibility. If you enter on that work you are bound to do everything in your power — in the spirit of prayer, invoking the aid of that Holy Spirit without whom all effort is worthless — to bring the children to Christ.

(Canon Miller.)

"Therefore — because death is not your end, because you are to live body and soul in a future state — be ye steadfast." The work of soul restoration is —

I. SPECIALLY DIVINE. It is "the work of the Lord." The work of the Lord is seen in the universe and in providence, but the spiritual restoration of mankind is in a special sense His. It is His great work. Think —

1. Of the preparation for this work; four thousand years of priests, seers, miracles, as preliminary.

2. Of the sacrifices made to accomplish it. The incarnate God lived, suffered, and died.

3. Of the unceasing agency of the Divine Spirit in order to effect it. He is always striving with men from age to age and in all lands.

4. Of its wonderful results. Millions of lost souls redeemed to the knowledge, image, fellowship, and service of Almighty God.

II. DEMANDS THE MOST EARNEST EFFORTS OF MANKIND. There are some works of the Lord in which we cannot engage, but here we are "labourers together with Him." Our labour must be —

1. Invincible. The two words, "steadfast and unmoveable," express this. So many are the impulses within, so many are the forces without, opposing the work, that nothing but an invincible determination can carry us through. "This one thing I do."

2. "Abounding." The spirit of this work should reign in us, everywhere and at all times. As the parental element inspires the mother, and mingles with all her domestic arrangements and pleasures, so this spirit must inspire us and mingle with all our undertakings. Religion in a man is either everywhere or nowhere, everything or nothing.

III. MUST INEVITABLY SUCCEED.

1. There are two kinds of vain labour —(1) That which aims at a worthless end. Therefore, if it succeeds, it is useless.(2) That which is directed to a good end, but can never realise it, simply because it is too indeterminate and feeble.

2. But here is a work that must succeed. Every true thought, earnest prayer, godly deed, carry in themselves success. As all the elements and forces of this world go to build up a new stratum around the globe's surface, for geologists of coming ages to study, so all that I do and think and say in the work of the Lord goes to give blessedness to my being.

IV. WILL FULLY REALISE ITS SUCCESS IN THE FUTURE WORLD. "Therefore," says Paul, "were this life our all, our spiritual labour might be considered vain." What boots our striving after knowledge, our efforts to build up a noble character, if the grave be our end? But there is a future, and in it there is a full reward. All the waters of holy thought and effort we now receive into our being go to make a well within us that shall spring up to everlasting life.

(D. Thomas, D.D.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE DUTY HERE STATED. "The work of the Lord," i.e., —

1. The work in which the Lord Himself was employed. Here, Christian, behold thy model, thy motive, and thy honour. How does it stimulate the faithful servant to see his master labouring by his side; and what servant is he who can take ease or be idle while his lord is toiling in the field?

2. The work which the Lord has commanded. Besides the pursuit of our own personal salvation, we are enjoined to seek the advancement of Christ's cause.

3. The work in the results of which the Lord will be glorified. When, therefore, we propagate His gospel, and are successful in converting sinners, we collect His tribute and gather His reward.

4. The work to which the Lord alone can give success. "It is not by might or by power, but by His Spirit."

II. THE MANNER IN WHICH THIS DUTY SHOULD BE PERFORMED.

1. Abundantly. It may be said of many sciolists that they half know everything, and of some Christians that they half do everything. This is in direct opposition to the Scripture, which requires us to do everything in the service of God with all our heart and soul and strength. Our fruit should not only be excellent in quality, but plenteous in quantity. This expression implies —(1) That our exertions should be proportioned to our ability. "Unto whom much is given, from them much is required." Proportion is the great rule of man's accountability, both in giving and doing.(2) That we eagerly embrace and seek out for opportunities of doing good.(3) That we esteem it our privilege, and not our hardship, to do the work of the Lord.

2. Perseveringly. We must be steadfast and immoveable. These expressions seem to imply some opposition which will try our constancy. It will be tried —(1) By the misapprehension of your motives and designs. But Raphael would not have altered the masterpieces of his pencil to please a blind critic, nor Handel his "Messiah" at the suggestion of one who was ignorant of music.(2) By ingratitude. The world has not always known its best friends, nor should the world's best friends, on this account, become its enemies.(3) By derision.(4) By apparent want of success.(5) By a spirit of lukewarmness. The rock which the fury of a thousand storms could not shake may waste away in time from some principle of decomposition concealed within itself.

III. THE MOTIVE BY WHICH IT IS ENFORCED.

1. It shall not be unrewarded. If, indeed, we were not permitted to look beyond the present world for our reward, we should find it here. The spirit of Christian zeal is a source of unfailing happiness to itself. Then there is a rich reward, which, after ripening through the years of time, we shall enjoy through the ages of eternity.

2. It shall not be unsuccessful The language of the text implies —(1) Natural tendency. Such labour as I now enjoin — Bible and tract distribution, home and foreign missions, etc. — have a peculiar adaptation, under the blessing of God, to effect the conversion of sinners.(2) Ultimate and general efficiency. The work of the Lord, with whatever local or temporary failures it may be attended, shall triumph eventually over every obstacle. The truth of God has declared it, and has given the promise into the hand of Omnipotence to be performed.

(J. Angell James.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE SERVICE OF GOD: "Labour." It is laborious because of —

1. The vast circumference of the duty.

2. The conditions required.

3. The care to be taken.

4. The opposition encountered.

II. THE REWARD THAT SWEETENS THIS LABOUR.

1. Present.

(1)Skill and ability in the work.

(2)Protection and security.

(3)Peace.

2. Future.

(W. Gurnall.)

"Wherefore" — taking these facts, truths, reasonings, "be ye steadfast," etc. Every new truth means a new work. No truth is given to man to be hoarded by him. One reason why many are always learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth is that they have no set intent and purpose to use truth. They want it for comfort simply, not to direct them along the road of duty. The leading ideas of our text are —

I. RESTFULNESS.

1. In every life there needs to be a restful centre if there is to be a wise and well-ordered activity. The ocean itself could not bring back into quiet and order its foaming waves if it had not a deep peace underneath. But in our day the question, "What shall I do next?" is asked before we have well finished that which went before; and so, much of our activity is merely consuming time. Therefore it is that the apostle says, "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable." Consider who it is that says this. It is the man of all others most intensely active; but his activity was all of a piece. It was animated by a single purpose — that of making known to men the truth that had come to us in Christ Jesus. In that he rested.

2. When the Eternal Father gave us Christ He gave us one who is pre-harmonised to our necessities. When the mind rests in Him it rests as the astronomer rests who has found his sun. For every heart there must be a centre of affection, for every mind a centre of light to which we can look, always and ever, without doubt and fear, without vacillation and variableness. Can it be that there is no one to meet that necessity? Wherever you find hunger you find food; wherever you find intelligence you find objects which appeal to it. In Christ Jesus, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever, is God's answer to our need. In Him rest.

II. ACTIVITY. When you have attained rest in Christ then your activity will have an area large enough for the employment of all your faculties. As to time, we are to work "always." As to quantity, we are to "abound" in it. As to the kind of work, it is to be "the work of the Lord." There is room for every kind of work on which a man can. ask God's blessing. We must not limit the work of the Lord to that which is strictly ecclesiastical. Everything which does good to the bodies, minds, souls of men is the work of the Lord; and "they also serve who only stand and wait." But some form of Christian service is sure to follow a vigorous inward faith. Fill a man's mind with such truth as St. Paul has put into this chapter, and he will want to incorporate it in some way. Truth acts on the mind precisely as material food acts on the body. It either creates warmth and energy or it creates indigestion. I think that there can be no doubt that good, solid Biblical truth does not agree with some constitutions. Their mental digestion has been ruined by the ice-cream of rationalism and the luscious confections of an emotional and superstitious form of religion. But to these who can digest "strong meat," what nutriment there is in it! — what inward warmth it creates! what energy it generates! what varied activities ensue! — so that of such it may be said, "They are always abounding in the work of the Lord."

III. CONFIDENCE: "Forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." Every Christian worker needs, at some time or other, just these words. The apostle himself had been seemingly defeated again and again. Yet he was always confident. A man working along the lines of a true Christian effort can never work in vain. At the end of Christ's earthly life there was nothing to show but a small band of poor working men and a Cross. Yet that defeat, as we now see it, was the most splendid victory. And there are hundreds of men who, in doing the work of the Lord, have had to bear a heavy cross. I believe that many such cases will, in the judgment of the Master, have been victory. With the New Testament in my hand, I cannot believe in some of our methods of estimating the value of Church work. Arithmetical figures can never express spiritual results. We cannot introduce the spirit of ecclesiastical competition into our Church life without lowering our spiritual tone. When any of us work for the approval and applause of men rather than out of a feeling of service to God we shall have our reward, but it will never satisfy us. But if, seeing the excellency of Christian work as well as its necessity, we are willing to take any place that seems to need us, then we have a right to believe that our labour shall not be in vain in the Lord. God will be glorified; into ourselves there will come a character which shall adapt us to the next stage of life, and our souls will inevitably be influenced.

(Reuen Thomas, D.D.)

It is said that after the toils of the day Michael Angelo would sometimes be so wearied that be would get into bed without undressing, and as soon as refreshed by sleep would get up again, and with a candle stuck in his hat, so that the light might fall properly on the figure on which he was at work, he would pursue his beloved art. Living in a state of celibacy, he was accustomed to say his art was his wife and his works his children, and when some persons reproached him with leading so melancholy a life, he said, "Art is jealous; she requires the whole and entire man." So in the work in which we are engaged we may need sensors of hard and difficult and solitary labour. But how wonderfully are we sustained! Then work becomes a joy. The most difficult employment for the Master is performed with a great deal of interest. Work is not only a joy, but we become anxious to do all we can to complete, if possible, what seems to be our part in the work of life.

Whilst the stream keeps running it keeps clear; but if it comes once to a standing water, then it breeds frogs and toads and all manner of filth. The keys that men keep in their pockets, and use every day, wax brighter and brighter; but if they be laid aside and hang by the walls, they soon grow rusty. Thus it is said that action is the very life of the soul. "Always abounding in the work of the Lord" is the way to keep clear and free from the pollutions of the world.

In common with hundreds of others, I visited some time ago the garden of a Mr. C — to see a century-plant which was in bloom. Within a few weeks it shot up from a moderate-sized shrub to a stalk thirty feet high; it sent forth two dozen branches, on the ends of which were several hundreds of minute yellow flowers. That aloe-plant has been in Mr. C — 's garden for many a long year, but it never attracted my attention before. In a few days the brief blossoms dropped off, and then for another century it has sunk again into insignificance. But the neighbouring geraniums and rose-bushes which flower out every season are worth an army of periodical monsters which can be admired only once in a lifetime. There are too many Church members who are like that aloe: their everyday appearance is very unattractive, and it is only on very rare and extraordinary occasions that they show any blossoms of godliness. This world will not be converted by century-plant Christians any sooner than the skies will be steadily lighted by comets.

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