1 Peter 4:7
The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and sober, so you can pray.
Sermons
Waiting for the EndJ.R. Thomson 1 Peter 4:7
The Persecuted Christian Reminded of the Necessity of Suffering for RighteousnessC. New 1 Peter 4:1-7
A Solemn Fact and Urgent DutyU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 4:7, 8
Above All Things -- LoveF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
As and So -- the Method of MinistryW. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Charity Covering a Multitude of SinsT. Ainger, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Charity Covering FaultsGreat Thoughts1 Peter 4:7-11
Christian SobrietyC. Vince.1 Peter 4:7-11
Christian StewardshipA. L. Simpson, D. D.1 Peter 4:7-11
Dissuasives from UncharitablenessH. W. Beecher.1 Peter 4:7-11
DutyHugh Ross.1 Peter 4:7-11
Duty in View of the Nearness of the EndR. Finlayson 1 Peter 4:7-11
Fervent CharityP. Witherspoon.1 Peter 4:7-11
Fervent CharityW. H. Hutchings, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
GiftsHomiletic Quarterly1 Peter 4:7-11
Gifts and ResponsibilityBishop of Lichfield.1 Peter 4:7-11
Gifts to be Communicated for the Good of OthersJohn Rogers.1 Peter 4:7-11
God Glorified by ChristF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
God's Gifts and Their PurposeCanon Vernon Hutton.1 Peter 4:7-11
God's Gifts and Their UseT. Griffith, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
How Christians May Glorify God1 Peter 4:7-11
In What a Variety of Ways We May Serve and Benefit OthersG. J. Zollikofer.1 Peter 4:7-11
Love Covereth All SinsJ. Vaughan, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Love Covers SinsF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Love Must be FerventJohn Rogers.1 Peter 4:7-11
Mutual ObligationsJ. N. Pearson, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Personal ChristlinessHomilist1 Peter 4:7-11
Receiving and MinisteringJ. Trapp.1 Peter 4:7-11
Reflected GloryA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Peter 4:7-11
Soberness and WatchfulnessD. Moore, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Christian StewardshipDean Alford.1 Peter 4:7-11
The End of All ThingsPulpit Studies1 Peter 4:7-11
The End of All Things At HandW. J. Armstrong.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Greatness of LoveP. H. Sharpe.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Idea and Duty of Human LifeW. L. Watkinson.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Import and Application of Glorifying God Through Jesus ChristJ. B. Beard.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Nearness of EternityG. S. Noel, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Nearness of EternityF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Oracles of GodW. G. Barrett.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Preaching of the WordAbp. Leighton.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Preeminence of CharityF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
The Warmth of HospitalityScientific Illustrations1 Peter 4:7-11
Uugrudging HospitalityF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Waiting for the EndH. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Watch unto PrayerG. F. Prescott, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Watchfulness and PrayerfulnessJ. T. Shedd, D. D.1 Peter 4:7-11
Watchfulness Associated with PrayerfulnessJ. Imrie, M. A.1 Peter 4:7-11
Watching for Answers to PrayerJ. Edmond, D. D.1 Peter 4:7-11
Watching in Relation to PrayerC. Vince.1 Peter 4:7-11
Like his brother apostle, St. Paul, St. Peter lived in constant anticipation of "the end." This attitude of mind was no doubt encouraged by the discourses of our Lord Jesus, to which Simon Peter had undoubtedly listened. And it must have been confirmed by the state of society both in the Jewish and the Christian world; changes were imminent, and none could say what form these changes might take. In some respects such statements and admonitions as those of the text are even more pressingly appropriate in our times than when they were first penned.

I. THE VIEW WHICH CHRISTIANS ARE TAUGHT TO TAKE OF THEIR EARTHLY CONDITION. The New Testament impresses upon us the transitory and temporary nature of all things earthly. Sound understanding will seek to verify this, not by prophetical and historical dates, but by moral and unquestionably significant facts.

1. There may well have been in the apostle's mind a foresight of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jewish race, and the abrogation of the Hebrew religion.

2. Yet a larger reference is probable; "the end of all things" can scarcely be limited to the catastrophe which befell the Israelitish people. There is no permanence on earth. The Christian, like the Jewish dispensation, must pass away. When this world has served its purpose - the purpose centring in the moral history of mankind - it will be dissolved. The visible and tangible are not the real, are not the lasting. Moral results will outlast the material framework of their development.

3. Every individual who reflects must feel that his own brief life-history gives point and pathos to the end of all things.

II. THE CONSEQUENT SPIRIT AND DUTY OF CHRISTIANS CHERISHING SUCH CONVICTIONS AND EXPECTATIONS. A superficial observer might suppose that the result of such beliefs must needs be excitement and distress, or, if not distress, solicitude. But this is not the effect designed by our Lord and his apostles. Quite the contrary; for St. Peter, in view of the approaching end, admonishes to

(1) soundness of mind;

(2) sobriety; and

(3) prayers.

Such great and solemn realities as religion unfolds before the mind are fitted to strengthen, steady, and mature the character; and at the same time to inspire with pious desires and petitions. A spirit such as that here enjoined may justly be said both to qualify for this present probation and to prepare for future fruition. For "the end of all things" does not involve the end of God's government, or the end of man's life and spiritual progress. - J.R.T.







The end of all things is at hand.
Pulpit Studies.
I. THE SOLEMN TRUTH HERE ANNOUNCED.

1. The end of your earthly engagements is at hand.

2. The end of your worldly enjoyments is at hand.

3. The end of trial and sorrow to the godly is at hand.

4. The end of our privileges and opportunities is at hand.

5. The end of our probation is at hand.

II. THE IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS FOUNDED ON THIS TRUTH.

1. Be sober.

2. Be watchful.

3. Be prayerful.

(Pulpit Studies.)

"The end of all things is at hand."

1. This is literally true of all those objects which we see or which are obvious to any of our senses. They are temporal; they have had a beginning, they shall have an end. The material universe, in all its beauty, forms but a single link in the plans of that adorable Being who is without beginning of days or end of time; and its whole duration is but a single step in the march of that government which is from everlasting to everlasting.

2. The end of all things earthly is at hand, so far as we are concerned with them, or take an interest in them, because we shall soon leave them all behind. To each of us the time is short. Our days are but an hand's breadth. Shall we devote ourselves to pursuits we must so soon abandon? Shall we heap up treasures in this world as if it were our eternal home, when we know not at what moment we shall be summoned to bid a last adieu to all things earthly?

3. The end of all things is at hand, because all the objects of time and sense are frail and fluctuating; human society, in all its relations and interests, is full of change; and the world itself, with everything fair and excellent that it contains, is constantly fading and dying around us. And now what practical lessons ought we to learn from the view we have thus taken of ourselves, as dying creatures, and of this as a fading world? Surely we ought to give heed to the exhortation, "Be ye therefore sober and watch unto prayer." Shall we not subdue and restrain within the strictest bounds of temperance those appetites and passions which belong only to these dying bodies, and which, if indulged, will destroy our souls? But the subject should teach us lessons of devotion as well as of soberness. "Watch unto prayer." Shall we forget that awful eternity on whose very threshold we daily walk, or fail to recognise our relations to that adorable Being whose glorious perfections will so soon break in unclouded splendour upon our souls? Forbid it, reason, duty, conscience; forbid, Parent of our mercies.

(W. J. Armstrong.)

I. THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND. Nothing abides around you. Like the stream which wanders through the valley, everything is flowing by. A single year is often sufficient to change the whole complexion of life. The Christian contemplates, if with awe, yet in peace, the breaking up of all human schemes, and societies, and pleasures, and gains, and losses. He anticipates the wreck, but he feels himself to be in the ark.

II. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF THIS CONSIDERATION.

1. Sobriety of mind is that temperate use of all earthly things, and that moderate estimate of their worth, which disposes the Christian rather to detach his affections from present objects, than to be inordinately excited by them. The near view of eternity peculiarly assists him in this moderation as to worldly enjoyments.

2. Prone, however, to be misled by his senses, he feels the necessity of incessant watchfulness. "Be ye therefore sober, and watch." His natural love of ease, his reluctance to self-denial will but too readily dispose him to adopt the theory rather than the practice of sobriety. Hence it becomes his duty to be ever vigilant over his own spirit, to examine candidly the actual habit of his mind; to watch diligently lest he act inconsistently with his professed principles; lest the world exert an undue influence over his heart; lest self-delusion put him off his guard.

3. But the apostle directs believers to connect this sobriety and this vigilance with prayer. Indeed prayer is the only source of this sobriety and this watchfulness of mind. The brightest impressions fade from the soul if they are not renewed continually by the grace and blessing of God. Hence prayer is to the Christian the very life and health of his soul.

(G. S. Noel, M. A.)

There is a great contrast between the believers of the apostolic age and ourselves. The voyager detects the near proximity of land by the fresh land breeze which breathes in his face, wafting the sounds and scents of forest, or prairie, or heather covered hill. So through these Epistles we inhale another atmosphere than that with which we are so familiar in Christian societies. We live in the world and pay occasional visits into the unseen and eternal; they lived in the unseen and eternal, and paid periodic necessary visits into the world. We conform to the world; they were transformed by the daily renewing of their minds. We read the society papers, discuss society gossip, send our children into society, and strive to hold our own in dress and appointments with the cream of society around us; they, on the other hand, were thought strange and ridiculous, because they lived amongst men as "the children of the resurrection." Surely the contrast is not to our credit, although we vaunt our fancied superiority.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The warning of the apostle meant one thing to the Jew, another to the Christian. To the Jew it meant that the end of his nation, as a nation, had come. It meant that all the types and signs of the Messiah had been fulfilled in Christ, the true Light had appeared, and the shadows must flee away. But for the Christian the text moans more. For each of us, in one way or another, it is true that "the end of all things is at hand." Yes, of all things which belong to this life.

1. The end of earthly greatness, or wealth, or pleasure, is at hand. We read of our most famous heroes, conquerors, statesmen, and all we can see of them is a tomb in our calm cathedral. When the famous General and Conqueror Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, was old they used to beguile the tedious hours by reading aloud the history of his own campaigns. Then he would turn to the reader and ask the question, "Who commanded?" He had forgotten all the glories of Blenheim, and of Ramillies, of Oudenarde, and Malplaquet. I saw but lately a lock of King Charles I's hair, that is all that remains of the martyr king of England. The end of earthly greatness is at hand.

2. Again, the end of earthly friendship and connections is at hand.

3. Next, the end of our opportunities is at hand. Ah! make the most of your chances; once lost, they come not back again. Wisely did the old Greeks write upon the walls of one of their temples, "Know thy opportunity."

4. Once more, the end of our time of trial and waiting is at hand. Peter bids us prepare ourselves for that great beginning which commences when this life is ended. He bids us to be sober, to be watchful in prayer, to have fervent love for one another, and to show it in deeds as well as words. You would not expect the flowers to grow in your garden if the weeds were allowed to have the upper hand. Neither can you expect the graces of the soul to flourish if your body is your master. And not only should we be sober in our bodily passions, but in our words. There are many good people, sober people in other things, who are very intemperate in their talk. And again, we need to be sober in our religion, especially in these days. I do not mean that we are to be idle and indifferent, but we need not be noisy. Next, we are bidden to watch unto prayer.

(H. J. Wilmot Buxton, M. A.)

Be ye therefore sober
I. THE SOLEMN FACT, by the mention of which it is evidently the design of the apostle to arouse thought, to set the religious imagination on the full stretch of all its powers. "The end of all things is at hand." Different interpretations have been put upon this expression. Some understand it of Christ's coming at the end of the world; others only the dissolution of the Jewish ecclesiastical polity, then about to receive its last blow at the hands of the armies of Vespasian. The predicted accompaniments of the destruction of Jerusalem were so overwhelmingly awful, that, for all practical purposes to the men of that generation, the event might as well have been the winding up of the present economy — the termination of the life of all human kind. And we see at once the force of the motive drawn from this reference to "the end of all things." It is to make us connect with everything belonging to our present state the idea of unsettledness; to keep our hearts from growing to particular places, or being bound up with particular forms of happiness; to make us feel that everything we love or look upon, in the present state, is waning, shifting, and of doubtful life. Oh! surely the anticipation of future good things should elevate, purify, solemnise, bless. It should teach moderation. It should incite to diligence.

II. Consider what DUTIES devolve upon us in view of these expected consummations.

1. "Be sober." The expression may be taken in many ways. For instance, we are to be sober in the use of God's providential gifts. It is constantly assumed, in Scripture, that all habits of luxurious living, all undue con cessions to the desires of the lower nature, have an injurious effect upon character. They tend to impair the delicacy of the religious susceptibilities. They induce a dislike and reluctance to spiritual employments. They incapacitate for sympathy with distress and need. They tend to degrade and sensualise the whole man.

2. Again, the text may be considered as warning us to be sober in our aims of life; to keep clear of an entangled, perplexed, and cumbered spirit; not to raise the scaffolding of our worldly hopes too high, nor to have too many buildings going on at the same time. The reason for the admonition is to be found in the tendency of these overheated contests in the race of life to enslave, and pervert, and unspiritualise the best affections of the heart.

3. Further, I think the text would teach us to be sober in our griefs — whether in time of sickness, or sorrow, or adversity, or bereavement.

III. "AND WATCH UNTO PRAYER." The exhortation to "watch" supposes danger, weakness, a proneness to fall asleep, or the near presence of a foe. The text seems to point especially to certain dangers or hindrances we are liable to in the exercises of devotion: we are to "watch unto prayer."

1. Thus we are to watch against weariness, and coldness, and faintings of heart in prayer. If prayer be the soul's strength, the heart's repose, the world's antidote, the devil's dread, why is it that we pray, not only so languidly, but so little? It is therefore languidly, because little. We do not tarry long enough in the exercise to realise that without which prayer is no prayer — namely, mental communion with the Infinite, something in our heart felt to be reciprocated and returned by the heart of God. To watch against the stealthy encroachments of the world, we shall do well to be early with our devotions.

2. Again, we should watch against the distracting influence of an over-anxious and careful spirit in prayer. A perplexity, a disappointment, a fancied grievance, a slight difference with a friend, an issue hanging in suspense, a feared evil which may never come — any one of these, if not watched against, may rob us of all peace in devotion for days together. But we must learn to drive these intruders from the altar, as Abraham drove the fowls away. A Christian is to commit his way unto the Lord, and all his way — his burden, and all his burden. And having cast his care upon the Lord, he leaves it where it is cast.

3. Further, we must watch against any unsubdued tendencies to evil in our own hearts, in prayer. These tendencies may show themselves either in act or in spirit; and, in either case, will raise up a cloud between us and the eternal throne, which no prayer can pass through.

4. Lastly, I would regard our text as an exhortation to watch against Unbelief in prayer; against any allowed misgivings of Christ's love to pity or of His infinite ability to save.

(D. Moore, M. A.)

There are sins of the spirit as well as sins of the flesh which the truly sober man will abstain from. The temperance commended in the New Testament is no one-sided, one-limbed virtue. It forbids the lust of wealth, and an extravagant devotion to business, and an inordinate indulgence in recreation, as truly as it forbids excess in drinking or gluttony in eating. It commands a wise self-government and a strong self-restraint in relation to all earthly pursuits and enjoyments and honours. The Puritanism that still lingers amongst us does not think too much about the quality, but it does think too little about the quantity of pleasure that is pursued. It is too often overlooked that probably people are spiritually damaged more by the extravagant amount than by the questionable character of their recreations. We prescribe some and we permit others; but discrimination as to the quality needs to be supplemented by an equal care as to the quantity. The exhortation of the apostle could be enforced by many facts from modern experience. Some wander away along the path of excessive pleasure-taking, and so the name is legion of those who, if they confessed truly, would have to say —

"The world is too much with us; late and soon

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers."

(C. Vince.)

Watch unto prayer
In explaining this injunction we shall show the importance of a watchful and prayerful spirit by considering the innate disposition of the human heart.

I. The first characteristic of man's sinful disposition, requiring watchfulness upon the part of a Christian, is its SPONTANEITY. This is that quality in a thing which causes it to move of itself. The living spring spontaneously leaps up into the sunlight, while standing water must be pumped up. Were man reluctantly urged up to sin by some other agent than himself, there would be less call for watchfulness. But the perfect ease and pleasure with which he does his own sinning calls for an incessant vigilance not to do it. The imperfectly sanctified Christian needs not to make a special effort in order to transgress. Can religion in the heart conquer sin in the heart if we do not bring the two into close contact and conflict?

II. A second characteristic of man's sinful disposition, requiring watchfulness and prayerfulness in the Christian, is THE FACT THAT IT CAN BE TEMPTED AND SOLICITED TO MOVE AT ANY MOMENT. How easily is the remaining sin in us drawn out into exercise by tempting objects, and how full the world is of such objects! A hard word, an unkind look, a displeasing act on the part of another, will start sin into motion, instanter. Wealth, fame, pleasure, fashion, houses, lands, titles, husbands, wives, children, friends — in brief, all creation — has the power to educe the sinful nature of man. Consider what inducements to forget God, and to transgress His commandments, come from the worldly or the gay society in which we move. Is not the powder in the midst of the sparks? If unwatchful and prayerless, it is inevitable that we shall yield to these temptations.

III. A third characteristic of man's innate disposition, requiring watchfulness and prayer, is the fact that it acquires the HABIT of being moved by temptation. It is more difficult to stop a thing that has the habit of ,notion, than one that has not, because habit is a second nature and imparts additional force to the first one. This is eminently true of sin, which by being allowed an habitual motion becomes so powerful that few overcome it. The cravings of unresisted sin at length become organic, as it were. For though the will to resist sin may die out of a man, the conscience to condemn it never can. The "ruin" of an immortal soul is no mere figure of speech. There is no ruin in the whole material universe to be compared with it, for transcendent awfulness. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was a great catastrophe; but the decline and eternal fall of a moral being, originally made in the image of God, is a stupendous event.

(J. T. Shedd, D. D.)

The word "watch" is a military term. It teaches us that the same alacrity and watchfulness which distinguish the soldier on duty and the sentinel at his post ought to characterise the Christian; and, as you know, the safety of an army, the chance of a victory, the success of a campaign may all be endangered without watchfulness on the part of the soldier and the sentinel. A like contingency may befall the Christian who is not watchful. Now, I would say, there are three ways in which this watchfulness is to be exercised. There is to be watchfulness over ourselves, watchfulness against our enemies, and watchfulness that we get Divine assistance to help us in our struggles. I would liken the Christian to a general commanding a besieged fortress, who has to watch that he may keep down mutiny within the garrison, who has to watch that he may repel the assaults of the enemy assailing the garrison from without, and who has to watch that he may get assistance from friends who are advancing to help him. And now notice, there is to be prayer in addition to watchfulness. Prayer is the breath of the soul, the life of the spirit, without which you can no more conceive of the Christian existing than of an eye seeing without light, or an ear hearing without being subjected to the sense of sound. Prayer is to the soul of the Christian what his senses are to his body. He not more surely tells his natural wants and gets them relieved, looks upon the beautiful objects in nature, holds intercourse with his friends, and feels himself in contact with the material world by means of his senses, than he tells his spiritual wants and gets them relieved, and holds intercourse with the Former of his body and the Father of his spirit by the exercise of prayer. And what is calculated to enhance the value of prayer is this, that while my senses permit me to look upon many beautiful objects, and urge me to possess them, because they are not mine, I am not permitted to enjoy them; whereas there is not a single possession within the wide domain of the spiritual world that is not placed at my disposal by prayer. If the Christian be weak, then he is strengthened by prayer. If he be in doubt, then his doubts are removed by prayer. If he be in difficulty, his difficulties are surmounted through prayer. But I have to tell you, in order to issue in such gracious results, prayer must be possessed of certain qualities.

1. And here I would say, first of all, prayer must be intelligent. In all cases, our first prayer needs to be, "Lord, teach us to pray."

2. Further, I have to say, besides being intelligent, prayer must be humble. "God resisteth the proud, but giveth (and, of course, in answer to prayer) grace unto the humble."

3. But, besides being intelligent and humble, prayer must be offered in faith. Just as you cannot get your diseased bodies cured without submitting to the prescriptions of your physician, which implies faith in his skill, so you cannot get your sick souls healed without faith in the Saviour's willingness and ability to heal. You must approach Him as David did — and this implies faith — when he prayed: "Heal my soul, for I have sinned against Thee."

4. Further, I would say prayer must be in earnest. It is only the fervent, effectual prayer of the righteous man that availeth much. God only promises to answer earnest, importunate prayer.

5. I observe finally, here, that prayer must be constant. We have thus looked at these words separately. We will now look at them in their relation to each other. Like those other two features of our religious character — faith and works — which act and react upon each other, so that in proportion to the strength of our faith will be the number and excellency of our works, so in proportion to our spiritual watchfulness will be our prayerfulness. This, I hold, must be so from the necessity of the case; for the man who watches over himself is the man who discovers his own failings, the obstacles that impede his progress in the life of faith, and the number, the strength, and the power of his spiritual adversaries. What is the reason of the vast number of petitions that are presented to the Commons House of Parliament? Why, the inhabitants of these islands have watched the working of the British Constitution, and they have discovered that they have wants to be relieved, and grievances to be redressed, and think the Commons of England in their wisdom can relieve these wants and sweep away these grievances, and hence the table of the House is being constantly flooded with petitions. Well, the Christian watches and discovers his own weakness and liability to fall, the number, the vigilance and wiles of his spiritual foes, and he prays for Divine help to overcome them all. He watches, and, as a necessary consequence, prays. Indeed, such is our condition that we do not simply need to watch and pray to resist temptation, but to watch and pray that we may not enter into it, for there is every reason to believe that, were we to enter into it, we would yield to it; so that the only true course is, avoid it, and pass away.

(J. Imrie, M. A.)

Strange words for Simon Peter to use! For him, the impetuous, the thoughtlessly self-confident, to say, "Be sober," seems a strange contradiction. Well were it for us if our failures led to a similar recovery. Human nature is impatient; we would overleap all barriers, and plunge at once into the full transport of enjoyment, just as the soldier prefers the dash of a sudden assault to the tediousness of a regular siege. Delay looks to us like defeat, like sure disappointment. Why should we have to wait when God might conclude all in an instant? Surely, though the Saviour has ascended up on high, there is enough of tits influence left in the world to sustain our courage for a little further delay. Why, with such precious gifts around us, should we avariciously demand the bestowal of all His store? It is "the patience of the saints" that God is looking to; He would see what we can bear for His sake, how long we can stay without doubting the sureness of His Word. I deny not the tryingness of waiting, but in that the real benefit of waiting consists. We fret for peace in the world, and men try, in one way or other, to force the current of the river and spread the fertilising waters over tracts so high that the forced stream cannot stay in the upland where they wish it to remain. Some would crush out the violence of nations and put down war by the sheer force of superior strength. The remedies to be used are —

1. Be sober. The universe cannot bend itself to your will, therefore look not for too great results.

2. Pray. The only instrument which man possesses for hastening on the triumph of good, the only reliable argument for converting the world, the only channel for peace to ourselves, is prayer.

3. Watch unto prayer. How is it that men become disheartened and cease to pray? The wish is uttered with all earnestness, but it is the convulsive effort of a moment, not sustained, nor followed up. And often the prayer is heard, but the suppliant heeds it not. Watchers see where others notice nothing, their senses are more acute. Act on the firm faith that every earnest prayer is heard, and then you will receive insight enough to trace the coming answer. Wait for it if it comes not at once; it will surely come, it will not tarry. Blows that would crush others will only prove the buoyancy of your faith. Failure in business, beggary, friendlessness, will not prevent your knowing the riches of contentment and of spiritual blessings.

(G. F. Prescott, M. A.)

How often it happens that when night comes a man prays rather from force of custom than from a sense of need. He has no prescribed form of prayer, and yet he finds himself continually repeating the same things. His supplications lack variety and force and definiteness. He is "as one that beateth the air." This comes in a great measure from the fact that he does not "watch unto prayer." He has taken little notice of his own spirit, and therefore he knows not his own weakness and his own necessities. The events of the day are not so remembered as to give form and colour and life to his evening supplications. The prayer that suits one day cannot effectually serve for all other days. Changes in ourselves and in our circumstances call for changes in our petitions. If a man pass through the day observing himself and increasing his self-knowledge, his devotions cannot always keep in old formal and familiar ruts, but they must sometimes flow with new vigour along the new channels which the new facts have made for them. We frequently confess that we know not what to pray for. Sometimes this ignorance is a weakness for which we are to be pitied. We cannot tell what tomorrow will bring forth, and therefore cannot tell what special grace to pray for. But sometimes our ignorance is our sin. We know not what to ask for because we have not by watching acquired the wisdom which guides supplication.

(C. Vince.)

When an archer shoots his arrow at a mark he likes to go and see whether he has hit it, or how near he has come to it. When you have written and sent off a letter to a friend you expect some day that the postman will be knocking at the door with an answer. When a child asks his father for something he looks in his face even before he speaks to see if he is pleased, and reads acceptance in his eyes. But it is to be greatly feared that many people feel when their prayers are over as if they had quite done with them. Their only concern was to get them said. Sailors in foundering ships sometimes commit notes in sealed bottles to the waves for the chance of their being some day washed on some shore. Sir John Franklin's companions among the snows, and Captain Allen Gardiner, dying of hunger in his cave, wrote words they could not be sure anyone would ever read. But we do not need to think of our prayers as random messages. We should therefore look for reply to them, and watch to get it.

(J. Edmond, D. D.)

Fervent charity
I. WHAT CHARITY IS. It is not easy to find one word which adequately represents what Christ and His apostles meant by charity. Charity has become identified with almsgiving. Love is appropriated to one particular form of human affection, and that one with which self and passion mix inevitably. Philanthropy is a word too cold and negative.

1. Let us define Christian charity in two sentences.(1) The desire to give. Let each man go deep into his own heart. Let him ask what that mysterious longing means which we call love, whether to man or God, when he has stripped from it all that is outside and accidental, when he has taken from it all that is mixed with it and perverts it. Not in his worst moments, but in his best, what did that yearning mean? I say it meant the desire to give. Not to get something but to give something. And the more irrepressible this yearning was, the more truly was his love. To give — whether alms in the shape of money, bread, or a cup of cold water, or else self. But be sure sacrifice in some shape or other is the impulse of love, and its restlessness is only satisfied and only gets relief in giving. For this, in truth, is God's own love, the will and the power to give.(2) The desire to bless. It wishes the well-being of the whole man — body, soul, and spirit, but chiefly spirit. And the highest love is the desire to make men good and Godlike; it may wish, as a subordinate attainment, to turn this earth into a paradise of comfort by mechanical inventions; but far above that, to transform it into a kingdom of God, the domain of love, where men cease to quarrel and to envy, and to slander and to retaliate. "This also we wish," said St. Paul, "even your perfection."

2. Concerning this charity we remark two points.(1) "Fervent." Literally intense, unremitting, unwearied. Give us the man who can be insulted and not retaliate, meet rudeness and still be courteous; the man who, like the Apostle Paul, buffeted and disliked, can yet be generous and make allowances and say, "I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved." That is "fervent charity."(2) It is capable of being cultivated. When an apostle says, "Have fervent charity among yourselves," it is plain that it would be a cruel mockery to command men to attain it if they could do nothing towards the attainment. How shall we cultivate this charity? Now I observe, first, love cannot be produced by a direct action of the soul upon itself. You cannot love by a resolve to love. That is as impossible as it is to move a boat by pressing it from within. Love is a feeling roused not from ourselves, but from something outside ourselves. There are, however, two methods by which we may cultivate this charity.(a) By doing acts which love demands. It is God's merciful law that feelings are increased by acts done on principle. Let a man begin in earnest with I ought, he will end, by God's grace, if he persevere, with the free blessedness of I will. Let him force himself to abound in small offices of kindliness, attention, affectionateness, and all those for God's sake. By and by he will feel them become the habit of his soul. By and by, walking in the conscientiousness of refusing to retaliate when he feels tempted, he will cease to wish it; doing good and heaping kindness on those who injure him he will learn to love them.(b) By contemplating the love of God. You cannot move the boat from within, but you may obtain a purchase from without. You cannot create love in the soul by force from within itself, but you may move it from a point outside itself. God's love is the point from which to move the soul. Love begets love. It is easy to be generous and tolerant and benevolent when we are sure of the heart of God, and when the little love of this life, and its coldness and its unreturned affections are more than made up to us by the certainty that our Father's love is ours.

II. WHAT CHARITY DOES. It covereth a multitude of sins.

1. In refusing to see small faults. That microscopic distinctness in which all faults appear to captious men who are forever blaming, dissecting, complaining, disappears in the large, calm gaze of love. And oh! it is this spirit which our Christian society lacks, and which we shall never get till we begin each one with his own heart. What we want is, in one word, that graceful tact and Christian art which can bear and forbear.

2. Love covers sin by making large allowances. In all evil there is a "soul of goodness." Most evil is perverted good. Now there are some men who see all the evil, and never trace, never give themselves the trouble of suspecting the root of goodness out of which it sprung. There are others who love to go deep down and see why a man came to do wrong, and whether there was not some excuse or some redeeming cause, in order that they may be just. Just, as "God is just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Now human life, as it presents itself to these two different eyes, the eye of one who sees only evil, and that of him who sees evil as perverted good, is two different things. Take an instance. Not many years ago a gifted English writer presented us with a history of ancient Christianity. To his eye the early Church presented one great idea, almost only one. He saw corruption written everywhere. In public and in private life, in theology and practice, within and without, everywhere pollution. Another historian, a foreigner, has written the history of the same times, with an intellect as piercing to discover the very first germ of error, but with a calm, large heart, which saw the good out of which the error sprung, and loved to dwell upon it, delighting to trace the lineaments of God, and discern His Spirit working where another could see only the spirit of the devil. And you rise from the two books with different views of the world: from the one, considering the world as a devil's world, corrupting towards destruction; from the other, notwithstanding all, feeling triumphantly that it is God's world, and that His Spirit works gloriously below it all. You rise from the study with different feelings: from the one, inclined to despise your species; from the other, able joyfully to understand in part why God so loved the world, and what there is in man to love, and what there is, even in the lost, to seek and save. Now that is the "charity which covereth a multitude of sins." It understands by sympathy. It is that glorious nature which has affinity with good under all forms, and loves to find it, to believe in it, and to see it. And therefore such men — God's rare and best ones — learn to make allowances, not from weak sentiment, which calls wrong right, but from that heavenly charity which sees right lying at the root of wrong.

3. Lastly, charity can tolerate even intolerance. St. Paul saw even in the Jews, his bitterest foes, that "they had a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." St. Stephen prayed with his last breath, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Earth has not a spectacle more glorious or more fair to show than this — love tolerating intolerance, charity covering, as with a veil, even the sin of the lack of charity.

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

I. A DESCRIPTION OF CHARITY.

1. A sincere love to God as the spring of our love to our Christian brethren.

2. Charity comprehends such a habit of benevolence in the soul as disposes us to wish all good to others in all their capacities, in respect either of their souls, their bodies, their reputation, or their estate.

3. Wherever this benevolent principle is it will discover itself by a readiness to assist and relieve all men, especially those who stand in need of our help, according to our abilities.

4. That our charity may be complete, and deserve to be called fervent charity, it must extend to all men, even to our enemies.

II. SOME ARGUMENTS TO IMPROVE AND STRENGTHEN ALL TENDENCIES IN US TO CHARITY.

1. Fervent charity of all other things is most beneficial to society, nay, it is absolutely necessary to the good order, peace, and happiness of every society. And in this respect charity well deserves to be called the bond of perfectness.

2. The exercise of charity is agreeable to our natures. By being charitable we gratify the noblest of our inclinations and appetites.

3. It naturally follows from the former argument that the exercise of charity is the most delightful exercise we can choose for ourselves.(1) This satisfaction doth not only just accompany a charitable action, but it is permanent, and endures as long as our lives.(2) This pleasure and joy that attends charitable actions doth herein exceed all fleshly delights, that it is then at the highest when we stand in most need of it.

4. To be charitable, to wish, and to do good to others, is the most God-like qualification that we are capable of.

5. Another argument to excite us to the exercise of charity is taken from the command of Christ, the author of our religion. This is a very powerful consideration when we reflect what He hath done for us, and upon the example which He hath left us for our imitation.

6. We all partake of the same human nature, and are all born for society, so I might persuade to charity from this consideration, that we are all the children of the same heavenly Father, we have all the same Saviour, we have all one faith, and we expect to attain to the same perfect happiness in the end.

7. Let us exercise charity that we may adorn our Christian profession, and cause it to be well spoken of in the world.

8. To persuade us to exercise fervent charity among ourselves, let us consider that charity is the main part of the Christian religion, and as we shall be found to have or want charity, so must we stand or fall in the great day of judgment. Charity is the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer or service we can perform to God. It is said to be the fulfilling of the whole law.

(P. Witherspoon.)

I. YOUR OWN CHARACTER AND HABITS.

1. Remember that you have the very same feelings which led to those faults you usually rail at, to their vices whose vices you condemn. Did vanity lead them to folly? that same vanity dwells with you. Did pride overthrow them? pride dwells royally with you. Did selfishness make them mean? are not you selfish? Did their appetites seduce them? are not those same seducers at work in your bosom?

2. But there is an additional reason for forbearing uncharitable censures in the multitude of your actual overt transgressions. They may not, to be sure, be of the same kind as those which you unfeelingly reprehend. Are they slovens? Perhaps you are wasters. They may be fickle whom you blame, you may be obstinate. If we looked as sharply at ourselves as we do at censured persons we might find their faults matched in every point in ourselves.

3. Even this, however, does not exhaust the point in hand. For in weighing relative guilt circumstances are always to be considered. Men may be so situated that a foible will be less excusable in them than a vice in others. While you freely rail at all around you perhaps God is putting you down, with all your proud morality, as the less excusable creature of the two. You may have a better mind, you may have been better trained, you may have been better educated, you may be in better circumstances, you may be surrounded by the influence of better associates, you may have ten restraints to others' one, they may have ten temptations to your one.

4. The fourth particular is the remembrance of our past mischiefs as a motive for leniency of judgment.

II. THE INDIGNATION EXPERIENCED IN VIEW OF EVIL IS IN A LARGE PROPORTION OF CASES SELFISH, AND SOMETIMES HYPOCRITICAL AND DETESTABLE, IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. I suppose that the feeling of condemnation is frequently more wicked than the thing condemned.

1. The first bill purporting to be a true indignation at evil has the plainest marks of a clumsy counterfeit. The feeling has no respect whatever to the moral qualities of the evil it chastises. It is simply an outcry raised to contrast our own excellences with the censured evil. Some men inveigh against squandering because they are economical. Some rail at parsimony because they are open handed. Some cry out at indolence that men may note their industry.

2. On the success of this device may issue another counterfeit of moral indignation. They are clamorous against evildoers to hide the fact that they themselves are such.

3. Vociferous indignation is not unfrequently the mere creation of fashion and of sympathy with bad feelings. Each clamours because all the rest do.

4. A seeming virtuous indignation is often only an ebullition of wounded pride and vanity. Is there a misstep from virtue? The guardian angel weeps, mercy flies swiftly to the penitent, and Christ says, "Neither do I condemn thee, only go, and sin no more." Not thus do fellow mortals of like passions. All the slights and petty offences, all the ignoble strifes of envy and sensitive vanity, are raked out of the embers, and the bitter taunt is but the revenge of these covered with the garb of virtue. A hated rival is down, a haughty head a little higher than mine is in the dust, superior beauty is humbled, the wearer of better clothes, the recipient of more pointed attentions, the immovable rival, the one who once said this or that of me — these are the real archers lurking in the ambush of virtuous or religious indignation which bend the bow and infix the venomous shaft.

5. Revenge is almost invariably cloaked under the guise of moral indignation. And of this, as of almost all that I have mentioned, it may be said, the uncharitableness of the censor is often more malignantly guilty than the offence of the sinner.

III. REASONS AGAINST CENSORIOUSNESS AND UNCHARITABLENESS SPRINGING OUT OF THE FEELINGS AND AFFECTIONS OF THE VICTIM.

1. Severity exercised without pity tends to provoke rather than reform the transgressor. That man is the most influential against vice who, to a hearty abhorrence of it, adds a cordial desire to rescue the evildoer. Uncharitableness promotes evil, while pity reforms it.

2. Then, me thinks, our pity should flow out with our indignation in view of the sufferings often of those whom we scourge. There is something peculiarly touching in that vice and crime which prevail among the ignorant and neglected. Multitudes have had no childhood instruction. Others have been too fatally taught by renegade parents. Look in, then, upon the motley throng of ignorant and vicious. Are they happy? Does the fulness of the cup of pleasure take away the necessity of pity from you? Of all the sun shines on, none need pity more than those whose career of vice and crime is near to its close. Suffering has made every feature haggard, and there is war in every limb, anguish in every nerve, and groaning at every bone. Want torments them. Their own demoniac passions scorch them.

(H. W. Beecher.)

I. THE EXHORTATION.

1. The Apostle urged upon the Christian converts the importance of charity. It was the exercise of a grace, and not merely good temper, upon which he insisted.

2. This love is a Divine virtue. philanthropy may exist in the sphere of nature, but love, in this higher sense, can only exist in the sphere of grace. This charity is a Divine thing, the work and a fruit of the Spirit in the soul.

3. This charity was to be kept "fervent." It is a word which implies great earnestness and intensity (Luke 22:44). It was to be some thing very unlike cold propriety. The metal was to be kept glowing, and the chill of selfishness warded off. It was to be continuous in its exercise, and its exercise was manifold.

4. The sphere of this charity: "among yourselves," that is, among Christians. As natural love, as a rule, is governed by propinquity, so is spiritual. This "fervent charity" was to be exercised primarily amongst those who had the closest union, inter se, through their union in Christ.

5. The Apostle marks the momentousness of his precept: "above all things."

II. THE RESULT OF ITS FULFILMENT.

1. The interpretations that the love in question is God's love for man, or Christ's love in His Passion, cannot certainly be accepted, though, of course, true in themselves. It is quite evident that the Apostle is speaking of the effect of mutual love.

2. The word "cover" does not simply mean "hides," the sins leaving them where they were, but causes their remission, in fact, obliterates them.

3. Whose sins does the text refer to?

4. Charity covers over our sins in the sight of God, because charity is to sin what water is to fire — it puts it out. It is written of St. Mary Magdalene, "Her sins which are many are forgiven her; for she loveth much." Love is the soul of contrition. An act of fervent charity can obliterate the sins of a life. It is the solvent of guilt and of penalty. But repentance does not purchase pardon. It is the condition of receiving it, not its source. Christ gives remission of sins in ways of His own appointment.

5. Charity also covers the sins of others. It has a way of seeing the good in people rather than the bad: "Charity thinketh no evil" (1 Corinthians 13:5).

(W. H. Hutchings, M. A.)

Love is like gravitation, the great attracting power, keeping all things in their place. Without gravitation the universe would become a chaos, without some measure of love society would be impossible. The world could perhaps rub along somehow without philosophy, but I defy it to do so without love, as animals can exist without light but not without warmth. Love is the water of life, of which whosoever will may take freely without money or price; it is the heaven springing stream which quenches all thirst, removes all impurities, and also, as in the case of Naaman, the very simplicity of the means causes the proud to disdain it. But like the grand and wonderful simplicity of the laws of nature, fulfilling themselves in the greatest and least phenomena, so is the law of love, prompting equally the widest public service man can perform and the smallest act of private friendship. No matter how deformed or twisted a man's way of thinking if love once gets access to him, for, like water, it will find its level in the most crooked as in the best proportioned vessel. Like snow falling so quietly and equally on all manner of objects, however mean or base, creeping in at every crevice, so also is love, its voice not heard in the streets, covering a multitude of sins, insinuating itself into every cranny that selfishness leaves open.

(P. H. Sharpe.)

It were better to dispense with all else in the Christian's character and work than to miss love, though, in point of fact, where this is in operation all that is likely to impress and touch men must be present also. This love must, of course, go forth in its sympathies and activities to all the world, but it should begin at home. We must have love among ourselves as believers in the same Lord before we can presume to speak of our love to the great world of men around. Nor must it be a platonic love, a love of the cold light of reason, it must be fervent, at boiling point, on full stretch, going to the farthest extents of love, and in doing so learning the breadths and lengths of the unsearchable love of God.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

The manner or kind of love required is a large, continued, stretched out, constant love. As a cloth folded up is in a little room, but when it comes to be cut is stretched out into many men's uses, so our love must be stretched out to many persons, to many duties; as in giving and doing good to body, soul, goods, good name, and that not sparingly, but liberally, so in forgiving both much and often, neither must this be only when we can well do it, or when we have nothing else to do, but when it is against our profit, pleasure, ease, etc., so as we neglect not ourselves too much, and thereby more pleasure may be done our neighbours than hindrance come to us.

(John Rogers.)

Charity shall cover the multitude of sins
It is strange that this verse should have been so often misunderstood. This is closely parallel with that last verse in St. James, "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death," and, as a necessary part of that conversion, "shall hide a multitude of (that converted man's) sins." "Love shall cover multitudes of sins" from God and man. Only observe carefully, not our own sins; never, in any sense, does love do that; but other men's sins, love, by silence and by veiling, hides from man; and by prayer and by converting, hides from God. And yet, in all ages of the Church, and in every Church, people have built from my text the fallacy, that a man's charities are, in some way, a set off against his sins. So some people of the world take a satisfaction every day, that, if they are living rather too gay lives, they are kinder than others who are called serious. It is often put thus, that Christ's righteousness covers our unrighteousness, i.e., in other words, that His obedience is accounted to us in place of our disobedience. But I would much rather say that Christ Himself — His own immensity — comes in and covers us. Then the view of you, passing through Him, comes out to the eye of God a beautiful object. It is all white, the dark places are not seen. And when I think of the immense amount of evil, which now, and at the day of judgment, will thus be hid, never to be seen by God, through that interposition of Jesus Christ, what an emphasis may it throw into the words, "Love shall cover the multitude of sins." We are, therefore, never nearer to Christ than when we are making ourselves, in any way we can, the coverers of sin. Now there is a way by which a man can cover sins from God. In the same sense in which I can convert a man I can cover that man's sins from God. Your mission as a Christian is to be a coverer of sins. There is seldom a greater thing done in this world than when we can manage anyhow to put a sin out of sight. Therefore, let me offer to you one or two rules respecting this high duty. If you know anything to anyone's detriment, hold it as a sacred deposit, to be used religiously. Do not tell it unless the necessity be urgent, or the utility great. Never tell of a man what you have not first told to the man. Never think that you can make yourself great by making another less. Make a principle of always putting in the foreground persons' good qualities. If a fault be mentioned, see and mention the extenuating circumstances, the palliating considerations. Look out for them, and you will find them.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

And wherefore does the apostle inculcate this precept so earnestly? It is not that the duties of self-denial and humility, of soberness and prayer, can be dispensed with in the formation of a truly Christian character; it is not that charity alone will suffice to atone for our deficiencies in other respects; but charity is the distinguishing mark of a Christian spirit; our Lord Himself has said that "by this should His disciples be known."

I. First, FOR THE FORCE OF THE APOSTLE'S INJUNCTION, "Above all things have fervent charity among yourselves." I have before called charity a disposition of the mind; and it is of importance that we should remember that it is such. Our grand errors on this point arise from our mistaking the effects for the cause; in making no distinction between particular acts of a charitable nature, and that disposition which produces them. When the favour of God, the present blessings of this life, and the eternal joys of another, are promised to charity, it is not such and such special acts of benevolence which shall be so signally rewarded; but it is the earnest inclination to benefit our fellow creatures, and the continual and diligent habit of doing good which are of such high price before God. Our conduct will, of course, have more or less influence upon the good and the happiness of mankind, according to the circumstances under which we act, and the situation which we occupy in society. But though a charitable disposition may in one case have a wider sphere of action than it has in another, still the disposition itself is altogether independent of these external circumstances. The desire to benefit mankind may be as sincere and as fervent in him whose means are limited, as in the richest and the most powerful of the sons of men. And though the practical consequences of that disposition may not be as extensively felt in the one case as in the other, still God regards the sincerity and the fervency of that love, which prompts us both to labour and to endure, in such sort, as the particular duties of our station may require. Two truths are to be deduced from what has been said: first, a few acts of a charitable nature do not necessarily prove the existence of a charitable spirit in him who performs them — because these may be prompted by very different motives, and because true charity is not exemplified merely on a few particular occasions, but in the general tenor of our conduct, and in the habitual discipline of our tempers. The second truth we learn is this: no man can possess a spirit of genuine charity who does not seize every opportunity of being actively beneficial to his fellow creatures; and so many opportunities are there of this kind, which every one, even the poorest among us, must possess, that it is easy for any man, who will take the trouble of examining into the tenor of his daily intercourse with those around him, to determine whether he indeed possesses "that most excellent disposition of charity, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before God."

II. But, in the second place, the apostle says, in the text, that charity "SHALL COVER THE MULTITUDE OF SINS." Now it is evident, from the definition which we have just given of this disposition of the heart, that they cannot be the sins which we commit against our fellow creatures that charity shall cover; for did we possess this grace in perfection, we should not trespass against our fellow creatures at all. True charity would lead us to the unfailing fulfilment of all the duties which we owe to our brethren. It is equally certain that charity towards men cannot atone for our sins against God; for though the love of our neighbour be a characteristic badge of our Christian profession, though it is vain to pretend our love towards our Heavenly Father, whilst we hate our fellow creatures; though the second commandment necessarily springs from the first, and is like unto it in its nature, still it cannot be made in any degree to supersede it. It can only mean, therefore, that charity will cover, or conceal, and forgive the sins which they commit against us. And this will appear yet more evidently if we consider, in the first place, from whence St. Peter quotes this proverbial expression; and in the next, if we attend to the general object of this Epistle. First, then, we must remark that these words are quoted by St. Peter from the Book of Proverbs. In the twelfth verse of the tenth chapter, the wise man says, "Hatred stirreth up strife, but love covereth all sins." Here the opposite line of conduct which is suggested by hatred and love is sufficient to guide us to a right interpretation of the passage. The one stirreth up strifes, it dwells upon them, and rouses them up afresh, and does not allow them to be forgotten. But the contrary disposition of love covereth all sins; it is desirous that offences should be hidden and die away, and instead of enmity and dissension, is anxious for peace and goodwill, and mutual forbearance. It follows, then, that as St. Peter introduced into his Epistle this latter part of the proverb, he intended it to be understood in the same sense in which it stood in the original language of Solomon. This is, moreover, still further confirmed if we regard the general tenor of St. Peter's Epistle. It seems to have been one of his principal objects to reprove and reform those dissensions and disputes, which, even in those early days, prevailed in the Christian world.

(T. Ainger, M. A.)

The whole conception may have been based on the filial act of Noah's sons, of whom it is recorded that they took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders and went backward, and covered their father's drunken sin.

1. Love forgives. We are to be imitators of God in the swiftness and completeness of His forgiveness.

2. It avoids giving occasion for sin. It has been said that if you have a favourite horse, which always takes fright and shies at a certain point in the road, you are careful to come along another road, if possible, or to coax him, by speaking to him kindly, to go by without fear. So if you are aware that a certain subject will always invoke an outburst of hot temper in your friend, true love will lead you to avoid it. You will not needlessly incite to sin if you know how to avoid giving the first inducement.

3. It is quick to discern some generous construction to put upon the fault, or to quote some consideration to weigh in the opposite scale. "True, he was unpardonably dull and slow, but then how trustworthy and reliable." "Yes, he was very irritable and abrupt; but, then, remember what a strain he has been under lately in his business, not leaving the factory or counting house till late at night, and going back early in the morning, with no recreation or respite." "Granted, that he is now becoming soured and crabbed; but, then, what a glorious man he was in those earlier days, when he stood in the breach." "Are you sure that there is not some other explanation possible for his action?" In some such ways as these, Christian love argues with itself and others, and, as the result, many a sin is hindered on its way, and many a fault condoned.

4. It rebukes with great tenderness. There are cases where duty demands public censure. The sore must not lie covered up lest it prove to be deadly. It must be lanced or it cannot be cured. But the lancing is done with exquisite tenderness. The wrong-doer is reproved, rebuked, and exhorted, hut with all long-suffering (1 Timothy 4:2). The man overtaken with a fault is restored in the spirit of meekness (Galatians 6:1).

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Great Thoughts.
"Dear Moss!" said the Thatch on an old ruin, "I am so worn, so patched, so ragged; really, I am quite unsightly. I wish you would come and cheer me up a little; you will hide all my infirmities and defects, and through your loving sympathy no finger of contempt or dislike will be pointed at me." "I come!" said the Moss; and it crept up and around, and in and out, till every flaw was hidden, and all was smooth and fair. Presently the sun shone out, and the old Thatch looked glorious in the golden rays. "How beautiful the Thatch looks!" cried one. "How beautiful the Thatch looks! "cried another. "Ah!" cried the old Thatch, "rather let them say how beautiful is the loving Moss, that spends itself in covering all my faults, keeping the knowledge of them all to herself, and by her own grace making my age and poverty wear the garb of youth and luxuriance."

(Great Thoughts.)

Use hospitality one to another
To God the intention of the heart is all-important. He loveth a cheerful giver. He takes such delight in doing good that He has no sympathy with anything like reluctance. Not that hospitality should necessarily he profuse; for, if it be, it is difficult to maintain, besides reminding the guest that he is regarded as a stranger; only that which is done should be done freely, gladly, with the whole heart. There is no hospitality so grateful as that which makes the stranger feel at home, because there is nothing forced or restrained, and he is permitted to feel completely at his ease.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Scientific Illustrations.
If the two hands be plunged, one in water at the temperature of 200°, and the other in snow, and being held there for a certain time are transferred to water of the intermediate temperature of 100°, this water will appear warm to one hand and cold to the other — warm to the hand which has been plunged in the snow, and cold to the hand which has been plunged in the water at 200°. The anomaly is easily explained. The sensation of heat is relative. When the body has been exposed to a high temperature, a medium which has a lower temperature will feel cold, and when it has been exposed to a low temperature, it will feel warm. Now this fact will suggest, by analogy, a way for testing hospitality. It is not uncommon to hear a man speak about the warmth of somebody's hospitality. Perhaps that same "warmth" seemed very much like coldness to us. How are we to explain the difference in the sensations of our friend and ourselves? Simply by remembering that hospitality, like heat, is a relative thing. A man who has just come out of the cold house of Mrs. miser will feel the tepid house of Mrs. Moderate to be quite a warm, hospitable place. On the other hand, a man who goes to Mrs. Moderate's house after a prolonged stay at the genial mansion of the generous Lady Bountiful, will feel that establishment to be rather chilly in its hospitality.

(Scientific Illustrations.)

As every man hath received the gift
Homiletic Quarterly.
I. THE NUMBER AND VARIETY OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS IN THE CHURCH. The term "gift" represented by nine different words in the Greek, occurs in three different shades of meaning, viz., "a present," "an offering to God," and "a personal endowment." The last is evidently the gift of our text.

1. Every believer has a gift, and his own gift (Luke 19:13; Matthew 25:15). The little wheels in an engine, the little stones in a building, and the little gifts in the church, occupy a place for which the larger would be quite unsuitable. An organism is healthy only when all its members perform their functions; and efficiency in the whole is the gross result of efficiency in every part.

2. The gifts of the Church are a revelation of the manifold grace out of which they spring. "Gifts," the most general class, such as wisdom, knowledge, and faith, are referred to the Father. "Administrations," a more limited class, as healing, prophesying, and speaking with tongues, are referred to the Son. "Operations," the smallest class, such as miracles, discerning of spirits, etc., are referred to the Holy Ghost. Individual character determines largely individual spiritual gifts. A ray of light passing through a crystal heptahedron is broken up into seven different colours, one of which is appropriated by each of its seven sides. So entering the prism, the Church, the white light of the Spirit is analysed into its various elements, and each soul appropriates the particular one that suits it. The gifts acquired are thus as various as the cast of the acquiring minds.

II. THE MEANING AND PURPOSE OF THE BESTOWAL OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS ON THE CHURCH. "Ministering it among yourselves." This is a noble thought.

1. It implies that we study our gifts, and so make no mistake as to the work we are fitted to do. This is a matter of great importance. The navigation of a ship will be bad with children at the ropes, and a landsman at the helm. A ministry without ministerial gifts is a machine incapable of moving, even if the power were there.

2. It implies that we train and cultivate our gifts so as to use them at their best. He would be an eccentric farmer who allowed his land to lie untilled because the soil was rich. It is the richest land and the highest gifts that, being cultivated, will yield the best return. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the Alpha, but not the Omega, of qualification for spiritual work. The apostles had this to begin with, yet were all carefully trained by Christ, and Paul warns Timothy to "stir up" his gift.

3. Our gifts in their most highly cultivated form are all to be used for the common good. "Among yourselves." The perfection of reciprocity exists in the religious life (Matthew 5:23; Matthew 7:12). There is no place for selfishness in it; the peculiar quality of it being the look outward, instead of inward (Philippians 2:4; 1 Corinthians 10:24). The selfish soul shrivels and dies, and the maimed and weakened Church suffers in all its functions. It is incredible the moral power that is lying dormant in the Church. The power once latent in steam and inaccessible is now evoked by the millions of horsepower daily. The power once hidden in electricity is now in exercise in every village, carrying on swift and silent wing the thoughts of men across the continents, "and their words to the world's end." But the ten thousandfold greater power sealed up in the napkinned talents of idle Christian people is still unreached. What an amount of religious machinery would be in motion if an ecclesiastical James Watt or Stephen Gray would come and unlock this magazine of spiritual force! Nothing could stand against it. Darkness would be dissipated, sin would be jostled off the earth, and misery would spread its sable wings and fly away.

(Homiletic Quarterly.)

I. IT IS ASSUMED THAT EVERY CHRISTIAN HAS SOME GIFT FROM GOD.

1. All our endowments are blessings received (1 Corinthians 4:7).

2. All are received from the multiform goodness of God. "Manifold."(1) How gracious is this procedure, by which God's gifts come to us tinged by the infinite variety of the substances on which they fall! When He might have poured His influences in one indistinguishable flood of radiance, He rather sends them reflected differently from each different mind, diversified by all the colours of the rainbow, and sparkling with manifold hues. For thus we are brought to admire and rejoice in not only God Himself as the primal source of all good, but in our fellow men through whose "manifold" concurrence this "manifold grace" has been diffused around us.(2) It shows itself in all sorts of persons, with all sorts of endowments, in all sorts of offices, for all sorts of duties.

3. All must be accounted for to God.

II. EACH MAN'S GIFT IS TO BE USED FOR THE GOOD OF HIS FELLOW MEN. The funds put into our charge must be administered. We must neither misuse them nor neglect them.

1. We must not appropriate them to ourselves through selfishness.

2. We must not withhold this grace from others through negligence. The sluggishness of our nature is as much to be watched against and overcome as its selfishness.

III. GOD WILL BLESS THE PROPER USE OF HIS GIFTS. Look only at the works of nature. See how the little, almost imperceptible, seed, being cast into the ground in the proper season, with proper care, is blessed by the bounteous Author, and is made to bring forth thirty, sixty, a hundred fold. Will God be more miser of blessing to spiritual husbandry than to earthly? No effort to do good is ever lost.

(T. Griffith, M. A.)

I. First, then, the IDEA OF PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY lies at the foundation of all morality. It is not distinctively Christian — it is human; it is inherent in man as a moral being. If we would trace it to its immediate source, it springs from the testimony of conscience — the personal experience of the Light which lighteth every man. It not only enlightens and instructs, but it counsels and exhorts. These are the conditions of our personal responsibility. But behind all these there lies the idea of the personal God, whose holy life has ordered the distinctions of right and wrong. I have dwelt upon these points because it seems to me that in these days there is a tendency to lay the foundations of moral conduct and of the religious life rather in the emotions and affections than in the demands of conscience and the obedience of the will. By such methods the sense of responsibility is inevitably weakened, and our duties, both mortal and religious, become only a higher kind of self-gratification. It is true that the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and that the religious life is rich in present rewards of both peace and joy. But these are not its true or highest motives. It is a great step in the Christian life when this responsibility is recognised.

II. But the text further reminds us of THE DIVERSITY OF GIFTS. Every man hath received a gift — not the gift — not all men the same gift. The gifts and endowments of individual men are as various as their outward appearance. Every man has some gifts; no man has all gifts. It is this diversity that gives a chief interest, and even beauty, to human life, and affords opportunity for the exercise of some of its highest virtues. If all men were equally gifted, the intercourse of life would become drearily monotonous. It would be as if in the natural world all mountains were of one height and one outline; all the now changeful clouds of one permanent form; all trees of one kind and colour and shape, like the trees in the toy box of a child. But this variety of gifts brings with it a varying responsibility, differing according to the character of the gifts which each has received. There is a tendency among men to esteem some gifts more highly than others; and this estimate varies in different places, and under different circumstances, and at different times. But in themselves they bring no real honour to those who possess them. No man deserves credit for mere intellectual power any more than for brute force. But it is in the use of these powers that the man himself is to gain credit and honour. So far as the gifts themselves are regarded, they are, as the apostle reminds us, the gifts of God. The man of quick intelligence and retentive memory who gains easily his place in the tripos may be far less worthy of honour than one of humble gifts and feeble powers. For the most part it is the union of great gifts with diligent work which ensures success; but it has sometimes been otherwise. But how often the less gifted man, feeble in his mental power and slow in its exercise — painfully acquiring the needed knowledge with continuous effort, how often is such a one regarded only with a half-contemptuous pity. But the diversity of gifts of which our text speaks is not only a difference of degree, but of kind. Even here we see this distinction in a limited degree. The man who is strong in mathematical may be weak in classical studies. And, again, how constantly does experience prove that there is a special gift of imparting knowledge distinct from that of attaining it. The gifts of personal influence, of discerning sympathy, of persuasiveness of speech, of practical wisdom, as distinct from knowledge. All these have their own great value. But under all these diversities of gifts there lies upon each of us the great responsibility declared in the words of my text, "As every man hath reserved the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

III. To every one of us it speaks in very solemn tones, remembering THE ACCOUNT THAT WE MUST ONE DAY GIVE. But far above all these gifts of God, which we call gifts of nature, are those higher gifts, which we call gifts of grace — the gifts which find their exercise, not in the work of the world, but in the training and perfecting of the soul. These are gifts which are common to all, and within the reach of all. The gift of grace which comes in answer to our private prayers, the grace which comes to us through the daily study of the Word — the grace of the holy sacrament of the body and blood. All these gifts we have received in promise, and our responsibility lies in seeking and claiming them for our own.

(Bishop of Lichfield.)

I. THE CHRISTIAN PRIVILEGE. The text first of all speaks of receiving — that is the privilege to which it points. We get in order that we may give; but we can give nothing until we are first of all put into possession. And what the Christian does receive, he accepts as a gift — not as the equivalent of service rendered, or achievements accomplished, or worth acknowledged — but as a something to which he has no sort of claim, sent down out of that boundless Divine treasury which the apostle, at the end of the text, describes as "the manifold grace of God." Whatever gift you have, it is of God's sending: all spiritual endowment and all natural capacity, your influence, your wealth, your leisure, your power of speech, or action, or organisation; all is God's giving; you have won nothing, deserved nothing. You have received all, freely, unconditionally, as so many pledges and foretastes of "the manifold grace of God." We all have gift, and all we have is gift. And the dissimilarity in individual cases is the most patent fact in experience. One man can do good work at home, another finds his proper element in the school, or in the streets, or the cottage meeting.

II. THE OBLIGATION. "As ye have received even so minister." God's gift then is not intended to terminate with ourselves. It is not meant for self-gratification, least of all for personal parade. It begins with the individual always; it ends with him never. This is involved in the ultimate aim of Christianity itself. The apostle asks us only to give out what and as we take in. "As every one hath received, minister the same." Give in measure and in kind as ye have received. Give what you have got, and do not distress yourself because you cannot give something else which you do not have. However much you admire another man's gift, and profit by it, there is no call to imitate it. Do what you can, and you will do as well as the brother whose work you so greatly appreciate. You will receive as high a reward and as lofty a commendation.

III. And now notice THE CHRISTIAN POSITION. The redeemed are required to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Now, a steward is not an absolute owner but a responsible administrator. And all gifts, according to the apostle, are trusts. No Christian in his view gets his natural talents or material possessions, still less his spiritual endowments, for himself alone. This is the position here set forth; but how miserably its obligation is responded to. How scant a return does our stewardship yield.

(Hugh Ross.)

The great Giver of the universe is the great Economist too. He has written it everywhere. The fulness of nature is not kept up by new creations, but by that power of self-repair which He has made the law of its life. It is the same in the kingdom of grace. God gave it a beginning by His own direct and almighty power; by the same power He could carry it on to its final completion. But this is not His manner of doing. He expects it, by virtue of that principle of life which He has communicated to it, to carry itself on now, not independently of Him, but in reliance upon Him, and receiving from Him, just as nature is dependent on Him for the continuance of its vitalising force. But still, in so far as instrumentality is concerned, the work is its own, not His.

I. THE NATURE OF THE THING HERE SPOKEN OF MINISTRY — SERVICE. We are apt to look on service as a menial thing. There is nothing more glorified in the Bible. Service, mutual helpfulness growing out of mutual dependence, is the law of the universe. The man who lives for himself is not worthy of the name of man. He is as unlike Christ, the ideal man, as it is possible for him to be. Service — tender, considerate, beneficent work for others — ennobles a man, and is the first thing to do so. Till then it is all receiving with him, and no giving; all incurring obligation, no discharging of any; and that is death to any character.

II. THE RANGE OF THE DUTY. It is universal.

1. "As every man," etc. This makes the matter very simple. It puts an end to all casuistry and all excuses. God is the centre of the universe which He has made, and He ministers to all. "To Him belongeth power." But as all rational life is after the pattern of Himself, He has put into it everywhere something of this ministering power, and we fulfil His idea, and show ourselves to be His children, rising into His likeness, just in proportion as we exercise that power in our several spheres.

2. "One to another." Here is the idea of reciprocity added. It is not to be all giving with some, and all receiving with others. The thing is to go round — a perpetual interchange of blessings and gifts, a mutual well-doing, a generous commerce of souls, supplying each other's lack out of each other's abundance from the highest to the lowest, and from the lowest to the highest.

III. THE RULE OF THE DUTY. "Minister the same. It is idle to say that you can do nothing, for if you are a Christian you have received something — the gift." The apostle does not assert this, but takes it for granted. "As every man," etc., and gift is faculty, for which God holds us all directly responsible. Now, observe, this rule applies both to the form and the measure of the gift, both to its kind and to its degree. It applies to its form. It differs in this in different individuals, and hence the apostle speaks of the "manifold" grace of God. It is very plastic this grace of God, and accommodates itself to the constitutional peculiarities of men. However unpretentious our gift may be, it may count for more than we think. If our life and conduct say what is true about Christ, and nothing but what is true, representing His yoke as easy, His burden as light, His service as love, His reign as righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, then it does not matter how humble our work may be in its outward form, it will still be work for God, work for Christ, and for truth, and the souls of men. We shall be ministering "as we have received the gift." But now observe, this "as" applies to degree as well as to form. We are to minister one to another up to the extent to which we have received the gift, that is, to the full extent of our ability.

(A. L. Simpson, D. D.)

I. ALL OUR POSSESSIONS ARE THE GIFTS OF GOD, BEING PART OF HIS MANIFOLD GRACE.

1. When we consider the shortness of the time for which these gifts are granted, we may consider them as loans, returnable to the lender when the term for which they are lent is expired.

2. These gifts are not committed to us merely for our own enjoyment, but that we may use them to the benefit of the whole body of the Church. This is evidently God's purpose. His grace is manifold. He is no maker of favourites.

3. That which is shown to be true of God's natural gifts is true in a still higher degree of His gifts of grace. The imagining that spiritual privileges are bestowed for the exclusive benefit of their possessors was the error which destroyed the Church of Israel.

4. The gifts which we receive of God we receive of Him through the Eternal Son.(1) This is true even apart from the fact of the Incarnation. He is the Word of God, by Him all things are made. Through Him God goes forth to His creatures.(2) This is true in a much higher sense since the Word has become Incarnate, and through His Incarnation reconciled us to God. Having fulfilled all the will of God, to Him is given all power in heaven and in earth. In the might of that power He bids His apostles go forth to claim all human souls as His rightful inheritance.

II. WHAT GIFTS HAS GOD BESTOWED UPON US, AND HOW ARE WE TO USE THEM? These gifts are:

(a)spiritual, and

(b)natural.

1. Spiritual gifts are such as we receive through our membership with the mystical body of Christ. They consist in redemption if we will accept it; sanctification if we will seek for it; and all the blessed means whereby the life of the Incarnate Word is bestowed upon us and kept alive within us, if we will use them.

2. Among our natural gifts some are common to all. Life, a sphere of usefulness large or small, health, powers of mind and body. There are other gifts bestowed upon some persons, and withheld from others. The power of influence, the possession of talent or of wealth, the gift of utterance, the advantages of position. While it is possible to claim these natural gifts as our own without reference to our Incarnate Lord, yet it is only when we possess them in Him that we may be said to possess them truly. Otherwise, they are as likely to possess us as we are to possess them, to be our masters as we are to be theirs.

3. Thus ministering the gift as we have received it, whether it be large or small, whether it be natural or spiritual, we find upon gathering up the fragments that remain over and above to those to whom we have ministered, that there is greater store than we knew, greater because more full of God's blessing!

(Canon Vernon Hutton.)

Homilist.
1. Whatever man has is a gift from God.

2. Whatever man has he should benevolently employ for the advantage of others.

I. PERSONAL CHRISTLINESS IS A DIVINE GIFT.

1. It is the greatest gift. Qualifies man to please his Maker, bless humanity, serve the universe, and inherit all things.

2. It is the costliest gift.

II. PERSONAL CHRISTLINESS IS A DIVINE GIFT TO BE SOCIALLY EMPLOYED. This social ministry is —

1. Obligatory.

2. Varied.

3. Divine.Learn:

1. The divinity of a Christly life.

2. The test of a Christly life. Genuine social benevolence.

(Homilist.)

Minister the same one to another
Though a Christian be the freest man in the world (as being freed from Satan, sin, hell, the law, etc.) yet is he to be of all others the most serviceable; he must not put his light under a bushel, nor hide his talent in a napkin.

1. As the sun shines not for itself, nor the earth bears for itself; so have not we a gift for ourselves, but for the common good.

2. The perfection of gifts consists not only in the having of it, but in the use thereof.

3. The communion of saints, which we believe, requires it.

4. This brings most peace to our conscience both in life and death.

5. This procures credit while we live, as a good name and memory when we die.

6. We are divers ways partakers of the gifts of others, and so must make them partakers of ours.

7. Our gifts increase by using; the more we bestow them, the more we have them.

(John Rogers.)

Clouds when full pour down, and the spouts run, and the eaves shed, and the presses overflow, and the aromatical trees sweat out their precious and sovereign oils.

(J. Trapp.)

The "grace of God" means His liberality. It is called "manifold," because God's gifts are so various in kind and in degree. They are of many descriptions, and variously proportioned. On some the Divine bounty seems to pour itself in torrents, while to others it comes in very slender rills, or apparently in drops only. Still we know that God "is good to all." And, doubtless, were the least gifted among us more quicksighted and pious, they would find themselves possessed of far more considerable gifts from God's hand than they acknowledge or discern. Our corrupt selfishness makes us dull of sight, coldhearted, and ungrateful. Now the apostle asserts, in the text, that we are all sharers in God's manifold grace. "According as every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another." He has just before been enjoining the mutual exercise of ungrudging hospitality. And afterwards he signifies, that our powers of speech and action are all to be employed in a holy and charitable manner for the welfare of our brethren, and to the glory of God our common Father, through Christ. You see, then, that to each of us is allotted a ministry. We must lay ourselves out to do good; not wait lazily for an almost constraining impulse of circumstances. And that we may be useful and not hurtful, it is our duty to ascertain what our gift is; and not to attempt what lies beyond our province, and so mar instead of making or mending. One obstacle of our own making to the useful exercise of our talents is a reluctance to cooperate with those who possess that quality which is wanting in ourselves, but which needs to be combined with ours in order to its efficiency. Now I believe that God has distributed His gifts variously for this very purpose among others, to force upon us a partnership in good works. He has made us so necessary the one to the other, that selfish separatism is hardly less consistent with human well-being than with Divine philanthropy. The man of sagacity is not always good in action: he wants an energetic coadjutor. Moses, good in counsel, requires the help of Aaron ready of speech. Nay more, it is better for the business of the world that high attributes should not be so justly blended in the several individuals, called to act an important part, as to constitute what is nearest to perfection; but rather that what is excessive in one should be balanced and corrected by an excess of another kind in his helpmate. The vehemence of Luther was a blemish in him, while Melancthon was cautious to a fault. Yet who can doubt that the glorious Reformation was better accomplished by two such fellow labourers, than it would have been by the same men, had there been an equal distribution between them of their respective characteristic properties. Such then is God's way of dispensing His gifts. He divides "to every man severally" as He pleases. In the Church He has given "some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ"; and all this is arranged with a view to unity — unity of faith, unity of love, unity of action. Nothing can be clearer than the duty of turning our means and opportunities to good account. We are prone to view our talent under false and vicious limitations; to confine our notions of the proper sphere of assiduous kindness to one's own immediate connections. The gospel vastly expands our field of duty. It urges upon us that we are all brethren. Therefore, whatever gift we possess is meant for the general welfare. Let me here say a word or two upon our accountableness. People are not seldom anxious to believe that by declining to undertake a certain work they avoid a serious responsibility. No doubt that is sometimes true. But if that work be a duty, then you cannot escape the responsibility which lies upon you to engage in it.

(J. N. Pearson, M. A.)

Doing good to others rejoices every human heart that is not totally callous and corrupt. Doing good to others engages the approbation of every man.

I. HOW GREAT IS, FIRST, THE DIVERSITY OF SITUATIONS AMONG MANKIND, AND HOW VARIOUS THEREFORE THE OPPORTUNITY AND THE INDUCEMENT TO BE USEFUL TO ONE ANOTHER IN DIFFERENT WAYS! How many classes and descriptions of persons fill up the interval between the monarch or the prince and the meanest of his subjects! And how various their destination; how various the sphere of action assigned them; how manifold the good and useful that each may contrive, adopt, and do therein! If the government is watchful over the public tranquillity and safety; if the magistrate maintains the laws in their due respect, and protects the individual in his property; if one preceptor teaches the child the elements of human knowledge, another instructs the youth in the higher branches of science; if the statesman is attentive to the several exigencies of the country and provides for its great concerns; the countryman produces a plentiful supply of food from the furrows of his plough and the fields he industriously cultivates; the manufacturer and the mechanic work up and improve the products of the country; the tradesman brings them into circulation, and the merchant barters the surplus against those of other nations; thus thousands of hands are set in motion which none of those could perform without neglecting their own, and which are equally indispensable with theirs. And how much good now may every one do, if he does what belongs to him with willingness, with fidelity, with a heart benevolently affected towards his brethren, participating in their happiness and cheerfully concurring to promote it!

II. CONSIDER AGAIN HOW DIFFERENT THE WANTS OF MANKIND AND HOW VARIOUS THEIR SUFFERINGS, AND THENCE JUDGE IN WHAT A VARIETY OF WAYS ONE MAY SERVE AND BE USEFUL TO ANOTHER. Here are wants of the body — food, raiment, lodging, health, strength; there wants of the mind — information, knowledge, wisdom, virtue, inward peace, pleasure, hope, content. Here is the want of necessaries; there the want of the commodious, the elegant, the agreeable. Here are corporeal sufferings — weakness, debility, mutilation, decrepitude, pain, sickness, lingering death; there are sufferings of the soul — vexation, trouble, anxiety, grief, dejection, doubt, remorse, pangs of conscience, melancholy, despondency, peril of despair. Here is the want of advice, there of support; here of courage, there of prudence; here of means and implements of trade, there of abilities for it; here of understanding, there of alacrity and application; here of moderation, there of patience; here of modesty and diffidence, there of self-importance and confidence. And thus the matter stands in numberless other cases. The necessities of the one are not the necessities of the other; the sufferings of the one are not the sufferings of the other. What is wanting to the former is possessed by the latter. Every one may therefore in various methods give "rod receive, administer relief and accept relief, comfort and be comforted, serve and submit to be served, communicate benefit and satisfaction and enjoy benefit and satisfaction,

III. CONSIDER THIRDLY, HOW NUMEROUS AND VARIOUS THE CAPACITIES AND POWERS, THE GIFTS AND ACQUIREMENTS OF MANKIND ARE, AND THENCE JUDGE HOW GREAT THE VARIETY OF WAYS IN WHICH THEY MAY SERVE AND ASSIST AND BENEFIT EACH OTHER. No one is exactly that which another is; no one has precisely that which another has; no one knows all that another knows; no one can and may do whatever another can and may. One has understanding; and how various the species of it are! Here is a profound, collected, there a comprehensive and excursive; here a quick but volatile, there a slow but solid understanding. Another has authority and strength, and how various are these in their kinds! Here is strength of mind, there strength of body; here the power of beauty, there the power of eloquence; here the command of oneself and the passions, there the authority of the ruler and the commander over his subjects; here impetuous, overwhelming, there mild, insinuating, yet more irresistible force. And who is able to recount the infinite variations of human capacities and powers and endowments and their analogies to each other? One has ingenuity, an extensive, strong turn for invention; the other has judgment and dexterity in execution. One quickness and pliancy to the business of the present moment; the other persevering, indefatigable patience for intricate and tiresome undertakings. One an ardency to animate all around it; the other cool consideration and resolution to put a stop to this devouring flame. And now let each exchange his capacities and endowments and possessions against those of the other; now let every one apply the particular talent entrusted to him, as often as he has the proper motive and opportunity for it; what a blessing would the prodigiously various commutation of kind offices, of assistance and support, of benevolence and beneficence, be to all in general and to each in particular!

IV. CONSIDER LASTLY, HOW MANIFOLD AND DIFFERENT THE METHODS IN WHICH YE MAY SERVE YOUR BRETHREN, IN WHICH YE MAY DO THEM ALL THE GOOD THAT YE ARE ABLE. Thinking and speaking, keeping silence and hearing, giving and lending, partaking and borrowing, bearing and suffering and relieving, doing and not doing, are so many different methods of serving and being useful to others, and each the best in its proper season, the most productive of beneficial consequences.

(G. J. Zollikofer.)

You and I can only give large sums of money to God's service, as God makes us wealthy. It is so in earthly things, and surely it must be so in spiritual things. If we are living in the fulness of God, then the promise of Jesus Christ shall be fulfilled in our case — "Out of our belly shall flow rivers of living water." If, on the other hand, we are straitened in ourselves, then what wonder that our life should be unprofitable, and that we should scarcely to any degree minister the gift, simply because we receive it so scantily. But when I look again at that word "as," another thought occurs to me. It strikes me that we have not only there a law of proportion, we have also a law of quality, qualifying the bestowal of the gift. The gift is bestowed by the hand of Him who is an example to us in giving, as well as in every other respect. As we receive, so we are to give. There ought to be a certain God-like liberality in our efforts to distribute the favours with which God loads us. But further, that word "as" seems to teach us more than this. Not only have we received the gift freely, but we have received it wisely; that is to say, God, in bestowing the gift upon us, exercised a wisdom which belongs to His own nature, preparing us for its reception, and bestowing upon us just the gift appropriate to our state. Are we not too often very clumsy in this respect? We get into a kind of stereotyped way of working for God. I cannot but feel that, if we would minister the gift as the Lord would have us minister it, we require greater delicacy of touch, keener discernment of human character, and a fuller appreciation of God's different methods of dealing with different souls than are commonly to be met with.

(W. H. M. H. Aitken, M. A.)

As good stewards of the manifold grace
The manifold grace of God — the term is a remarkable one — it is that word by which the Greeks expressed infinite variety of hue or of design — the shiftings and glistenings of richly-mingled colours, or the dappled patterns of skilful embroidery. We have not, I think, been good stewards of this manifold grace. We have been ever apt to look on the grace of God in one or at most in some few of its aspects only. We have forgotten its manifoldness. In other words, we have assumed for the gospel of Christ too exclusively theological a character. We want to raise up the new life within men. Now it seems to me, that in doing this we have been too long acting contrary to all natural analogies. Have we, like the unskilful workman, been utterly careless about minutiae? O when will men begin to see that religion is not a separate trade or profession, but the business of life? When will they begin to apprehend the grace of God in its manifoldness? to see that it was sent to win every affection, to brighten every smile, to shed fresh interest over every pursuit, to light up new hopes in every prospect — to embrace every variety of human temperament, assist every degree of human capacity? We never shall be good stewards, till we know and apply this truth, and carry it out in practice in our own times, and among those with whom we live. "Am I a good steward of this manifold grace?" "Am I occupying with it, that at my Master's coming He may find it increased and fructified?" We will first speak, as the most obvious case, of the bestowal of God's grace in the position and opportunities afforded by rank, wealth, and influence among men. It is God who putteth down one and setteth up another. The purpose for which He has ordained various ranks in human society, is that He may thereby be glorified in the Christian use of influence over others, the Christian bestowal of worldly means. Who can overestimate the value of such an one as a centre of influence for good? A blessing to his own relatives, to his dependants, among whom he is ever moving and speaking; a blessing to his equals, with whom he communes in the intercourse of social life; a blessing to general society in checking all that is evil and encouraging all that is good. And a word on mere wealth, considered as a stewardship. The question in every case for them is not an absolute, but a relative one; not "what?" but "what proportion?" As a man's worldly means increase, so his charities ought to increase. Then there is another matter belonging to this part of our subject; the stewardship of administration of charity, or of any money laid out for the general good. The labour of love is essential not only to good stewardship, but to the Christian character itself; and every man may make — and ought to make if there be any difficulty in the way — leisure and opportunity for such labour of love. The ways and occasions for it are manifold, as the grace which will help us in it. Let me now speak of another stewardship of God's manifold grace; that which we ordinarily know as talent; ability of various kinds, wherewith many are considerably, and some few eminently, endowed. Great numbers of ordinary men are made very much by that which they read, or that which they hear, of the sentiments of those who are abler than themselves. With what a vast responsibility does this invest those who thus stand in the first rank, and lead mankind! How great a difference, to take an example, will be made in general society in the matter of Christian belief, according as one commanding man of genius, who has power over thought and language, makes use of that power. We are all, as was said of the Spartan army of old, commanders of commanders; we all work upon those, who work in their turn upon others. And therefore our ability, be it ever so small is our stewardship, of which God will most certainly have an a count from us. But influence over others is not the only matter in which we are to be good stewards of His manifold grace. It was given us for influence over ourselves; that our whole body, soul, and spirit might be sanctified wholly — that it might fill us to our utmost capacity with the fulness of God, and render us efficient for promoting His glory.

(Dean Alford.)

I. THE TRUE IDEA OF HUMAN LIFE. "Stewards." We are not principals, proprietors, masters, but trustees; our gifts must not be used for ends of personal indulgence; we must please our Lord. Do we always remember this theory of life? Surely we often practically forget this, and act as if our gifts were our own, to be used simply for personal gratification and aggrandisement. A gentleman walks into his grounds on a summer morning, and delighted with certain flowers, says to his gardener, "These are very line; send a few into the house." The gardener distinctly declines to do anything of the sort. "I am keeping these against the Show," is his reply, "and I cannot permit them to be cut." By and by the gentleman orders his carriage to be sent round at a given time. when once again the coachman refuses to obey. "The roads are bad," "It is inconvenient," and the carriage is not forthcoming. Arrived at his counting house, the gentleman orders his cashier to write him out a cheque for £50, but to his astonishment the clerk decisively objects to draw the cheque; he "will not allow the balance at the bank to be disturbed." How long would a master endure that kind of conduct, and consent to be shut out of the disposal and enjoyment of his own property? But we often set thus in dealing with God, using His gifts capriciously and selfishly, forgetting God's absolute authority and life's larger purpose. Whatever we have, we have received; whatever we have, we must restore.

II. THE GRAND WORK OF HUMAN LIFE. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another." The individual trees of a forest do not need much from one another; they grow the better, perhaps, for growing in a brotherhood; they shelter each other, they benefit by a certain neighbourhood and reciprocity, but they are not absolutely essential to one another; if there were but one oak tree in England it would grow pretty much as it does today in the forests of oak. But it is far otherwise with the human species; we are essential to each other; one man in Leeds, one man in Europe, would hardly prosper; it is only in mutuality that the individual can live and come to the fulness of his glory and fruitfulness, that the race can reach its ideal life. The rich must help the poor. As long as the mountain and valley exist the inequalities of society will exist; but as in the economy of nature there is no antagonism between the height and the depth, the mountain sending its streams into the valley, and the valley sending its fertility creeping up the mountain side; so there need be no war between rich and poor, between capital and labour, because together they establish that interdependence among men which is essential to the growth and perfecting of all. The wise must help the ignorant. God has given us gifts of imagination, knowledge, expression, music, song, that we may plant intellectual flowers in waste places, and make dull, sad lives bright with thoughts of truth and hope. The strong must help the weak. "Ye that are strong must bear the infirmity of the weak." Thank God that you are the strong, and not the weak; that you are the helper, and not the helped. But there is another side to all this; the poor, the illiterate, the weak, the obscure may also truly minister in many ways to the world's enrichment and blessing. In Italy it is a delight to see the rich vines creeping from tree to tree. But when I was in that country I used to look with much interest on what is generally overlooked — the dwarfed, mutilated, hidden bits of trees, which to a large extent support the clinging vines, and hold them up into the sun. These hidden props have for the most part few leaves and less fruit, but their service and glory are that they bear up the goodly vine, with all its wealth of gold and purple; and however entirely these stumps may be forgotten in the day of vintage, they made a splendid contribution to the joy of harvest. So humble people often make great men possible, although the world knows the great men only, and forgets the lowly helper. In the biography of the Earl of Shaftesbury we have an illustration of the ministry of the obscure. "Although there was little in the home to foster, while there was much to discourage, the growth of that piety which was to characterise so signally his afterlife, one source of helpful and tender influence was preserved to him. There was in the household a faithful old servant, Maria Millis, who had been maid to young Ashley's mother when she was a girl at Blenheim, and who was now retained as housekeeper. She was a simple-hearted, loving, Christian woman, faithful in her duties to her earthly master, and faithful in her higher duties to her heavenly Master. She formed a strong attachment to the gentle, serious child, and would take him on her knees and tell him Bible stories, especially the sweet story of the manger of Bethlehem and the Cross of Calvary. It was her hand that touched the chords and awakened the first music of his spiritual life." The great ameliorative movements of the world are also vastly indebted to the weak and poor. Everybody knows of Livingstone, of Bishop Hannington, of Paten, of Calvert; but the sublime enterprise conducted by these heroes would be impossible if it were not for the self-denying work of labouring men, farm servants, domestic servants, little children who give and collect coppers through the land and through the year. Do you say, "Yes, if I were a Garibaldi, or a Victor Hugo, or a John Bright, I would rejoice to serve my generation; but my talent is small, I am only one of the million"? The lily in the field is one of a million, but it makes the summer air a little sweeter for all that; the star of the sky is one of a million, but it is not less a thing of glory for that; the dewdrop of the morning is one of a million, yet it leaves a spot of fresh beauty as it exhales into the light. The Orientals have a wise saying, "A little stone in its place weighs a hundredweight." The most inconsiderable people are valuable in their place.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

Let him speak as the oracles of God
I. PARTICULAR RULES FOR THE PREACHING OF THE WORD MAY BE MANY, but this is a most comprehensive one which the apostle gives; "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God."

1. In fidelity, it is supposed that a man should have a competent insight and knowledge in the Divine oracles, that first he learn before he teach.

2. A minister must speak holily, with that high esteem and reverence of the great Majesty whose message he carries, that becomes the divinity of the message itself, those deep mysteries that no created spirits are able to fathom.

3. The Word is to be spoken wisely. By this I mean, in the way of delivering it, that it be done gravely and decently. Now you that hear should certainly agree in this too. If any hear, let him hear "as the oracles of God," not as a well-tuned sound, to help you to sleep an hour; not as a human oration, to displease or please you for an hour; not as a school lesson, to add some what to your stock of knowledge, or as a feast of new notions; but hear as the oracles of God.

II. THE END OF ALL THIS APPOINTMENT IS, "that in all, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ"; that in all, in all persons and all things; the word includes both, and the thing itself extends to both. All persons and all things shall pay this tribute, even they that most wickedly seek to withhold it; but this is the happiness of the saints, that they move willingly thus, are not forced or driven. "Through Jesus Christ." The Christian in covenant with God, receives all this way and returns all this way.

(Abp. Leighton.)

I. THE ORACLES OF GOD ARE OF DIVINE ORIGIN AND ARE THEREFORE OF SUPREME AUTHORITY. The heathen oracles owed all their influence to the belief that prevailed that they were the answers of the god enshrined in his temple.

II. THAT THESE ORACLES OF GOD ARE ACCESSIBLE TO US, AND MAY BE CONSULTED BY US, IN THE DIVERSITIES AND PERPLEXITIES OF OUR CONDITION. The heathen oracles were accessible too, but only under circumstances that forbid universal approach.

III. THE ORACLES OF GOD CLEARLY ANNOUNCE THE DIVINE WILL, AND ARE THEREFORE TO BE BELIEVED AND OBEYED. The oracles of the heathen were mysterious but useless mutterings.

(W. G. Barrett.)

That God in all things may be glorified
I. THE IMPORT. The glory of God, as alone it can be affected by His creatures, consists in the homage and service which they render Him, and in the manifestation of His glorious perfections and the accomplishment of the great ends of His moral administration — the virtue and happiness of His intelligent offspring.

II. THE APPLICATION.

1. God is glorified by the diffusion of such knowledge respecting His works, as tends to give a lively conviction of His existence, and His attributes of power, wisdom, and goodness.

2. God is glorified by all that manifests His providential and moral administration respecting man kind.

3. God is glorified in an especial manner, by the effectual diffusion of the gospel, since there His perfections are most plainly illustrated, His dealings towards mankind most clearly displayed, and His requirements of homage and service most forcibly delineated and sanctioned.

4. We glorify God, whenever we act under the influence of religious principle, from a sense of Christian duty, prompted by the example and Spirit of Jesus, and guided by His commands; by a sincere regard to Him as our Maker, our Preserver, our Witness, and our Judge.

(J. B. Beard.)

Glory is the manifestation of the hidden attributes of the ever-blessed God. He dwells in light which is so transcendent in its burning purity that no mortal eye could bear the blaze which enwraps His being. But if unknown He would be forever unappreciated and unloved. How could men or angels worship an inaccessible and unknown God? But Jesus Christ, who has dwelt forever in the bosom of the Father, has declared Him, has brought out His attributes from their dark obscurity, and has displayed them. The prism, which shows the exquisite tints that hide in sunbeams, glorifies the sun and its Maker. The artist who reads nature's secrets, and catches bewitching smiles which are only seen by her lovers, glorifies Him who lives behind all nature. The student who shows some unsuspected beauty in our favourite author, adds to that author's glory in our esteem. So, though in an infinitely superior sense, as the Son has been the medium through which the Father has shone forth, and has attracted the admiration and homage of all intelligent creatures, we may rightly say that in Him He has been glorified. This was so in creation, when the creative qualities of the Almighty passed through the Son into efflorescent beauty. It has been so in providence, wherein the sustaining grace of God has been revealing itself through successive ages of activity. It was especially so in the life and words and death of the Redeemer. These were windows into the heart of God.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

When the sunbeams fall upon a mirror, it flashes in the light, just because they do not enter its cold surface. It is a mirror, because it does not drink them up, but flings them back. The contrary is the case with these mirrors of our spirits. In them the light must first sink in before it can ray out. They must first be filled with the glory, before the glory can stream forth. They are not so much like a reflecting surface as like a bar of iron, which needs to be heated down to its obstinate black core before its outer skin glows with the whiteness of a heat that is too hot to sparkle. The sunshine must fall on us, not as it does on some lonely hillside, lighting up the grey stones with a passing gleam, but as it does on some cloud cradled near its setting, which it drenches and saturates with fire till its cold heart burns, and all its wreaths of vapour are brightness palpable, glorified by the light which lives amidst its mists. So must we have the glory sink into us before it can be reflected from us.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A painting that is a work of art may be so inappropriately framed, and hung at such disadvantage as to light and shade, that only a master recognises its merits. Or it may be so worthily framed and so fitly placed that the skill and power of the artist's work appeal to the most casual beholder. So a Christian heart may be enshrined in such meagre and unworthy human qualities that they detract from the recognition the grace of Christ ought to receive, the impression it should make. Where religion is in disrepute, it is largely because of its association with unworthy human qualities, and its consequent identification in the minds of many with them. It is unfortunate when a Christian man is not also a man among men, able to hold his own place, and make for himself a higher. The youth who is first at the bat or the oar; the student who leads his college class; the man who has made a reputation or a fortune in his profession or business, the woman whose grace and accomplishments are the delight of her friends; these, having the grace of Christ in their hearts, are not by these attainments detracting from its power, they are enshrining that grace more worthily; even as a diamond is more fittingly set in a ring of gold than in one of pinchbeck.

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