2 Thessalonians 3:18
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
If I mistake not, there is one of our noble families which has for its motto the single word "Persevera." It is a very grand motto, and I can well believe that a man whose forefathers had that single word inscribed upon their banners, and who himself had lived with that word ever speaking to him from the escutcheon of his house, would be a braver and more steadfast man by reason of the influence which such an eloquent motto would exercise upon his character. And yet there is a very great inclination in certain stages of society, and certain periods of our lives, to feel a kind of contempt for this same perseverance. Mere patient labour is thought but meanly of for the most part; we give it all sorts of bad names. We sneer at a "plodder." We half suspect a "painstaking" boy of being a stupid one. We become considerably amazed where unpresuming "carefulness" carries the day over more dashing "style." It seems dull to us to go on from year to year, practising at the same thing, toiling at the same kind of work, and so very slowly rising towards perfection in anything. We are inclined to fancy when we start in life that great talents — that indefinable power which we call genius — will be sure to bear all before it, and must carry the world by storm. By and by we get to find that the world is very much larger than we fancied, and that there is a great deal of talent — nay, a great many geniuses in it, and that eminence is not to be obtained at a bound, but only by long and patient climbing. But this is a hard lesson to learn, and we dislike the learning it too. When we begin to see that it must be learnt, many of us revolt from the necessity; some are discouraged, and fairly give in at once; some few bow before the law, and these succeed. This is true of all things. What makes the savages in the Pacific able to swim for miles, so that they are almost as much at home in the water as on the land? What makes the Australian native able to follow and track by such slight indications as you and I could not even understand? What makes the tea taster in London able to tell whether this chest of tea was packed in Shanghai or that in Canton? What makes the clerk at the Bank of England able to detect in an instant the single forged note out of a heap of a thousand genuine ones which he handles too rapidly for our eyes to follow? It is persevering carefulness, without which all the natural gifts in the world would not avail for the doing of any one of these things. But is all this true of the highest things? Is it true that in religion, in godliness, it is perseverance that best serves to produce the true Christian temper and the truly Christian life? God forbid that we should lose sight for an instant of the cooperating grace of the Holy Spirit, or put anything into the place which His grace can alone occupy; but with that reservation it is undoubtedly true that even in religion, and the building up of a Christian character, it is perseverance that is of the most vital and essential importance, and that, indeed, without a persevering continuance in the painful practice of what our conscience sanctions and commands, there can be no real godliness, no true religion. If there be one thing more than another which marks the man of genius, it is his courageous steadfastness. They say that the tiger once balked in its first spring, will not again renew the charge, but skulks back into the jungle cowed and ashamed. We know that it is ever so with the craven spirits in the world; the first check and discouragement crushes them, they have no heart to recover from a fall. Such men do not bargain for work; they only bargain for success. But God's Word says, bargain for work only, and leave success to follow or not as it may. Working is success, for after doing, something — something I say — must be done; and after well-doing, something good is done.
(A. Jessop, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.