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But it is the privilege of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to look beyond this perishing world, with a good hope through grace, to a time when he sball be delivered from all the evils to which he is exposed in this life, and shall be glorified together with his Lord and Saviour in His eternal kingdom and glory. Having this hope, he presses forward in the narrow way to the kingdom of heaven; seeking to have all the dispensations of God sanctified to him, to lead him to live above the world, and to have his heart and mind more set upon the blessedness which is reserved for him hereafter.
In the Epistle for this day, the apostle begins with instituting a comparison between the present sufferings of the Christian in this life, and his future blessedness. He says, I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. He had before intimated that the believer in Christ must expect to be a sufferer in this world, as his Lord and Master was before him. The mind of man naturally shrinks from suffering. Yet all are liable to it in one degree or another on account of sin, which “brought death into the world, and all our woe.'
But the Christian is a sufferer also in consequence of his religious profession; a sufferer from the power of his spiritual enemies, whose dominion he renounced in baptism. His adversary, the devil,
goeth about seeking to devour him, and must be resisted. Satan tempts him by stirring up the evil passions of his corrupt nature, and by exciting the children of this world to oppose him, or to endeavour to ensnare him. The enemy of God does all that he can to make the Christian suffer by his temptations and assaults, and by the influence which he possesses over the people of the world, whom he sets on to oppose and persecute the children of God. This was particularly the case in the first ages of Christianity.
Our apostle therefore takes off their attention from their present sufferings to their future glory; the glory which shall be revealed in us, when Christ who is our life shall appear, and we also shall pear with Him in glory. He describes mankind as having a consciousness of their immortality, and looking forward to it with a degree of anxiety. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. hopes and desires of mankind, however clouded by ignorance and unbelief and love of this present evil world, are yet unconsciously, as it were, directed to a future state; and when their reflections are turned towards it, they cannot but hope, however faint and unfounded that hope may be, that they shall partake of the happiness of the children of God in eternity. But this is
10 Colossians üi. 4.
the peculiar subject of anxiety and longing expectation with those who are deeply sensible of the importance of things unseen and eternal. They are looking forward to the time when it shall be made manifest who are the sons of God; with an humble hope that they shall themselves be found among the number of those to whom the King of glory shall say, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." How important is it that we should direct our desires and expectations to the great day of the manifestation of the sons of God; and should have a good hope through grace of being found among them. How grievous, it is to be feared, will be the disappointment of many, on finding themselves excluded from this blessed company, because they did not give diligence to make their calling and election sure ;12 but trifled with their day of grace, while the things which belonged to their everlasting peace and salvation were set before them. If we shall not then be found among the sons of God, how awful will our state be. May we lay it to heart in time; and not be satisfied with merely having an expectation of immortality; but have also a hope of everlasting salvation through Christ.
The apostle proceeds to describe the present state of mankind, The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same. By the word vanity we are to understand sin and death. We are sinners as we come into the world; and, as sinners, we are dying creatures. We none of us know what a day may bring forth, or how soon we may be numbered among the silent dead. And when the time of our departure comes, no man hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit ;13 none have power to deliver themselves from death; but the body returns to the dust, and the spirit to God who gave it, to render an account of the deeds done in the body, whether they be good or bad.
11 Matthew xxv. 34.
12 2 Peter i, 10.
This perishing condition of mankind was introduced by the fall of our first parents. By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.1
But, blessed be God, His word reveals to fallen man a hope beyond the grave; a hope to which the creature who is sensible of his degraded state by reason of sin, of the misery to which he is exposed by means of it both here and hereafter, clings with the fondest expectation; a hope which the gospel of Christ sets before him; a hope that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption
13 Ecclesiastes viii. 8.
14 Romans v. 12.
into the glorious liberty of the children of God. This deliverance of mankind from the ruin of the fall, from the vanity and corruption to which we are subjected in consequence of the fall of our first parents, is obtained through Christ, who delivered us from the wrath to come ;15 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.16 Through Him pardon and salvation are freely bestowed upon the sinful children of men; and whosoever will, is welcome to receive the blessing; it will not be denied to any humble
suppliant at the foot of the cross. All who humbly hope for pardon through His blood, who confess their sins at His footstool, and seek grace to enable them to forsake their evil thoughts and ways, shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, or the dominion of sin, and shall be admitted into the glorious liberty of the children of God; for, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, they have their fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.17 His service is
perfect freedom. They partake of the liberty wherewith Christ makes them free here on earth; and they look forward in hope to the glory which shall be revealed hereafter, when they shall rejoice in His salvation for evermore.
In the text the apostle describes more par
15 1 Thess. i. 10.
16 Eph. i. 7.
17 Rom. vi. 22.