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evangelical hope, and of well warranted assurance. The apostle was accustomed to speak confidently concerning his future happiness. “The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with our Lord Jesus Christ.” “We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, therefore have I spoken ; we also believe and therefore speak; knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.” “We are always confident," &c. " For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Observe the figure employed to describe this expected reward. Its symbol was a crown, a crown of righteousness; a crown already prepared, and was laid up; a crown which should be conferred by the Lord in his official character as the righteous Judge; and a crown which that august Being will award, at the time of his next appearing, to all who love His glorious epiphany.
It will be seen that there are here many topics that might be, enlarged upon if time would permit; but a few remarks on some of them must now suffice.
Mark the exalted idea which Paul entertained of his future condition. His state on earth had been low, mean, and in a worldly sense, miserable. For Christ's sake he had suffered hunger, thirst, nakedness. He had no certain dwellingplace. He had been reviled and buffeted, persecuted and defamed ; treated as the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things. But in this state of humiliation and endurance he could lift up his head, knowing that his redemption drew near.
He felt himself to be a citizen of heaven, and he waited for his manifestation as one of the sons of God. He expected a royal life above ;—to sit down upon a throne, to wear a crown, and to inherit a kingdom. This was his heart-elevating argument. “If by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.”
The royal life which Paul anticipated in heaven will not only be a life of dignity, and power, and grandeur, but it will be all that, without any of the disagreeable concomitants which earthly royalty has to experience. In this world greatness and care are twins. Crowns more commonly prove curses than blessings to those who wear them. Isaac, the son of Comnenus, one of the most virtuous of eastern rulers, was crowned at Constantinople in 1057. Basil the patriarch brought the crown to him surmounted with a diamond cross. Taking hold of the cross, the Emperor said, “ I, who have been acquainted with crosses from my cradle, welcome thee ; thou art my sword and shield, for hitherto I have conquered with suffering.” Then taking the crown in his hand he added : “This is but a beautiful burden, which loads more than it adorns.' The crown of the triumphant Christian is a crown of righteousness, which will neither oppress the head, aflict the heart, nor imperil the life, of any that receive it. It will be the symbol of the glory, and honor, and immortality, which are to reward our patient continuance in well doing on earth.
As it devolved on the president of the ancient games to give the token of victory to the successful competitor, so will it devolve on the Lord our Judge to confer our final reward. Paul expected his crown from the hands of Christ; an expectation which is warranted by the very words of the Saviour. “Be thou faithful unto death; and I will give thee a crown of life."
This crown is to be waited for until our life-work all is done. We have a present recompense for every work and labor of love which we show to the Divine name. But our full reward will be withheld until our conflict has ceased, and our course is finished. It is related that when one of the Roman Emperors, after a great victory, presented to each soldier a
* Not long ago the present French Emperor frankly said : “In changing my destiny, I have but changed my joys and sorrows. Formerly I bore the afflictions of exile ; now I have to sustain the cares of power.”
crown of bays, one of them, a Christian, laid his crown upon his arm.
When asked why he did so, he replied “ that a Christian could not expect to wear his crown before death.” An incident which led Tertullian to write his work “De Coronâ Militis."
J. UNDERHILL, Nottingham.
SUBJECT:—The Young Man Returning to His Father's House :
-The Heaven-ward Course.
(CONTINUED FROM PAGE 260.)
“And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him ; and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet : And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again ; he was lost, and is found.”—Luke xv. 20—24.
Analysis of Homily the Four Hundred and Sebenty-ninth.
In the last view we took of this young man we saw him reach the crisis of his depravity. In this crisis we noticed three things :-The return of reason- “He came to himself;" The commencement of thought—"He said to himself,” &c.; and The formation of purpose—“I will arise." His reflection created the resolution. We have now to mark the purpose taking the right practical form. Some men's determinations are too feeble to urge on to the becoming course. The souls of men of feeble purpose are the graveyards of good intentions ; the true things that rise within them wither in the germ. Not so with this young man, his “ I will” had an imperial authority to marshal at once all the activities of his nature ; it was an invincible fiat. “ And he arose and came to his father.” In this account we have at least three things, which deserve our study :- A right impulse properly wrought out ; Divine love touchingly exhibited ; and Genuine penitence clearly distinguished.
I. HERE IS A RIGHT IMPULSE PROPERLY WROUGHT OUT. The right impulse was to return to his father. It was the “I will” which had been generated by deep reflection, after “ he came to himself.” His actual return to his Father was the proper carrying out of this impulse. “ He arose and came to his father.” The glorious course of action, described in those few. simple words, was but the true development of the “I will;"—the impulse which had beeu generated in his mind by deep reflection after he " came to himself.” The proper carrying out of a right purpose or impulse, requires just the two things which are exhibited in the case before us :promptitude, and fulness.
First : Here is promptitude. He does not seem to have allowed any time to pass between the volition and the action. No sooner had his soul said “I will” than " he arose,” &c. “ Second thoughts are best,” says the proverb. Not always so, I am disposed to say; nay, seldom if ever so, in questions of moral duty. When conscience says the “I will,” there should not be a moment's debate, no intervening thought, no adjournment of the question, but action at
The moral iron must be struck while it is hot. Thus David acted : "I thought of my ways and I tarned,” &c. action followed swift on the heels of thought—“I turned my feet toward thy testimonies.” Thus Paul acted ; “ When it pleased God to reveal His Son in me,” &c. “ Immediately,” &c. This is always wise for dying man who has not a moment to depend upon. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,” &c.
Secondly: Here is fulness. The obedience to his impulse was not only prompt but full. He not only arose and began his way, but he came to his father. His resolution was not to make a mere attempt to return to his father, not to go a part of the way back and then pause, but to go right up to his father; and this resolution he fulfils. Though
the way was long, intricate, and difficult, his energy wellnigh worn out, and his constitution shattered by reason of the vicious life he had led, still he travelled on and paused not, till he felt himself in his father's warm embrace. Herein, as in a mirror, let every penitent soul see how it ought to act in relation to right impulses ; promptly and fully obey them.
Whene'er right feelings fire thy languid heart,
II. HERE “He had compassion on him." There are three things here which show in the most impressive way the loving compassion of the Father :
First: His prompt recognition of his son. When he was a great way off his father saw him.” This eadiness in catching the most distant view of his son, shows how full his heart was still of loving thoughts towards him. Love keeps the eye of the soul ever towards its object, and makes it keen to discern it, in that haze of distance which conceals from all besides. God's loving eye sees the penitent sinner, even in the first retracing step. " A great way off," —emerging from the dark mists of ignorance, worldliness, and lust.
Secondly : His swift approach towards his son. He not only saw him “a great way off,” but as soon as he sees him he goes to meet him ; not with a slow and stately walk :-but he runs. Slowly and tremblingly, ready at times to faint and fall, moved the son; but rapidly ran the father. Love oiled his aged joints, made blithe his tottering limbs, and bore him with a speed beyond his years.
Love ere now