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suppose that the words of my text are to be confined to them they are applicable to all Christ's faithful servants. And, to place them in their true point of view, I must consider them,
I. As addressed to the Disciples then before him
[There are difficulties in the words: but those difficulties will vanish, if we bear in mind the precise circumstances under which the Disciples were, at the time when these words were delivered.
Our Lord had now kept the Passover with his Disciples; and had instituted his Last Supper, which, under the Christian dispensation, was to supersede the Passover. In explaining to them the nature and intent of this new ordinance, he had compared the bread, which he brake, to his body, which was to be broken on the cross; and the wine, which he poured forth, to the blood which was about to be shed upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. But, in speaking of these things, he twice mentioned "the kingdom of God, which was about to come," and which was to be the completion and consummation of all that he had undertaken to effect. The Apostles, passing by all that their divine Master spake concerning his own sufferings, caught hold of the idea of " the kingdom of God," in which they hoped for advancement upon earth; and immediately began to contend with each other for pre-eminence in that kingdom; each specifying the grounds on which he himself claimed a priority above the rest. Lord reproved this ambition in the same kind of way as he had before done; but still forbore to dwell upon it, that he might comfort and support them under the accumulated weight of trouble which they were now immediately to sustain. He told them, that, whilst many had forsaken him, they had continued with him through all his temptations; and that therefore he would act towards them as the Father himself had acted towards him; and would fulfil all their desires to an extent of which they could now form no conception. Did they desire pre-eminence in his kingdom? They should all be admitted, not to the table of earthly princes merely, but to the table of the King of kings, to eat and drink in his presence: yea, they all should possess kingdoms, and sit on thrones: and, though they should themselves stand for a time at the tribunal of wicked men, and receive a sentence of condemnation from them, they should have all the tribes of Israel, standing as it were, at their tribunal, and receiving, to a certain degree, their sentence from them, who, as assessors with Christ, should approve and applaud b Matt. xx. 20-28. with ver. 25-27. 2 Sam. ix. 9, 10. and xix. 28.
a ver. 16, 18.
the sentence passed upon them. This I conceive to be the true sense of the last clause of my text; which was intended to fortify them against all which was about to be realized in their Lord, and which they themselves also were, in due time, destined to experience.]
But we must further consider these words,
II. As addressed to his faithful followers in every age
There is, between them and the Apostles, a great resemblance:
1. They answer to the same character
[Though Christ himself is out of the reach of men, his word, his cause, his people, are treated precisely as he was in the days of his flesh." Was he despised and rejected of men?" So is his Gospel, wherever it is proclaimed. It is "to some a stumbling-block, and to others foolishness," as much as ever. Nor is there, in the whole universe, a faithful servant of his who has not a cross to bear for his sake. But they are all firm in their Master's cause: they suffer nothing to turn them aside from following him: yea rather, instead of being intimidated by sufferings, they rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame, or even death itself, for his sake
2. For them, also, are reserved the same honours[At the table of the Lord above is Abraham sitting, and Lazarus next to him, with his head, as it were, reposed on Abraham's bosom. And there shall every true Disciple feast with his divine Master for evermore To them, also,
shall be assigned "thrones and kingdoms," even as God the Father has assigned them to his well-beloved Son. It is by an express covenant that these were given to Christ; and by covenant does Christ also confer them on his people: they "inherit a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world." And they, too, shall be assessors with Christ in
judgment. Of this there can be no doubt. St. Paul says to
the Church at Corinth, 66 Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world? yea, know ye not that we shall judge angels?" What then shall influence us, or what shall we regard in comparison of these things? Let us be content to hunger now, if we may but feast then: and if called to surrender thrones and kingdoms, and to lay down our lives as martyrs, let us willingly make the sacrifice, knowing how abundantly we shall be recompensed through eternal ages—]
d They reclined on couches at their feasts. f This is the force of διατίθεμαι.
e Rev. xix. 9.
g 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3.
Suffer ye now, brethren, a word of EXHORTATION— 1. Adhere with firmness to the Lord Jesus Christ[Many forsook him in the days of his flesh and many, at this day, like the stony-ground hearers, fall away in a season of temptation and persecution. But "be ye steadfast and immoveable," even to the end; "following the Lord fully," and "cleaving to him with full purpose of heart"-——]
2. Expect with confidence his promised blessings— [Think of the state to which many whom you once knew
on earth are now exalted in heaven: and think in how little a time you also will be partakers of the same blessings. Know, that, if ye be Christ's, all these things are yours, secured by a covenant that cannot be broken. What glory can this world give you, in comparison of this? Contemplate this: follow this: anticipate this: and you need not fear what either men or devils can do unto you.]
THE MEANS OF SECURITY FROM SATAN'S MALICE. Luke xxii. 31, 32. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.
THE agency, or even the existence, of evil spirits is scarcely credited amongst us; but there is nothing more certain than that they exist, and act in the world. To conflict with them, constitutes a principal part of the Christian's warfare; and to be aware of their devices is no inconsiderable attainment in Christian knowledge. There is however a Being who is able to counteract their agency: and of this we have a proof in the history before us. Satan, the prince of the devils, meditated the destruction of Peter. Our Lord with affection and earnestness warned Peter of his designs; and, by his own intercession, secured him against his assaults.
I. The malice of Satan
Satan is the great adversary of mankind
Eph. vi. 12.
b 2 Cor. ii. 11.
[He was once as bright a morning star as any in heaven. But he rebelled against the Most High, and incurred his displeasure. Full of hatred against God, he sought to efface his image from our first parents. Through subtlety he prevailed to the destruction of them and us. Nor does he cease to assault those who through grace are restored.]
He desires to agitate and distress them
[This is evidently implied in the expression in the text. He has various ways of effecting his purpose. He may harass us with temptations and persecutions: he may perplex us by artful insinuations and suggestions. His efforts were exerted against all the Apostles: but the more eminent any are, the more they are hated by him. Peter was distinguished for his knowledge and intrepidity: yea, he had had a peculiar honour conferred on him. On this account Satan's malice raged against him more especially.]
But his ultimate end is to prove them hypocrites, or to make them apostates
[This was evidently his design in assaulting Job1, and in asking permission to try the Disciples. Nor would he leave one faithful person upon earth. "As a roaring lion he seeks to devour all". He can do nothing indeed but by Divine permission: but if suffered to fulfil all his will, he would destroy every soul. His influence on the herd of swine shews what he would do to men1: not one vassal of his would escape the fate of Judas ".]
But God has not left his people without means of resistance
II. Our security from his assaults
God has both armed his people for the combat, and given them a great Deliverer
Faith is the grace whereby he enables us to maintain our stand
[It was by faith that we were translated from Satan's
c 2 Pet. ii. 4.
f Matt. xvi. 16.
d 2 Cor. xi. 3.
h Jobi. 9, 11. and ii. 5.
i 'Enthσaro seems to imply a kind of challenge, as in the case of Job, wherein he undertook to prove them to be but chaff, if God would suffer him to make the trial.
k He could not afflict Job more than God saw fit to suffer him : nor could he enter into the swine without our Saviour's permission, Matt. viii. 31.
1 Matt. viii. 32. m Compare Luke xxii. 3. with Matt. xxvii. 5.
kingdom into Christ's". It is by that also that our daily warfare is to be carried on°. Yea, through that are we to attain our full and final salvation P. Faith is the shield whereby alone we can ward off the darts of Satan : if that fail, we are exposed to the fiercest assaults of our enemy. If we lose our hold of the promises, we shall be driven away as chaff: we shall have no point around which to rally our scattered forces. Whereas, if faith be strong, we shall hope even against hope'; and, though wounded, we shall return with fresh vigour to the combat. Nor shall our great adversary be able to prevail against us. Hence that earnest caution against unbelieft and that express direction respecting the mode of opposing Satan"] But the intercession of Christ is necessary to uphold our faith
[Peter's faith would have failed utterly, if he had been left to himself; but through the intercession of Christ he was preserved. Thus we also should "make shipwreck of our faith." But our prevailing Advocate pleads for us also: as our HighPriest he bears us on his breast-plate before the throne: he obtains for us fresh supplies of the Spirit. In this way he, who has been the author of our faith, will also be the finisherz. Hence the encouragement given us to rely on the intercession of Christ Hence the encouragement given us to regard it under every backsliding — Hence the encouragement given us to rest assured of Christ's power to save-]
1. What need have we to be ever on our guard!
[Perhaps at this moment Satan may be desiring to sift us. And what if God should give us up into his hands? If suffered to exert his strength, he could soon dissipate whatever is good in us; nor should our past zeal in God's service remove our apprehensions; that would rather provoke Satan to more activity against us. Let us then "not be high-minded, but fear." Let us follow the salutary advice which our Lord has given usd Let us plead with fervour those important petitions At the same time let us put on the whole armour of God," and prepare, as God has taught us, for the assaults of our enemy'.]
2. What a mercy is it to have an interest in Christ!
n Gal. iii. 26.
y Exod. xxviii. 29.
• 2 Cor. i. 24.
c Heb. vii. 25.
p 1 Pet. i. 5.