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since they shall then enter into the joy of their Lord,' to rejoice in His great salvation for evermore.
Let us ask ourselves, Upon what are our hopes fixed ? Where are we looking for happiness? To things temporal or things eternal ? The Christian's hope is fixed beyond this mortal scene. Let us see to it that our hope be laid up in heaven, and that it is derived from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, or that it relies on the promises of God made to believers in Him; and then it will not meet with disappointment. Where this faith and hope exist, there also the other Christian grace, on which the apostle has enlarged in this chapter, will be manifested.
Thirdly, Now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three. In the exercise of charity or love, the believer in Christ has an anticipation of heavenly enjoyment. This also affords undoubted evidence of the reality of his faith and hope in Christ; that his faith is unfeigned, that his hope is not a delusion. For where these are, there must be conformity to Him who is trusted in for pardon and salvation, and from whom our hope of eternal happiness is derived; there must be love to God, and love of the brethren. And this love will survive the putting off of our earthly tabernacle, and therefore it is called the greatest
of the three. The greatest of these is charity. Faith and hope are inhabitants of earth only. Charity or love is the joy of heaven. It commences in the heart of the believer in Christ on earth; here we love Him because He first loved us ;? but it will be consummated or perfected when the Christian arrives in the realms of bliss. Here on earth the believer at best hardly knows what love to God is; his love is like a spark in the ocean, which seems ready to be extinguished every moment; but when he reaches the heavenly shore, it will burst forth into a pure flame, and burn with undiminished splendour for evermore. Feeble, however, as the love to God is, which is kindled in the Christian's heart by the Holy Ghost, yet it is by this alone that we can enjoy any anticipation of the delights of the heavenly world, for this alone of the graces spe- ' cified will accompany us thither. This charity or love may therefore well be called the greatest of Christian graces. He who enjoys most of this, enjoys most of heaven in his soul.
Let us then, as the apostle exhorts us, follow after charity; let us ardently desire and seek after the enjoyment of the love of God in Christ in our souls, that thus we may be happy in life, happy in death, and happy for ever. This is the richest, the best of blessings. May we en
6 Colossians i. 5.
7 1 John iv. 19.
joy it to the praise of the glory of Divine grace. Let it be our prayer that our love to the Lord Jesus may abound more and more, that our hope in Him may be stedfast, that our faith in Him may be unshaken. For this purpose let us use the means of grace, and attend on the ordinances of Divine appointment; let us commemorate the dying love of Christ as He has commanded us, that we may “feed on Him in our hearts by faith with thanksgiving,” to the glory of His holy name. Let us pray earnestly that we may receive more grace out of His inexhaustible fulness, so as to increase in the knowledge and love of Him day by day; that cleaving to Him with purpose of heart, we may go on our way rejoicing in His holy name. And when by the will of God we shall have served our own generation, may we sleep in Jesus, and awake up after His likeness to be perfectly satisfied with it, and to love Him above all things, and to glorify and praise Him for evermore, throughout the countless ages of eternity.
Joel ii. 13.
REND YOUR HEART, AND NOT YOUR GAR
MENTS, AND TURN UNTO THE LORD YOUR God; FOR HE IS GRACIOUS AND MERCIFUL, SLOW TO ANGER, AND OF GREAT KINDNESS, AND REPENTETH HIM OF THE EVIL.
“The portion of scripture appointed for,” or instead of, "the Epistle” on this day, is suitable to the season on which we now enter. The exhortation with which it commences can never be unseasonably addressed to sinful men. It is a call from the Lord our God, Turn ye, even unto Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning, or with the tokens
of penitence and sorrow, as well as in sincerity and truth. The prophet Isaiah declares, All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way;8 the way of error and transgression. It is well when any thing occurs to turn us back again into the right way. How gracious is the Lord our God, from whom we have so grievously revolted, to call upon us to turn to Him. This, however, is His constant language in His holy word to the children of men. Oh! that we were affected by it as we ought to be, and that the language of our hearts in reply were, Behold, we come unto Thee, for Thou art the Lord our God!9 When we turn to Him it must be with all the heart, with the best affections of our souls, that we may love Him above all things; and not with feigned lips. It must also be with outward demonstrations of humiliation before God, as well as with inward feelings of it. Penitence and sorrow are to be felt and manifested in our turning to the Lord. These are to take the place of that spirit of self-gratification, of carelessness, and levity, which the world pursues.
But while outward demonstrations of penitence are required, sorrow and grief for sin, that which is most material, is insisted on. Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto
8 Isaiah liii. 6.
9 Jeremiah iii. 22.