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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles

Chapter 67 - 1 Corinthians 4:8; Luke 17:22 - The Saints' Joy and Sorrow Light & Truth: Acts and the Larger Epistles by Bonar, Horatius


I place together these two verses, the words of the disciple, and the words of the Master, as breathing the same spirit. They speak of present pressure and trouble; they point to a day of deliverance and triumph; they indicate the feelings of Christ's church, in this evil day and evil world. Paul means to say "I wish the time of reigning were really come, as ye seem to think, for then should we share in that glory, instead of being the off scouring of all things"; as if feeling most deeply present trial, and longing for the day when the glory shall be revealed. The Lord means to say, "days are coming when ye shall long, even for one of the days of the Son of man"; pointing to approaching tribulation, and intimating that under the pressure of this, they would long for even one day's relief. Both these passages are written for us.

I. The pressure of present evil. There is evil in the world; and there will be till Christ come. There is evil in the church. There is sin, confusion, darkness, pain, affliction in many forms, bereavements, persecutions, anxieties, cares, vexations, poverty, hatred, contempt, with many more such evils. They come on us daily. They press hard on us and weigh us down. Each disciple has his own special lot, and peculiar trial. Paul felt his deeply; and we must all feel ours, for we are not made insensible to sorrow by our becoming believers. The Head felt His sorrows, and prayed "let this cup pass from me," so the body in all its members feels its sorrows, and "desires one of the days of the Son of man," or desires "to depart and be with Christ," or longs that the day of reigning were come, or wishes to be absent from the body, and present with the Lord. "O wretched man that I am," we crying reference to the inner conflict. "Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech," we cry concerning the fightings and storms without.

II. The anticipation of coming good. This good is called by our Lord "the days of the Son of man," in contrast with the present days, which are simply days of man, or "man's day," "this present evil world." It is called by the apostle the time of reigning, in contrast with the present time of down-treading and persecution. These good days are coming, and we fix our hope upon them. They are blessed, and glorious, and endless. They shall reverse every thing that is evil now, whether pertaining to soul or body, to man and man's earth, to the church and to the world. It is resurrection that we look for; the times of restitution; a kingdom; new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Then all shall be holy, happy, peaceful; the body glorified, the earth renewed, Satan bound, Antichrist overthrown, sorrow turned into joy, the cross exchanged for the crown, the tents of Kedar for the New Jerusalem, the wilderness for Canaan, the weariness of the pilgrimage for the everlasting rest.

III. The desire of relief. Paul's words express this desire, and Christ's prediction intimates the same thing. We are not expected to be satisfied with pain and sorrow, so as not to long for their removal. We long for deliverance; nay for the most temporary respite, even for one of the days of the Son of man. The burden is at times so heavy that we cry out under it, and wish that the present days were shortened, and the glory hastened. One day's respite would be a great thing for us, when overwhelmed at times with evil. But the respite comes not; patience must have her perfect work. There is no sin in the desire; only let it not be impatient. "Not my will but thine be done."

IV. The frequent disappointment. The sky seems for an hour to clear; and then the clouds return after the rain. The sunshine promises, and then passes away. We seem to come within sight of Canaan, and then another range of desert mountains rises up between. The day seems almost breaking, but it breaks not; the shadows seem just departing, but they depart not. Often we say, the long road is ending, the next turn will bring us to its termination; and then instead, another long stretch of road lengthens out before us. Often we say, Surely this darkness cannot last, this evil must have spent itself, but in vain we thus think. The time is not yet. Often we say, Surely Christ is coming, the reign of crime is ending, the era of holy peace is at hand, the kingdom is going to begin; and then the prospect darkens again; and we seem to hear the voice, "Not yet, not yet." Often we cry, "How long," and the answer is "Wait," be patient, stablish your hearts; it will not be long.

V. The kingdom at last. These are sure things. They will come at last, though on the back of many disappointments. He that shall come will come and will not tarry. The signs of the times have often cheated us, but at length they shall be found true. They will introduce the kingdom and the rest. The glory shall break forth; the Son of man shall be revealed; He who is our life shall appear. The ransomed of the Lord shall return with songs; the days of our mourning shall be ended; sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

VI. The connection between present evil and future good. Our present light affliction worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Present evil is that out of which the coming good is to spring. Light is sown for the righteous; but it is sown in darkness. It is out of sickness and darkness that our immortal health and strength are to come. The grave is the birthplace of incorruption. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. Thus God shall overcome evil with good; out of sin educing holiness; out of our brief sorrow the eternal joy.