God is His Peoples Great
by Thomas Watson
"I am your exceeding great reward." Genesis 15:1
God Himself is His people's reward!
Abraham is called "the friend of God," James 2:23. The
Lord spoke with him familiarly, Genesis 17:22; he was made of God's privy
council, Genesis 18:17. And in the text, "the Word of the Lord came unto him
in a vision." And what was the word that came to this holy patriarch in a
vision? "I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward"—words too great
for any man or angel fully to expound. In the Hebrew it is, "I am your
superabundant, very exceeding much reward." In the text is a climax; it
rises like the waters of the sanctuary, higher and higher—"I am your reward;
your great reward; and your exceeding great reward." There are four things
here to be spoken of:
1. Nothing besides God can be the saints' reward.
2. How God is their reward.
3. How God comes to be their reward.
4. Wherein the exceeding greatness of this reward
1. Nothing besides God can be the saints' reward.
Nothing on earth can be their reward. The glittering of
the world dazzles men's eyes; but, like the apples of Sodom, it does
not so much delight as delude. The world is gilded emptiness. The world is
made circular; but the heart is a triangle. A circle cannot fill a triangle.
The world is enough to busy us, not to fill us. Job 20:22, "In
the fullness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits." It seems a riddle
to have sufficiency—yet not have enough. The meaning is, when he enjoys most
of the creature—yet there is something lacking. When King Solomon had put
all the creatures into a cup, and went to extract and distill out the
spirits, they turned to froth. "Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly
meaningless! Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:2. God never
intended that we should dig happiness, out of the earth which He has cursed.
Heaven itself is not a saint's reward. Psalm 73:25,
"Whom have I in heaven but You?" There are angels and archangels—yes,
but though these are for a saint's comfort—yet not properly for his
reward. Communion with seraphim is excellent—yet can no more make a
saint's reward than the light of the stars can make day.
2. How is God His people's reward?
In bestowing Himself upon them. The great blessing of the
covenant is, "I am your God." The Lord told Abraham that kings should come
out of his loins, and He would give the land of Canaan to him and his seed,
Genesis 17:6. But all this did not amount to blessedness. That which made up
the portion was, "I will be their God," verse 8. God will not only see that
the saints shall be rewarded—but He Himself will be their reward. A king may
reward his subjects with gratuities—but he bestows himself upon his queen.
God said to every believer, as He did to Aaron, "I am your part and your
inheritance," Numbers 18:20, and as the king of Israel said to Benhadad, "I
am yours, and all that I have," 1 Kings 20:4.
Abraham sent away the sons of the concubines with a few
gifts—but he settled the inheritance upon Isaac, Genesis 25:5-6. God sends
away the wicked with riches and honor—but made Himself over to His people.
They have not only the gift but the Giver. And what more can be said? As
Micah said, "What have I more?" Judges 18:24. Just so, what has God more to
give than Himself? What greater dowry is there than the Deity? God is not
only the saints' rewarder—but He is their reward. Job 22:25, "The Almighty
shall be your gold," for so does the Hebrew word import. The sum of all is
this, The saints' portion lies in God. Psalm 16:5, "The Lord is the portion
of my inheritance and of my cup."
Question. But how does God give Himself to His people? Is
not His essence incommunicable?
Answer. True, the saints cannot partake of God's very
essence; the riches of the Deity are too great to be received in essence.
But the saints shall have all in God, which may be for their comfort. They
shall partake so much of God's likeness, His love, His influence, and the
irradiations of His glory (1 John 3:2; John 17:26) as astonishes and fills
the vessels of mercy, that they run over with joy.
3. How does God come to be His people's reward.
Through Jesus Christ—His blood, being the blood of God,
has merited this glorious reward for them, Acts 20:28. Though in respect of
free grace, this reward is a donation—yet in respect of Christ's
blood it is a purchase, Ephesians 1:14. How precious should Christ be
to us! Had not He died, the exceeding great portion would never have come
into our hands!
4. Wherein the exceeding greatness of this reward
God is a satisfying
reward. Genesis 17:1, "I am God Almighty." The word for Almighty
signifies "Him who has sufficiency." God is a whole ocean of blessedness, so
that the soul, while it is bathing in it, cries out in a divine ecstasy, "I
have enough!" Here is fullness—but no excess. Psalm 17:15, "I shall be
satisfied when I awake with Your likeness." When I awake out of the sleep of
death, having my soul embellished with the illustrious beams of Your glory,
I shall be satisfied. In God there is not only sufficiency but
redundancy; not only the fullness of the vessel—but the fullness
of the fountain! When the whole world was defaced, Noah had the copy
and emblem of it in the ark. In God, this Ark of blessedness, are all good
things virtually to be found. Therefore Jacob, having God for his reward,
could say, "I have enough!" or, as it is in the original, "I have all!"
Genesis 33:11. God is all marrow and fatness. He is such an exuberant reward
as exceeds our very faith. If the Queen of Sheba's heart fainted within her
to see all King Solomon's glory—what would it have done to have beheld the
astonishing and magnificent reward which God bestows upon His favorites!
God is a suitable
reward. The soul, being spiritual, must have something comparable and
suitable to make it happy—and that is God. Light is no more suitable to the
eye, nor melody to the ear—than God is to the soul. He
pours spiritual blessings into the soul, Ephesians 1:3. He enriches it with
grace, feasts it with His love, and crowns it with heavenly dignity!
God is a pleasant
reward. He is the quintessence of delight! He is all beauty and love! To be
feeding upon the thoughts of God is delicious. Psalm 104:34, "My
meditation of Him shall be sweet." It is delightful to the bee to suck the
flower; so, by holy musing, to suck out some of the sweetness in God,
carries a secret delight in it. To have a prospect of God only by
faith is pleasant. 1 Peter 1:8, "In whom believing you rejoice." Then what
will the joy of vision be—when we shall have a clear, personal sight
of Him—and be laid in the bosom of divine love! Is God so sweet a reward in
affliction? 2 Corinthians 7:4, "I am exceedingly joyful in all our
trouble." Philip, Count of Hesse, said that in his confinement, he had the
divine consolation of the martyrs. Then what a delicious reward will God be
in heaven! This may be better felt—than expressed. The godly,
entering upon their celestial reward, are said to enter into the joy of
their Lord, Matthew 25:21. Oh, amazing! The saints enter into God's own joy.
They have not only the joy which God bestows—but the joy which God
God is a transcendent
reward. The painter, going to paint the picture of Helena, not being
able to draw her beauty as in life, drew her face covered with a veil. So,
when we speak of God's excellencies—we must draw a veil. He is so
super-eminent a reward that we cannot set Him forth in all His luster and
magnificence. Put the whole world in scale with Him—and it is as if you
should weigh a feather with a mountain of gold. God is far better than all
other things put together! He is better than the world, and better than
heaven! He is the original cause of all good things. Nothing is sweet
without Him. He perfumes and sanctifies our comforts! He turns the venison
into a blessing.
God is an infinite
reward. And, being infinite, these two things follow:
This reward cannot come to us by way of merit. Can we
merit God? Can finite creatures merit an infinite reward?
God being an infinite reward, there can be no defect
or scantiness in it. There is no lack in that which is
infinite. Some may ask, "Is God sufficient for every individual saint?" Yes!
If the sun, which is but a finite creature, disperses its light to the
universe, then much more God, who is infinite, distributes glory to the
whole number of the elect. Every individual Christian has a membership in
God. As every person enjoys the whole sun to himself, so every believer
possesses the whole God to himself. The Lord has land enough to give all His
heirs. Throw a thousand buckets into the sea and there is water enough in
the sea to fill them. Though there are millions of saints and angels, there
is enough in God to fill them. God is an infinite reward, and though He is
continually giving out of His fullness to others—yet He has not the less.
His glory is imparted, not impaired. It is a distribution
without a diminution.
God is an honorable
reward. Honor is the height of men's ambition. Aristotle calls it the
greatest of blessings. Alas! Worldly honor is but a pleasing fancy—it often
has a speedy burial. But to enjoy God is the head of honor. What greater
dignity than to be taken up into communion with the God of glory, and to
possess a kingdom with Him, bespangled with light, and seated above all the
A great heir, while in a foreign land, may be despised;
but in his own country he is held in veneration. Here on earth, the people
of God are as princes in a disguise, 1 John 3:1. But they shall have
honor enough in heaven when they shall be clothed with white robes and sit
with Christ upon His throne, Revelation 3:21.
God is an everlasting
reward. Mortality is the flaw of all earthly things. They are in
their fruition surfeiting, and in their duration dying. They are like that
metal which glass is made of, which, when it shines brightest, is nearest
melting. But God is an eternal reward. Eternity cannot be measured by years
nor ages. Eternity makes glory weighty. Psalm 48:14, "This God is our God
forever and ever!" Oh, you saints of God, your praying and repenting are but
for a while—but your reward is forever! As long as God is God, He will be
rewarding you! Hosea 2:19, "I will betroth you unto me forever." God marries
Himself to His people, and this admits of no divorce. God's love for His
elect is as unchangeable as His love for Christ. Psalm 73:26, "My portion
forever." This portion cannot be spent—because it is infinite; nor can it be
lost—because it is eternal.
We read of a river of pleasures at God's right
hand, Psalm 36:8.
But, you may ask, may not this river be dried up?
No! For there is a fountain at the bottom. Psalm
36:9, "With You is the fountain of life."
Question. But if this reward is so exceedingly great,
will it not overwhelm us?
Answer. In the eternal world, our faculties shall be
extended, and through the Mediator, Christ—we shall be made capable of
receiving this reward. Put a plate of steel behind a glass and you may see
your face in it. So, Christ's human nature being put as steel to the divine,
God's glory will be seen and enjoyed by us. As there is no seeing the sun in
the circle but in the beams, so, whatever of God is made visible to us will
be through the golden beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
Question. Where does the certainty of this reward
Answer. God, who is the oracle of truth, has asserted it.
God's oath is laid as pledge, Psalm 58:11. Nay, God has not only pawned His
truth, the most orient pearl of His crown—but He has given the anticipation
and first fruits of this reward to His saints in joy and consolation,
Galatians 5:22, which assures them of a harvest afterwards.
Question. But when shall we be possessed of this
Answer. The time is not long. Revelation 22:12, "Behold,
I come quickly—and My reward is with Me." Sense and reason
think it a long interval—but faith looks at the rewards as near.
Through a telescope, an object which is at some distance seems near to the
eye. So, when faith looks through the telescope of a promise, the reward
seems near. As faith substantiates, so it anticipates things not seen; it
makes them present, Ephesians 2:6.
Question. But why is this reward at all deferred?
Answer 1. God does not see fit that we should yet receive
it. Our work is not done. A day laborer does not receive his pay until his
work is done. Even Christ's reward was deferred until He had completed His
mediatorial work and said upon the cross, "It is finished."
Answer 2. God defers the reward that we may live by
faith. We are taken with the reward—but God is more taken with
our faith. No grace honors God like faith, Romans 4:20. God has given
Himself to us by promise. Faith trusts God's bond, and patience waits for
Answer 3. God adjourns the reward a while to sweeten
it and make it more welcome to us when it comes. After all our labors,
watchings, and conflicts—how comfortable will the reward be! Nay, the longer
the reward is deferred—the greater it is appreciated. The longest labors,
have the largest returns.
If still it is asked, "When shall the time of this reward
be?" I say, the righteous shall receive part of their reward at death. No
sooner is the soul out of the body—than it is present with the Lord, 2
Corinthians 5:8. And the full coronation is at the resurrection when the
soul and body shall be united and perfected in glory. Christians, do not
faint in your voyage, though it may be troublesome. You are within a few
steps of heaven! Your salvation is now nearer, than when you first believed,
Several applications follow.
Use 1. Of INFORMATION.
BRANCH 1. Hence it is evident that it is lawful to look
to the future reward. God is our reward; is it not lawful to look to Him?
Moses had an eye to the recompense of reward, Hebrews 11:26. What was this
reward, but God Himself! Verse 27, "As seeing Him who is invisible." Looking
to the reward, quickens us in piety. It is like the rod of myrtle in the
traveler's hand which, it is said, revives his spirits and makes him walk
without being weary. Who that is subject to fainting fits, will not carry
the remedy with him?
BRANCH 2. If God is such an exceedingly great reward,
then it is not in vain, to engage in His service. It was a slanderous
speech, "It is vain to serve God!" Malachi 3:14. The infinite Jehovah gives
a reward that is as far beyond our thoughts—as it is above our deserts. How
apt are people, through ignorance or mistake, to misjudge the ways of God!
They think it will not be worth the cost to be pious. They speak evil of
true religion before they have tried it; as if one should condemn a food
before he has tasted it. Beside the gratuities which God gives in this
life—provision, protection, and peace—there is a glorious reward shortly
coming, Psalm 19:11. God Himself is the saints' dowry! God has a true
monopoly—He has those riches which are nowhere else to be had—the riches of
salvation. He is such a gold-mine as no angel can find the bottom—the
unsearchable riches of Christ! Ephesians 3:8. Is it vain, then, to serve
God? A Christian's work is soon over—but not his reward. He
has such a harvest coming, as cannot be fully taken in. It will always be
reaping time in heaven. How great is that reward—which thoughts
cannot measure, nor time finish!
BRANCH 3. See the detestable folly of such as refuse God.
Psalm 81:11, "Israel would have none of Me." Is it usual to refuse rewards?
If a man should have a vast sum of money offered to him and he should refuse
it, his sanity would be called into question. God offers an incomprehensible
reward to men—yet they refuse! They are like a magnet which refuses
gold and diamond—and draws rusty iron to it instead! Man, by his fall, lost
his headpiece; he does not see where his best interest lies. He flies
from God as if he were afraid of salvation; and what does he refuse
God for? The fleeting and unsatisfying pleasures of the world! We may write
upon them "temporary." And to lose God for these perishables is an example
of folly worse than that of Lysimachus, who, for a draft of water, lost his
kingdom. We read in Scripture of two cups. Psalm 16:5, "The Lord is the
portion of my cup." Those who refuse this cup shall have another cup to
drink of—Psalm 11:6, "Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire, and
brimstone—this shall be the portion of their cup."
BRANCH 4. If God is such an immense reward, then see how
little cause the saints have to fear death. Are men afraid to receive
rewards? There is no way to really live, but by dying.
Christians would be clothed with glory—but are loath to be unclothed. They
pray, "may Your kingdom come," and when God is leading them to this kingdom,
they are afraid to go. What makes us desirous of staying here on earth?
There is more in the world to wean us—than to entice us. Is it
not a valley of tears? And do we weep to leave it? Are we not in a
wilderness among fiery serpents? And are we loath to leave their
company? Is there a better friend we can go to—than God! Are there any
sweeter smiles or softer embraces—than His! Surely, those who know that when
they die they go to receive their reward, should neither be fond of life—nor
fearful of death! The pangs of death to believers are but the pangs of
travail by which they are born into glory.
Use 2. Of EXHORTATION.
BRANCH 1. Believe this reward. Sensualists
question this reward, because they do not see it. They may as well
question the verity of their souls because, being spirits, they cannot be
seen. Where should our faith rest but upon a divine testimony? We believe
there are such places such as Africa and China (though we have never seen
them) because travelers who have been there affirm it. And shall we not
believe the eternal recompenses, when God Himself affirms them? The
whole earth hangs upon the Word of God's power, and shall not our
faith hang upon the Word of His truth? Let us not be skeptics, in
matters of such importance.
The disbelief of this grand truth is the cause of the
flagitiousness of the age. Immorality begins at infidelity, Hebrews 3:12. To
mistrust a future reward is to question the Bible and to destroy a main
article of our Creed, "Life everlasting." Such atheists as look upon God's
promise but as a forged deed, put God to swear against them, that they shall
never enter into His rest, verse 18.
BRANCH 2. If God is
such an exceeding great reward, let us endeavor that He may be our reward.
In other things we love an ownership, "This house is mine;
these lands are mine." And why not, "This God is mine"?
Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron, "Go and sacrifice to your God." It
was not "to my God." Leaving out one word in a will may spoil the
will. Leaving out this word "my" is the loss of heaven. Psalm 67:6, "God,
even our own God, shall bless us." He who can pronounce this
shibboleth, "my God!" is the happiest man alive!
Question. How shall we know that
God is our reward? There are four ways:
1. If God has given us the pledge of this reward. This
pledge is His Spirit. Ephesians 1:13-14, "You were sealed with the Holy
Spirit of promise, who is the pledge of our inheritance." Where God gives
His Spirit for a pledge—there He gives Himself for a portion.
Christ gave the purse to Judas, not His Spirit.
How shall we know we have God's Spirit?
The Spirit carries influence along with Himself. He
consecrates the heart—making it a holy of holies. He sanctifies the
mind—causing it to mint holy thoughts. He sanctifies the will,
strongly biasing it to godliness. As musk, lying among linen, perfumes it—so
the Spirit of God in the soul perfumes it with holiness.
But are not the unregenerate said to partake of the Holy
They may have the common gifts of the Spirit—but
not the special grace. They may have the enlightening of the
Spirit—but not the anointing of the Spirit. They may have the Spirit
move in them—but not live in them. But to partake of the Holy
Spirit aright, is when the Spirit leaves lively impressions upon the heart.
He softens, purifies, and transforms it—writing a law of grace there!
Hebrews 8:10. By this pledge, we have a title to the reward.
2. If God is our reward, He has given us a hand to
lay hold on Him. This hand is faith. Mark 9:24, "Lord, I believe." A
weak faith justifies. As a weak hand can tie the knot in marriage; just so—a
weak faith can lay hold on a strong Christ! The nature of
faith is assent joined with affiance, Acts 8:37 and 16:31.
Faith makes God ours! Other graces make us like Christ—faith makes us
one with Him. And this faith is known by its virtue. Precious
faith has virtue in it; it quickens and ennobles; it puts worth into our
services, Romans 16:26.
3. We may know God is our reward by our choosing Him.
True religion is not a matter of chance—but of choice, Psalm
119:30. Have we weighed things in the balance, and, upon mature
deliberation, made this choice—"We will have God upon any terms"? Have we
sat down and reckoned the cost? What true religion must cost
us—parting with our lusts; and what it may cost us—parting with our
lives? Have we resolved, through the assistance of grace, to own Christ when
the world is against us. And to sail with Him not only in a pleasure-boat,
but in a battle-ship? This choosing God speaks Him to be ours. Hypocrites
profess God out of worldly design, not pious choice.
4. God is known to be our reward, by the delight
we take in Him, Psalm 37:4-8. How men please themselves with rich portions!
What delight a bride takes in her jewels! Do we delight in God as our
eternal portion? Indeed, He is a whole paradise of delight! All excellencies
meet in God! Is ours a genuine delight? Do we not only delight in
God's blessings—but in God Himself? Is it a superior
delight? Do we delight in God above other things? David had His
crown-revenues to delight in—but his delight in God took place over all
other delights. Psalm 43:4, "God, my exceeding glory," or, as it is
in the original, "the cream of my joy." Can we delight in God when
other delights are gone? "Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and
there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the
fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and
the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be
joyful in the God of my salvation!" Habakkuk 3:17-18
When the flowers in a man's garden die—yet he can
delight in his land and money. Thus a gracious soul, when the
creature fades, can rejoice in the pearl of great price.
Paulinus, when they told him the Goths had sacked his city and plundered him
of all, lifted up his eyes to heaven and said, "Lord, You know where I have
laid up my treasure." By this delighting in God, we may undoubtedly
know He is our reward.
Question. What shall we do, to get God to be our reward?
Answer. First, let us see our need of God. We
are undone without Him. Do not lift up the crest of pride. Beware of the
Laodicean temper, Revelation 3:17, "You say, I am rich and have need of
nothing." God will never bestow Himself on those who see no need of Him.
Second, let us beg God to be our reward. It
was Augustine's prayer, "Lord, give me Yourself!" Psalm 17:14, "O do not put
me off with common mercies; give me not my portion in this
life." Be earnest suitors—and God cannot find it in His heart to deny you.
Prayer is the key of heaven which, being turned by the hand of
faith, opens all God's treasures!
BRANCH 3. Live every day in the contemplation of this
reward. Be in the altitudes. Think what God has prepared
for those who love Him! Oh, that our thoughts could ascend! The
higher the bird flies the sweeter it sings. Let us think how
blessed they are, who are possessed of their eternal heritage! If one could
but look a while through the chinks of heaven's door—and see the
beauty and bliss of Paradise; if he could but lay his ear to heaven—and
hear the ravishing music of those seraphic spirits and the anthems of
praise which they sing—how would his soul be exhilarated and transported
Oh, Christians, meditate on this reward! Slight,
transient thoughts do no good. They are like breath upon steel which is
immediately off again. But let your thoughts dwell upon glory—until
your hearts are deeply affected! "What, Lord! Is there such an
incomprehensible reward to be bestowed upon me! Shall these eyes of
mine be blessed with transforming thoughts of You? Oh, the
astonishing love of God to sinners!" Stand at this fire of meditation until
your hearts begin to be warm. How would the reflection on this immense
reward, conquer temptation and behead those unruly lusts which have
formerly conspired against us! "What! Is there a reward so sure, so sweet,
so rich! And shall I forfeit this by sin? Shall I, to please my appetite,
lose my crown? Oh, all you pleasures of sin, begone! Let me no more be
deceived by your sugared lies! Wound me no more with your silver
darts! Though stolen waters are sweet—yet the water of life is
There is no stronger antidote to expel sin than the
serious meditations on heavenly remunerations. It was when Moses
was long out of sight—that Israel made an idol to worship, Exodus 32:1. So,
when the future reward is long out of our mind—then we set up some idol lust
in our hearts, and we begin to worship it!
BRANCH 4. This may CONTENT God's people.
Though they have but little oil in the cruse, and their estates are almost
boiled away to nothing—their reward is yet to come! Though your
earthly pension is small, your eternal portion is large! If God
is yours—this may rock your hearts quiet. God lets the wicked have their pay
beforehand. Luke 6:24, "You have already received your comfort." A wicked
man will make his acquittance and write, "Received in full payment." But the
saints' reward is in reversion—the robe and the ring are yet to come!
May not this tune their hearts into contentment? Christian! What if God
denies you a trifle which you may desire? If He says, "Son, all that I have
is yours!" Luke 15:31. Is not this sufficient? Why do you complain of the
world's emptiness—when you have God's fullness! Is not God reward
enough? Has a son any cause to complain that his father denies him a flower
in the garden—when he makes him heir to his wealthy estate?
The philosopher comforted himself with this—that though
he had no music or vine trees—yet he had the household gods with him.
So, Christian, though you do not have much of the world—yet you have God—and
He is an inexhaustible treasure! It was strange, after God had told Abraham,
"I am your exceeding great reward," that Abraham should yet say, "Lord God,
what will You give me seeing I go childless?" Genesis 15:2. Shall Abraham
ask, "Lord, what will You give me?" when He had given Himself! Was
Abraham troubled at the lack of a child—when he had a God! Was
not God "better than ten sons"? Who should be content—if not he who has God
for his portion and heaven for his eternal haven!
Let this exceedingly great reward stir up in us a spirit
of activity for God. Our head should study for Him; our
hands should work for Him; our feet should run in the way of His
commandments. Alas! How little—is all that we can do! Our work bears
no proportion with our reward. The thoughts of this reward should
make us rise off the bed of sloth and live for God with all our
might. It should add wings to our prayers, and weight to our alms. A
slothful person stands in the world for a cipher, and God writes down
no ciphers in the book of life! Let us abound in the work of the
Lord, 1 Corinthians 15:58. As aromatic trees sweat out their precious
oils—so should we sweat out our strength and spirits for Christ.
Paul, knowing what a splendid reward was ahead, brought
all the more glory he could to God. 1 Corinthians 15:10, "I labored more
abundantly than they all." He outworked all the other apostles. Did Plato
and Demosthenes undergo such herculean labors and studies, who had but the
dim candlelight of nature to see by? And shall not Christians much more put
forth all their vigor of spirit for God—when they are sure to be crowned,
nay—God Himself will be their crown!
BRANCH 5. If God is so great a reward, let such as have a
saving interest in Him be CHEERFUL. God loves a gladsome
Christian; cheerfulness credits true religion. The goodness of the
conscience—is seen in the gladness of the countenance. Let the birds of
Paradise sing for joy. Shall a carnal man rejoice, whose happiness leans
on earthly crutches—and shall not he rejoice whose treasure is laid
up in heaven? Be serious—yet cheerful. As a dejected,
melancholy temper makes one unfit for duty, especially that of praising God,
so it disparages heaven. Will others think God is such a great reward—when
they see Christians go drooping about? It is a sin as well not to rejoice—as
not to repent.
OBJECTION. But how can I be cheerful? I am reduced to
Answer. Let God take away whatever He will from you—He
will at last give you that which is far better. Be not too much troubled, at
the diminution of these earthly things—for all the eternal blessings of
heaven are yours. In the fields of Sicily there is a continual spring, and
flowers are there all year long. This is an emblem of heaven—where
flowers of joy are always flourishing. There you shall tread upon stars,
be companions with angels, and have communion with the blessed Trinity. Let
the saints, then, be glad in the Lord. In God are treasures which can
never be emptied--and pleasures which can never be ended!
BRANCH 6. If God is an exceedingly great reward, let such
as have hope in Him, long for the full possession of Him. Though
it should not be irksome to us to stay here to do service—yet we should have
a holy longing until our eternal portion comes into our hand. This is
a temper befitting a Christian—content to live, and desirous to
die! Philippians 1:23-25. Does not the bride desire her wedding day?
Revelation 22:17. If we seriously considered our condition here on
earth—that we are compassed with a body of sin; that we cannot pray without
wandering; that we cannot believe without doubting—would not this make us
desire to depart, to be gone to heaven? Let us think how happy those saints
above are, who are solacing themselves in God. While we live far from
court—they are always beholding the smiling face of God! While we
drink wormwood—they swim in honey! While we are perplexed and
troubled—they know their names are enrolled in the book of life. While we
are tossed upon the unquiet waves—they have gotten to the eternal haven. If
we but knew what a reward God is, and what the joy of our Lord
means—we would need patience to be content to stay here on earth any longer!
BRANCH 7. Let such as have God for their exceedingly
great reward, be living organs of God's praise. Psalm 118:28,
"You are my God—and I will praise You!" Themistocles thought he was
well requited by the Grecians for his valor—when they took such notice of
him in the Olympics, saying, "This is Themistocles." God counts it requital
enough for all His love—when we are grateful and present Him with our
thank offering! And well may we stand upon Mount Gerizim, blessing and
praising, if we consider the greatness of this reward. That we should be
made heirs of God; and that this surpassing reward is not a debt but
a legacy; and that, when most others are passed by, the lot of free
grace should fall upon us!—let this make us ascribe praise to the
Lord. It is called "the garment of praise" in Isaiah 61:3. The saints
never look so lovely as in this garment. Praise is the work of heaven; such
as shall have angels' reward, should do angels' work. The word
"praise" comes from a Hebrew word that signifies to shoot up. The
godly should shoot up their praises toward heaven! Shall you live forever
with God and partake of His fullness in glory? Break forth into doxologies
and triumphs! Long for that time when you shall join in concert with the
angels, those choristers of heaven, in sounding forth hallelujahs to the
King of glory! Such as are monuments of mercy should be patterns
Use 3. Of CONSOLATION to the godly.
Will God Himself be His people's reward? This may be as
an antidote to revive and comfort them:
1. In case of LOSSES. They have lost their
livings and promotions for conscience's sake—but as long as God lives their
eternal reward is not lost, Hebrews 10:34. Bernard said, "I cannot be
poor—so long as God is rich; for His riches are mine!" Whatever we lose for
God, we shall find again in Him. In Mark 10:28 the disciples said, "We have
left all and have followed You." Alas! What had they left? A few sorry boats
and nets! What were these, compared to their reward? They parted with
fleeting goods—for the unchangeable God! All losses are made up in Him! We
may be losers for God—but we shall never be losers by Him.
2. In case of PERSECUTION. The saints' reward
will abundantly compensate for all their sufferings. Agrippa was laid in
chains for Caius. When Caius came later to the empire, he released Agrippa
out of prison and gave him a chain of gold bigger than his iron
chain. Just so, God will infinitely remunerate those who suffer for Him. For
their "waters of Marah" they shall have the wine of Paradise! The
saints' sufferings are but for a short time—but their reward
is forever! They are but a short while in the winepress—but forever
in the banqueting house! The Hebrew word for "glory" signifies a
weight. The weight of glory—should make affliction light. The
enjoying of God eternally will cause Christians to forget all their sorrows.
One beam of the Sun of Righteousness will dry up all their tears! After
trouble—eternal peace! After labor—eternal rest. Then God will be all in all
to His people—light to their eye, manna to their taste, music
to their ear, and joy to their heart! Oh, then, let the saints
be comforted in the midst of their trials! Romans 8:18, "I reckon that the
sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory
which shall be revealed in us!"
Use 4. Of TERROR to the Wicked.
Here is dread to frighten them. They shall have a
reward—but one vastly different from the godly. The one shall be rewarded in
the king's palace—the other in hell's prison. All the plagues
in Scripture are their reward. Proverbs 10:29, "Destruction shall be to the
workers of iniquity." God is their rewarder—but not their reward. Romans
6:23, "The wages of sin is death." They who did the devil's work—will
tremble to receive their wages!
Zophar notably sets forth a wicked man's reward in Job
20. Verse 7, "He shall perish forever, thrown away like his own dung."
That is, he shall leave a stinking savor behind. Verse 16, "He will spit out
the riches he swallowed; God will make his stomach vomit them up. He will
suck the poison of serpents." That is, the sin which was sweet as honey in
his mouth—shall be as bitter as the poison of serpents. Verse 26, "Terrors
will come over him; total darkness is reserved for his treasures. A fire
unfanned [by human hands] will consume him." That is, the fire of hell shall
torture his soul. He shall be ever consuming, never consumed. Verse 29,
"This is the portion of a wicked man!" How dreadful is this! For every
golden sand of mercy which runs out to a sinner, God puts a drop of
wrath into His vial! "But because of your stubbornness and your
unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the
day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed." Romans