1 Thessalonians 1:3
and continually recalling before our God and Father your work of faith, your labor of love, and your enduring hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Sermons
Works of GraceW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 1:3
Heartfelt Thanksgiving for Spiritual ProsperityT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 1:2, 3
Intercessory PrayerH. W. Beecher.1 Thessalonians 1:2-4
Ministerial ThanksgivingG. Barlow.1 Thessalonians 1:2-4
Prayer for Individuals1 Thessalonians 1:2-4
The Apostle's ThanksgivingB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 1:2-6
Manifestation of InterestR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10
A Favourite TriologyT. Adams.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
An Eye Fixed on ManDe Vere.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Faith, Hope, and LoveProf. Harless., Prof. Eadie.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Love Wrought ThisChristian Advocate.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Man in the Sight of GodC. Kingsley, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Patience of HopeH. W. Beeches.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Products of LoveBishop Reynolds.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Realization of God's PresenceDean Goulburn.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Character of Thessalonian ChristianityT. Hughes.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Effects Produced by the Vital Graces in StC. Simeon, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Habitual Recognition of GodN. W. Taylor, D. D.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Labour of LoveJ. W. Burn.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Patience of HopeJ. W. Burn.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Patience of HopeFamily Treasury1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Three Graces At WorkWeekly Pulpit1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Vital GracesC. Simeon, M. A.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
The Work of FaithJ. W. Burn.1 Thessalonians 1:3-4
In writing to the Corinthians St. Paul singles out three Christian graces for supreme honor - faith, hope, and love. Here he selects the same three graces, but not simply to praise them for their own inherent merits. They are now regarded in their energetic operation, as powers and influences; and the fruits of their activity are the subjects of the apostle's thankful recognition. He makes mention in prayer of the work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope.

I. CHRISTIAN GRACES ARE ACTIVE POWERS. They are beautiful in themselves, but they are not to exist solely for their own beauty. Flowers are lovely, but the object of the existence of flowers is not that they may dream through the summer hours in their loveliness, and then fade and wither and die. They serve an important end in the economy of plants by preparing fruit and seeds.

1. The active operation of Christian grace glorifies God. While dwelling only in the depths of the soul, quiescent and secret, they do not show forth the glory of God. "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit" (John 15:8).

2. The active operation of the Christian graces is a means of benefiting our fellow-men. Faith, love, and hope are not given to us for our own enjoyment only. They are aids for our mission in life - the mission of serving God by serving mankind. We must let them have their perfect work, that this mission may be fulfilled.

3. The active operation of the Christian graces is a proof of their vital health. "Faith apart from works is barren" (James 2:20). By the fruits they bear we know how far we have the graces within us.

II. CHRISTIAN GRACES HAVE THEIR SEPARATE SPHERES OF ENERGY.

1. Faith has its work. When we both believe and actively trust in the helps of the Unseen, we are encouraged to use them, and when we yield ourselves in faith to the will and law of the Unseen, we learn to obey the authority above us. Hence the work of faith. This is characterized by decision - it is no wavering, hesitating, intermittent activity - by calmness and by energy.

2. Love has its labor. Labor is harder than work. It implies great effort, toil, and trouble. Love goes beyond faith and undertakes greater tasks. But with love "all toil is sweet." An enthusiasm amounting to passion characterizes this activity and distinguishes it from the sober work of faith. Love to God and love to man are necessary for the hardest work. It was not mere faith, it was love, that inspired the awful toils and sacrifices of Christ.

3. Hope has its patience. This is the passive fruit of Divine grace. It is not therefore the less important, nor does it therefore show the less energy. We need strength for endurance as much as strength for action. Christian hope manifests its energy by unflinching perseverance in spite of present crosses and distresses.

III. CHRISTIAN GRACES MUST CO-OPERATE FOR THE RIPENING OF THE FULL CHRISTIAN LIFE. St. Paul rejoices that all three of the primary graces were in active operation in the Thessalonian Church. Characters are too often one-sided. Faith is hard if love is wanting. Love is weak and wild if it is not supported and guided by faith. Hope is an idle dream without these two graces, and they are sad and gloomy if they are not cheered by hope. As the cord is far stronger than the separate strands, faith, hope, and love united produce energies many times greater than the results of their individual efficacy. The perfect Christian character is the character that is developed into rich fruitfulness on all sides. All the colors in the bow must blend to produce the pure white of saintliness. - W.F.A.







Weekly Pulpit.
I. THE WORK OF FAITH. Faith is an active principle, and St. James has dealt with it as such, and told Antinomians of every age that "faith without works is dead." Some assert that he was antagonistic to St. Paul on this subject. But this is refuted by St. Paul's example, and by the text, which accords with all that James has written.

1. Faith is the awakening of the soul to the realities of life. To apprehend the truth is to feel its power, without the consciousness of that power life is a dream. To grasp the truths of the gospel with the hand of faith is to stir up the powers of human nature and load them with responsibilities.

2. Faith is the inspiration to discharge the duties of life. The mere sense of obligation is not enough. It is a man's duty to pay his debts whether he has the means or not. Honesty of purpose and hope of success will encourage the debtor to labour until he is able to discharge his liabilities. The work of faith, although not without its reward, is a present effort to secure future fruits. The good seed is cast into the ground in expectation of a harvest. Work follows belief.

II. LABOUR OF LOVE distinguishes between the ordinary work of the Church, and the supreme efforts necessary to maintain the Christian name. The cross was often very heavy. Fiery trials came to overcome faith, but love stood in the breach, and drove back the enemy. Where trust may fail, love never will.

1. It is a labour of love when everything seems to go against us. Peter and his fellow disciples, although they had toiled in vain all night, yet cast the net once more out of love for the Saviour. It does not appear that they believed success would attend the second effort, but they did it in loving obedience to Christ. Apostolic labours were often carried on in the same spirit. Ministers, Sunday school teachers, and Christian workers, when faith falters, should do as the second officer does when immediate danger is apprehended — send for the captain. In heavy seas let love take the command of the vessel. "Charity never faileth."

2. It is a labour of love when we are persecuted by those whom we seek to save. It is a trying ordeal to benefit others while they are injuring us. We have a severe lesson to learn when we must love those who hate us. In this the believer approaches nearer the Saviour.

3. It is a labour of love when we leave all the fruit for others to gather and enjoy. Disinterested love labours not for itself, but for those who follow. This is a grand movement in the Church.

III. PATIENCE OF HOPE. This is the climax. Work must bear fruit. The glory of God in what we do may be beyond the ken of faith. The storm may rage furiously, threatening to outdo the wisdom and the courage of love. Hope sees beyond all this to the desired haven.

1. Abide God's time. With the Lord a thousand years are as but one day. Faith may become dispirited because there is a seeming slackness on the part of God to fulfil His promise. Love may be beaten by the storm for a longer time than was expected. Hope brings forward the visions of the future to cheer the one and to strengthen the other.

2. Lay hold on God's arm. Hope feels for the strength of the Lord, and leans upon it.

(Weekly Pulpit.)

These were St. Paul's "favourite triology of Christian principles." And they were fundamental also. An eminent theologian puts it thus: — "As the three principal colours of the rainbow — red, yellow, and blue, representing heat, light, and purifying power — supply in their combination all the other colours, so, by a sort of moral analysis, faith, hope, and love lie at the foundation, or enter into the composition, of all other Christian excellences." They are, in a word, inseparable graces. Faith always works by love, and these two virtues can wait patiently and hopefully for ultimate results. They are the crown of Christian believers, and the forces of the whole Church. And they must succeed. Faith says — "I labour in the full confidence that I shall finally accomplish all I would;" Love says — "I delight in my work, and therefore will not slacken in my efforts until I have secured all I desire;" and Hope says — "I can wait patiently for all I joyfully anticipate." These three divine graces are a created trinity, and have some glimmering resemblance of the Trinity uncreate; for as there the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceeds from them both; so here a true faith begets a constant hope, and from them proceeds charity. In the godly these three are united, and cannot be sundered. We believe in God's mercy, we hope for His mercy, and we love Him for His mercy.

(T. Adams.)

The leading graces of Christianity are "faith, hope, and charity." On these all other graces essentially depend; so that where these are, there will all others most assuredly be found. But of all these graces there are counterfeits: there is "a faith that is dead;" there is "a love which is dissimulation;" and there is "a hope of the hypocrite that perisheth." Such, however, were not the graces which had been exercised among the Thessalonians: in them the apostle had seen —

I. AN ACTIVE FAITH. True faith is active: it brings to the Christian's view the Lord Jesus Christ, as having in Him a fulness of all imaginable blessings treasured up for the use of the Church; just as the vine has in its root and trunk that sap of which all the branches partake, and by which they are nourished. Faith, moreover, brings the Christian to Christ for daily supplies of those blessings which his various necessities require. And having received communications of grace according to his necessities, he is stirred up by it to improve them to the glory of his Redeemer's name. In a word, whatever the Christian has to do for God, he does it through the operation of this principle, by which, and by which alone, he overcomes the world, and purifies his heart. This faith St. Paul had seen in his Thessalonian converts; yea, so eminently had it shone forth in them, that they were celebrated for it in almost every Church throughout the Roman empire, and were held forth as patterns and ensamples of it to all the Christian world.

II. A LABORIOUS LOVE. Love is that fruit by which, above all, the truth and reality of faith will be discerned. It is by this, above all, that we can assure ourselves, or be known to others, as faithful followers of Christ. If we have it not, all else that we can have is of no value. But love is a laborious grace: it is always seeking for something which it may do either for God or man. It cannot endure to be idle. Whether it can do little or much, it delights to be doing what it can. Nor is it diverted from its pursuit by slight obstacles; no — like the water obstructed by the dam, it will overcome them, and will evince its strength and ardour in proportion to the difficulties that impede its exercise. Love is a self-denying grace; and where it exists in due measure, it will prompt a man not only to sacrifice ease and interest, but even to lay down his life itself for the brethren. This grace was so conspicuous in the Thessalonian converts, that St. Paul judged it quite unnecessary to write to them on the subject: they were so taught by God Himself respecting all its duties and offices, that he could add nothing to them, but only to exhort them to abound more and more in the conduct which they had already pursued.

III. A PATIENT HOPE. Hope is the offspring of faith and love, or at least of that faith which worketh by love. St. Paul calls it "hope in our Lord Jesus Christ," because "in Him all the promises of God are yea and amen." It is a patient grace, leading us to expect all that God has promised, however long we may have to wait for it; and to fulfil all that God has required, to the utmost possible extent; and to suffer all that God has ordained us to suffer, in hope of a final recompense; and, finally, to continue in a constant course of well-doing, even to the end. Such was the hope which the Thessalonians had manifested, and in which they had greatly rejoiced even in the midst of all their afflictions.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

I. ACTIVE FAITH shown in —

1. A full persuasion of the truth of the gospel.

2. Steadfast adherence to it in the midst of trial.

3. The great change which it had already wrought in their life and character.

4. The efforts in which they had engaged to extend the gospel.

II. LABORIOUS LOVE implying —

1. Great anxiety for the temporal and spiritual well-being of others.

2. Self-denying exertions to promote that well-being.

III. PATIENT HOPE.

1. A conviction that Christ will come.

2. A preparedness for His coming.

3. An expectation of it.

4. An earnest desire for it.

(T. Hughes.)

Faith hangs on the word of promise, love on that God who gives, hope on the promised inheritance. Faith receives and has, love gives, hope waits. Faith makes the heart firm, love makes it soft, hope expands it. Faith holds fast to what it has received, love gives up what it has received, hope triumphs over what is wanting. Faith capacitates us for dominion over this world, love for ministering to this world, hope for renunciation of this world. Faith is the confidence in what one hopes for; love, the proof of this, that one has faith; hope, the taking possession, before we have reached the goal, of that which we have learned by faith and love to yearn after. Faith is what it ceases to be in sight; hope is what it ceases to be in full possession; love is that which it never ceases to be, for God is love.

(Prof. Harless.)Faith is childlike, hope is saintlike, but love is Godlike.

(Prof. Eadie.)

I. As it regards GOD.

1. To depend on His guidance —

(1)In His word.

(2)In the opening up of providential opportunities.

2. To trust in His help. Without Him we can do nothing.

(1)The mind is dark as to duty — He must enlighten it.

(2)The will is irresolute or rebellious — He must subdue and strengthen it.

(3)The energies are enfeebled — He must invigorate them.

3. To use His power.

(1)It is offered freely.

(2)It must be employed faithfully and energetically.

4. To bide His time. As in nature, so in grace, there is seed time and harvest: how often the Christian husbandman confounds the two.

5. To aim at His glory.

(1)This is His due inasmuch as He is the great Agent, we the implements.

(2)This will lift our efforts on to a higher platform and endue them with an irresistible motive power.

II. As it regards SELF.

1. To believe that God has qualified us for a certain work in a certain way.(1) God has qualified some mentally. It is for such to believe that God has fitted them for literature, teaching, organization, etc.(2) God has qualified some physically. It is for such to believe that although not gifted intellectually, they can still work for God in visiting the sick, etc.(3) God has qualified some financially: they should believe that their work is beneficence.(4) God has qualified some with only a quiet influence: such should not believe that they can do nothing. God sometimes qualifies by disqualifications. How can the sick work? In many ways. By prayer, the example of Christian resignation, etc. "They also work who only stand and wait."

2. To believe that God intends and will help us each to work in his own way. Do not, then, ape anyone else. That is unbelief in our God-given individuality. Yet it largely obtains. The born preacher thinks he should organize: the visitor that he should teach: but it is misplaced faith and therefore unbelief. Be yourself, and rely on yourself as called and qualified by God.

3. To believe that through God's strength we are sufficient for anything that He calls us to. Unbelief here is the paralysis of Christian effort and the nurse of much sinful indolence.

4. To believe that God will accept and consecrate us as we grapple with our tasks. Faith is the spring of devotion to God.

III. As regards our WORK.

1. To believe in the Divine sanction. Unbelief here is ruinous. Any doubt about our Divine call will not be compensated by the most transparent sincerity and the most prodigious effort. All work must fall to pieces without faith in its Divinity.

2. To believe that it is worthy of the best energies that we can devote to it, the best time that we can spend in its preparation and execution, the best appliances we can use in it. We must regard it as the noblest work in which a human spirit can engage: which it really is.

3. To believe in its ultimate success. Who would stand long hours behind a counter unless he believed that his work was going to pay? And who can preach and teach with any power unless he believes that God's word shall not return to Him void.

IV. As regards OTHERS, viz., those for whose benefit we work.

1. To believe that they want our service: that the sinful need cleansing, that the degraded need elevating, etc.

2. To believe that our service will meet this need. If we have any lingering doubt that the gospel is not quite effective, and must be abandoned for, e.g., some methods of social reform — farewell to all power and prospect of success. Learn —

1. That Christ is the Author and Finisher of our faith. "It is the gift of God."

2. That faith having secured personal salvation, it henceforth becomes practical.

3. That faith grows and strengthens by exercise, and nowhere so effectually as in Christian work.

(J. W. Burn.)

And labour of love
I. THE LABOUR WHICH LOVE INSPIRES. Love is the mightiest motive: the one which never fails. This is needed in all work that is worth doing: much more Christian work. Love regards either the work itself, as in the case of an artist, or the object for which the work is done, i.e., to please a friend or to feed a family. Christian work is animated by the threefold motive: the work is worth doing, God is worth serving, souls are worth saving.

II. THE LABOUR WHICH LOVE DOES.

1. It undergoes any sacrifices. Mark the self-denial of the student, e.g., in his pursuit of learning. Shall the Christian then avoid any discipline that will perfect his character, or is necessary for his equipment for war or service?

2. It succumbs to no fatigue. Of mere task service we soon tire.

3. It spares no energies. When a man begins to pick and choose, it is easy to see that he has no heart in it. Christian love asks not how little can I do and escape condemnation, but how much can I do of this glorious work for this dear Master.

III. THE LABOUR WHICH LOVE PERFECTS. Its work must be worthy of itself. So —

1. It is ingenious in contriving to do the best thing in the best way. What pains are taken about mother's birthday present; and shall we be less solicitous for Christ.

2. It adds beauty to ability so that the gratification may be complete. There is a holy extravagance about love which excites the query, "To what purpose is this waste?"

IV. THE LABOUR WHICH LOVE REWARDS.

1. The labour of love is its own reward: to have produced a book which has edified thousands is a reward to which the most handsome remuneration is out of all proportion. To have brought a soul to Christ is worth more than the wealth of a Rothschild.

2. The smile of the beloved one recompenses the labour of love. Your work is worth so much — which will you have — twice its value or the warm word of appreciation? The Master's glad "well done" is heaven.Lessons:

1. Learn to love what you do either for its own sake or for the sake of some one. This will make "drudgery divine."

2. Let your love grow with your work and your work under your love.

(J. W. Burn.)

Fear produceth unwilling, servile performances, as those fruits that grow in winter or in cold countries are sour, unsavoury, and unconcocted; but those which grow in summer or in hotter countries, by the warmth and influence of the sun, are sweet and wholesome. Such is the difference between those fruits of obedience which fear and love produceth.

(Bishop Reynolds.)

A century ago, in the north of Europe, stood an old cathedral, upon one of the arches of which was a sculptured face of wondrous beauty. It was long hidden, until one day the sun's light striking through a slanted window, revealed its matchless features. And ever after, year by year, upon the days when for a brief hour it was thus illuminated, crowds came and waited eager to catch a glimpse of that face. It had a strange history. When the cathedral was being built, an old man, broken with the weight of years and care, came and besought the architect to let him work upon it. Out of pity for his age, but fearful lest his failing sight and trembling touch might mar some fair design, the master set him to work in the shadows of the vaulted roof. One day they found the old man asleep in death, the tools of his craft laid in order beside him, the cunning of his right hand gone, the face upturned to this marvellous face which he had wrought — the face of one whom he had loved and lost in early manhood. And when the artists and sculptors and workmen from all parts of the cathedral came and looked upon that face they said, "This is the grandest work of all; love wrought this."

(Christian Advocate.)

Patience of hope
is the point of this verse that we shall insist upon. But what is hope? It is an emotion; but it is more nearly allied to an intellectual state, perhaps, than a good many others. It is cheerfulness; it is happiness in expectancy; or, it is a bright view of the future. Memory takes care of the past; realization considers the present; anticipation works in the future, but it is a purely intellectual state of fore-looking: it may run along the line of cause and effect; it is a kind of prophecy from the known side of the relation of causes to effects. Hope acts in the future; it distils joy in the present by reason of that which it sees in the future. Anticipation does not: anticipated joys do not make one necessarily joyful now; anticipated success does not bring the remuneration of success in the present; it may bring courage, but not joy. Hope does bring joy, it irradiates the present; trials, struggles, temptations, defeats, are all made radiant by hopefulness. Not only is it an active state, but under certain circumstances it is a state that beds itself in, or is upheld by, the condition of patience, as if patience were a candlestick, and hope were the candle. It is looking at things in the future in a bright and cheerful light — the light of happiness. In this regard there are those that have no hope, or, rather, that have a hope that is torpid. I recollect having to deal with a saintly and notable woman, who, at the breaking out of a revival of religion, was in the very depths of despair, and felt that her hopes were blasted, and that she was foredoomed to eternal destruction. She had been so excessively active in all the preliminary stages of the religious excitement that she had simply exhausted herself; and, being of a bilious temperament, she had gone into a condition of absolute paralysis, if I might so say, of hopefulness. I did not address one single consideration of hopefulness to her. When her confidence was secured, so that she could follow implicitly my directions, I forbade her to go to church, to read one word in the Bible, or to utter a syllable of prayer until I gave her permission. She was filled with amazement; but resting absolutely, and freeing herself from that which had already been an over-anxiety in her case, at last nature rebounded, and she sent me word that if I did not free her from her promise she would have to break it, for her heart was overflowing with joy, and she could not help it though she tried ever so hard. If I had gone on describing the sin of her forgetting Christ and so forth, it would have been adding to her overstraining, and there would have been no chance for nature to rebound and come to her help. So, while there is this state of a probably diseased condition of mind, there must be other than mere moral treatment. There be many persons that have been injured by a too intense application, to their cases, of religious stimuli. We should have care not to plunge men into despondency; but, on the other hand, we ought all of us to be taught, in the very beginning, that of ourselves we are scarcely to attain anything that is very high — that the light which is in us, tending toward good, is the atmosphere of God Himself. Have hope — not despair; and above all things, do not get caught in the devil's puzzle as between that which is in you by reason of God's stimulus, and that which is dependent on your own exertion and your own will.

(H. W. Beeches.)

I. THE RELATION OF HOPE TO PATIENCE.

1. It begets patience. Where there is no hope there is no patience, but either apathy or recklessness. The man who feels there is no hope of retrieving his ruined fortunes simply folds his hands or drowns his despair in self-indulgence.

2. It fosters patience. While there is a hope of anything, we feel that it is worth while waiting for it. But just in proportion as hope fades does patience relax its hold.

3. It justifies patience. If there is nothing to wait for, why wait? A friend's promise, e.g., is sure to be redeemed. The hope of that warrants the patience of years. Apply these principles —(1) To God's salvation. To despair of this as some have done is to grow careless and indifferent — but what weary days and months have been spent in the hope of the smile of God's countenance. This hope encourages us to wait for salvation in God's time and way, and the object is so great as to justify any amount of patience.(2) To Christian work. The prospect of winning souls calls forth the patient use of means. When we despond, the means are abandoned or only feebly employed. But hope lures the labourer to plod on. The seed is sown in tears; but it is sown; and the harvest will repay patient continuance in well-doing.(3) To family duties. The mother's lot is brightened by hope. Alas! what would it be without it? That troublesome boy may grow up to be a great man. In the hope of this plod on, mother!

II. THE RELATION OF PATIENCE TO HOPE.

1. It keeps hope alive. The impatient are most subject to fits of despondency. The patient are often disappointed, but what do they do? Turn their energies into another channel. Bruce and the spider, "Try, try, try again." The man who quietly plods on in spite of discouragement augments his hope.

2. It brings hope nearer its fruition. Every step brings the traveller nearer home. Apply these principles —(1) To the Christian conflict. The more strenuous your efforts to subdue the flesh and to resist temptation, the easier becomes the warfare and the brighter the hope of victory.(2) To the prospects of the Church. Our Lord delayeth His coming! What shall we do? Abandon Missions? No. "Hold the fort, for He is coming," and every day's service brings Him nearer.

(J. W. Burn.)

Family Treasury.
In the year 1683, Vienna, the capital of Austria, was besieged; a great army of Turks, who were then making war with the nations of Europe, lay before it. When it was known that they were near Vienna, the Emperor of Austria fled from the city, and the poor people in it were left in sad fear and distress. The only person they thought likely to save them was the King of Poland, John Sobieski, and they sent entreating him to come to their help. They knew that he could only come to them over the northern mountains, and day after day they rose early, and watched for the first morning light, in the hope of seeing the Polish army on the mountains. It was anxious waiting, but hope sustained them. The siege began in July; on the 11th of September some weary watchers were looking out from the ramparts to the mountain of the Kalimburg, when — oh, delightful sight! — they saw something bright on the mountain side, and discerned the lances and armour of the brave Poles marching to the rescue. That very day Sobieski fought a bloody battle, defeated the Turks, and set Vienna free.

(Family Treasury.)

I. A LIVELY INTEREST IN THEIR WELFARE. A person less connected with them than he could not but have admired such excellences; but he was their father; he had begotten them in the gospel, and therefore might well boast of them as his "glory and joy." Accordingly we find that whenever he came into the presence of his God and Father, he both gave thanks for them, and prayed for their still greater advancement in everything that was good. Most exalted was the joy which he felt on their account. When he saw the transcendent eminence of their attainments, he quite forgot all his own afflictions; the sight inspired new life and vigour into him; and he felt in himself a recompense which richly repaid all that he had done and suffered for their sake. This shows what are the feelings and views of every faithful minister when he sees his people thus adorning the gospel of Christ. That so great an honour should be conferred on themselves — that such advantages should be imparted to their perishing fellow creatures, and that such glory should be brought to God by their means, is to them a subject of almost stupefying amazement and overwhelming gratitude. And, while they render thanks to God for these things, they pour out their heart before Him in prayers and supplications on their behalf. In a word, these things form a bond of union between a minister and his people, such as does not exist in the whole world beside.

II. AN ASSURED CONFIDENCE IN THEIR STATE. When the apostle beheld these fruits produced by his Thessalonian converts, he had no doubt of their "election of God;" the graces they exercised were manifestly wrought in them by the power of God, who had wrought thus upon them in consequence of His own purpose, which from all eternity He had purposed in Himself. The same blessed assurance may now be entertained wherever the same ground for it exists. Assurance, so founded, can never be productive of any bad effect. When such fruits as those which the Thessalonian converts produced are visible in any, then may we indulge the pleasing thought respecting them, as they also may respecting themselves, that "God loved them with an everlasting love," and therefore with loving kindness hath He drawn them. Only we may observe — that this assurance is no farther justifiable than it is warranted by the graces which exist in the soul; with the increase of those graces it may justly rise, and with their diminution it must proportionably fall. Any other assurance than this is unscriptural and vain; but this not only may be entertained, but is the privilege and comfort of all who believe in Christ.

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

In the sight of God and our Father
I. WHAT IT IS TO ACT AS EVER IN THE SIGHT OF GOD. To maintain a supreme and habitual regard for God in the relations He sustains towards us.

1. Some act with a perpetual self-consciousness. They care for no one's esteem or condemnation. Their one object is to please self — a poor master when best pleased.

2. To act with a perpetual consciousness of others: ever fearful to offend, and offending from very fearfulness; ever over-anxious to please, and failing through very over-anxiousness.

3. The Christian is ever conscious of, "Thou God seest me."

(1)As a Being of infinite perfection.

(2)As Lawgiver and Sovereign.

(3)As Creator, Preserver, Benefactor.

(4)As Redeemer and Sanctifier.

(5)As Judge and Rewarder.

(6)As Father.

II. THE ADVANTAGE OF ACTING AS EVER IN THE SIGHT OF GOD.

1. It would make the whole of life a continued act of religion. Apply this to business, politics, domestic duties.

2. It would give us the comfort of knowing that some one whose appreciation is worth having is cognizant of little acts upon which men set no value. Who regards the widow's mite or the cup of cold water? God is also observant of those little trials in the warehouse or home, the aggregate of which constitute a great trial. He is looking down with sympathy — be brave; He is looking down with justice — beware.

3. It would strengthen against temptation. There is enough in that omniscient Being to gratify every longing. Why, then, try to fill your belly with the husks that the swine do eat?

4. It would make us stedfast in all holy obedience. We should be prepared for all the duties of devotion. The sense of God with us amid all the cares and bustle of the world would help to maintain all the graces in lively exercise.

5. It would prepare for death and eternity.

(N. W. Taylor, D. D.)

The realization of the Divine presence is the central thought of the Christian's whole life. All the graces of his character spring from that one root. Just as all life, animal or vegetable, forms round a nucleus, a centre, a mere point or speck at first, but containing the germ of the animal or plant that is developed from it; so the spiritual life of the believer all forms itself from this one centre, the realization of the presence of God.

(Dean Goulburn.)

What would you say if, wherever you turned, whatever you were doing, whatever thinking in public or private, with a confidential friend, telling your secrets, or alone planning them, if, I say, you saw an eye constantly fixed upon you, from whose watching though you strove ever so much you could never escape; and even if you closed your own eye to avoid, you still fancied that to get rid of it was impossible — that it could perceive your every thought? The supposition is awful enough. There is such an Eye, though the business and struggles of the world would often enough prevent us from considering this awful truth. In crowds we are too interrupted, in the pursuit of self-interest we are too much perverted, in camps we are struggling for life and death, in courts we see none but the eye of a human sovereign; nevertheless, the Divine eye is always upon us, and, when we least think of it, is noting all, and, whatever we may think of it, will remember all.

(De Vere.)

Let us ask ourselves seriously and honestly, "What sort of a show would I make after all, if the people around me knew my heart and all my secret thoughts?" What sort of a show then do I already make in the sight of Almighty God, who sees every man exactly as he is? But take comfort also, and recollect however little you and I may know, God knows; He knows Himself and you and me and all things; and His mercy is over all His works.

(C. Kingsley, M. A.)

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