Even though we speak like this, beloved, we are convinced of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation.
I. THE PERSUASION AND PROOF OF THEIR HOPEFUL CONDITION. After the solemn and alarming appeals to their conscience, the inspired writer addresses them with brotherly affection, and, having styled them "beloved," expresses his persuasion that there was in them things that accompanied salvation. They gave clear evidence that they were in Christ, and therefore far from that state of profane contempt which exposed to such fearful retribution. This persuasion was founded upon their persevering love to believers; for they had ministered to them, and continued to express their kindness to the poor of the household of faith. They rendered gracious service to distressed Christians who, in times of persecution and amid the pressure of poverty, needed their help, which was doubtless tendered with sympathy and benignity of manner. Hereafter they would hear the voice of their Lord saying unto them, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me." Such conduct showed faith, courage, and kindness, and redounded to the honor of the Name of God, and glorified him in the presence of the children of men. Mutual love among Christians was noticed as a peculiarity and distinction by Lucian and the Emperor Julian. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). In the spirit of Christ, who would not "break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax," the author of the Epistle notices the signs of their spiritual life, and instructs them to look forward to the time when they who cast their bread on the waters shall find it after many days; for God is not only not unrighteous to forget, but delighted to honor and recompense all service rendered to his people and for the glory of his Name.
II. THE EARNEST EXHORTATION TO THE REALIZATION OF THE PRIVILEGE OF CHRISTIAN HOPE. The scope of the appeal reminds us of the words of Paul, who said that he had not attained; but, leaving the things that were behind, he was pressing forward to those that were before. The ideal Christian, in the parable of our Lord, represents unbroken progress from blade to ear, and from the ear to full corn in the ear. Believers are to seek the full assurance of hope, which has a mighty and purifying power; for "we are saved by hope;" and if it is like a ship with outspread sails under a vigorous breeze, the vessel moves with speed to the desired haven. To enjoy this hope there must be a resistance to that torpor and drowsiness which lead us to say, "A little more sleep, a little more slumber, and a little more folding of the hands to sleep." The voice of inspiration is, "Be vigilant;" "Let us not sleep, as do others;" "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise, and Christ shall give thee light." Encouragement is supplied to perseverance from the success which others have attained. "The spirits of just men made perfect" are already reaping the blessed results of their earnest pursuit and unwearied diligence. Faith prompted them to begin and continue the career, and gave them patience to endure the contrast between present trial and future glory. To stimulate in this course, believers are urged to imitate their example, that they may share in the blessedness which they now enjoy. - B.
We are persuaded better things of youI. THE BETTER THINGS.
1. Better things than to be moral dwarfs.
2. Better things than treating the Son disrespectfully.
3. Better things than to be withering for the flames.
II. THE SAVING THINGS.
1. Inward change.
2. Love to God and the brethren.
4. "Perseverance in spite of obstacles.
(J. Cumming, D. D.)I. IT IS THE DUTY OF THE DISPENSERS OF THE GOSPEL TO SATISFY THEIR HEARERS IN AND OF THEIR LOVE IN" JESUS CHRIST TO THEIR SOULS AND PERSONS.
II. IT IS OUR DUTY TO COME UNTO THE BEST SATISFACTION WE MAY, IN THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THEM WITH WHOM WE ARE TO HAVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNION.
III. WE MAY AS OCCASIONS REQUIRE, PUBLICLY TESTIFY THAT GOOD PERSUASION WHICH WE HAVE CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION" OF OTHERS, AND THAT UNTO OURSELVES.
IV. THE REST PERSUASION WE CAN ARRIVE UNTO CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF ANY LEAVES YET ROOM, YEA, MAKES WAY FOR THE GOSPEL TREATENINGS, WARNINGS, EXHORTATIONS, AND ENCOURAGEMENTS.
V. AMONG PROFESSORS OF THE GOSPEL, SOME ARE PARTAKERS OF BETTER THINGS THAN OTHERS.
1. Spiritual gifts are of one kind. For although there are several sorts of them, yet they have all the same general nature, they are all grits and no more. The difference therefore that is amongst them being not to be taken from their own especial nature, but their use and tendency unto the common end of them all, I take it only to be gradual.
2. There are spiritual things which differ in their whole kind ,n,I nature from other things, and are better than they as to their essence and being. Such is all saving grace, with all the fruits of it. All that eat outwardly in ordinances of the bread -f life do not feed on the hidden manna. All that have their names enrolled in the Church's book, may not yet have them written in the Lamb's book. There are yet better things than gift,, profession, participation of ordinances, and whatever is of the like nature. And the use hereof in one word is to warn all sorts of persons, that they rest not its, that they take not up with an interest in, or participation of, the privileges of the Church, with a common profession, which may give them a name to live; seeing they may be dead or in a perishing condition in the meantime.
VI. THERE ARE, ACCORDING TO THE TENOR OF THE COVENANT OF GRACE, SUCH THINGS BESTOWED ON SOME PERSONS, AS SALVATION DOTH INFALLIBLY ACCOMPANY AND ENSUE UPON — BETTER THINGS, AND SUCH AS HAVE SALVATION ACCOMPANYING OF THEY.
VII. IT IS THE DUTY OF ALL PROFESSORS STRICTLY TO EXAMINE THEMSELVES, CONCERNING THEIR PARTICIPATION OF THOSE BETTER THINGS WHICH ACCOMPANY SALVATION. Their condition is deplorable who under an outward profession do satisfy themselves with those common gifts, graces, and duties which are separable from salvation.
(John Owen, D. D.)
(W. Jones, D. D.)
Things that accompany salvation.
I. First, then, IN THE MARCHES OF TROOPS AND ARMIES THERE ARE SOME THAT ARE OUTRIDERS, AND GO FAR AHEAD OF THE OTHER TROOPS. So in the march of salvation there is a certain body of great and mighty " things that accompany salvation," which have far preceded it to clear the way. I will tell you the names of these stupendous Titans who have gone before. The first is Election; the second is Predestination; the third is Redemption; and the Covenant is the captain of them all. Now, this advance-guard is so far ahead that you and I cannot see them. These are true doctrines, but very mysterious; they are beyond our sight; and if we wish to see salvation, we must not stop until we see the vanguard, because they are so far off that only the eye of faith can reach them. Then Election is thine. Dost thou believe? Then Predestination is as surely thine as thou art alive. Dost thou trust alone in Jesus? Then fear not; Redemption was meant for thee.
II. But mark, we are about to review THE ARMY THAT IMMEDIATELY PRECEDES SALVATION; and, first, in the forefront of these, there marches one whose name we must pronounce with sacred awe. It is God the Holy Spirit. Before anything can be done in our salvation, there must come that Third Person of the Sacred Trinity. Without Him, faith, repentance, humility, love, are things quite impossible. And now, close in the rear of the adorable Spirit follow the Thundering Legion. No sooner does God the Holy Ghost come into the soul, than He brings with Him what I have called the Thundering Legion; and those of you that hay, been saved will not be at a loss to understand what I mean. Some of the men in this Thundering Legion bear with them swords; with these swords they are to slay the sinner. For, be ore he can be made whole, he must b, spiritually killed; the sword must pierce him, and must slay all his selfishness before he can be brought to the Lord Jesus. Then another body of them carry with them axes, with which they cut down the thick trees of our pride and abase the goodly cedars of our righteousness. There are with them those that fill up the wells with stones, and break up all the cisterns of our carnal sufficiency, until we are driven to despair, having all our hopes despoiled. My friend, has this Thundering Legion ever come to your house? Have they ever taken up their quarters in your heart? For, rest assured, these are some of the "things that accompany salvation." More or less of terrors every man must feel Before he is converted. Oh, Thundering Legion, ye are gone; we hear their trumpets and the dying echoes still apped us. What see we in the rear of them? Close in the rear there follows a broken heart. Are you sorrowful at this very hour? Be of good cheer, salvation is not far behind When there is once a broken heart, there is mercy very near. God is looking on thee with love, and will have mercy upon thee. But who are those that follow in the rear? Another troop; but these are far different from the rest. The Silken Legion follow. No weapons of war in their hands; no thunders do they utter; but they speak kind words of pity, and their hands are full of benedictions. Shall I tell you who this Silken Legion are? There is a troop of them who take the poor wounded heart, and wash it first in blood; they sprinkle on it the sacred blood of the Atonement; and it is amazing how the poor broken heart, though faint and sick, revives at the first drop of the precious blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. And oh, what a washing it is? The heart that was once black as the coals of hell, seems white as the snow of Lebanon. When it has once been bathed in the bath of the Saviour's blood and water, oh, how pure it becomes Then follow those who pour oil and wine into the wounds of this poor broken heart, so that where it smarted before, the wounds begin to sing. The sacred oil and wine of the precious promise is poured into every wound. The whole heart sings for gladness; for God hath rest, red its strength and bound up all its wounds, according to His promise: "He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." And then, since the work is not quite done, there come those who carry the King's wardrobe; and with the things out of this rich storehouse thy array the soul from head to foot; they clothe it with everything that for lustre and for glory could adorn it, and make it bright as the spirits before the throne. And then the King's jewellers come in and complete the whole; they array the soul with ornaments, and bedeck it with precious stones. And now we have not yet come to a full conviction of salvation. The silken legion are gone. What cometh next? Now come those that are the actual attendants upon salvation or rather, that march in the rank immediately before it. There are four of these, called Repentance, Humility, Prayer, and a tender Conscience. Has Humility ever come to you? Has she ever abased your pride, and taught you to lie in the dust before God? Has Repentance ever watered the floor of your hearts with tears? Have you ever been led to weep in secret for year sins, and to bewail your iniquities? Has Prayer ever entered)our spirit? Remember, a prayerless soul is a Christless soul. And, lastly, are you tender of Conscience, for unless your conscience is made tender, salvation has not met you, for these are the immediate attendants upon it.
III. And now comes SALVATION IS ALL ITS FULNESS. And now comes the precious casket set with gems and jewels. It is of God-like workmanship; no hammer was ever lifted on it; it was smitten out and fashioned upon the anvil of Eternal Might, and cast in the mould of Everlasting Wisdom; but no human hand hath ever defiled it. And who are those that are close around it? There are three sweet sisters that always have the custody of the treasure — you know them; their names are common in Scripture Faith, Hope, and Love, the three Divine sisters; these have salvation in their bowels and do carry it about with them in their loins. Faith, who layeth hold on Christ, and trusteth all in Him; that ventureth everything upon His blood and sacrifice, and hath no other trust. Hope, that with beaming eye looks up to Jesus Christ in glory, and expects Him soon to come: looks downward, and when she sees grim death in her way, expects that she shall pass through with victory. And then sweet Love, the sweetest of the three; she, whose words are music and whose eyes are stars; Love also looks to Christ and is enamoured of Him; loves Him in all His offices, adores His presence, reverences His words; and is prepared to bind her body to the stake and die for Him, who bound His body to the cross to die for her.
IV. Now! MUST BRING UP THE BEAR GUARD. It is impossible that with such a vanguard, grace should be unattended from behind. Now see those that follow salvation. The first is Gratitude — always singing, "Bless the Lord O my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name." And then Gratitude lays hold upon its son's hand; the name of that son is Obedience. In company with this fair grace is one called Consecration — a pure white spirit that hath no earthliness; from its head to its foot it is all God's, and all gold. Linked to this bright one, is one with a face serene and solemn, called Knowledge. "Then shall ye know when ye follow on to know the Lord." Those that are saved understand mysteries, they know the love of Christ; they" know Him, whom to know is life eternal." Now, have you these four? They are rather, the successors of salvation than the heralds of it." "Oh yes," the believer can say, I trust I have Gratitude, Obedience, Consecration, and Knowledge." I will not weary you, but there are three shining ones that follow after these four, and I must not forget them, for they are the flower of them all. There is Zeal with eyes of fire, and heart of flame, a tongue that burneth, a hand that never wearies, and limbs that never tire; Zeal, that flies round the world with wings swifter than the lightning's flash, and finds even then her wings too tardy for her wish. This Zeal always dwells near one that is called Communion. This, sure, is the goodliest of all the train; an angel spiritualised, an angel purified and made yet more angelic, is Communion. Communion calls in secret on-its God; its God in secret sees. It is conformed to the image of Jesus; walks according to His footsteps. And as a necessary consequence, on the other side of Communion — which with one hand lays hold of Zeal, is Joy — joy in the Spirit. Joy, like the nightingale, sings in the dark, and can praise God in the tempest and shout His high praises in the storm. This is indeed a fitting cherub to be in the rear of salvation. Just in the rear is Perseverance, final, certain and sure. Then there follows complete Sanctification, whereby the soul is purged from every sin, and made as white and pure as God Himself.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
(W. Haslam ,M. A.)
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