Sermon 764. Our Life, Our Work, Our Change
Delivered on Lord's-day Morning, AUGUST 4, 1867, by
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till 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 moreexcusable than in the sad case of Job when he cried, "O that you would hide me in the grave!" Everything that could make lifebearable 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 loinshe argues with himself, reasoning his soul into a cooler, calmer frame. Job looks his life in the face-he perceives that hiswarfare is severe, but he remembers it is but once-and that when once over and the victory won, there will be no more fighting!Therefore he encourages himself to put up with his present sorrows and even with future evils, be they what they may, andregisters this solemn resolution-far more glorious than the resolve of Alexander to conquer the world-to conquer himself andto 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 decreewith constancy of resignation. None among us can afford to cast a stone at the Patriarch for sighing and complaining, forwe should not act one half so well ourselves. We are too much at times like Jonah-we turn cowards and would gladly flee fromour 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 seraphto 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 descendantsof those children of Ephraim who, being armed and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. We shrink as a bone outof joint which slips aside under pressure. We are not only like Jacob, who halted upon one thigh, but we limp upon both legsat times! We are often disinclined for conflict and pine for rest, crying, "When will the day be over? When shall we be perfectlyat 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 considerthe text now before us. To that end may God bless it, that we may be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work ofthe Lord." "All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till 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 ourwork. 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 theHebrew has it, "a warfare." Observe that Job styles our life a time. Blessed be God that this present state is not an eternity!Though its conflicts may seem long they must have an end. We are in the finite state, at present, in which all griefs havetheir closes and conclusions. Long as the night may last it must yield, in due season, to the light of the morning. The wintermay drag its weary length along but the spring is hard upon its heels.
The tide may ebb out till nothing remains but leagues of mud, and we lament that all the bright blue deep will vanish, butit is not so-the tide must flow again for God has so decreed. Our whole life is brief, indeed. Compared with eternity, a merespan-a hand's-breadth. From the summits of eternity, how, like a flying moment, will this transient life appear! The painsof 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 thetoils of this life will be as child's play when we reach the everlasting rest.
Let us then, my Brothers and Sisters, judge immortal judgment. Lets us not weigh our troubles in the ill-adjusted scales ofthis poor human life, but let us use the shekel of eternity. We are born for eternity, and although it is true we have tostruggle 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 sufferingsof 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 of God 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 isnot eternity! O Mourner, contrast your present sorrows with the griefs of lost spirits to whom there is no time-who are castaway forever-who cannot expect a termination to their bitter griefs, but who see this word written in letters of fire beforetheir 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 thereforeyou can have no regrets about the appointment. Neither did Satan appoint them, for the keys of Hell and of death do not hangat his waist-
"An angel's arm can't cast me to the grave: Millions of angels cannot keep me there." To the almighty God belong the issuesfrom death. He alone can speak the irrevocable word and bid the spirit return to God who gave it. God alone can wing the shaftthat 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 hourglass which measures your existence, the sands which trickleto the nether globe were all measured into the upper bulb by the Divine hand! There is not a sand too few, nor a grain toomany. You shall find that God has appointed with exact wisdom, with profound knowledge, and with irreproachable love all thedays and the doings of your life. Remember that you will live out, but not outlive your allotted years! You will live up tothe last minute and neither plague, nor pestilence, nor dangers of flood, or field, or battle can deprive you of the lastsecond which God has measured out to you.
Beyond the boundary He appointed you shall not pass though you take great care and call in the physician-you cannot add asecond of time to your determined period. Inexorable Death will make no tarrying but perform his errand promptly when theMaster 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 andbounds of our habitation are not left to the winds of chance or to the waves of uncertainty-but are all decreed immutablyby our Father who is in Heaven? In the volume of the book our life-story is written-in that same volume where the Savior'sCovenant engagements were recorded.
You will observe, also, dear Friends, that Job very wisely speaks of the "days" of our appointed time. It is a prudent thingto forbear the burden of life as a whole and learn to bear it in the parcels into which Providence has divided it. Let uslive 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 clockticks-a second at a time. Is not that a wiser method of living rather than to perplex our heads by living by the month, orby the year? You have no promise for the year-the Word of Mercy runs, "As your days your strength shall be." You are not commandedto 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 15 or 20years, when I asked him how his patience had held out-"Ah," he said, "I said to my afflicted wife the other day when the coalscame in, 'It takes several big fellows to bring in the sacks, but yet our little kitchen maid, Mary, has brought the wholeton up from the cellar into our parlor. But she has done it a scuttle-full at a time. She has as surely moved those tons ofcoal as ever did the wagons when they brought them in, but she has moved them little by 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 oneby one and not attempt to buffet the whole ocean's billows at once. Let us stand as the brave old Spartan did, in the Thermopylaeof the day, and fight the Persians as they come on one by one. Thus shall we keep our adversities at bay and overcome themas they advance in single file. But let us not venture into the plain amidst the innumerable hordes of Persians or we shallspeedily be swallowed up and our faith and patience will be overcome.
I would gladly live by the day and work by the day and suffer by the day till all my days are over. And I see the Ancientof 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 toremind you of the Hebrew: "All the days of my warfare will I wait." Life is, indeed, a "warfare." And just as a man enlistsin our army for a term of years, and then his service runs out and he is free, so every Believer is enlisted in the serviceof life to serve God till his enlistment is over and we sleep in death. Our charge and our armor we shall put off together.
Brethren, you are enlisted soldiers when you believe in Jesus. Let me remind you that you are a soldier-you will be alwaysat war-you will never have a furlough or conclude a treaty. Like the old knights who slept in their armor, you will be attackedeven in your rest. There is no part of the journey to Heaven which is secure from the enemy, and no moment, not even the sweetrest of the Lord's Day, when the clarion may not sound. Therefore prepare yourselves always for the battle. "Put on the wholearmor of God," and look upon life as a continued battle.
Be surprised when you do not have to fight-be wonderstruck when the world is peaceful towards you-be astonished when yourold corruptions do not rise and assault you. You must travel with your swords always drawn, and you may as well throw awaythe scabbard, for you will never need it. You are a soldier who must always fight, and by the light of battle you must surveythe 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-weshall 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 is an honorable man, resolves that he will act worthilyso 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 warfaregloriously. 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 onthe 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 usmarch 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 isrunning out every hour! Let us rejoice to see it go. Our Captain appointed it, He commanded us to stand sentry, or to rushinto the front of the battle. Since the time is appointed by our well-beloved King, let us not dishonor His appointment, butin the name of Him who gave us our commission to live and fight, let us war a good warfare, living at the highest bent ofour 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 salvationwho leads us on to sure and certain victory! Let us not be discouraged! Let not our hearts fail us! Let us quit ourselveslike men and be strong, for the Lord our God is with us, and we have the Mighty One of Israel to be our Captain! Let us glorifythe Grace of God while we are permitted to remain on earth to glorify it! Let us be up and at our enemies while there areenemies 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 victoriesto 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 forceand vigor to glorify God who has appointed us our warfare. We now leave this head to turn to the second, and may God the HolySpirit 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. Letus take up a few very briefly.
In the first place, the Christian life should be one of waiting-that is, setting loose of all earthly things. Many travelersare among us this morning. They are passing from one town to another, viewing many 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. Theydo not attempt to buy large estates and lay them out, and make gold and silver. They know that they are only strangers andthey 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 notcitizens 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 is not ourrest, it is polluted-
"Sad thought were this to be our home!" The wisdom of the Christian is to disentangle himself as much as possible from thethings of this life. He will act kindly towards the citizens of the country where he is called to dwell, and he will seektheir 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 inthis world, but that is merely as a matter of transient convenience. He neither buys nor sells for eternity, for he has "boughtthe 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 theriver all his joys and all his treasures are to be found. Here he looks upon his earthly joys as things that are lent him-borrowedcomforts. If his children die, he does not wonder-he knew that they were not immortal. If his friends are taken away, he isnot astonished-he understood that they were born of women and therefore would die like the rest. If his wealth takes to itselfwings, he does not marvel-he knew that it was a bird of passage and he is not astonished when, like the swallows, it flieselsewhere.
He has long ago learned that the world is founded on the floods, and therefore when it moves beneath him he understands thatthis is the normal state of things and he is not at all amazed, but rather wonders that the world is not all panic and confusionsince it is so unsubstantial. As Samson shook the Philistine temple, so shall the Word of the Lord in the hour of final doomlay 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 were your rest. You do not wishto go Home, do you? The nest is very comfortable. You have feathered it warmly. You have all that heart could wish. Here youwould gladly abide for ages! Ah, well, may this worldliness be cast out of you and may you be seized with Homesickness-thatsweet disease which every true patriot ought to have-an insatiable longing for his dear fatherland.
Have you ever heard of the Swiss soldiers in the French army who would fall sick when they heard the music of the songs whichreminded them of their native mountains, with their chalets and peasants, and the cowboy's song? Ill could they rest in sunnyFrance when their hearts were among Helvetia's rugged hills. Are there no sweet songs of Zion which remind you of that blessedland 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, Jerusalem above."
It is your duty, Christian, and your privilege, to let loose of the things of earth and say with Job, "All the days of myappointed time I will wait"-like a mere waiter-"till 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 summonedby 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 Believers, but the same readiness ought to characterize living Believers,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 tothe station, taken his ticket, all his luggage brought in, all packed up, strapped, directed. And you have seen him sittingwith his ticket in his hand waiting till the train comes up." That, said he, "is exactly my condition. I am ready to go assoon as my heavenly Father pleases to come for me."
And is not that how we should always live-waiting for the Lord's appearing? Mr. Whitefield used to say of his well-known orderand 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 outof 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 Christianman 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 notmake 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 causeto 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 momentshe closed her eyes to the sorrows of earth and opened them to the joys of Heaven! When we visit the graves of those who havedied 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 admittedto the same reward! To "die daily" is the business of Christians.
It is greatly wise to talk about our last hours, to make ourselves familiar with the grave. Our venerable forefathers hada strange habit of placing on the dressing table a death's head as a memento. More-either a real skull, or else an ornamentfashioned in the form of it-to remind them of their end. Yet, so far as I can gather, they were happy men and happy womenand none the less so because they familiarized themselves with death! A genuine Puritan, perhaps, never lived a day withoutconsidering the time when he should put off the garments of clay and enter into rest-and these were the happiest and holiestof people-while this thoughtless generation which banishes the thought of dying is wretched with all its hollow pretense ofmirth!
I exhort you, Brothers and Sisters, wait! Wait always for the trumpet call! Live as looking for the Lord to come and takeyou from this mortal state, waiting for the convoy of angels to take 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 andin sacred patience we must abide steadfast the heat of the furnace. The life of many Christians is a long mar-tyrdom-theyare to bear it patiently. "Here is the patience of the saints."
Many Believers go from one sickness to another, from one loss to another. But here they fulfill their life's design if throughabundant Grace they learn to bear their woes without a murmur, and to wait their appointed time without repining. Servingis also another kind of waiting. The Lord Jesus gives us plain directions as to service in the parable recorded in the 17thchapter of Luke: "But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is comefrom the field, go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourselfand serve me, till I have eaten and drunk; 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 Hisfoes, repairing the walls of His vineyard, doing anything and everything which He may please to give us. And mark you, thisis to be attended with perseverance, for Job says, "All the days of my appointed time will I wait." He would not be a servantsometimes, 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 asI 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 AmericanIndians, who, when he lay dying, was observed to be teaching a poor little Indian to read his letters. 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 forme 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 stateof heart!
Moreover, to close this aspect of Christian life, we should be desirous to be called Home. No Christian ought to desire togo out of the field of battle till the victory is won, nor to leave the field till the plow has gone up to the headland forthe 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 cannotunderstand 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 forthe time when the school shall break up, and you shall leave for home? Oh, it is a weary world, even though our Lord makesit bearable by the sweet glimpses we get of Him through the telescope of faith when He throws the lattices aside and showsHimself. 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 Divine Grace on earth without longingto lie down at the wellhead 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 stringsto draw you nearer? Oh, yes! You must feel this! And if you are mixing up these longings to be with Christ, these expectationsto depart, with a patient endurance of the Divine will, you have hit upon Job's true idea of life! May you not only have theidea, but carry it out practically-may all Believers 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, "Till my change come." He refers to the two greatchanges which he views at one glance-the change of death when we shall "shuffle off this mortal coil" and the change of resurrectionwhen 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 achange as to his identity. The same man who lives here will live forever! The same Believer who serves God on earth will wakeup in the image of Christ to serve Him day and night in His temple-and that identity will exist not only with regard to thesoul, but the body-"My eyes shall see Him and not another." These very eyes which have wept for sin shall see the King inHis 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 fullblown floweris 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 sowna 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 whichlives 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 willlive for the same end and aim there. Here holiness is his delight and it shall be his delight there. And his occupation willnot change, either. He served his Master like a waiting servant during his days on earth-he will be taken up to serve Himday 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 areall his delight. Christ Jesus his Elder Brother abides with him. The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is resident within him. Hecommunes 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 thewater of trouble rushes into it. And the windows of the rooms below are so dark that but a small degree of the light of Heavenever enters them, and the view is contracted. But the other rooms upstairs have a fair view, and the sun shines always throughtheir windows and they are 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 seethat readily enough. To the Christian it will be a change ofplace. He will be away from the dull and coarse materialism ofthis defiled, sin-stricken earth where thorns and thistles grow, and he will arrive at the place where the inhabitants shallno 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 neighborsto be like the men of Sodom, exceedingly vile. But there angels shall be fellow citizens with him and he shall commune withthe spirits of the just made perfect. No vain discourse shall vex his ears, 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 tearfrom his eyes. There are no funeral knells to be heard in Heaven, no open graves to be filled with the dead. In Heaven thereis no poverty, no proud man's scorn, no oppressor's heavy heel, no persecutor's fiery brand. But there "the wicked cease fromtroubling, and there the weary are 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, needingto be driven away. As the body shall be free from the corruption which engenders death, so shall the soul be free from thecorruption 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 inhis 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 a special manner, to some. Have you ever visited the hospital and sat by the side of thepoor 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! Whata difference between that hospital, with its sounds of sickness and of sorrow, and yonder New Jerusalem and the shout of themthat triumph, the song of them that feast! What an escape from the dying bed to the living glory-from the glazing eyes andthe 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 whichscarcely knows a pause. From those weary fingers and that flying needle, and that palpitating heart. From that sleep whichgives but little rest because the toil begins so soon that it seems to pervade and injure the sleep itself. What an exchangefrom that naked room, that unfurnished table, that cup which, so far from running over, you find it difficult to fill! Fromall those various pains and woes that penury is heir to, to the wealth and happiness of Paradise! What a change for you, tothe mansions of the blessed, and the crowns of immortality, and the company of the princes of the blood royal with whom youshall dwell forever!
And what a change, again, for the persecuted! I know how a father's angry words break your heart, and how a husband's cruelremarks grieve you. But you shall soon escape from it all. The jeer of the workshop sometimes reminds you of the cruel mockingyou have often read of. What a change for you to be in sweet company where friends shall cheer and make you glad! My Brothersand Sisters, what a leap it must have been for the martyrs-right away from their stakes to their thrones! What a change forthe men who rotted in dungeons till the moss grew on their eyelids-to the immortal beauty of the fairest of the fair, midstthe bright ones doubly bright! What a change! Right well, good Patriarch, did you use the term, for it is the greatest ofall changes!
If you require a commentary upon this word "change," turn to the 15th chapter of the first Epistle to the Corinthians andread 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 youdesire 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 it looked as if it were the face of an angel! Remember our Lordtransfigured till He was whiter than any fuller could make Him!
Those were transient gleams and glimpses of the Beatific Glory which shall surround 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 regularlyas 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 beput in the litany, "From sudden death, good Lord deliver us." O Brothers and Sisters, sudden death may God send to us so longas 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 itmay be sudden! There is this about it, however, that if we are in Christ, let it come sud-denly-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 achange, it is the last change. Glory be to God, there will be no more of it, once changed into the likeness of Christ! Andthere 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 foreverin the dark. But you who have a good hope through Divine Grace and have built your house upon the Rock-you may joyfully lookforward to the end of your appointed days. You may wait joyfully until your change comes-blessing God that it will come inits appointed time and that when it comes it will be a change for the better to you in all respects-a change which shall neverbe followed by another change, a change which shall make you like your Lord forever and ever! May God give His blessing! Amen.