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be the complexion of its life. So also in regard to ourselves, we are anxious to know whether we shall be spared to raise our children, whether we shall be rich or poor, in sickness or health, and above all, when or how death shall come to us; and we long to lift the dim veil that hides the future, and read the unopened leaves of our history. But in mercy to us is that veil impenetra. ble and that volume sealed. Could we read the undeveloped future, the present would lose many if not all its joys, and be deprived of its most precious discipline. The sorrows to come would be all gathered on the present, instead of being diffused over our entire course, and thus darken the joys that we feel now; whilst the faith and trust that are now developed by the perplexities and troubles of the present, would be rendered impossible by the knowledge of the precise issues of the future; and duty which now brings its own reward in the mere exercise of our powers, would lose all its stimulus by the knowledge of its apparent uselessness, in securing the immediate object of its aims. Hence this vain curiosity is all wrong, and should be repressed. We cannot and ought not to lift the veil that hides the future, for it is enough to know that it shall be well with the righteous and ill with the wicked, in the end; and when that end is reached, all the mysterious steps of the way will be clear in the glorious light of eternity. It is for us, simply to follow Jesus.
II. We consider the answer of our Lord, “ If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me."
The coming here spoken of must be his second coming to judgment, for it was evidently so understood by those who heard it, and John does not correct this opinion in correcting their erroneous inference. He simply calls their attention to the fact that Christ did not say that he should not die, but only, “If I will that he tarry," and thus do not die," what is that to thee ?" The fact that he made no correction of this opinion, implies that he considered it to be true.
There are three thoughts suggested by this reply.
1. The events of life are all ordered according to the will of God. "If I will that he tarry, &c." We assume of course that Christ is God, in this statement, for he himself assumes it. God alone has the right thus to speak about life and death, and the use of such language by Jesus is a clear claim of his divine character. The language "If I will,” implies that the life of John was to be precisely as he willed it should be. Now as this could not be peculiar to John, it asserts a truth common to all, that our lives are all ordered by God, and shall be exactly as his eternal purpose has ordained them to be.
It is strange that the mind of a true Christian should resist a doctrine that carries with it so much light, and breathes into life so much significance, and bestows on it so much value. If our lives are left to mere chance, or simply to our own blind and feeble efforts, we may well be discouraged, for we are too short-sighted and weak to carry them to any great and good end. Especially is this true of the sorrows of life. If these sorrows come by mere accident, and not according to the wise and predetermined purpose of God, they become tenfold more crushing, because they are mere aimless burdens of agony. But if they come by the fore-ordaining will of our heavenly Father, are part of his eternal plan, and all ordained for gracious ends, we are able to bear the stroke, for though we see it not, it is designed in mercy and love. The same thing is true of the blessings of life. If they come according to no plan, no previous intention of God, it is hard to see how they can demand our gratitude. But coming, as all these things do, by the will and according to the eternal purpose of Jehovah, we see life invested with a high significance, because of the high purpose that informs it. If sorrows and trials come, we are cheered in bearing them by the thought that they are sent, not by the drifting of an aimless chance, but by the hand of a merci. ful Father. If joys are mingled in our lot, we are
grateful to him by whose will they are thus bestowed. If dark clouds hang on the horizon of the future, we can go forward with unfaltering courage, for we know that the future, equally with the past, is embraced in this eternal plan, and that not a hair of our heads shall fall without our heavenly Father. On the rushing railroad train, in the ship on the pathless deep, even in the dread roar of the battle field, there shall nothing befall the child of God in the path of duty, but in accordance with the will of Jesus; and hence he can go forward enfolded with more than a panoply of steel, namely, with the protecting purpose of the Almighty.
2. The Christian's life is a tarrying for the summons home. "If I will that he tarry."
The world is not our home, and life to the true child of God is but waiting for the appointed change. As the soldier, the labourer, the traveller, all wait the expected welcome home as the solace for present privations and toils, so is it with the Christian. Waiting, or tarrying, implies that there is something irksome in this position, and that there is a longing to depart, and be with Christ which is far better. But tarrying by the will of Christ implies that it is not an aimless thing, but an arrangement that is based on wise and holy reasons.
It often happens that the aged, who have out
lived all their active usefulness, and have seen those they love drop one by one into the grave, are disposed to ask, Why am I thus left behind ? Why am I left as a dead tree in the forest, all stripped and bare? The same thought often har. asses the confined and helpless invalid. There is a feeling that the poor sick one is nothing but a burden, capable of giving no pleasure to those around, a mere useless and troublesome weight on those who may perhaps be wishing to be released from the exactions of helpless suffering; and the question often will rise bitterly, Why am I, a poor useless thing, made to tarry here, whilst others, so capable of active exertion, are taken away?
Let not any such feelings be cherished. The aged Christian, though bowed with decrepitude and sorrow, can show how the religion of Jesus can sustain the weary pilgrim when all else is taken away, and can gild the dark horizon of life with the crimson and gold of a glorious sunset, and thus can exhibit the power of Jesus in its most illustrious form, and make the hoary hairs to hang as a crown of light on the brow of age. Nor is the poor invalid useless. From the sick room where a patient piety is enduring suffering with unmurmuring submission, there go forth a thousand gentle lessons of tenderness, of patience, and of charity, that not only demonstrate the power of Christ to sustain when all others fail, but that