Luke 21:7


1. Distribution of prophetic intimations. Great diversity of opinion prevails in regard to the predictio

Master, but when shall these things be?

1. Many will assume the daring role.

(1)Some saying, "I am Christ."

(2)Others saying, "The time draweth near."

2. There is danger of being deceived. "Take heed," etc.


1. The great events which must precede.

(1)Political commotion.

(2)Physical changes.

(3)Social distresses.

2. The persecution that must precede.

(1)Its severity.

(2)Its advantage.

(3)Support under it.

(4)Assurance and counsel in view of it.

3. Jerusalem's destruction must precede it.

(1)This destruction was then near.

(2)This destruction terrible.Lessons:

1. Christ's wonderful knowledge of future events.

(1)He foreknew the destiny of all nations.

(2)The opposition with which Christianity would be met.

(3)The trials His disciples would have to endure.

(4)Christ knows no surprise.

2. Christ's wonderful ability to maintain His gospel and to sustain his followers.

(1)No power can overthrow it.

(2)His followers will triumph.

3. Jerusalem's destruction symbolizes the dreadful doom of those who reject Christ.

(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)

American Sunday School World.
When I was a Sunday-school scholar — after I had finished reading my library books — I would look at the words on the last pages, "THE END," and underneath these words were pictures; some of them I remember. There was a hand holding an inverted torch, and it seemed to say, "The flame is dying out, this is the end." Another picture was a candlestick with a candle burned almost out, and the last flickering light of the candle said, " The light is going out, soon it will leave you in darkness." In another book a man was seen as having left his house, the door was closed and he was shut out in the outer darkness. He was walking in a narrow path, and just before him there was a pitfall, and in it were the words, "The end"; truly man steps out of this life into the next. There was a picture I saw only once, but I can never forget the impression that it left on my mind. It was a midnight scene, with the moon and stars lighting up the darkness that hung over a graveyard, and on a tombstone more prominent than the rest were these impressive words, "The end." So there is an end to a book, an end to our days, our months, our lives, and an end to everything on earth. There is an end of working, of learning, and, whether neglected or improved, there will be an end of all our teaching. Sabbath-school scholars and teachers, "Work while it is day, for the night cometh when no man can work."

(American Sunday School World.)

The traveller Humboldt gives an interesting account of the first earthquake he witnessed. It was at Cumana, in South America. The first shock came after a strange stillness. It caused an earthquake in his mind, for it overthrew in a moment all his lifelong notions about the safety of the earth. He could no longer trust the soil which up to that day had felt so firm under his feet. He had only one thought — universal, boundless destruction. Even the crocodiles ran from the river Orinoco howling into the woods; the dogs and pigs were powerless with fear. The whole city seemed "the hearth of destruction." The houses could not shelter, for they were falling in ruins. He turned to the trees, but they were overthrown. His next thought was to run to the mountains, but they were reeling like drunken men. He then looked towards the sea. Lo! it had fled; and the ships, which a few minutes before were in deep water, were rocking on the bare sand. He tells us that, being then at his wit's end, he looked up, and observed that heaven alone was perfectly calm and unshaken. Many strange things are yet to come upon the world — earthquakes, overturnings, upheavings. But amid them all, as the Book tells us, the Christian shall look up to the heavenly One, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever," and to His heavenly home which cannot be moved.

(From "Bible Echoes,")

An earthquake is only a volcano hushed up. When Stromboli and Cotopaxi and Vesuvius stop breathing, let the foundations of the earth beware. Seven rheum and earthquakes in two centuries recorded in the catalogue of the British Association. Trajan, the Emperor, goes to ancient Antioch, and amid the splendour of his reception is met by an earthquake that nearly destroys the Emperor's life. Lisbon, fair and beautiful at ten o'clock on November 1, 1755, in six minutes sixty thousand have perished, and Voltaire writes of them: "For that region it was the last judgment, nothing wanting but a trumpet!" Europe and America feeling the throb. Fifteen hundred chimneys in Boston partially or fully destroyed. But the disasters of other centuries have had their counterpart in our own. In 1812 Caracas was caught in the grip of the earthquake; in 1822, in Chili, one hundred thousand square miles of land by volcanic force upheaved to four and seven feet of permanent elevation; in 1854 Japan felt the geological agony; Naples shaken in 1857; Mexico in 1858; Mendoza, the capital of the Argentine Republic, in 1861; Manilla terrorised in 1863; the Hawaiian Islands by such force uplifted and let down in 1871; Nevada shaken in 1871, Antioch in 1872, California in 1872, San Salvador in 1873, while in the summer of 1883 what subterranean excitements! Ischia, an island of the Mediterranean, a beautiful Italian watering-place, vineyard clad, surrounded by all natural charm and historical reminiscence; yonder Capri, the summer resort of the Roman emperors; yonder, Naples, the paradise of art — this beautiful island suddenly toppled into the trough of the earth, eight thousand merry-makers perishing, and some of them so far down beneath the reach of human obsequies that it may be said of many a one of them as it was said of Moses, "The Lord buried him."

(Dr. Talmage.)

It shall turn to you for a testimony
The tale of it shall live on. The light of their lives shall shine through their forms and reveal the inner glory in eternity. This is the eternal recompense — revelation. The revelation of the Christlike spirit in a world where to be Christlike is to be glorious and blessed; where the scars of battle are marks of honour, and the martyr's brow is anointed like Christ's with the oil of joy and gladness through eternity. And now what are we doing which shall turn to us for a testimony at that day? A testimony of what? What is the record that shall be read out about us? What hidden things shall the book of remembrance reveal? How much is said and done daily because we love God and must do His will at whatever cost? Many a clever stroke of business is done, no doubt; many a happy speculation; or perhaps a brilliant trick, or next door to it. Quite right, quite fair, no doubt, as business goes in these days, but not the kind of thing which will turn to you for a testimony when it is read out on high. Realize it. Set it before your mind's eye. Beings of angelic truth, purity, charity, all round you, circle beyond circle; and Christ, who lived that life which it makes us blush to read about, in the midst. And what is there in your life in tune with it; which you will hear read out with joy in that great company; which makes you the blessed freeman of that world in which "the Lamb who was slain" is King? What deeds do we leave for recompense at the resurrection of the just? No matter what the world thinks about it, the real question is, What do we think of it ourselves? In the quiet hours when the world is shut out, and its babbling is silent, what do we think of it? There is a sterner, surer Judge within than any that the world can set to weigh us. How stand we before that tribunal? It will prophesy to us how we shall stand before the bar of Christ at last.

(J. B. Brown, B. A.)

I will give you a mouth and wisdom
I. THE PREDICTION here implied, viz., that the apostles should not fail of adversaries to oppose them. This, indeed, was to be no small argument of their apostolic mission. For such as engage themselves in the service of that grating, displeasing thing to the world, called "truth," must expect the natural issue and consequent of truth, which is a mortal hatred of those who speak it. The next thing offering itself to our consideration is, how this enmity (especially in the apostles' time, which the words chiefly point at) was to exert itself.

1. For gainsaying; the word in the Greek is ἀντειπε1FC0;ιν, importing opposition in disputation, with an endeavour to repel or confute what is alleged by another. And thus we find the apostles frequently and fiercely encountered by adversaries of very different persuasions, by Jews and Gentiles, and the several sects belonging to both. They were perpetually railed at as deceivers and impostors, even while they were endeavouring to undeceive the world from those wretched impostures and delusions which had so long and so miserably bewitched it: in a word, they were like physicians exchanging cures for curses; and reviled and abused by their froward patients, while they were doing all they could for their health and recovery. But —

2. The other branch of the opposition designed against the apostles and ministers of Christ is expressed by "resisting"; a word importing a much more substantial kind of enmity than that which only spends at the mouth, and shows itself in froth and noise; an enmity which, instead of scoffs and verbal assaults, should encounter them with all that art could contrive or violence execute; with whips and scourges, cross and gibbet, swords and axes; and though bare words draw no blood, yet these, to be sure, would. And such were the weapons with which they were to act their butcheries upon the Christians; till at length, through all the sorts and degrees of cruelty, the same martyrdom should both crown and conclude their sufferings together.


1. For the thing promised, "a mouth and wisdom", that is, an ability of speaking, joined with an equal prudence in action and behaviour. Which things we will consider first singly, and then in conjunction. And —(1) For the ability of speaking conferred upon the apostles. It was highly requisite that those who were to be the interpreters and spokesmen of heaven should have a rhetoric taught them from thence too; and as much beyond any that could be taught them by human rules and art as the subjects they were to speak of surpassed the subject of all human eloquence. Now this ability of speech, I conceive, was to be attended with these three properties of it.

(a)Great clearness and perspicuity.

(b)An unaffected plainness and simplicity.

(c)A suitable and becoming zeal or fervour.(2) The other and next is that of wisdom, the noblest endowment of the mind of man of all others, of an endless extent, and of a boundless comprehension; and, in a word, the liveliest representation that a created nature can afford of the infinity of its Maker. And this, as it is in men, is properly the great principle, directing them how to demean themselves in all the particular passages, accidents, and occasions of human life, which being in the full compass of them indeed innumerable, to recount and treat of them all here would be next to impossible; but as for that wisdom which most peculiarly belonged to the first dispensers and ministers of the gospel, I shall only mention two instances, in which it most remarkably shows itself, namely —(a) That they opposed neither things nor persons, any further than they stood in their way in the ministry of it. On the contrary, "I am become all things to all men," says St. Paul, and that neither to gain favour nor interest, but only converts to Christianity (1 Corinthians 9:22).(b) The other instance of the wisdom given by our Saviour to His apostles was their resolute opposing all doctrines and interests whatsoever, so far as they stood in opposition to the gospel.

2. The person promising, who was Christ Himself: "I will give you a mouth and wisdom." I lay particular stress and remark upon this, because Christ seems by this very thing to give His disciples an assurance of His resurrection. For surely they could not expect to receive gifts from above, while the giver of them was underground.

III. BY WHAT MEANS CHRIST CONFERRED THOSE GIFTS UPON HIS DISCIPLES AND APOSTLES; and that we find was by the effusion of the Holy Ghost, the author and giver of every good and perfect gift, ministerial gifts more especially.

(R. South, D. D.)

One evening, a few years ago, while a few believers in Christ were holding an open-air meeting in the Caledonian Road, London, a man commenced to mock the speaker and taunt him with being paid half-a-crown to come and preach to the people, and even went so far as to charge the preacher with telling a parcel of lies. No notice was taken of the mocker for some little time, but as he persisted in making a disturbance, and declaring that the person addressing the meeting did it for money, and that it was a good thing for him to be able to get half-a-crown so easily, the gentleman stopped short in his discourse, and turning to the scoffer, said, "My dear friend, it is you that are uttering untruths; I do not preach for half-a-crown, but for a crown, 'a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me;' and He will give you one too if you will only go to Him and ask for it." The disturber said but little after this, and stayed till the meeting closed.

That was a beautiful reply of Margaret Maitland, Scotland's maiden martyr, to her persecutors. They had bound an aged Christian to a stake far out between low and high tide, and Margaret herself to another stake nearer the shore. They hoped that, seeing the struggles and painful death of her companion, she would be terrified and would recant. She gazed on the awful scene with deep sympathy, but without any manifestation of fear. When they asked her, "Margaret, what do you see yonder?" she replied, "I see Christ suffering in the person of one of His saints." She knew that when her turn came to be suffocated by the rising tide Christ would be with her also; that He would share in her sufferings; that He would sustain her in the terrible ordeal. This is the kind of faith we need for ourselves and for the Church.

In your patience possess ye your souls.
It should rather read, By your endurance ye shall gain possession of your lives. It is also "ye shall bring your spiritual life safely through the coming troubles." It was a sore trial for the early Christians to he severed from their holy places, from their city home. In that sundering of cherished ties there lay, we may well believe, an agony that changed the very nature of those who endured it. But it taught them to look far afield, to bow down at no single shrine, and sent them forth to evangelize the world. Out of the ruin of their most cherished relics there grew up a more noble conception of the Church. Age after age each time of change has seemed to bring with it the end; at each crisis have been heard the same appeals to heaven, the same despair of earth; and yet to those who had patience the evil time has passed away, and men have found themselves living in a fresh air of hope with expanded vision and larger powers for good. Our tranquility is little affected by news of distant suffering. It is the old Horatian difference between the eyes and the ears. We fancy that our own troubles are far the worst the world has ever been called on to undergo. Warnings come from older men to whom the dark cloud seems to cover the heavens. The young see the sunshine coming up with soft rich colours of promise from behind the storm. Are there any peculiar causes for alarm?

I. The alarm is as old as Christendom.

II. The existence of some life is a cheering thing.

III. We need more manliness in our religion; more that will attract bard-knit men.

IV. If the Christian faith is to declare its Divine origin in the face of vehement attack or learned contempt, it cannot be by shutting itself up in safe sanctuary and refusing to enter the field with its antagonists. It is not without anguish that we rise "out of our dead selves to better things." Yet there is no other way for the nobles of mankind.

(Dean Kitchin.)

The possession of our souls is a very emphatical expression. It describes that state in which a man has both the full command, and the undisturbed enjoyment, of himself; in opposition to his under going some inward agitation which discomposes his powers. Upon the least reflection it must appear, how essential such a state of mind is to happiness. He only who thus possesses his soul is capable of possessing any other thing with advantage; and, in order to attain and preserve this self-possession, the most important requisite is, the habitual exercise of patience. I know that patience is apt to be ranked, by many, among the more humble and obscure virtues; belonging chiefly to those who groan on a sick bed, or who languish in a prison. If their situation be, happily, of a different kind, they imagine that there is no occasion for the discipline of patience being preached to them. But I hope to make it appear, that, in every circumstance of life, no virtue is more important, both to duty and to happiness; or more requisite for forming a manly and worthy character. It principally, indeed, regards the disagreeable circumstances which are apt to occur. But in our present state, the occurrence of these is so frequent, that, in every condition of life, patience is incessantly called forth.

I. PATIENCE UNDER PROVOCATIONS. We are provoked, sometimes by the folly and levity of those with whom we are connected; sometimes by their indifference, or neglect; by the incivility of a friend, the haughtiness of a superior, or the insolent behaviour of one in lower station. Hardly a day passes, without somewhat or other occurring, which serves to ruffle the man of impatient spirit. Of course, such a man lives in a continual storm. He knows not what it is to enjoy a train of good humour. Servants, neighbours, friends, spouse, and children, all, through the unrestrained violence of his temper, become sources of disturbance and vexation to him. In vain is affluence; in yam are health and prosperity. The least trifle is sufficient to discompose his mind, and poison his pleasures. His very amusements are mixed with turbulence and passion. I would beseech this man to consider of what small moment the provocations which he receives, or at least imagines himself to receive, are really in themselves; but of what great moment he makes them by suffering them to deprive him of the possession of himself.

II. PATIENCE UNDER DISAPPOINTMENTS. Are we not, each in his turn, doomed to experience the uncertainty of worldly pursuits? Why, then, aggravate our misfortunes by the unreasonable violence of an impatient spirit Perhaps the accomplishment of our designs might have been pregnant with misery. Perhaps from our present disappointment future prosperity may rise.

III. PATIENCE UNDER RESTRAINTS. No man is, or can be, always his own master. We are obliged, in a thousand cases, to submit and obey. The discipline of patience preserves our minds easy, by conforming them to our state. By the impetuosity of an impatient and unsubmitting temper, we fight against an unconquerable power; and aggravate the evils we must endure.

IV. Patience under injuries and wrongs. To these, amidst the present confusion of the world, all are exposed. No station is so high, no power so great, no character so unblemished, as to exempt men from being attacked by rashness, malice, or envy. To behave under such attacks with due patience and moderation, is, it must be confessed, one of the most trying exercises of virtue. But, in order to prevent mistakes on this subject, it is necessary to observe, that a tame submission to wrongs is not required by religion. We are by no means to imagine that religion tends to extinguish the sense of honour, or to suppress the exertion of a manly spirit. It is under a false apprehension of this kind that Christian patience is sometimes stigmatized in discourse as no other than a different name for cowardice. On the contrary, every man of virtue ought to feel what is due to his character, and to support properly his own rights. Resentment of wrong is a useful principle in human nature; and for the wisest purposes was implanted in our frame. It is the necessary guard of private rights; and the great restraint on the insolence of the violent, who, if no resistance were made, would trample on the gentle and peaceable. Resentment, however, if not kept within due bounds, is in hazard of rising into fierce and cruel revenge. It is the office of patience to temper resentment by reason.

V. PATIENCE UNDER ADVERSITY AND AFFLICTION. This is the most common sense in which this virtue is understood; as it respects disease, poverty, old age, loss of friends, and the other calamities which are incident to human life. In general, there are two chief exercises of patience under adversity; one respecting God, and another respecting men. Patience with respect to God, must, in the days of trouble, suppress the risings of a murmuring and rebellious spirit. Patience in adversity, with respect to men, must appear by the composure and tranquility of our behaviour. The loud complaint, the querulous temper, and fretful spirit, disgrace every character. They show a mind that is unmanned by misfortunes. We weaken thereby the sympathy of others; and estrange them from the offices of kindness and comfort. The exertions of pity will be feeble, when it is mingled with contempt.

(H. Blair, D. D.)

Now the feelings unavoidably disagreeable to us, and tempting us to impatience, are chiefly pain, sorrow, fear, and anger.

1. Pain: under which may be comprehended also sickness, restlessness, and languid lowness.

2. The next source of impatience before mentioned is sorrow: which sometimes is mere sympathy with the calamities of others.

3. The next cause of impatience, mentioned before was fear.

4. The last trial of our patience, of which I proposed to speak, is anger.

(T. Secker.)

Be collected, that you may be strong; stand still, and stand firmly, if you can do nothing else; do not slip back, or step aside, or attempt anything wrong or questionable. Patience is not merely a passive submission to evil, a dull, stupid, unfeeling indifference, like the insensibility of wood or stone; it is the result of thought; it implies effort; it is a sort of active bearing up of oneself under the pressure of calamity, which at once indicates self-possession and secures it; it reacts upon that from which it proceeds, and causes it to become stronger and stronger. I wish now to request your attention to some of the advantages which flow from obedience to the precept, in the case of Christians, when called to suffer great affliction, or when exposed to the fear of impending calamity.

1. In the first place, there is the consciousness of not increasing the affliction by sin. If a Christian is impatient, and gives way to fretfulness and temper, or other forms of restiveness under trouble, he not only loses the advantage of calmness and self-possession, but his conscience receives a fresh injury; his proper religious feelings are hurt; his inward personal peace is disturbed; and thus the trouble presses upon him with double weight. It is a great blessing not to be exposed to this.

2. In the next place, self-possession in a time of trouble will enable an individual to take a just view of his actual circumstances, and of the nature and ends of the Divine infliction. We are under the rule and guidance of One who has always an object in what He does — an object worthy of Himself, and connected with the peace and holiness of His Church.

3. In the third place, the man who has full possession of himself in a time of affliction will be able to engage in certain exercises of mind which trouble calls to, but which are impossible, or next to it, when the soul is disturbed by agitation and excitement. "In the day of adversity consider." "Call upon Me in the day of trouble." "Glorify Me in the fire." "Enter into thy chamber." "Be still, and know that I am God." "My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of Him." But none of these things can be done, or done well, if the man is not quiet, patient, and self-possessed; if he is the victim of hurry, alarm, consternation, and surprise.

4. Observe, fourthly, that it is only by such self-possession as the text inculcates, that an individual will be able to select and apply the proper means of escape from calamity, or which may help him to meet it, or to counteract its effects.

5. In the last place, obedience to the text, explained as an exhortation, will best prepare a man for the end and result of trouble, whatever that result may be. If the cloud and the calamity pass away, and the man be fully delivered from it, he will be able to look back with serenity and gratitude, free from self-reproach or shame. If it terminate fatally, for himself or others, he will be able to acquiesce, with intelligent faith, in the Divine will.

(W. Binnie, D. D.)

The Authorised Version reads, "In your patience possess ye your souls." It bids the imperilled Christian, fortified by promise, to endure to the end, keeping his soul tranquil and trustful. A beautiful precept, yet inferior, both in reading and rendering, but most certainly in the latter, to one other, which is that of the Revised Version, "In your patience ye shall win your souls." For the imperative we substitute the future; in other words, for precept we read promise. This is one change — for "possess" we read "win"; for a soul given in creation, we are bidden to look for a soul to be given in glory. The case is one of those in which the word before us always means to acquire, and never means to possess. Now we turn from a comparison of renderings to the application of the saying itself. "In your patience ye shall win your souls," "some of you shall be put to death," "ye shall be hated of all men," "not a hair of your head shall perish,... in your patience ye shall win your souls." Death itself shall not prevent this; for the soul here spoken of is the life's life, the thing which unbelief and unfaithfulness can alone forfeit for any man, the thing which is saved by faith, the thing which is acquired, gained, won in the exercise of patience. There is a lower truth in the saying in reference to this present life. Multitudes of human lives have been won by patience; the histories of battles and sieges are in large part histories of the triumph of patience; cities would have been lost, and fields would have been lost, but for the grace of patience in the commanders and the leaders. But certainly the converse is true; in patience has been defeat, has been disaster, has been bloodshed, a thousand and ten thousand times; the analogy of earth and time gives support to the promise when we read it as it was spoken of the soul and of things heavenly. What is patience as Christ speaks it? The Greek word for patience is made up of two parts, one meaning continuance, and the other meaning submission; so that the combined term may be defined as submissive waiting, that frame of mind which is will. ing to wait as knowing whom it serves, willing to endure as seeing the Invisible; recognizing the creaturely attitude of subjection to the Creator; recognizing also the filial relationship which implies a controlling hand and a loving mind in heaven. Submissive waiting, this is patience, and we see, then, why great things should be spoken of it, why it should even be made the sum of Christian virtues, why to it rather than to any other grace, the promise should be affixed, "In your patience" — in the exercise, resolved and unwearied, of the grace of submissive expectancy — "ye shall at last win your souls." "Then the soul is not yet won?" Yes and no; the soul, the true life of each one, is already redeemed, bought, bought back with precious blood; and the soul, the life's life of each one, is already committed to us by Christ Himself for omnipotent keeping. "I know," St. Paul writes, "whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard my deposit" — the soul which I have committed to Him — "against that day." This is true. Our Lord speaks not here to contradict His own word, or to vitiate His own work, which says quite indiscriminately in Holy Scripture, "Ye were saved," that is, on Calvary; "Ye have been saved," this is, in redemption; "Ye are being saved," that is, in the work of grace; "Ye shall be saved," that is, in the day of glory. But, in fullest consistency with all these, there is room for a promise, "Ye shalt win your souls." Let no man presume. There is a sense in which the life's life hangs suspended on that mark, as St. Paul calls it, which is the goal of the race. "I," he says, "count not myself to have apprehended." There is a grace of submissive expectancy; still, and because there is this, there is a something yet in front of me. At present I do not quite possess even my own soul. Oh! it often eludes me when I would say, "All my own I carry with me." Oh I there are many misgivings and doubtings in us, even in the things most Surely believed. I cannot always command the life's life, which is the soul, when I would carry it with me to the mercy-seat. I find earth and the world, flesh, and sense oftentimes too strong and too predominately present with me just when I would be at my very best for prayer and praise. I cannot pretend to say that I have quite attained even to the possession of my own innermost being. A great promise. Now let us lose ourselves for a moment in the contemplation of this promise, "Ye shall win your souls"; and then in one last word see the connection of it with the realm and region of patience. "In your patience ye shall win your souls": at last my soul shall be my own. That is the promise. It is a wonderful interpretation of a wonderful saying appended to the parable of the unrighteous steward: "If ye have not been faithful in the use of that which was so precarious and so fugitive that even while you had it it might rather be called "another's" — the possession in greater or lesser measure of the substance of this world — "who," our Lord asks, "who should give you that which is your own" — that which is your own, still to be won — the soul, the life's life of this text? Patience may lack, often does lack, one at least of its ingredients; there might be a waiting which was no submission, which, on the contrary, was indolence, was procrastination, was dallying, the man sitting still, and letting alone, and waiting upon chances which are no grace at all, but the opposite; or there might be a submission which was no enterprise, and waiting upon Providence with more or less of the resignation which is the ape and shadow of patience, which has in it no doing nor daring for Christ, no present running and fighting, and, therefore, no future crown. But who shall speak the praises of the real gospel, Christian, spiritual patience?

(Dean Vaughan.)

The revised translation restores this word of Jesus to its original force. The Lord did not bid His disciples simply to possess their souls in patience. He told them that through endurance they were to win their souls. Souls, then, are for us to win. Literally the word used by Jesus means, procure for yourselves souls. Life is to be to us, in some sense, an acquisition of soul. This active verb used by Jesus in relation to the soul is suggestive. How may the disciples acquire their own souls? Are we to work with the Creator in making our own souls? We are to go into life, and, as men in business gain possessions, we are to procure our souls from life. Souls, then, may not be such ready-made products of nature as we are accustomed to imagine; the souls of men are possibly but the seeds of immortality. They may be the germs scattered by a spiritual power in this soil of the flesh, and destined to spring up, and to grow, if we do not succeed in killing them, into the powers of an endless life. In what ways are we to set about procuring for ourselves souls? The first thing for us to do is the thing which those men had already done to whom Jesus gave this promise that they should win their souls. What they had done — the first decisive step which they had taken in the work of finding their lives — was not, indeed, to acquaint themselves with all knowledge, or to peer into all mysteries. They had not even lingered at the doors of the school of the Rabbies. But when One who spake as never man spake, and who looked into men's souls with the light of a Divine Spirit in His eye, came walking upon the beach where they were mending their nets, and bade them leave all and follow Him, they heard their own being commanded as by the King of truth, and at once they left all and followed Him. They counted not the cost; they obeyed when they found themselves commanded by God in Christ. This promise, "Ye shall win your souls," was addressed to men who had surrendered themselves wholly to that which they had seen, and knew of God. It was a pledge of soul made to men who had the wills of disciples. This prime condition of winning our souls remains unchanged, and no simpler or more searching words for it can be framed than those first requirements of Jesus Christ of every man — "Repent," "believe." If a man wishes in all sincerity to gain his own soul, he must begin by turning with a will from the sin of the world which he knows has laid foul, destructive hand upon his life; he must rise, and meet duty, trusting himself with all his heart to every whisper of truth and echo of God within him. The first step in the way of acquiring our souls, let me repeat, is the decision of discipleship. I answer then, secondly, we are to acquire soul by living now with all the soul we do have. If we are to win souls from life, we must put our whole souls into life; but the trouble with us is that we often do not. We live half-hearted, and with a certain reserve often of ourselves from our every-day life in the world. But you remember how Jesus insisted that His disciples should serve God and love man with all their souls, and with all their strength. The way to gain more soul and better is to live freely and heartily with all the soul we do have. Christ alone may show us what a whole-hearted, whole-souled life should be. He completes lives. He gives soul and heart abundantly in life. Has He not said we are to love God with all our minds, and all our hearts, and all our strength? "Yes," some one thinks, "but how can I in my little tread-mill of a life, in my circumscribed sphere, put my whole soul into it, live with all my might? I wish I had an opportunity of life into which I could throw all my soul — but what am I and my little place? I know I am not living with all my heart." But you may I You may, if you are willing to learn Jesus' secret, and to find your life while losing it. Perhaps in the very effort it may cost us to put our hearts into little things — to do common things as disciples heartily as unto the Lord — may be the exercise of soul which God has appointed for us that thereby we may gain capacity of spirit for the whole service of heaven. Right here it may help us to come back to our text. In your patience ye shall win your souls. Not many of those disciples to whom Jesus was then speaking became distinguished Christians. They had no great part to play in this world. All but three or four of the twelve are only names to us. But every man of them had a splendid chance to win soul by endurance. God gives to common people this opportunity of winning on earth souls large enough and good enough to appreciate by and by what heaven is. Patience may be the making of a soul. That regiment of men is held all the morning waiting under fire. They broke camp with enthusiasm enough to sweep them up to any line of flame. But they are held still through long hours. They might show splendid courage in action; but the orders arc to stand. Only to stand still under fire! But that day of endurance is enough to make a veteran of the recruit of yesterday. The discipline of waiting under life's fire makes veteran souls. Through the habit of endurance God trains often his best souls. If you keep up heart in your life of trial, by that patience what a soul for God's kingdom may be won!

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

How different life must look — how different what we call sometimes its strange providences must look — to the eye of one above who can see souls, and how they are forming for the endless life! And our own souls — is this world absorbing and exhausting them, or by the grace of God are we transmuting all our work and experience of life into more soul and sweeter? My friends, am I not bringing to you from this word of the Lord a very simple yet all-sufficient test for everything you are doing or planning in your lives? Can I acquire soul by it? Be sure, any course of life which causes any shrinkage of soul is not right. The open Christian life is constant enlargement of heart. Long ago the Hebrew poet looked up, and saw that the soul that runs in the way of the Lord's commandments is enlarged. "Be ye also enlarged," said an apostle, in Jesus' name. His gospel does not come to you and me with a close system of restrictions confronting us on every hand with unnatural restraints. Christ does for us what Satan offered to do for Christ, but never had the power to do — He gives us all the kingdoms of this world, because He gives us receptive souls and pure hearts for all God's works and worlds. All things are yours, for ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's. Yon shall be disciples of the Divine Man. You are here for a little while to procure for yourselves souls, and to help others win their souls. God's Spirit is here with you to give you hearts in sympathy with all Godlike things. Grieve not that Holy Spirit. Beware of anything which helps kill soul. A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. Acquire soul!

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

This baby has to learn to see. He has eyes, sound, clear, lovely orbs into which a mother's eye looks as into deep wells of love, but when he emerges into consciousness and begins to take note of things around him, hold up a ball before him, and see how aimless is his grasp at it. His eye has not yet learned to calculate distances. You know how the blind, when restored to sight, have to learn to see: sight and seeing are not the same things. Sight is a gift of nature. Seeing has to be won. That blind man whom Jesus healed did not at once receive power to see. At the first touch he said, "I see men, for I behold them as trees, walking," in vague outline, confused, like the blending of trees in a grove. When Jesus laid His hand upon him a second time, he saw all things clearly. We see the same truth as related to special training of the senses. We have all heard the story of "eyes and no eyes." One man will see the material for a volume where another sees nothing but stocks and stones. And, going still deeper, there is that moral something which we call self-mastery. In how many do you see it? How many men do you see who make their thoughts work on given lines; who have their hand on the gates which shut out vain and wicked thoughts; in whom the whole moral and spiritual nature is obedient to law, and is marshalled and massed and directed by a supreme will? We say a man is self-possessed. What do we mean by that, but that there resides in the man a power which holds all his faculties at command, and brings them to bear in spite of all distractions? There can be no better phrase to express it. He possesses himself. He can do what he will with that side of the self which he chooses to use. Man's self must develop powers of resistance and control. It must be so completely in hand that he can say to wind and water, "You shall not possess me and carry me whither you will. Rather shall you do my bidding, and grind my corn, and turn my lathe, and carry me whither I will." "Nature, red in tooth and claw," roars and pants and rages after him. He must win his life from her jaws. And no less does the truth hold higher up. As we follow human nature upward, it is only the antagonists that change. The contact and the conflict are perpetuated. The Bible is full of this. It may indeed be said that the underlying truth of the whole Bible, working itself out through the successive stages of history and the infinite varieties of human experience, is, how shall a man win his own soul? A whole economy of secret, spiritual forces is arrayed against this consummation. Hence it is that Paul says, "We that are in this tabernacle do groan." Hence we are told of a wrestle which is not with flesh and blood, but with spiritual hosts; marshalled and organized evil in the spiritual realm; princes of darkness. So, too, our Lord told Peter of an unseen terrible power, fired with malignant desire to sift him as wheat. And under the stress of this fact, the whole current of New Testament teaching settles down into one sharply-defined channel; that spiritual mastery, self-possession, self-wielding, are the outcome only of patient effort and discipline protracted up to the very end. Accordingly we hear an apostle, far on in his Christian career, saying, "I keep my body under." The great feature of this text is that Christ points us away from circumstances to souls. You stand some day by the ocean swept with a tempest. It is a grand spectacle. A score of things in the clouds and in the waves appeal to yam You mark the height of the billows, their tremendous volume and swiftness axed power, their mad struggle round the sunken reefs; but after all it is not the grandeur or the terror of the scene which most enchains you. Your interest is concentrated on that ship yonder. You forget the spectacle of the maddened ocean as you watch her fight with it. The question which fills your mind is not how long the storm is going to continue, or whether it is likely to become more severe. It is whether the ship will ride out the gale. And so all circumstances take their character from their relation to man's soul. The question is whether the man will ride out the storm of circumstance; the whole significance of circumstance turns on whether it will conquer the man or be conquered by him; whether it will swallow up the soul, or whether the man will bring his soul alive and entire out of the tempest. This is the way in which Christ, as He is pictured in the text, looks out upon that horrible tempest of blood and fire; and this is the attitude of the whole Bible toward the struggle and convulsion of this world. Through it all God has His eye on man's moral destiny. To us, often, the principal things are the war and the confusion, the dislocation and the overturning. To Him the principal thing is the destiny of that soul in the midst of the storm. Will the man win his soul or not? Circumstances will adjust themselves if men are right. The great struggle in God's eyes is not between parties or sects or opinions. It is between the soul and the world. Victory is the man's overcoming the world; not one side of the world getting the better of the other; not the victory of the man's native force of will and physical power over the things which assail his fortune or his reputation, but the perfecting of his spiritual manhood in the teeth of all the loss and damage and pain which this world can bring to him. You and I will win this battle if we shall win our souls.

(Newman Smyth, D. D.)

Two little German girls, Brigitte and Wallburg, were on their way to the town, and each carried a heavy basket of fruit on her heart. Brigitte murmured and sighed constantly; Wallburg only laughed and joked. Brigitte said: "What makes you laugh so? Your basket is quite as heavy as mine, and you are no stronger than I am." Wallburg answered: "I have a precious little herb on my load, which makes me hardly feel it at all. Put some of it on your load as well." "O," cried Brigitte, "it must indeed be a precious little herb! I should like to lighten my load with it; so tell me at once what it is called." Wallburg replied, "The precious little herb that makes all burdens light is called 'patience.'"

Jerusalem shall be trodden down
Samuel Rutherford says: "We too often believe the promises as the man that read Plato's writings concerning the immortality of the soul. So long as the book was in his hand, he believed what was said; but as soon as he laid it down, he began to imagine that his soul was only an airy vapour that perisheth with the expiring of the breath. It would greatly help to preserve us from this, and strengthen our faith, if we oftener compared Scripture with Scripture, and prediction with fulfilment." Two rabbis, we are told, approaching Jerusalem, observed a fox running up the hill of Zion. Aged Rabbi Joshua wept, but Rabbi Eliezer laughed. "Wherefore dost thou weep?" demanded Eliezer. "I weep because I see what was written in the Lamentations fulfilled: 'Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate, the foxes fall upon it.'" "And therefore do I laugh," said Rabbi Eliezer; "for when I see with my own eyes that God has fulfilled His threatenings to the letter, I have thereby a pledge that not one of His promises shall fail, for He is ever more ready to show mercy than judgment."

In the year 1808, the generous Lewis Way, when riding with a friend in Devonshire, had his attention drawn by a companion to some stately trees in a park they were passing. "Do you know," said his friend, "the singular condition that is attached to these oaks? A lady who formerly owned this park, stipulated in her will that they should not be cut down until Jerusalem should again be in possession of Israel; and they are growing still." Mr. Way's heart was deeply moved by this incident. The idea of the restoration of the Jews took possession of his mind. In the following year he succeeded in forming the London Society of the Jews. The labours of this and other kindred societies have since been so graciously owned, that in England and on the Continent there are now thousands of Jewish converts, many of whom are ministers of the gospel, some of them preachers and students whose names have become almost household words in the Church of Christ.

There shall be signs
The mere simple relations of these portentous appearances strike us with horror: and Josephus, who has left us a full history of these times, informs us that they all actually happened at that tragical period. When he enters upon the subject, he uses some of the very words of this chapter, proposing to speak of the signs and prodigies which presignified the approaching desolation; and he mentions the following horrendous prognostications: A star, in the shape of a sword, or a comet, pointing down upon the city, was seen to hang over it for a whole year. There were other strange and unaccountable meteors seen in the aerial regions: armies in battle-array, and chariots surrounding the country and investing their cities; and this before sunset. The great gate of the temple, which twenty men could scarcely shut, and which was made fast with bolts and bars, opened of its own accord to let in their enemies: "for so," says Josephus, our wise men understood the omen. At the ninth hour of the night a great light shone upon the temple and the altar, as if it had been noon-day; and at the feast of Pentecost, when the priests went at midnight into the temple to attend their service, they first heard a kind of noise as of persons removing from a place, and then a voice, "Let us away from hence." And what Josephus relates is confirmed by Tacitus, a Roman historian of the same age who had no connection with the Jews.

1. There seems to be a correspondence and propriety in it, that there should be a kind of sympathy between the natural and moral world; that when the kingdoms of the earth are tossed and agitated, the earth itself should totter and tremble under them; that when the light of the rational world, the splendour of courts and kingdoms, is about to be extinguished or obscured, the sun and moon, and other lights of the material world, should abate their glory too, and, as it were, appear in mourning; that when some grand event is hastening to the birth, that terribly illustrious stranger, a comet, should make us a visit, as its harbinger, and shake its horrendous tail over the astonished world; that when peace is broke among the nations, the harmony of the elements should likewise be broken, and they should fall into transient animosities and conflicts, like the restless beings for whose use they were formed. There is an apparent congruity and propriety in these things, and therefore the argument is at least plausible; but as it is drawn only from analogy, which does not universally hold, I shall not lay much stress upon it. And yet, on the other hand, as there is an obvious analogy, which does unquestionably hold in many instances, between the natural and moral world, the argument is not to be utterly disregarded.

2. These unusual appearances are peculiarly adapted to raise the attention of mankind, and prepare them for important revolutions. There is a propriety and advantage, if not a necessity, especially with regard to that part of mankind (and there are always many such upon earth) whose benefit is intended by these extraordinary events and revolutions, that they be prepared for them. And they cannot prepare for them without some general expectation of them; and they can have no expectation of them without some warning or premonition of them. Now the ordinary appearances in nature cannot answer this end, because they are ordinary, and therefore not adapted to rouse and fix the attention; and because they really have no such premonitory signification. And as to the Word of God, it may have no direct perceivable reference to such extraordinary periods; and, therefore, can give us no previous warning of their approach. But these unusual phenomena are peculiarly adapted to this end: their novelty and terror catch the attention of the gazing world. Such premonitions would be striking illustrations of the goodness and equity of his administration, who does not usually let the blow fall without previous warning, and they would contribute to the right improvement of such dispensations. This, therefore, I think, we may look upon, at least, as a probable argument; especially if we add that, as these unusual appearances are, in their own nature, fit to be premonitions, so —

3. It seems natural to mankind to view them in that light; and they have been universally looked upon in that light in all ages and countries. As to the Jews, the matter is clear; for Josephus tells us, that their wise men actually put this construction upon those alarming appearances, which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem. And as they had been accustomed to miracles for the confirmation of their religion, they were even extravagant in their demands of this sort of evidence upon every occasion; as we find in the history of the evangelists. As to the Gentiles, this was the general sentiment of all ranks among them, not only of the vulgar, but of their poets and philosophers. From mankind's generally looking for miracles to prove a religion Divine, and from impostors pretending to them, we justly infer that God has so formed our nature, that it is natural to us to expect and regard this sort of evidence in this case: and that God does adapt himself to this innate tendency, and has actually wrought true miracles to attest the true religion: and we may, with equal reason, infer from the superstitions of mankind, with regard to omens and prodigies, that God has given a natural bent to our minds to look for them; and that in extraordinary periods he really does give such previous signs of future events.

4. History informs us, that such unusual commotions and appearances in the natural world, have, with a surprising regularity, generally preceded unusual commotions and revolutions in the moral world, or among the nations of the earth. When an hypothesis is supported by experiments and matters of fact, it ought to be received as true. And this argument will appear decisive, ii we find, in fact, that such commotions and revolutions in the world have been uniformly preceded by some prodigies: for such an uniformity of such extraordinary periods, cannot be the effect of chance, or of blind natural causes, unadjusted and undirected by an intelligent superior power; but it must be the effect of design, a wise and good design, to alarm the world, and put them in a proper posture to meet these grand occurrences. There is nothing more natural, nothing which astronomers can compute with more exactness, than eclipses of the sun and moon; and yet these have so regularly and uniformly preceded the first grand breaches, and the total overthrow of kingdoms and nations, that we cannot but think they were intended to signify such revolutions; and thus mankind generally interpreted them. A total eclipse of the sun happened before the captivity of the ten tribes by the Assyrians; before the captivity of the Jews in Babylon; at the death of Christ, about thirty-seven years and a half before the last destruction of Jerusalem; and about the same number of years before the slaughter of six hundred thousand Jews under Adrian; before the conquest of the Babylonians by the Medes; and before the fall of the Mede-Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires. Upon the whole, let us endeavour to put ourselves in a posture of readiness to meet with all events that may be approaching. Though I know not these futurities, yet I know it shall be well with them that fear God: but it will not be well with the wicked;neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.

(President Davies, M. A.)

This coming is not at death. Death is nowhere called the coming of Christ. It may be the going of the saints to Him, but it is not His coming to them, in any such sense as that in which we declare in the Creed: " He shall come to judge the quick and the dead." Though, in some sense, always present, there are respects in which He is quite absent, in which He has been absent since the day of His ascension from the Mount of Olives, and in which He will continue to be absent until mankind "shall see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory." And in that same sense in which He is now absent from the earth, He is again to come to the earth, when "every eye shall see Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him."

I. Let us, therefore, in the first place, ASSURE OURSELVES OF THE SCRIPTURALNESS AND ORTHODOXY OF THE DOCTRINE, THAT THE GLORIOUS LORD JESUS CHRIST IS REALLY AND LITERALLY TO RETURN AGAIN IN PERSON TO OUR WORLD. This is the more important, as the tendencies are to neglect and explain away this article of the faith. It was a vital and characteristic part of the faith and hope of the early Christians to look forward to, and to expect, the coming again of the Lord Jesus. Indeed the whole success of redemption itself is conditioned upon His return. To strike it out, would confound the whole system of salvation, carry utter confusion into all attempts intelligently to believe or defend the gospel as of God, and dry up the heartiest and hopefullest springs of faith, holiness, and Christian life.

II. With this point settled, let us look next at THE SIGNS WHICH THE SAVIOUR SPECIFIED AS THE HERALDS OF HIS SECOND COMING. These are given with great particularity in the text before us. Luther distinguished them into two leading classes; and we may safely follow him in this, as also in his exposition of the words which describe them.

1. He finds in the text a Divine prediction of an ever-growing earthiness, sensuality, and unbelief, on the part of the great mass of men, as the day of judgment draws near. There is to be no millennium of universal righteousness, liberty, and peace, before Christ comes; but "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13).

2. The second class is given with equal distinctness, and embraces many wonders in nature, so imposing as to challenge universal observation.

III. Finally, let us glance at THE SORT OF AFFECTIONS WHICH THE OCCURRENCE OF THESE SIGNS OF THE SAVIOUR'S COMING SHOULD BEGET AND NURTURE IN OUR SOULS. Luther well read the human heart, when be said, "There be very few who would not rather that the day of judgment might never come." But this is not the way in which our Saviour would have us affected by this subject. It is indeed a terrible thing for the guilty, and is meant so to be, that it may break up their false security, and arouse them to repentance and a better life; but it is designed to be a joy and consolation to all true believers. It is intended to be a thing of precious promise and of glad hope to them.

(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)

During a great meteoric shower in South Carolina, an eye-witness writes: "I was suddenly awakened by the most distressing cries that ever fell on my ears. Shrieks of horror and cries for mercy I could hear from most of them of the three plantations, amounting in all to about six hundred or eight hundred. While earnestly listening for the cause, I heard a faint voice near the door calling my name. I arose, and taking my sword, stood at the door. At this same time I still heard the same voice beseeching me to rise, saying: 'Oh, my God! the world is on fire!' I then opened the door, and it is difficult to say which excited me the most — the awfulness of the scene, or the distressed cries of them. Upwards of a hundred lay prostrate on the ground — some speechless, and some with the bitterest cries, but with their hands raised imploring God to save the world and them. The scene was truly awful, for never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards the earth; east, west, north, and south it was the same."

I. The persons unto whom these words are uttered, in the particle "your": "Lift up your heads."

II. What things they are of which our Saviour here speaks, in the first words of the text: "Now when these things begin to come to pass."

III. The behaviour which our Saviour commends unto us, in these words: "Look up, lift up your heads."

IV. Last of all, the reason or encouragement; words of life and power to raise us from all faintness of heart and dulness of spirit: "For your redemption draweth nigh." It will not be amiss a little to consider whence it comes to pass that in the late declining age of the world so great disorder, distemper, and confusion have their place: and it shall yield us some lessons for our instruction.

1. And, first of all, it may seem to be natural, and that it cannot be otherwise. For our common experience tells us, that all things are apt to breed somewhat by which themselves are ruined. How many plants do we see which breed that worm which eats out their very heart! We see the body of man, let it be never so carefully, so precisely ordered, yet at length it grows foul, and every day gathers matter of weakness and disease, which, at first occasioning a general disproportion in the parts, must at the last of necessity draw after it the ruin and dissolution of the whole. It may then seem to fall out in this great body of the world as it doth in this lesser body of ours: by its own distemper it is the cause of its own ruin. For the things here mentioned by our Saviour are nothing else but the diseases of the old decaying world. The failing of light in the sun and moon — what is it but the blindness of the world — an imperfection very incident to age? Tumults in the sea and waters — what are they but the distemper of superfluous humours, which abound in age? Wars and turnouts of wars are but the falling out of the prime qualities, in the union and harmony of which the very being of the creature did consist. Scarcely had the world come to any growth and ripeness, but that it grew to that height of distemper that there was no way to purge it but by a general flood, "in which, as it were in the baptism, its former sins were done away" (Hosea 4:17).

2. But you may peradventure take this for a speculation, and no more; and I have urged it no further than as a probable conjecture. And therefore I will give you a second reason. Besides this natural inclination, God Himself hath a further purpose in it. He that observes the ways of God as far as He hath expressed Himself, shall find that He hath a delight to show unto the world those that are His; to lift them up on high, and mark and character them out by some notable trial and temptation. To draw this down to our present purpose: To try the strength, the faith, the love, the perseverance of those who are His, God is pleased to give way to this tumult and danger in the last days. He sets before us these terrors and affrightments, to see whether we fear anything more than Him, or whether anything can shake the reliance and trust which we repose in Him; whether our faith will be strong when the world is weak; whether our light will shine when the sun is darkened; whether we can establish ourselves in the power of God's Spirit when "the powers of heaven are shaken" (Matthew 24:29). And indeed what are all these signs here mentioned but mormoes, mere toys to fright children with, if we could truly consider that, if the world should sink, and fall upon our heads, it cannot hurt a soul, nor yet so grind the body into dust that God cannot raise it up again?

3. As sin and iniquity have increased, so have the means to reclaim it. As wickedness hath broken in as a flood, so hath judgment been poured forth, and doth swell, wave upon wave, line upon line, judgment upon judgment, to meet it, and purge it, and carry it away with itself, and so run out both together into the boundless ocean of God's mercy. This is God's method; who knows whereof we are made, and therefore must needs know what is fittest to cure us. If His little army of caterpillars, if common calamities, will not purge us, He brings in sword, and famine, and pestilence, to make the potion stronger.

III. Our third general part was the consideration of the behaviour which our Saviour commends unto us in these words: "Look up, and lift up your heads"; words borrowed from the behaviour which men use when all things go as they would hare them. As herbs, when the sun comes near them, peep out of the earth, or as summer-birds begin to sing when the spring is entered, so ought it to be with us "when these things come to pass." This winter should make us a spring; this noise and tumult should make us sing. Wars, famines, plagues, inundations, tumults, confusion of the world, these bring in the spring of all true Christians; and by these, as by the coming of summer-birds, we are forewarned that our Sun of Righteousness draws near.

1. Fear is a burden that maketh us not able to look upwards, towards that which might rid and ease us of it, but towards something that may hide and cover us.

2. Grief is another weight that presseth down. "Why art thou cast down, O my soul?" saith David (Psalm 42:5, 11).

3. These two, fear and sorrow, are the mother and the nurse, the beginners and fomenters, of all murmuring and repining. What are all the pleasures, what are all the terrors, of the world to him that is made one with Christ, who conquered also?That therefore this doctrine may pass the better, which at first sight is but harsh and rugged, we will show you —

1. That it is possible to arm ourselves with such courage and resolution in common calamities.

2. That it is a great folly not to do so.

3. What impediments and hindrances they be which overthrow our courage, and take our hearts from us, when such things as these come to pass.

1. And, first, of the possibility of this doctrine. And, if we look a little upon the manners of men, we shall find them very apt and ready to plead impossibilities and difficulties where their own practice confutes them. Now to manifest the possibility of this, I think I cannot do it better than by an ensample: and I will give .you one, and that too of an Ethnic man, that knew not Christ, nor His rich promises, nor ever heard of the glory of the gospel. There is a hill in Italy, Vesuvius they call it, which is wont sometimes to break cut in flames of fire, to the terror and amazement of all that dwell nigh unto it. The first time that in the memory of man it fired, was in the days of Vespasian the emperor; at which time it brake forth with that horrible noise and cry, with that concussion and shaking of the earth near about it, with that darkness and stench, that all within the compass thought of nothing now but aeternam illam et novissimam mundo noctem, "that time was ended, and the world drawing to its dissolution." Pliny, the great philosopher, and the author of the famous "History of Nature," lay then at Micenum, not far off: and out of a desire he had to inform himself, he drew near to the place where he thought the fire began. And in the midst of that horror and confusion so undaunted and fearless was he that he studied, and wrote, and ate, and slept, and omitted nothing of his usual course. His nephew, a great man afterwards with Trajan the emperor, out of whom I take this history, reports himself, that being there at that time, notwithstanding all the terrors and affrightments, yet he called for his books, he read, he noted, as if he had not been near the mountain Vesuvius, but in his study and closet: and yet was at that time but eighteen years of age. I have been somewhat the more large, besides my custom, in opening the particulars of this story, because it is the very emblem, the very picture, of the world's dissolution, and of the behaviour which is here enjoined Christians when that time shall come. What, though there be signs in the sun and moon and stars? must my light thereof be turned into darkness? must my sun set at noon, and my stars, those virtues which should shine in my soul, fall out of their sphere and firmament? When the world is reedy to sink, do thou raise thyself with expectation of eternal glory.

2. I have done with the first point — the possibility of the doctrine, that we must arm ourselves with courage and resolution against common calamities. I proceed now to the second — that it is an argument of great folly not to do so. Is it not a great folly to create evil, to multiply evils; to discolour that which was sent for our good, and make it evil; to make that which speaketh peace and comfort unto us a messenger of death?

3. Let us now consider the lets and impediments, or the reasons why our hearts fail us at such sights as these. I shall at this time only remove a pretended one; having spoken of self-love and want of faith, which are real and true hindrances of Christian courage. The main pretence we make for our pusillanimity and cowardice is our natural weakness, which we derived from our first parents, and brought with us into the world. Fear not, therefore: why should we fear? Christ hath subdued our enemies, and taken from them every weapon that may hurt us. He hath taken the sting not only from sin, but from those evils which are the natural issues and products of sin. He hath made afflictions joyful, terrors lovely, that thou mayest "look up" upon them, and "lift up thy head." I have done with this pretence of natural weakness, and with my third part; and I come now to the fourth and last, the encouragement our Saviour giveth: "For your redemption draweth nigh."

IV. And "when these things come to pass," when such terrible signs appear, this news is very seasonable. "As cold waters to a thirsty soul" (Proverbs 25:25), so is the promise of liberty to those "who have been in bondage all their life long" (Hebrews 2:15), under the fear of those evils which show themselves unto us, and lead us captive, and keep us in prison, so that we cannot look up. How will the prisoner even sing in his chains, when news is brought that his ransom is paid, and his redemption near at hand! It is a liberty to be told we shall be free: and it is not easy to determine whether it more affect us when it is come, or when it is but in the approach, drawing nigh; when we are free, or when we are but told that shortly we shall be so. And indeed our redemption is actus individuus, "one entire act"; and we are redeemed at once from all; though the full accomplishment of it be by degrees. But we may say 'truly of this first redemption what some in St. Paul said falsely of the second resurrection, This redemption's time "is past already" (2 Timothy 2:18); past on our Redeemer's side, nothing left undone by Him: only it remains on ours to sue out our pardon, and make our redemption sure. And therefore there is another redemption that they call praeservantem, "which settles and establishes us, preserves" us in an angelical state, free from sin, from passions, from fear. And when this comes, we shall sin no more, hope no more, fear no more: all sins shall be purged out, all hope shall be fulfilled, all tears shall be wiped from our eyes, and all trembling from our hearts. And this is the redemption here meant, the only trust of the Christian, the expectation of the faithful.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

Ere autumn has tinted the woodlands, or the cornfields are falling to the reaper's song, or hoary hilltops like grey hairs on an aged head give warning of winter's approach, I have seen the swallow's brood pruning their feathers and putting their long wings to the proof; and though they might return to their nests in the window eaves, or alight again on the housetops, they darted away in the direction of sunny lands. Thus they showed that they were birds bound for a foreign clime, and that the period of their migration from the scene of their birth was at hand. Grace also has its prognostics. They are as infallible as those of nature. So when the soul, filled with longings to be gone, is often darting away to glory, and soaring upwards, rises on the wings of faith, till this great world, from her sublime elevation looks a little thing, God's people know that they have the earnest of the Spirit. These are the pledges of heaven — a sure sign that "their redemption draweth nigh." Such devout feelings afford the most blessed evidence that with Christ at the helm, and "the wind" that "bloweth where it listeth" in our swelling sails, we are drawing nigh to the land that is very far off; even as the reeds and leaves and fruits that float upon the briny waves, as the birds of strange and gorgeous plumage that fly round his ship and alight upon its yards, as the sweet-scented odours which the winds waft out to sea assure the weary mariner that ere long he shall drop his anchor and end his voyage in the desired haven.

(T. Guthrie, D. D.)

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