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SERMON XI.

THE CHRISTIAN WAITING FOR THE COMING

OF HIS LORD.

1 CORINTHIANS i. 7.

Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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It is one great characteristic of the true disciple of Jesus, that he is “ looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God ;" one of those cardinal points in which he differs at once from the declared unbeliever and from the lifeless professor of the gospel ; in a word, one prominent feature of practical Christian faith. turned to God from idols,” says St. Paul to the Thessalonians, “ to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thess. i. 9, 10.)

Let us now consider what this implies, or wherein the habit of mind so peculiar and essential to the Christian character consists. And let us send up a sincere and earnest prayer that, grace

of the Holy Spirit, our souls may become more and more fashioned according to the mould of all Christian doctrine and faith.

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I. This habit of mind consists, first, in a sincere assent to the truth of what Scripture solemnly affirms concerning the future coming of our Lord. There are some men who do not believe this, and who profess their disbelief; there are others who refrain, indeed, from making any such avowal, but who yet secretly suspect the doctrine to be false; while, on the other hand, the Christian feels thoroughly assured, and does heartily consent to the conviction, that our Lord Jesus Christ will hereafter be revealed in judgment, and that himself and all mankind will stand before him.

1. There are some men, we say, who openly reject this article of Christian faith. They reason against it with shallow or false philosophy ; they scoff at it, perhaps, with awful and impious derision. They say, with a proud affectation of wisdom, or with an air of confidence and triumph, Where is the promise of his coming ?-And we answer them in three ways. We repeat our unvarying testimony; we appeal to the proofs by which it is supported; we warn men of the guilt and danger of rejecting it.

We repeat the plain declaration of God's word. We go on, notwithstanding men's disputings, and in the face of their presumption, to declare, in the language of the gospel, that we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, and that God will render to every man according to his deeds. To the cavils and the sneers, and sometimes to the violence, of those who receive not this message of the gospel, the ministers of Christ have, in all ages, continued to oppose the plain and positive assurance, “Behold he cometh !” And the men of our own day and generation, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, must be admonished of the day of his appearing, in compliance with his own solemn injunction to the preachers of his word.

“ He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (Acts x. 42.)

But, we connect with this express declaration an appeal to the pledge that has been given of the event which it announces. “ God,” says the Scripture, “ hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained ; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts xvii. 31.) The certainty of that which is so solemnly foretold is warranted by the reality of that which has already come to pass. We refer to the fact of our Lord's resurrection from the grave as a proof that he will hereafter appear as Judge of the living and the dead. And here is at once a distinct and sufficient appeal to reason. If Christ, according to his word, revived, and rose from the dead, none can refuse to believe that he will also, according to his word, descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God. Here then is one plain and palpable fact submitted to men’s notice. And it is supported by abundant evidence. Not one fact in the history of the whole world is reported to us with more ample, more varied, more accumulated proof, than this great and important event, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If men will but exercise their reason, and attend to the case before them in the way of candid and impartial investigation, they may find sufficient to convince them that this event is as certainly and unalterably true as it is that the sun rose yesterday. And until they can disprove what has been constantly affirmed concerning our Saviour's resurrection, they have no right

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to discredit what has been in like manner affirmed concerning his future appearance in judgment.

Nor is the acceptance or rejection of this proof a matter of indifference. It

may be rejected through carelessness, or it may be rejected through obstinacy and wilful disbelief; but, in either of these cases, the majesty of him who challenges attention is insulted, and men subject themselves to that terrible reproof which will one day be given, “ Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish.” It is not a matter of that trifling importance which may excuse men from making the inquiry. It is not a matter so obscure, or so uncertain, that if men do honestly examine it they can possibly mistake. And therefore it belongs to the answer which we give to unbelievers, not only to repeat the announcement of Christ's coming, and to refer to the proofs whereby this declaration is supported, but to describe moreover the deep guilt and danger which must certainly attach to a continued and resolute denial of the momentous truth. Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14, 15.)

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