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the earth, it should seem, and subjected loins is an expression which alludes to to great affliction, and, now that they the custom of the East, where the peohad imbibed the gospel, to great perse- ple wore long loose garments hanging cutions for its sake ; and it was with a down to the feet, and, consequently, view to stimulate and support their whenever they found it necessary to hearts that this epistle was written. engage in any kind of activity, they The apostle in this chapter holds up were obliged to gird up those garments. before them the hope of the gospel, and Thus when they ran they girded themwith reference to the Saviour he says, selves. You remember that Elijah, “Whom having not seen ye love; in when he ran to Jezreel before the chariot whom, though now ye see him not, yet of Ahab, girded up his loins. So when believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeak- the people went on a journey they used able and full of glory.” He tells them to gird themselves. Thus Israel were that though now for a season they are commanded on the night that they in heaviness, through manifold tempta- departed from Egypt to have their tions, yet there is an inheritance laid loins girt, and their staves in their up for them incorruptible, undefiled, hands, ready to march. So, likewise, and that fadeth not away. What mo- when they engaged in war they had tives, my brethren, are these to support their loins girt, in order that those gara persecuted and afflicted people! It ments might not foil and interrupt them. is in continuation of the same strain The spirit of the passage then is, Be in that he uses the words which I first the posture for activity ; we have our read, “Wherefore gird up the loins of journey to travel, we have our conflicts your mind, be sober, and hope to the to engage in, we have our race to run, end, for the grace that is to be brought and we are called upon to gird up the unto you at the revelation of Jesus loins of our minds. Perhaps this exChrist."
pressive sentence may include, at least, The little time we have to improve these ideas,-Do not faint in the day of this subject will be taken up, first, in adversity--gird up the loins of your trying to explain and illustrate the mind. The mind is in danger of losing apostle's exhortation ; and, secondly, in its strength under present afflictions, considering the glorious motive that under painful events, under heavy perhe holds up to enforce or to encourage secutions, or adverse dispensations of compliance with it—the grace that is Providence. The mind is, as it were, to be brought unto them at the revela- apt to be like the loins, to wax feeble. tion of Jesus Christ. The admonition To gird up the loins of the mind is to which the apostle here gives, or the cultivate a spirit of fortitude, firmness, exhortation which is here addressed, to perseverance. Gird up your minds the believing Israelites, I need not say under all the adversities of life ; under is applicable to us in this present state all the difficulties that you have to meet of affliction; though we may not at with. Do not faint under present present be subjected to the same perse- afflictions, but keep the crown of imcutions as they were, yet there is a mortality in view. Christians, you are kind of tribulation to which we are in danger, under some circumstances, of exposed, and must be exposed, in the being disheartened, of sinking into present state.
despondency and discouragement, and The first part of his exhortation con- there is reason from time to time, afresh sists in this expression, “Gird up the as it were, to gird up the loins of the loins of your mind." Girding up our mind, to look before us rather than to
FOL. XII. - FOURTH SERIES.
faint by the way. Some of you may be it is unworthy of a man, to roll in infar advanced in life. Well the thought temperance, to seek his happiness in of drawing near to the borders of that which is common to the meanest eternity excites a sigh where men are of the brute creation ; it is, I say, dedestitute of the hope of the gospel ; it grading to a man, but much more so to throws a damp upon all your present a Christian, to place his happiness in enjoyments, and cuts you down, and eating, or drinking, or any sensual sometimes it excites a sigh even in the enjoyment whatever. Christians are Christian ; but let not this be so, look called upon to be sober, to be temperate forward, gird up the loins of your mind, in the enjoyment even of lawful plearather press forward in your journey sures. But sensual intemperance is not than shrink back at the approach of its the only kind of intemperance against end—rather grasp at the crown that is which we are here guarded. The mind before you, than sink into despondency is in danger of being intoxicated as well on account of having to cross the ford as the body; the mind may be intemof death ; gird up the loins of your perately fixed upon the things of this minds, remembering that your salvation life, and we may be drunken with the is nearer than when you believed. cares of this life, and so that day come
I think the terms also denote a spirit upon us unaware. "Be sober.” Sober of disengagedness from the present world, in what? In the pursuit of wealthas a man that shall gird up his loins is in the pursuit of honour ; be sober in supposed to stand ready to march at a all your plans and in all your pursuits. moment's warning. When Israel had There is a kind of chastisedness of this command it was a kind of signal spirit that becomes a Christian, that refor them to be disengaged from Egypt, quires that the soul of man in the and ready to march and leave it behind. present state be held in, as it were, with For us to receive this coinmand is to bit and bridle; we are apt to go to stand disengaged from the present excess in our pursuits, and when once world and all its concerns, and ready at we have formed a plan to pursue it a moment's call to quit the stage. I with such ardour and eagerness (a plan do not mean by this that we are to be of a worldly nature I mean), as to unemployed in life, but that amidst the intoxicate our minds. Let us beware necessary duties of life, the heart that we be sober, sober in our plans, should be fixed on God, and the eye sober in our pursuits, and sober in our fixed upon the crown of immortality, expectations, while we are reviewing as an object constantly before us. the great events that are passing in the
The next branch of the apostolic ex- world. hortation is, “Be sober.” Sobriety is The last branch is expressed in these the opposite to intemperance—the op- words, “And hope to the end.” Hope posite to intoxication. Intemperance is the great stimulus of human life, the or intoxication is of two kinds, sensual great support of the heart under the and mental. To be sober, undoubtedly various pressures which it sustains. stands opposed to sensual indulgence, Without it man would sink in all his as is intimated in the next verse, “ As pursuits ; without it even a good man obedient children not fashioning your- would not be able to persevere. Hope selves according to the former lusts in is that which bears up the heart, and it your ignorance." At all events, Chris- is here put, I apprehend, in opposition to tians should stand aloof from sensual despondency—“hope to the end." There pursuits. It is mean, it is degrading, may be periods in which you may be
under temptation to relinquish your / are accompanied with vast uncertainty. hope ; sometimes owing to the great The great object of the Christian's hope pressure of outward ills; sometimes to should be the grace that is to be brought the length of them.--I imagine more to him at the revelation of Jesus Christ. the latter than the former. Afflictions And what is that? Let us look care
to their duration than owing to their it is may be learned from the context. greatness. A heavy affliction, a sharp It is, I answer in general, in substance affliction, may be borne if it be but the same thing that we here in part short ; but a lesser affliction if it be partake of. That which is the great continued for a length of time without object of our hope is the same in its intermission desponds the heart, sinks nature, though far greater in degree, the spirits through the continuance of with that of which we participate in it. The apostle exhorts those to whom the present life. This is intimated in he wrote to "hope to the end.” As we the ninth verse, “ Receiving the end of must expect a number of ills of various your faith, even the salvation of your kinds to attend us through life, hope is souls." The apostle supposes that given us to counteract them, and to Christians already receive the end of preserve us from despondency to the their faith, that is, that they already close of life. Blessed be God there is partake of heaven ; that they already an end to all the ills of life-there is have a foretaste of the grace that is to an end to persecutions—there is an end be brought unto them at the revelation to temptations - there is an end to of Jesus Christ. What is heaven? To afflictions; they do not last for ever, be sure we do not know as to its degree, and God has graciously given us hope | but we can judge in some sort what it as an anchor of the soul to preserve us is as to its nature. It is the same that till we arrive safe in the desired haven. we have already received ; we have re
We will now pass on to the glorious ceived the end of our faith, the salvation object which the apostle holds up as an of our souls. encouragement to this hope. “Hope The apostle John in the Revelation to the end for the grace that is to be gives us various ideas of heaven. The brought unto you at the revelation of Son of God thus addresses the churches, Jesus Christ.” This is held up before “To him that overcometh will I give"us as the great object of a Christian's what?—“a white stone, and in the stone
“The grace that is to be brought unto is this but what we already participate, us at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” the forgiveness of our sins, a name and Our hopes you see are not to terminate a place in the house of God better than upon anything in this life. It is true that of sons and daughters. What do we are apt to rest here. When we are we participate already but the fruit of afflicted in one quarter we are ready to the tree of life that grows in the midst say, Well, I hope such an affliction will of the paradise of God? It was probe removed; I hope things will be mised that they should be clothed in better by and by ; I hope that the sun white garments, and are we not already of prosperity will shine and succeed to clothed upon with the righteousness of the dark cloud of adversity ; I hope, the Son of God ? In short, the joys of though I have had but little success in heaven will consist in loving and trade this year I shall have better the adoring the Lamb, and exploring the dest. Remember these objects of hope system of redemption, and that is the
chief of the joy in the present state. , includes all that we have here, and all Christians not only shall come, but are that we shall have hereafter. It inticome to Mount Zion, to the city of the mates that the bliss of another world living God, to an innumerable company will be mere grace and free favour, for of angels. We are already associates which we shall be indebted to God with the blessed above. The church alone. This grace is supposed to be militant and triumphant are not two brought unto us at the last day, at the churches but one church; not two revelation of Jesus Christ. The second families but one family ;—“of whom," coming of Christ is called a revelation speaking of God, “the whole family in of him, because he will then no longer heaven and earth are named.” It is be concealed—no longer be hidden in one family with God as the Father ; l obscurity-no longer veil his glory; but one and the same family, a part of he will appear in all his greatness and whom reside here and another part grandeur; and at that day the portion there, but it is all one society. Ye are of Christians is represented as brought come, therefore, if ye are believers in unto them. We have enjoyed much Christ, to Mount Zion, to the city of grace in this world. God has brought the living God, to the society of the forth grace and mercy to us in many a holy angels, for one of themselves has trying hour here ; he has bestowed his acknowledged, "I am thy fellow servant, helping hand in many a difficulty, but and of thy brethren that have the the great body, as I may call it, of our testimony of Jesus.” They are minis- inheritance is yet in reserve, it is to be tering spirits sent forth to minister to brought unto us at the revelation of the heirs of salvation.
Jesus Christ. At present we are not in But farther, the object of our hope is a state of preparedness for our inheritnot only the same for substance with ance, nor is our inheritance altogether that we already possess, only greater in in a state of preparedness for us. We degree, but it is the same salvation of are not prepared for heaven yet; we which you read in the tenth verse- are like children in a state of minority, which the prophets inquired diligently and who if they were at once put into after, and which the angels desired to possession of their estates, would not look into ; that is the grace that is re- understand how to use them. We must served for us, and that shall be brought be fitted for it ; we must be prepared to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ. by a series of afflictive trials; they The theme of redemption which gradu- eminently fit the mind for enjoyment. ally broke in, which was the subject of Light afflictions, as they are called by prophecy, which was the theme into way of contrast, must work out a weight which the angels penetrated with un- of glory. Neither is our inheritance in ceasing and eager desire, that which a state of complete preparation for us shall be the theme of the blessed above, yet. Jesus Christ told his apostles, “ I that is, the grace that shall be brought go to prepare a place for you.” The in unto us at the appearing of Jesus scriptures teach us that we shall not be Christ. Thus much we learn from the fully satisfied till the morning of the context.
resurrection. Even when we die and Now what do we learn from the pas- go to God our bliss will not be complete sage itself? This glorious object of our till the morning of the resurrection. hope is called grace. Sometimes that “ Then shall I be satisfied,” said the term stands distinguished from glory ; Psalmist,“ when I awake in thy likebut here it is used in a large sense and ness.” And all this is rational, because that which will constitute our heaven to the sound of the trumpet. It alwill consist very much in exploring the ludes, I take it, to the trumpet of jubigreat system of redemption, and the lee amongst the Jews. Every fifty system of redemption will not be com- years they had a year of general depleted till the morning of the resurrec- liverance, in which all the captives were tion. Hence it is that we cannot see it free, all debts were paid, and every man to its full advantage at present. Were was restored to his former inheritance. a glorious piece of machinery carrying You may easily conceive the state of on-were you to enter and see one wheel feeling at the approach of the year of here, another in this place, and another jubilee. It would raise an ardent hope in that, and were you to be inquisitive in the breasts of the captives, and when and ask the machinist, “ Of what use, the last, the forty-ninth year was enterpray sir, is this? To what purpose is ed upon, oh, how cheerful would be this ?" and so on, probably he would cut their countenances. When the last short your inquiries by answering, month came, the last week, the last * Have patience till the whole machine day, every man would feel himself in a is finished, then you will see the use of sort delivered. At length the sun sets, every part.” It is thus with a thousand and at the setting of the sun you hear, present events; we do not see the use perhaps, ten thousand trumpets blown of those events at present, but when through every quarter of the landthe grace shall be brought unto us at Liberty to the captive, and the opening the revelation of Jesus Christ, the whole of the prison to them that are bound. glorious machine will be completed, and Such was the acceptable year of the then we shall perceive the use of every Lord ; and at this instant every prison part ; and for this reason, I take it, in door flew open, and every captive lost a great degree the bliss of heaven will his chains. Now, I apprehend, it is in be probably ten thousand-fold augment- allusion to this fact that it is said, “The ed from that period, as compared with Lord shall descend from heaven with a what it ever was or could be before. shout.” Yes, all heaven, the souls of
But let us inquire a little more par- the redeemed, the innumerable company ticularly what is that grace that shall of angels, all the holy intelligences in be brought unto us at the revelation of God's universe, would unite in one Jesus Christ. Perhaps it may consist general voice, and raise a shout throughin three or four things. The first of out the universe that should rend the those, according to the scripture account ground, "and the Lord himself shall of it, will consist in the resurrection of descend from heaven with a shout, with the body, that is, one part of the grace the voice of the archangel, and with that shall be brought to us at the reve the trump of God," that shall bring lation of Jesus Christ. A glorious im- deliverance" and the dead in Christ mortality-liberty to all those captives shall rise." This is one part and a who have long lain slumbering in the glorious part. How many excellent dust; so the scripture tells us, “ The characters have been committed to the Lord himself shall descend from heaven dust with weeping eyes--with the weepwith a shout, with the voice of the ing eyes of their dear relations and archangel, and with the trurnp of God, Christian friends? How many active and the dead in Christ shall rise first." hands have been laid inactive? How That will be the first act in this divine many eyes have been closed and laid in drama—the resurrection of the body, the grave not to wake till the heavens which is represented as being in answer are no more? But now they all wake,