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liar dispensation under which the ancient people of God were placed, they were in general prosperous or afflicted, according as they kept or violated the law of their God. Asa obeyed the commandment of the Lord by the prophet Azariah, and we find he was rewarded by twenty-five years of uninterrupted peace and prosperity. Who can doubt, that the external blessings by which Job, and David, and Daniel were distinguished, were the gracious rewards of their doing and suffering the will of God? Nor was this. mode of rewarding dutiful exertion peculiar to the theocratic dispensation : still we find the promise to godliness, of“ the life that now is,” frequently fulfilled." “ The blessing of God still makes rich," and when a person who is concientiously employing all his capabilities of doing good, finds his worldly interests prospering, he is warranted to consider this as a reward for his past exertions, and as an encouragement to persevere in well-doing.
Another way in which God perhaps still more frequently rewards the dutiful exertions of his people, is by crowning their labours with abundant success. When a saint enters with alacrity on the discharge of a difficult and important duty, abundant supplies of divine grace are given him, and he accomplishes it with an ease, which at once astonishes and delights him. When he boldly encounters the enemies of his salvation, he is made “more than a conqueror;" and when he sets himself to endure affliction, strength is given him from above, “patience has its perfect work," and the affliction, having served its purpose, is removed. In the success of his dutiful ex-. ertions, the saint enjoys a rich reward. How amply recompensed is the faithful and laborious minister, when his exertions are obviously rendered effectual to. the conversion of sinners, and the improvement of the
faithful; or the pious and diligentparent, when he. sees his children growing up in the knowledge of the truth, and the love of holiness! How wonderfully has the work of that honoured individual * been reward.. ed, who, more than thirty years ago. t, raised almost his single voice in behalf of a benighted world, and whose exertions in their cause have ever since been most vigorous and unintermitting! In the establishment of many Missionary and Bible Societies; in the translation of the Scriptures into most of the written languages of the world; in the distribution of hundreds of thousands of Bibles; in the formation of many. Christian churches; in the conversion of
; in the prospect of the Christianization of the whole peopled earth ;--he has already obtained an exceeding great reward. Never, perhaps, could any man adopt, with greater emphasis, the words of Simeon than this distinguished friend of God and man: “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
eyes have seen thy salvation.".
It is not, however, in every case that God thus re.. wards the dutiful exertions of his people with success. They often seem to “ labour in vain, and to spend their strength for nought and in vain.” In such in. stances, however, we should draw a very rash conclusion, were we to affirm, that their work is unreward.. ed. It is a most important truth, that “the kingdom of God is within man," and in secrecy and silence are. many of its punishments and rewards dispensed. Peace of mind is the reward in every case of dutiful conduct. “In keeping God's commandments there is great reward. Great peace have they who love God's law, and nothing shall offend them.” He who, has,
felt the pangs of remorse, and he who has tasted the sweets of conscious sincerity, are equally convinced, that it is a delightful thing to have “a conscience void of offence towards God and man.” Not that the saint depends on his most dutiful exertions as the grounds of his acceptance. No; he trusts in no arm but God's, he relies on no righteousness but Jesus'; but, in his humble persevering endeavours to do his duty, he has satisfactory evidence that he is interest. ed in the divine favour, “His calling and election are thus made sure," and the peace of mind thus produced may surely be considered as the reward of his giving all diligence to add to his faith every Christian virtue.
In proportion to the saint's diligence in the discharge of his duty, is he rewarded with the unclouded hope of eternal life. The saint's security of eternal life, is derived from his interest in the all-perfect atonement and all-prevalent intercession of our Lord Jesus. But the enjoyment of the pleasure arising from the prospect of celestial blessedness, is dependent on, and is the reward of his dutiful exertions. Indolence on the part of a true saint cannot render his final salva, tion insecure ; but it may, it must render him uncer, tain about it. Then does the Christian most delighte fully feel that his hope is not that of the hypocrite, when it animates him to, “purify himself as God is pure."
2d, The work of God's people shall be rewarded in a future state. Of the blessings which await the people of God in a future world, we are able to form but very indistinct and inadequate ideas. “ It dath not yet appear what we shall be. Here we see through a glass darkly. Eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God has laid up for those who love him." From the various images under which the celestial blessedness is represented to our minds, we may safely conclude, that it is infinitely superior to any thing of which we have experience in the present state. It is “a crown of glory and of life," "an enduring substance," "a city which has foundations," "an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, unfading,"_it is an "eternal weight of glory,”it is “fulness of joy, and pleasure for evermore.". This blessedness, represented under so many figures, consists principally in the knowledge, the fellowship, and the enjoyment of God. This is the full recompense of reward. It is a reward, for it is necessarily connected with the discharge of the duties enjoined. « Without holiness no man can see the Lord,” and with holiness, none can be excluded from the beatific vision. It is a reward, for the measure in which it is enjoyed corresponds to the degree of dutiful exertion made in order to obtain it. Every man shall receive according to his own labour.” They who are wise shall shine as the firmament, while they who turned many to righteousness shine as the stars of the firmament for ever and ever." He who gains ten talents is made ruler over ten cities, and he that gains five shall obtain a proportionable reward * This view of the celestial blessedness, as the reward of the saint's labours, is frequently exhibited in the Holy Scriptures. “God will render to every man according to his deeds,—to those who, by a constant continuance in well-doing, look for glory, honour, and immortality, eternal life. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was a hungered, and ye gave me
meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink : I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed I was sick, and
visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me *.”
The rewards with which the dutiful exertions of God's people shall be crowned, are not more valuable than they are secure.
“ Faithful is he who hath promised, who also will do it. He is not a man that he should lie, nor the son of man that he should repent : Hath he said it, and will he not do it ? hath he promised it, and will he not make it good?” Be strong, then, my brethren, and let not your hands be weak,
work shall be rewarded. Allow this motive to have its due influence on your minds. It is \y no means the only one which urges you to vigorous and persevering exertion in the discharge of your duty; but it is a powerful one. Moses felt it, and accounted the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt, for he looked for the recompense of reward. Jesus felt it, and “ for the joy that was, set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Let not the difficulty of your duties, the power of your enemies, and the severity of your afflictions, make a disheartening impression on your spirits. The joys of heaven will more than compensate for all, and “ the more you toil and suffer here, the sweeter rest will be.” “ Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour shall not be in vain in the Lord.”
Unconverted men ! Ye are the servants of sin, and free from righteousness. Yę are strong, and your
* Matt. xxv. 34-36.