« Prev Sermon VII. And into the patient waiting for… Next »

SERMON VII.

And into the patient waiting for Christ.—2 Thes. III. 5.

THE words are a prayer; and the apostle prays here for those things which are most necessary to Christians—love to God, and patient waiting for Christ.

I come now to handle the second branch.

The point is this:—

Doct. That when the heart is bent by love to God, we need also the direction of his grace to keep it intent upon the coming of Christ.

Four things I must speak to:—

I. What this patient waiting for Christ is.

II. The connection between it and the love of God.

III. That it hath a great influence upon the spiritual life, or keeps religion alive in the soul.

IV. The necessity of God’s concurrence hereto: ‘the Lord direct your hearts into the patient waiting for Christ.’

I. What is this patient waiting for Christ? I answer It is the grace of hope fortifying our resolutions for God and the world to come, that we may continue in our duty till our work be finished and our warfare ended. The act of hope is three ways expressed: Some times by looking, which notes a certain expectation: Titus ii. 13, ‘Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour.’ Sometimes by loving or longing, which notes a desirous and earnest expectation: 2 Tim. iv. 8, ‘Not to me only, but to all that love his appearing.’ Sometimes by waiting, which notes a patient expectation, 1 Thes. i. 10. He makes it there the fruit of our conversion: he saith, we are ‘turned to God, that we may wait for his Son from heaven.’ This last notion is expressly mentioned in the text, the others are implied; as looking, there can be no waiting for that we 247do not look for; and longing, for delay is only troublesome to them that earnestly desire his coming, and build their hopes upon it. Faith adds certainty, and love earnestness; and both give strength to patience. Let us open all these things. As—

1. Looking for the coming of Christ: Phil. iii. 20, ‘Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.’ It is not a matter of conjecture, but of faith. Reason saith, He may come; but faith saith, He will come. Nature will teach us it is very likely, for a guilty conscience fears the judge; and the course of things is so disordered in the world, that there needs a review. But scripture tells us, it is very certain that ‘he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry,’ Heb. x. 37. Therefore, in the eye of faith it is sure and near. As Rebecca spied Isaac at a distance, so faith looks upon Christ as if he had begun his journey, and were now upon the way, and makes the believer stand ready to meet him and welcome him. Though it come not to pass presently, the thing is promised, and the time certainly determined in God’s eternal purpose, which is enough for faith.

2. There is a longing or a desirous expectation: 2 Peter iii. 12, ‘Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God.’ It is good to observe how differently this coming of Christ is entertained in the world; it is questioned by the atheist, it is dreaded by the wicked and impenitent, but it is longingly expected by the godly.

[1.] For the first sort: 2 Peter iii. 3, 4, ‘There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming?’ They would eternally enjoy the pleasures of the present world, and therefore labour to dash all thoughts of this great day out of their hearts, and take up all obvious prejudices to smother the belief of it: they would be glad in their hearts to hear such news that Christ would never come. Now, their wishes do easily commence into opinion. Christ’s coming is the burden and torment they would willingly get rid of; and men readily believe what they earnestly desire.

[2.] The second sort. It is dreaded by the wicked and impenitent. And therefore hated and abhorred by them. At the mention of it Felix trembled, Acts xxiv. 25. There is reason for it, for Christ comes to them as a terrible judge. In scripture his coming is set forth by light, and sometimes by fire. Light is comfortable, but fire dreadful: 2 Thes. i. 8, ‘He shall come in flames of fire to render vengeance to them that obey not the gospel.’ But—

[3.] To the godly it is not matter of terror, but delight; not like the handwriting on the wall to Belshazzar, but like comfortable tidings to one that expects news from far; they long for it, and would hasten it if they might have their desire: Cant. viii. 14, ‘Make haste, my beloved, and be like a young hart or roe upon the mountains of spices.’ Christ is not slack, but the church’s affections are strong, therefore she saith, Make haste. So Rev. xxii. 20, Christ saith, ‘I come;’ and the church, like a quick echo, takes the words out of his mouth, ‘Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.’ Christ’s voice and the church’s voice are unisons. You will say this is the desire of the church in general; but doth every particular believer so desire it? 248I answer—The part follows the reason of the whole, the same Spirit is in all the faithful; the Spirit in the bride says come; the Holy Ghost in necessary things works uniformly in all the saints, therefore he breeds this desire in them. The meanest, the weakest, even those that tremble at their own unpreparedness, have some inclination that way. There may be a drowsiness and indisposition, but no total extinction of the desire of meeting with Christ.

3. There is waiting; and here it is expressed by its adjunct, ‘patient waiting;’ for patient waiting is an act of hope, as well as longing expectation: 1 Thes. i. 3, ‘Knowing,’ saith he, ‘your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope,’ Faith, or a sound belief of things, will break out into practice; therefore the work of faith, love, will put us upon labour, and hope produces patience. There is a threefold patience spoken of in scripture; all the branches are near kin, for they are all begotten by hope.

[1.] The bearing patience; which is a constancy in adversity, or a perseverance in our duty notwithstanding the difficulties and trials that we meet with in our passage to heaven: Heb. vi. 12, ‘Be ye followers of them who, through faith and patience, have inherited the promises.’ As we cannot inherit the promises without faith, so not without patience; for our obedience and fidelity to Christ requires not only labour and great pains, but courage and constancy to suffer as well as to do: Heb. x. 36, ‘Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God you might inherit the promise.’ A child of God cannot be without patience, because he must reckon for troubles and molestations. We have indeed our calms as well as our storms, many intermissions; but at other times God will exercise us, and show us our fidelity is not sufficiently tried in doing good, but before we go to heaven we must sometimes suffer evil. God hath something to do by us, and something to do with us: we must be prepared for both, to endure all things, and readily and willingly suffer the greatest evil, rather than commit the least sin, that so at length we may be accepted in the judgment.

[2.] There is a waiting patience, to wait God’s leisure. The evil is present, the good is absent; now we long for the good as well as bear the evil: Rom. viii. 25, ‘But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.’ This is the work of patience, to wait; to refer it to the good pleasure of God when our warfare shall be accomplished and our troubles at an end, and our final deliverance come about. The time cannot be long, for what are a few years to eternity? This waiting patience is delivered to us under the similitude of an husbandman, James v. 7, who ‘waiteth for the precious fruits of the earth, and hath long patience for it, till he receive the early and the latter rain.’ The husbandman, that hath laid out all his substance in seed-corn, cannot hope for a present harvest, or that he should receive the crop as soon as the seed is cast into the ground. No; it must lie a while there, it must endure all weathers before it can spring up in the blade and ear, and ripen, and be fit to be reaped. So though we venture all upon our everlasting hopes, yet we must expect our season, till we see the fruit and recompense of it. This is the waiting patience.

249

[3.] There is the working patience; which is a going on with our self-denying obedience, how tedious soever it be to the flesh. Thus we are told, the good ground bringeth forth fruit ‘with patience.’ They were hasty to have present satisfaction, or else grew weary of religion, and turned aside to worldly things. So the heirs of the promises are described, Rom. ii. 7, to be those that ‘continued with patience in well-doing.’ And to the church of Ephesus God saith, Rev. ii. 2, ‘I know thy works, thy labour, and thy patience.’ Religion is not an idle and sluggish profession, the work of it is carried on by diligence and faithfulness. Lusts are not easily mortified; neither do graces produce their perfect work with a little perfunctory care. Much labour and serious diligence is required of us, we have many things to conflict withal, there is the burden of a wearisome body, the seducing flesh, unruly passions, disordered thoughts, a dark mind, dead affections, and sometimes the misery of a troubled conscience that we conflict withal: and therefore we need much patience, that we may not faint, but be accepted of the Lord at his coming. Well, then, to live in this constant and patient expectation of Christ is the perpetual necessary duty of all those that love him.

II. The connection and affinity between it and the love of God; for if a man love God, he will wait for the coming of Christ. The one is inferred out of the other, ‘The Lord direct your hearts to the love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ.’

1. They that love God level all their thoughts and desires to this, that God may be enjoyed, that God may be glorified.

[!.] That he may be enjoyed in the fullest manner and measure they are capable of. Now this full enjoyment is the fruit of Christ’s coming; ‘then we shall be ever with the Lord,’ 1 Thes. iv. 17; ‘When Christ shall appear, we shall see him as he is, and be like him;’ that is, like him in holiness, and like him in happiness. Our vision will make a transformation. The desire of union, which is so intrinsic to love, is never satisfied till then. Here we have a little of God in the midst of sin and misery. Sin straitens our capacity from receiving more; and God sees fit to exercise us with misery, only affording us an intermixture of heavenly comfort. But our full joy is reserved to the day of Christ’s appearing.

[2.] They that love God desire also that God may be glorified, that his truth may be vindicated, his love and justice demonstrated. His truth is vindicated because his threatenings and promises are all accomplished: sin will no more be had in honour, nor pride and sensuality bear sway. Love to the saints will be seen in their full reward, and his justice demonstrated on the wicked in their full punishment. All matters of faith shall then become matters of sense; and what is now propounded to be believed shall be felt, and God shall be glorified in all.

2. The saints love Christ as Mediator; we love him now though we see him not: 1 Peter i. 8, ‘Whom having not seen, we love; and believing in him, rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.’ But desire to see him, as our surest and best friend. We have heard much of him, felt much of him, and tasted much of him, but wo desire to see him, especially when he shall appear in all his glory: 250Mat. xxv. 31, ‘The Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his angels with him.’ All clouds about his person shall vanish, he shall appear to be what he is, the Saviour and judge of the world.

3. They have a love for the church; for the church in general shall at that day be adorned as a bride for her husband, and fully freed from all sin and trouble. It is no more eclipsed by its lamentable imperfections, corruption of worship, division of sects, or the persecutions of the world, nor polluted by the distempers of its diseased members: all is then holy and glorious. Christ will present it as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, Eph. v. 27.

4. They love themselves in God; and their own happiness is then fully to be perfected. All the desires and hopes of believers are then satisfied. They that are now scorned and persecuted shall have the reward of their love to God, be perfectly loved by him. A gladsome day it will be with God’s people. 2 Thes. i. 10, it is said, ‘Christ shall be admired in the saints, and glorified in all them that believe,’ Glorified, not actively, but objectively. Poor creatures, that are newly crept out of the dust and rottenness, shall have so much glory put upon them, that the angels themselves shall stand wondering what Christ means to do for them. And then for all their labour they shall have rest, they shall rest from their labours; that is, all their trouble some work shall be over, for their pain and sorrow they shall have delight, 1 Peter iv. 12. For their shame they shall have glory put upon them both in body and soul. Our Lord Christ despised the shame for the glory set before him, Heb. xii. 2.

III. It hath a great influence upon the spiritual life, and keeps religion alive in our souls. That will appear if you take either word in the text, waiting or patience.

1. If you take the first notion, waiting or looking, as it draws off the mind from things present to things to come.

[1.] Looking to the end of things giveth wisdom: Deut. xxxii. 29, ‘Oh, that they were wise, that they would consider their latter end.’ It is not so much to be stood upon who is happy now, but who shall be happy at last. If men would frequently consider this, it would much rectify all the mistakes in the world. If we would inure our minds not to look to things as they seem at present, or relish to the flesh, or appear now to such short-sighted creatures as we are, but as they will be judged of at the last day, at Christ’s appearing: how soon would this vain show be over, and the face of things changed, and what is rich, and pleasant, and honourable now, appear base and contemptible at the latter end! Then shall we see that there is an excellency in oppressed godliness, that exalted wickedness and folly is but shame and ruin. Do but translate the scene from the world’s judgment to Christ’s tribunal, and you will soon alter your opinions concerning wisdom and folly, misery and happiness, liberty and bondage, shame and glory; the mistaking of which notions pervert all mankind, and there is no rectifying the mistake but by carrying of our mind seriously to the last review of all things: for then we shall judge things not by what they seem now, but by what they will be hereafter. Solomon tells us, Prov. xix. 20, ‘Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end.’ That is true wisdom, to 251be found wise at last. Time will come when we shall wish and say in vain, Oh, that we had laid up treasure in heaven, that we had laboured for the meat that perisheth not, that we had esteemed despised holiness, that we had set less by all the vanities of the world, that we had imitated the strictest and most mortified believer, for those are only esteemed and have honour in that day. More particularly—

(1.) It would much quicken us to repentance: Acts iii. 19, ‘Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the day of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.’ All things shall be reviewed at Christ’s coming, and some men’s sins remain, and others are blotted out. None but those that are converted and turned to God can expect that benefit. Unless we be recovered from the devil, the world, and the flesh, and brought back again in heart and life to God, there will be no escape. Now those that wait for this day should prepare for it, that they may stand in the judgment with comfort. The wicked shall have judgment with out mercy, but the believer shall be accepted upon terms of grace. Days of torment shall come to the one from the presence of the Lord, and days of refreshing shall come to the other. The state in the world of believing penitents is a time of conflict, labour, and sorrow, but this trouble and toil is then over, and they shall enjoy their rest. Consider these things, Where would you have your refreshment, and in what? Many seek their refreshing now either in brutish pleasures, and sit down under the shadow of some earthly gourd, which soon withers; but those that seek their refreshment in the enjoyment of God shall then be satisfied. Nothing certainly makes us so solicitous about a serious reconciliation with God as the consideration of this day.

(2.) It engageth us to holiness, and puts life into our obedience. We that look for such things, ‘what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness?’ 2 Peter iii. 11. Men are secure and careless, either because they do not believe this day, or do not seriously think of it Could we bring ourselves to this, to think and speak and do as having judgment and eternity in our eye, we would be other manner of persons than ever we have been. What! believe this day, and be so careless! It cannot be. We would not beat down the price of religion to so low a rate, nor serve God so loosely, if we did wait for the coming of Christ, who will bring every thing into the judgment, whether it be good or evil. We could not then satisfy ourselves in such a negligent profession and practice of godliness.

(3.) It would produce a more heavenly temper and conversation. That is evident from the apostle’s words: Phil. iii. 20, ‘Our conversation is in heaven, from whence we look for a Saviour.’ Looking for this salvation and this Saviour, it breeds in us the heavenly mind. He comes from heaven to bring us thither; for he comes to receive us to himself, John xiv. 3. Therefore if we be not heavenly, our practice will be a contradiction to our faith. You believe that there is a God and a Christ and a life to come; that this Christ came from God to bring us to God, that we may enjoy him in the life to come; and thereupon you renounce the devil, the world, and the flesh, and give up yourselves to God, believing that this Christ will come again 252to lead all his sincere disciples and penitent believers into the glory and happiness of the heavenly state. If you believe this, what follows? That your conversation must be heavenly, either you must live for heaven, as seeking it with all diligence, that you may at length certainly obtain it, and not be excluded with the wicked, or live upon heaven, solacing yourselves in the foresight and hopes of it. Otherwise, to profess this faith, and yet to live as though your happiness were altogether in this world, were to go about to reconcile contra dictions; to pretend you place your blessedness in heaven, and yet fly from it as a misery. You profess to look and long for that you have no mind to. The second notion is patience.

2. Patience, that also hath a great influence upon religion; for that which destroyeth all religion and godliness is making haste. Therefore it is said, Isa. xxviii. 16, ‘He that believes, shall not make haste,’ God’s promises are not presently effected; and if we cannot tarry, but run to our own shifts, because they are next at hand, presently you run into a snare. On the other side it is said, Lam. iii. 26, ‘It is good to hope and quietly to wait for the salvation of God.’ When we can hope and wait, it mightily secures our obedience. Sense is all for present satisfaction, but faith and hope can tarry God’s leisure, till those better things which he hath promised do come in hand. Whatever our condition be, afflicted or prosperous, we are in the place and station where God hath set us, and there we must abide till he bring us to his kingdom. Impatience and precipitation is the cause of all mischief. What moved the Israelites to make a golden calf, but impatience, not waiting for Moses, who, according to their mind and fancy, remained too long with God in the mount? What made Saul force himself to offer sacrifice, but because he could not tarry an hour longer for Samuel, and so lost the kingdom? 1 Sam. xiii. 12-14. What made the bad servant, or church officer, to smite his fellow-servant, and eat and drink with the drunken, that is, to abuse church censures, countenance the profane, and smite and curb the godly, but only this? Mat. xxiv. 48, ‘My Lord delays his coming.’ He sees the strictest are hated in the world, and the others befriended; and honour and interest runs that way, and Christ comes not to rectify these disorders. ‘My Lord delays his coming.’ Hasty men are loth to be kept in suspense and long expectation, and so miscarry. Look to all sorts of sinners. The carnal and sensual, they cannot wait for the time when they shall have pleasures for evermore at God’s right hand, therefore take up with present delights. Like those who cannot tarry till the grapes be ripe, therefore eat them sour and green. Solid and everlasting pleasures they cannot wait for, therefore choose the pleasures of sin, that are but for a season. A covetous man will wax rich in a day, and cannot tarry the fair leisure of providence; therefore we are told, ‘He that makes haste to be rich cannot be innocent,’ Prov. xxviii. 20. An ambitious man will not stay till God gives true crowns and honours in his kingdom, and therefore he must have honour and greatness here, though his climbing and affecting to be built one storey higher in the world cost him the ruin and loss of his soul. All revolt and apostasy from God proceeds from hence, because they cannot wait for God’s help, and tarry his 253fulfilling the promise; but finding themselves pressed and destitute, the flesh, that is tender and delicate, grows impatient. It is tedious to suffer for a while, but they do not consider it is more tedious to suffer for evermore. Thence comes also our murmuring and distrustful repining: Ps. xxxi. 22, ‘I said in my haste, I am cut off; nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplication.’ Just at that time when God was about to hear him. So, ‘I said in my haste, All men are liars.’ And thence also our unlawful attempts, and stepping out of God’s way. Men fly to unwarrantable means, because they cannot depend upon God, and wait with patience. Look, as an impetuous river is always troubled and thick, so is. a precipitate, impatient spirit out of order, full of distemper, a ready prey to Satan.

IV. The necessity of divine concurrence. The apostle prays here, ‘The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Christ.’ It concerns this clause as well as the former.

1. As to the carnal and unregenerate. Till their hearts be changed, they can never attain to this patient waiting for Christ, for two reasons:—

[1.] In the wicked there is no sound belief of these things, for they live by sense and not by faith. The apostle tells us, ‘He that lacketh grace is blind, and cannot see afar off,’ 2 Peter i. 9. Things of another world are too uncertain, and too far off for them to apprehend, so as to be much moved by them. They hear of the coming of Christ, and speak by rote of it after others, but they do not believe it; therefore, till God enlighten them, how shall they be affected with this matter?

[2.] There is an utter unsuitableness of heart to them. Things present, that suit their fancies and please their senses, carry away their hearts. Ps. xlix. 18, ‘Whilst he lived he blessed his soul; and men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself.’ Men bless themselves, and the carnal world applauds them in a sensual course and way of living. They measure all happiness by their outward condition in the world, and please themselves with golden dreams of contentment; and this being seconded with the flattery and applauses of the deceived world, they are fast asleep in the midst of the greatest soul-dangers, and so go down into hell before they think of it.

2. Come we now to the regenerate. Such the apostle looks upon the Thessalonians to be. They need to have their hearts directed to the patient waiting for Christ, for these reasons:—

[1.] Because we have too dim and doubtful a foresight of these things. How dark a prospect have even the best of God’s children of the world to come! We may speak of others as unbelievers, but God knows how doubtful our own thoughts are about eternity and Christ’s coming; how little we can shut the eye of sense, and open that of faith, and say truly with the apostle, 2 Cor. iv. 18, ‘We look not at the things that are seen, that are temporal; but to the things unseen, that are eternal.’ Alas! we have no through sight into another world. The best Christians have need to have their eyes anointed with spiritual eye-salve, that their sight may be more sharp and piercing; to beg ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation, to open the eyes of their mind, that they may see what is the hope of Christ’s calling,’ Eph. i. 17, 18. There are too many intervening clouds between us and eternity, that darken our sight and obscure our faith.

254

[2.] Our thoughts of these things are strange and dull, and too rare and unfrequent. How seldom have we any serious thoughts of his coming, and how unwelcome are they to our hearts! It was a complaint against Israel, that they did put far away the evil day; but the complaint against us may be taken up thus, that we put far away the good day, when all our desires and hopes shall be accomplished and satisfied. The atheistical world deny it, and we forget it. Solomon saith to the sensual young man, ‘Remember, that for all these things God shall bring thee to judgment.’ Young men forget or put off these thoughts, lest, like cold water cast into a boiling pot, they should check the fervour, of their lusts. But, alas! grave men, good men, forget these things. When Christ had spoken of his coming to judgment, he saith, Mark xiii. 37, ‘What I say unto you, I say unto all, Watch.’ Watching is keeping up this attentiveness to his second coming with all Christian vigilance and endeavour. But few regard the charge: therefore ‘the Lord direct your hearts,’ &c.

[3.] Because our affections are so cold, and we are no more affected with it, but as if we were senseless of the weight of these things. Some dead and drowsy desires we have, but not that lively motion which will become hope and love. If nature say, ‘Come not to torment us before the time,’ grace should say, ‘Come, Lord Jesus, oh, come quickly.’ We are not only to look for his appearing, but to love his appearing. Where are these desires, that Christ would either come down to us, or take us up to himself, that we may live with him for ever?

[4.] This prayer need to be made for the renewed too, because Christians think of it with too much perplexity and fear, Is the sight of a Saviour unwelcome to you? or should the drawing nigh of your redemption be a comfort or a terror? Why do you then believe in Christ, and choose his favour for your happiness? We thought that this had been all your hope, and your desire, and your great comfort; and shall your hope be your torment, and beget horror rather than joy? Oh, beg the Lord to direct your hearts, that you may ‘hope to the end for the grace that shall be brought unto you at the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ,’ 1 Peter i. 13. We do not only wait for glory, but for grace; and shall not this be a comfort to you?

[5.] We need to pray this prayer, because our preparations are too slender for so great a day. Serious preparation is necessary. It is described 2 Peter iii. 14, ‘Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless;’ that is, in a state of reconciliation with God. But we live too securely and quietly, in an unprepared state. If we have the habitual preparation, we do not keep up the actual preparation by clarifying and refining our souls from the dregs of sense, by honouring God in the world with greater earnestness, that when our Lord comes, he may find us so doing. We do not stand ‘with our loins girt, and our lamps burning,’ that when the Lord knocks we may open to him immediately. We do not keep up the heavenly desire, the actual readiness. The return of a husband after long absence is more welcome to the wife than to a harlot; but she would have all things ready for his reception and entertainment.

255

[6.] Because our motions are too inconstant. We interrupt the course of our obedience frequently, faint in our afflictions, do not keep up the fervour of our affections, and follow after salvation with that industrious diligence. We need often the Christian watchword, ‘The Lord is at hand.’ We lose much of our first love, intermit of our first works. Therefore, ‘The Lord direct your hearts to the patient waiting for Christ.’

The exhortation is to quicken you to take care of this grace, that you may be constantly exercised in it. While we are upon earth, we should continually be expecting Christ’s coming from heaven. The motives may be these:—

1. Before Christ’s coming in the flesh, the saints waited for him. ‘I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord,’ saith Jacob, Gen. xlix. 18. And Simeon for Christ, the Saviour of the world; for so it is explained, ‘Mine eyes have seen thy salvation.’ And our Lord tells us, ‘Abraham rejoiced to see my day,’ John viii. 56; and it is said of Anna and others, that they ‘waited for the consolation of Israel,’ Luke ii. 25, 38. And after Christ was come, the disciples were commanded to ‘wait for the promise of the Spirit,’ Acts i. 4. So, by parity of reason, we must wait for the coming of Christ; for that is the next great promise to be accomplished, and the great thing to put life into our religion.

2. The people of God are described by this, 1 Thes. i. 10, ‘Who wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.’ A man would have thought, in those early days, they should have been described by their respect to what was past rather than to what was to come, which was at so great a distance: they should have been described by believing Christ was already come in the flesh, rather than waiting for his coming in glory. No; this is proposed as an evidence of their sincerity and Christianity, ‘Waiting for the coming of Christ.’ And so it is said, Heb. ix. 28, ‘That Christ would appear unto the salvation of them that look for him.’ That is the property of true believers. But they that look not for his coming, love not, and long not for his coming, cannot expect his salvation. It is an allusion to the people, who, upon the day of expiation, when the high priest went into the holiest before the mercy-seat, were waiting for his coming out, that he might solemnly bless them. So must we look for Christ’s return, now he is gone within the veil of the heavenly sanctuary, that he may come out and bless us with everlasting blessings.

3. This should move us to it, the benefits that will come to us hereby; for this waiting for Christ breeds in us contempt of the world, mortification of the flesh, tolerance and enduring of the cross.

[1.] It breeds in us contempt of the world; because we look for higher and better things to be dispensed to us when Christ comes. ‘Set not your affections on things on earth, but on things in heaven.’ Why? ‘For your life is hid with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory,’ Col. iii. 2-4. The more the heart is given to one, the other gets the less. Earthly things be little regarded in comparison of that 256glorious state, both of soul and body, which we shall have at Christ’s appearance.

[2.] This conduceth to the mortification of the flesh; therefore we deny ourselves present satisfactions, that we may not be castaways, disallowed in the judgment. ‘Be sober, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought to you at the coming of Christ,’ 1 Peter i. 13.

[3.] The tolerance and enduring of the cross. This gives a quiet temper in all troubles. We may suffer now, ‘but when Christ shall appear, we shall rejoice with exceeding joy,’ 1 Peter iv. 13. And then our reward will very much exceed the proportion of our sufferings; they are no more to be set against them than a feather against a talent of lead. ‘I reckon they are not worthy to be compared,’ saith the apostle, Rom. viii. 18. It would be a disgrace to a man’s reason that these things should bear any competition with our great hopes: ‘these light afflictions, that are but for a moment,’ with ‘that exceeding weight of glory,’ Christ shall bestow upon us.

For means, all I shall say is this: if you wait for Christ’s coming, look upon it as sure and as near: Rev. xxii. 12, ‘Behold, I come quickly, and bring my reward with me.’ We have the promise of the eternal God for it, so attested, and made out to us with such evidence, that we have no reason to doubt of the recompenses of religion. But things at a distance, though never so great, will not leave a due impression upon us: therefore we must look upon this promise with a certainty of persuasion that it will not be long before its accomplishment. Thus faith lessens the distance between hope and enjoyment, and enables us comfortably to wait.

« Prev Sermon VII. And into the patient waiting for… Next »





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |