THE RIGHTEOUS A D THEIR REWARD. BY REV. JOH SUMMERFIELD, A.M.

Psalm lviii., 11. — Verily there is a reward for the righteous. Behold a Xerxes weeping over his army : similar to this, witness an incident in the life of Jesus ; he wept over Jerusalem, but carried his views much farther than the Persian monarch, even to their immortal state. Xerxes wept from disappointed ambition, Jesus, from compassion ! Xerxes* lamentations regarded himself, Jesus' those whom he came to save. Xerxes wept like a haughty conqueror, Jesus like the Saviour of men ! What has, then, become of all the souls which have passed off the stage since Xerxes' time ? One generation has followed another ! but where are their spirits ? Have they sunk into non-existence ? has death put out the vital spark ? or only opened a passage for the spirits escape ? Where will the swarm finally settle ? where these souls find a restingplace ? We feel that immortality is the lot of man, and rea-

THE RIGHTEOUS A D THEIR REWARD. 59 son decides with us here. All nations have a glimmering hope of a hereafter. " Hope springs eternal in the human breast, Man never is, but always to be bless'd. The soul, uneasy and confined from home, Rests and expatiates in a world to come ! Lo the poor Indian, whose untutored mind Sees God in clouds or hears him in the wind ; His soul-proud science never taught to stray Far as the solar walk or milky way ; Yet simple nature to his hope has given

Behind the cloud-topp'd hill a humbler heaven.' 1 But when civilization came did not the light of science remove this hope ? ay, it acquired new strength. Revelation concurs with our reason here ; and on this point infidelity, in spite of herself, is one with revelation, resolving the question in favour of an existence after death. ow if the soul exist, it must be in a state of consciousness ; no other idea of its existence can be entertained ; it must be in happiness or misery. On what, then, will these depend ? Refer we this to the omnipotence of God ? Will he distribute happiness and misery irrespective of human actions ? But we cannot separate his attributes, and with one another wound. His power is inseparable from justice, holiness, truth, and goodness. Paul is authority here. " God is not mocked : for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting." " If we live after the flesh we shall die, but if we, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, we shall live." This, then, is the seedtime — eternity the harvest ; and the text coincides with these reasonings. I. Inquire into our personal character — if righteous. Righteousness applies sometimes to Deity, again to other orders of beings, but chiefly to man. But Scripture says, " There is none righteous ;" yet again, " The Lord loveth the righteous." Do these oppose each other ? We must explain the term. Righteousness is applied to God ; not that this is any rule

60 THE RIGHTEOUS A D THEIR REWARD. of right foreign to himself. * * # Again, it is applied to his laws. ######

But, in reference to man, it may refer either to his internal nature or to his external actions. When to the first, we find a parallel with the mind of God, as far as a finite mind can resemble the infinite. When to the second, outward conformity to inward congeniality of nature, abstinence from all evil. But we must view it in reference to man in two lights, a legal and an evangelical righteousness. The first is a purity of nature that never deviated from the rule of right ; its claims are not on mercy, but justice ; it is a stranger to repentance, for it has no transgression to lament or forsake ; it places no dependance on the mediatorial righteousness of Christ. This is the character of that individual who is legally righteous. But where does he live ? ot on earth ; once such a character existed in Adam ; also in the second Adam, but in no others. Hence it is said there are " none righteous, no, not one;" and if no way of restoration had been provided, no man could be saved. But an evangelical righteousness presupposes man's guilt ; it appeals to mercy ; mercy is the foundation of its claim ; its essence arises from the pardon of sin through the mercy of God, revealed to the soul by Jesus Christ. To such the promise of reward is made. one being legally righteous, " God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Jesus accepted it. — " Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour," and sent the heralds of salvation to all, inviting them to come to him through Jesus Christ. The first qualification is, that we feel our need of righteousness, and our cry must be, " God be merciful." # # # # # * * "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh

away the sin of the world." The moment we see our misery we have all the qualifications God requires for an interest in Jesus * and the moment we can relinouish all trust in

THE RIGHTEOUS A D THEIR REWARD. 61 everything else, even in our repentance, God receives us, speaks peace, &c, &c. The pardon of sin, then, is the foundation of evangelical righteousness, and new powers are implanted in the soul to bring forth fruits of righteousness and holy obedience. Growing in grace to the end, we are denominated righteous and entitled to the promise of reward. II. The reward. But here human language fails ; the Scriptures are highly figurative on this point, yet fall far below the reality. Perhaps there are in us, in embryo, powers hardly suspected and quite unknown. If so, the ploughman may yet rise above a ewton : the infant may furnish an illustration. But this we know, our powers will be suited to the realities ; but what the glory, the happiness will be — alas ! conception fails. The darkness of Providence will then be done away, and a great share of our happiness will be in reading over the old volume of Providence from the beginning of the world. Here we are under severe afflictions, there we may see, that if such and such a cross and sickness had not met us we had been ruined ; and we shall see why God weighed us down with afflictions till the storm of danger blew over. But we shall then more clearly contemplate the greatness of redeeming love in Jesus ! casting our crowns before him !

Again, the human mind is capable of endless progression. What more pleasing than to stand on the margin of the ocean of infinite truths, and draw therefrom forever ! What new truths also may we learn from other spirits ! However, our business here is to acquire moral goodness and spiritual holiness. God has provided the means. If fitted for glory we shall inherit the reward. But, if otherwise, all these scenes will be reversed, and all the powers of the mind become so many inlets through which to pour calamity on the spirit ; calamity of which we have no more conception than of the reward of the righteous. Where, then, is the use of mere intellectual powers (Voltaire), unsanctified learning ? If intellectual powers 6

62 OBSCURITY A D GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. are not made subservient to a preparation for heaven, how dreadful ! (Wesley's opinion of the philosophers.) Blessed are ye poor ! Come, still say, " God be merciful.' > If righteous your character, the reward is sure ; the rest remaineth for the people of God. * * *

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