James Smith, 1860
Perseverance is necessary in every enterprise. It is especially so in Christianity. Whatever we undertake, we should go through with. Hence the importance of counting the cost, before we commence. To perseverance alone, salvation is promised. "He who endures to the end, the same shall be saved." Therefore we find so many encouragements to persevere, placed before us in God's word; and so many exhortations to perseverance delivered. Among the rest stands out with bold prominence the exhortation to the church of Smyrna, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life!" Revelation 2:10
THE EXHORTATION. To whom given? The angel or pastor of the church. To everyone such the Savior says, "Be faithful." In preaching the word, every part of it — doctrine, experience, and practice. In watching for souls, and travailing in birth for them, as one who must give an account. In warning the unruly, reproving the loitering, encouraging the tried, rebuking the unrepentant, and endeavoring to give a word in season to every one, as every one has need.
It is given to the church, through its pastor. "Be faithful." To WHAT?
To the truth of God, to hold it fast, to strive together for it, and to endeavor to spread it far and wide.
To conscience. See to it, that it is cleansed by the blood of Jesus, enlightened by Divine truth, and kept tender by close walking with God — and then listen to it, whether it approves or condemns; and obey it, in all that it calls for in God's name.
To your profession. You profess to be in Christ, and to be for Christ. Go on, believing in his name. Go on, attending to his ordinances. Go on, seeking to promote his cause.
"Be faithful." To WHOM?
To God, who requires you to be hearty, sincere, and devoted to his glory.
To the Savior, who bought you with his blood, and expects unhesitating obedience at your hands.
To lost sinners in the church, to warn, reprove, and exercise discipline on them.
To those outside the church, to invite them to Jesus, and seek to save them from death.
To the saints,
to help them, if they need it;
to comfort them, if they require it; and
to admonish them, if it appears to be necessary.
"Be faithful," though it exposes you to suffering, or even death, or until death frees you from the obligation.
"Be faithful," but not rash, or censorious, or unkind to any.
"Be faithful," not timid, not cowardly, not disobedient.
THE PROMISE. "I will give you a crown of life." You shall be no loser in the end, whatever you may be by the way; Jesus will more than make up for all our losses, sufferings, and privations, which you endure for his sake. He will give what is worthy, of himself — worthy his wisdom, his wealth, and his love. He will give what is suitable, and satisfactory to us. "I will give you a crown."
Here is honor, the highest honor, to make up for shame, disgrace, and contempt experienced here.
Here is plenty, for if any have sufficient, the crowned head will, and that to make up for poverty and privation at present.
Here is a kingdom, a glorious kingdom, to make up for a prison, banishment from our home, and wandering about as strangers and pilgrims upon earth.
"I will give you a crown of life." Eternal life, to make up for temporal death. Life, crowned with every conceivable good; and with inconceivable glory. Well then may Solomon say, "The faithful man shall abound with blessings." He is blessed in his deeds, blessed for his deeds, and blessed after his deeds. The blessing of the Lord rests upon him now, and the crown of life will be awarded to him when Jesus comes. "When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised unto those who love him."
Christian pastor, be faithful.
Faithful to your Master.
Faithful to your message.
Faithful to your flock.
Faithful and yet tender.
Faithful and yet humble.
Faithful and yet full of love.
Sunday School teacher, be faithful.
Faithful to your work.
Faithful to your class, and every member of it.
Neglect no duty.
Overlook no child.
Warn, caution, exhort, even entreat, rather than let a child perish. Seek the salvation of every child — seek its immediate salvation.
Be faithful on your knees, when pleading for it.
Be faithful when before the Bible, preparing the lessons for it.
Be faithful when in the class instructing it.
Young disciple, be faithful. The vows of the Lord are upon you. You have professed to give yourself away entirely, and forever, to Christ. You are no longer your own. You may not seek your own pleasure — but only in subordination to your Savior's honor. You may not seek wealth — but only in submission to your Redeemer's will. When you professed Christ, you gave yourself away to him, to be his only, his altogether, and his forever. See to it then, that you carry out your engagement.
Parents, be faithful. Bring up your children for Christ. In their education, often ask: Is this likely to bring them to Christ — or to lead them further from him? In seeking a business, a profession, or a situation for your child — let the salvation of its soul be the first object in view, and let it be kept constantly in view. Bring up your children for eternity, rather than for time. Train them up in the way which they should go.
Let us all be faithful.
Faithful in working for God.
Faithful in praying to God.
Faithful in waiting upon God.
Faithful in watching and preparing for the Great Master's appearance.
Let us be faithful to each other, not allowing sin in each other. Let us never see a brother . . .
in danger, without warning him,
or in want, without supplying him,
or cast down, without trying to comfort him.
Reader, if you are unconverted, I must be faithful to you.
You must repent — or perish.
You must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ — or be damned.
You must be born again — or you cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
You must come to Christ, to be saved by him, while he is seated upon a throne of grace — or you will be summoned before him, when he is upon the judgment seat, to be condemned by him.
Which shall it be? Will you come to Jesus now, while he lovingly calls you; or will you say unto him, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of your ways." If you bid Christ depart from you now, can you think it hard, if he bids you depart from him at last?
Think, O think of those solemn words, the words of Jesus, "As for these my enemies who would not that I should reign over them — bring them forth and slay them before me!"