« PreviousContinue »
also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither can corruption inherit incorruption. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
I reckon that the suflerings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us. For eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Our light affiction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know that, if our carthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth. If ve endure chastening, God deal
eth with you as with sons. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby. The trying of your faith worketh patience. Submit yourselves to God, and the Lord will raise you up.
And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things have passed away. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold I make all things new. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth : yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his works shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
ALMIGHTY God, we come to thee because we need thee. Without thee we are poor and weak, and with thee we can be brave and strong. We bow ourselves before thy will. We yield ourselves to thy law. Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, we are created; thou takest away our breath, we die and return to the dust. In death as in life, in sorrow as in joy, thou art waiting to bless us, if we will but turn to thee. Thou dost gird and guide us, though we know it not; and the shadow with which thou darkenest our way is but the shadow of thy close-approaching and over-brooding presence.
Help us to find thee thus this day. Lead us from our weakness to thy strength, and from our ignorance to thy wisdom, and give to us the peace and confidence which walks in the darkness even as in the light. It is thou who dost take to thyself the life of this, thy servant. Help us to say and to believe that it is well, — well with the life which seems to go away, because it finds thy rest and peace, and well for us who stay, because of tender memories and Christian hopes. In the midst of grief and solitude give to us the prayer of gratitude and praise. As we perceive that the things which are seen are temporal, so much the more may we find that the things which are unseen are eternal. Strengthen in us that immortal hope which is ours in the discipleship of Jesus. Make us know that if our earthly house be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and, amid the sufferings of this present time, unveil to us the things which eye hath not seen, but which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Sanctify thus to these hearts the sorrow which thou
dost call upon them to bear. May they hear that voice which says, “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” As they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, may thy rod and staff support them, and may they be grateful for that Eternal Love which summons souls to rest from their labors, and dost permit them to enter into thy peace. Send us all back to our lives more eager to serve thee, and more inclined to love thee, as though in this mysterious presence we had learned to know the deeper meaning and responsibility of life. Amid the changes of this world make us strong and calm, because we rest in thee, and finally persuade us that neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.
F. G. P.
II. O Father, we would not forget thy benefits. For life we thank thee; the throbbing life of Nature; the quick-beating pulse of human hearts, the swift Alight of the spirit's prayer, the life eternal. For love we thank thee; that love which, from childhood onward, has been ours, blessing us, saving us, creating us anew. For hope we thank thee, and for light; for all that quickens faith; for the mind and heart of Christ; for the in-flowing of thy Spirit.
O God, we call thee, and thou art here. We are not strong; grant us thy strength. We cannot see ; grant us thy light. We do not know the way ; lead us, O Father, by thy Spirit. We falter, we wander, we dare not speak; only teach thou us to pray. So, in us, and through us, may thy kingdom come, and thy will be done. Amen.
C. R. E.
LIFE. The ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright, Our life is short and tedious, and in the death of a man there is no remedy: neither was there any man known to have returned from the grave. For we are born at all adventure: and we shall be hereafter as though we had never been : for the breath in our nostrils is as smoke, and a little spark in the moving of our heart: which being extinguished, our body shall be turned into ashes, and our spirit shall vanish as the soft air, and our name shall be forgotten in time, and no man shall have our works in remembrance, and our life shall pass away as the trace of a cloud, and shall be dispersed as a mist, that is driven away with the beams of the sun, and overcome with the heat tliereof. For our time is a very shadow that passeth away; and after our end there is no returning: for it is fast sealed, so that no man cometh again. Come on therefore, let us enjoy the good things that are present: and let us speedily use the creatures like as in youth. Let us fill ourselves with costly wine and ointments : and let no flower of the spring pass by us : let us crown ourselves with rosebuds, before they be withered : let none of us go without his part of our voluptuousness : let us leave tokens of our joyfulness in every place: for this is our portion, and our lot is this. Such things they did imagine, and were deceived: for their own wickedness hath blinded them. As for the mysteries of God, they knew them not: neither hoped they for the wages of righteousness, nor discerned a reward for blameless souls. For God created man to be immortal, and