1 Peter 1:6-9
Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:…
In the first place, think how wonderful a phenomenon the very existence of Christendom is. It is so in three particulars. In the first place, when we turn to the page of history, the existence of Christendom is wonderful when we consider the opposition which it had to overcome. And then, above all, the establishment of Christendom is wonderful when we consider the character of the doctrine which determined it. The gospel flattered no pride, it gave quarter to no passion. Now I wish further to direct your attention to the present reign of Christ in this present Christendom. And here I observe, in the first place, that our blessed Lord reigns over the intellect of Christendom by His authority. Human thinkers do not really govern thought. There has been no one-man government in the realm of intellect since Aristotle was deposed in the middle ages. These apparent governors of human thought rule a party, or a school, or a clique. Even there they are not really taken at their own word. The thing is not believed to be true just because they say it is true. Now, our blessed Lord, beyond all question, does not propose for the acceptance of His people a self-evident doctrine. You must make an act of faith in it, and that act of faith is an inclusive act. You cannot parcel it off into two separate divisions or compartments, and say: "Here is the sentiment, supremely beautiful, and there is the dogma, of which we cannot say quite so much." We must believe the dogma of Christ's authority, or we do not fully receive Christ. But then it may be said to the Christian, "What is thy beloved, more than another beloved?" There are other teachers who receive the adoration of thousands of souls: the Buddha reigns over as many souls as Christ does, and possibly a good many more. Yes, but not over as many sorts of souls. Jesus reigns over varied races. At all events, all nations who renounce Him, lose, or begin to lose, their place amongst the nations of mankind; and the fact of their denial is written upon their bodily and material organisations. Now, I mention further that Christ reigns over the hearts of men by love. Consider for a moment man's relation after death to the affections of those who survive him. The place which any of us can keep in the affections of those who survive is a narrow one indeed. Forgetfulness, in a very short time, must grow over us like the grass. And now, with this, contrast Christ after His death as an object of human affection. This love is illimitable in extent as well as in time. Every minute some dying man or woman invokes that name with a light of love upon the dying face. "I am a judge of men, and I tell you that this Man with His power of awakening and perpetuating love was more than man." Jesus reigns as God by love in Christendom. Here is the strange fact of the spiritual world — this intense personal love towards One whom we have not seen. As St. Bernard says: "When I name Jesus I name a Man, strong, gentle, pure, holy, sympathising, who is also the true and the Eternal God." And the image of the beauty is the best proof to the heart of the reality of the object which it represents — something in the same way as when we are walking along in meditation by a clear river that runs into the sea, the reflection of the white sea bird in the stream, even when we are not able to look up, is a proof to us that the bird is really sailing overhead. There is no fear of disappointment in that love toward Christ. There was a wife once who was all in all to a husband who had been blind from very early childhood, and when the question came about an operation being performed, she was troubled. She confessed she was troubled lest when sight was restored to her husband, whom she had loved and tended, he should be disappointed in the features of which he had thought so tenderly. Yes! but as spiritual sight is given to us, as we start up in the light of the Resurrection morning, there will be no disappointment; when we wake up after His likeness we shall be satisfied with Him, with the likeness of Him, whom not having seen, we love.
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: