‘Alas for us, if thou wert all, and nought beyond, O earth.’
‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’ 1 Corinthians 15:19
Suggested Further Reading: Titus 2:11–14
The most practical thing in all the world is the hope of the world to come; and you see the text teaches this, for it is just this which keeps us from being miserable; and to keep a man from being miserable, let me say, is to do a great thing for him, for a miserable Christian—what is the use of him? Keep him in a cupboard, where nobody can see him; nurse him in the hospital, for he is of no use in the field of labour. Build a monastery, and put all miserable Christians in it, and there let them meditate on mercy till they learn to smile; for really there is no other use for them in the world. But the man who has a hope for the next world goes about his work strong, for the joy of the Lord is our strength. He goes against temptation mighty, for the hope of the next world repels the fiery darts of the adversary. He can labour without present reward, for he looks for a reward in the world to come. He can suffer rebuke, and can afford to die a slandered man, because he knows that God will avenge his own elect who cry day and night unto him. Through the Spirit of God the hope of another world is the most potent force for the product of virtue; it is a fountain of joy; it is the very channel of usefulness. It is to the Christian what food is to the vital force in the animal frame. Let it not be said of any of us that we are dreaming about the future and forgetting the present, but let the future sanctify the present to highest uses.
For meditation: It was this hope that marked the lives of even the Old Testament heroes of faith (Hebrews 11:10,13–16,35). But what men and women of action they were in God’s service! Who would dare accuse them of being dreamers and of being no earthly use?
Sermon no. 562
27 March (1864)