Mark 13:13

Mark 13:3-5 (and the rest of the chapter generally)

I. THERE IS A CURIOSITY CONCERNING THE FUTURE WHICH Is NATURAL AND LEGITIMATE. The disciples were not rebuked when they came with their inquiry. It was not so when Peter asked, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" (John 21:21). Some inquiries concerning the future are therefore lawful, others not. How are we to distinguish between them? We may ask concerning things the knowledge of which is necessary to the rational direction of spiritual aims and efforts. God has chosen to make known the general scheme of redemption in its evolution in the world's history. The prophecies of Scripture ought, therefore, to be studied in the light of contemporary events. The teaching of Christ on this occasion was manifestly the germ of the Apocalypse.

II. THIS CURIOSITY IS GRATIFIED BY OUR SAVIOUR FOR MORAL AND SPIRITUAL ENDS. (Vers. 5, 7, 9, 13, 23, 34-37.) The great discipline of the disciples was to take place after their Master's death, and before the general inauguration of his kingdom. The three general directions of Christ are:

(1) Take heed unto yourselves;

(2) beware;

(3) watch. It does not behove us to know time and hour, but to observe the signs antecedent to the judgment of God' (Starke). The Holy Spirit is promised, amid all trials and difficulties, to them who truly believe. The gospel itself was to receive universal proclamation, notwithstanding the perils and evils that were to take place. So that the disciples were assured, whatever might occur in the external life of the world, of ultimate glorious realization of all the spiritual ends of God's kingdom.


1. The catalogue of woe is long, detailed, and specific: spiritual delusions; wars, earthquakes, and famines; persecutions; pollution and destruction of the temple; political and cosmical revolutions.

2. These are all to pass, in their process tempered and modified by Divine mercy and guidance.

3. And they were to result in the advent of the Divine kingdom. The gospel was to be proclaimed and the universal communion of saints to be realized. The political and natural troubles were to be justified by their being made instrumental of moral and spiritual benefits. So in the general experience of Christians all things work together for good.' - M.

But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
The tower of a lofty Christian character and life is not going to push itself up in a night like Jonah's gourd. You cannot wake up some fine morning, in glad surprise, to find it finished to the turret stone. To build that tower costs. It costs sacrifice. It costs skill. It costs patience. It costs resolution. As gravitation pulls stones downward and glues them to the earth, and as, if they go into the tower at all, they must be lifted there with wrench and strain, so this tower of a noble Christian life must be builded in the face of opposition, and at the cost of fight with it. But history has borne out the words of Christ. In other times it has come to that. The Inquisition made it come to that. The massacre of St. Bartholomew, for which Rome sang Te Deums, made it come to that. Philip the Second of Spain made it come to that. The Duke of Alva, during his government of the Netherlands, made it come to that. Thank God, Torquemada cannot torture now! Thank God, there is no fuel for Smithfield fires now! But still now, in our time, in this worldly world, no man can give himself in utter consecration to the unworldly Christ, and put his feet squarely in His exemplifying footprints, and go on in resolute practice after Him, and not meet various opposition. It is well worth noting how constant is the insistence of the Scripture on, not simply foundation laying, but also on turret stone lifting, on finishing. "I have inclined mine heart to perform Thy statutes always, even unto the end," sings David. "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober and hope unto the end," urges the Apostle Peter. "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," declares the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. And the Epistles to the Seven Churches in the Revelation are full of this doctrine of the importance of the end. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." This, I am certain, is one of the commonest assaults of evil; this toward discouragement, toward despondency in the practice of the true life; this toward letting go and giving up. "Well, you have laid the foundation," Satan says; "you have accepted Christ and been baptized and joined the church, and professed yourself a Christian. You have started, but think how long it is before you can come to that turret stone. You are a fool to try. Give up. Have done with it. Anyway, you are a fool to try in your circumstances; or certainly you are a fool to try with your disposition. What may under more favourable circumstances, or with another sort of inherited disposition, be possible for others, is surely impossible for you. Why strain and struggle and wrench at the impossible? Don't! Quit!" Who has not felt the subtle acid of this temptation eating out the substance of his high endeavour? Some time since, I was talking with a young Christian business man in another city. He was troubled with the very problem which tormented the Psalmist long ago: "For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." That is precisely what he was saying: "Here am

I. I have determined to be straight and true, and Christian in my business; and I have been. But look at that man; he isn't, but see how he gets on. What's the use of my toiling at this tower of a Christian business integrity, when it is work so hard and slow? Why wouldn't it be better for me to stop toiling at this Christian tower, and go on with one which men would call — well, at least measurably decent, like that man's, but which mounts into the sky of success in such swift and easy fashion?" It was only a momentary temptation. But I am sure he is not the only Christian business man, be he young or old, who has felt the force of it. Or, here again, is a young Christian. He has laid the foundation of this Christian tower well and thoroughly in prayer and penitence and faith in Christ. He is full of the beautiful enthusiasm of the new life. He has confessed his Lord and is going on in the rejoicing purpose of building a life his Lord can smile on. And then, as sometimes in the early summer the flowers come upon a frost that bites and draggles them, the chill of the inconsistencies of some older Christians smites all his beautiful enthusiasm down. Why am I under obligations to be any better than they, the older, more experienced, more prominent Christians? Why cannot I at least loosen the tug of my endeavour, if I do not altogether give up and let go?"Or, here is a Christian wife and mother. To be the sole source and centre of religious influence in the home is very hard; to seek to breathe about the home a Christian atmosphere, when the husband, if he do no more, does meet and chill it by the icy air of his indifference; to have to train the children away from, instead of towards, the example of the father in the topmost and most important thing, the matter of religion; to have to meet this objection, falling from the lips of her own child: "Father never prays; why should I? Father never cares much for Sunday; why should I? Father never says he loves the Saviour; why should I try to?" — well, I do not wonder that she feels sometimes like letting go and giving up. I do not wonder that sometimes her cross seems too rugged and too heavy. And now that we may arm ourselves against this so common temptation of letting go and giving up, let us attend together to certain principles opposed to it.

I. LET US GET CHEER FOR OURSELVES BY REMEMBERING THAT THE WORLD'S BEST WORK HAS BEEN DONE AND THE NOBLEST LIVES HAVE BEEN LIVED BY MEN AND WOMEN WHO, LIKE OURSELVES, HAVE SOMETIMES FELT LIKE LETTING GO AND GIVING UP. There is a verse of Scripture which many a time has been to me both a comfort and a girding. It is written in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, in the tenth chapter and at the thirteenth verse: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." "So I am not," I have said to myself, in darker and more despairing moments, "one singled out for unusual and separate trial; others have been wrapped in clouds similar, others have stood in ways as thorny." That is a twisted and bubble-blown and distorting glass, which trial so often bids us look through, out upon the landscape of our lives — that nobody else has ever had to meet such chastening discipline as our own. Why, there was Moses; he had just this very feeling toward letting go and giving up. It was immensely hard to satisfy those Israelites. There was David, hunted and hounded; turned against and betrayed by his trusted counsellor, Ahithophel. "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and horror hath overwhelmed me. And I said, Oh! that I had wings like a dove, for then would I fly away and be at rest. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest." There was Elijah under the juniper tree, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life." What failing feeling toward letting go and giving up in him! And if you leave the Scripture and turn to the record of great lives anywhere, you shall find that in them, too, feeling faltered, and suggestion came to cease from their great tower building this side the turret stone. I suppose a sermon scarcely ever did more, both for the man himself and the great cause it advocated, than Dr. Wayland's sermon on the Moral Dignity of the Missionary Enterprise. But the evening of its preaching was chill and rainy, and possibly fifty persons made up the audience, and the church was so cold that the preacher had to wear his great coat throughout the service, and nobody seemed to listen, nor anybody to care; and the next day the discouraged preacher, throwing himself on the lounge in the house of one of his parishioners, in one of his most despairing moods, exclaimed: "It was a complete failure; it fell perfectly dead!" I am sure he felt like letting go and giving up, when he remembered that he had rewritten that sermon eleven times that he might make it more worthy, and that such was the outcome of it. But that sermon, published, made him, and, more than any other influence in those beginning days of the Foreign Missionary enterprise, made the cause. The Duke of Wellington, when a subaltern, was anxious to retire from the army, where he despaired of advancement, and actually applied to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland for the poor post of a commissioner of customs. And his great antagonist, the great Napoleon, was in early life tempted to commit suicide because he could do nothing and could get no chance, and was only saved from it by a cheerful word from somebody. Oh! friend of mine, you are not the only person in the world who has been assaulted by this suggestion of letting go and giving up. There has never been a noble or achieving life anywhere that has not had to push its tower up in spite of it.

II. Let us remember that this failing to endure to the end, this giving up and letting go, must NECESSARY CARRY WITH ITSELF A COMPLETE FORFEITURE OF THE PAST. If our Past has been true and noble, we may be helped by it in the Present. But we cannot live upon the Past. The tower is unfinished if we stop this side of the turret stone. It is but an unturning and useless wheel if we do not take advantage of the present water. All its previous turning helps it not. There at Muckross Abbey I saw a yew tree hundreds of years old, as old as the crumbling abbey rising round it, yet still growing bravely on. It was growing, because, standing on the Past of gnarled trunk and spreading branches, it was using the Present, forming its leaf buds every season, and drinking in the dew and light. But the abbey in whose court it stood was only a disintegrating pile of crumbling stone, because it had ceased relation with the Present. It had no use for the Present, nor the Present for it; no longer were busy hands of inmates putting it to function, keeping it in repair. It was a Past thing, so the severe Present was treading it under foot. To give up and let go is to forfeit what we have done and have been. The Past is useful only as a preparation for the Present; and if in the Present we will not steadily push on toward the finishing, we lose the value and meaning of the Past. Resist, therefore, the temptation of letting go and giving up.

III. Let us resist the temptation of letting go and giving up, BY HOLDING OURSELVES TO THE SHORT VIEW OF LIFE, BY DOING THE NEXT THING. Each day's stone laid in each day's time; the short view method, the next thing method, that is the only method of strong endurance and shining achievement. Wise words those which George Macdonald puts into the mouth of Hugh Sutherland in his story of David Elginbrod; they are words worthy the careful heeding of every one of us: "Now, what am I to do next?" asks Hugh, and he goes on thinking with himself: "It is a happy thing for us that this is really all we have to concern ourselves about, what to do next. No man can do the second thing. He can do the first. If he omits it, the wheels of the social Juggernaut roll over him, and leave him more or less crushed behind. If he does it, he keeps in front and finds room to do the next again; and so he is sure to arrive at something, for the onward march will carry him with it. There is no saying to what perfection of success a man may come who begins with what he can do, and uses the means at hand; he makes a vortex of action, however slight, toward which all the means instantly begin to gravitate." True words, the very gospel of achievement, these. So against this temptation toward letting go and giving up, let me take the short view, let me seize the next thing, and not trouble myself about the fortieth thing, sure that God's grace will give the strength for the coming day to which the fortieth thing belongs; but that, if I want God's strengthening grace for that, I must use God's strengthening grace which offers itself today, and for this next thing, which belongs to no other day in all time's awful calendar but this.

IV. LET US REMEMBER THAT REFUSING TO YIELD TO THE TEMPTATION OF LETTING GO AND GIVING UP IS THE CONSTANT FIXING OURSELVES BUT THE MORE FIRMLY IN THE HABIT OF GOING ON IN RIGHTEOUSNESS. Dark law that, which through and because of momentary decisions against righteousness, ends in the awful doom, "Let him that is filthy be filthy still." But that same law has a sunward side bright as the light that flashes from God's throne, viz., that momentary and constant decisions towards righteousness end at last in that celestial turret stone, piercing the far radiances of Heaven — "Let him that is righteous be righteous still."

V. Let us remember that for us, keeping hold and refusing to let go, THERE IS THE CONSTANT HELP OF CHRIST TOWARD TRIUMPHING. That is a sweet legend hanging about an old church in England, and it tells the great truth well; how centuries ago, when the monks were rearing it, a new temple for the worship of their God, there came among the workers a strange monk, unasked, who always took on himself the heaviest tasks; and how at last, when a particularly gigantic beam was needed for a position as important as that of the keystone of an arch, and how when, with sweating strain and united effort, it was lifted to its place, it was strangely found to be some feet too short. No device of the builders could remedy it; they had tried their best with it, they had used the most careful measurement they knew, but how sadly they had failed! There it was, too short, and their utmost skill could not find remedy. The night shut down upon the tired workers, and they went to their rest with sore hearts, leaving only this unknown monk, who would go working on. But when the morning came, and the workers came forth again, they saw the sunlight falling on the beam exactly in its place, lengthened to the precise dimensions needed, and resting accurately on its supports. But the unknown monk had disappeared. let the workers knew Him now, and were certain they could carry the temple onward to its topmost turret. For He who had been working with them and supplying their lack of perfect work, they came now to know, was none other than the Lord Himself. They were not unhelped toilers. Nor are we. "Lo! I am with you always," declares our Lord! It is our privilege to answer with the apostle, "I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me."

VI. And now for the last word. Let us determine that as we hope to carry the tower of a Christian life and service onward to its finishing ourselves, WE WILL BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO DISCOURAGE ANYONE BESIDE US, TOILING LIKE OURSELVES AT THE SAME ACHIEVEMENT. Once a building was wrapped in flame; at a high window, a little child was seen vainly endeavouring to escape; a brave fireman started up a ladder to try to rescue it. He went up, and still further up: he had almost gained the window, but the flames darted at him and the flames smote him, and he began to falter; he hesitated, looked upward at the raging fire; he shook his head; he was just about to turn back. Just then someone in the throng below cried: "Cheer him! Cheer him!" From a thousand throats a loud heart-helping cheer went up. He did not turn back. He went on toward the finishing, and in a minute he was seen through the thick drifts of smoke, with the little child safe in his arms. So let us, everyone, see to it that we cheer on all we can who, like ourselves, are struggling upward toward any nobleness.

(W. Hoyt, D. D.)

I have read of that noble servant of God, Marcus Arethusius, minister of a church in the time of Constantine, who in Constantine's time had been the cause of overthrowing an idol's temple; afterwards, when Julian came to be emperor, he would force the people of that place to build it up again. They were ready to do it, but he refused; whereupon those that were his own people, to whom he preached, took him, and stripped him of all his clothes, and abused his naked body, and gave it up to the children, to lance it with their pen knives, and then caused him to be put in a basket, and anoint his naked body with honey, and set him in the sun, to be stung with wasps. And all this cruelty they showed because he would not do anything towards the building up of this idol temple; nay, they came to this, that if he would do but the least towards it, if he would give but a half-penny to it, they would save him. But he refused all, though the giving of a half-penny might have saved his life: and in doing this, he did but live up to that principle that most Christians talk of, and all profess, but few come up to, viz., that we must choose rather to suffer the worst of torments that men and devils can invent and inflict, than to commit the least sin, whereby God should be dishonoured, our consciences wounded, religion reproached, and our own souls endangered.


Under this revival of the persecuting spirit, in a few days nineteen Christians, conspicuous for their character and zeal, were apprehended, and it was resolved to make a severe example. All were condemned to die; the four nobles (one of them a lady) were ordered to be burned alive; fifteen others were to be thrown over a precipice. At one o'clock the night before their execution, a large gathering of their companions secretly took place, not to break prison or attempt a rescue, but to commend the sufferers specially to God in prayer. "At one at night, we met together and prayed." With the early dawn the whole city was astir: it had been whispered that the Christians were to die, and an immense multitude gathered to witness the sight. On the west side of Antananarivo, is a steep precipice of granite, a hundred and fifty feet high; the terrace above which has long been used as a place of execution. Above the terrace the ground rises rapidly to the crest of the ridge, on which the city is built, and on which the palace enclosure, with its lofty dwellings, stands conspicuous. Beneath the precipice the ground is a mass of jagged rocks and boulders, upon which the unhappy criminal would fall headlong, when rolled or thrown over the ledge. The refined cruelty which invented this terrible punishment has, in the modern world, been repeated in but one country and among one people, the half-savage population of Mexico. Through the thousands that had crowded every point of the sloping hill the condemned brethren were carried, wrapped in mats and slung on poles. But they prayed and sang as they passed along the roadway; "and some who beheld them, said that their faces were like the faces of angels." One by one they were thrown over the precipice, the rest looking on. "Will you cease to pray?" was the only question. "No," was the firm answer in every case. And in a moment the faithful martyr lay bleeding, and mangled, and dead, among the rocks below. —

(Trophies of Grace in Madagascar.)


1. From our own heart.

2. The wiles and the machinations of Satan.

3. The world will assault you.

4. Sin in all its phases, its fascinating aspects, will seek to seduce you.

5. Error will assail you.


1. The religion of mere impulse. Excitement is not conviction.

2. The religion of sentiment, not the religion of conviction nor of the adoption of the heart, but purely of the imagination.

3. The religion of intellect. A very striking and, so far, commendable form. The understanding is convinced that Christianity is true. It is orthodoxy, not regeneration; it is light in the head without love in the heart.

4. The religion of the conscience.

5. The religion of the natural affections, than which nothing is more amiable, beautiful, or lovely; and yet it is a religion that will not endure.

6. The religion of tradition.

7. The religion of form. There is no endurance in it; it collapses the moment it is exposed to trouble.

(J. Cumming, D. D.)

The leopard doth not run after his prey like other beasts, but pursues it by leaping; and if at three or four jumps he cannot seize it, for very indignation he gives over the chase. There be some who, if they cannot leap into heaven by a few good works, will even let it alone; as if it were to be ascended by leaping, not by climbing. But they are more unwise who, having got up many rounds of Jacob's ladder, and finding difficulties in some of the uppermost — whether wrestling with assaults and troubles, or looking down upon their old allurements — even fairly descend with Demas and allow others to take heaven.

(T. Adams.)

Some dyes cannot bear the weather, but alter colour presently; but there are others that, having something that gives a deeper tincture, will hold. The graces of a true Christian hold out in all sorts of weather, in winter and summer, prosperity and adversity, when superficial counterfeit holiness will give out.

(R. Sibbes.)

Here are some grounds or motives to the patient suffering of persecution and troubles for the profession of Christ and of the gospel.

1. Of all afflictions and troubles, those are the most comfortable to suffer and endure, which are suffered for Christ.

2. By these kinds of sufferings we glorify God, and bring honour to the name of Christ, and credit to the gospel, more than by any other sufferings.

3. It is a most honourable thing unto us, yea, the greatest glory that may be in this world, to suffer anything for Christ.

4. Consider how much Christ has suffered for us, and for our salvation; how great reproach and shame; what bitter pain and torment of soul and body; and let this move us, patiently and willingly to suffer any persecution and trouble for His sake.

5. Consider how much wicked men suffer in the practice of sin, and to satisfy their wicked lusts, and let this move us to suffer any persecution for Christ.

6. Consider the great and excellent reward promised to those who endure for Christ's sake.

(George Petter.)

This is another word for constancy or perseverance. Suppose, now, the case of individuals desirous of realizing, as a matter of experience, the great vital truths of the gospel in the heart. They have great doubts about the correctness and safety of their former mode of life, and consequently feel in some measure attracted towards the hopes, and aspirations, and privileges of the Christian. But they have to stand up against many oppositions; they have to withdraw from the society of the giddy and thoughtless, and from habits of dissipation and worldliness. They have to contend with disinclinations for public and private religious duties, for prayer and Scripture reading. They begin to find that it is no easy thing to act the part of self-denial — to wrestle against the warm passions and earnest longings of a corrupt nature. They feel, too, the trial of a wayward and treacherous heart, ever tending downwards, cleaving to the dust. Such persons as these are like the Israelites upon the shores of the Red Sea, with its surging breakers and rolling waves before them, and the Egyptians behind them. And yet God said unto Moses, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." They must not turn back to Egypt again, but must step onward to brave the sea. And so with those in the state described. Do not turn back. Do you not yield to tempting solicitations to return to former haunts. Be faithful to your convictions. By perseverance in treading the path of duty the victory shall be yours — the path shall be ever brighter and broader as you near your everlasting home. The young eaglet looking up from its nest upon the high floating clouds and the broad expanse of the clear blue sky, may, perhaps, in its first efforts to mount through and above them, sink with discouragement; but the parent bad is close at hand to give help; and so by perseverance, at last the eaglet soars in the path of its mother, and rivals her in distance as well as in rapidity. Even so the weak in faith shall be made strong.

(W. D. Horwood.)

Among the different games and races at Athens, there was one in which they carried a burning torch in their hand. If they reached the goal without its being extinguished, they obtained the prize. Thus, they only shall be saved, says the Saviour, who endure to the end. It is not the man who makes a splendid profession for a season — it is not the man who appears to carry the torch of truth only a part of the way — that shall be crowned; but he who perseveres, and whose lamp is trimmed, and who holds fast his confidence, and the rejoicing of his hope, unto the end. Yet, alas! how many seem to bid fair for a season, but in time of temptation fall away. Epictetus tells us of a gentleman returning from banishment, who, on his journey homewards, called at his house, told a sad story of an imprudent life; the greater part of which being now spent, he was resolved for the future to live philosophically; to engage in no business, to be candidate for no employment, not to go to court, nor to salute Caesar with ambitious attendances; but to study, and worship the gods, and die willingly when nature or necessity called him. Just, however, as he was entering his door, letters from Caesar, inviting him to court, were delivered to him; and, then, alas; he forgot all his promises, and grew pompous, secular, and ambitious. Thus many form resolutions in their own strength, and make for a season some pretensions to seriousness; but prove like the children of Ephraim, who, though armed and carrying bows, yet turned back in the day of battle.

To endure, that is the great point. It does not simply signify that a man should hold on, but that a man should hold on in spite of, and in the face of discouragements, and difficulties, and disappointments. It is more than "dure," it is "endure." It is a very great mistake for Christian people to imagine that all will be light and liberty, and peace and joy. There are representations in the Word of God of the Christian course that seem to be contrary, but they are only different aspects of the whole subject. For instance: "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." "Your joy no man taketh from you." "Rejoice in the Lord alway." Yet, on the other hand, as we had it this morning, "If any man will come after Me, let him take up his cross daily." Again, we are told, we must "mortify" our evil and corrupt affections; that we must "crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts;" that "the right hand" must be "cut off," and the "right eye plucked out," in order that we may follow and obey our Lord and Master. Now all these things are not contrary, but they are reconciled. There is joy, but it is joy in the midst of trouble; there is peace, but it is peace maintained by constant warfare; and there is blessed rest, but it is rest in labour and toil. If we have a battle to fight, if we have a race to run, if we have a building to erect, it must be with toil, and trouble, and effort. We shall have to "endure to the end." It will not avail to be constant and enduring in the outset, but we must endure to the end. Many will try to prevent our following the Lord fully, they will try to discourage us. And then, too, do we not find very many, from following into different companies, and amongst gay, thoughtless, and worldly companionships, get absorbed in the vortex of life, their holiness is gone, they tumble down in the mire, their hope is withered, and passes away as a dream. Then, again, are there not very many who get into some peculiar state of trial from persecution, or reproach, or something they did not count upon; they are ashamed of Jesus, they are ashamed of the cross, and so they betray the Master with a kiss. Then, again, how many are disheartened and discouraged with the struggle in their own hearts. They set out with much emotion, but feeling too little faith, How many things lead a man to come short of eternal life! It is, perhaps, more beautiful to see a man in little comfort and in darkness, holding on, than one who walks in the full sunshine. Job was able to say, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." Was not that a beautiful instance of enduring to the end? When he was stripped of everything, — without were fightings, and within were fears; clouds, and tribulations, and adversity were about him; yet he says, "though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him." We have not full salvation now; it is in progress, it is not complete; it is the man that endures to the end that attains the full recompense, and enters into the joy of the Lord. This is the great purpose and end. We do not set out on a voyage just for the purpose of setting out; we have to seek to reach the haven. We do not cover ourselves in armour simply for the sake of being ready for the battle, but that we may fight and win the victory, and gain the crown; therefore, after all, this is the grand test of our having true faith in Christ, that we continue in Christ, that we abide as branches in the vine, and bear fruit. How much blossom of promise there is that has no measure of fruit? Let us never forget that there may be a good deal of seeming fruit; but if it does not last, if it drops off it is because it is worthless, rotten at the core. You sometimes see under a fruit tree the ground strewn with fallen fruit. Somebody may say, perhaps, some great storm has passed over, or some sudden frost, when probably the truth has been that the fruit itself was unsound at the core, and that, therefore, it rotted and fell off. Brethren, it is so with the fruits that grow in the orchard of God; many are fair and seeming good to the sight, but they are not sound at the core. The proof that they are sound is, that they still cling to the tree and ripen, until, as it is beautifully said, "the righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger."

(Hugh Stowell, M. A.)

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