THE PROFIT OF GODLINESS IN THE LIFE TO COME.

 

              DELIVERED ON LORD’S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 19TH, 1870,

 

                                                BY C. H. SPURGEON

 

              AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.

 

“Godliness is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now

is, and of that which is to come.” — 1 Timothy 4:8.

 

WE endeavored, this morning, to prove the profitableness of godliness as

to the life which now is, and to discriminate as to what the promise of this

life really is. We tried to prove that “the promise” of the life that now is, its

real and highest beauty and excellence, consists in peace of mind, peace

with God, contentment, and happiness of spirit; and while we pointed out

that godliness did not ensure wealth, or health, or even a good name — for

all these even to godly men might not be granted — yet we showed that

the great end of our being, that for which we live and were created, that

which will best make it worth while to have existed, shall certainly be ours

if we are godly. We did not think it an unimportant matter to expound the

bearing of true religion upon this present state, but I trust we did not

exaggerate that view so as to keep those in countenance who dream that

this world is the main consideration, and that the wisest man is he who

makes it the be-all and the end-all of his existence.

 

Beloved friends, there is another life beyond this fleeting existence. This

fact was dimly guessed by heathens: Strange as their mythology might be,

and singular as were their speculations us to the regions of bliss and woe,

even barbarous nations have had some glimmering light concerning a

region beyond the river of death. Hardly yet have we been able to discover

a people with no idea of an after-state. Man has scarcely ever been

befooled into the belief that death is the finis of the volume of his existence.

 

Few indeed have been so lost to natural light as to have forgotten that man

is something more than the dog which follows at his heel. That which was

dimly guessed by the heathen was more fully wrought out by the bolder

and clearer minds among philosophers. They saw something about man

that made him more than either ox or horse. They marked the moral

government of God in the world, and as they saw the wicked prosper, and

the righteous afflicted, they said, “There must be another state in which the

GREAT AND JUST ONE will rectify all these wrongs — reward the

righteous, and condemn the wicked.” They thought it proved that there

would be another life; they could not, however, speak with confidence; for

reason, however right her inferences, does not content the heart, or give

the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” That is

reserved for faith. The best light of heathens was but twilight, yet was there

so much light in their obscurity that they looked beyond the stream of

death, and thought they saw shades as of creatures that had once been

here, and could not die. What was thus surmised and suspected by the

great thinkers of antiquity, has been brought to light in the gospel of Jesus

Christ. He has declared to us that we shall live again, that there will be a

judgment and a resurrection both of the righteous and of the wicked, and

that there will be awarded to the righteous a reward that shall know no

end, while the wicked shall be driven into a banishment to which there shall

be no close. We are not left now to speculate nor to rely upon unaided

reason. We have been told upon the authority of God, sometimes by the

lips of prophets, at other times by the lips of his own dear Son, or by his

inspired apostles, that there is a world to come, a world of terrors to the

ungodly, but a world of promised blessing to the righteous. My dear

hearer, if it be so, what will the world to come be to you? Will you inherit

its promise? You may easily answer that question by another — Have you

godliness? If you have, you have the promise of the life that is to come.

Are you ungodly? Do you live without God? Are you without faith in God,

without love to God, without reverence to God? Are you without the

pardon which God presents to believers in Christ Jesus? Then are you

without hope, and the world to come has nothing for you but a fearful

looking for of judgment and of fiery indignation which will devour you.

 

I. GODLINESS CONCERNING THE LIFE TO COME POSSESSES A PROMISE

UNIQUE AND UNRIVALLED.

 

I say a unique promise, for, observe, infidelity makes no promise of a life to

come. It is the express business of infidelity to deny that there is such a life,

and to blot out all the comfort which can be promised concerning it. Man is

like a prisoner shut up in his cell, a cell all dark and cheerless save that

there is a window through which he can gaze upon a glorious landscape.

Infidelity comes like a demon into the cell, and with desperate hand blocks

up the window, that man may sit for ever in the dark, or at best may have

the boasted light of a farthing rushlight called free-thinking. All that

infidelity can tell him is that he will die like a dog. Fine prospect for a man

who feels eternity pulsing within his spirit! I know I shall not die like the

beast that perisheth; and let who will propound the theory, my soul sickens

and turns with disgust from it, nor would it be possible by the most

specious arguments so to pervert the instincts of my nature as to convince

me that I shall thus die, and that my soul, like the flame of an out-burnt

candle, shall be quenched in utter annihilation. My inmost heart revolts at

this degrading slander; she feels an innate nobility that will not allow her to

be numbered with the beasts of the field, to die as they must do without a

hope. Oh, miserable prospect! How can men be so earnest in proclaiming

their own wretchedness? Enthusiasts for annihilation! Why not fanatics for

hell itself? Godliness hath promise of the life that is to come, but infidelity

can do nothing better than deny the ennobling revelation of the great

Father, and bid us be content with the dark prospect of being exterminated

and put out of being. Aspiring, thoughtful, rational men, can ye be content

with the howling wildernesses and dreary voids of infidelity? Leave them, I

pray you, for the goodly land of the gospel which floweth with milk and

honey; abandon extinction for immortality, renounce perishing for paradise.

Again; let me remark that this hope is unique because popery in any of its

forms cannot promise us the life which is to come. I know that it speaks as

positively as Christianity does about the fact that there will be another life,

but it gives us no promise of it, for what is the expectation of the

Romanist, even of the best Romanist? Have I not aforetime remarked to

you that we have heard-and therefore it is no slander for us to say it — of

masses being said for the repose of the souls of the most eminent

Romanists? Cardinals distinguished for their learning, confessors and

priests distinguished for their zeal, and even Popes reputed to be

remarkable for holiness and even infallibility, have when they died gone

somewhere, I know not where, but somewhere where they have needed

that the faithful should pray for the repose of their souls. That is a very

poor look-out for ordinary people like ourselves; for if these superlatively

good people are still uneasy in their souls after they die, and have in fact,

according to their own statements, gone to purgatorial fires or to

purgatorial chills, to be tossed, as certain of their prophets have informed

us, from icebergs into furnaces, and then back again, until by some means,

mechanical, spiritual, or otherwise, sin shall be burnt out, or evaporated

from them; if that be their expectation, I think I should be inclined, as the

Irishman said, to become a Protestant heretic, and go to heaven at once, if

there be so sorry a prospect for the Catholic. Godliness hath the promise of

the life which is to come, but it is altogether unique in possessing such a

promise. No voice from the Vatican sounds one-half so sweetly as that

from Patmos, which we unfeignedly accept: “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.” Our sorrow for the departed is not

embittered by the absence of hope, for we believe that “them also which

sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Neither superstition on the one

hand, nor unbelief on the other, so much as dares to offer a promise as to

the life to come.

 

No system based upon human merit ever gives its votaries a promise of the

life to come, which they can really grasp and be assured of. No selfrighteous

man will venture to speak of the assurance of faith; in fact, he

denounces it as presumption. He feels that his own basis is insecure, and

therefore he suspects the confidence of others to be as hollow as his own.

He lives between hope and fear, a joyless, unsatisfied life: while the

believer in Jesus, knowing that there is no condemnation to him, awaits the

hour of his entrance into heaven with joyful expectancy. What is never

promised to man’s fancied righteousness is secured to all who possess the

righteousness of Christ Jesus. “Come, ye blessed,” is their assured

welcome; to be with Jesus, their entailed portion.

 

Godliness hath a monopoly of heavenly promise as to the blessed future.

There is nothing else beneath high heaven to which any such promise has

ever been given by God, or of which any such promise can be supposed.

Look at vice, for instance, with its pretended pleasures — what does it

offer you? It offers pleasure in the life that now is; but as it speaks, you

detect the lie upon its face, for even in the life, that now is vice gives but a

hasty intoxication, to be followed by woo and redness of the eyes. ‘Tis true

it satiates with sweets, but in all its tables there is vomit; satiety follows its

gluttony, dissatisfaction comes, with discontent, loathing, remorse, and

misery, like hounds at its heels. Vice dares not say, it never has had the

effrontery yet to say, “Do evil and live in sin, and eternal life will come out

of it.” No, the theater at its door does not proffer you eternal life, it invites

you to the pit. The house of evil communications, the drunkard’s settle, the

gathering-place of scorners, the chamber of the strange woman — none of

these has yet dared to advertise a promise of eternal life as among the

boons that may tempt its votaries. At best sin gives you but bubbles, and

feeds you upon air. The pleasure vanishes, and the misery is left. Even this

side the tomb the hollowness of sinful mirth is clear to all but the most

superficial, and he said truly who sang concerning merry worldlings

 

“They grin; but wherefore? And how long the laugh?

Half ignorance, their mirth; and half a lie

To cheat the world, and cheat themselves, they smile.

Hard either task! The most abandoned own

That others, if abandoned, are undone:

Then, for themselves, the moment reason wakes,

Oh, how laborious is their gaiety!

They scarce can swallow their ebullient spleen,

Scarce muster patience to support the farce,

And pump sad laughter till the curtain falls.

Scarce did I say? Some cannot sit it out;

Oft their own daring hand the curtain draws,

And show us what is their joy by their despair.”

 

If such the failure of the mirth of fools this side eternity, of what little

benefit can it prove hereafter?

 

So with other things not sinful in themselves — there is no promise of the

life that is to come appended to them. For instance, birth. What would not

some men give if they could but somehow trace their pedigree up to a

distinguished Crusader, or up to a Norman knight reported of in the battleroll

of Hastings? yet, nowhere in the world is there a promise of eternal life

to blood and birth. “For when he dieth he shall carry nothing away: his

glory shall not descend after him. Though while he lived he blessed his

soul: and men will praise thee, when thou doest well to thyself. He shall go

to the generation of his fathers; they shall never see light.” Genealogies and

pedigrees are poor things; trace us all up far enough, and we are all

descended from that naked sinner who tried to cover his shame with fig leaves,

and owed his first true garment to the charity of offended heaven.

Let the pedigree run through the loins of kings, yea, and of mighty kings,

and let every one of our forefathers have been distinguished for his valor,

yet no man shall pretend because of this that eternal life will be secured

thereby. Ah! no; the king rots like a slave and the hero is devoured by the

worm as though he had been but a swineherd all his days; yea, and the

flame unquenchable kindles on earl, and duke, and millionaire, as well as on

serf and peasant.

 

And it is equally certain that no promise of the life that is to come is given

to wealth. Men hoard it, and gather it, and keep it, and seal it down by

bonds and settlements, as if they thought they could carry some thing with

them; but when they have gained their utmost, they do not find that wealth

has the promise even of this life, for it yields small contentment to the man

who possesses it. “Their inward thought is, that their houses shall continue

for ever, and their dwelling places to all generations; they call their lands

after their own names. Nevertheless man being in honor abideth not.” As

for the life to come, is there any supposable connection between the

millions of the miser’s wealth and the glory that is to be revealed hereafter?

Nay, but by so much the more as the man lives for this world, by so much

the more shall he be accursed. He said, “I will pull down my barns and

build greater;” but God calls him a fool, and a fool he is, for when his soul

is required of him, whose shall these things be which he had prepared?

Nay, ye may grasp the Indies if ye will; ye may seek to compass within

your estates all the lands that ye can see far and wide, but ye shall be none

the nearer to heaven when ye have reached the climax of your avarice.

There is no promise of the life that is to come in the pursuits of usury and

covetousness.

 

Nor is there any such promise to personal accomplishments and beauty.

How many live for that poor bodily form of theirs which so soon must

moulder back to the dust! To dress, to adorn themselves, to catch the

glance of the admirer’s eye, to satisfy public taste, to follow fashion! Surely

an object in life more frivolous never engrossed an immortal soul. It seems

as strange as if an angel should be gathering daisies or blowing soapbubbles.

An immortal spirit living to dress the body! To paint, to dye, to

display a ribbon, to dispose a pin, is this the pursuit of an immortal? Yet

tens of thousands live for little else. But ah! there is no promise of the life

to come appended to the noblest, beauty that ever fascinated the eye. Far

deeper than the skin is the beauty which is admired in heaven. As for

earth’s comeliness, how do time, and death, and the worm together, make

havoc of it! Take up yonder skull, just upturned by the sexton’s careless

spade, “and get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, though she paint an

inch thick, to this complexion she must come at last,” all her dressing shall

end in a shroud, and all her washings and her dainty ornaments shall only

make her but the sweeter morsel for the worm. There is no promise of the

life to come to these frivolities; wherefore then waste ye your time and

degrade your souls with them?

 

Nor even to higher accomplishments than these is there given any promise

of the life to come. For instance, the attainment of learning, or the

possession of that which often stands men in as good stead as learning,

namely, cleverness, brings therewith no promise of future bliss. If a man be

clever, if he can write interesting stories, if he can sketch the current

fashions, if he can produce poetry that will survive among his fellow men

it matters not though his pen never wrote a line for Christ, and though

he never uttered a sentence that might have led a sinner to the cross,

though his work had no aim beyond this life, and paid no homage to the

God of the gospel, yet even professed Christians will fall at the man’s feet,

and when he dies, will canonise him as a saint, and almost worship him as a

demigod. I reckon the meanest Christian that loved his God, though he

could only speak stammeringly the profession of his faith, is nobler far than

he who possessed the genius of a Byron or the greatness of a Shakespeare,

and yet only used his ten talents for himself and for his follow men, but

never consecrated them to the great Master to whom the interest of them

altogether belonged. No; there is no promise of the life that is to come to

the philosopher, or to the statesman, or to the poet, or to the literary man,

as such. They have no preference before the Lord; not gifts but grace must

save them. Humbly, penitently, and believingly they must find the promise

of eternal life in godliness; and if they have not godliness, they shall find it

nowhere. Godliness hath that promise, I say, and none besides. I saw in

Italy standing at the corner of a road, as you may frequently see in Italy, a

large cross, and on it were these words, which I had not often seen on a

cross before: “Spes unica” — the only hope, the one unique hope, the one

only hope of mankind. So would I tell you that on Christ’s cross there is

written this day, “Spes unica” — the one hope of men. “Godliness hath the

promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” but to

nothing else anywhere, search for it high or low, on earth or sea, to nothing

else is the promise given save to godliness alone.

 

II. I pass on to notice, in the second place, that THE PROMISE GIVEN TO

GODLINESS IS AS COMPREHENSIVE AS IT IS UNIQUE.

 

I have not time on this occasion to go into all the promises of the life that is

to come which belong to godliness: who shall give an inventory where the

treasure is boundless, or map out a land which has no limit? It will suffice if

I give you the heads of this great theme. That promise is something of this

kind. The godly man, unless Christ shall come, will die as others die, as to

the matter of outward fact, but his death will be very different in its essence

and meaning. He will pass gently out of this would into the world to come,

and then he will begin to realize the promise which godliness gave him; for

he will enter then, nay, he has entered now, upon an eternal life far other

than that which belongs to other men. The Christian’s life shall never be

destroyed: “Because I live, ye shall live also,” says Christ. There is no fear

of the Christian’s ever growing aged in heaven, or of his powers failing

him. Eternal youth shall be to those who wear the unfading crown of life.

Yon sun shall become black as a coal; yon moon shall fail until her pale

beams shall never more be seen; the stars shall fall like withered figs; even

this earth which we call stable, terming it terra firma, shall with yonder

heavens be rolled up like a vestment that is worn out, and shall be laid

aside among the things that were, but are not. Everything which can be

seen is but a fruit with a worm at the core, a flower fore-doomed to fade.

But the believer shall live for ever, his life shall be coeval with the years of

the Most High. God liveth ever, ever, ever, and so shall every godly soul.

Christ having given him eternal life, he is one with Jesus, and as Jesus lives

for ever, even so shall he.

 

In the moment of death the Christian will begin to enjoy this eternal life in

the form of wonderful felicity in the company of Christ, in the presence of

God, in the society of disembodied spirits and holy angels. I say in a

moment, for from the case of the dying thief we learn that there is no halt

upon the road from earth to heaven.

 

“One gentle sigh the fetter breaks:

We scarce can say, ‘He’s gone!’

Before the willing spirit takes

Its mansion near the throne.”

 

How does Paul put it? “Absent from the body;” but you have hardly said

that word, when he adds, “present with the Lord.” The eyes are closed on

earth and opened again in heaven. They loose their anchor, and

immediately they come to the desired haven. How long that state of

disembodied happiness shall last it is not for us to know, but by-and-by,

when the fullness of time shall come, the Lord Jesus shall consummate all

things by the resurrection of these bodies. The trumpet shall sound, and as

Jesus Christ’s body rose from the dead as the first-fruits, so shall we arise,

every man in his own order. Raised up by divine power, our very bodies

shall be reunited with our souls to live with Christ, raised however, not as

they shall be put into the grave to slumber, but in a nobler image. They

were sown like the shrivelled seed, they shall come up like the fair flowers

which decorate your summer gardens. Planted as a dull unattractive bulb,

to develop into a glory like that of a lovely lily with snowy cup and petals

of gold. Sown like the shrivelled barley or wheat, to come up as a fair

green blade, or to become the golden ear. “It doth not yet appear what we

shall be, but when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him

as he is.” Come, my soul, what a promise is given thee in God’s word of

the life that is to come! A promise for my soul, did I say? A promise for my

body too. These aches and pains shall be repaid; this weariness and these

sicknesses shall all be recompensed. The body shall be re-married to the

soul, from which it parted with so much grief, and the marriage shall be the

more joyous because there never shall be another divorce. Then, in body

and in soul made perfect, the fullness of our bliss shall have arrived.

But will there not be a judgment? Yes, a judgment certainly; and if not in

set ceremonial a judgment for the righteous, as some think, yet in spirit

certainly. We shall gather at the great white throne, gather with the goats

or gather with the sheep. But there is this promise to you who are godly,

that you shall have nothing to fear in that day of judgment: you shall go to

it with the blood-bought pardon in your bosom, to be shown before the

judgment-seat. You shall go to that judgment to have it proclaimed to men,

to angels, and to devils, that “there is now no condemnation to them that

are in Christ Jesus,” none being able to lay anything to the charge of those

for whom Jesus Christ has died, and whom the Father justifieth. You need

not fear the judgment, you need not fear the conflagration of the world, or

whatever else of terror shall be attendant upon the coming of Christ as a

thief in the night. You have the promise of the life that now is, and of that

which is to come. Listen to me. You have the promise that you shall enjoy

for ever the high dignity of being priests and kings unto God. You sons of

toil, you daughters of poverty, yon shall be peers in heaven, you shall be

courtiers of the Prince Imperial, yourselves being princes of the bloodroyal.

Your heads shall wear crowns, your hands shall wave palms of

triumph. And as you shall have glorious rank, so shall you have

companions suitable to your condition. The worldling’s haunt, the

synagogue of Satan, shall be far away from you. No more shall you sojourn

in Mesech and dwell in the tents of Kedar. No idle talk shall vex you, no

blasphemies shall inflict themselves upon your ear. You shall hear the

songs of angels; and as they charm you, you shall also charm them by

making known unto them the manifold wisdom of God. The holiest and

best of men, redeemed by Jesus’ precious blood, shall commune with you,

and, best of all —

 

“He that on the throne doth reign

You for evermore shall feed;

With the tree of life sustain,

To the living fountain lead.”

 

You shall have unbroken fellowship with God and with his Christ. What

ravishing joy this will be; we shall better be able to experience than to

imagine. Communion with Jesus here below uplifts us far above the world,

but what its delights are in the unclouded skies of face-to-face fellowship,

hath not yet entered into the heart of man.

 

Hearken yet more, beloved. You shall have suitable occupation. I know

not what you may have to do in heaven, but I do know it is written, “They

shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads, and his servants

shall serve him.” They serve him day and night in his temple. You would

not be happy without occupation. Minds made like yours could not find

rest except upon the wing; delightful and honorable employment shall be

allotted you, suitable to your perfected capabilities. But, mark you, you

shall have rest as well as service. No wave of trouble shall roll over your

peaceful bosoms. You shall for ever bathe your souls in seas of blissful rest

no care, no fear, no unsatisfied desire; for all desires shall be

consummated, all expectations be fulfilled. God shall be your portion, the

infinite Spirit your friend, and the ever-blessed Christ your elder brother.

Into the joy of heaven, which knoweth no bounds, shall you enter,

according to his words, “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And all this,

and infinitely more than my tongue can tell you, shall be yours for ever and

for ever, without fear of ever losing it, or dread of dying in the midst of it.

“Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of

man, the things that God hath prepared for them that love him, but he hath

revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” All the kingdom which the Father has

prepared, and the place which the Son has prepared, are yours, O believer,

by the promise of the Lord; for “whom he justified, them he also glorified.”

The promise goes with godliness, and if you have godliness there is nothing

in heaven of joy, there is nothing there of honor, there is nothing there of

rest and peace, which is now yours; for godliness hath the promise of it,

and God’s promise never faileth.

 

“Lo! I see the fair immortals,

Enter to the blissful seats;

Glory opens her waiting portals,

And the Savior’s train admits.

All the chosen of the Father,

All for whom the Lamb was slain,

All the church appear together,

Wash’d from every sinful stain.

His dear smile the place enlightens

More than thousand suns could do;

All around, his presence brightens,

Changeless, yet for ever new.

Blessed state! beyond conception!

Who its vast delights can tell?

May it be my blissful portion,

With my Savior there to dwell.”

 

Perhaps within the next ten minutes we may be there! Who knows? I had

half said, “God grant it to me!” No doubt, many anxious spirits would be

glad to end so soon life’s weary journey, and rest in the Fathers home.

 

III. Now, very briefly, consider another point. I have shown you that the

promise appended to godliness is unique and comprehensive, and now

observe that IT IS SURE!

 

“Godliness hath promise;” that is to say, it hath Gods promise. Now, God’s

promise is firmer than the hills. He is God, and cannot lie. He will never

retract the promise, nor will he leave it unfulfilled. He was too wise to give

a rash promise: he is too powerful to be unable to fulfill it. “Hath he said,

and shall he not do it?” Already tens of thousands to whom the promise

was made have obtained a measure of this bliss in the glorification of their

perfect spirits. We are on the road to the same happy state. Some of us are

on the river’s brink. Perhaps the Lord may come suddenly, and we shall be

changed, and so perfected without dying. Be that as the Lord wills, it is not

a question which disturbs us. Our faith is strong and firm. We are sure that

we, too, shall enter into the rest which remaineth, and with all the blood582

washed multitude shall in wonder and surprise adore the God before whose

throne we shall cast our crowns.

 

IV. But I shall not tarry upon that, for there comes a fourth thought. This

promise is A PRESENT PROMISE.

 

You should notice the participle, “having promise.” It does not say that

godliness after awhile will get the promise, but godliness has promise now

at this very moment. My dear hearer, if you are godly, that is, if you have

submitted to God’s way of salvation, if you trust God, love God, serve

God, if you are, in fact, a converted man, you have now the promise of the

life that is to come. When we get a man’s promise in whom we trust, we

feel quite easy about the matter under concern. A note of hand from many

a firm in the city of London would pass current for gold any day in the

week; and surely when God gives the promise, it is safe and right for us to

accept it as if it were the fulfillment itself, for it is quite as sure. We have

the promise, let us begin to sing about it; what is more, we have a part of

the fulfillment of it, for “I give unto my sheep eternal life,” says Christ:

shall we not sing concerning that? Believe in Jesus, you have eternal life

now. There will be no new life given to you after death. You have even

now, O Christian, the germ within thee which will develop into the glorylife

above. Grace is glory in the bud. You have the earnest of the Spirit;

you have already a portion of the promise which is given to godliness.

Now, what you should do is to live now in the enjoyment of the promise.

You cannot enjoy heaven, for you are not there, but you can enjoy the

promise of it, Many a dear child, if it has a promise of a treat in a week’s

time, will go skipping among its little companions as merry as a lark about

it. It has not the treat yet, but it expects it; and I have known in our

Sunday-schools our little boys and girls months before the time came for

them to go into the country, as happy as the days were long, in prospect of

that little pleasure. Surely you and I ought to he childlike enough to begin

to rejoice in the heaven that is so soon to be ours. I know to-morrow some

of you will be working very hard, but you may sing: —

 

“This is not my place of resting,

Mine’s a city yet to come;

Onward to it I am hasting —

On to my eternal home.”

 

Perhaps you will have to fight the world’s battles, and you will find them

very stern. Oh! but you can sing even now of the palm-branch, and of the

victory that awaits you; and as your faith looks at the crown that Christ has

prepared for it, you will be much rested even in the heat of the battle.

When a traveler who has been long an exile returns home, it may be after

walking many miles, he at last gets to the brow of the hill, where he can see

the church of the little town, and get a bird’s-eye view of the parish. He

gazes awhile, and as he looks again and again, says to himself, “Yes, that is

the High Street there, and yonder is the turning by the old inn, and there —

yes, there, I can see the gable of the dear old house at home.” Though his

feet may be blistered, the way may have been long, and the sweat may be

pouring from his face, yet he plucks up courage at the sight of home. The

last mile down hill is soon got over, for he has seen his long-loved home.

Christians, ye may see it, ye may see the goodly land from Nebo even now:

 

“How near

At times to faith’s far-seeing eye,

The golden gates appear!”

 

When the crusaders first came in sight of Jerusalem, though they had a

hard battle before them ere they could win it, yet they fell down in ecstacy

at the sight of the holy city. And do not you and I say Soldiers of the cross,

my fellow crusaders in the holy war of righteousness, will you not in

prospect of the coming glory sing: —

 

“O my sweet home, Jerusalem,

Would God I were in thee!

Would God my woes were at an end,

Thy joys that I might see!”

 

When the brave soldiers, of whom Xenophon tells us, came at last in sight

of the sea, from which they had been so long separated, they cried out,

Thallasse! Thallasse!” — “The sea! the sea!” and we, though death

appears between us and the better land, can yet look beyond it and see the

 

“Sweet fields beyond the swelling flood

Arrayed in living green,”

 

and bless God that a sight of what is to be revealed renders the burdens of

the way light as we march towards glory. Oh! live, live in the foretaste of

heaven. Let worldlings see that

 

“The thought of such amazing bliss

Doth constant joys create.”

 

V. Last of all. This promise which is appended to godliness is A VERY

NEEDFUL ONE.

 

It is a very needful one, for ah! if I have no promise of the life that is to

come, where am I? where am I? and where shall I be? where shall I be? I

live, I know; I die, I know I must; and if it all be true as this old Book, my

mother’s Book, tells me, that there is a hereafter, if I have no godliness,

then woe worth the day to me! Oh! how much I want the promise of the

life to come, for if I have not that I have a curse for the life to come. I

cannot die, God has made my soul immortal. Even God himself will never

annihilate me, for he has been pleased to create me an immortal spirit, and

on I must live for ever. There be some who say, and I think the doctrine

full of unnumbered perils to the souls of men, that God made man naturally

mortal, and the soul can become extinct; and they go on to teach that

sinners are made to live after death on purpose to be tormented for a

longer or shorter time, and then at last are annihilated. What a God must he

be to give them a life they need not have, on purpose that he might torment

them! I know no such God. But HE, whom I adore, in his unbounded

goodness, gave to mankind what was in itself a wondrous blessing —

immortality; and if you, my hearer, choose to turn it into a curse for ever, it

is you that are to be blamed for it, and not God who gave you the

immortality which, if you believe in the appointed Savior, will be to you an

eternity of bliss. You are now past all recall an immortal being, and if you

die without hope in Christ there will remain only this for you, to go on

sinning in another state as you have gone on sinning here, but to get no

pleasure from it as you think you do sometimes, here — on the contrary, to

be tortured with remorse concerning it, and vexed with angry passions to

think that you cannot have your will, passions that will make you struggle

yet worse against your God, and make your misery consequently the

greater. The worm that never dies will be your own furious hatred of God.

The fire that never shall be quenched is probably the flames of your own

insatiate lust after evil. I say not that there will not be bodily pains, but the

natural results of sin are the deepest hell to the soul. Sin has made you

unhappy now. It will ripen; it will increase; when everything that checks it

shall be taken off, your true character will be developed, and with that

development will come enlarging wretchedness. Separated from the

company of the righteous, and placed among the wicked, you will go on to

be worse and worse, and every stop in the increase of sin necessitates an

increase of misery. It is not true that God will punish you in mere caprice.

He has ordained, and right enough was he to ordain it, that sin should

punish itself, that sin should be its own misery, and its own anguish. Sin

will be to you a never-ending death. O wherefore will ye die? Wherefore

will you die? Wherefore will ye by the love of sin bring upon yourselves an

eternity of sin, an eternity of suffering? Turn ye unto Christ. I pray his

Spirit to turn you. Come ye now, come ye now, and lay hold on eternal

life!

 

I have been thinking while I have been preaching to you, this evening, of

my own self awhile, and I shall turn my thoughts to myself and any others

who are preachers or teachers, and who try to do good to others. Years

ago Hamburgh was nearly half of it burned down, and among the incidents

that happened, there was this one. A large house had connected with it a

yard in which there was a great black dog, and this black dog in the middle

of the night barked and howled most furiously. It was only by his barking

that the family were awakened just in time to escape from the flames, and

their lives were spared; but the poor dog was chained to his kennel, and

though he barked and thus saved the lives of others, he was burned himself.

Oh! do not you who work for God in this church perish in that fashion. Do

not permit your sins to enchain you, so that while you warn others you

become lost yourselves. Do see that you have the godliness which has the

promise of the life that is to come.

 

And now, you who really desire to find godliness, remember, it is to be had

in Christ, and only in Christ. I was in Windermere some three weeks ago,

on a hot, dusty day, and I saw a little gushing stream of water, and a chain

with a ladle to it for the passer-by to drink. I wanted to drink, and I went

to it, but the ladle was cracked quite through, was very rusty, and would

not hold a drop of water, neither was the water, if it had been held in it, fit

to drink. There are ways of salvation chosen by some that are equally as

deceptive. They mock the traveler. But oh! my Lord and Master, Jesus

Christ, is a river of mercy, deep and broad. You have but to stoop and

drink, and you may drink as much as you will, and none shall say you nay.

Have you not his word for it, “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever

will, let him take the water of life freely”?

 

God grant you may with your heart believe the gospel of Jesus, for our

heart believe the gospel of Jesus, for Christ’s sake.