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was he in his Father's work, that his friends thought he was beside himself. Mark, 3:21. So zealous, that the zeal of God's house" consumed him.
Christ often thought upon the shortness of his time, and wrought diligently because he knew his workingtime would be but little. " I must work the works of Him that sent me whilst it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work.” John, 9:4. Oh in this be like Christ : rouse your heart to diligence. If a man have much to write, and is almost at the end of his paper, he will put much matter in a little room.
He did much work for God in a very silent manner : he labored diligently, but did not spoil his work, when he had wrought it, by vain ostentation. When he had expressed his charity in acts of mercy and bounty to men, he would humbly seal up the glory of it with this charge, " See ye tell no man.” Matt. 8:4. He affected no popular air. Oh imitate your pattern; work hard for God, and let not pride blow upon it, when you have done. It is difficult for a man to do much, and not value himself too much for it.
Christ carried on his work for God resolvedly: no discouragements could beat him off, though never any work met more from first to last. How did scribes and pharisees, Jews, Gentiles, yea, devils set upon him, by persecutions, and reproaches, violent oppositions, and subtle temptations; yet, he goes on with his Father's work: he is deaf to all discouragements. So it was foretold of him, " He shall not fail, nor be discouraged.” Isa. 42: 4. Oh that more of this spirit of Christ were in his people : Oh that, in the strength of love to Christ, and zeal for the glory of God, you may pour out your hearts in his service, and, like a river, sweep down all discouragements before you.
He continued working while he continued living: his life and labor ended together : he fainted not in his work: nay, the greatest work he did in this world, was his last. Oh be like Christ in this, be not weary of welldoing: give not over the work of God, while you can move hand or tongue to promote it, and see that your last works be more than your first. Oh let the motions of your soul after God be, as all natural motions are, swiftest when nearest the centre. Say not it is enough, whilst there is any capacity of doing more for God. In these things, christians, be like your Saviour. .
6. Did Christ finish his work? Look to it, christians, that ye also finish your work which God hath given you to do; that you may with comfort say, when death approaches, as Christ said, "I have glorified thee on earth, I have finished the work thou gavest me to do; and now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self.” John, 17:4. Christ had a work committed to him, and he finished it: you have a work also committed to you: Oh see that you may be able to say, It is finished, when your time is ended : Oh work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; and, that I may persuade you to it, I beseech you lay to heart these considerations: If your
work be not done before you die, it can never be done. "There is no work, nor knowledge, nor device in the grave, whither thou goest.” Eccl. 9: 5, 10. They that go down to the pit cannot celebrate the name of God. Isa. 38: 18. Death binds up the hand from working any more; strikes dumb the tongue that it can speak no more. The body, which is the soul's instrument to work by, is broken and thrown aside: the soul itself presented immediately before the Lord, to give an account of all its works. The night cometh ; make haste and finish your work.
If you finish not your work, the season of mercy, as well as the season of working, will be over at death.
Si dixisti sufficit, periisti. If thou once say it is enough, thou art lost.
Do not think, you that have neglected Christ all your lives, you that could never be persuaded to a laborious holy life, that ever your cries and entreaties shall prevail with God for mercy, when your season is past. No, it is too late : " Will God hear his cry, when trouble cometh
him ?" Job, 27 : 9. The season of mercy is then over; as the tree falls, so it lies; then he that is holy shall be holy still, and he that is filthy shall be filthy still. Alas, poor souls, you come too late ; " The Master of the house is risen up, and the door is shut.” Luke, 13 : 25. The season is over : happy had it been if ye had known the day of your visitation.
If your work be not finished when you come to die, you can never finish your lives with comfort. He that hath not finished his work with care, can never finish his course with joy. Oh what a dismal case is that soul in, that finds itself surprised by death unprepared! To lie shivering upon the brink of the grave, saying, Lord, what will become of me! Oh I cannot, I dare not die! For the poor soul to shrink back into the body, and cry, Oh, it were better for me to do any thing than die ! Oh, I dare not go before the awful judgment-seat. If I had in season made Christ sure, I could then die with peace. Lord, what shall I do? How dost thou like this, reader? Will this be a comfortable close ? When one asked a christian that spent six hours every day in private devotion, why he did so ? He answered, Oh, I must die, I must die. Well then, look to it that you finish your work as Christ also did his.
SEVENTH AND LAST SAYING OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS.
" And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into
thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” Luke, 23 : 46.
These are the last words of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, with which he breathed out his soul. They were David's words before him, Psalm 31 : 5, and for substance, Stephen's after him. Acts, 7:59. They are words full both of faith and comfort; fit to be the last breathings of every gracious soul departing from this world.
1. The person here acting is the Lord Jesus Christ, who in this, as well as in other things, acted as the Head of the church. This must be remarked carefully, for therein lies no small part of a believer's consolation. When Christ commends his soul to God, he solemnly presents our souls with his, to his Father's acceptance. Jesus Christ neither lived nor died for himself, but for believers : what he did in this very act, refers to them as well as to his own soul: you must look therefore upon Christ, in this last and solemn act of his life, as gathering all the souls of the elect together, and making a solemn tender of them all, with his own soul, to God.
2. The person to whom he commits this precious treasure was his own Father: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Father is a sweet, encouraging, assuring title : well may a son commit any concern, however dear, into the hands of a father, especially such a Son into the hands of such a Father.
3. The thing committed into his hand, "my spirit," was his soul, now upon the very point of separation from the body. The soul is the most precious of all treasures. A whole world is but a trifle, if weighed, for the price of one soul. Matt. 16:26. This inestimable treasure he now commits into his Father's hands.
4. The act by which he puts it into that faithful hand, "I commend," was in Christ an act of faith, a most special and excellent act intended as a precedent for all his people.
5. The last thing observable is, the manner in which he uttered these words: "with a loud voice;" he spake that all might hear, and that his enemies, who judged him now destitute and forsaken of God, might be convinced that he was not so, but that he was dear to his Father still, and could put his soul confidently into his hands: "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” Taking, then, these words, not only as spoken by Christ, the Head of all believers, and so commending their souls to God with his own, but also as a pattern, teaching them what they ought to do themselves when they come to die; we observe, that Dying believers are warranted, and encouraged, by Christ's example, believingly to commend their precious souls into the hands of God.
Thus the apostle directs christians to commit their souls to God's fatherly protection, when they are going to prison, or to the stake for Christ : "Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well-doing, as unto a faitliful Creator.” 1 Pet. 4: 19. We will consider what is implied in the soul's thus commending itself to God by faith, and what warrant or encouragement gracious souls have for so doing.
I. What is implied in a believer's commending his soul into the hands of God at death?
1. It evidently implies that the soul outlives the body; it feels the house in which it dwelt dropping into ruins,