It is God's purpose to make you holy and blessed. As a child of God you have a supreme motive to be Godlike; as a creature of force you are deprived of all such motives.I. CHRISTIANS MUST EXPECT TO SUFFER.1. (6) O ye scoffers at religion! Because they live among those that they cannot but suffer from, wheresoever they live. "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." THE HUMAN WORLD MORALLY IS DIVIDED INTO TWO GRAND SECTIONS.1. Alas! When they suffer for not disclaiming and renouncing any clear and undoubted truth of God whatsoever; yea, though it be not a fundamental point and article of religion.Cases wherein men may seem to suffer for the cause of religion, but cannot truly be said to do so.1. It was not until every passion of his soul was in agony of earnestness that he fastened on to life. Owing to their strong remaining corruptions.2. God hath two houses, the heavens, which are called His house, because He manifests His glory there, and the Church here below, wherein He manifests His grace. P. Lange.It is necessary to distinguish the judgment of grace from the judgment of wrath, and temporal punishment from eternal.(J. They are indolent, or they are reckless, or they are self-willed and obstinate. Bad spirits are ever on the wing, coming to us on steps of sunshine, and floating on the dark wave of midnight, seated on the wings of the morning, and dropping with the evening dew. Though we may sometimes deem it a mystery we may readily see that it is a mercy — it is according to the will of God — both as to the end to be answered by it, and as to the measure and degree.II. If they did, its discouraging effect might be disastrous. THE CHARACTER OF THE PERSONS HERE SPOKEN OF.1. Under trials God gives "more grace"(2 Corinthians 12:9, 10).3. It was not until every passion of his soul was in agony of earnestness that he fastened on to life. Comfort is nothing else but reasons stronger than the evil which doth afflict us; when the reasons are more forcible to ease the mind than the grievance is to trouble it. If they render bodily service, they render no spiritual service to God. True, if the righteous are exposed to temptation to neglect the exercise of faith, they have incentives to attend to the duty. (3) Because even when salvation is thus attained, it is not persevered in without the same supernatural aid, and the utmost diligence. (4)To vanquish Satan and his horrible temptations. The influence of the gospel upon man's destiny.(Homilist. Sent a Saviour for them — engaged to accept and keep them.IV. If He crosses your wishes and thwarts your projects, this may be simply because He is unwilling to let you ruin yourself. No, indeed. Sometimes by adversity. 4. (2)They are such as have believed in Christ, are pardoned and justified (Romans 3:25, 26).2. Just as a parent will seek to adapt the surroundings of a child to its powers and capacities, to place him in a position where he shall obtain all the enjoyment that is compatible with his growth and development; so God has provided the things that are. But further, the danger which their faith is in does not only arise from the unbelief of their fallen nature, but from the encouragement which such unbelief meets with in the world — ah! (The Christian Magazine. Sibbes.The way to come to salvation is full of difficulties —1. Now to notice the particular causes of such difficulty. Finally, the greatness of the change requisite in passing from sin to real holiness — from Satan's kingdom into full fitness for Christ's, creates no small difficulty in the way of saving even the converted, Remarks: We see why the Scriptures are so full of exhortations to the Christians to run, run, and especially to run by rule. An object, what we must commit, the soul.3. The righteous are scarcely saved —(1) Because their salvation could not be purchased but at the greatest conceivable expense. )If the righteous scarcely be savedThe righteous scarcely saved, and the misery of the wickedJ. THE COMFORT OF THIS INTEGRITY. From the testimony of those who are safely landed (Revelation 7:14).II. GOD IS FAITHFUL IN RESPONDING TO THE CLAIMS OF HIS CREATURES. But the ungodly and sinners being thus refractory under trials, how is it possible that they can be finally saved?4. Carrying our thought of this character a step further, observe, secondly, that in this Biblical phrase is included the truth that God has some regular method in whatever He does. Many a faithful woman's life has been the one scarce noticed, continuous thread, slight, but not to be broken, on which has been bound and kept together all the happiness and success of sons and daughters. It is no trifling thing to be lost, but it can be done by neglect.I. As we learn what the laws of life are — the laws of development, survival, and fruitfulness — we discover still further truth concerning the methods of the faithful One from eternity; and we; must trust these laws of life, and adjust our free action to them, or we shall perish. To serve God is doing good, but after their own lusts, is not doing well. Adams. 28-32). And are the righteous scarcely saved? But this is not all; for there are many things which make it more difficult to some than others, which are of another nature. Alas! Most people in the world have no experience of lasting joy in their lives. There is a wife who sees scarce a peaceful moment in all her life with her husband — all is vexation and sorrow of spirit. It is not because God is implacable and hard to be appeased. And their exposedness to this may hardly be obviated by the frequent calls they may have to the healthy and invigorating exercises of devotion. So the fact that God has method, and must have it in order to be faithful, is reason enough why He does not vary the course of His providence to meet some of our desires, however much the good God might wish to gratify us. They do but according to God's will; and if it be so, who dares speak against them? And many times, after much wrestling, he scarcely finds that he hath gained any ground: yea, sometimes he is foiled and cast down by them. We have implied THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF THE UNBELIEVER WILL BE SEVERE. )Commit the keeping of their souls to HimThe saint's hiding place in the evil dayR. Further, the righteous are saved with difficulty, because they are exposed to failure, in measure, in holiness, through difficulty in certain parts of obedience. it is an easy matter to be an hypocrite, but not to live godly.(R. But the ungodly and sinners almost always, under any trials, allow themselves in discontent, bad temper, and resistance, whether the trials come the more evidently from God or from man. Seeing that your reproaches and sufferings are not endless, yea, that they are short, they shall quickly end in glory, be not troubled about them, overlook them. Because it is impossible for God by any means He can wisely employ to persuade them to desist from sinning. Genuine religion is independent of any certitude of the future.3. (1) How certain! He has never left and never forsaken us. In their reputation. Because God will discard hypocrites in this life, who take up so much of religion as stands with their ease and credit in the world, avoiding every difficulty which accompanies godliness, but, so they may swim two ways at once, go on in their lusts still and be religious withal. How, then, can the ungodly and sinners be meet for heaven?3. In their liberty and life. Or the business of their parents may have been such as to miseducate them. This is the purpose of God concerning them (2 Thessalonians 2:13). There is no new reason, therefore, arising in any juncture of natural forces, or even from any emergency of human history, which should lead God to change the laws of life or to give to His Church some different method of redeeming love than that which has been followed, and is now pursued, by the Divine wisdom on this earth. This likewise is a grandly uplifting thought for us, that the Creator from the beginning, and through all the method of His working, has never lost sight of the goal; that He is faithful to the divine ideals; the divine ideal of a free life of the creature capable of sinning and suffering, because made also to achieve a righteousness and love which only along the way of spiritual freedom can ever be reached; the divine ideal also of embodied spirit, capable of being raised through death to celestial perfection. St. Peter himself was "scarcely saved." But I cannot do well, but I shall suffer ill. Labour, therefore, to carry thyself well in suffering evil, not only in the general, but even in particular, towards those persons that do thee wrong; endeavour to requite their evil with good. Oh, what a work is this which Christ undertakes that He may save His people from their sins! Nothing at all. Coleman. And are the righteous scarcely saved? He useth their malice for His own ends. The ungodly have no reason to glory, indulging atheistical thoughts because of the sufferings of the godly.2. Braden.Suppose, in the place of God as Creator, we substitute chance, or fate, or law, what a blank we have at once in the highest regions of thought and feeling! Sibbes. We see, also, why the Christian is to pray always. But He exerciseth a more peculiar providence towards mankind; and more peculiar yet towards those who study to please Him by obeying Him and doing His will (Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:18). Their own tempers perhaps are chafed, and they become a sore temptation to a similar state of chafed and fretted temper in their parents. When then they are persecuted only for making an open profession of the Christian religion, by joining in the assemblies of Christians for the worship of God.3. For this Christ died. The righteous are saved, while the life and welfare of their souls are secured, whatever may otherwise befall them.II. (6) The work of salvation in the righteous is already begun (Philippians 1:6).2. (2) How dreadful must it be! Our chief care must be over our souls. Then the tempted soul may be saved. The motives and appeals which your unbelief has resisted. The peace of heaven forbids that you should go there in your sins. These sufferings are for the trial of faith (vers. If the soul be not well, the body will not continue long in a good estate. Coals of confusion.Some will say, Christianity is a strange condition, that enforceth such things upon men, that are so contrary to nature. He useth their malice for His own ends. And yet, through all these, they are brought safely home. (3)Conversion of ungodly companions. With that he must be content; but it would not be surprising if he left it alone to the swift process of decay. And so in all duties the flesh is dragging downwards! With that he must be content; but it would not be surprising if he left it alone to the swift process of decay. In their property. (3) To humble them. H. Coleman.Let us consider the solemn truth assumed — "If the righteous be scarcely saved." This is the simple answer to the question. Hence they are tempted not to find time for the exercise of faith. It remains now to ponder the inference which the apostle chiefly designs to impress on our minds, "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" An object, what we must commit, the soul.3. Though the age of martyrdom has passed, let us cherish and honour the memory of those, etc.II. "(1) They shall be delivered from sin and misery. How many postpone conversion because they think that it is so easy to become religious — they can begin at any time! There are a great many difficulties in the way of converting sinners, and saving them when once converted. Who but God can save against the power of such temptations? How many postpone conversion because they think that it is so easy to become religious — they can begin at any time! He may have yet more corruptions. Vitally important to be considered here is the fact that the governmental difficulty in the way of being saved, growing out of your having sinned, even greatly, is all removed by Christ's atonement. If God is thus faithful in responding to the claims of His creatures, surely He is faithful also in the sense of being worthy of our trust.II. The meaning of this is that the righteous are saved with difficulty, or, as Steiger well expresses it, "it costs believers much to remain steadfast in their endurance of trials and to glorify God." If they render bodily service, they render no spiritual service to God. (1) Such as are implied in the general pursuit or happiness. For this, too, the question strongly implies, not only as an appeal to reason, leaving themselves to decide, but as an allusion to the mode of procedure in courts among men. "Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" No! But observe further, that we never suffer but when God will. For this, too, the question strongly implies, not only as an appeal to reason, leaving themselves to decide, but as an allusion to the mode of procedure in courts among men. A principle of righteousness is planted in them at their conversion, from whence flows a righteousness of conversation (Luke 1:6).2. The manner of such injury to their faith will be different at separate times. It is the same kind of loyalty in the Creator. A faithful life resembles the sure, unceasing roadway, which runs on and on over the hills, and through the woods, and by the homes of men, into which we may always come back at evening time, no matter how far we may have wandered afield or how long we may have followed the winding brook, at our own sweet will during the day. "Who then can be saved?"3. De Witt Talmage. Before our suffering. In their property. God has His providential methods of soul training, and soul enlarging, and soul ripening. I answer, Certainly not in heaven, nor on the heavenly side.(C. Oh, then, how anxious should sinners be to commence the great work of their salvation!3. Their duty in this estate, namely, to commit the keeping of their souls to God.In the duty we have these particulars comprehended —1. (4)To vanquish Satan and his horrible temptations. Our text plainly supposes it, though while in the world they are persecuted. (The Evangelist. (7) The opposition they meet with from Satan (chap. Clark. Let us do with our might whatsoever our hands find to do, because we are but servants, and the responsibility is God's. Our chief care must be over our souls. (3) Because even when salvation is thus attained, it is not persevered in without the same supernatural aid, and the utmost diligence. 1 Peter 4:14-17. SHOW HOW AND WHY THE SALVATION OF THE WICKED IS IMPOSSIBLE. Disappointments fret, and fraud exasperates us, and meddlesome curiosity makes our lip curl. If you would commit your soul to the keeping of God, know that He is a holy God, and an unholy soul that walks in any way of wickedness, whether known or secret, is no fit commodity to put into His pure hand to keep. The gospel is the revelation of good —1. The providence of God extends to all His creatures, according to that of the Psalmist: "The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works." God gave you and them power to live together in common affections and pursuits. GOD THE CREATOR IS FAITHFUL TO THE GREAT PURPOSE FOR WHICH HE MADE US HIS CREATURES. Where shall the ungodly and sinner appear? But He exerciseth a more peculiar providence towards mankind; and more peculiar yet towards those who study to please Him by obeying Him and doing His will (Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:18). "The gospel of God." Should they live and die such, their destruction is inevitable.(T. "The punishment," they say, "being eternal must at last exceed the sin." Nehemiah said, "Shall such a man as I flee?" The graces of the Spirit generally languish under worldly prosperity (Matthew 13:22). Here is another class whose sufferings will bring shame. With that he must be content; but it would not be surprising if he left it alone to the swift process of decay. Holiness of life and zeal in religion will provoke the ungodly (Matthew 11:18; Luke 7:33; Hebrews 11:25, 26).3. If He was able to give them being, surely He is able to keep them from perishing. To secure us from that violent degree of temptation and suffering, which would be too strong for human strength and patience.2. Sent a Saviour for them — engaged to accept and keep them.IV. What views ought to be entertained of spiritual salvation? (6) O ye scoffers at religion! This act must be accompanied with well-doing. After a conflicting life peace is welcome; heaven is heaven indeed after trouble. Nevertheless, their salvation is here represented as being with difficulty obtained. Coals of conversion.2. A. Clark.I. Their duty in this estate, namely, to commit the keeping of their souls to God.In the duty we have these particulars comprehended —1. THE CAUTION OF THIS BOLDNESS. He may have taken a more wayward course.3. God's "tender mercies are over all His works." And the successful merchant remembers crises in his history when he found himself on the brink of ruin, when the last straw only was wanting to precipitate the catastrophe. How, then, can the ungodly and sinners be meet for heaven?3. That the state and condition of God's children is to suffer.2. If, then, the sinner cannot be saved and go to heaven, WHERE SHALL HE APPEAR? THE HUMAN WORLD MORALLY IS DIVIDED INTO TWO GRAND SECTIONS.1. They shall not appear among the righteous and the saved. It is not an empty profession of religion that will serve the turn.2. no! )The difficulty of salvationR. Their deep and all engrossing desire and purpose to please God was the law of their entire activities. Finally, the greatness of the change requisite in passing from sin to real holiness — from Satan's kingdom into full fitness for Christ's, creates no small difficulty in the way of saving even the converted, Remarks: We see why the Scriptures are so full of exhortations to the Christians to run, run, and especially to run by rule. There is a man chained to a wife who is a constant source of temptation and trial to him. Finney. )The difficulties that are to be encountered in the way of salvationBp. Their chief concern is, that whatsoever be lost, this may not; this is the jewel, and therefore the prime care is of this. THE COMFORT OF THIS INTEGRITY. Many parents have children who are a constant trial to them. To serve God is doing good, but after their own lusts, is not doing well. Spurgeon.? It is surely not a presumptuous thing to assert that God has assumed, by the very act of creating us, something like responsibility for our well-being. The radical cause of the difficulty is with the righteous — original sin. The righteous are saved personally, when their lives are preserved.3. But herein mankind are apt to be deceived, as though all the difficulties lay in a suffering condition; whereas a soft and careless life is rather more dangerous to their souls, because persons are less apt to suspect their danger. It is not God's commanding will, but His suffering will. Those who believe on Him, He never deceives or disappoints. (2) That God offers His gracious assistance for the performance of them.II. The manner of such injury to their faith will be different at separate times. )A faithful CreatorGod's faithfulnessNewman Smyth.This is one of those Biblical phrases upon which in many a time of need the souls of men may fall back and rest, The phrase was intended originally for the support of some in the early Church who had been compelled to suffer for Christ's sake. (2) O ye drunkards! The difficulty in the way of saving sinners is not simply that they have sinned, but that they will not now cease from sinning and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If He crosses your wishes and thwarts your projects, this may be simply because He is unwilling to let you ruin yourself. A. Clark.I. But take heed of walking in any way of sin, for that will unsettle thy confidence. Hannam.I. (2) Let us now consider the difficulties relating to salvation, or that happiness which Christians expect. So they shall neither meet us with fear, nor leave us with sorrow.II. Provided, also, that we do trust the providence of God, and do indeed commit ourselves to it; relying upon His wisdom and goodness, and entirely submitting ourselves to His will and disposal, both as to the degree and duration of our sufferings.4. That the state and condition of God's children is to suffer.2. BUT WHAT MUST WE COMMIT TO GOD IN WELL-DOING? And He will not until we again reflect His glory in the fullest measure, and are prepared to take that high place and do that grand service for which we were originally designed. Only those who live a life of faith, and make their calling and election sure. Nehemiah said, "Shall such a man as I flee?" We may also see why Christians are exhorted to separate themselves from the world. What can they do who have no God? Nevertheless, their salvation is here represented as being with difficulty obtained. Or the business of their parents may have been such as to miseducate them. Seeing that the godly know that their sufferings are by God's will, to chasten them that they may not perish with the world, they have good reason to trust God cheerfully amidst sufferings, persevering in well-doing. And now will heaven let you in? Sibbes. Coleman. where will you appear? )Scarcely savedW. As we learn what the laws of life are — the laws of development, survival, and fruitfulness — we discover still further truth concerning the methods of the faithful One from eternity; and we; must trust these laws of life, and adjust our free action to them, or we shall perish. Coleman. Bad spirits are ever on the wing, coming to us on steps of sunshine, and floating on the dark wave of midnight, seated on the wings of the morning, and dropping with the evening dew. This is a common form of speaking. Considering therefore that it is Satan's aim to unloose our hold from God, by defiling our souls with sin, oh! Therefore beware of wilful pollutions and unholy ways. Now in order to save men, they must be restored to a state in which God and reason control the free action of the mind, and appetite is held in due subjection. "In well doing."1. It is wonderful to see how much this difficulty is enhanced by the agency Satan and sin have had in the framework of society. So the fact that God has method, and must have it in order to be faithful, is reason enough why He does not vary the course of His providence to meet some of our desires, however much the good God might wish to gratify us. where will you appear? Disappointments fret, and fraud exasperates us, and meddlesome curiosity makes our lip curl. Vitally important to be considered here is the fact that the governmental difficulty in the way of being saved, growing out of your having sinned, even greatly, is all removed by Christ's atonement. 1 Peter 4:10 The Christian Stewardship. The salvation of sinners is therefore impossible.1. And His will is not that we should always suffer, though generally our estate be so in one kind or other. ANOTHER INFERENCE. IN WHAT SENSE THE RIGHTEOUS ARE SAID TO BE SCARCELY SAVED. The will of God is complete recovery, restoration to even greater glory in all its parts, and to this end nothing the Divine Father could expend that would serve this purpose has been withheld. To which I answer: that provided we do what is our duty on our part, the providence of God, will not be wanting on His part to bear us out in all our sufferings for His cause, one of these three ways.1. What construction ought to be put on the little difference made between the righteous and the wicked in the dispensations of Providence. The faithful Creator is the God of regular habits, the God of system, the God who has His own time and place for everything. This is the simple answer to the question. What will be your condition in the next world?(J. Finally, the greatness of the change requisite in passing from sin to real holiness — from Satan's kingdom into full fitness for Christ's, creates no small difficulty in the way of saving even the converted, Remarks: We see why the Scriptures are so full of exhortations to the Christians to run, run, and especially to run by rule. One incentive is a sense of sin. It is not God's commanding will, but His suffering will. A man may do good, yet come short of this comfort; it is given to them that do well. And so the "faithful Creator" becomes the merciful Redeemer. Again, it is hard in regard of the sin that continually cleaves to them in this world, which doth, as it were, shackle them, and compass them about in all their performances.3. let it be our chief care to see to that which Satan strikes at most!III. Wisdom Literature It is one of the general characteristics of revelation throughout the Bible that it attributes to God certain distinct moral qualities; that it brings out by these the character of God, rather than the nature or mode in which God may be conceived to exist or to create. I answer, Certainly not in heaven, nor on the heavenly side.(C. It is not doing good, but doing well that gets God to keep the soul. The rescue must be effected by moral, not by physical means, and the problem is to make the moral means powerful enough for the purpose. He hath appointed us thereunto.2. If, with heavenly shield and sword, the righteous are only scarcely saved, where, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?(T. That was all that the owner of that once famous place could do — support the ruin! Braden. THE SUFFERANCE OF THE SAINTS. THE TEXT SHOWS US WHO ALONE IS QUALIFIED TO BE THE KEEPER OF THIS INVALUABLE TREASURE — OUR IMMORTAL SOUL.1. Consider the appeal IN ITS REFERENCE TO SPIRITUAL AND ETERNAL SALVATION.1. Let them commit the keeping of their souls to Him, etc.1. (3) It was the ultimate end of Christ's sufferings (Hebrews 2:10). How many postpone conversion because they think that it is so easy to become religious — they can begin at any time! A lazy man cannot Bet to heaven. The faithful Creator is the God of regular habits, the God of system, the God who has His own time and place for everything. Now this familiar, homelike, often unnoticed, but fundamental character is described by this Scripture directly to our God. The Church is afflicted when the light of the gospel hath most clearly shined.3. For this, too, the question strongly implies, not only as an appeal to reason, leaving themselves to decide, but as an allusion to the mode of procedure in courts among men. How much pain to attain anything, any particular grace of humility, or meekness, or self-denial! THE CONDUCT OF CHRISTIANS UNDER SUFFERINGS.1. "Where shall they appear?" Hannam. (1) That the most difficult duties are in themselves reasonable to be performed by us. He useth their malice for His own ends. The righteous shall be saved, but it will be scarcely when the matter comes to a scrutiny of sterling evidence.2. The soul is the better part of a man, and if that miscarries, all miscarries. H. The soul is to be more valued than the body.3. Yea, God became man to enrich us with all grace and goodness, to free us from the hands of Satan, and bring us to an eternal state of communion with Himself in heaven.(R. An action, to commit.2. You have served Me, says God to Israel, but after your own lusts. But, who will be saved? The question is a strong negation. )The difficulty of salvationR. Hence they are tempted not to find time for the exercise of faith. It is not doing good, but doing well that gets God to keep the soul. If God is thus faithful in responding to the claims of His creatures, surely He is faithful also in the sense of being worthy of our trust.II. When they suffer not for their faith, but their fancy, and for the wilful and affected error of a mistaken conscience.3. Not with the righteous in the judgment, for so God's Word has often and most solemnly affirmed. What will be your condition in the next world?(J. G. where will you appear? "Not a sparrow falleth to the ground without your Father." (4) Of His ascension into heaven (Hebrews 6:20). He would enrich your whole spiritual nature. In case of a temporary fall and miscarriage, to raise us up by repentance, and a greater resolution and constancy under sufferings.III. C. Before our suffering. They are righteous in the righteousness of Christ, who is called the Lord our Righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6; 1 Corinthians 1:30). So that losses can better hurl us down gets God to keep maintain... 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