He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the former things have passed away."
Psalm 116., for example. And though many of you may scarce know what real pain is, never having experienced it or anything like it, yet you are able, we trust, both to feel very grateful for your happy exemption hitherto, and also to sympathize, deeply and tenderly, with those to whom a harder lot is assigned. You have had some vision of the anguished face, and of the deadly chill and faint, that are associated with extreme pain; and your heart has been touched, as it well may, with compassion. Therefore, though you know not pain by experience yet, along with those who do, you also can rejoice in this promise, as to an eternal home, that there "there shall be no more pain." And meanwhile let us gratefully remember how much our Lord Jesus Christ has done to turn this curse of pain into a blessing. It will not make us less ready to sympathize with or succour those who now are suffering, but will qualify us to do both better than before. For -
I. CHRIST HAS DONE THIS. First of all:
1. By taking it upon himself. "He himself bare our infirmities, and carried our diseases." So was it predicted concerning him; and when he came here he fulfilled Isaiah's word by the intensity of his holy sympathy, whereby the sorrows, pains, and distresses of those whom he healed were felt by him as if they were his own. And yet more, by himself submitting to pain so terrible that he could say to all suffering ones in all ages, "Come, see if there ever was sorrow like unto my sorrow." Then he took the lot of pain upon himself. He has entered into it not only by Divinest sympathy but by actual experience. So that now the sufferers tread no solitary path; One is with them in the roughest; sternest of its ways, and that One is "like unto the Son of man." They may have the fellowship of his sufferings, because he certainly has the fellowship of theirs. Have we not seen or heard oftentimes how, in the paroxysms of agony with which poor pain stricken ones are now and again seized, they love, when the dread dark hour comes upon them, to have by them some one dear to them, the dearest they possess, and to clasp his or her hand and to feel the clasp of theirs; to pour out to them their cries and tears, and to be soothed and strengthened by the loving sympathy on which they lean? Maybe some of us have taken part in scenes like that. But such blessed aid, and more than that, our Lord wills that every sufferer should have by reason of his sympathy, his presence, and his own dear love. The present writer well remembers how a poor young girl, dying in much pain, told him that she loved to look at a picture, which hung by her bedside, of the Saviour bearing his cross; for, she said, "it helps me to bear my pain better." Yes, every sufferer may grasp his hand, and be assured that, though unseen and unfelt by the bodily senses, he grasps theirs. For just as he went down amongst the "multitude of impotent folk" that lay in the porches of Bethesda, so still he comes down amongst our poor suffering humanity, himself a "Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." And now the Marah-like waters - the bitter wells of human life - he has forever made sweet and wholesome by the healing influence of that cross - that tree so accursed for him, so precious for us - upon which, for us all, he suffered and died. Yes, as it has been beautifully said, "he has done all this. It was for this that he came - for this, among many other reasons. His was pre-eminently, as we know, a painful life. He was acquainted with grief, and a Man of sorrows; and this acquaintanceship was sought and formed for our sakes, because no man knew what to do with grief. Our Lord came hither, and, being made man, entered upon a brief pilgrimage in the earth - brief, yet sufficient to find out what was here, and what had need to be done. And scarcely had he commenced his journey before he met with that ancient form of Grief. She had been walking up and down the earth for thousands of years. She first appeared in the garden of Eden. She stood forth from behind the fatal tree, and emerged from those bounds which, before the first offence, she had never dared to cross; and ever since she had been going about and haunting men. When Christ began his pilgrimage, he met her and she met him, and they looked one another in the face; and she never left him. 'He was acquainted with grief.' And through this acquaintanceship it would seem, as happens when a lower nature feels the influence of a higher, that she became changed. She had been hard and cold, she became tender and gentle; she had been tyrannical and imperious, but under the influence of that Divine Companion she lost her old harshness and severity, and seemed to do her work with a half reluctance, and without the old readiness to add torment to the unhappy. We cannot tell how it happened, but Grief, through her acquaintance and familiarity with the Son of man, became like a new creature. In her were seen a certain softness and pensiveness which she never had before; her form became altered and her footsteps light; until she seemed to take the air of a sister of mercy, and to breathe forth a wondrous benediction while she walked with him. Doubtless it was his influence that worked the change. It was he who turned that scourge of small cords, which she had carried from time immemorial, into a cross, and gave to her eyes that tender look which seems to say, 'I do not willingly afflict nor grieve you, O children of men.' Thus they went through the world hand in hand, until he went out of it by the gate of the grave, tasting death for every man. And Grief has been acting ever since as one of his ministers, and representing him, and doing the work of mercy in his kingdom. She has given to men in these latter days more than she ever took away. She is a dispenser, not a spoiler; her hands are full of goodly gifts, and though her discipline be painful, yet it is ever merciful; and, as a gentle almoner, she offers and bestows, wherever faith and love dispose the heart to receive them, new and perfect pledges of eternal blessing and glory." Thus has Christ transformed Grief and Pain, who is one of her chief ministers. Pain is still like the rough ore dug out of the heart of the earth; but it need no longer be used, as it so long has been, to forge harsh chains of bondage, but it may, it shall he, if only we be willing, fashioned into crowns of glory, yea, diadems for the blessed themselves. And:
2. By his acceptance of our pain as an offering we may present to him. We often feel and say that all we do may and should be consecrated to him, and, without doubt, he accepts it. But this is not all that he is willing to accept. All that we have to bear he will also, and as willingly, accept. Was not his own offering unto God one in which he suffered'? His submission rather than his activity constituted the very essence of his sacrifice. Not alone were the gold - symbol of all man's wealth - and the frankincense - symbol of worship - presented to him; but the myrrh - symbol of suffering, of sorrow, of pain, of death. For it was used in the embalming of the dead and for ministering relief to sufferers in their agony, and hence it was offered to our Lord upon the cross. And so, from its constant association with scenes of sadness and distress, it came to represent and symbolize all pain. And this was offered to the Lord, and may be and should be still. In our moments of most terrible pain there is nothing better to do than to offer it all to him, for his glory, and so to lay it at the feet of the King of sorrows.
3. And by the revelations he makes to us concerning it.
(1) He has told us whence it came. Hence we know that it is not an inherent, a constituent, part of our nature, as joy is; but it is a stranger, a foreigner, an alien, and an intruder. It came in with sin and shall go out therewith.
(2) That it is rendering high and holy service. Cf. St. Paul, "Our light affliction which is," etc. (2 Corinthians 4:17). "In these verses it is not merely asserted that one day we shall be rid of pain, but also that meanwhile it is working out for us 'glory.' It not merely precedes, but produces, is the mother, the progenitor, of glory." Does the mariner grieve over the rushing wind which fills his sails, and bears him swiftly on to the haven where he would be? No more should we over pain, since it is our helper forward, homeward, heavenward.
(3) That it will one day certainly and forever cease.
II. CHRIST ALONE DOES THIS. "Human wisdom has from the first been helpless before what may be called the problem of pain. It has no explanation of suffering; it cannot give it a satisfactory position in the scheme of life. To philosophy sorrow is an anomaly and an offence. Philosophy hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars, and she hath acquainted her heart with all wisdom; and yet there is a skeleton in her house, a spectre glides through her pillars, and a presage of hollow, final failure is in every effort to keep up appearances. She cannot contrive what to do with that problem of sorrow, suffering, and pain. She has but two things to which to trust, and she can trust in neither. The first is stoicism, the second anodynes. With stoicism she tries to meet the question on the spiritual side; with anodynes, on the physical. In each direction she encounters defeat. She tells the sufferer to harden his heart and set his teeth, and bear it if he can, not in faith and love, not in hope and trust, but in stern, stiff defiance. And when she finds it useless to try and help him that way, and hears his shrieks repeated, and meets his reproachful and despairing eyes, she has but one expedient more, in the anodyne and anaesthetic. She exhibits the drug or the subtle vapour, and thereby stills the pain. In this she admits defeat, and flies before the foe. She has relieved the body indeed, but it is at the expense of the spirit. The sense of pain is gone, but the light of the soul is also extinguished. The dying flesh feels no more its own agony because the heaven born flame of reason is quenched, and the man is drugged and crazed into stupefaction and unconsciousness. Thus does Philosophy deal with the terrible problem of this painful life. She has no spiritual medicine for it; while physical remedies amount at last to the suspension and temporary destruction of conscious existence." But we have seen our Lord's more excellent way - a way so blessed that it is an insult to compare the one with the other. Glory be to his Name forever for that which be hath done!
III. WHAT WE ARE TO DO. See to it:
1. That when suffering comes on you, you have Christ near you to turn your pain into blessing. Come to him now, that he may come to you then.
2. Think of, sympathize with, pray for and succour those who now are suffering. Ask him to be near them, and go you near them yourselves with loving help. So join with him in his merciful work, and there shall come on you the blessing, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto my brethren, ye have done it unto me." - S. C.
God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
I. THE PRESENT STATE OF THE BELIEVER IS ONE OF TEARS.
1. Because he is living in a world of sin.(1) While God is loved, the Saviour served, and His Jaw honoured, the believer's heart has yet to mourn over the defectiveness of his service, and not infrequently over his lapses into sin.(2) Nor is his own sin alone the cause of his sorrow. He is no unaffected spectator of the unbelief and ungodliness and wickedness of his fellow-men.
2. Because he is in a world of suffering. Because of sin, suffering has an inlet through our whole nature, and is the chief burden of its history. It rises up like mist out of the landscape, to darken the whole scene of our present pilgrimage.(1) Think of the suffering that enters even the believer's dwelling when he experiences the stroke of adverse providence.(2) How often is the believer made to suffer from the stroke of relative bereavements!(3) How often has the believer to sorrow over personal infirmities and afflictions!
3. Because the world in which he lives is a world of death. As a curse, death is inseparable from sorrow. Even where unstinged, it tells of pain, of suffering, and tears.
II. THE FUTURE STATE OF THE BELIEVER IS ONE IN WHICH THERE SHALL BE NO TEARS.
1. This removal of tears is directly traceable to God. It is enjoyed through grace in virtue of the Saviour's blood, and God bestows it through the pardon of the believer's sins, and by giving him a right and title to eternal life.
2. This removal of tears is complete. In the future world every source of sorrow shall have gent.
3. This removal of tears shall be for ever. Never shall heaven's sky be clouded nor heaven's bliss be interrupted by one single moment's experience of the vicissitudes of time.
III. THE REASON WHY THE FUTURE STATE OF THE BELIEVER SHALL BE A STATE FREE FROM TEARS.
1. Because of the believer's personal presence with Christ.
2. Because it is a state of personal perfection.
3. Because it shall be a state of renewed union and communion with Christian friends for ever.
4. Because it is a state of unalloyed happiness.
(G. Jeffrey, D. D.)
1. They are sometimes caused by temporal depression. Such depression cannot extend beyond the bounds of time. In the abode where tears are wiped away there shall be no more poverty. "They shall hunger no more," etc.
2. Defective friendships are a prolific source of tears. Sometimes this defection is occasioned by infirmity, temper, ignorance, or prejudice. Many are our friends just so long as the sun of prosperity is shining; bat as soon as our sky darkens into gloom, their smiles darken into frowns. Ay, and treacherous relationships, too, draw forth our tears. What bitter tears did David shed over the perfidy of his own son! And there's many a father now who knows something of the same grief. The flatterer of to-day is the reviler of to-morrow. The smile will often wreath into a sneer, and the eulogy change into a scoff. But there will be no faithless friends in heaven. No Judas shall be found sitting at the board. No tears shall fall over the treachery of lover, brother, friend.
3. How widely, moreover, do the fingers of affliction fling open the sluices of our tears! These frames of ours are frail. "All flesh is grass." And it is an affecting sight to watch in those we love the gradual or quick transition from health to sickness, from activity to languor, and from strength to pain. But there is no infirmity, no mental or physical decay, to break in upon the immortal activity and youth of heaven. And what is the hand which shall thus wipe away our tears? It is a hand which once was pierced with nails; but there is no scar upon it now.The banishment of these tears is an act which is Divine. He sends no ministering angel round to soothe and comfort those He has redeemed; but He is His own missionary, and carries His own solace. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
1. He will do in lovingly. As the "brother born for adversity," He will come gently on His assuaging errand; and as a high priest touched with a feeling of our infirmities, will He bid our mourning cease.
2. And He will do it effectually. He will not merely dry up a fountain that shall anon break forth afresh; but all tears shall be wiped away. Every cause of tears shall be removed; for He shall destroy sin, the great master evil — the wide, deep ocean from which all tears have been supplied.
(A. Mursell.)I. We are to consider THE TEARS.
1. We will mention those which arise from secular affliction.
2. Those that arise from social losses.
3. Those that arise from bodily pains and infirmities.
4. Those which arise from moral imperfections — to a Christian the most painful of all.
5. Those which arise from the wickedness of others.
II. Let us pass from the tears to consider THE REMOVAL OF THEM. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
1. It is Divine. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." He alone can do it; He is the Father of mercies, the God of all grace, the God of all comfort.
2. The deliverance is future. It is not said, God does, but "God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes." Earth will always be distinguished from heaven. You are now in the conflict; and it is a trying one. It is death that will proclaim the triumph, and say the warfare is accomplished.
3. The deliverance is complete. "God shall wipe away all tears." Nothing shall be seen but joy and gladness — nothing heard but thanksgiving and the voice of melody.
4. It is certain. Thy hope maketh not ashamed, because it is founded in the word of Him that cannot lie.
III. THE USES WE ARE TO MAKE OF THIS DELIGHTFUL ASSURANCE.
1. Are you found in the number of the heirs of this promise? Will this be accomplished with regard to you?
2. The subject should remind us of our obligation to the Redeemer of sinners.
3. Does not this subject completely roll away the reproach of religion?
4. Christians, in the midst of your troubles, this subject ought to comfort you. You see that the last is the best, not only of some but of all your trials.
No more death
Christian Treasury.I. DEATH IS "THE WAGES OF SIN." Men try to keep that fact out of view, and ascribe death to accident, disease, and second causes, without fathoming the depths to which they ought to descend. In Adam's transgression, that was wrapped up like the oak in the acorn. "The wages of sin is death." Man works for and wins that; and the Judge of all the earth uprightly pays it.
II. OR, DEATH IS A DIVINE APPOINTMENT — "It is appointed unto man once to die." It did not obtain a place in God's world without His permission or decree. No casualty, no blind chance precipitates man into the grave. It is not nature worn out, or so much animal machinery wasted away, it is the judicial appointment of the Holy One, protesting against all iniquity.
III. OR, DEATH IS "THE KING OF TERRORS." It is often called "the debt of nature"; and that is one of the softening epithets by which men try to disguise from themselves the true character of death. But, in truth, nature abhors and recoils from such an allegation. Death comes because nature has been outraged, because the heart of man has revolted against his God; and the rebel must therefore encounter all that is terrific, since he supposed there was a more excellent way than living in amity and walking in love with his Maker.
IV. OR, DEATH IS THE EXTINCTION OF SPIRITUAL LIFE — "In the day that thou eatest thou shalt die." Man then became dead to God, to holiness, to happiness, and heaven — he was dead in trespasses and sins.
V. But mercy did interpose; and we therefore proceed to view death under another aspect — IT IS AN ABOLISHED THING; Christ has "abolished death." Strange message that, amid our crowded churchyards, where the dead far outnumber the living in the less crowded city! Yet not more strange than true — wherever the way appointed by the Lord of Life is followed, death is abolished, and the body and soul will both live for ever.
VI. OR, DEATH IS A SLEEP. "Sleep in Jesus."
VII. OR, DEATH MAY BE REGARDED AS THE SERVANT, AND THE VERY PROPERTY OF BELIEVERS: "All things are yours... whether life or death." In such a case, death is the messenger sent to call the believer home, or to summon him into the presence of his Father. The grotto of Posilippo is a long dark passage through a mountain near Naples. While in that vault-like place, extending over some hundreds of yards, the wayfarer feels the dreariness and discomfort of the scene. But when he emerges to the west, the bay of Bairn stretches at his feet, one of the richest and most balmy even of Italian scenes; or to the east — then he is greeted by the bay of Naples, with its unutterable outspread of beauty, of city, of mountains, ocean, and volcano, till the eye revels and luxuriates amid the profusion of loveliness. It is a type of the believer emerging from death. The new heavens and the new earth are spread out before him; and though there be "no more sea," the fulness of joy becomes his beatitude for ever. The curse is quenched — the sting is extracted; and misery, sorrow, fear — for all these things are portions of death — are over for ever.
1. How oft-times the Christian sheds the tears of penitence, as he feels the shadow of guilt fall across the memories of the past. But there the painful remembrance of his errors will be lost in the glad radiance of eternal absolution.
2. Here we sometimes cannot help the bitter tears of mortification rising to our eyes at our own failures in the Christian life. In a better world we shall see how God led us. He will wipe away the tears of regret and mortification, as we learn why it was that our lives were moulded and shaped in this or that fashion.
3. Often in this life the Christian sheds tears of indignation. Dean Swift, who, with all his faults, had an honest hatred of what was mean and unjust, had inscribed, by his own direction, on his tomb, that he hoped to rest, "where fierce indignation would no longer lacerate his heart." But the balmy air and the sunny slopes of the new paradise of God will never know anything of the sin, the injustice, and the cruelty, which, by their shadows, darken the heart even of the Christian here.
(W. Hardman, LL. D.)
1. Pain teaches us, for one thing, how feeble and dependent we are. The proverb says that pride feels no pain: only let the pain be great enough and where will be the pride!
2. And for a second thing, pain is something to remind us of the evil of sin. You never would bare had a headache if it had not been for sin. You never would have known a sleepless night, a shooting pang through the nerves, or a dull weight at the heart, if it had not been for sin. Our natural tendency is to think to ourselves, oh, sin is not right — it cannot be justified, it is bad no doubt, — but it is not such a very great matter after all. What does pain say to that, think you!
3. And another lesson taught us by pain is suggested by this, it is how terribly God can punish; what tremendous appliances of punishment He has at His command. What fearful suffering God does inflict even in this world! No man would have kept that poor sufferer in that suffering for one minute. But God keeps him there: keeps him day after day, week after week. Oh, we have an inflexible Judge to face, merciful though He be! So pain teaches something of the severity of God. But I turn gladly to another lesson, a far happier lesson, taught us by pain.
4. It reminds us how great was our blessed Saviour's love for our poor sinful souls, which made Him bear such an unutterable load of anguish as He bore for us. Such are certain lessons which we are taught by pain. But in the better world pain will not be needful to enforce them. They will be remembered there so far as it is fit that they should be remembered, without the necessity of having that sad monitor ever near. And thus, as in that happy country, pain would be of no use, pain will go. Oh the comfort of the thought! Christians who have suffered much in this being remember this, that in heaven there shall be "no more pain." The parting pang which the believer feels in leaving this world is the very last that he shall ever feel at all.
(A. K. H. Boyd, D. D.)I. WHAT ARE THE EVILS WHICH FLOW FROM PAIN, AND USUALLY ATTEND IT IN THIS LIFE?
1. Pain has a natural tendency to make the mind sorrowful as well as the body uneasy.
2. Another evil which attends on pain is this, that it so indisposes our nature as often to unfit us for the business and duties of the present state.
3. Pain unfits us for the enjoyment of life as well as for the labours and duties of it.
4. Another inconvenience and evil which belongs to pain is that it makes time and life itself appear tedious and tiresome, and adds a new burden to all other grievances.
5. Another evil that belongs to pain is that it has an unhappy tendency to ruffle the passions, and to render us fretful and peevish within ourselves, as well as towards those who are round about us.
6. Pain carries a temptation with it, sometimes to repine and murmur at the providence of God.
7. To add no more, pain and anguish of the flesh have sometimes prevailed so far as to distract the mind as well as destroy the body. Extreme smart of the flesh distresses feeble nature, and turns the whole frame of it upside down in wild confusion. It has actually worn out this animal frame, and stopped all the springs of vital motion.
II. WHAT JUST AND CONVINCING ARGUMENTS OR PROOFS CAN BE GIVEN THAT THERE ARE NO PAINS NOR UNEASY SENSATIONS TO BE FELT BY THE SAINTS IN A FUTURE STATE, NOR TO BE FEARED AFTER THIS LIFE?
1. God has assured us in His Word that there is no pain for holy souls to endure in the world to come.
2. God has not provided any medium to convey pain to holy souls after they have dropped this body of flesh.
3. There are no moral causes nor reasons why there should be anything of pain provided for the heavenly state.
III. WHAT ARE THE CHIEF MORAL REASONS OR DESIGNS OF THE BLESSED GOD IN SENDING PAIN ON HIS CREATURES HERE BELOW, AND AT THE SAME TIME SHOW THAT THESE DESIGNS AND PURPOSES OF GOD ARE FINISHED.
1. Pain is sometimes sent into our natures to awaken slothful and drowsy Christians out of their spiritual slumbers, or to rouse stupid sinners from a state of spiritual death.
2. To punish men for their faults and follies, and to guard them against new temptations.
3. To exercise and try the virtues and the graces of His people.
IV. INQUIRE WHAT ARE THOSE SPIRITUAL LESSONS OF INSTRUCTION WHICH MAY BE LEARNED ON EARTH FROM THE PAINS WE HAVE SUFFERED OR MAY SUFFER IN THE FLESH.
1. Pain teaches us feelingly what feeble creatures we are, and how entirely dependent on God for every moment of ease.
2. The great evil that is contained in the nature of sin, because it is the occasion of such intense pain and misery to human nature.
3. How dreadfully the great God can punish sin and sinners when He pleases in this world or in others.
4. When we feel acute pains we may learn something of the exceeding greatness of the love of Christ, even the Son of God, that glorious Being who took upon Him flesh and blood for our sakes, that He might be capable of pain and death, though He had never sinned.
5. The value and worth of the Word of God, and the sweetness of a promise which can give the kindest relief to a painful hour, and soothe the anguish of nature.
6. The excellency and use of the mercy-seat in heaven, and the admirable privilege of prayer.Lessons:
1. The frequent returns of pain may put us in mind to offer to God His due sacrifices of praise for the years of ease which we have enjoyed.
2. To sympathise with those who suffer.
3. Since our natures are subject to pain it should teach us watchfulness against every sin, lest we double our own distresses by the mixture of guilt with them.
4. Pain in the flesh may sometimes be sent to teach us to wean ourselves by degrees from this body which we love too well; this body which has all the springs of pain in it.
5. We are taught to breathe after the blessedness of the heavenly state wherein there shall be no pain.
(T. Hannam.)I. Pain is not needed there TO STIMULATE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH. Supreme love for the Creator will give men such a delightful interest in all His works as will make inquiry the highest delight of their nature.
II. Pain is not needed there TO TEST THE REALITY OF MORAL PRINCIPLE. The character will be perfected — the gold purified from all alloy.
III. Pain is not needed there TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT OF CHARACTER. We shall be like Christ, changed into His image, from glory to glory.
IV. Pain is not needed there TO AID US IN APPRECIATING THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST.
V. Pain is not needed there TO IMPRESS US WITH THE ENORMITY OF SIN.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
(J. E. Foster, M. A.)I. THE EXISTENCE, AND EVEN THE DOMINANCE OF PAIN. I do not think that we get to the deepest root of this tree of mystery by the common assertion that it was the sin of man from which all death and pain sprang. It is a significant fact that the higher the nature the more sensitive it is to pain.
II. IT IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE FOR US TO DISCOVER SOME OF THE PURPOSES OF PAIN. whose prevalence in this world is so widespread.
1. Take one of the lower signs of human progress by way of example. Think of the increase in knowledge and skill which has followed on the sufferings of the race.
2. Think next of the connection existing between sufferers and sympathy. May it not be a part of God's purpose in permitting pain that it links us together in the bonds of love?
3. Nor must we overlook the effect of pain and sorrow on moral character and on religious faith. Wrongly received, they provoke to sin; rightly received, they lead us to self-conquest, to patience, to sympathy for others, and to fellowship with Christ.
(J. F. B. Tinling, B. A.)
(S. A. Brooke, M. A.)
For the former things are passed away. —
1. One is that we here touch the characteristic difference between the Christian and any other form of religion known in the world. What is sadder in history than to see how the Greek mind, the Egyptian mind, the Persian mind, and the Roman mind had sunk into hopelessness of the future, at the time when the gospel of Christ was preached in the world. On the other hand, the gospel looks forward to glory to be realised in the centuries to come; sees for ever things passing away that better things may appear; sees the customs of society shivered and suddenly disappearing or gradually disintegrating, or falling into heaps of rubbish. So in all a new force is working in the world to lead men forward in communities to a higher level and nobler vision. It expects its ultimate victory in the glory of the future.
2. That is one thought, and another is of the superb confidence which the early Christianity felt in itself and which its teachers had in it. It is to conquer where philosophies have failed; it is to triumph where arts have only degraded the world; it is to purify where the human race has been sinking deeper and deeper in the mire of sin. Now, cannot we enter into the sublime confidence of the apostles, with Christianity enthroned already over the larger half of the world? I am ashamed of myself; I am ashamed of any Christian individual or Church where there is the least fear or apprehension concerning the progress and the mastery of this religion, whose earliest disciples knew its power, because they had seen the Lord; had stood around His Cross; had looked into the gate of the sepulchre from which He had come forth.
3. Another thought is suggested — namely, this: I have said already that we are sorry to lose many things which we, after all, have to leave behind us as we go on in our life personally or as communities, but when sin is expelled there is no longer any reason why that which has been lovely in the earlier life of any person should not continue, and only come to its more perfect manifestation in the completed maturity. What is it that corrodes and destroys the simplicity of childhood? What is it that destroys that early and tender confidence in others which is the beauty of our unfolding life? What is it that makes us desirous in future life of the consciousness of power out of which comes pride? Of the consciousness of position out of which we are aware that we have lost the pure sincerity and sweetness of our childhood's years? Everywhere it is the element of sin. When at last that completed state is realised from which sin itself is eliminated, all the innocence of childhood with all the wisdom of age shall be charmingly combined; all the sweetness of early fancy with all the power of developed faculty; and then, in addition to this, that which has been imperfect and ignorant in the first will become an occasion of gladness and praise because we have been delivered from it.
4. Finally, the perfection of that state is the warrant of its fixedness and finality; that which is perfect is susceptible of no further change; you cannot re-make the sunshine, because it is perfect, the same to-day as when it fell on the bowers and blooms of paradise; you cannot re-make the atmosphere, because it is perfect, the same as when the lungs first inhaled it on the earth; you cannot re-make the element of water, or the blue of the sky, or the green of the verdure, or the sunset splendours. When this final stage is reached for which the Lord died, on account of which He underwent His sacrifice, which the apostle saw in prophetic vision, of which we beforehand may catch the beauty through his eyes, and for which it is the privilege in life of each of us to work and pray; when that final period comes where earth and heaven blend and holiness and wisdom bring perfect peace, the absolute completion of it, with sin expelled and grief left behind, is the Divine warrant that it shall be everlasting.
(R. S. Storrs, D. D.)I. THE FORMER THINGS CONNECTED WITH THE BODY HAVE PASSED AWAY. Our bodies shared the ruin into which sin brought our race. Mortality and corruption took possession of them. They became subject to pain, and weariness, and disease, in every organ and limb. All this shall yet be reversed. Former things shall pass away. This head shall ache no more; these hands and feet shall be weary no more; this flesh shall throb with anguish no more.
II. THE FORMER THINGS CONNECTED WITH THE SOUL HAVE PASSED AWAY. The beginning of this renovation was our "being begotten again unto a lively hope." This re-begetting displaced the old things and introduced the new. The sin, and the darkness, and the misery, and the unbelief, and the distance from God — all these shall come to a perpetual end. In their place shall come holiness, and love, and light, and joy, and everlasting nearness — unchanging and unending fellowship with that Jehovah in whom is life eternal.
III. THE FORMER THINGS CONNECTED WITH THE EARTH HAVE PASSED AWAY. This earth is the seat of evil since man fell. The curse came down on it; creation was subjected to the bondage of corruption; Satan took possession of it. The devouring lion shall be in chains, and "no lion shall be there." The curse shall vanish from creation; the blight disappear. Beauty shall clothe all things. Paradise shall return. Holiness shall revisit earth. God shall once more delight in it and set His throne in it. Righteousness shall flourish, and holiness to the Lord be inscribed everywhere. And all this irreversible! No second fall. Messiah — even He who died for us and who rose again — is on the throne, and no usurper can assail it. He ever lives and ever reigns.
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
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