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They are soldiers.—Isaiah describes Christ as “a Leader and Commander to the people ;” and St. Paul calls Him “the Captain of our salvation.” He cannot lead the rebellious to victory : for, “ being made perfect, He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” A complete suit of armour is provided for
“Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.” “The shield of faith” wards off the attacks of your enemies. “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” wielded "with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,” puts them all to flight. Thus you may conquer the world, with all its allurements; the flesh, with all its seductions; and Satan, with all his art. -Herein the deceased was victorious. We read of those who, having " used curious arts, brought their books together, and burned them before all men :" nor has the example been lost on succeeding generations. Our sister resolved, at the time of her conversion, to sel her costly finery; and, that purpose being fulfilled, she devoted the proceeds to charity and religion. From that day the world was beneath her feet, and her self-denial was most exemplary.
They are servants.—“ One is your Master, even Christ.” Obey Him, therefore, “ doing the will of God from the heart.” Without Him we can do nothing: His Spirit helpeth our infirmity. All good flows from Him as its source, and, when properly used, leads to Him as its end. Hear your great Lord, with whom is “ the residue of the Spirit:" " If any man serve Me, let bim follow Me.” Search the Scriptures diligently and prayerfully, to know His will ; and do it in the spirit and manner He commands.-Such a servant was deceased sister. She regarded all she had as coming from God, and gave back all to Him. She felt the solemn word, “ Ye are not your own,” but “ bought with a price :” and, while she sought to devote her all to her heavenly Master, her humbled spirit said, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
They are stewards of the Lord.—He “called His own servants, and delivered unto them His goods. And unto one He gave five talen ts, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability.” “It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” The great Owner of the wealth so distributed saith to each, “Occupy till I come :” and when He comes, He saith, “Give an account of thy stewardship.” Nothing can be more faithless than for a steward to assume the rights of a proprietor ; and Dothing was farther from that loyal heart which has just ceased to throb. Our sister received all her gifts as from God, and devoted them to His glory, and the spread of His kingdom.
These gifts were diversified. She appears to have bad the five talents committed to her trust. Among the lowest were temporal resources. Affluence, indeed, she had not; but sbe was furnished with an abundance of comforts. Throughout her domestic life, she was at once economical, hospitable, generous, and charitable; and in
her widowhood she received enough and to spare, which (after supplying her own wants) she most gladly employed to relieve distress, and to advance the interests of true religion. If it is suspicious for a steward to grow rich, no such cloud shadows the memory of Mrs. Whittaker. One of her last acts, in the last evening of her life, was to relieve distress with her last available mite.-A more distinguished gift was conversational power. Here her superiority was admitted, and she consecrated it to the good of souls. Few came into her company without hearing some word seasoned with grace ;
and many were won to Christ in this manner. By using also the pen of a ready writer, she not only edified a large circle of correspondents, but also reached a number who seemed otherwise inaccessible. Το write was one part of her daily employment; and the result of this noiseless labour will be fully known only at the last day.--Her gift of prayer was only surpassed by her ceaseless and fervent exercise of that holy privilege, –and this, both in public and private. Three times a day, for many successive years, she prayed with a devoted servant who attended her. Many supplications she offered in the families that she visited, as well as at the bed-side of the sick and dying. Above all, her closet bore witness how frequently she withdrew to commune with the “Father which seeth in secret,” and to bear kindred, friends, the church, and the world, to the throne of grace. She wrestled in agony for individuals, and often "against hope believed in hope," saying with Jacob, "I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me."-Further, by the blessing of God, character gave her influence. Everything contributed to this. Her appearance, manners, education, position,-added to a transparent purity of motive, an evident absence of all selfishness, and a surpassing Christian devotedness, -gave her free and happy access wherever she was known. Her society was prized, and in it few felt otherwise than in the presence of a superior spirit.
To afford all these gifts full scope for successful exercise, a kind Providence indulged her with leisure and every opportunity to do good, as well as with health and vigour of constitution, which showed but little decline even when she had passed threescore years and ten. From the period of her conversion to God, all her time was at her own disposal; and she laid it out by regular plan, so that, as appeared, “no moment lingered unemployed.” She rose in the morning at five ; spent two hours in earnest prayer and useful reading; then attended a prayer-meeting, --instead of which, however, she latterly collected a few children in her room, and there catechised and instructed them, intermingling appropriate devotional exercises. Afterwards she wrote her letters ; then visited her friends, and the sick. She set a most worthy example in attending all the means of grace ; and her rule was, to be always in the house of God before worship commenced.
As to her more public walks of usefulness :—She was zealous in promoting charitable institutions. In 1817 she became a ClassLeader : thirty persons came to her class on the morning of its com
mencement. For forty years she had one or more classes under her care. She looked after absentees, and often wrote promptly to them, to ascertain the cause of their absence, and administer suitable advice. She regarded one of the Sligo Female Schools as her special charge, and paid it a daily visit. As a Sunday-school Teacher, a diligent Tract-Distributer, and a Collector for the Jews' Society, the Protestant Orphan Society, and the Wesleyan Missionary Society, she was unremitting and most successful. Her praise is in all the churches. Lowly, as in the dust, she esteemed her efforts unworthy of notice ; but He whose smile is heaven has said, “Well done, good and faithful servant ; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things : enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”. Are we following her, as she followed Christ ? « Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when He cometh shall find so doing.”
Some objector may say, “But Mrs. Whittaker had her weaknesses." If she had not, she was not human : but, in presence of such excel. lence, it required very little Christian charity to cover them during her life, and none to forget them in the grave. Let those who delight in such discoveries exert their ingenuity to the utmost ; but let them not wonder if they find reason to admit that “even her failings leaned to virtue's side.”
III. "A crown of life” is promised in the text.—No mere ornament, but the sign of all that is glorious and royal. “In My Father's house,” says Jesus, "are many mansions.......I go to prepare a place for you...........I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there ye may be also.” At the judgment-seat He awards them their inalienable possession : “Come, ye blessed of My Father, imberit the kingdom.” “ The saints of the Most High shall” therefore “take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.” See, they pass the gates of pearl, and walk the streets of gold: they mingle with thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, and reign in endless fruition.
All in heaven corresponds with the crown. They wave their palm of victory because they wear the crown. They are clothed in robes made white in the blood of the Lamb. Encircled with glory, they "shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” The throne of Christ opens to them, and He invites them to a seat upon it. All the distinctions they enjoy are in harmony with these sublime images.—Jesus urges all of us to attain this consummation. He holds out the crown, and declares His sovereign decree : “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.”
As all the coronets in the realm are dependent on the crown of majesty, so it is from the Lord Jesus crowned with eternal glory—the “King of kings, and Lord of lords”-the saints derive their honours, bright with His celestial radiancy. Low at His feet they fall; high in songs of praise they ceaselessly adore Him. As countless ages roll on, their hallelujahs never languish. He that was blain for them shall, throughont eternity, “bear the glory."
VOL. IV.-FIFTI SERIES.
“A crown of life” exhibits a lofty contrast to all earthly crowns. Those given at the most celebrated games of antiquity were composed of shrubs, or leaves, or flowers, which one day's sun might wither. Those which Sovereigns wear gild mortal brows, which soon droop and decay in the tomb. The day comes that shall consume all earthly crowns, and leave them undistinguished from common dust : but this “crown of glory,” this “diadem of beauty,” encircles the head of immortal man,-itself lasting as eternity.
The phrase denotes the possession of life, in the highest sense ; the life of the glorified body, and inconceivable bliss for the indwelling soul. All is life in heaven. The Deity, from whom all glory flows, is THE LIVING God. With Him is the FOUNTAIN OF LIFE. The first Person of the Sacred Three is called “ the living Father." The Son has “life in Himself.” The Holy Ghost is “the Spirit of life.” The “pure river of water of life,” issuing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, flows on replenishing “living fountains of waters." "The tree of life” grows on each side of the river, yielding fruit every month.
“ There shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, peither shall there be any more pain.” The heavenly society shall never be diminished by the failure of a single member : all shall live for ever.
The phrase implies conscious, ceaselessly increasing enjoyment. All earthly pleasures are for the living on earth ; and every period of life has its pleasure. In like manner all is happiness in heaven; for there all live-each one is “ filled with all the fulness of God.” The human soul can contain no more ; but, as in progressive life, the capacity enlarges, and the Divine fulness augments the joy in the same proportion. Such is our promised bliss, even on earth : “The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” But of heaven it is written, “In Thy presence is fulness of joy ; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” If on earth faithful souls, “beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord ;” what a transformation will be wrought by the unclouded vision of heaven ! “ We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,” and make nearer and nearer approaches to Him throughout eternity. This endless round of advancing glory and happiness is called the joy of our Lord; the same, in nature, as that which kindles in the seraph, and dwells in God.
The promise exbibits the Promiser. “I will give thee a crown of life :" I, the Son of God, “equal with God ;” who from eternity possessed all the attributes of the Father : I, the Saviour of the world,
one Mediator between God and men.” “I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore.” Precious as is the crown, it draws an infinite increase of value from the dignity of Ilim who confers it.
The promise asserts the fidelity of the Promiser. Can you trust the best and most upright among men? Here is an everlasting,
unchangeable Friend. “ Heaven and earth,” He declares, “shall pass away; but My words shall not pass away." Lord, it is enough! Thou art the truth, and Thy word of promise secures to us the
But it is the Saviour's gift. It is not merited by those who wear it. “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants ; we have done that which was our duty to do.” Heaven is altogether of grace, not of debt : yet the great Arbiter “shall reward every man according to his works.” Revelation accordingly sets forth different degrees of recompense in heaven. “ They that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever." “One star differeth from another star in glory : so also is the resurrection of the dead.”
The reference to the season of fulfilling the promise brings out a most striking contrast : “ Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” In times of persecution, he who chose to avoid the death of the body, by proving faithless to Christ, lost his soul; but he who lost his life for Christ preserved his soul unto life eternal. “ If so be that we suffer with Him," it is “ that we may be also glorified together.” The same rule applies in all ages. To be faithless, and to continue so, is to lose all “ those things which we have wrought ;” to be faithless in the interval, though at length restored, is to fail of “a full reward ;”, to be “faithful unto death,” is to receive the consummation of bliss. To him whose pound had gained ten pounds, it was said, “ Have thou authority over ten eities."
May we not say, that our deceased sister wears one of heaven's brightest crowns ? When of the world, she sought all her happiness in the world : when born of the Spirit, she sought all her happiness in God. She loved all who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, and did everything in her power to promote a holy unanimity among the different evangelical churches. She was eminently a Methodist, “ the friend of all, the enemy of none.” The very last day she spent on earth found her in all the activities of life, visiting the sick, and attending to each customary duty. In the evening she public service, afterwards met one of her classes, prayed with a friend in her own apartment, and at eleven retired to rest—to awake in eternity. Next morning it was found that the spirit had fled, leaving the tenement to moulder in kindred dust. She had at one time expressed a wish that she might die on her knees : that wish was not granted ; but her calm countenance and unruffled attire showed that she had slept—that without a struggle she had exchanged mortality for life.
The death of Mrs. Whittaker bas left a vacancy no one can readily fill. Who will care for her classes, and watch over them, as she did ? Who among us can exert like influence in the cause of Christ? That List of Missionary contributions who can obtain? May many catch her spirit, and follow her steps ! Everyone of us feels that some