THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD.

BY JOH HOWARD HI TO

" He had respect unto the recompense of the reward." Heb. xi 26. I the extended and highly-interesting passage of which these words are a part, the apostle has in his hands the subject of FAITH; faith, not in the sense in which it is the instrument of a sinner's deliverance from wrath, but in the sense in which it is the vital power of a Christian's activity. Thus in chap, x., ver. 38, he says, "The just shall live by faith;" and at the commencement of chap. xi. he gives a definition of this all-important grace: " ow faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen;" or, more properly, faith is the realization of things not seen, the substantiation of things hoped for. And he then gives many examples of the power which faith, in this view of it, had exercised. His examples, indeed, are all drawn from the Old Testament; but this was of necessity, since, at the time he wrote, there were no others to be cited: and, if it should be observed that they are not all of them examples of true religion, it will be fcmnd that they all of them illustrate the power of faith in the sense in which he is treating of it. Of these examples we are not now about to speak in detail. We direct our attention particularly to that of Moses, who, " when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter," but identified himself witli his afflicted brethren of the house of Israel. His conduct in this instance was certainly sufficiently remarkable. His adoption by the royal Egyptian princess placed him in circumstances highly favourable to his temporal advancement, perhaps, rendered possible his ultimate possession of the crown; while his renunciation of this prerogative would not only blast all his worldly prospects, but would practically mix him up with a people enslaved, degraded, and oppressed.

We may well ask what could have been the reasons of such

240 THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. a choice; and the answer to this question is given in the words of our text, " He had respect to the recompense of the reward." These words are interesting and full of meaning, but it is not in the first instance easy to see what their meaning can be. What was " the recompense of the reward " to which Moses had respect 1 Assuredly, nothing earthly, for all earthly considerations were renounced in the veiy fact of his choice. And what else was before him 1 The language employed by the apostle will afford us a clue to this mystery. " By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt" (ver. 24-26). The reproach of being a Hebrew was, then, in some sense, "the reproach of Christ." In what sense? It was reproach borne for Christ ; for from that despised Hebrew race was Christ to descend, and by identifying himself with that race alone could Moses secure a relation to him. This, then, was "the recompense of the reward" to which he had respect. Favoured with an enlightened view of the character and kingdom of the Messiah, he preferred taking a part in advancing the process which led to his coming, and securing an interest in the blessings of his reign, to all that Egypt could offer him; and he made his practical choice accordingly. But, turning now from the particular case of Moses, we may found upon our text the general observation, that in true religion there is an element of reward. I. We shall make it our business, in the first place, to lay down this doctrine clearly, with the necessary explanations.

We say with the necessary explanations, because we allow that explanations are necessary, and that the language we have employed is liable to be misunderstood. True religion, then, be it observed, is far from being wlwtty a matter of reward. In regard to the primary aspect of religion, our deliverance from the curse of the law and our acceptance with God, through the mercy of God, and the obedience unto death of our Lord Jesus Christ, a provision is made which becomes effectual to us by our faith, or by our submission to God's method of justifying us through his Son. o regard is had in this respect to our faith itself, beyond its

THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. 241 instrumentality to give efficacy to the mechanism (so to speak) which God has contrived and arranged, and which waits for this act of submission on our part in order to avail for our justification. But a secondary view may be taken of religion. After the primary questions of our deliverance from wrath and acceptance with God are settled, and settled once for all, religion is in continuance a life, both of self-denial, and of service; and in both these views there may be there is attached to it an element of reward. Here let us first make good our position, that religion is a life both of self-denial and of service. And, first, for self-denial. Our readers will immediately call to remembrance the language of our Lord, in which he declares self-denial, both in the act and the habit, to be among the great features of the Christian life. " If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me" (Luke ix. 23). And on another occasion, when " there went great multitudes with him, he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me,

and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea. and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple " (Luke xiv. 25-27)It is true, indeed, that the discipleship of Christ was then to be taken up under circumstances of special difficulty and hazard ; but the great principle is the same in all ages, and in all circumstances. In the heart which is given to Jesus all other objects of affection must be subordinated to him. A man's father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, must be loved less than Christ, or he is surely not fitted for the frequent, and sometimes costly, sacrifices which his professed discipleship may require at his hands. And in the experience of piety we know that it is so. In taking Christ for our Lord, the principle of self-preference and self-pleasing is consciously exchanged for consecration to him. In spirit we sacrifice everything for him; and few of his disciples pass a life in which the spirit of sacrifice is not called into very sensible practical action. It is still the Christian's necessary calling to " take up his cross daily." R

242 THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWAUD. And, as religion is a life of self-denial, so also it is a life of service. Christ reckons us his servants, and gives " to every man his work." Whether we eat or drink, or whatsoever we do, we are to do all to the glory of God. Our example is to shine to his praise. Our conversation is to minister grace to the hearers. Our time, our talents, our property, our domestic and social influence, all are to be employed for him. Of all the gifts bestowed on us in his

manifold bounty we are stewards, and we shall have to give an account of our employment of them. Religion being thus a life at once of service and self-denial, we say that an element of reward is attached to it. In point of fact, such is the express statement of Holy Scripture itself. Hear, for example, the words of our Lord : "There is no man that hath left house, or bi'ethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the Gospel's, but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions ; and in the world to come eternal life" (Mark x. 29, 30). It is, of course, not possible to understand this language literally. Its meaning must be one in which it can be fulfilled in destitution, in the dungeon, at the stake; and the idea seems to be that the loss of temporal things shall be largely compensated by the abundance of spiritual joy. "VVe know that in fact it has been so. Martyrs at the stake have experienced a triumphant gladness in which the happiness of a whole life may well be conceived to have been concentrated ; and there are sufferers for Christ in modern days, and indirectly known to ourselves, whose joy under persecution seems greatly to overbalance its bitterness. And, if it be so in the present world, how much more amidst the transcendent glories of the world to come! And, as an element of reward is thus attached to selfdenial, so is it also to service. This is made plain by the pai-able of the talents, in every form in which it is presented to us. Thus, for example, as we have it in the gospel by Matthew: "And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents; behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few

THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. 243 things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord" (Matt. xxv. 20, 21). And this idea was freely taken up by the apostles. In the epistle to the Hebrews, for example, we have the following language : " For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister 1 ' (Heb. vi. 10). The idea entered largely into the experience of the apostles themselves, for thus speaks the prince of the apostles: "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing" (2 Tim. iv. 7, 8). And, if it needed further illustration, this might be derived from the second and third chapters of the book of Revelation, where the addresses to the churches are wound up in every instance with a stimulating appeal of this kind. Let us take a single specimen : " 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" (Rev. iii. 21). It is thus evident from Scripture that an element of reward does attach to the Christian life. Let us now endeavour to unfold this idea by two or three general remarks. In the first place, there is in the Christian life an element fitted to reward : nothing, indeed, by which reward can be merited, but something with which reward may be congruous. What we mean is LOVE; love to Christ, the animating principle of the Christian's life, whether in respect of self-denial or of service. We all feel it is a universal dictate of the human heart, that every expression of love is entitled to a kindly, if not a grateful, acknowledgment; and he that lias constituted man's heart thus has surely made it after the pattern of his own. Every expression of love towards him

he may fitly mark with some token of his approval and acceptance. Should we go too far if we were to say that it would be unworthy of him not to do so? In the second place, God is in possession of means by which tokens of love to him may be suitably rewarded. There may not unnaturally be a kind of recoil from the idea of reward, under the forms in which it is usually presented to us

244 THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. in the Scriptures such as that of wearing a crown, or being seated on a throne ; but we should recollect that these, and all other expressions of the same class, are figures of speech, and not descriptions. Through the difficulty, the impossibility, rather, of expressing in mortal words celestial things, the most beautiful of earthly objects are used as metaphors; but we should not allow the glitter of the metaphor to hide from us the very dissimilar, but far greater, glory of the reality. The thing which crowns and thrones denote is the love of God, responsive to, and in gracious acceptance of, our love to him; and while this, in its highest expressions, confers an honour infinitely higher than the earthly baubles which are put into comparison with it, it constitutes a recompense which we cannot for a moment despise, but must, on the contrary, most highly appreciate. The love of God is the blessedness, not only of angels, but of Christ himself; it is the utmost blessedness of our own hearts, and every degree and every mode in which it may be expressed towards us must be acknowledged to bring new honour and new delight. Our service and self-denial, therefore, God can reward in a method of which we cannot but intensely feel the value. And, in the third place, that such reward should be wanting on God's part is a conception not to be entertained. It is not for a moment to be supposed that he will lay himself under unrequited obligation to his creatures, or permit acts of service, often laborious, or acts of self-denial, often

severe, to be rendered to him, and not repay them. He rather takes the opportunity of illustrating the boundless riches of his grace by a reward, appropriate, indeed, but unspeakably glorious. ot for our sakes, but for his own, he confers reward, and he does it according to his own fulness. Acknowledgments of service on earth correspond with the means of the pai'ty making them. The gratitude of the poor may be expressed in words ; but the rich return thanks after the measure of their wealth, and princes according to the style of royal bounty. What, then, shall be the magnificence of the rewards conferred by the King of kings 1 II. We thus complete the first part of our discourse, in which we proposed to lay down clearly the Christian doctrine of reward, with the necessary explanations. We now, in the second place, propose to show the claim which the doctrine has to a practical regard.

THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. 245 It is evident that the doctrine is not speculative, but adapted to exercise a direct and powerful practical influence. Our religion is a life of service and self-denial, and various motives conspire to sustain us. Duty requires it, gratitude impels it, and love will make it sweet; but more than this, it will have a " recompense of reward." Every token of our love presented to God will be met by a token of his love in return, constituting a reward unutterably precious. 1. O what a thought it is that our poor fleeting lives may be applied to such a purpose ! that we may be continually doing such things as God will kindly accept, and gratefully own ! O what a value should this teach us to attach to our moments and opportunities as they pass ! Shall we suffer them to slide idly by, when a diligent improvement of them will provide us with inestimable joys for heaven and immortality? How great is the folly of our sloth, by which we lose so much ! How wise would be a wakeful diligence and

an earnest zeal, that should suffer no opportunity to be lost, no moment to be void ! Ah ! brethren, are we not far from living under the habitual realization and influence of this thought? How much of our time is idly spent ! How many of our means of usefulness are wasted ! And we think it hard to labour incessantly, and to take up our cross daily, and esteem a little, and perhaps not a little, sloth and self-indulgence a luxury ! Ah ! little do we think how precious a treasure is in our hands, and what inestimable joys we are trampling under foot ! What ! is it not enough to sweeten labour to think that God will smile approvingly upon our toil ? Is it not enough to make our deeds of Christian kindness delightful, to think that the eternal Judge will hereafter say, " Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me"? Is the future " recompense of reward" so trivial that it is outweighed by the fatigues of present labour, or the pains of present sacrifice ? Might we not rather justly say, Would that labours and self-denials might be a thousand times multiplied, if all might in a similar manner be rewarded ! Are not they most privileged who have most to do and most to l>ear, and who bear and do it most cheerfully and most diligently? 2. The idea before us is the more worthy of being deeply pondered, because of the place which it evidently holds in

246 THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. God's method of dealing with us. ot only is there a natural adaptation in the system of reward to stimulate our zeal and sustain our patience, but it is the method which God, in his infinite wisdom and grace, has devised for this purpose. " He knoweth our frame," and estimates justly all the sensibilities with which he has endowed it; and it is in his wisdom that he makes to us this appeal. He thinks that the various tokens of his approbation which it is in

his power to confer will recompense in a manner intensely gi-atifying to us every labour and every sacrifice, however numerous, or however severe, and that in creating opportunities of attaining them he does us an inestimable kindness. And do we, by a practical disregard of his method, mean to tell him that there is nothing in his rewards worth aspiring after, nothing fitted to kindle our ambition, or to make amends for our endurance ? Ah ! how different it was with his first-born Son, "who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame" ! III. It will be said, however, probably, that it is not easy to bring this divine system of reward into practical operation; and we will therefore proceed, in the third place, to some illustration of the mode in which this may be most effectually done. i. In the first place, the subject should be kept clearly and broadly distinct from the question of our acceptance with God. With that, as we have already said, the conception of reward has nothing to do, and we cannot allow the two to come into contact in our experience without creating confusion. The proper method is to regard our justification before God as a change already effected in our condition, and complete; a change effected by our exercise of faith in Christ, a transaction past, and never needing to be renewed. Then there is clear scope for the conception of reward, and facility for its practical application. But if, as is often the case, the question of our justification before God is a question never settled, but always in debate, the conception of reward cannot be entertained without mixing itself up with another, and one from which it ought to be kept entirely separate. Think not of it, therefore, dear reader, until you are satisfied that, being justified by faith, you have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ : after that, not as a rebel still needing release from condemnation, but as a child

THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. 247

holding a conscious position in your heavenly Father's love, have respect to the recompense of reward by which every token of your filial love to him shall be rendered back into your bosom. 2. In the second place, keep clearly before your eyes the nature of the rewards you are to expect. Understood in the letter, the scriptural descriptions of these may be unattractive to you, inconsistent with your feelings of humility now, and witli the humble position which you would anticipate for yourself in the heavenly world. You should recollect, however, how entirely figurative these descriptions are, and how utterly unlike them all is the reality which they are intended to exhibit to you. All that God beholds in you to recompense is love the love wherewith you render him service, and bear your cross : and, in strictness, all with which he will recompense it is love his love to you, in tokens of kindly acceptance and approval of yours to him. This may perhaps perhaps must be an honour not only equal to, but far exceeding, that of wearing earthly crowns or sitting on earthly thrones; but, however that may be, it is a recompense which you cannot either despise or reject. It belongs essentially to your renovated character that the love of God should be your greatest happiness. It is so now, and it must be so hereafter. Thrones and crowns you might despise, but expressions of the love of God you must ever receive with reverent thankfulness, and ineffable delight. 3. In the third place, sedulously cultivate the motive which will entitle you to reward. ote carefully, and set it down in your habitual recollection, that what is to be rewarded is neither service in itself, nor self-denial in itself, but the motive which ought to actuate both the one and the other. This motive is love, for which God looks, and on which he will smile; but, where this is wanting, he sees nothing which can afford him gratification. Ah ! how sadly we are wanting here ! How much, even of religious duty, is done as a mere matter of duty, or of routine ! How many acts of service and of self-denial are rendered without much,

perhaps without any, of the living power of love! And these all lose their reward! There is nothing in them to win divine recompense. Alas, great is our folly! O! let us see to it that what we do is done from love, that, at all events, it may be not unsusceptible of reward.

248 THE RECOMPE SE OF THE REWARD. In the method which we have thus cursorily illustrated we may pursue a daily course, having, like Moses, " respect unto the recompense of the reward." Faith may be to us, as to him, the realization of things not seen, and the substantiation of things hoped for; while futurity shall grow rich with the accumulating element, and its full manifestation shall constitute an inestimable part of the glory to be revealed. HYM . FROM boundless love and grace divine The humblest service finds reward ; And saints the recompense receive Which God's approving smiles afford. or thrones, nor crowns, can ever tell How high the honour of his praise, When deeds of faithful love shall be, Accepted, laid before his face. My God, and is such hope for me? O wake, my heart, to glad desire ! Such recompense before my eyes May well an earnest zeal inspire.

1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books

2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful