Last Updated on : Saturday, October 11, 2014


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Seasons of Comfort (Volume 1)

Robert Roberts


Sunday Number

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Book Contents  
Vol 2  

The Unsearchable Riches of Christ


Wisdom of the breaking of bread.- The memory of Christ.- The only agreeable memory, Christ very high.- A Captain.- Selects his brethren. -They do not select him.- Highest loyalty required.- The favours Christ has for bestowal.- The called.- First a preliminary and indiscriminate calling.- The calling to be made sure by diligence.- The. sort of diligence wanted.- The danger of being sucked in by the world's maelstrom.- Self serving right in its place, but must be subject to Divine law.- Self-service only leads to ruin.- Dangers.- The harvest of a wise life.- Glory, honour, and immortality.- The contrast between the end of saint and sinner.- The beauty of wisdom.- Wise things disagreeable for a time.- But see them at their end.- The honour of waiting the approved of God.- Human insects.- Everlasting glory.


THE longer we live, the more do we see the wisdom of Christ in having required his brethren and sisters to come together once a week, to break bread in remembrance of him. There is nothing in the life we have to live during the six days of the week, to remind us of him. Everything tends in the opposite direction. If we were to be guided only by what we see and hear, we should conclude there never had been such a man, and that therefore there were not in store for us any of those great things which the truth teaches us to look for in association with his blessed name. Let us not be unduly depressed by this delusion of the senses. What is true of Christ in this respect is true of everything else. We should never know, in the daily walks of life, that there ever had been such a man as Napoleon; yet no one doubts that there was such a man. It is precisely because there is nothing in ordinary experience to remind us of Christ that he has made this special appointment. The purpose is expressed in these words of his: "Do this in remembrance of me." It is a very agreeable thing to be reminded of him. In one sense, it is the only agreeable thing; for in all other directions, tracing things to their end, there is nothing but blighted hopes, darkened prospects, the dreary ending of a vain life in the grave. Paul puts Christ no higher than we ought to put him when he says: "In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," and he gives a caution that is not unnecessary, when he adds, "This I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words: . . . Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the rudiments of the world and not after Christ." He puts Christ and the philosophy of his day in juxtaposition. They were antagonistic the one to the other, and it is no less so now. Philosophy teaches that a future existence is an affair of "virtue," the natural offspring of a "moral" course. The doctrine of Christ teaches that, without him, there can be no future existence; that it is a special manifestation through him alone; and that all without Christ are without hope and without God in the world. This puts Christ very high, but no higher than Paul puts him, and no higher than Christ asks us to put him, when he insists on being the supreme object of our affections. We well know the position he occupied in the minds of the disciples when on earth; they had no higher object. We know that all men look up to anyone whom they accept as their captain, with very great interest. Whether it be in politics or military matters, the head man, the captain, in whom trust is reposed, is the great object of regard. Fealty to him in such cases is, as it were, the test of membership; submission to the common head, the first condition of the organization. We know that the very first idea of the army is obedience. Now we have a Captain. We have a Head, a Leader, a Lord, and a Master. We have not seen him, yet we know he lives. We have not chosen him; he has chosen us. So he said to the twelve immediately around him; and if he could say so to them, how much more to us, who have been selected in a much more indirect way; who never would have known him but for the voice of invitation coming to us through the channels of his own appointment. In the natural order of things (that is, if Christ had not appeared and sent out a call to all willing men to become his) we should have been occupied like the Gentiles around, with mere questions of eating and drinking, and being comfortable and merry in this mortality, indulging in Pagan dreams of futurity, doomed to eternal disappointment. We therefore realise this idea that this Captain differs from other captains, in that he himself makes his own election. It is not as if his people were a political party, looking round and choosing the man that happens to suit them best. The movement proceeds from him. He has sent out agents (his apostles) for the purpose of creating a party for himself, and the party so created differs from all other parties that ever surrounded a leader. It is called to a much closer relation to the Captain than in worldly parties. Personal loyalty is exacted in the highest degree, and is returned by the Captain (as we shall see at his coming) in a far higher form than the affection ever conceived by a mortal leader for his partizans. As to the first, the rule of the service is "Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." As to the second, he has laid down his life for his friends; and has promised that when all shall have proved their faithfulness, he will "make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them." And what does this making them sit down to meat involve? The most a human leader can do for his supporters, is to distribute mammon among them; his favours leave them the same perishing creatures, who, while alive, are weak and abortive in the functions of their being; and, in a few years, must sink under the law of death, and disappear below the clod, saying farewell to all friendship, honour, and possessions.

How different the favour bestowed by the Captain of our salvation! Having come forth and made his choice, he invests them with a vigour of constitution that shall never decay; clearness of faculty that can never grow dim; purity of nature that will never fade or corrupt; beauty that will never tarnish; life that will never end. And having thus qualified them, he invites them to his society, and a participation in the glory, honour, riches, and renown which will be his as the Lord of all the earth. "Having made his choice!" Ah, this is the problem big with fate for us. The choice is not yet made. That is, though known to him, it is not yet declared. The basis of the choice has been laid. His order of procedure is to gather material from which the choice is to be made; to cast the net into the sea, and enclose a great many fishes, good and bad; to sow the seed broadcast and wait until the harvest to separate the good from the bad. The reason of this procedure we shall find to be based in wisdom when we know all. Probably it is that a situation may be provided for the trial, exercise, and development of the good. If none but good fish come into the net, if none but faithful men and women responded to the call, things would be too sweet and smooth among believers. There would be no trial of the patience which shows itself in perseverance in duty under bitter circumstances. However, be that as it may, there is first a preliminary and indiscriminate call. It is something to have been included in that. By the Gospel, Peter said, God visited the Gentiles, to take out from amongst them a people for His name. We have heard that Gospel, we have fallen in love with it, with all the hopes and promises it presents to our mind; and, yielding obedience to it, we have become the subjects of the preliminary "taking out." We have now to accomplish the other point referred to by Peter when he says, "Be diligent to make your calling and election sure."

This is the time for diligence; it is not a state of things in which we can congratulate ourselves upon being safe. There is nobody safe; that is to say, nobody can say that they are saved until the day of selection come, and they have been selected. They cannot judge themselves. Some people imagine that when they have believed the Gospel and been baptised, they have done all -- that they have secured the prize. They have not secured the prize at all; they have but entered the lists for the competition to secure it. The attainment of it is contingent upon faithful stewardship; upon how we act in the position in which the Gospel has placed us. Christ comes forth to look at the company gathered as guests for the wedding, and makes his selection from amongst them upon the principle of faithfulness. So that instead of persons sitting down with folded arms the moment they come to believe the truth, they ought to realise increased incentive to diligence; for only those who are diligent will make their calling and election sure. "Be steadfast and unmovable," says Paul, "always abounding in the work of the Lord." That is the motto, the policy, the spirit, the principle of the apostolic system, "always abounding." It is the great idea animating all who are truly obedient to the Gospel. These are not those who get hold of the truth, and put it in their pockets, as their religion; and then start out to do just as they were doing before. There are numerous striking examples of this kind in the world around. There are people making a profession of religion whom, from their ways of life, you would never know to be religious at all; they are entirely devoted to the schemes which recommend themselves to the natural mind. Those schemes, in their several departments, are what are considered creditable and excellent by the world. It is considered a very praise worthy thing for a man to be industrious in the accumulation of money for himself, that his own position may be secure in this evil world. It is considered a legitimate object of life for a man to labour diligently to be rich now in this present time, that he may have a fine house to live in, and an honourable position in society. Men show amazing diligence, actually night and day depriving themselves ofttimes of rest and leisure, in developing business interests. A great deal of genius and a great deal of energy are expended in the promotion of purely temporal concerns. It is a kind of enthusiasm which, if attended with success, encourages its votary to wider and wider efforts. The tendency of the world is to absorb the mind more and more. If a man once yield to the service of himself in this way, it is like getting into the suction of a maelstrom. It is a dangerous thing to put Christ out of account for a moment. The disposition to serve ourselves is instinctive to the animal man; it is one of the primitive instincts implanted for our self-preservation. Regulated by Divine law, it has its place, but if this instinct is allowed to be the lord of our life, we get into an evil bondage from which it is difficult to deliver ourselves, and which will assuredly alienate from us the regard of Christ. It is a foolish policy. The crisis will come at last, and it may come any moment. The slave of instinct has to give it up and everything. He has to lie down and die; he has to take time to do that, although he could spare so little for Christ; and then, where are the wealth and the honour, and all the fine things that he has set his heart upon? All gone; everything left behind -- absolutely everything! He goes to corruption; he descends to the grave without a hope. Having laid up no treasure in heaven, he is buried a spiritual bankrupt, for whom there is no prospect but tribulation and wrath and anguish! That is a fine harvest for a man to reap! That is a fine result for a man to work so hard, and so diligently, and so skilfully for! Dangerous! dangerous! dangerous to put off Christ with the idea that we are going to do differently by-and-bye. We don't know whether we will have a "by-and-bye" to do differently in. The only time we can reckon upon is the present; and that time is not our own at all if we are Christ's. If we are as the worms, we are, of course, at liberty to spend our time as the worms, burrowing and burrowing in the earth. No one thinks a worm acts foolishly. It fulfils the law of its being and ends in nothing. So it will be with the human worms, with this distinction, that such as have known the way of life, and treat God with this contempt, it would be better they had never been born. In how different a case stand those who are truly Christ's. They work as well as the business worm, but their labour tends to higher ends. The result of their work is not so immediately apparent, but, ultimately, it is more real and lasting. The sinner has not brains sufficient to see that although the man of Christ has scattered his seed now, it will return to him a hundredfold when the sinner's little handful has gone for ever. The man of Christ will secure all that the sinner aims to have, and more. The sinner loses life; Christ's servants will have it without end, whereas the sinner can only get a little. Energy of body and mind! The sinner, in his healthiest moments, never dreamt of the power that will mantle the glorified saint, who will be made incorruptible. The sinner has a hankering for beauty, but will, at last, embrace rottenness and corruption, while the saint is resplendent with a comeliness never approached by the fairest of earth's daughters. In fact, they will possess everything, because their Captain is the proprietor of the whole earth; to him it belongs. God made it not in vain, but for a noble purpose, which centres in one man, the Son of His love, whom He has constituted "heir of all things." When his glory shall be revealed, the time will have come for the saint to reap the harvest, sown now in weakness and tears. To be "glorified together with him" means more than heart can now conceive. It is a far more exceeding (than the present) and eternal weight of glory. The sinner racks his brains and spends his strength in scraping together what appears a wondrous amount of wealth. Suppose he accumulates 10,000 [pounds - British]. Poor creature! In getting this, he has sacrificed himself, God, and everything; and after all his trouble, his 10,000 cannot save him. Decay sets in: nature fails; and a coffin is ordered. The labours of a saint are to a very different end. By reason of following Christ, he has scarcely more chance of his 10,000 than of the crown of England. His exertions are otherwise directed, but when he plants his foot above ground at the resurrection, and finds himself in the kingdom of God, what will 10,000 be to him then? As the small dust in the balance. The good opinion of people which the prosperous sinner gets and the saint loses, is worth little on account of the worthlessness of the people. But there is an honour worth having: the commendation of God, and the approbation of those who fear His name. The respectable sinners would not be thought unfashionable for a fortune. Foolish people! There are not many wise people in the world.

Those only are wise who give themselves to this one thing, who will consent to forego the good opinion of this foolish world for Christ's sake. It is not pleasant, but wise. Wise things are sometimes disagreeable for a time, but sweetness comes at last. It is mortifying to be considered and called an infidel and other evil things. But wait a bit. It is good advice never to judge a thing till you see the end of it. It is a wise maxim which says, "Fools and children should never see a thing half done." The fools of this world only see Christ's work half done, and are deceived. See the other half, and you will see the saint will stand in the good opinion of a regenerated world, invested in the "glory and honour" which with immortality, will be the portion of those who, by a patient continuance in well-doing in the face of a frowning world, earn the Divine approbation. What is honour? Being made mention of among worthy persons as a worthy person! How highly a man of the world feels complimented if, in a large public meeting, his name is mentioned with respect. If the hall were empty, the mention of his name would involve no honour. The dying echoes would be a mockery. Or if his name were shouted in a room full of cows, he would fail to realise honour in the situation. The value of honour depends upon the character of those bestowing it. Apply this principle to the time under our consideration when the generation of the race (as it is termed) stands revealed, when the men and women approved of God in all ages, emerge from the death-slumber in which they now repose, to be "made up as jewels," or organised as God's precious ones for God's purpose on earth; those who served Him in their day and generation, in spite of evil report, and hard usage, as witness the prophets; when all those are assembled, a multitude to look at which no man can number; each one a jewel, a gem, a precious vessel of all wisdom and excellence. What an exalted honour to be mentioned in their presence with approbation, and in the presence of higher than they; for the angels are to be attendants upon the great occasion. Jesus comes with myriads of them; they are put in subjection to him, as Peter tells us. And what does Jesus tell us in reference to the relation of his people to these bright intelligences in the day of his glory?" He that confesseth me before men, him will I confess in the presence of the holy angels." The sinner's honour is a mere flash in the pan compared to this; it is nothing at all in the eternal reckoning. It is a momentary affair, is soon over, and not worth the purchase. Eighteen hundred years ago, time was as really present to those then living. We are eighteen hundred years farther on; and by-and-bye, time will be 1,800 years still farther on: and where then will be the little moths and flies, and worms, whose flitting, and buzzing, and crawling now engage the admiration and attention of the world? Where will be their little honours and fever heats, and ambitions, and gold scrapings? Over and done with for ever. It is not so with Christ's people; their honour will be for ever enduring, for they are to be made immortal. There will be no end to their lives, no termination to the glory of their position. They are for ever and ever. Their glory is everlasting. They are to be permanent tenants of God's house, for "the son dwelleth ever," Paul says, and they are sons. All the others are mere servants in a low sense, fulfilling a little part in the great scheme of God. If we are "children," we are heirs with Christ -- heirs of all things.

How indescribably glorious then it will be to enter the presence of our great Captain, in whom we can rejoice to the utmost bounds of exultation, upon whose image our eyes can rest without idolatry, for, as he himself says, "This is the Father's will that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father." It may be truly said "that eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things that God hath prepared for them that love Him; but God hath revealed them by His Spirit." That revelation is written, and we walk in the light of it, and sit in the hearing of it when we gather round the table thus, to call to our remembrance the great Captain of our salvation.




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