Sermon 1303. The Believer in the Body and Out of the Body
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, JULY 2, 1876,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Now He that has prepared us for the same thing is God, who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. Therefore weare always confident, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, (for we walk by faith,not by sight). We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. Thereforewe labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ,that everyone may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it is good or bad." 2 Corinthians 5:5-10.
IT is quite clear that the Apostle did not consider his body to be himself. He speaks of it as being the frail tent or tabernaclein which he dwelt and, again, as the garment with which, for a while, he was clothed. That tent or tabernacle he expectedto see dissolved. And that garment he expected to put off. He distinguished between the outward man which would perish andthe inward man, which was his true self, which he speaks of as, "renewed day by day." The Apostle reckoned upon rising herein the body, according to the Divine will, till he had finished the work which was given him to do. And then he expected toput off his mortal flesh and to be an unclothed and disembodied spirit.
Such is the condition, at the present time, of all the saints who have departed. They are well described as "the spirits ofjust men made perfect." With the exception of Enoch and Elijah, who carried their bodies with them into the celestial world,all departed Believers are now spirits unclothed of their bodies and wearing only such array as befits spiritual existences.Is it difficult to conceive of them in that condition? I do not think it should be. Spirits without bodies are not such marvelousthings as spirits in bodies!
You meet, everyday, as you walk the streets, spirits in bodies, spirits that quicken flesh and bone and muscle and move amass of material from place to place. If we had never seen such a thing as a body kept in life and filled with power by animmaterial, invisible and spiritual substance, it would be a very hard thing to realize. No man among us knows how it is thatthis inner spirit of ours is connected with the body. Where is the point of union? What is the link between soul and sinew?Where does spirit begin and where does matter end? We know that if we will to move our arm it is moved, but how does the mindthat wills, manage to grasp the materialism which obeys its bidding? How is spirit capable of acting upon matter at all?
How is it that a spirit can dwell within an abode of flesh, look out of these eyes, listen through these ears, speak by theselips and perform its will by these hands? Eyes and ears and hands are but earth-they are made of such matter as we meet within other parts of the solid world, mere dust of the earth, materialism wisely molded-but yet corruptible materialism. Andyet the soul somehow manages to indwell and inhabit its house of clay-a far more wonderful thing, it seems to me, than fora spirit to exist without a body! We shall find it easy to conceive of a spirit disentangled of materialism in proportionas we have learned to meditate upon spiritual things and to feel the powers of the world to come.
Multitudes around us know nothing of anything which does not appeal to their senses. But the man who has been renewed by theSpirit of God is, himself, made spiritually minded and, therefore, the idea of disembodied spirits is not strange to him.Let us, according to Scripture, look forward to a condition in which our perfected spirits shall abide with Christ, "waitingfor the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). Yet Paul did not expect that the disembodied state would last forever, for he was assured of the resurrection of the body.
He did not despise the body so as to hope never to see it again, but he reckoned that after it had been put off, it wouldundergo a change and thus would be so renovated that at the coming of the Lord he would put it on afresh-and so his spiritwould again be clothed! He expected that mortality would be swallowed up by life. And we, also, confidently
indulge the same hope. The fabric which was put into the ground when the Believer was buried was sown in corruption. We expectto see it raised in perfection.
That which we laid in the tomb the other day was a poor dishonored corpse on which decay was working its fierce will. Butwe shall see it raised in glory, radiant with the light which made Moses' face shine! That which we committed to Mother Earth,we lowered into the grave in weakness, but it shall as surely rise in power! That which was buried was a soulish body, onlyfit for the natural soul. It was not adapted for the movements and aspirations of the regenerated spirit. But we know thatwhen it shall rise, it will be a spiritual body adapted to our highest nature, fitted to be the palace of that gracious lifewhich makes us sons of God! The Apostle's great expectation was the perfection of his entire manhood-spirit, soul and bodyin Christ Jesus!
He was confident in the expectation that though his body would be houseless for awhile, by the dissolving of his earthly tabernacle,he would soon enter into a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal, in the heavens, and stand before the Presenceof God both as to his body and his soul made perfect in Christ Jesus! This was confident expectation. From the text it isclear that this belief had a powerful influence over the Apostle. It had especially two effects upon him-one was to make him"always confident" and the other was to create in him a high ambition.
"Therefore," he says, "we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." He felt that wherever he mightbe and in whatever condition he might exist, the only thing he had to care for was that he might be pleasing to Him who hadredeemed him with His precious blood. And so, whether in the body or out of the body, it mattered little to him so long ashe could be accepted of the Lord in Jesus Christ. Of the Apostle's confidence and ambition we are going to speak this morning,as the Spirit of God may graciously help us.
I. And first, dear Friends, THE BELIEVER HAS REASON FOR CONSTANT CONFIDENCE. The Apostle tells
us, "Therefore we are always confident." And then, again, lest we should lose the sense by the interjected sentence in theseventh verse, he says, again, "We are confident, I say." The condition, then, of the Christian, when he is living in faithof resurrection and eternal life, is a condition of continual confidence. It is a confidence which regards both the life whichnow is and the state in which we expect to live before we reach the fullness of the promised Glory. It is a confidence whichconcerns the present state-for while we are at home in the body, we are always confident-a confidence which equally concerns,and rather more so, the state which is to come. "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, andto be present with the Lord."
First, let me speak with you upon the confidence which the Believer has in reference to his present condition while he isat home in the body. Our translators have been somewhat unfortunate in their choice of terms in this instance, for they havelost part of the interest of the passage. We should have seen more beauty in these words if they had given us their literalmeaning a little more closely. Let me read them to you as they may be read-"We are always confident, knowing that, while weare at home in the body, we are from home as to the Lord. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be from home as tothe body and to be at home with the Lord. Why we labor, that, whether from home, or at home, we may be accepted of Him."
You see the point lies in at home and from home. These words are as near an approach to the original as could readily be found,though they do not exhaust the sense of the Greek terms. Here, then, in the present state, we are said to be at home in thebody. But we are at home in a very modified sense, for it is a home which is not a home, but only a frail lodging, a temporarytenement to accommodate us till we reach our true and real home in the New Jerusalem. It is such a home as a soldier has inthe camp at a bivouac, or as a passenger has when he is crossing from continent to continent. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob hadeach a home, but it was in a strange country and they were daily looking for a city which has foundations whose builder andmaker is God.
While we are in this present state we are at a disadvantage, for we are dwelling in a house which is not, as yet, in our homecountry, and by it we are kept from our real home in the fatherland above. In a sense, however, this body is a home, for heredwells the living, thinking, active mind-somewhere in the brain-from where it spreads itself and rules all the members ofthe body. We know that within the walls of this earthly fabric, our spirit is ordained to live for awhile, a lamp burningwithin a pitcher, a precious jewel set in a ring of clay. It is a house for which we have no little affection, and we areloath to quit it-
"For who to dumb forgetfulness a prey,
This pleasing, anxious being ever resigned, Left the warm precincts of this house of clay, Nor cast one longing, lingeringlook behind?"
We complain of the infirmities of our bodies, but we are in no hurry to leave them! They threaten to fall upon as in theirdecay, but we linger in them, still, till death serves a writ of ejection and, at the same time, pulls down the tenement.We have, some of us, lived in our body for 40 years. Some of you for 60 or 70 years and it is natural that we should havemade a home of it, such as it is. And it is small marvel that we are in no haste to emigrate-even the temptation of that brighterhome and the "many mansions"-is not always enough to make us wish to be gone! But yet this body is not a fitting home forus and we often discover, by experience, how inconvenient it is.
It is a poor old tent, easily overturned, constantly getting torn. And the older it gets, the more trouble it takes to patchit up and to keep it in habitable repair. In the course of years it has become soiled, creased and worn-out, like the tentsof Kedar. With the wear and tear of many years, it becomes more and more evident that it is not a worthy dwelling place forthe child of a King, nor a fit abode for an immortal Spirit born from on high! We have suffered many inconveniences from thiscrumbling tabernacle in many ways, but especially in spiritual things. We have been willing to watch, but the body has beeninclined to sleep. The spirit has been willing, but the flesh has been very weak. We have been numbered with weariness, pain,care and bodily appetite when we have desired to be altogether engrossed with heavenly things.
Sometimes, when we would sing, a throbbing headache makes us sigh. When we would rejoice with unspeakable joy, a palpitatingheart depresses us. And when we would go about our Master's business, a lame foot or a decaying constitution hinders us sothat we dwell in a house which is beneath the quality of so noble a creature as a spirit. We have to put up with flesh andblood, but we are outgrowing them-we feel we are-there is a something within us which warns us that, like certain of the seacreatures which have to break their shells up as they grow, so we are growingly in need of another and better abode.
We are like the young chick within the eggshell-it has been a home for us until now, but it is becoming too tight for us-webegin to chip it and we sometimes wish it would break altogether, that we might enjoy fuller liberty. "We that are in thisbody do groan, being burdened," and groan, we shall, till the day of our full redemption and the deliverance of the body fromthe bondage of corruption!-
"Welcome, sweet hour of full discharge, That sets my longing soul at large, Unbinds my chains, breaks up my cell, And letsme with my God to dwell." According to the expression of the Greek, ours is a home in a foreign country. We are not dwellingamong our own people at present, but we are exiles in a far-off land. We are not alone, for a numerous band of our Brothersand Sisters are with us, even as the Jews found company of their own race in Babylon, in whose songs and sighs they couldunite. But this is exile to us, we have no inheritance here. "A possession of a burying place" is all that we need ask forand all that we shall soon have, for this world is not our rest.
The Lord has not been pleased to give us our portion in this life-our inheritance lies on the other side of the Jordan. Weare at home in the body, but, as I have already said, it is but a lodging place in the midst of a strange country in whichwe are pilgrims and sojourners as all our fathers were. We are wayfaring men hastening away and passing through a foreignland among people who speak not our tongue, know not our customs, understand nothing of the place to which we are going and,therefore, cannot understand us. They even think us mad when we talk about another country, of which they have no idea, andfor which they have no longing. We are at home only in a narrow sense, as a man may be said to be at home when, being in banishment,he takes up his abode, for awhile, in a foreign town. It can never be more than this.
It is a home, too, which keeps us from our true home. We are not yet where we can see our Lord and hear His voice. We arenot yet in the "rest which remains for the people of God." Today we are at school, like children whose great holiday joy isto go home. We are laborers and this is the work field. When we have done our day's work we shall go home, but this is theworkshop, not the home. It is a very sweet thing, after a week of hard work, to reach home at last, to take off one's dustyclothes and throw them aside and feel that toil is over for the present and rest has come. In this world we
cannot find a total rest so as to be completely at ease and at home. We shall only reach that happy condition when we areout of this foreign world.
No sense of perfect home rest ever comes over the soul while we are here, except as faith anticipates the joys prepared above.There remains a rest for the people of God, but in this body and in this world it is not to be had. Home is the place whereone feels secure-our house is our castle. Outside, in the world, men watch your words and, if they can, they misrepresentor misinterpret them. You have to fight a battle of life, outside, but it is a very blessed thing if the battle is over whenyou cross your own threshold. Then you are no longer misunderstood, but are appreciated and loved around your own fireside.Beneath our own dear rooftree there is nobody to catch us up, nobody to quibble at us! Only wife and children and friendswho love us and delight in us.
Well, Brothers and Sisters, we find no such home spiritually in this world, for this is the place of conflict and watchfulness.Here we dwell among enemies and we have to sorrowfully cry-"My soul is among lions, among those that are set on fire of Hell."We sing-
"Woe's me that I in Mesech am A sojourner so long!
That I in tabernacles dwell
To Kedar that belong.
My soul with him that hates peace
Has long a dweller been:
I am for peace; but when I speak,
For battle they are keen.
My heart mourns and pines
To reach that peaceful shore,
Where all the weary are at rest, And troublers vex no more."
In Heaven there will be no foes to watch against, nor men of our own household to be our worst enemies. Home, sweet home isto be found above-and from that home our present home in the body is keeping us. Home, too, is the place of the closest andsweetest familiarities. There all unbend. The judge takes off his gown and the soldier his sword-and both play with theirchildren. He who wears his belt out of doors, finds himself stripped of it when he comes among his own kin. There is the kissof affection, there are the blandishments of love. Here, alas, our spirits cannot take their fill of heavenly familiarities,for distance comes between. We long for the vision of love, but it comes not as yet.
But up there what indulgence shall be accorded to us! What discoveries of the love of God in Christ Jesus! Then shall thecry of the spouse in the song be fulfilled forever and ever-"Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth: for Your love isbetter than wine." Then shall the inmost heart of Christ be known to us and we shall dwell in Him forever and ever in closestcommunion! This home of ours in the body keeps us away from such communion with God as the glorified ones above enjoy withoutceasing! Said I not, truly, that our present state has its drawbacks-such as make a man sigh and cry to be gone?
But, dear Friends, the main point in which the present state is at a disadvantage compared with the future one is that herewe have to live entirely by faith. We walk here by faith, not by sight. You believe in God, but you have not beheld His Gloryas the blessed dead have done. You believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, but it is in One "whom having not seen, you love." Youbelieve in the Holy Spirit and you have been conscious of His Presence, by faith, but there is a something better yet-a clearersight is yet to be had which we cannot enjoy while we tarry here. At present we take everything on the testimony of God'sWord and the witness of His Spirit, but we have not yet seen the Celestial City, nor heard the voice of harpers harping withtheir harps, nor eaten at the banquets of the glorified!
We enjoy a foretaste of all these and anticipate them by faith, but actual enjoyments are not for this world. What a man sees,why does he yet hope for? This place is the realm of hope we cannot expect to see. But we are going to the place where weshall not so much believe as behold, where we shall not so much expect as enjoy! We are nearing the country where we shall-
"See and hear, and know,
All we desired or wished below."
And faith shall be exchanged for the clearest sight. Here we gaze through the telescope at heavenly things, but we cannotget into contact with them as we wish to do. But when we have shaken you off, O flesh, then shall we actually come into sightand fruition-and shall behold the Savior, as He is-face to face!
These are the inconveniences, then, of this present state, but Paul, despite all these disadvantages was confident. "We arealways confident," says he. He was contented, he was happy, he was courageous, he was steadfast! And why? Why, Brothers andSisters, because he had a hope of the immortality to be revealed! He knew that as soon as ever he shook off this body, hissoul would be with Christ! He knew that in some future day, when Christ should come, his body and his soul, remarried, shouldbe forever beatified with the Lord and, therefore, he counted all the disadvantages of this life to be as nothing-"these lightafflictions which are but for a moment."
He laughed to scorn anything that he had to suffer here below, because of the "exceeding weight of Glory" which his faithrealized, as soon, to be revealed! Observe, also, that his confidence came from God's work in his soul. "He that has preparedus to the same thing is God." He was sure he should one day be perfect and immortal because God had begun to work in him tothat very end! When the statuary takes the block of stone and begins to carve it into a statue, we get the promise of thatwhich is to be. I no sooner see the master workman take the first stroke, than I feel sure of a work of art, because I seethat he has begun to work towards that end. From that work the mason may turn aside, or he may die and, therefore, I cannotbe sure that from the chosen stone there will leap out, by-and-by, the statue.
But God never undertakes what He does not finish! He never fails for lack of power, or because of a change of mind. And so,if today I am the quarried block of marble-if He has begun to make the first chippings in me of genuine repentance and simplefaith towards Himself-I have the sure prophecy that He intends to work upon me till He has worked me up into the perfect imageof Christ, to be immortal and immaculate like my Lord! Paul, by faith, knew that by a Divine decree, before all worlds werecreated, he was predestinated to be made a perfect and immortal being! He saw that God had created him for that very purposeand newly created him to that end.
He felt the working of God preparing him-he could feel the Spirit of God operating in him, giving him newness of life, causinghim to hate sin and to receive, more and more fully, the likeness of Christ, his Master. "He has prepared me for the samething," said the Apostle and, therefore, he felt confident that to this end he should be brought. Again, there was anotherground of confidence-"who also has given unto us the earnest of the Spirit." You know what an "earnest" is. It is not a merepledge, for a pledge is returned when that which it certifies is given. An earnest is a part of the promise
A man is to receive a wage at the end of the week. In the middle of the week he obtains a part of the money. This is morethan a pledge of the rest-it is an earnest of the whole-a most sure and positive pledge of that which remains unpaid. Theman who has received the Spirit of God in his soul has obtained the Immortal Seed which will expand into perfection! He isforgiven and accepted! And the Spirit helps his infirmities in prayer, fills him with faith, perfumes him with love, adornshim with holiness and makes him commune with God-all this is the earnest of his perfected condition- and the beginning ofthe joys to come! The beginning of the infallible assurance of all those joys which the Lord has prepared for them that loveHim!
No man ever had the Spirit of God dwelling in him, molding him to the Divine will, but what he ultimately obtained the heavenlystate, for the Spirit of God does not leave His work undone. Neither does He bestow Divine gifts to take them away again."Therefore," says Paul, "we are always confident." We have a hope which enters into that which is within the veil. We knowwhat image the Lord is working in us and we have received the Holy Spirit as the earnest of eternal blessedness! Therefore,come what may, we are filled with a sacred courage and a sublime peace which make us await the future with calmest confidence.
Now we shall pass on to the next point, which is that Paul was equally confident about the next state into which he expected,soon, to pass, namely, the condition of a disembodied spirit. Nature, when it acts apart from Grace, shrinks from the thoughtof dying. But death can have no terrors for the man whom it lands in a condition which he prefers. By turning to the text,we see that Paul preferred the state into which death would cast him. "We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absentfrom the body, and to be present with the Lord." That is, we have a preference for being away from this home in the body,that we may be at home with the Lord! He looked at the state into which he would soon come by the dissolution of his bodyas a more desirable one than even his life of confidence here below!
Yet let us observe that it was not because Paul thought it would be better to be without a body than with one that he thusspoke. He has told us already, "not for that we would be unclothed." He did not desire to be a disembodied spirit for itsown sake. There are certain mystics who look upon the body as a wretched encumbrance. The thought of resurrection has no pleasureto them and, therefore, they spiritualize the doctrine and make it to be no resurrection at all. The Apostle was not of theirmind. He called the body the temple of God and desired its perfection, not its destruction.
The Lord has constituted man to be a wonderful continuation of many forms of existence-a link between the angel and the animal,a mixture of the Divine and the material-a comprehensive being taking up into himself the Heaven which is above him and theearth on which he treads. Our great Creator does not mean us to be maimed creatures forever. He intends us to dwell with Himeternally in the perfection of our humanity. When our Lord Jesus died, He did not redeem one half of man, but the whole man-andHe means not to leave any part of the purchased possession in the enemy's hands.
We ought not to think that to be half a man would be more desirable than to be a whole man, for our Lord Jesus does not thinkso. We should be waiting, expectantly, for the Second Advent of our Lord, who will call His saints from their tombs and redeemthem altogether from the power of the grave. We should, even now, rejoice that this corruptible must put on incorruption andthis mortal must put on immortality. It will be evident to you all, dear Friends, that if Paul preferred the disembodied stateto this, as the text tells us he did, then the spirits of those saints who have left their bodies in the grave are not annihilated-theylive on!
Paul could not have counted it better to be annihilated than to lead a life of holy confidence. The saints are not dead! OurLord gave a conclusive answer to that error when He said, "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, whenhe calls the Lord, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but ofthe living: for all live unto Him." Those who have departed this life are still alive! We are sure of that, or else Paul wouldnot have preferred that state. Neither are they unconscious, as some say, for who would prefer torpor to active confidence?Whatever trials there may be in the Christian life here below, the man of faith really does enjoy life and could not preferunconsciousness.
Neither are the saints in purgatorial fires, as the Babylonian harlot says! Nobody would desire to be tormented and we maybe sure that the Apostle Paul would not have been willing to be in purgatory more than to live here and serve his Lord! Brothersand Sisters, the saints live! They live in consciousness and in happiness! Moses came and talked with Christ on the Mountof Transfiguration, though he had no body, just as readily as Elijah did, though that mighty Prophet carried his body withhim when he ascended in a chariot of fire. The body is not necessary to consciousness or to happiness. The best of all isthat the spirits of the departed are with Christ. "To be with Christ, which is far better," said the Apostle. "Forever withthe Lord," their portion is allotted them.
It is the Lord's own prayer-"I will that they, also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, that they may behold MyGlory." And the prayer is fulfilled in them! "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from now on, yes, says the Spirit,that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them." This made the Apostle something more than confidentand courageous in the prospect of death. He was willing to depart into the disembodied state because he knew he would be athome with the Lord in it!
I wish you to dwell a minute on that thought of being at home with the Lord. We rejoice that we have Christ with us here,spiritually, for His Presence brings us spiritual blessings of a very high order, and joys prophetic of the joys of Heaven,but still we have not His bodily Presence. We have, now, a sight of our Lord through a telescope, as it were. But we do notsee Him near at hand. We speak to Him as through a trumpet across the sea-we do not talk to Him face to face. Ah, what willit be to be at home with Christ! When we reach His own palace gate and sit at His own table, we shall know Him far betterthan we do now! And He will look more lovely in our eyes than ever, because we shall see Him more clearly.
The sound of His voice will be much sweeter than anything we have heard in the Gospel here below, for we shall actually hearHim speak! Will we not take our fill of Him when we once behold Him? I think I shall never want to take my eyes off Him, butfind a Heaven, an eternity, an infinity of bliss in drinking Him in with all my eyes and all my heart! To be at home withHim will be to understand infinitely more of Him than we have ever dreamed of as yet. Ah, you do not know His Glory! You couldnot bear to behold it as yet. You would fall at His feet as dead, in a swoon of delight, if you
could but gaze upon Him while you are yet in this frail body! When disembodied you shall not have the flesh to throw a mistover your eyes, but you shall behold the King in His beauty and be able to bear the joy.
In that condition to which we are speeding, we shall also be beyond all doubt as to the truth of our holy faith. There willbe no more mistrust of our Lord or of His promises. And we shall no more doubt the power of His blood or our share in Hisatoning Sacrifice. Sometimes the dark atheistic thought will come, "Is it not all a dream?" You shall never have such a thought,there, for you will be at home with Jesus! Now there arises the troublesome question, Were you a real Believer? Has Jesusreally washed you in His blood? You will be beyond all such enquiries when you are absent from the body and present with theLord!
Now you have to walk by faith and you must not try to get beyond faith, for that is the mode of spiritual life for this presentstate. But after death you will no more walk by faith-you will have sight and fruition-and these will banish all the doubtswhich try your faith while in the body. How pleasant and desirable does the prospect of actual fruition cause Heaven to become,even though we know that, for awhile, we shall be away from the body. In the future state we shall communicate with Christmore sensibly than we do now. Here we speak with Him, but it is by faith through the Spirit of God. In Heaven we shall actuallyspeak to Him in His immediate Presence and hear His voice while He personally speaks to us.
Ah, what we shall have to tell Him! What will He have to tell us! Truly, I dare not venture into these great deeps of expectationlest I drown myself in the delights of hope! Oh, the joy which awaits us! It is almost too much for me to think of! When weare at home with Him, without the body, and also, I suppose, even more when we are at home in the resurrection body, we shallhave greater capacity for taking in the Glory of our Lord than we have now. Sometimes He fills us with His love which passesknowledge and then we think we know very much of Him. But oh, my Brothers and Sisters, our knowledge is but that of littlebabes as yet! We are such small and shallow vessels that a few drops of Christ's love soon fill us up and we begin runningover! But He will enlarge us till we hold great measures of Him and, then, He will fill us with all the fullness of God!
You have, sometimes, tried to imagine what Heaven must be like. Well, you shall have many such heavens! No, ten thousand timesas much delight in God as you have ever dreamed of! If even here He does for us exceedingly abundantly above what we ask orthink, what will He do for us there? As for His Person and His sweetness-and His excellence and His Glory-you have only touchedthe hem of His garment! You have only, like Jonathan, dipped the end of your rod in that flood of honey and it has enlightenedyour eyes! But oh, when you shall be at home with Him, you shall feast to your heart's content! Here we sip, but there weshall drink full bowls! Here we eat our daily morsel, but there the heavenly feast will never break up!
Now, putting these two things together, the present state and the next, we have great reason, like the Apostle, to go on,from day to day, with holy courage and confidence. If the way is rough, it leads to an unspeakably joyful end-so let us tripover it cheerfully! And if the way should grow rougher, still, let us show still greater confidence, for one hour with ourGod will make up for it all and infinitely more!
II. The last point I can only spend a few minutes upon. It is this-THE BELIEVER HAS REASONS FOR AN ABSORBING AMBITION. Accordingto the text, we are to live alone for Jesus-"Why we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him." Fromnow on, my Brothers and Sisters, the one great thing we have to care about is to please our Lord. You are saved and Heavenis your portion. Now, from this time on, concentrate all your thoughts, your faculties and your energies upon this one design-tobe acceptable with Jesus Christ. Live for Him as He has died for you. Live for Him alone.
Believer, it ought to be your ambition to please Christ in every act you do. Do not say, "How will this please myself or pleasemy neighbor?" But ask, "How will this please my Lord?" And, remember, it is not by the action, alone, that He will be pleased,but the motive must be right or you will fail. Oh, cry to Him to keep your motives clean, pure, elevated, heavenly-for grovelingaims will be a sour leaven and will render the whole loaf unfit to offer. Nor is it merely the motive-it is the spirit inwhich the whole thing is done. Labor, Brothers and Sisters, with a Divine ambition to please Jesus Christ in your thoughts,in your wishes, in your desires, in everything that is about you.
I know you will have to lament many shortcomings and errors. There will be much about you that will be displeasing to Him.Take care that it is also displeasing to you and never be pleased with that which does not please Him. Never accept any-
thing in yourself which He would not accept. With all your ardent spirit watch every movement of your soul that no power orpassion so moves as to vex His Holy Spirit. Seek to please Him every moment while you are upon the earth. You know what sortof things Jesus did and what He would like you to do-follow His every step-obey His every word.
He has bid you walk in holiness as He did, O sin not against Him! He bids you clothe the naked, feed the hungry, teach theignorant, visit the sick, look after the fatherless and widows-all these things He speaks of as peculiarly pleasing to Himselfand as mentionable to the honor of His saints in the day of His appearing. Let these things be in you and abound in you! Befruitful in those Graces which were most conspicuous in Him. Do not let a day pass without doing something with the one objectiveof pleasing Christ.
We do a great deal because it is customary, or because Church opinion expects it. But to do holy acts directly for Christ,simply and alone for love of Him-this should be our constant habit. Have we not some alabaster box to break to anoint Hishead? Have we not some tears with which to wash His feet? Need I urge that something, however humble, should frequently bedone, even at the cost of self-denial, for His dear sake? Yes, let everything be done as unto Him. For then, mark this last,we shall please Him in the next state, for, "we must all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ." The child of God is gladof this!
The text might be translated, "we shall all be manifested before the Judgment Seat of Christ." Today men do not understandus, but they will know us in that day! I will guarantee you this one thing-if you will live the most devoted and disinterestedlife possible-you will find people sneering at you and imputing your actions to selfish motives. They will put a cruel constructionon all you do or say. Well, it does not matter, for we shall all be manifested at the Judgment Seat of Christ, before Godand men and angels! Let us live to please Him, for our integrity of motive will be known at the last, and put beyond all dispute!
The world said of one man that he preached from selfish motives, while all the time he had no thought but for God's Glory.The Lord will make it clear how false was the judgment of men. They said of another man that he was very earnest, but thathe wanted to win popularity. Yet all the while he cared not one straw for human praise. Such a man need not trouble himself-thesmoke will clear away in that Great Day and he will be seen in his uprightness! If you have lived only to please Christ, youneed not be afraid of His coming, for in that day He shall clear away all slander and misrepresentation-and you shall standout vindicated and justified before an assembled universe!
In that day, when God shall publicly justify His saints, He will make all men, angels and devils know that they are trulyjust. The solemn verdict of God will be one to which the whole universe of intelligent spirits will give in their assent.They will say, "YES," to the sentence passed by the Lord Jesus! They, themselves, would bring in a verdict in favor of Believersin that last testing day if it were left to them! As for the ungodly, the condemning sentence shall be not only just, butsuch as the whole universe shall assent to! The punishment which God will lay upon sinners for the evil deeds done in thebody, will not then be caviled at, as too severe! It will be such a sentence as every intelligent spirit shall be compelledto own to be right.
But, my Brothers and Sisters, let us so live that while our lives shall challenge no judgment on the score of merit-for thatthought we utterly abhor-yet there shall be in our lives evidences of our having received Grace from God and evidences ofour being acceptable with Christ. For if we do not so live, we may talk what we like about faith and boast what we pleaseabout experience-without holiness no man shall see the Lord. If our life has never had in it that which pleases Christ, thenthe evidence will be taken against us that we were not pleasing to Him, that we had no spiritual life, that we had no Gracein the heart and that we were not saved. Then there will remain nothing for us but to be condemned with the ungodly.
Come, then, Brothers and Sisters, do not let us care whether we live or die! Let us not suffer ourselves to be alarmed aboutthe passage out of this world into the next state, but let us be "steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of theLord." I have been twice to the grave this week, with two of our aged friends-a Sister and a Brother-who have passed intoGlory. And the lesson which they have left behind for our edification is-let us not be concerned whether we are at home inthe body or whether we are at home with Christ, but, living or dying, let us be careful to please Jesus!
I wish I knew how to enforce this lesson and send it home to every Believer's heart, but I must rather pray the Holy Spiritto do so. May He write it on my soul and on yours! And may we all be found practicing it from this time forth, even forever.Amen.
PORTION OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON-2 Corinthians 4:14-18; 5. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-865, 858, 850.