OUR LIFE, OUR WORK, OUR CHANGE
No. 764. Delivered on August 4th, 1867,
By C. H. Spurgeon, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle
"All the days of my appointed time will I wait, until
my change comes." Job 14:14.
Job was well near driven to desperation by the fearful
torment of his bodily pains, by the exasperating remarks of his friends, and
the cutting suggestion of his wife. It is no wonder if he became somewhat
impatient. Never were words of complaint more excusable than in the sad case
of Job when he cried, "O that you would hide me in the grave!" Everything
that could make life bearable had been taken from him, and every evil which
could make death desirable came upon him. Yet, after Job had uttered those
exclamations, he seems to have been half ashamed of his weakness, and
girding up his loins, he argues with himself, reasoning his soul into a
cooler, calmer frame. Job looks his life in the face: he perceives that his
warfare is severe, but he remembers it is but once, and that when
once over and the victory won, there will be no more fighting; and therefore
he encourages himself to put up with his present sorrows, and even with
future evils, be they what they may, and registers this solemn
resolution—far more glorious than the resolve of Alexander to conquer the
world—to conquer himself, and to abide with patience the will of God.
He fixed it steadfastly in his heart, that all his appointed days until a
change should come, he would endure the divine decree with constancy of
None among us can afford to cast a stone at the patriarch
for sighing and complaining, for we would not act one half so well
ourselves. We are too much at times like Jonah; we turn cowards, and would
fain flee from our work when it becomes arduous or yields us no honor. If we
do not seek a ship to convey us to Tarshish, we sigh for a seraph to bear us
to heaven. This huge Nineveh has made most of us quail in times of
depression. I fear that frequently we act like lineal descendants of those
children of Ephraim who, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the
day of battle. We shrink as a bone out of joint, which slips aside under
pressure. We are not only like Jacob, who halted upon one thigh, but we limp
upon both legs at times. We are often disinclined for conflict, and pine for
rest, crying, "When will the day be over? When shall we be perfectly at
ease? It is against such a spirit as this that we must struggle; and to help
us in the struggle, it seemed to me to be good to consider the text now
before us; and to that end may God bless it, that we maybe "steadfast,
unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." "All the days of my
appointed time will I wait, until my change comes." We shall call your
attention this morning, first, to the aspect of life which Job gives
us; secondly, to his estimate of our work; and thirdly, to his view
of the future.
I. First, let us observe THE
ASPECT UNDER WHICH JOB REGARDED THIS MORTAL LIFE. He calls it an
"appointed time," or, as the Hebrew has it, "a warfare."
Observe that Job styles our life a time. Blessed be God, that this
present state is not an eternity! What though its conflicts may seem
long, they must have an end. We are in the finite state at present, in
which all grief's have their closes and conclusions. Long as the night
may last, it must yield in due season to the light of the morning. The
winter may drag its weary length along, but the spring is hard upon its
heels; the tide may ebb out until nothing remains but leagues of mud, and we
lament that all the bright blue deep will vanish, but it is not so, the tide
must flow again, for God has so decreed. Our whole life is brief indeed.
Compared with eternity, a mere span, a hand's-breadth. From the summits of
eternity, how like a flying moment will this transient life appear. The
pains of this mortal life will seem to be a mere pin's-prick to us when
we get into the joys never ending and overflowing. And the toils of
this life will be as child's play when we reach the everlasting rest. Let us
then, my brethren, judge immortal judgment; lets us not weigh our troubles
in the ill-adjusted scales of this poor human life, but let us use the
shekel of eternity. We are born for eternity; and although it is true we
have to struggle through this one brief hour of toil and conflict, an hour
with our God in glory will make up for it all. "I reckon," said that
master of heavenly arithmetic, the apostle Paul, who was never wrong in
his reckoning, "that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to
be compared with the glory, which shall be revealed in us." The longest and
most sorrowful life is but a "time." Whisper that simple truth into the ear
of the languishing sufferer; tell this glad truth to the son of sorrow, poor
and despised; tell it to every daughter of grief, life is but a time; it
is not eternity. O mourner, contrast your present sorrows with the
griefs of lost spirits, to whom there is no time—who are cast away
forever—who cannot expect a termination to their bitter grief's, but who see
this word written in letters of fire before their weeping eyes, "Forever!
forever! forever! forever!" Job also calls our life an "appointed" time. You
know who appointed your days. You did not appoint them for yourself,
and therefore you can have no regrets about the appointment. Neither did
Satan appoint it, for the keys of hell and of death do not hang at his
"An angel's arm can't cast me to the grave,
Millions of angels cannot keep me there."
To the almighty God belong the issues of death! He
alone can speak the irrevocable word, and bid the spirit return to God who
gave it. God, alone can wing the arrow that shall end this mortal existence:
until he puts his hand to the bow, all the archers of earth and hell shall
shoot in vain. Our pilgrimage has an appointed beginning and end. In
yonder hour-glass, which measures your existence, the sands which trickle to
the lower globe were all measured into the upper bulb by the divine hand.
There is not a sand too few, nor a grain too many. You shall find that
God has appointed with exact wisdom, with profound knowledge,
and with irreproachable love, all the days and the doings of your
life. Remember that you will live out, but not outlive your allotted years.
You will live up to the last minute, and neither plagues, nor pestilence's,
nor dangers of flood, or field, or battle, can deprive you of the last
second which God has measured out to you.
But beyond that boundary you shall not pass,
though you take great care, and call in the physician, yet can you not add
an inch of time to your determined termination. Inexorable death will
make no tarrying, but perform his errand promptly when the Master sends him.
"Then to the dust, return you must—Without delay."
Should not this cheer us—that the appointment of our lot
has been made by a loving Father's prudence, and that the days and
bounds of our habitation are not left to the winds of chance or to
the waves of uncertainty, but are all decreed immutably by our
Father who is in heaven. In the volume of the book our life-story is
written—in that same volume wherein the Savior's covenant engagements were
recorded. You will observe, dear friends, also that Job very wisely speaks
of the "days" of our appointed time. It is a prudent thing to forbear the
burden of life as a whole, and learn to bear it in the parcels into which
providence has divided it. Let us live as life comes, namely, by the
day. Our God does not trust us with so much life as a month at once—we
live as the clock ticks, a second at a time. Is not that a wiser method of
living rather than to perplex our heads by living by the month, or by the
year? You have no promise for the year: the word of mercy runs, "As your
days so your strength shall be." You are not commanded to pray for
supplies by the year, but, "Give us this day our daily bread."
Said a good man to me the other day who had many
troubles, who has borne them manfully to my knowledge, for these fifteen or
twenty years, when I asked him how his patience had held out—"Ah," said he,
"I said to my afflicted wife the other day, when the coals come in, it takes
several big fellows to bring in the sacks, but yet our little kitchen-maid
Mary, has brought the whole ton up from the cellar into our parlour; but she
has done it a bucket-full at a time. She has as surely moved those tons of
coal as ever did the wagons when they brought them in, but she has moved
them by little and little, and done it easily." This is how to bear the
troubles of life, a day's portion at a time. Wave by wave our trials
come, and let us breast them one by one, and not attempt to buffet the whole
ocean's billows at once. Let us stand as the brave old Spartan did, in the
arena of the day, and fight the Persians as they come on one by one, thus
shall we keep our adversities at bay, and overcome them as they advance in
single file. But let us not venture into the plain amidst the innumerable
hordes of Persians, or we shall speedily be swallowed up, and our faith and
patience will be overcome. I would fain live by the day, and work
by the day, and suffer by the day, until all my days are over,
and I see the Ancient of Days in that land where days are lost in one
eternal day, and the soul swims in seas of joy forever!
I must not fail to remind you of the Hebrew: "All the
days of my warfare will I wait." Life is indeed a "warfare;" and just
as a man enlists in our army for a term of years, and then his service runs
out, and he is free, so every believer is enlisted in the service of life,
to serve God until his enlistment is over, and we sleep in death. Our
charge and our armor we shall put off together. Brethren, you are
soldiers, enlisted when you believed in Jesus. Let me remind you that
you are a soldier, you will be always at war, you will never have a
furlough or conclude a treaty. Like the old knights who slept in their
armor, you will be attacked even in your rest.
There is no part of the journey to heaven which is secure
from the enemy, and no moment, not even the sweet rest of the Lord's-day,
when the trumpet may not sound. Therefore, prepare yourselves always for the
battle. "Put on the whole armor of God," and look upon life as a
continued battle. Be surprised when you have not to fight; be
wonderstruck when the world is peaceful towards you; be astonished when your
old corruptions do not rise and assault you. You must travel with your
swords always drawn, and you may as well throw away the scabbard, for
you will never need it. You are a soldier who must always fight, and by the
light of battle you must survey the whole of your life.
Taking these thoughts together as Job's view of mortal
life, what then? Why, beloved, it is but once, as we have already
said—we shall serve our God on earth in striving after his glory but once.
Let us carry out the engagements of our enlistment honorably. He who enters
into Her Majesty's service for a term of years, if he be an honorable man,
resolves that he will act worthily, so long as he is in the ranks. So let it
be with us: we shall never enter upon another war; let us wage the present
warfare gloriously. We carry in our hands a sword, we have but to use it in
one great life-battle, and then it shall be hung up on the wall forever.
Let us use our weapon well, that we may not have to resign it, rusty and
dishonored, as a memorial of our disgrace. Let us march cheerily to
the fight, since it is but once.
Let us play the man, and be like David's mightiest, who
feared no risks, but accepted deadly odds, and won and held their own
against all comers. Come, beloved, we have an appointed time, and it is
running out every hour, let us rejoice to see it go. Our Captain appointed
it, he commanded us to stand sentry, or to rush into the front of the
battle. Since the time is appointed by our well-beloved King, let us
not dishonor his appointment, but in the name of him who gave us our
commission to live and fight, let us war a good warfare, living at the
highest bent of our force, and the utmost strength of our being. And since,
dear friends, it is the Lord's war that we are engaged in, we are
enlisted under the great Captain of our salvation, who leads us on to
sure and certain victory, let us not be discouraged; let not our hearts
fail us; let us be bold, courageous and strong, for the Lord our God is with
us, and we have the mighty One of Israel to be our Captain. Let us glorify
the grace of God while we are permitted to remain on earth to glorify it.
Let us be up and at our enemies while there are enemies for us to fight. Let
us carve out victory while we have the raw material of conflict to carve.
There are no battles to be fought, and no victories to be won in heaven.
So now, in this life let us resolve in the name and strength of God the Holy
Spirit, with all our force and vigor to glorify God, who has appointed us
our warfare. We now leave this head to turn to the second, and may God the
Holy Spirit bless us in so doing.
II. JOB'S VIEW OF OUR WORK
while on earth is that we are to wait. "All the days of my
appointed time will I wait." The word "wait" is very full of
teaching. It contains the whole of the Christian life, if understood in all
its various senses. Let us take up a few very briefly.
In the first place, the Christian life should be one of
waiting; that is, setting loose by all earthly things. Many
travelers are among us this morning; they are passing from one town to
another, viewing several countries; but if they are only travelers, and are
soon to return to their homes, they do not speculate in the various
businesses of Lombard Street or Cheapside. They do not attempt to buy large
estates and lay them out, and make gold and silver thereby; they know that
they are only strangers, and they act as such.
They take such interest in the affairs of the country in
which they are sojourning as may be becoming in those who are not
citizens of it; they wish well to those among whom they sojourn and dwell;
but that is all, for they are going home, therefore, they do not
intend to bind themselves with anything that might make it difficult to part
from our shores. They know that they are on the wing, and therefore they
live like strangers and sojourners. As a Bedouin wandering across the
desert, so is a Christian—a bird of passage; a voyager seeking the haven.
This present world is not our rest: it is polluted. Sad thought were
this world to be our home!
The wisdom of the Christian is to disentangle himself
as much as possible of the things of this life. He will act kindly
towards the citizens of the country where he is called to dwell, and he will
seek their good: still he will remember that he is not as they are. He is
an alien among them! He may have to buy and sell in this world,
but that is merely as a matter of transient convenience.
He neither buys nor sells for eternity; for he has
"bought the truth," and he "sells it not." He has received God to be his
treasure, and his heart and his treasure too he has sent on ahead. On
the other side of the river of death are all his joys and all his
treasures to be found. Here he looks upon his earthly joys as things
that are lent him—borrowed comforts. If his children
die, he does not wonder: he knew that they were not immortal. If his
friends are taken away, he is not astonished: he understood that they
were born of women, and therefore would die like the rest. If his wealth
takes to itself wings, he does not marvel: he knew that it was a bird of
passage, and he is not astonished when, like the swallows, it flies
He had long ago learned that the world is founded on the
floods and therefore, when it moves beneath him, he understands that this is
the normal state of things, and he is not at all amazed, but rather wonders
that the world is not all panic and confusion, since it is so unsubstantial.
As Samson shook the Philistine temple, so shall the word of the Lord in the
hour of final doom lay all nature prone in one common ruin; and vain is he
who boasts of his possessions where all is waiting to be overturned.
Brethren, are you doing so?
Some of you professors, I am afraid, are living as
though this world was your rest. You do not wish to go home, do you? The
nest is very comfortable: you have feathered it warmly. You have all that
heart could wish. Here you would fain abide for ages. Ah! well, may this
worldliness be cast out of you, and may you be seized with
home-sickness, that sweet disease which every true patriot ought to
have, an insatiable longing for his dear fatherland. Have you never heard of
the Swiss soldiers in the French army, who would fall sick when they heard
the music of the song which reminded them of their native mountains, with
their chalets and peasants, and the cowboy's song? Ill could they rest in
sunny France, when their hearts were among Helvetia's rugged hills. Are
there no sweet songs of Zion which remind you of that blessed land
where our best friends, our kindred dwell, where God our Savior reigns? If
we are true citizens of the New Jerusalem, we shall long for that fair
country, the home of the elect.
"Ah! then my spirit faints
To reach the land I love,
The bright inheritance of saints,
It is your duty, Christian, and your privilege, to set
loose by the things of earth, and say with Job, "All the days of my
appointed time I will wait"-like a mere waiter—"until my change come."
A second meaning of the text, however, is this: we
must wait expecting to be gone—expecting daily and hourly to be summoned
by our Lord. The proper and healthy estate of a Christian is to be
anticipating the hour of his departure as near at hand. I have observed a
great readiness to depart in many dying saints, but the same readiness ought
to characterize living saints also. Our dear friend, Mr. James Smith, whom
some of you remember as preaching the word at Park Street, and afterwards at
Cheltenham, when I saw him, some little while before his departure,
described himself thus: "You have seen a passenger that has gone to the
station, taken his ticket, all his luggage brought in, all packed up,
strapped, directed; and you have seen him sitting with his ticket in his
hand waiting until the train comes up." That, said he, "is exactly my
condition. I am ready to go as soon as my heavenly Father pleases to come
for me." And is not that how we should always live-waiting for the Lord's
Whitefield used to say, of his well-known order and
regularity, "I like to go to bed feeling that if I were to die tonight,
there is not so much as a pair of my gloves out of their proper place." No
Christian man ought to live without having his will made, and his estate put
in proper condition, in case he should die suddenly. That hint may be useful
to some of you who have neglected to set your house in order. No Christian
man should live expecting to live another day. You cannot reckon upon an
hour. You should rather be so ready, that if you were to walk out of this
tabernacle and fall down dead upon the steps, it would not make any
derangement in your affairs, because you are equally ready for life or
death. One of our beloved sisters this week was walking down Paternoster
Row: her mourning friends sit here, but they have no cause to mourn sudden
faintness came over her: she was taken into a shop, and water was offered to
her, but she could not drink; no, she was already drinking of the water of
the river of life that flows from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In a
moment she closed her eyes to the sorrows of earth, and she opened them to
the joys of heaven.
When we visit the graves of those who have died in
Christ, we ought not to weep for them; or, if we weep at all it should be
with the regret that we are not yet admitted to the same reward. To "die
daily" is the business of Christians. It is greatly wise to talk with our
last hours, to make ourselves familiar with the grave. Our venerable
forefathers had a peculiar habit of placing on the dressing-table a death's
head, as a memento—either a real skull, or else an ornament fashioned in the
form of it—to remind them of their end; yet, so far as I can gather, they
were happy men and happy women, and none the less so because they
familiarized themselves with death. A genuine Puritan, perhaps, never lived
a day without considering the time when he should put off the garments of
clay, and enter into rest; and these were the happiest and holiest of
people, while this thoughtless generation, which banishes the thought of
dying, is wretched with all its hollow pretense of mirth. I exhort you,
brethren, wait! wait ever for the trumpet call! Live as looking for the Lord
to come and take you from this mortal state, waiting for the convoy of
angels to waft you to the city of the blessed, in the land of the hereafter.
Nor is this all. Waiting means enduring with patience.
We are put into this world for one appointed time of suffering, and in
sacred patience we must abide steadfast, the heat of the furnace. The life
of many Christians is a long martyrdom: they are patiently to bear it. "Here
is the patience of the saints." Many believers go from one sickness to
another, from one loss to another; but herein they fulfill their life's
design, if through abundant grace they learn to bear their woes without a
murmur, and to wait their appointed time without repining.
Serving is also another kind of waiting. The Lord
Jesus gives us plain directions as to service in the parable recorded in the
seventeenth of Luke: "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding
cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, go and
sit down to eat? And will not rather say unto him, make ready wherewith I
may dine, and gird yourself and serve me, until I have eaten and drunken;
and afterwards you shall eat and drink?" In this world we are to wait upon
the Lord Jesus, running his errands, nursing his children, feeding his
lambs, fighting his foes, repairing the walls of his vineyard, doing
anything and everything which he may please to give to us. And mark you,
this is to be attended with perseverance, for Job says, "All the
days of my appointed time will I wait."
He would not be a servant sometimes, and then skulk home
in idleness at another season, as if his term of service were ended. Every
saint should say, "I will wait upon you, my God, as long as I live; so long
as I have breath to draw, it shall be spent for you. So long as I have life
to spend here below, I will spend it and be spent in your service." This
should be the spirit of the Christian all his days, to his last day. Waiting
still, like a holy man of God among the American Indians, who, when he lay
dying, was observed to be teaching a poor little Indian to read his letters,
and he said, "What a mercy, now I am laid aside from preaching, that I can
teach this poor little child to read his letters; God has still something
for me to do, and my prayer is, that I may not live an hour after I cannot
do anything for Christ." May we be in just such a state of heart. Moreover,
to close this aspect of Christian life, we should be desirous to be called
home. No Christian ought to desire to go out of the field of battle until
the victory is won, nor to leave the field until the plough has gone up to
the headland for the last time, but still he may desire to be at home, and
must desire it because of the love which he bears his Lord. I cannot
understand you if you do not sometimes sing that hymn—
My heart is with him on his throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
‘Rise up, and come away.'
Do you love your husband, wife, if you do not really wish
to see him? Do you love your home, child, if you do not wish for the time
when the school shall break up, and you shall leave for home? Oh! it is a
weary world, even though our Lord makes it bearable by the sweet glimpses we
get of him through the telescope of faith, when he throws the lattices aside
and shows himself. Yet these sweets only cause us to long for more. I tell
you, heavenly food on earth is a hunger-making thing; it makes you
desire fresh supplies. You cannot sip from the waters of grace on earth
without longing to lie down at the well-head and drink your full of glory.
Do you ever have a heart-sickness after heaven? Do you ever feel the cords
that bind you to Christ tugging at your heart-strings to draw you nearer?
Oh, yes! You must feel this; and if you are mixing up these longings to be
with Christ, these expectings to depart, with a patient endurance of the
divine will, you have hit upon Job's true idea of life. May you not only
have the idea, but carry it out practically; may all the saints do so to the
praise and glory of divine grace.
III. Now comes JOB'S ESTIMATE OF
THE FUTURE. It is expressed in this word, "Until my change come."
He refers to the two great changes which he views at one glance—the change
of death when we shall "shuffle off this mortal coil.". and the
change of resurrection when we shall put on our imperishable
garments-shall be girt about with eternal gladness.
Beloved, let it be observed that, in a certain sense,
death and resurrection are not a change to a Christian: they are
not a change as to his identity. The same man who lives here will live
forever. The same saint who serves God on earth will wake up in the image of
Christ, to serve him day and night in his temple, and that identity will
exist, not only with regard to the soul, but the body; "My eyes shall see
him and not another." These very eyes which have wept for sin, shall see the
King in his beauty; and these hands which here have served the Lord, shall
embrace him in his glory. Do not think that death will destroy the identity
of the resurrection body: it will be as much the same as the full-blown
flower is the same as the seed out of which it grew.
There will be a mighty development, but it will still be
the same, it is sown a natural body, and the same it is raised a spiritual
body. There will also be to the regenerate no change as to his vitality.
We are quickened now by the life of Christ, which is the same life that will
quicken us in heaven; the incorruptible seed which lives and abides forever.
"He that believes on the Son has everlasting life." He has it now—the same
life which he is to live in heaven, where it will be more developed, more
glorious, but still the same.
There will be no difference in the Christian's object
in life when he gets to heaven. He lives to serve God here: he will live
for the same end and aim there. Here holiness is his delight; it shall be
his delight there.
And his occupation will not change either. He
served his Master like a waiting-servant during his day on earth: he will be
taken up to serve him day and night in his temple.
And the Christian will not experience a very great change
as to his companions. Here on earth the excellent of the earth are
all his delight; Christ Jesus his Elder Brother abides with him; the Holy
Spirit, the Comforter, is resident within him; he communes with the Father
and with his Son Jesus Christ. The fact is, heaven and earth to the
Christian are the same house, only the one is the lower floor, and
the other is the upper story; the one is so low and near the ground, that
sometimes the water of trouble rushes into it, and the windows of the rooms
below are so dark, that but a small degree of the light of heaven ever
enters them, and the view is contracted; but the other rooms upstairs have a
fair view, and the sun shines always through its windows, and it is
furnished with a matchless skill; but still it is the same house. Heaven is
thus but a slight change in some respects, yet it is a change, and we shall
see that readily enough.
To the Christian it will be a change of place. He
will be away from the dull and coarse materialism of this defiled,
sin-stricken earth, where thorns and thistles grow, and he will arrive at
the place where the inhabitants shall no more say I am sick—the paradise of
God, where flowers wither not. He will change his neighborhood. He is vexed
here with the ungodly conversation of the wicked; he often finds his
neighbors to be like the men of Sodom, exceeding vile; but there angels
shall be fellow citizens with him, and he shall commune with the spirits of
the just made perfect. No vain discourse shall vex his ear, no sin shall
come before him to disgust his mind; he shall not be a stranger in a strange
land, but a child at home.
There, too, will be a great change as to his outward
circumstances. No sweat will need to be wiped from his brow, no tear
from his eye. There are no funeral knells to be heard in heaven; no open
graves to be filled with the dead. In heaven there is no poverty, no proud
man's scorn, no oppressor's heavy heel, no persecutor's fiery brand; but
there "the wicked cease from troubling; and there the weary be at rest."
Especially will it be a change to the Christian as to
that which will be within him. No body of this death to hamper him;
no infirmities to cramp him; no wandering thoughts to disturb his devotion;
no birds to come down upon the sacrifice, needing to be driven away. As the
body shall be free from the corruption which engenders death, so
shall the soul be free from the corruption which engenders strife
against the new law which is in the believer's members. He shall be
perfectly free from sin! There will be this change too, that he will be
delivered from that dog of hell who once howled in his ears: as the
world will be afar off, and cannot tempt, so Satan will be afar off,
and cannot molest. A change indeed it will be, in an especial manner, to
some. Have you ever visited the hospital, and sat by the side of the poor
Christian woman who has lain upon that bed for months—her hearing almost
gone, her sight failing, scarcely able to breathe, palpitations of the
heart, life a protracted agony? Oh! what a change from the bed of
languishing to the throne of God! What a difference between that
hospital, with its sounds of sickness and of sorrow, and yonder New
Jerusalem and the shout of them that triumph, the song of them that feast!
What an escape from the dying bed to the living
glory—from the glazing eye, and the wasting frame, and the cold death-sweat,
to the glory which excels, and the harps of angels, and the songs of the
glorified! What a change, too, for some of the poor, for some of you
sons of penury who are here this morning, from that hard work which scarcely
knows a pause, from those weary fingers, and that flying needle, and that
palpitating heart; from that sleep which gives but little rest, because the
toil begins so soon that it seems to pervade and injure the sleep itself.
What an exchange from that naked room, that unfurnished table! that cup
which, so far from running over, you find it difficult to fill! from all
those various pains and woes that penury is heir to, to the wealth and
happiness of paradise!
What a change for you, to the mansions of the blessed,
and the crowns of immortality, and the company of the princes of the blood
royal, with whom you shall dwell forever! And what a change, again, for the
persecuted! I know how a father's angry word breaks your heart, and
how a husband's cruel remarks grieve you; but you shall soon escape from it
all. The jeer of the workshop sometimes reminds you of the cruel mockings
you have often read of. What a change for you to be in sweet company, where
friends shall cheer and make you glad! My brethren, what a leap it must have
been for the martyrs, right away from their stakes to their thrones!
What a change for the men who rotted in dungeons until the moss grew on
their eyelids, to the immortal beauty of the fairest of the fair, midst the
bright ones doubly bright! What a change!
Right well, good patriarch, did you use the term, for it
is the greatest of all changes. If you require a commentary upon this
word "change," turn to the fifteenth chapter of the first epistle to the
Corinthians, and read it through; we read it in your hearing just now. You
will there see that all that needs to be changed, will be changed. All that
must be changed to make the believer perfectly blessed, will be transformed
and transfigured by the Master. If you desire a glimpse of what we shall be
in heaven, remember the face of Moses when it glowed so that he covered it
with a veil! remember Stephen's face when they looked upon him and saw as it
were the face of an angel! remember our Lord transfigured until he was
whiter than any fuller could make him! Those were transient gleams and
glimpses of the beatific glory, which shall surround and environ every one
of the blessed before long.
My brethren, perhaps to you it will be a sudden
change. Last Sunday our sister sat here; this Sunday she sits there in
heaven. Others, too, have gone this week to their home. I suppose week by
week about two in this congregation die almost as regularly as I come into
this pulpit So you melt away one after the other, and you disappear; but
blessed thought if, when you disappear, it is to shine forever in heaven!
Well, let the change come suddenly. There is much to be envied in
sudden death. I never could understand why it should be put in the litany,
"From sudden death, good Lord deliver us." O brethren, sudden death may God
send to us so long as we are but prepared, for then we miss the pain of
sickness in the gradual breaking down of the frame. It must be desirable,
a choice favor which God only gives to some of his peculiarly beloved ones:
a thing to pray for, not to pray against. Well it may be sudden. There is
this about it, however, that if we be in Christ, let it come suddenly, we
are fully prepared, "For you are complete in him." "He that believes has
everlasting life." "He that lives and believes in me shall never die."
Death has lost all its terror to you who are in Christ.
And there is one very sweet thought to my mind, and that
though a change, it is the last change. Glory be to God, there will
be no more of it, once changed into the likeness of Christ, and there will
be no more changes, but immortality forever. "Forever with the Lord." We may
well add—"Amen! so let it be." O you who have no hope in Jesus, death must
be to you a gloomy thing indeed! It puts out your candle and leaves you
forever in the dark. But you who have a good hope through grace, and have
built your house upon the rock, you may joyfully look forward to the end of
your appointed days, waiting until your change comes, blessing God that it
will come in its appointed time, and that when it comes it will be a change
for the better to you in all respects—a change which shall never be followed
by another change, a change which shall make you like your Lord forever and
ever! May God give his blessing! Amen!