The miseries of the human race, through their own and each other’s wickedness, declare that the world is not always to continue as it is. Our having received the first fruits of the Spirit, quickens our desires, encourages our hopes, and raises our expectations.
Sin has been, and is, the guilty cause of all the suffering that exists in the creation of God. It has brought on the woes of earth; it has kindled the flames of hell. As to man, not a tear has been shed, not a groan has been uttered, not a pang has been felt, in body or mind, that has not come from sin.
This is not all; sin is to be looked at as it affects the glory of God. Of this how fearfully regardless are the bulk of mankind! Believers have been brought into a state of safety; but their comfort consists in hope rather than in enjoyment. From this hope they cannot be turned by the vain expectation of finding satisfaction in the things of time and sense. We need patience, our way is rough and long; but He that shall come, will come, though he seems to tarry.
Alas, poor sinners! though you abound with the possessions of this world, what vain things are they! Can you say of any of them, who shall separate us? You may be removed from pleasant dwellings, and friends, and estates. You may even live to see and seek your parting. At last, you must part, for you must die. Then farewell, all this world accounts most valuable. And what hast thou left, poor soul, who hast not Christ, but that which thou would gladly part with, and cannot, the condemning guilt of all thy sins!
But the soul that is in Christ, when other things are pulled away, cleaves to Christ, and these separations pain him not. Yes, when death comes, that breaks all other unions, even that of the soul and body, it carries the believer’s soul into the nearest union with its beloved Lord Jesus, and the full enjoyment of him forever.
It must be ignorance of God that leads any to disbelieve the resurrection and future life. Those who own a God and a providence and observe how unequal things are in the present life, how frequently the best men fare worst, cannot doubt as to an after-state, where everything will be set to rights. Let us not be joined with ungodly men; but warn all around us, especially children and young persons, to shun them as a pestilence. Let us awake to righteousness, and not sin.
The apostle gives an account of his labours and sufferings; not out of pride or vain glory, but to the honour of God, who enabled him to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ; and shows wherein he excelled the false apostles, who tried to lessen his character and usefulness. It astonishes us to reflect on this account of his dangers, hardships, and sufferings, and to observe his patience, perseverance, diligence, cheerfulness, and usefulness, during all these trials.
See what little reason we have to love the pomp and plenty of this world, when this blessed apostle felt so much hardship in it. Our utmost diligence and services appear unworthy of notice when compared with his, and our difficulties and trials scarcely can be perceived. It may well lead us to inquire whether we really are followers of Christ.
Here we may study patience, courage, and firm trust in God. Here we may learn to think less of ourselves; and we should ever strictly keep to truth, as in God’s presence; and should refer all to his glory, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed for evermore.
Faith and hope in the promises of God must not destroy our fear of God, who taketh pleasure in those that fear him and hope in his mercy.