1 Peter 1:6
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in various trials,
Sorrowful, Yet Always RejoicingAlexander Maclaren1 Peter 1:6
The Paradox of the Christian Life - Joy Subsisting with SorrowA. Maclaren 1 Peter 1:6
Salvation in its CompletionR. Finlayson 1 Peter 1:3-12
He Testing of Religious FaithU.R. Thomas 1 Peter 1:6, 7
Afflictions a Test of FaithJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:6-9
Believers RejoicingW. Jay.1 Peter 1:6-9
Burnt InJ. C. Jones, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Christ, Though Invisible, the Object of Devout AffectionJ. Foster.1 Peter 1:6-9
Christian JoyJ. Trapp.1 Peter 1:6-9
Christian JoyE. L. Hull, B. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
Deep JoysT. De Witt Talmage.1 Peter 1:6-9
Genuine Faith More Precious than GoldHomilist1 Peter 1:6-9
Glorified JoysJ. Trapp.1 Peter 1:6-9
Glorious EnjoymentTinling's Illustrations1 Peter 1:6-9
Gratitude to ChristT. Somerville, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Heart JoysT. De Witt Talmage.1 Peter 1:6-9
Heaven's Discipline of the GoodHomilist1 Peter 1:6-9
Joy and Trial in the Christian's LifeJ. Henry Burn, B. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Joy in HeavinessF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
Joy UnspeakableT. Leighton.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love a Way to FaithJ. Leckie, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love of ChristA. M. Fairbairn, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love to an Unseen SaviourS. Hayward.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love to an Unseen SaviourF. Ferguson, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love to an Unseen SaviourJ. Hubbard.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love to ChristR. Burns, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Love to the Unseen ChristJames Cranbrook.1 Peter 1:6-9
Needful AfflictionsW. Swinnock.1 Peter 1:6-9
Perfect SalvationR. W Dale, LL. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Peter's List of ValuablesA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Rejoicing Indicates StrengthT. De Witt Talmage.1 Peter 1:6-9
Salvation -- its Subjective ElementsJ. C. Jones, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Salvation as it is Now ReceivedC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9
Salvation the End of FaithAmerican National Preacher1 Peter 1:6-9
Seeing is not Believing, But Believing is SeeingC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9
Soul SalvationU. R. Thomas.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Believer's Joyful LoveN. C. Locke, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Christian's Heaviness and RejoicingC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Christian's Joy and the Christian's SufferingsW. Jay.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Duality of Christian LifeJ. P. Lunge.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Duty and Discipline of Christian JoyA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Godly, by Faith, Do Even Here Enjoy SalvationJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Greatness of Salvation1 Peter 1:6-9
The Highest Christian ExperienceU. R. Thomas.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Needs BeJ. Trapp.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Reign of Christ in ChristendomBp. Alexander.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Saints' Joy Notwithstanding HeavinessC. New 1 Peter 1:6-9
The Sweetest Joys Learned in Trial1 Peter 1:6-9
The Testing of Religious FaithU. R. Thomas.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Theology of SufferingsJ. C. Jones, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of FaithThornley Smith.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of FaithR. Watson.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of FaithJ. H. Evans, M. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of FaithM. Henry.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of Faith PreciousW. Arnot.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of Our FaithH. S. Brown.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Trial of Your FaithC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9
The Use of Trials1 Peter 1:6-9
The Uses of GriefC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9
Trial as FireF. B. Meyer, B. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
TrialsW. H. Ridley, M. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
TrialsJ. M. Chanter, M. A.1 Peter 1:6-9
Trials and GloryJ. Spencer.1 Peter 1:6-9
Trials are TestsJonathan Edwards.1 Peter 1:6-9
Tried Faith More Precious than GoldJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:6-9
Triumph of the Soul Over TrialJ. Lillie, D. D.1 Peter 1:6-9
Variableness of Christian MoodsH. W. Beecher.1 Peter 1:6-9
Why the Godly Must Undergo Many TroublesJohn Rogers.1 Peter 1:6-9
Your Personal SalvationC. H. Spurgeon.1 Peter 1:6-9

When he was young, Peter had been peculiarly impatient of sorrow, and blind to its necessity and worth. He had forgotten his reverence for Christ in his refusal to believe, even on his Master's authority, that sorrow could touch so dear a head. Years and experience had taught him the deed meaning of the prophetic contrast which Christ had drawn between his early self-'willed, unhindered action, and his later days, when his will should be crossed and unwelcome compulsion should lord it over him. This Epistle is remarkable for the clearness of its insight and the frequency of its references to suffering as an indispensable factor in the Christian life. When he was old, he had learned the lesson which had been so foreign to his hot youth. Well for us if our past sorrows lie transfigured and illuminated by a beam of light like this in the text!

I. THE JOY OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. We have first the source of the joy. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice." The complex whole of the blessings spoken of - the lively hope, the reserved inheritance, the guarding power, the prepared salvation, its future apocalypse - these are the golden threads from which the bright tissue is woven. So this is the first distinction between the majestic Christian joy and the lighter-winged fluttering mirths and pleasures. It flows from no surface-pools, but from deep fountains, and is fed from everlasting fields of pure snow high on the mountains of God. Then we have the depth and calm rapture of the joy in the strong word of the original, which expresses a high degree of exultation. Peter was possibly quoting our Lord's words to his persecuted people, "Rejoice and be exceeding glad." At all events, Christian joy should be no pale and feeble thing, but full-blooded and fall-voiced. It is far unlike boisterous mirth, which is noisy like the thorn-bushes which crackle and flare in flame for a moment. "The gods approve the depth and not the tumult of the soul." A present salvation, fellowship with a present Christ, the large and. sure hope of his appearing, the exercise of faith and love and obedience, the immunity from fear, and the escape from the miseries of self-will, should all combine, like so many streams pouring down the hillsides, in this one deep and smooth-flowing stream of calm and equable gladness. Religion does us good. only as it makes us glad. Any firm and. adequate grasp of the facts and relations which the gospel brings will certainly make a man joyful. The average religion of this day does not believe in its own creed heartily enough to find in it support against temptations or joy in sorrow. If our Christianity has not the power to bless us with gladness in our hearts, there is something wrong either in the completeness of our surrender to it or in the articles of our belief. If our religion is largely self-inspection, or if it dwells on the sterner side of truth, or is mainly a prohibitory law keeping us from doing what we would like, or if it is a languid emotion not half so powerful as common appetites, we cannot expect to get sweet juice of gladness from such shrunken fruit. The coexistence of this joy with sorrow is, further, brought into prominence here. This paradox of Christian experience has seemed so startling that the future tense has been proposed as the true rendering; but a much deeper and grander sense results from adhering to the present tense. It is possible that joy should live side by side in the same heart with sorrow, and neither converting the other wholly into its own substance, and each made more noble by the presence of its opposite. "Central peace" may "subsist at the heart or' endless agitation." Greek fire will burn under water. Flowers bloom on the glacier's edge. The depths of the sea are still, while winds rave and waves heave and currents race above. In the darkest night of sorrow and loss, starry and immortal hopes wilt brighten in our sky, and the heart that is united to Christ will have an inward solemn blessedness which no tempest of sorrow can extinguish.

II. THE SORROW OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. There is much unreality and consequent powerlessness in the one-sided pictures of the religious life so often drawn. To listen to some people, one would fancy that religion was meant to abolish all trial and sorrow. A picture without shadows is unlike anything on earth. The true Christian view neither portrays an impossible paradise nor preaches a hardening stoicism. Here we have in half a dozen words a theory of the meaning and uses of pain and grief, sufficient to live by and to alleviate many a pang.

1. Nonce the insight rote the true nature and purpose of all sorrow. It is temptation, or, more properly, trial. It is intended as a test, a proof, to reveal us to ourselves and so to better us. We do not get to the bottom of our sorrows till we look at the moral purpose which they serve, and regard them as discipline rather than pain. They take a shallow view who contemplate only the smart of the wound and leave out of sight the surgeon's purpose. They take as shallow a view who dispute or deny the benefit of sorrow, and assert that happiness tends to a sweeter virtue than it does. There is a lowly self-distrust quickly passing into calm faith which only sorrow can produce. The will is never bowed into submission without being softened in the furnace, and there is no real goodness but from a submissive will. The props round which the heart twines its tendrils have to be cut down, that it may fasten itself on the only true support. Only when we have nothing else to lean on do we lean all our weight on him.

2. Observe, too, the recognition of the wise adaptation of our sorrows to our need. They are not sent unless "need be." They are sent as need is. In the great Surgeon's instrument-ease are many shining blades, all for cutting and paining. He chooses the right knife, and cuts where wanted, and close beside the sharp instrument lie bandage and balm. It is hard to believe that a sorrow which strikes many is at the same time proportioned in its force to each. But faith knows that Providence neither forgets the general mass in care for the individual, nor loses sight of the wants of the individual in the crowd, but is at once special and general.

3. Finally, observe the transiency of sorrow. It is for a season. That is the highest attainment of faith, to see how short are the long slow hours which pain and grief lengthen. They seem to creep, as if the sun and the moon stood still as of old, that the storm may have time to break on us. But we have to take Heaven's chronology in our sorrows, and, though their duration seems interminable, to feel that after all it is but a little while. The long hours as they appear of a dream are but moments in reality, and seem so when the sleeper awakes. His anger is but a moment; his favor lasts all the life. Weeping may come to lodge with us - a somber guest - for a night; but when the bright morning dawns Joy comes with a shout, radiant as the morning, and at his coming the black-robed visitant steals out of sight. Then the joy that coexisted with sorrow shall survive alone, and "sorrow and sighing shall flee away." - A.M.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice.

1. It is present joy. God's service is gladsome even now (1 Peter 1:8; Philippians 4:4). Nor is this joy for advanced believers only, but for all true-hearted seekers after God (Psalm 105:3).

2. It is great joy (Psalm 68:3).

3. There are many sources of the Christian's great joy, but the particular one here mentioned is the present happiness afforded by a believing expectation of the joys laid up for him in eternity.

4. There are important reasons why we all ought to be joyful Christians.(1) It is our privilege as Christians. When we may be so much happier than we are, what folly not to exercise our right!(2) Our influence for good over others depends greatly upon the apparent result which religion produces in our own case.(3) Very much of our own stability as Christians depends upon our joyfulness (Nehemiah 8:10).

II. THE CHRISTIAN'S TRIAL. There is nothing whatever unchequered here below — no joy without sorrow, no sunshine without shadow, no harmony unmixed with discord, Life is like an April day.

1. "Ye are in heaviness" — pressed down, forced to the earth, as if under some cruel load. The Christian's joy is from heaven, his grief from earth. These two are ever at war with one another.

2. "Ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." Persecutions abounded. The devil aimed his fiery darts at them. The world spread its allurements for them.

3. Yet this state of trial has its alleviations.(1) It is only "for a season," whereas the Christian's joy endures forever (Psalm 30:5; 2 Corinthians 4:17).(2) It is only "if need be" — if there is a necessity, if some good can be effected by it.

III. THE UNION OF JOY AND TRIAL IN THE CHRISTIAN'S EARTHLY LOT. Does the text teach that times of trial are destroyers of the Christian's joy, even for a season? On the contrary, St. Peter speaks of the "heaviness" only to give us a more exalted idea of the mighty power of the "joy." "Ye greatly rejoice, though ye are in heaviness"; your hearts remain glad in spite of your trials. Clouds come, but the sun breaks through them and goes on shining still. Obstacles arise, but the bright river of the Christian's peace flows past and over them, deep and glad as before. The one great peculiarity of the Christian's joy is its comparative independence of outward circumstances — nay, its triumph over them. Worldly men can rejoice when all is prosperous. If, therefore, the Christian's joy vanished at the approach of sorrow, men might well ask wherein the Christian differed from others?

(J. Henry Burn, B. D.)


1. Its greatness. "Wherein ye greatly rejoice." There are only three things really great in the universe — God and the soul and eternity, and as religion has to do with them all its dealings have something superior in them all.

2. Its ground.

(1)The Christian's joy is not unfounded.

(2)The Christian's joy is founded principally upon spiritual and eternal things.


1. The nature of the Christian's sufferings.

2. The number.

3. Their influence.

4. Their expediency.

5. Their duration.

(W. Jay.)


1. If we were not in heaviness during our troubles we should not be like our Covenant Head — Christ Jesus.

2. If we did not suffer heaviness we would begin to grow too proud, and become too great in our own esteem.

3. In heaviness we often learn lessons that we never could attain elsewhere. "Ah!" said Luther, "affliction is the best book in my library," and let me add the best leaf in the book of affliction is that blackest of all the leaves, the leaf called heaviness, when the spirit sinks within us, and we cannot endure as we could wish.

4. This heaviness is of essential use to a Christian if he would do good to others. Who shall speak to those whose hearts are broken but those whose hearts have been broken also?

II. HIS REJOICING. Mariners tell us that there are some parts of the sea where there is a strong current upon the surface going one way, but that down in the depths there is a strong current running the other way. Two seas do not meet and interfere with one another, but one stream of water on the surface is running in one direction, and another below in an opposite direction. Now the Christian is like that. On the surface there is a stream of heaviness rolling with dark waves, but down in the depths there is a strong undercurrent of great rejoicing that is always flowing there. The apostle is writing "to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus."

1. The first thing that he says to them is, that they are "elect according to the foreknowledge of God," "wherein we greatly rejoice." Ah! even when the Christian is most "in heaviness through manifold temptations," what a mercy it is that he can know that he is still elect of God!

2. The apostle says that we are "elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ" — "wherein we greatly rejoice." Is the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ girt about my loins, to be my beauty; and is the blood of Jesus sprinkled upon me to take away all my guilt and all my sin, and shall I not in this greatly rejoice?

3. But the great and cheering comfort of the apostle is, that we are elect unto an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us. And here is the grand comfort of the Christian.

4. There is one more doctrine that will always cheer a Christian, this perhaps is the one chiefly intended here in the text. "Reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." This will be one of the greatest cordials to a Christian in heaviness, that he is not kept by his own power, but by the power of God.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Very many of the sweetest joys of Christian hearts are songs which have been learned in the bitter ness of trial. It is said of the canary bird that he will never learn to sing the song his master will have him sing while it is light in his cage. He learns a snatch of every song he hears, but will not learn a full separate melody of its own. And the master covers the cage and makes it dark all about the bird, and then he listens and learns the one song that is taught to him until his heart is full of it. Then, ever after, he sings the song in the light. With many of us it is as with the bird. The Master has a song He wants to teach to us, but we learn only a strain of it, a note here and there, while we catch up snatches of the world's songs and sing them with it. Then He comes and makes it dark about us till we learn the sweet melody He would teach us. Many of the loveliest songs of peace and trust sung by God's children in this world they have been taught in the darkened chamber of sorrow.

There are even many facts in our ordinary human experience that render quite conceivable this triumph of the soul over all surrounding tribulations and distresses. What cares the patient, toiling man of science for the incredulity and jeers of his neighbours, or the vexations of poverty, when first the obscurity and meanness of his lonely chamber are lighted up by the flash of some great discovery? How superior to threats and discouragements of every kind was the mighty heart of Columbus as he calmly forced his way through the veil of waters toward this unseen world! Nay, how often has the bitterness of death itself been overcome to the soldier on the battlefield and the patriot on the scaffold, by the silent anticipation of the freedom and glory which their agonies secured for the country they loved! And need we then wonder if the confessors of Jesus have gone singing to the stake, and their shout of victory has been stifled only by the flames into which they sank?

(J. Lillie, D. D.)

They say that springs of sweet fresh water well up amid the brine of salt seas; that the fairest Alpine flowers bloom in the wildest, ruggedest mountain passes; that the noblest psalms were the outcome of the profoundest agony of soul. Be it so. And thus amid manifold trials souls which love God will find reasons for bounding, leaping joy. Have you learnt this lesson yet? Not simply to endure God's will, nor only to choose it, nor only to trust it, but to rejoice in it. Of such joy there are two sources: first, the understanding of the nature and meaning of trial; second, the soul's love and faith in its unseen Lord. There is enough in these two for unsullied and transcendent joy; in fact, we may question whether we ever truly drink of Christ's joy till all other sources of joy are eliminated by earthly sorrow, and we are driven to seek that joyous blessedness which no earthly sun can wither and no winter freeze (Habakkuk 3:17, 18, 19).

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)

Greek, ἀγαλλιᾶσθε, Ye dance for joy, ye dance a galliard, or as children do about a bonfire: ye cannot but express your inward joy in your countenance, voice, and gesture.

(J. Trapp.)

The variableness of Christian moods is often a matter of great and unnecessary suffering; but Christian life does not follow the changes of feeling. Our feelings are but the torch; and our life is the man that carries it. The wind that flares the flame does not make the man waver. The flame may sway hither and thither, but he holds his course straight on. Thus oftentimes it is that our Christian hopes are carried, as one carries a lighted candle through the windy street, that seems never to be so nearly blown out as when we step through the open door, and, in a moment, we are safe within. Our wind-blown feelings rise and fall through all our life, and the draught of death threatens quite to extinguish them; but one moment more, and they shall rise and forever shine serenely in the unstormed air of heaven.

(H. W. Beecher.)

When our hearts grow a grain too light, God seeth it but needful to make us heavy through manifold temptations.

(J. Trapp.)

As there are two men in every true Christian, a new man and an old one, so heaviness in manifold temptation and rejoicing may readily co-exist.

(J. P. Lunge.)

In heaviness through manifold temptations
1. To drive them to repentance (2 Samuel 12:18; Genesis 42:21). They are as the shepherd's dog, to fetch us out of the corn, to bring us into compass again (Psalm 32:4, 5; Psalm 119:67, 71).

2. To keep them from sin, being therefore compared to a hedge of thorns (Hosea 2:6; Job 33:17; 2 Chronicles 20:37).

3. To humble them. We have a proud nature, and while in health we think our heads half touch the clouds; therefore God pulls us down by troubles.

4. To make them more holy, to scourge off the rust, purge out some of the remnant of the old man, and renew the inner man (Isaiah 4:4; Hebrews 12:10; Isaiah 27:9).

5. To wean them from the world, to which even the best are too much addicted, and to make them willing to die and to be gone hence, so setting them on work to look after and make sure of a better inheritance.

6. To prove the devil a liar (Job 1:9).

7. To keep them from hell and condemnation.

8. To bring them to heaven.

(John Rogers.)

I. The disciplinary elements are VERY MANIFOLD.

II. The disciplinary elements are VERY PAINFUL. "Ye are in heaviness." Or, as Dr. Davidson renders it, "made sorrowful." "Heaviness" is a relative term. What is heavy to one would be light to another. Paul gloried in tribulation.

III. The disciplinary elements are ONLY TEMPORARY. "Now for a season."

1. The trials of life are short compared with the enjoyments of life. They are exceptional.

2. The trials of life are short compared with the blessedness of the future.

IV. The disciplinary elements are VERY NECESSARY. "If need be." As storms in nature are necessary to purify the air, so trials are necessary to cleanse the atmosphere around the soul.

V. The disciplinary elements are ALWAYS BENEFICENT. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth." Nothing is more important to man than that it should be genuine.


What! would you choose that you alone may fare better than all God's saints? that God should strew carpets for your nice feet only, to walk into your heaven, and make that way smooth for you which all patriarchs, prophets, evangelists, confessors, Christ Himself, have found rugged! Away with this self-love, and come down, you ambitious sons of Zebedee, and, ere you think of sitting near the throne, be content to be called unto the cross. Now is your trial. Let your Saviour see how much of His bitter portion you can pledge. Then shall you see how much of His glory He can afford you. As snow is of itself cold, yet warms and refreshes the earth, so afflictions, though in themselves grievous, yet keep the soul of the Christian warm and make it fruitful. Let the most afflicted know and remember that it is better to be preserved in brine than to rot in honey. After a forest fire has raged furiously, it has been found that many pine cones have had their seeds released by the heat, which ordinarily would have remained unsown. The future forest sprang from the ashes of the former. Some Christian graces, such as humility, patience, sympathy, have been evolved frown the sufferings of the saints. The furnace has been used to fructify.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Consider that all thy afflictions are needful, and work for thy good. Nothing is intolerable that is necessary. "If need be," whilst we have diseased bodies, physic is as needful as food; whilst we have diseased souls, misery is as needful as outward mercies. The winter is as necessary to bring on harvest as the spring; affliction is as necessary to bring on the harvest of glory as any condition.

(W. Swinnock.)

Look upon a painted post or sign whose colour is laid in oil, how the rain beats upon it in stormy weather, that one would think all the colour would be washed off, yet how the water glides away and leaves it rather more beautiful than before. And thus it is with every child of God, being well garnished with graces of the Spirit, let the wind of persecution blow, and the floods of affliction lift up their voice, they shall never deface, but rather add unto their beauty; such is the condition of grace, that it shines the brighter for scouring, and is most glorious when it is most clouded.

(J. Spencer.)

Suppose I made a very wonderful steam engine, and put it into a ship, to make it into a steam packet. It is all beautifully made, and complete, and I want to "try" whether it is all good; whether the machinery is right and works well. Where should I send it, into a smooth sea or a rough sea? I should send it "up the rapids" — up the river — against the stream, to see whether it would go up, I should. So God does with you. He furnishes you with everything you want — then puts you up "the rapids," sends you on the rough water, just to "try" you, to see what you are made of.

The trial of your faith

1. They are manifold in their nature. What a world of change and sorrow we live in t

2. They are difficult to bear; for they cause heaviness or depression of mind (Hebrews 10:32). If you are in heaviness bear it manfully, but do not show it openly. Speak of your troubles to your bosom friend, but do not talk of them to men of this world. Above all, tell them to Jesus.

3. They are temporary. The longest trials, and those which leave the deepest wounds, are but for a season.

4. They are necessary. "If need be." Oh, there is "a needs be" for every stroke, and though we do not now understand why this trial or the other falls upon us, yet we shall know hereafter.

II. THE END AND AIM of these temptations must be carefully observed. "They are for the trial of our faith."

1. The value of faith cannot be overestimated. Gold perishes, but faith lives — lives in death, and far beyond it (1 Corinthians 13:13).

2. But it must be tried, and sometimes in a very severe furnace. It is proved, tested, or verified by trial, and the faith which cannot stand the ordeal is of little or no value (Job 23:10). There are many ways in which faith is tried.(1) It is tried by Divine commands. God gives His servants some difficult task to perform. True faith will surmount all difficulties.(2) Faith is often tried by doubts.(3) And faith is tried by fire — the fire of discipline, of persecution, of protracted bodily affliction.

3. The ultimate design of the trial is that it may "be found," nothing of it being lost, "unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

(Thornley Smith.)


1. From the use of the word that describes the process — "temptation."

2. From the fact that those who are being tested are often possessed with "heaviness," "grief."

3. From the nature of the elements employed in the process.

(1)No material element causes more pain than "fire."

(2)These elements are "manifold." With those to whom Peter wrote it was Gentile scorn, slander, persecution, martyrdom.


1. The testing is only temporary.

2. The worth of the soul is tested.

3. The purpose of the process.

(1)To try the genuineness of faith.

(2)To remove alloy.

(3)To train for highest uses.

(4)To lead to highest destiny.

(U. R. Thomas.)

1. To try whether we have any faith.

2. To try whether our faith be as much as we take it to be or more; this, affliction will discover.

3. To purge and purify that true faith which we have, and increase it.

(John Rogers.)

The apostle here expresses his very cordial sympathy with his Christian brethren under the circumstances of trial to which they were exposed. "Ye greatly rejoice in that last time," or, as the passage might be rendered, "Wherein ye shall greatly rejoice." "Now for a season ye are in heaviness, but in the last time — the time of Christ's appearing — the time of your entering upon the inheritance that is incorruptible, ye shall greatly rejoice." But still the prospect of the great rejoicing in the last time gives some measure of rejoicing in the present. It is impossible for us to hope with anything like assurance for something that will make us very joyful without feeling in a measure joyful now. We can in a some. what cheerful spirit bear the most dismal wintry weather, as we have the assurance of the spring and summer that are to follow. But this joy is mingled with sorrow. "Now for a season ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations." And this brings us to the subject of our text — namely, the trial of our faith. Now your faith is your confidence in God. Your faith is your confidence in God's being, and doing all that in His Word He is represented to be and to have done; your confidence in God as infinitely wise, and mighty, and righteous, and merciful; your confidence in Him as having provided a full and free redemption for mankind through the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ; your confidence in Him as certain to fulfil all the great promises that He has given to His people. That is your faith, your confidence in God. And concerning the trial of this the apostle here speaks. But, first, of this faith he says that it is more precious than gold. I think I can appeal to every Christian here, and say, "Now, you would be sorry to lose your property, no doubt?" Quite natural. But still, do not you as Christians feel that we would rather be beggared today than lose this precious faith of which the Apostle Peter speaks? Well, this faith, he tells us, is to be tried. That is to say, our faith is subjected to proof — put to the test. If we profess to be Christians, it is very important that the world and the Church and ourselves should have some proof of our Christianity that this profession of ours is a right, honest thing, and neither a piece of hypocrisy nor a piece of self-delusion. And so for our own sakes first of all, but also for the sake of the Church, which we have no right to deceive, and for the sake of the world, which also has a claim to know the genuineness of our religious profession — it is necessary that our faith should be proved. Now, unfortunately, we have in our religious phraseology nearly lost sight of this very common sense meaning of the word "trial." When you talk about the trial of a steamship or the trial of a hundred-ton gun, well, we understand that it is putting these things to a proof. But in our religious phraseology, a trial, forsooth, is simply a calamity — some terrible thing. And that is almost the only light in which we regard it, with scarcely any recognition of God's design, and of His design being the proof of character. But that is His design. Now here is an alleviation at once, and a very great alleviation of the trials that you and I may have to pass through. Here is a man who comes forward and professes to be a seaman. Well, it is a very reasonable thing that he should be required to prove his seamanship by having, sometimes at any rate, to navigate his vessel amid the perils of a storm. And here is another who professes to be a soldier. Well, no injustice is done, but very much the contrary, if this man be required to prove his courage and skill by being sent, occasionally at any rate, upon some exceedingly hazardous military duty. And here is one who professes to be a servant of God, and do not let him be surprised if God, like any other master, shall subject him to proof, and ascertain, by practical experiment, what he is worth and what he can do, and whether he really be what by his profession he ought to be. So our faith is tried. A reasonable and perfectly right thing that tried it ought to be, as I said just now, for our own sake, if for the sake of nobody else. And, as the apostle reminds us here, the trial of our faith is conducted through manifold temptations. Let us take the word "trials," not "temptations," for God does not tempt any man in this evil sense of the word "temptation." We are tried through manifold trials. That is to say, our faith is subjected to more proofs than one; and so it ought to be. I suppose that when they try a ship they make her go through many manoeuvres; and when they try a horse there is more than one sort of test to which the creature is put. And when a student goes in for examination, success in which is to be crowned with some distinguished honour, he is subjected to a considerable number of trials in order that the height and breadth and length and depth of the man's mind, if there be any height and length and depth and breadth in it, may be ascertained. And he is subjected to various manifold trials, because the very brilliant capacity in one direction may, unfortunately, be accompanied by miserable incapacity in another direction, and so the man is subjected to manifold trials. And faith, likewise, is subjected to more trials than one. We find that poverty tries our honesty. A sad reverse of circumstances, such as is very frequently witnessed, does certainly try the integrity of a man's principles as a man of business. And then I need not say that unkindness, injustice, is a great trial of our charity; and persecution would be a severe trial of our courage. Insolence is a trial of our meekness. And there are trials of a peculiar character, not very peculiar either, for they are not uncommon. I mean the trials of our faith that are often experienced by men who really find it difficult to retain their confidence in the revelation of God's will in His Word. And you must not at all suppose that because a man never knew what bad health is, and never knew anything of poverty, and never had the slightest reason to be anxious about a single secular concern, that that man's faith is going untried. It may be being tried a great deal more than yours in the midst of sickness and of poverty. There may be a terrible war going on within that man's mind and heart as he is endeavouring, with all earnestness, but often finds himself failing, endeavouring to retain his confidence in the great principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus our faith is tried, and severe is the trial sometimes, as the apostle indicates when he says, "Though it be tried with fire." It has been in the most terribly literal sense tried with fire, for, as you know, for a long time burning to death was the method commonly resorted to in the persecution of those who stood faithful to the truth as it is in Christ. And so the faith of men like John Huss, and , and Bishop Latimer, and thousands upon thousands more in the noble army of martyrs, was in the most literal and severe sense tried with fire. But, of course, we can understand this expression "tried with fire," in a metaphorical sense, as indicative of any peculiarly severe trial to which faith may be exposed, such as a long and wearisome and painful illness. And now to notice some of the alleviations that we have graciously granted to us in these trials of our faith. Do not let us give way to a hopeless sorrow over the matter, for God has mingled very much comfort with all this distress. In the first place, as the apostle reminds us, it is only for a season, or, as we might render his words, "Now for a little while ye are in heaviness through manifold temptation" — for a little while. It will not be long. It cannot be long. And then, again, there is a necessity for it. "If need be," but not if need not be. Only "if need be," and only in proportion as the need really is. And we really must allow God to be the judge and the only judge of this need. We leave it, of course, to the goldsmith to determine how he is to deal with the gold that he is to make up into an article of use or adornment; and we leave it to the lapidary to decide how to cut and to polish the jewels which he intends to set in this fashion or in that. It would be an impertinent thing for persons not skilled in such work even to venture an opinion, and an impertinent thing to venture opinions about the manner in which God Almighty should deal with and make up the gold and the gems whereof He is preparing a glorious crown for our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. No, "if need be," and only if need be. The sculptor, you know, would not on any account chip off a block of marble one atom more than in his judgment is necessary to the realisation of his idea in the statue. And no surgeon or physician of ordinary humanity will give his patient any more pain than is unavoidable in order to the healing of the wound or the curing of the disease. And we, as the children of God, are in very wise hands, in very tender hands, in very safe hands. And then there is a great object secured by these trials, that this faith thus tried is found to be unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Unto whose praise and honour and glory? Not unto ours — at least, not unto ours in the first place, but unto our Lord's, an Archbishop Leighton says, "God delights to bring out His strongest champions, that they might fight great battles for Him." And although, certainly, it is sad to think of a good man being cast into prison, and sadder still to think of his being committed to the flame, yet I can imagine that God, not although He loves His people, but just because He loves them, rejoices over such a scene as that. I can imagine God rejoicing to see how His grace strengthens a poor, feeble, mortal man, and makes him firm and enduring unto the end. And at the last it will be found that this trial of their faith was ever unto the praise and honour and glory of their Lord, and to their own praise and honour and glory likewise. But, again, there is this alleviation in the trial of faith suggested in the words, "Whom having not seen ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing" — the love that we bear to our Lord Jesus Christ will greatly help us in the trial of our faith. You know that for a person whom you love you will do and suffer things that you would never think of doing or suffering for a person towards whom you felt no particular regard. How much a man will do, and how much he will suffer for his wife and for his children! And so, in proportion to the love we bear to Jesus Christ will be the lightness of the infliction involved in any trials to which our faith is subjected. Once more, there is this alleviation, that "believing in Christ we rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, receiving the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls." But some will say, "Have not we already received the salvation of our souls?" Now salvation is a great compound blessing, if I may so speak, and some of it we have received already, and some of it is in reserve. In fact, salvation is a blessing, of which a Christian is receiving something every day. I had so much salvation yesterday; I have got more today, and I shall have more tomorrow, if I am living the Christian life, that is to say. Now, in so far as salvation is the forgiveness of sins, salvation is ours now.

(H. S. Brown.)

Trials are of many kinds. Some are very slight; but often a little thing is more severely felt than one that is greater. There are all the little annoyances which happen every hour; things go contrary to our wishes; we have to give up our wills; we are disappointed of our hopes. There are pains of body and sickness; there is the sickness of our dear friends. Now trial is natural to us: it belongs to us as children of Adam. But to Christians trials come in a somewhat different way. They belong to us as members of Christ.

I. The first thing to be thought when we have any trial, is THAT IT COMES FROM GOD. It is not a proof of any special wickedness in the person to whom it is sent, nor of God's being specially angry with that person. Quite the contrary. God feels towards each of you the very same tender fatherly love that you feel to your dear boy; and so He corrects you as you correct that boy. And just as you take the trouble to prune and attend to the fruit tree which bears well, in the hope that it will bear still better, so God sends trouble to them who are doing good, in the hope that they will do still better. In all troubles, then, look to God — receive them from Him as the best things which your loving Father can send you.

II. Think, next, WHAT ARE THEY SENT FOR? They are punishments for sins, that is true; but see the wonderful goodness of God: these punishments His love turns into mercies and blessings. What does He send them for?

1. To remind us of our sins; to make us remember our sins, that through His mercy we may repent of them.

2. To draw our thoughts towards Himself. "In their affliction they will seek Me early."

3. They are called trials — that means things which try. What do they try? They try us, whether we can trust God when matters seem to be going wrong.

4. To make us patient. Patience is that great gift which most especially helps to make us perfect Christians. "Let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." When we quietly give up our way to others — when we are disappointed and do not fret — when we ourselves have sharp pains to bear and we do not repine — then we are learning to become more perfect Christians — then we are becoming holier — we are really growing into what God intends us to be.


1. Try to think in this way of all troubles whatsoever, of all the little vexations of life, as well as of the heavier afflictions which come more seldom.

2. Look on continually to the end — the end of all things — heaven and eternity! This will encourage you to bear what now seems so painful. The hope of what is coming will cheer you up.

3. And especially look continually to Jesus Christ, and the example He has set us. Look to Him continually, "lest you be weary and faint in your minds."

(W. H. Ridley, M. A.)

These words are spoken to Christians, to persons called by the apostle "elect according to the foreknowledge of God," and "begotten to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." How great a privilege to be chosen to eternal life I Well may the Christian be delighted with such thoughts, "wherein," says St. Peter, "ye rejoice." But before the enjoyment of these things there are many troubles to be encountered; we may be glad, yet may we perchance, when we look at intervening difficulties, "be in heaviness." It is well known that the most devout Christians are sometimes "in heaviness." Do not think it any strange thing for the Christian man to be "in heaviness," even as to his salvation. The Lord often lays the severest trial, that is, this feeling of desertion, on the most perfect, as you would place the boldest soldier in the front of the battle. Hence, then, assurance is not necessary; the spiritual atmosphere is variable.

1. Poverty is a great temptation — a temptation which throws many "into heaviness."

2. But again, the temptations of the rich lie in another direction.

3. The heaviness which sometimes arises from the oppression and power of sin.

4. And some persons are in heaviness — they themselves know not why. None are more to be sorrowed with. There seems to be no known cause — and yet they are in lowness of spirits, and weary of the world.

(J. M. Chanter, M. A.)

Trial is here compared to fire; that subtle element which is capable of inflicting such exquisite torture on our seared flesh; which cannot endure the least taint or remnant of impurity, but wraps its arms around objects committed to it with eager intensity to set them free and make them pure; which is careless of agony, if only its passionate yearning may be satisfied; which lays hold of things more material than itself, loosening their texture, snapping their fetters, and bearing them upwards in its heaven-leaping energy. What better emblem could there be for God, and for those trims which He permits or sends, and in the heart of which He is to be found?

1. But this fire is a refiner's fire (Malachi 3:3).(1) It is He who permits the trial. The evil thing may originate in the malignity of a Judas, but by the time it reaches us it has become the cup which our Father has given us to drink. The waster may purpose his own lawless and destructive work, but he cannot go an inch beyond the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God. The very devil must ask permission ere he touches a hair of the patriarch's head. The point up to which we may be tested is fixed by consummate wisdom. The weapon may hurt and the fire sting, but they are in the hands which redeemed us.(2) It is He who superintends the trial. No earthly friend may be near, but in every furnace there is One like the Son of Man.(3) It is He who watches the progress of the trial. No mother bending over her suffering child is more solicitous than He is. Suiting the trial to your strength.

2. Trial is only for a season. "Now for a season ye are in heaviness." The great Husbandman is net always threshing. The showers soon pass. Our light affliction is but for a moment.

3. Trial is for a purpose. "If needs be." There is utility in every trial. It is intended to reveal the secrets of our hearts, to humble and prove us, to winnow us as corn is shaken in a sieve, to detach us from the earthly and visible, to create in us an eager desire for the realities which can alone quench our cravings and endure forever.

(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)


1. On the one hand, they show us the evil that is in us. More evil dwells in the heart than we have ever realised. "I never before could believe," exclaims the afflicted man, "that so many hard thoughts of God were nestling in my brain, and so many rebellious passions lodging in my heart." God sends trouble to bring out and make palpable that which is latent.

2. Not only so, but afflictions further serve to evoke our good, to lead forth into visibility the faith, the hope, and the charity God in His loving kindness has infused into our souls. Certain things will not disclose what is in them save under pressure. Aromatic herbs will not diffuse their aroma till they are bruised.


1. Bitters are the best tonic for the spiritual man as for the physical. All who are a little acquainted with gardening operations know how careful the gardener is to lop off all redundant growths which genial weather calls forth, growths which he significantly calls "suckers," because they drain away the sap which would otherwise go to form fruit. On just the same principle the Divine Husbandman treats the "Trees of Righteousness" growing in His vineyard — He mercilessly lops off the worldly "suckers" which steal away the juice, the fatness, of your religion, and thereby drives the whole energy of your spirit back upon your faith.

2. Sorrows further invigorate faith, because they call it into frequent, yea, constant exercise. And it is an universally admitted truth that all our natural faculties and spiritual graces grow in exercise. To be a robust Christian you must battle with difficulties.


1. They release it from the impurities which attach to it. Religion in this world lives among pots, and, as might be expected, it does not quite escape "the corruption that is in the world through lust." And God in His wisdom judges it expedient to cast it into the sea; but, as Leighton quaintly remarks, He does it "not to drown it, but to wash it." But this process of separation is not an easy one, pleasant to flesh and blood; rather it requires the penetrating action of the flame.

2. Adversity, moreover, throws faith more upon its own proper resources, making it draw its aliment and inspiration more directly from God as revealed in His Book.


1. Trials evolve the latent beauty of faith. Faith is intrinsically a beautiful grace, but to disclose its beauty it must often undergo the severe operations of chisel and hammer.

2. But it is also true that sorrows impart beauty to faith, a kind of weird-like fascination that makes it, in its struggle with obstacles, a "spectacle worthy of the gods." God throws the Christian into "many-coloured" afflictions that he may be thereby adorned and made meet to enter the society of heaven. He makes His Church a coat of many colours to show His love to her and appreciation of her.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)


1. Even considered intellectually, as a mere belief of revealed truth, faith is of the highest possible value, as the great instrument by which we obtain religious knowledge and wisdom.

2. But its value — as it is not merely an intellectual exercise, but an act of trust, and thus a work of the heart — is shown by this, that it connects us immediately and personally with the merits of the great Atonement.

3. The value of faith is seen in this, that it not only connects man, as guilty, with the meritorious atonement of the Saviour, but man, as weak and helpless, with the omnipotence of Divine grace.

4. Another proof of the value of faith is found in that wonderful property which the Apostle Paul assigns to it, and which, indeed, we find by actual experience that it possesses — the property of fixing its eye on invisible and eternal realities, and keeping the soul continually under their influence.


1. In its lower sense — merely considered as belief of truth — faith will be tried. This may occur in many circumstances, and especially from infidel sophistry.

2. But our faith will not only be tried by sophistry; it will be tried also by what may be termed practical unbelief. This is especially the ease in all temptations to sin.

3. Faith, in that higher sense in which the word is used — as implying a simple trust in the atonement of the Saviour — will be tried by our proneness to self-dependence.

4. Faith is also tried by afflictions and sorrows. In sorrows our faith has to repose entirely on the great doctrine that all that concerns us is in the hands of God, that here there is no chance, no oversight, no delegation of the Divine power to the creature.

III. THE FINAL HONOURS OF FAITH. It has, indeed, its honours now, far greater than any of which unbelief can boast. Is it not that which brings man to God for the blessings of reconciliation and adoption? Is it not that which brings with it the mighty influence of that Holy Spirit which works in man the death unto sin and the new life unto righteousness? Is it not that which is the source of our spiritual victories, which gives us strength to do and strength to suffer? Is it not that which enables us to resist the temptations with which the present world continually surrounds us? And is it not that which extracts the sting of death? Such are the honours of faith here on earth. Where shall we look for those of formality and unbelief? But the apostle refers to its future honours, to the praise and glory in which our faith shall issue at the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then shall the faith which has received the mysteries of God be honoured.

(R. Watson.)


1. Gold is of an earthly, but faith of a heavenly origin.

2. Faith has its object, as well as its origin, in God; whereas gold, unless placed in the hands of him who has the new nature, tends to the place whence it came, and is often also in the child of God the means of dragging hint too much to earth.

3. Faith always enriches the possessor, but gold often impoverishes.


1. The world is a great trial to faith.

2. Satan is always attempting to try and to overstep the faith of God's people.

III. WHAT IS THE GREAT END AND PURPOSE FOR WHICH FAITH IS SO TRIED? It is that it may be proved to be faith, just as the gold is tried in the fire.

(J. H. Evans, M. A.)


1. Faith, in the very nature of it, implies a degree of trial. God never gave us faith to play with. It is a sword, but it was not made for presentation on a gala day, nor to be worn on state occasions only, nor to be exhibited on a parade ground. It is a sword, and he that has it girt about him may expect, between here and heaven, that he shall know what battle means. Faith is a sound sea-going vessel, and was not meant to lie in dock and perish of dry rot. To whom God has given faith, it is as though one gave a lantern to his friend because he expected it to be dark on his way home. The very gift of faith is a hint to you that you will want it, and that, at all points and in every place, you will really need it.

2. Trial is the very element of faith. Faith is a salamander that lives in the fire, a star which moves in a lofty sphere, a diamond which bores its way through the rock. Faith without trial is like a diamond uncut, the brilliance of which has never been seen. Untried faith is such little faith that some have thought it no faith at all. What a fish would be without water or a bird without air, that would be faith without trial.

3. It is the honour of faith to be tried. He that has tested God, and whom God has tested, is the man that shall have it said of him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

4. The trial of your faith is sent to prove its sincerity.

5. It must also be tested to prove its strength.

6. The trial of our faith is necessary to remove its dross. "Why, a week ago," says one, "I used to sing, and think that I had the full assurance of faith; and now I can scarcely tell whether I am one of God's people or not." Now you know how much faith you really possess. You can now tell how much was solid and how much was sham; for had that which has failed you been real faith, it would not have been consumed by any trial through which it has passed. You have lost the froth from the top of the cup, but all that was really worth having is still there.


1. There are some whose faith is tried each day in their communion with God. That is, God in Christ, who is our God, is a consuming fire; and when His people live in Him, the very presence of God consumes in them their love of sin and all their pretentious graces and fictitious attainments, so that the false disappears and only the true survives. The presence of perfect holiness is killing to empty boastings and hollow pretences.

2. God frequently tries us by the blessings which He sends us.



3. Another trial of faith is exceedingly common and perilous nowadays, and that is heretical doctrine and false teaching.

4. The trial of our faith usually comes in the form of affliction. I remember Mr. Rutherford, writing to a lady who had lost five children and her husband, says to her, "Oh, how Christ must love you! He would take every bit of your heart to Himself. He would not permit you to reserve any of your soul for any earthly thing." Can we stand that test? Can we let all go for His sake? Do you answer that you can? Time will show.

III. YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED INDIVIDUALLY. It is an interesting subject, is it not, the trial of faith? It is not quite so pleasant to study alone the trial of your faith. It is stern work when it comes to be your trial, and the trial of your faith. Do not ask for trials. Children must not ask to be whipped, nor saints pray to be tested. The Lord Jesus Christ has been glorified by the trial of His people's faith. He has to be glorified by the trial of your faith.

IV. YOUR FAITH WILL BE TRIED SEARCHINGLY. The blows of the flail of tribulation are not given in sport, but in awful earnest. The Lord tries the very life of our faith — not its beauty and its strength alone, but its very existence. The iron enters into the soul; the man's real self is made to endure the trial.


1. The trial of your faith will increase, develop, deepen, and strengthen it. We may wisely rejoice in tribulation, because it worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; and by that way we are exceedingly enriched, and our faith grows strong.

2. The trial of our faith is useful, because it leads to a discovery of our faith to ourselves. I notice an old Puritan using this illustration. He says, you shaft go into a wood when you please, but if you are very quiet, you will not know whether there is a partridge, or a pheasant, or a rabbit in it; but when you begin to move about or make a noise, you very soon see the living creatures. They rise or they run. So, when affliction comes into the soul, and makes a disturbance and breaks our peace, up rise our graces. Faith comes out of its hiding, and love leaps from its secret place.

3. Besides, when faith is tried, it brings God glory.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is not faith, but the trial of faith, that is here pronounced to be precious. Precisely because faith is the link by which the saved are bound to the Saviour, it is of unspeakable importance to have faith tested in time and proved to be true. Here the fire and the crucible are the most valuable of all things for the investor. These are his safeguards, In like manner, it is dangerous to venture our eternity on a fair weather profession; an assay in some form is essential to determine whether there is life or only a name that you live. The trial of faith by affliction is com pared to the testing and purifying of gold by fire. The greatest results will be seen within the veil. When Christ comes the second time to reign, the effect of these trials will appear to his praise.

(W. Arnot.)

This trial is made upon faith principally, rather than any other grace, because the trial of that is, in effect, the trial of all that is good in us.

(M. Henry.)

The surest way to know our gold is to look upon it and examine it in God's furnace, where He tries it for that end, that we may see what it is. If we have a mind to know whether a building stands strong or no, we must look upon it when the wind blows. If we would know whether that which appears in the form of wheat has the real substance of wheat or be only chaff, we must observe it when it is winnowed. If we would know whether a staff be strong or a rotten, broken reed, we must observe it when it is leaned on and weight is borne upon it. If we would weigh ourselves justly, we must weigh ourselves in God's scales that He makes use of to weigh us.

(Jonathan Edwards.)

Yonder is a porcelain vase just fashioned; it is now in the decorator's hands, who paints on it various pretty and delicate figures — here and there he paints a passage of Scripture. Presently he passes it into the hands of another who glazes it, who in his turn passes it on to a third. But what is the third doing? Why, he is putting the vase into a hot oven. "Sir," we exclaim, "you will spoil your ware, and your labour will be in vain." Smiling at our alarm, he placidly replies, "Gentlemen, I will take care that the vase suffers no injury. I put it into the oven to enhance its value, for I mean thus to burn in what has been painted on it, which would otherwise wash off. There — it is finished now," he adds, "and you may wash that vase for twelve months without making any impression on the colours. They are burnt in, sirs, burnt in." Similarly God burns in verses of the Bible into our experience. Having infused His grace into us in regeneration, and made wholesome impressions on the mind through the ministry of the Word, He consigns us to the furnace of affliction that they may be burnt into the very core of our being, so burnt that nothing will ever again erase them.

(J. C. Jones, D. D.)

Much more precious than of gold that perisheth
1. Gold comes out of the earth; faith from heaven, whence every good and perfect gift is.

2. Faith is more rare, termed therefore the faith of God's elect, whereas most, even of the wicked, are not without gold.

3. Faith cannot be purchased with all the gold in the world.

4. It is hardly gotten and hardly kept, and has many and strong enemies — our own nature, the world and the devil are all against faith, but not against getting of gold.

5. It apprehends salvation and life eternal, and so is the instrument of our happiness. So is not gold but the instrument of many a man's damnation; by unconscionable getting, and covetous keeping the same, many cast away their souls.

6. It will comfort a man with true comfort in his life, carry him strongly through troubles, and boldly through the gates of death.

7. Gold perisheth, here canker and rust consume it; we may be taken from it, as it from us; but faith endureth till Christ's appearing, to our full redemption, as the fruit thereof forever.Uses:

1. To them that want gold, and yet have faith. Know that thou art richer than he that hath thousands of gold and hath not faith.

2. To the rich. Rejoice not that thou art rich, but that thou hast faith. Again, think all your pains to become you well, and well bestowed in getting this precious faith.

3. To those who have not faith. Poor souls, labour after it, that you may be made inwardly rich.

4. To rich men who have toiled for gold. Seek this that is so much better.

(John Rogers.)

I. Gold cannot SATISFY the soul. Genuine faith does. As a rule it will, perhaps, be found that he who has the most gold is the most discontented and restless in heart. Faith fills the soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

II. Gold cannot STRENGTHEN the soul. Genuine faith does. In what does the strength of the soul consist? In force of sympathies generous and devout; force of determination to pursue the right; force to bear up with buoyant magnanimity under all the trials and sorrows of life. Gold cannot give this strength. How strong were the men mentioned in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews!

III. Gold cannot ENNOBLE the soul. But genuine faith ennobles the soul, enthrones it above the tide of passion and the force of circumstances.


Peter is very fond of this word "precious." He uses it more frequently than all the other New Testament writers, with the exception of John in the Revelation, where, however, it is only employed in reference to things of material value, such as jewels and costly woods. Paul uses it only once, and in a similar connection, speaking about "gold, silver, and precious stones." James employs it once in regard of the fruits of the earth; and all the other instances of its use are in Peter's writings. Here are the cases in which he uses it. First, in my text, about the process by which Christian faith is tested; then about the blood of Jesus Christ; then, in a quotation from Isaiah, about Christ Himself as the cornerstone. These three are the instances in the first Epistle. In the second we find two, where he speaks of "like precious faith," and of "exceeding great and precious promises."

I. THAT OUR TRUE TREASURES ARE ALL CONTAINED IN, AND CLUSTERED ROUND, THE PERSON AND WORK OF JESUS CHRIST. Now, in order to estimate the value of a thing, the first necessity is a correct standard. Now, if we are seeking for a standard of value, surely the following points are very plain. Our true treasure mast be such as helps us towards the highest ends for which we are fitted by our make. It must be such as satisfies our deepest needs; it must be such as meets our whole nature; and it must be such as cannot be wrenched from us. I do not want to undervalue lower and relative good of any kind, or to preach an overstrained contempt of material, transient, and partial blessing. Competence and wealth, gold and what gold buys, and what it keeps away, are good. High above them we rank the treasures of a cultivated mind, of a refined taste, of eyes that see the beauty of God's fair creation. Above these we rank the priceless treasures of pure reciprocated human love. But none of them, nor all of them put together, meet our tests, simple and obvious as they are. They do not satisfy the whole, or the depths, of our natures. Only God can fill a soul. So Peter is right after all, when he points us in a wholly different direction for the true precious things. "Christ is precious." Now, the word that he employs there is slightly different from that which occurs in the other verses. The speaker in the original words of the prophet is God Himself. It is the preciousness in God's sight of the stone which He "lays in Zion" that is glanced at in the epithet. Let me suggest how the preciousness of His beloved Son, in the eyes of the Father who gave Him, enhances the preciousness of the gift to us. God obeys the law which He lays upon His servants; and He "will not give" to us "that which costs Him nothing." But Christ is precious to us. Yes, if we know ourselves and what we want; if we know Him and what He gives. Do you want wisdom? He is the wisdom of God. Do you seek power? He is the power of God. Do you long for joy? He will give you His own. Do you weary for peace? "My peace I leave with you." Do you hunger for righteousness? "He of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness." Do you need fulness and abundance? "In Him dwells all the fulness of God; and of His fulness have all we received." Whatever good any soul seeks, Christ is the highest good, and is all good. Let us turn our hearts away from false treasures and lay hold on Him who is the true riches. Further, Christ's blood is precious. Peter believed in Christ's atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, and of each single soul therein. If you strike that element out of the work of our Lord, what remains, precious as it is, does not seem to me to so completely satisfy human necessities as to make Him the one all-sufficient and single treasure and riches of men's souls. And then there is the third precious thing, clustering round and flowing from Jesus Christ and His work — and that is, the "exceeding great and precious promises," which are given to us "that by them we may be partakers of a Divine nature." I presume that these promises referred to by the apostle are largely, if not exclusively, those which have reference to what we call the future state. And they are precious because they come straight to meet one of the deepest needs of humanity, often neglected, but always there — an ache, if not a conscious need. What about that dark, dim beyond? Is there any solid ground in it? Christ comes with the answer: "I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live." Then it is not mist; then I can fling my grappling-iron into it and it will hold, and I can hold on to it.

II. THAT WHICH PUTS US IN POSSESSION OF THE PRECIOUS THINGS IS ITSELF PRECIOUS. So the apostle speaks, in his second Epistle, about "like precious faith," using a compound word, which, however, is substantially identical with the simple expression in the other verses. The only preciousness of that faith which the New Testament magnifies so greatly is that it brings us into possession of the things that are intrinsically precious. Suppose a door, worth half a crown. Yes! but it is the door of a storehouse full of bullion. Here is a bit of lead pipe, worth twopence. Yes, but through it comes the water that keeps a besieged city alive. And so your faith, worth nothing in itself, is worth everything as the means by which you lay hold of the durable riches and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Therefore cherish it. A cultivated mind is a treasure, because it is the key to many treasures. Refined tastes are treasures because they bring us into possession of lofty gifts. AEsthetic sensibilities are precious because they make our own a pure and ennobling pleasure. And, for precisely the same reason, high above the cultivated understanding, and refined tastes, and the artistic sense, ay, and even above the loving heart that twines its tendrils round another heart as loving, we rank the faith which joins us to Christ.

III. THE PROCESS WHICH STRENGTHENS THAT FAITH IS PRECIOUS. My nominal text speaks about "the trial of your faith" as being "much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire." Peter meant that the process by which faith was tested, and, being tested, is purified and perfected, is a precious treasure. If Christ and what pertains to Him are our real wealth, and if our faith is the means of our coming into possession of our property, then everything that tightens our grasp upon Him, and increases our capacity of receiving Him, is valuable. Let us lay that to heart, and it changes all our estimates of this world's mistaken ill and good. Let us lay that to heart, and it interprets much. We do not understand life until we have got rid of the prejudice that enjoyment, or any lower thing, is the object of it. Let us understand that the deepest meaning of all our experience here is discipline, and we have come within sight of the solution of most of our perplexities. Sorrow and joy, light and darkness, summer and winter, sunshine and storm, life and death, gain and loss, failures and successes — they all have the one end, that we may be partakers of the wealth of His holiness. Let us try to clear our minds of the delusions of this world, and to rectify our estimates of true good. A very perverted standard prevails, and we are too apt to fall in with it. Many of us are no wiser than savages that will exchange gold for trash, and barter away fertile lands for a stand of old muskets or a case of fiery rum. Listen to Jesus Christ counselling you to buy of Him gold tried in the fire. Turn away from the fairy gold, which by daylight will be seen to be but a heap of yellow fading leaves, and cling in faith, which is precious, to Him who is priceless, and in whom the poorest will find riches that cannot be corrupted nor lost forever.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ
These words have reminded me of a phrase which, twenty or thirty years ago, was constantly recurring in sermons of many of the younger and more ardent preachers of that time. They insisted that Christ had come to achieve for us what they described as a present salvation. There was a polemical element, too, in preaching of this kind, for the doctrine of a present salvation was asserted as though it were a part of the Christian gospel that had never been clearly apprehended; it was implied that most Christian people had thought of salvation as something future, something that could not be known on this side of death, while in fact we are to be saved, if saved at all, here and now. Those who preached a present salvation said in substance, "Many of you Christian people have missed the power and glory which Christ came to make yours in this life, because you are always thinking of heaven and the life to come; your religion is unpractical, you do not see that Christ came to make an infinite difference in the whole life of man in this world, as well as to make eternal blessedness our inheritance in the next." There is no need to preach like that now. None of us, I imagine, are too much occupied with thoughts of heaven and the life to come. Richard Baxter, as some of you remember, tells us that in the afternoon, when it began to be too dark to go on with his reading and writing, and before the candles were brought in, he used to sit quietly in the twilight meditating on the saints' everlasting rest. There are not many Christian people, I imagine, who spend much of their time in that way now. Whether we realise the present salvation more fully than our fathers did I cannot tell, but I imagine it is certain that we think very much less about any salvation that is still to come. There is a present salvation, there is also a salvation to be hoped for, "Wherein ye greatly rejoice." Christ, not the earthly Christ but the ascended Christ, is the head of the new race. His larger, diviner, human life is ours, and the life which we have received from Him, and into the full possession of which He entered at His resurrection and ascension, that life has in its essence the hope and assurance of passing into the same glory into which Christ has entered. Having this life we are born, therefore, to "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." This inheritance is not here; it is not ours in possession yet; it is no part of the present salvation; it is reserved for us in heaven. And lest we should come to harm before we reach it, we are kept safely for the salvation which is ready to be revealed at the last time. In this it is that we Christian people are to rejoice. The present salvation is an incomplete salvation; the perfect salvation is to come. The future life of those who are to live forever in God — the complete salvation — transcends all thought as well as all hope; we cannot see the inheritance for the golden haze that surrounds it; it is too intensely bright for mortal vision; it belongs to another order than this; it cannot be revealed to knowledge until it is revealed in experience. But some elements of the present salvation will in the future salvation be perfect. Our sins, through the infinite mercy of God, are already forgiven, and we may have the full assurance that they are forgiven. But not until we are capable of a fuller knowledge of God shall we know the infinite blessedness of the discovery that He has blotted out our sins as a thick cloud which varnishes and leaves no stain on the blue of heaven. That blessedness is to come. There are times when we see the manifestations of the love of God for us — manifestations given to us in secret and wonderful ways by the power of the Spirit of God, making the heart tremble with a blended reverence and joy. We have no strength to bear them for long. If they remained glory would break upon glory, and we should anticipate the blessedness we hope for. What we hope for is a life that appears so enlarged, and with so Divine an environment that these manifestations of the personal love of the Eternal for us, and manifestations still more wonderful, will be with us always; that we shall move freely among them as we move in the common air and in the light of the common sun; they will never become dim, never be interrupted, but that in their tenderness and in their power they will increase through age after age of increasing wonder and joy. There is something in this great hope to give us courage and to renew the strength which too often faints and the resolution which too often falters. The joy of the Christian life would be immeasurably augmented if we dwelt more constantly on its eternal consummation in the Divine Presence, and the joy would give strength. We have great memories to sustain us, and, above all, the memory of the supreme manifestation of the Divine love in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. But when hope is confederate with memory, and both are confirmed by the present consciousness that we have found God, every power of our better life receives new animation, and we see that all things are possible to us. Further, apart from a clear vision of the perfect salvation, faith is subject to an unnecessary strain. Forget too how large and free and blessed a life men are destined for in Christ in the next world, and it will sometimes seem as if there were disproportion between the great discoveries of the Christian gospel and what the gospel actually accomplishes. It is as if you were to judge of the labour which has been spent on the fields by the appearance of early spring, when the dark ground is hardly relieved by the faint green of the wheat which has just begun to shoot — it is so frail, apparently of so little value. Is this all that is to come of cleaning the ground and ploughing it and enriching it with the seed? Ah! you must wait — wait till the spring has expanded into the bright days of summer, and the summer into early autumn, and then the corn ripened, perfected, rising and falling in golden billows under the glowing sun, will reveal the end for which the farmer laboured. And Christ's harvest home is not ended here, but in worlds unseen. Not until we know the perfect righteousness and the perfect blessedness of the saints in glory shall we see for what great ends the Son of God became man and rose again for our race.

(R. W Dale, LL. D.)

Whom having not seen, ye love
To produce in us a love to Christ it is not necessary that we should see Him with our bodily eyes. Those who actually saw Jesus and loved Him are comparatively few to those who love Him unseen.


1. It is sincere and hearty. We must not judge by one single act in life, but by the habitual frame and the general tenor in behaviour. A real concern of mind for offending a friend is a sign that we esteem him.

2. It has respect unto Christ in all His characters and titles.

3. This love is superlative. It exceeds the esteem which the soul has for all other things. Christ will accept of nothing less.

4. This love is constant and everlasting. It is not like the esteem which we have for our fellow creatures, which frequently stops upon receiving an affront, and is often changed into resentment.

II. THE GROUNDS AND REASONS why the Christian loves an unseen Jesus.

1. The Christian loves an unseen Jesus because of the excellencies which He possesses, Whatever excellency is in the creature may be found in the highest perfection in Jesus Christ, for He inherits all true perfection: creatures' glories are all imperfect.

2. The Christian loves an unseen Saviour because of the relation which He stands in to him. The ties of nature and relation are strong inducements to affection; a mother must turn monster if she does not love her babe.

3. The Christian is under the greatest obligations to Jesus for the wonders of His free and unmerited love: no wonder, then, that he loves Him, though unseen.

III. THE REASONABLENESS of the Christian's love to an unseen Saviour.

1. Let us view the infinite glory of His person.

2. The amazing greatness of His condescension for His people's advantage.

3. The blessings which He has conferred upon the Christian,

4. The endearing titles He has given him.

5. The care He continually takes of him, and the glory He has prepared and will secure for him.

6. The freeness of this love.

(S. Hayward.)

I. BELIEVE, THOUGH WE NEVER SAW. We should not count this a hardship, since we every day believe in places and peoples whom we have not seen. Thus, you all believe that there is such a city as Rome, although few of you may have seen it. You believe also that a Pontiff rules there. But in these days of widespread scepticism men object to believe, in the first place, because the events to which we ask their credence happened so long ago. But if you believe that Julius Caesar fell at Pompey's pillar pierced by traitorous wounds, surely it is not more difficult to believe that about the same period in our world's history the Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross of Calvary for the sins of the world. It is objected, however, in the second place, that we ask faith in something supernatural concerning Jesus Christ, the like of which is not to be found in the history of Julius Caesar — namely, that He was raised from the dead, and that He ascended into the heavens. Quite true; but our God affords evidence correspondingly strong. But the faith that pleases God is not a mere conviction that the sacred oracles are true — it should include also a hearty acceptance of Christ as a Saviour for our own sinful souls. It is one thing for you to believe that a certain individual is the richest man in the city, and quite an additional thing if he, hearing of your straits, should write you to go to the bank and draw on him to any amount. And suppose you had really never seen the rich man, but had only heard of his goodness, as you found all your wants supplied at that bank, you would resemble these primitive Christians who were thus addressed. "Though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."

II. ALTHOUGH THESE CHRISTIANS HAD NEVER SEEN CHRIST, THEY, NEVERTHELESS, LOVED HIM. It is possible to love those whom we have never seen. The experience is felt every day. For example —

1. Men love unseen benefactors, and it becomes us to love the unseen Saviour — the greatest Benefactor of all. When the emancipation of the West Indian slaves became an accomplished fact, the liberated them in their humble dwellings loved the men who had done so much for them, and suffered so much for them. They had never seen them, and yet they loved them.

2. But let us introduce another element into the claims of the ascended Christ, and consider that He is also a brother unseen. It sometimes happens that an unseen benefactor is also an unseen brother. I knew a family in this city, the elder brother in which had gone out to an Indian appointment before the younger members of it were born. Their father died before he could be called an old man, leaving a widow and large family without great resources. But this elder brother did a father's part. He sent home remittances quite regularly, which maintained, clothed, and educated the younger children, and, as the daughters grew up, and were, one after another, married, he sent them special presents for their marriage outfits. Oh, how they loved him, although they had never seen him! Does not my parable once more suit? Is not this Jesus whom we have never seen occupied in high heavenly administration?

3. Further, the believer loves Christ, though he has never seen Him, on account of His beauty. We sometimes fall in love with the character of men whom we have never seen.

III. THOUGH BELIEVERS NEVER SAW CHRIST, THEY REJOICE IN HIM WITH JOY UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY. A doubtsome faith, leaving a man uncertain as to whether he is saved or not, is not countenanced in the Word of God. Further, the New Testament does not discourage ecstasy in religious experience. It expects "joy unspeakable" in the heart of the Christian. And if we see men and women in tumultuous joy, making processions and waving banners in honour of Bruce and Wallace, Tell and Garibaldi, whom they never saw, have we not infinitely greater cause to rejoice in present salvation and the hope of future glory through an unseen Christ? When the foreman of the jury says "Not guilty," the prisoner leaps up in the dock with joy unspeakable. When the physician, feeling the pulse, says to the anxious patient: "Your symptoms are much improved today; in fact, you are out of danger, and will henceforth progress to complete recovery," his joy is unspeakable. Now, what is holiness but wholeness in health? — the great blessing which we receive at the Cross, the salvation of the soul, the pardon of sin and the accompanying indwelling and renewal of the Holy Ghost. But the best is coming yet; the joy is also "full of glory." We are down in the valley; but the hilltops are already radiant with the rising orb of eternal day. Beyond these hills our Redeemer is preparing a place for us. In conclusion, let me speak first a word of caution, and then a word of encouragement.

1. The word of caution I address to those who may be ready to proclaim their love to Christ and their assurance of salvation while yet their lives are unholy. Not only must Christ have the throne of our affections, but also the government of our wills freely and habitually surrendered — wills married to His and sweetly lost in His.

2. Such is the word of caution; now for the word of encouragement. How many worthy people are there who, when we ask them whether they love the Lord, or not, are unable to answer in the affirmative. Restricted views of the extent of Divine grace keep some in darkness, while others are the victims of hypochondriacal spiritual or rather unspiritual melancholy. As to the first cause of fear I would simply say that there is no doubt of God's love to you, and therefore you should love Him in return. As to your morbid anxieties, I would exhort you to dismiss them all. Do not go about constantly feeling your own spiritual pulse. The best proof of your love to God is that you keep His commandments.

(F. Ferguson, D. D.)

I. THE NATURE AND GROUNDS OF LOVE TO CHRIST. Love to Christ is not to be confounded with the raptures of a visionary enthusiasm. Its foundation must not be laid in those ideal representations of His person and character which a luxuriant fancy is apt to picture. It signifies simply that sincere esteem of His person and character, which is founded on what is revealed respecting Him in the records of inspiration.

1. Love to the Redeemer is the first movement of the soul when illumined to discern the perfect excellencies of His Divine character. Is perfect holiness the proper object of delight and love? Are truth and faithfulness, combined with mercy and grace, the proper objects of moral approbation and delight? In Him "mercy and truth have met together." He is justly entitled to our supreme regard, whose nature is infinitely excellent, and whose perfections are boundless.

2. But the believer will not confine himself to the contemplation of his Lord in the attributes of His Divine character; he will consider Him in His human nature also, and, as such, the proper object of enlightened attachment. As a man He exhibited an example of perfect conformity to the whole will of God.

3. The mediatorial character of Jesus justly entitles Him to our especial affection. From what Christ hath done, we learn what He is; and the glories of His character shine with peculiar lustre through the veil of His mediation, suffering, and death. And can we contemplate so much love without feeling some corresponding emotion of love in return?


1. Although Christ was never seen by us, yet we have been favoured with the most full and satisfactory information regarding Him. He is brought near to our view in the prophecies of the Old Testament, and in the varied writings of the New.

2. Jesus, though we never saw Him, is ascertained to be unquestionably our best friend and nearest relation. He is our instructor to point the way; our high priest to redeem and intercede for us; our Captain and King to bring many sons and daughters to glory.

3. He hath given us the most stupendous evidences of His disinterested love.

4. This kind friend hath sent us many kind messages of love, and hath actually left us a legacy to perpetuate His remembrance.

5. Though not personally present with us, He hath given us, as His representative, His Holy Spirit to abide with us forever, to enlighten our understandings, to purify our hearts from the power of corruption, to raise our affections to things spiritual and heavenly, to check in us the power of sin, and to guide us amid the snares and temptations of our pilgrimage through the world.

6. Though we see not Christ now, we are assured that if we love Him truly we shall see Him afterwards.


1. Love to Christ will lead us to cultivate a more intimate acquaintance with Him.

2. Love to Christ will lead us frequently to think and to speak of Him.

3. Love to Christ will lead us to seek intercourse with Him in all His ordinances.

4. If we love Christ, we will love His people and cause.

5. Finally, "If ye love Me," says Jesus, "keep My commandments." This is the most substantial test of the sincerity of our love.

(R. Burns, D. D.)

I. THE GENERAL NATURE OF LOVE TO CHRIST. There are four essential acts that form the perfect notion of love. First, there is esteem, which is as the groundwork of love. And on all accounts Christ deserves this in the highest degree. Again, there is inclination of goodwill to the party beloved. This is called a benevolential esteem, as the former is complacential. The former considers its object as fit to do us good or give us pleasure. The latter regards its object as worthy to receive good, whether absolutely or from us or others. Esteem and benevolence, then, are the two leading branches of love, and both find room enough in Christ. The two remaining, desire, fitly enough called love in motion, and delight or complacency, called love at rest, rank themselves under each of the former respectively; for it is of the nature of true love to desire and delight in the happiness of the object as really as its own proceeding from it.

II. THE OBJECT OF THE CHRISTIAN'S LOVE — the Lord Jesus Christ — with the grounds that are found with Him, of our loving Him. And here we might first observe how the many names, titles, and characters which Christ bears in Scripture, that convey various ideas of beauty, use, and pleasure, do of themselves recommend Him to our highest love. The particular grounds of love to Christ which His various names import and lead to.

1. If the greatest personal excellencies and beauties imaginable.

2. If the most intimate relation to God and His manifestative glory, joined with the highest interest in His favour and respect.

3. If the most amazing love to us.

4. If the most arduous and excellent works performed for our service and advantage.

5. If the most numerous, valuable, benefits conferred on us or promised to us.


1. In the first place, wherever love to Christ is found, it will certainly show itself in frequent thoughts, attended ever and anon with discourse of Him. And what thoughts are they which love to Christ will inspire? They are thoughts of a noble elevation and of a comprehensive reach — thoughts which dignify our understandings. Further, the thoughts influenced by the love of Christ will be with regard to ourselves, and other things viewed in comparison with Christ, humbling and disdaining. Again, the thoughts about Christ which love to Him prompts are the most chosen and pleasing thoughts of any that can employ the mind. Finally, the thoughts that love to Christ inspires are affectionate thoughts and influential into the heart from whence they are united.

2. Love to Christ will express itself in desires towards Him accompanied with suitable endeavours, and these of two sorts, such as respect ourselves immediately, or Christ for ourselves, and such as respect Him for Himself.

IV. THE PROPERTIES AND CHARACTERS OF GENUINE LOVE TO CHRIST. True love to Christ is sincere and unfeigned, love incorrupt.

2. True love to Christ is a judicious and rational affection. Though Christians love an unseen, they do not love an unknown Saviour.

3. Love to Christ is free, as being the effect of rational choice; and yet more free still, as being a supernatural habit influenced by Divine grace.

4. True love to Christ is of a very active and fruitful nature. There is a great deal of life, strength, and sprightliness in the affection of love.

5. True love to Christ is entire and universal. He must be loved in His whole character, or He is not loved at all.

6. It must be supreme.

7. It is constant.

8. This love to Christ is great, so as to become unspeakable and full of glory.

V. HOW FAITH ACCOUNTS FOR THIS LOVE IN WANT OF SIGHT, so that this should not in reason be any obstruction to, while yet it is a commendation of it.

1. Let us see how faith contains a just reason for loving Christ, though never seen. Than which nothing will appear more manifest, if we only consider what faith is, in these two parts wherein the apostle sums it up (Hebrews 11:1).

2. Want of seeing Christ, though no reasonable bar against loving Him, must be allowed to import some greater commendation of love under this circumstance than in the case of personal sight.


1. How much should we be concerned to observe the too obvious want of love to Christ in the Christian world, and withal to inquire whether it be not wanting in our own hearts also!

2. Suffer the word of exhortation, to give to Christ all the love we are capable of, suitable to His glorious dignity, and the obligations He has laid on us, heartily and bitterly lamenting withal our sin and folly in having withheld from Him so long and so much what has been His due.

(J. Hubbard.)

I. LOVE FOR THE UNSEEN. This is an axiom with all true affection.

1. It appears difficult theoretically.

2. It is common in experience. The absent, the dead are loved.

3. It is an element in the highest form of love. The non-sensuous.

4. It is a very blessed emotion. The band of love brings the distant near, makes the remote easily discerned.

II. TRUST IN THE LOVED. Love Christ more, and you will trust Him more. You will believe what He says about —

1. Salvation.

2. Duty.

3. Trial.

4. Sacrifice.


1. The joy of rest.

2. The joy of communion.

(U. R. Thomas.)

In the first place, think how wonderful a phenomenon the very existence of Christendom is. It is so in three particulars. In the first place, when we turn to the page of history, the existence of Christendom is wonderful when we consider the opposition which it had to overcome. And then, above all, the establishment of Christendom is wonderful when we consider the character of the doctrine which determined it. The gospel flattered no pride, it gave quarter to no passion. Now I wish further to direct your attention to the present reign of Christ in this present Christendom. And here I observe, in the first place, that our blessed Lord reigns over the intellect of Christendom by His authority. Human thinkers do not really govern thought. There has been no one-man government in the realm of intellect since Aristotle was deposed in the middle ages. These apparent governors of human thought rule a party, or a school, or a clique. Even there they are not really taken at their own word. The thing is not believed to be true just because they say it is true. Now, our blessed Lord, beyond all question, does not propose for the acceptance of His people a self-evident doctrine. You must make an act of faith in it, and that act of faith is an inclusive act. You cannot parcel it off into two separate divisions or compartments, and say: "Here is the sentiment, supremely beautiful, and there is the dogma, of which we cannot say quite so much." We must believe the dogma of Christ's authority, or we do not fully receive Christ. But then it may be said to the Christian, "What is thy beloved, more than another beloved?" There are other teachers who receive the adoration of thousands of souls: the Buddha reigns over as many souls as Christ does, and possibly a good many more. Yes, but not over as many sorts of souls. Jesus reigns over varied races. At all events, all nations who renounce Him, lose, or begin to lose, their place amongst the nations of mankind; and the fact of their denial is written upon their bodily and material organisations. Now, I mention further that Christ reigns over the hearts of men by love. Consider for a moment man's relation after death to the affections of those who survive him. The place which any of us can keep in the affections of those who survive is a narrow one indeed. Forgetfulness, in a very short time, must grow over us like the grass. And now, with this, contrast Christ after His death as an object of human affection. This love is illimitable in extent as well as in time. Every minute some dying man or woman invokes that name with a light of love upon the dying face. "I am a judge of men, and I tell you that this Man with His power of awakening and perpetuating love was more than man." Jesus reigns as God by love in Christendom. Here is the strange fact of the spiritual world — this intense personal love towards One whom we have not seen. As St. Bernard says: "When I name Jesus I name a Man, strong, gentle, pure, holy, sympathising, who is also the true and the Eternal God." And the image of the beauty is the best proof to the heart of the reality of the object which it represents — something in the same way as when we are walking along in meditation by a clear river that runs into the sea, the reflection of the white sea bird in the stream, even when we are not able to look up, is a proof to us that the bird is really sailing overhead. There is no fear of disappointment in that love toward Christ. There was a wife once who was all in all to a husband who had been blind from very early childhood, and when the question came about an operation being performed, she was troubled. She confessed she was troubled lest when sight was restored to her husband, whom she had loved and tended, he should be disappointed in the features of which he had thought so tenderly. Yes! but as spiritual sight is given to us, as we start up in the light of the Resurrection morning, there will be no disappointment; when we wake up after His likeness we shall be satisfied with Him, with the likeness of Him, whom not having seen, we love.

(Bp. Alexander.)

We are apt to suppose that, had we lived in the days of Christ, our faith and love would have been very much nearer perfection than they ever can be now. Witnessing the expression of His countenance would have given so much fuller a comprehension of His character, that our strongest affections would necessarily have been moved towards Him. There are persons who need the perceptions of the senses to help out the operations of the understanding, before they can realise facts with sufficient distinctness for their feelings to be excited. But this is not true of most earnest minds — of some, it is the very reverse of the truth. It is the same with regard to both Christ's teaching and His moral qualities, as with regard to all other things in life — the mind comprehends only what it is prepared to receive. Things affect us, not only according to their nature, but according to our own. What we see depends, not only upon what there is to be seen, but also upon our capacity for seeing. Goodness and purity immeasurably above us will only affect us in that degree in which we are able to take them in. Hence, those Jewish disciples standing around our Saviour, gazing into His eyes, would only be moved by His character, in proportion as their own goodness, purity, and inner spiritual beauty enabled them to enter into sympathy with Him. Then, too, there is another consideration greatly in our favour: the love which rests upon the idealisation of a character must, necessarily, be more refined and spiritual than that which is derived through the sensuous perceptions. For the senses lend influences of their own, which, mingling with the spiritual elements, prevent the pure and simple operation of the latter, and oftentimes distort their proper impressions, Hence, a man's character is frequently better understood by those unacquainted with his person than by those round about him. And, still more frequently, it is only when distance of space or time removes the sensuous presence that the spiritual qualities of a man become thoroughly understood. And, upon this principle, too, it is that a friend removed from us by death, soon loses, in our imagination, his distinctive physical characteristics, whilst his moral and spiritual qualities Stand out more and more clearly defined. To this objection it may possibly be replied, why should our love for Christ be different from the love called forth by our living companions and friends? Why since He was in all points like unto us, should not the sensuous mingle with the spiritual? I answer, first, because it is unnatural; seeing He is removed from our sight, we can truly only follow the natural law of our minds and draw an ideal representation of Him. But, secondly, and most of all, because the whole spiritualising influence of the love depends upon its spiritual character. For the power of the love of Christ to elevate us depends upon two elements, First, although it is love for a son of man, it is a son of man who is not standing before us in hard forms of sense, but whose very humanity becomes to us as a spiritual essence, who eludes us when we attempt to grasp him, but who takes all the brightest lines our purified fancies project upon him. And this impalpableness of the sensuous image leads us, more and more, to enter into the second element upon which the power depends, namely, the spiritual and moral qualities of his nature. By dwelling almost exclusively upon these, the mind becomes, as it were, saturated with their influences, and is brought into closer and closer sympathy with them. The ideal it thus forms of the Christ is continually rising higher and higher; brighter and more candescent with Divine holiness, truth, goodness, spiritual beauty, the wondrous image glows — no wonder that the adoring, quickened soul enthusiastically exclaims, "Whom having net seen we love." And the qualities upon which this love for Christ rests, are the qualities upon which all true love ever rests. For love is the going forth of spirit to spirit, of soul to soul — the giving of one's own inward spiritual life to another. When the soul thus discerns Him, all its deepest life is awakened; admiration, delight, and ineffable joy harmonise as melodious chords of holy music within its inmost being; it yields itself in love to Him whom thus it knows. And it is worth our while to note the qualities which the soul thus discerns in Christ which so call forth its love.

1. First of all, there is the Divine truthfulness. I mean the inward harmony of the thought and feeling with God's law, with God's idea, with eternal and unchangeable facts. Stronger, by reason of this truthfulness, than the granite rock, more immovable than the mountains of Lebanon, He stands forth for God, and for God's law of right within Him.

2. But, then, this truthfulness led to purity; for purity is truth reduced to life; it is the embodying of what is right in one's own character. And you know how the Saviour did this. You know how He followed the right through evil and good report. There may, however, be all this, but in hard forms like the granite rock, glittering in the sun and standing out with its sharply defined, hard lines against the sky, exciting our wonder and admiration, but touching no chord of love in the heart.

3. And therefore there must be love — the gentleness and tenderness of a loving nature added on to and rising out of these. Annihilating self, it seeks to lavish the resources of its own life and blessedness on the world around. And I need not dwell upon the manifold forms in which this gentle and tender love manifested itself in Him who did not cry nor cause His voice to be heard in the streets — who brake not the bruised reed nor quenched the smoking flax. But then, I take it, that it is neither the truthfulness, the purity, nor the love which in itself and alone calls forth our love. But these qualities constitute, when existing together in their proper proportions, that wonderful thing which we call spiritual beauty — a thing we all recognise, according to our culture, when we meet with it, but which is so subtle as to defy our definition. Whilst theologians have been constructing their theories and doctrines about the Divine nature, and rival sects have been fighting for their individual shibboleths, the simple, loving souls of all churches have, out of the brief narratives of the Gospels, been idealising to themselves the Christ, and before the overpowering spiritual beauty which thus they have discerned in His character, have yielded their heart's strongest love and purest devotion.

(James Cranbrook.)

There have been those who, by plausible arguments, have attempted to prove that love to an unseen Saviour is impossible. Sight is not of itself the foundation or cause of any affection to be dignified by the name of love. It was not by sight that you learned the character of your friend so as to esteem him for its excellence. And do we not know our blessed Saviour? From the delineations of the rapt Isaiah and the simple stories of the gospel, we know Him as He walked On earth, as far as men need know. And besides this blessed book, we have other sources of knowledge. The works of nature are ever telling of His wisdom, power, and goodness; are ever exciting to His love. The history of the Church, which is the body of Christ, is another continuous revelation of His character, more perfect now than in any former age. Just as you learn the temper of your friend by marking the methods which he uses in governing his household, you may read the heart of our Saviour by interpreting His dealings with the Church. But our most intimate and personal knowledge of the Redeemer is obtained by personal experience and by the revelation of the Holy Ghost to our hearts. But our text speaks of joy as well as love: "In whom though now you see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory." They always exist together. Who ever thinks of a love which does not convey satisfaction and delight? And who ever imagines that genuine happiness can be enjoyed where the pure affections of the heart have no exercise? Wherever there exists true faith and love to Christ, there must be, to some extent, happiness and delight in Him. And this is just in proportion to the purity and simplicity of our confidence and affection.

(N. C. Locke, D. D.)

Affections are evoked, not created, educed from within, not implanted from without. The quality of the object determines indeed the kind and quality of the affection. Perfect love is perfect joy only where the loving and the loved are alike good, holy, and true. Love again may be evoked in one of two ways — by instinct and nature, or by reason and spirit. If a man loves his son simply because the boy happens to be his, or a woman her daughter simply because the girl chances to be hers, and for no other and higher reason, the love is only blind impulse; it has no regard to actual or possible spiritual qualities, or any high moral end. But love awakened through the reason and in the spirit is spiritual love. The qualities admired belong to the spirit, the eye that sees is the spirit's, and the admiration excited lives in the spirit. Instinctive affection is blind and arbitrary, but spiritual is not. Many a man would perceive and despise in another boy the moral qualities he scarcely observes in his own son. The first is due to a relation, natural or arbitrary, but the second to worth, personal, inherent, moral, real. Instinctive affection may be blind and impure, but spiritual must be altogether lovely and true. Perhaps it may now be superfluous to remark that the Christian's love to Christ must be of the latter kind. The sight is spiritual and the affection the same. The love may lack the passion and intensity of instinct, but it has the calmness and the power of spirit. The claims of Christ have not appealed to eye and ear, but to heart and mind. We love Him, not for His beautiful face, or fine voice, or winsome ways, but for His mercy, and grace, the righteousness and truth that blend so perfectly in His character. The moral excellencies of Jesus, and these alone, can be inexhaustible sources of spiritual love. This distinction may enable us to deal with a too common difficulty. Many a devout soul has said, "I cannot love my Saviour as I love my child. I do not, I cannot, love God more than I love my husband. There is an intensity in my affection for my family and friends entirely wanting in my affection for Divine things. I need to be reconverted. I must be altogether wrong." But the error lies in confounding things that differ. Man's affection for man must be more or less instinctive. Man's love for Christ must be altogether spiritual. Our love for Christ, then, while wanting the warmth of our love for man, has more depth and root in our being; while its form is less fervent, its essence is more real. The one seems to be, but the other in reality is the greater. Indeed, it cannot be rightly compared to our love for the living. It resembles much more closely our love for the dead. Death at once sanctifies and spiritualises our affection. It is, then, no hardship to have an invisible Saviour. We can love Him the better that He is unseen. Were God localised, He would seem to our thought much less awful and majestic than when He is conceived as everywhere, like the air we breathe, the element in which all beings live. It is, perhaps, not too much to say that the disciples never loved Christ aright till He became invisible. Their love had much of the intensity of passion, co-existed with much self-seeking. But when Jesus .ascended all this was changed. Their affections were enlarged and clarified. Note, now, how this invisibility enables the mind to glorify, to idealise Jesus, as the object of its love. The senses are very prosaic and tyrannical. They see but a little way into a man, and retain only what of him is superficial and transient. The image of Christ that haunted the disciples would be very unequal, one of blended power and weakness, glory and shame. He would rise in their memories now as a weary man, sitting on Jacob's well, or asleep in the hinder part of the ship, and again as a mighty God, feeding the hungry multitude, or stilling the tempest. Now, He would be seen amid the glories of the transfiguration. But in our ease there is no such hindrance. We enjoy the privilege of never having seen Jesus. The Saviour, we know, is one whose griefs are past, whose glories have come, "whom having not seen we love." Imagination should often come to the help of love. Does not the loved, lost mother appear adorned with every grace, and the father apparelled in every virtue? Does not boyhood, too, gleam to the old man, when he recalls the meadows on which he played with a light such as the sun never threw from its burning face? And since imagination can lend a brilliance of hue, a splendour of colour to the objects of time, calling forth deeper and tenderer love, why not to the Object at once of sacred memory and eternal hope — the invisible Saviour? The love of the invisible Jesus may thus be developed in us like any other normal affection, and our growth in grace will be commensurate with this development. Here we may note God's wisdom and goodness in thus enlisting our natural capacities on the side of our own eternal interests. But can we define this love? What are its constituent elements? Love, like light, seems simple, but is in truth compound. In a simple beam of white light there are varied colours. Pass the beam through a prism and it breaks into those bright and dark hues that blend so beautifully in the rainbow. The beam is one, yet several, each constituent colour being necessary to its very existence. So love has its essential elements, each complementary to the other, and all combining to give it real and ample being — goodwill, approbation, delight, desire, and trust. Where any of these is not, love cannot be. O Thou Christ of the living God, teach us to love Thee, not simply as a short and easy method of deliverance, not as a convenient way of escaping the terrible pains of hell; but as our Brother, our Fellow, our Friend, our one Supreme Good, in whom alone everlasting happiness and peace can be found I And now, consider what a privilege, what an honour thou hast in being permitted to love the invisible Jesus. Pencil cannot delineate His perfection; colour cannot express His beauty. The human form must be transfigured and transformed into the Divine, ere it can tell the glory and the grace of the indwelling Christ. We would not then, O Christ, wish Thee to become visible — One we could see with our fleshly eyes, and handle with our fleshly hands. Remain Thou within the veil; there Thou art worthier to be loved; and while here we abide we shall enjoy the blessedness of those who, because they have not seen, have only the more believed and the better loved.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

I. HOW COME WE INTO CONTACT WITH JESUS? The uppermost point of contact, the most apparent in the believer's life, is love. "Whom not having seen ye love." But the text tells of another point of contact, "In Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing." We are again reminded here that we do not see, but we are assured of the possibility of believing in Him without sight. Ah, have I not by faith made real to myself the Saviour on the Cross? In Christ you have believed, and you know that your sin is forgiven, that His righteousness is imputed to you, and that you stand accepted in the Beloved. This is not to you a matter of hope; it is a matter of firm conviction. You have not seen, but you have believed. As to His resurrection also. You did not see him when He rose early in the morning from the tomb and the watchmen in terror fled far away, but you have believed in Him as risen. I believe that because He lives I shall live also, and it is possible to believe this as firmly as though we saw it. Christ is in heaven pleading for us. We cannot see the ephod and the breastplate, but we believe that He intercedes successfully there for us. We choose Him to be our advocate in every case of sore distress, in every case of grievous sin; we believe that He is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by Him, and we leave our suit with Him in perfect confidence. Still the point is, that carnal people will imagine that if there could be something to touch or smell they should get on, but mere believing and loving are too hard for them. Yet such thought is not reasonable. An illiterate man cannot see that mental work is work at all, but he who is capable of mental labour soon feels the reality of it. Just transfer that thought. Coming into contact with Christ by touch looks to most people to be most real, that is because their animal nature is uppermost; coming into contact with Jesus by the spirit seems to them to be unreal, only because they know nothing of spiritual things. Thoughtless persons think that mental pain is nothing. Mere animal men will often say, "I can understand the headache, I can understand the pain of having a leg cut off"; but the pain of injured affection, or of receiving ingratitude from a trusted friend, this by the rough mind is thought to be no pain at all. "Oh," says he, "I could put up with that." But I ask you who have minds, Is there any pain more real than mental pain? Just so the mental operation — for it is a mental operation — of coming into contact with Christ by loving Him and trusting Him is the most real thing in all the world, and no one will think it unreal who has once exercised it.


1. The first result of trusting and loving Christ is joy, and joy of a most remarkable kind. It is far above all common joy. It is spoken of as "joy unspeakable." Now earth-born joys can be told to the full. But spirit-born joys cannot be told because we have not yet received a spiritual language. I have seen men's faces lit up with heaven's sunlight when the joy of the Lord has been shed abroad in their hearts. The very people who a day ago looked dull and heavy look as if they could dance for mirth because they have found the Saviour, and their soul is at peace through Him. The apostle adds that it is "full of glory." Many sensual joys are full of shame — a man with a conscience dares not tell them to his fellows. The joy of making money is hot full of glory, nor is the joy of killing one's fellows in battle. There is no joy like that of the Christian, for he dares to speak of it everywhere, in every company.

2. The apostle mentions another blessing received by loving and trusting Christ. He says, "receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." Every man who trusts and loves Christ is saved. When we trusted Jesus, though we used no forms and ceremonies, we received the salvation of our souls.


1. It follows, in the first place, that a state of joy and salvation is the fitting and expected condition of every believer in Christ.

2. There is another inference to be drawn from my subject, and that is for the seeking soul. If you want comfort go to Christ.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

You notice that in the apostle's words love comes before belief. This is certainly not what we should have expected. How can we love before we believe? Must we not first feel convinced of the reality of Christ and the genuineness of His claims? And yet, if we take the case of one who saw Christ, is it not clear that love to Him must have preceded faith? Would not love spring up at once in witnessing some act of Christ or listening to some of His words? And yet faith may have involved more difficulty. It was impossible not to love; but how was it possible to believe, in spite of all the difficulties lying in their expectations regarding the Messiah? Nay; do we not see the love of the disciples to their Master actually struggling to attain to faith in the face of their old beliefs? Love took no heed of these obstacles. For it, in view of Christ, there was no obstruction. It went straight to its object. But faith could not avoid the encounter. It had to grapple with its enemies. Is the case different with men now? Do not men in general learn to love Christ before they ever ask the question of His reality and the genuineness of His claims? And here the first thing that strikes us is the adaptation of the Gospels especially, and also, but not so markedly, of the Epistles to awaken love above all. The appeal is not made mainly and directly to the understanding and reason. Men are not argued with. There is no elaborate demonstration presented. There is no shutting up of men by inexorable logic. On the contrary, there is a picture presented of a great and marvellous life and a death of outward ignominy but transcendent moral glory. Observe how insinuating this appeal to love is. It works itself into your heart before you are aware. You are surprised into admiration and into love. The life of Jesus is so exquisitively human, so full of little touches that mean nothing to the bare intellect, but are mighty with the heart. The great qualities of Christ have the effect of rousing some answering feelings in the souls of men. Every truly elevated life has such an influence; but that of Christ in an altogether transcendent manner, Men, in this way, by a personal attachment to Christ, or admiration of Him, or enthusiasm for Him, according as their particular bent may be, grow into a love of all things noble and pure. And then another result appears. Keeping pace with this love of righteousness, penitence shows itself. A sense of sin, and a bitter shame on account of it, grows on the man who earnestly admires Christ. What takes place when this stage is reached? The man is now in a position to appreciate the rich and tender things which Christ utters about forgiveness. And now he comes to understand that Christ is a Saviour. Whenever sin is felt to be a burden, a deeper insight is gained into Christ. And now faith in Christ has been reached. The needs of the soul, combining with love to Christ, have called out faith. They have made Christ real. When faith in Christ begins to work, then love becomes both wider and more earnest. Then love feels obligation. It feels that it has got a task to fulfil and a debt to discharge. Faith becomes henceforward the great feeder and tributary of love, bringing down supplies to it from all the mountains of truth and showers of grace. Let us notice one or two inferences from this line of thought. We see how love to an unseen Christ operates in keeping Him near to the soul in spite of the lapse of centuries. There are humble, earnest souls today in myriads that feel Christ more real and nearer than many who had seen Him in the flesh. How finely the natural and the spiritual blend in love to Christ! There are those who never seem to get beyond the natural. They love Christ as they love any great benefactor of the world. And who can tell just precisely when his love to Christ rose out of this sphere, and became spiritual; or when any such love becomes spiritual, aspiring, and active? Is not all true love to good and right at bottom and ultimately a love to God, if only it knew itself? Must we not speak of it as both an inspiration and an instrument of the Spirit of God who besets men everywhere and broods over them? Is not the manifestation of Christ the one grand means by which this latent love of goodness is kindled and lifted up, and recognises its centre and home? Is not the immense power that Christ has over the natural admiration of men one of His own greatest weapons and one of the things which the Spirit of God most uses? And is not this one of the main adaptations of the gospel to the whole world? And if a man attempts no tour round the world, but simply seeks what medicine he can apply to human hearts, what antidote he can find for sin and woe, how he can touch souls, and win them out of despondency and darkness, hardness and sloth and shame into light and love and joy; if he is only intent on sweetening and ennobling human life, he will find there is but one simple, ready, efficacious universal means, the story of that marvellous life and death — love to the unseen Christ

(J. Leckie, D. D.)

It is familiar to all experience and observation how much the action of our spiritual nature is dependent on the senses, especially how much the power of objects to interest the affections depends on their being objects of sight. The objects we can see give a more positive and direct impression of reality; there can be no dubious surmise whether they exist or not. The sense of their presence is more absolute. Again, the good or evil, pleasure or grievance, which the visible objects cause to us, are often immediate; they are now; without any anticipation I am pleased, benefited — or perhaps distressed. Whereas the objects of faith can be regarded as to have their effect upon us in futurity. Visible objects, when they have been seen, can be clearly kept in mind in absence — during long periods — at the greatest distance. But the great objects of faith having never been seen, the mind has no express type to revert to. With visible objects (speaking of intelligent beings) we can have a sensible and definite communication. Invisible beings do not afford us this perfect sense of communication. With visible beings (that is, with human beings) we have the sense of equality, of one kind; we are of the same nature and economy; in the same general condition of humanity and mortality. But as to the unseen existences we are altogether out of their order. With the visible beings, again, we can have a certain sense of appropriation; can obtain an interest in them which they will acknowledge. But the invisible beings! they have a high relationship of their own! They stand aloof, and far outside of the circle within which we could comprehend what we can call ours. Such are some of the advantages of converse with objects that are seen over that with the invisible. And, in view of this, taken exclusively, it was a high privilege that was enjoyed by those who saw and conversed with our Lord on earth. But this is only one side of the subject. Look a moment at the other. And we need not fear to assert — that, on the whole, it is a high advantage not to have seen Jesus Christ; an advantage in favour of the affections claimed to be devoted to Him. We need not dwell on the possibility of feeling a great interest in objects we have never beheld, Recollect what a measure of sentiment, of affection in its various modes, has been given to the illustrious heroes, deliverers of their country, avengers of oppression, and men of transcendent intellectual power. But there is a nobler manifestation of this possibility. Think of all the affection of human hearts that has been given to the Saviour of the world since He withdrew His visible presence from it! And we still assert that it is to the advantage of the affection of His disciples toward Him that they see Him not. "Blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed." But, more than this; revert in thought to the personal manifestation of our Lord on earth, and consider how it would act on the believing spectator's mind. Sublime greatness would, must, by an inevitable law of human feeling, be reduced, shaded, diminished, as to its impression on the mind, by being shrouded and presented in a mere human form. Consider also that, in beholding a glorious and Divine nature in such a manifestation, the affection of those devoted to hint would fix very much, often chiefly, on the mere human quality of the being before them, and therefore would be familiarised, shall we say vulgarised, down to that proportion; it might be most warm and cordial, but not elevated and awful. Consider besides that, under the full direct impression of sight, there would be a great restriction on faith, acting in the way of imagination. The mind does not know how to expand into splendid ideal conception upon an object presented close and plain and familiar to sight. Should not such considerations make it evident that to see the Messiah in His personal manifestation was a mode of contemplating Him very inferior, for the excitement of the sublimer kind of affection, to that which we have to exercise by faith? The text may suggest to us an additional idea, which it could not to those to whom the apostle wrote. We not only have not seen Him, but we live very long after the time in which He could be seen; we, therefore, in endeavouring to form a sublime conception of Him, can add, and accumulate upon the idea, all the glory that has arisen to Him from the progress of His cause in the world ever since.

(J. Foster.)

I. GRATITUDE NATURALLY BEGETS AN AFFECTIONATE ATTACHMENT TO ITS OBJECT. We ought not only to guard against an error too prevalent in our own times, namely, the excluding the affections altogether from religion, and imputing the signs of them in others to the impulse of a heated imagination, but we ought to cherish their influence as a becoming expression of our love to Jesus Christ, and a pleasing symptom of our sincerity, when we make a public profession of it.

II. IT IS A NATURAL EFFECT OF GRATITUDE TO KEEP THE OBJECT OF IT MUCH IN OUR THOUGHTS. Do the privileges and benefits of the gospel interest our affections. Do our hearts burn within us when we contemplate His doctrine, His character, His astonishing humility and benevolence?

III. ANOTHER EFFECT OF GRATITUDE IS TO PROCEED TO OUTWARD EXPRESSIONS OF THOSE THANKFUL SENTIMENTS WHICH INSPIRE OUR HEARTS. When we either love or hate, or grieve or rejoice in an intense degree we are sensibly gratified by the verbal expression of these affections. Words not only flow from the affections, but react upon them, and add to their vivacity and strength.

IV. GRATITUDE NATURALLY DISPOSES US TO DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER AGREEABLE TO OUR BENEFACTOR, OR THAT TENDS TO PROMOTE HIS INTEREST. To pretend to love Jesus Christ while we love our sins and hold them fast is not less absurd than it would be for a man to avow allegiance to his prince while leagued with those rebellious subjects who have conspired against his person and government. When overtaken in a fault are we affected with sorrow, not only from the fear of danger, but from the consciousness of ingratitude?

V. GRATITUDE NATURALLY LEADS US TO GLORY IN OUR CONNECTION WITH OUR BENEFACTORS. Jesus, a man of sorrows while He tabernacled on earth, is now exalted to the right hand of the throne of God. Our gratitude cannot add to His glory, nor can our ingratitude detract from it. But His Church, or kingdom on earth, like the kingdoms of this world, is not exempted from the vicissitudes of prosperous and adverse fates. How many alarming symptoms of the declining credit and influence of the Christian religion are exhibited in the age and country in which we live!

(T. Somerville, D. D.)

In whom...believing, ye rejoice
I. THE GRAND POSSIBILITIES OF CHRISTIAN JOY — UNSPEAKABLE AND FULL OF GLORY. It is quite possible to be beset all about with cares and troubles and yet to feel a pure fountain of celestial gladness welling up in our inmost hearts, sweet amidst bitter waters. There may be life beneath the snow. There may be fire burning, like the old Greek fire, below the water. A man has this power if he have two objects of contemplation, to one or other of which he may turn his mind — he can choose which of the two he will turn to. Like a railway signalman, you may either flash the light through the pure white glass or the darkly coloured one. You may either choose to look at everything through the medium of the sorrows that belong to time, or through the medium of the joys that flow from eternity. The question is, which of the two do we choose shall be uppermost in our hearts and give the colour to our experience. And then the text reminds us that the gladness which thus belongs to the Christian life is silent and a transfigured "joy unspeakable and glorified," as the word might be rendered. "He is a poor man who can count his flock," said the old Latin proverb. Those joys are on the surface that can be spoken. The deep river goes silently, with equable flow, to the great ocean; it is the little shallow brook that chatters amongst the pebbles. The true Christian joy is glorified, says Peter. The glory of heaven shines upon it and transfigures it. It is suffused and filled with the glory for which the Christian hopes, like Stephen when "God's glory smote him on the face" and made it shine as an angel's.

II. THE ONE GREAT ACT BY WHICH THIS POSSIBILITY OF GLADNESS IS TURNED INTO A REALITY. "In Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing ye rejoice." The act of faith is the condition of joy. Joy springs from the contemplation or experience of something calculated to excite it, and the more real, permanent, and all-sufficient that object the fuller and surer the joy. But where can we find such an object as Him with Whom we are brought into union by our faith? Jesus Christ is all-sufficient, full of pity, full of beauty and righteousness, all that we can desire — and all this forever. But mark, the language of our text shows that our gladness will be accurately contemporaneous with our trust. As long as we are exercising faith, so long shall we experience joy — not one instant longer. It is like a piano, whose note ceases the moment you lift your finger from the key — not like an organ, in which the sound persists for a time after.

III. THE GIFT WHICH ENHANCES JOY. The exercise of faith is itself joy, apart from what faith secures. We stretch out our hands to Christ, and the act is blessedness. Faith is the condition of joy, and the salvation of our souls, which we receive as its end, is the great reason for joy. Salvation is past, present, and future. Here it is clearly regarded as present. That present salvation will be a source of pure and noble joy. If my heart is humbly and even tremulously resting upon Him, I have got, in the measure of my faith, the real germ of all salvation. What are the elements of which salvation consists? The fact and the sense of forgiveness to begin with. Well, I have that, have I not, if I trust Christ? A growing possession of pure desires, heaven-wrought tastes, of all that is called in the Bible "the new man" — well! I have that, surely, if I trust Him. Such progressive salvation is given to me if I am trusting in Him, "Whom, having not seen, I love." All these will tend to joy. The present salvation points onwards to its own completion, and in that way becomes further a source of joy. In its depths we see reflected a blue heaven with many a star. The salvation here touches the soul alone, but salvation in its perfect form touches the body, soul, and spirit, and transforms all the outward nature to correspond to these and makes a worthy dwelling for perfected men. That prospect brings joy beyond the reach of aught else to afford.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)


1. Belief in the unseen Christ is present joy because it creates harmony in the soul.

2. Because it tills the heart with the deepest love.


1. It is inexpressible from the depth of its emotion.

2. It is the earnest of the future heaven.

(E. L. Hull, B. A.)

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