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His saints in glory everlasting." It was to this great period, this solemn close of things, that the disciples were to look on through all their troubles; troubles at the time, no doubt, very grievous, and full of trial, but from which they were to gather encouragement and to lift up their heads: you can tell me why, I am sure.

E. I suppose, because these things were only the signs of their own redemption, as St. Luke says, you know, xxi. 28. But how was it said that their redemption was "drawing nigh?" Have not eighteen hundred years passed away already since the destruction of Jerusalem?

M. They have, Edward; and it may be many years yet, perhaps hundreds, perhaps thousands, before the end of the world. But these words were the words of Him, who sees things as they really are, and not as they appear to us. You must remember that, in the sight of the Lord, "one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Compared with eternity they are as a nothing! "As a drop of water is the sea, and a gravel-stone in comparison of the sand, so are a thousand years to the days of eternity." "Our life is but a span long." There are, it is said, insects which are born when the sun rises, and grow old before it sets, And what is our life when viewed from on high, as our Saviour viewed it, but a day, an hour, a moment: "so soon passeth it away, and we are gone!" In this sense we might well understand our Saviour's words, when He told His disciples, that even then their redemption was drawing nigh. But to draw nigh or approach does not neces

1 Eccles. xviii. 10.

sarily mean that an event is near, but only that it is coming,—that things are in a train for its arrival : that its march is as it were begun; and that it is already on its way; though to our apprehensions its course may be a long one, extending over many centuries. It is thus, you know, that we speak in regard to the beautiful works of nature when they first show themselves in the spring of the year.

When we see

E. I think I know what you mean. the first green bud bursting through the bark of the tree, we begin to say that summer is coming, although months will pass before the tree is in full leaf, and the fruit ripe.

M. Yes; for the bud is an earnest of the autumn; the first blade of corn is a pledge or promise of the coming harvest; and so the great harvest of the world is said to be drawing nigh, because the seed has not only been sown, but is already springing up: the Gospel has been preached and its growth is already manifest: although the time is not yet come for the angelic reapers to come forth to gather the tares, and to bind them in bundles to burn them; and then to gather the wheat into the heavenly garner. Thus too when the disciples saw the first manifestations of our Lord's power in the destruction of Jerusalem and in the spread of his religion, they perceived that His kingdom was begun, and that events were now in a course for its coming at last in glory. The winter of Pagan darkness and Jewish superstition was at an end. Spring was beginning in the moral world: the Gospel, already preached to Jew and Gentile, was putting forth its tender branches and "its leaves for the healing of the nations”

had begun to appear. And though the time of fruit was not yet, yet from these signs they might rest assured that it was coming, was drawing nigh; as surely as the autumn succeeds to the spring. Therefore, though men in general may count the Advent of Christ slack in its approach, and though to them it may appear to tarry, yet the believing Christian will wait for it, and expect it continually, because he knows that it will surely come in God's appointed time, and "will not tarry." Its coming is begun already, and nothing can stop it in its progress: the redemption of the Christian "draweth nigh."

E. But, Mamma, I suppose there are great numbers of us who will never live to see the coming of Christ?

M. Most likely, my child; yet to each one of us separately Christ may be said to come at the hour of death; for after that there will be no more change until the day of judgment. As the tree then falls, so it must lie: yet how few seriously believe this! How few at least live as if they believed it! Like the people who lived before the flood, in the days of Noah, they despise all that is said of the coming of the Lord, and live as if death and judgment were idle sounds, without any real meaning. The business and pleasures of life, and too often its sins, occupy them entirely; and so, alas! it will be to the very last. That day will take many by surprise. It" will come when they look not for it."

E. But some will believe and watch?

M. Yes; and "blessed are those servants whom our Lord when he cometh shall find so doing." Happy the Christian who is always living for eternity; always looking to the Advent of his Saviour; always

preparing for His coming, whether it be in an affliction, or in death, or in judgment; like the faithful steward in the parable, ever at his post; like the wise virgins, having his lamp, the lamp of piety, always supplied with oil; like the good and faithful servant, when entrusted with their master's property, continually improving his talents.

How will such Christians love the appearing of their great God and Saviour Jesus Christ! How welcome to them will be that hour, when "the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with all his holy angels with him, and sit upon the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations:" awful and overpowering sight; yet, to the good and faithful, a joyful one too; full of encouragement, full of triumph.

E. But, Mamma, I should have thought that the very best men that ever lived would have been rather afraid of the coming of Christ to judgment, when they think of all their sins?

M. If they had reason to think that they would be dealt with after their own deservings, they would indeed have cause to tremble. But we know that the Bible speaks of sins being "blotted out" and "done away;" and tells us of persons who "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Such persons may look forward with joy to the coming of that Saviour, whose blood has redeemed them from the guilt, and the power, and the punishment of sin; and whose Spirit has been continually renewing their hearts and lives; making them every day more "meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light." We can imagine such persons,

dear Edward, looking forward with humble joy and confidence to the appearing of that Saviour, whom they have loved and trusted in upon earth. He will not frown upon such servants: No, He will say unto them instead, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

E. But how kind of our Lord, Mamma, to call any servant good!"


M. What you say is very true. It is of the Lord's mercy that He calls any one good; for there is none really good but God. Yet in a certain sense the Scripture continually applies this word to human beings, and makes a marked distinction, which we must never attempt to blot out, between the good and the evil, the righteous and the wicked. It is a dreadful thing "to call evil good, or good evil." The Scripture humbles all men to the very dust, but does not speak of all alike. None are absolutely good; none perfectly so; none naturally, or of themselves good: yet by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and obedience to His will, men may become good in a general sense, so as at the last to receive, though they cannot deserve, from the Lord Himself that gracious sentence, "Well done, good and faithful servant !" For though it is faith that saves us, it is faith working by love. The way it saves us, is by making us holy and good and faithful. Therefore it is that we are so often told in Scripture, that men will be judged hereafter according to their works. Faith must then be shewn by its blessed fruits.

E. Then, Mamma, I should almost be afraid that the Pharisee would be best off at the day of judgment, and that the poor Publican would be despised.

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