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chors out of the stern,” says the sacred historian, “ and wished for day.” Now, if you had seen these mariners after they had dropped their last anchor into the sea, you would have beheld them, in the full sense of the expression, waiting for the coming of the light. At that moment, they could not discover any sign of it. All was dark and unpromising around them. The east was no brighter than any other quarter of the heavens, and gave not the least indication of an approaching
But these men believed, notwithstanding, that the day would dawn on them in due time; and, amidst the thick shades that were around them, they waited for its coming. And herein we may see depicted the faith of a Christian with regard to the future coming of his Saviour. There is no token of this coming, either in heaven or on earth. Our Lord is as far removed from our sight now, as he has been in time past; and “ since the fathers fell asleep,” to use the language which St. Peter attributes to the scoffers, “ all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” But still, in the depth and deadness of this night, the Christian looks forward, with undoubting confidence, to the coming of the day. And he does as firmly believe, that yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry, as the shipmen with Paul's company believed that the sun would in due time appear in the horizon, while all was yet gloomy and dark.
But, yet further ;—these men were waiting for the day in the way of earnest expectation. Their belief in the return of morning light, under ordinary circumstances, would have been hardly present to their minds; it would not have excited a single desire; it would not have suggested one rising hope within their bosoms. But, in their hour of danger and anxiety, they felt it to be of the last importance. They were persuaded that it would bring with it a great and important benefit; and accordingly, it had itself become to them the subject of lively expectation. They were waiting for its arrival,—not only believing in it, but thinking of it, looking for it, hoping for it.
And herein again they may represent the Christian who is waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ. He has upon his mind a practical impression of the paramount importance of this great event.
He has a hope that it will bring with it a blessing to surpass all that can be otherwise bestowed upon him. And therefore it is habitually present to his mind. It is not a matter that has a place in his belief, but is strange to his reflections. He is waiting for the coming of the Lord. There are other occurrences to take place, perhaps, at an earlier period, wherein he may be, more or less, concerned. He expects to feel some rough motion of a stormy sea, from which he will study to protect himself; he will pay some attention to his present circumstances; and he will occupy some moments in conversation with the company around him ; but still the great thought is uppermost and fixed;—he has cast forth his anchor, and is wishing for the light ;-he is waiting and hoping for the morning dawn. The wishes of a Christian may go after many things in proportion to their value; but not one among them all can stand in competition with the great object of his hope; not one can promise him such safety and happiness as that for which he chiefly looks; and hence, with respect to the constant posture of his soul, he is waiting for the coming of the Lord.
It is assuredly a feeling of this nature, existing in a greater or less degree, that must be taken into account when we consider the language of the text as describing the experience of a true believer in Christ. It is not merely that this man assents to the doctrine concerning the future coming of his Judge, but it is that, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he feels it. He is sensible of its power within his heart, of a bias which it gives to his hopes and expectations. He finds that it absorbs, or at least that it subordinates, all other anticipations. It forbids him to cherish hopes that are at variance with itself; while it sheds its own bright ray of cheerfulness over all others wherewith it may consist. And that man is happy, for time and for eternity, who, instead of prostrating his soul before the follies of a moment, and exhausting his energies in frivolous pursuits, is calmly looking forward to a glory that shall hereafter be revealed, and in faith, with sincerity and hope, is waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
III. We have yet, thirdly, to remark another particular contained in this expression. It implies, as indeed true Christian faith always does imply, not only a habit of believing and a habit of feeling, but also a habit of acting. To be waiting for the coming of our Saviour is not only to be giving credit to the announcement concerning his approach, and to be looking forward to the event in a state of hope and expectation, but also to be holding ourselves in readiness, to be making preparation, for it. It was thus that the mariners we have spoken of were waiting for the coming of the light. Having thrown out their anchors, they afterwards lightened the ship, and cast forth the wheat into the sea. They were ready to take advantage of the dawn as soon as it should appear.
There are two ways especially in which an expectation of the Lord from heaven affects a Christian's practice.
1. It induces moderation in temporal pursuits. “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.” (Phil. iv. 5.) We wonder not when they who are looking for no good beyond this world are eager and restless in pursuit of things which the world seems to offer. But he who is waiting for that which is far better has learnt to be not too keen and anxious in his attempts to secure, or to enjoy, inferior objects. He does not despise, he does not abandon, his temporal interests; but he knows that they are light in the scale of his happiness, and he regards them as a pageant passing on before his eyes, soon to disappear. Why should he reach forth for the possession of this world's good with anxious and torturing solicitude? He is waiting for a far higher blessing, of which no accident, no interest, no power, can deprive him. Why should he be excessively elated with the gleam of temporal prosperity? He is waiting for a glory that will cast it for ever into the shade. Why should he be dejected or immoderately cast down with the losses or pains