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duct at the time. These things would necessarily occasion to them sorrow for a season; but when the circumstances were changed, when they were able to salute one another in the words, The Lord is risen indeed, then their sorrow would be effectually removed; for the sight of Him, who had been delivered for their offences, and raised again for their justification," would bring to them joy of heart, such a joy as nothing in this world could give, and which none would be able to take away from them.
But we may consider the words of the text as having a more extensive signification than as they applied immediately to the disciples of Christ. They may describe
First, The state of the Christian in this world. Secondly, The object towards which his mind. is directed with regard to futurity; and
Thirdly, The blessedness that awaits him hereafter.
We are to notice
First, The state of the Christian in this world; Ye now therefore have sorrow. That man is born unto trouble, in consequence of his being born in sin, is an observation made in the most ancient book in the world; and that it is as natural for him as a sinner to be in trouble, as it is for sparks to fly upward from a fire." Being by nature born
40 Luke xxiv. 34. 41 Romans iv. 25.
42 Job v. 7.
in sin, he is also an heir of misery and woe. The world has often been compared to a hospital filled with diseased persons, who are labouring under a variety of complaints, some more and some less disordered, but all in a sickly and deplorable condition. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, being by nature a fallen creature as well as others, is exposed to all the afflictions and diseases to which those around him are liable. He feels the effects of sin both in his mind and his body. He is not exempt from the common calamities of life. But in addition to these, he has sorrow arising from his religious character and profession, from his attachment to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the line of conduct which he is bound to follow as a believer in Him. The sight and hearing of the ungodly deeds of presumptuous transgressors of the law of God, bring pain and grief to his soul. He cannot but lament when he sees God dishonoured, and that sinful men are perishing around him for lack of the knowledge of the things that belong to their peace. But if the Christian's lot be cast in a situation where he is exposed to the notice of worldly-minded persons, so as to come in contact with them; as far as it is seen that the law of his God is in his heart, and that this is the principle which regulates his conduct, opposition must be excited towards him, whether he be high or low, rich or poor. His
principles and conduct practically condemn the children of this world; and therefore they will manifest their dislike, in whatever way they may have opportunity to do so. This is a source of
sorrow to the believer in Christ. He is a man of peace, and desires, if it be possible, as much as lieth in him, to live peaceably with all men.43 And therefore it distresses his mind to have cause to take up the complaint of the Psalmist, I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. Since, however, the Master of the house was called Beelzebub, the disciple has no reason to expect better treatment from the same description of persons than his Master received, nor the servant than his Lord. All the members of the family and household of faith must be contented to go through evil report, as well as good report. And it is well for them if they give no occasion to the adversary to blaspheme, but uniformly by well doing put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.46 Happy is that servant of Christ who is conformed to his Lord in his whole conduct in life, as well as in the treatment which he meets with from the ungodly.
But further, the evil of his own heart, the corruption of his nature, is the source of the Christian's deepest grief and sorrow; what Solomon emphatically calls the plague of his
43 Rom. xii. 18. 44 Psalm cxx. 7. 45 Matthew x. 25. 46 1 Pet. ii. 15.
own heart." This gives him continual uneasiness and trouble. He feels that he is a fallen creature, and that as such, he naturally takes delight in that which is contrary to the will and law of God. The holiness of God is offensive to his fallen nature. Although through Divine grace he delights in the law of God after the inner man, being made a new creature, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that His children should walk in them;49 yet his natural inclination to evil still subsists; there is another law in his members warring against the law of his mind, and sometimes even bringing him into captivity, to the deep distress of his soul. Hence it is needful for him to watch and pray, lest he should enter into temptation; especially as he is ever liable to be assaulted by his adversary, the devil, who walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.50 The temptations of the enemy of souls, falling in with the corruptions of his own heart, are a source of continual sorrow. And they will give him pain as long as he remains in this world. One cause of sorrow or another will incessantly operate to remind him that in this world he is passing through an enemies' country, in which he cannot take up his rest with peace and comfort; but one trouble will succeed
471 Kings viii. 38. 48 Rom. vii. 22, 23. 49 Eph. ii. 10. 501 Pet. v. 8.
another, as wave follows wave on the ocean's shore. When therefore our blessed Saviour had reminded His disciples that they were to expect sorrow to be their portion in this life; and at the same time had comforted them, by letting them see that all their sorrows were known to Him, and would not be disregarded by Him; He led them to look beyond this mortal state for lasting consolation. He told them for their encouragement, I will see you again. From
which we are to consider
Secondly, The object towards which the mind. of the Christian is directed with regard to futurity; and that is, the second coming of his Lord and Saviour. This was a subject on which the Apostles of Christ delighted to dwell; and therefore we find frequent mention made of it in their writings. The primitive Christians were described as waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as those who loved His 51 appearing.52 They considered His coming again as that which would bring to them the greatest blessedness. St. Paul comforted the Colossians with the declaration, When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory. To the Philippians he said, Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall
51 1 Corinthians i. 7. 52 2 Timothy iv. 8.
53 Colossians iii. 4.