MY Brethren in Christ,--The question to which we now proceed bears, like the last, not directly upon your external ministrations, but upon the maintenance of that life of God within your souls, which must be kept vigorous and strong within you, if you would have your work either fruitful amongst others or blessed to yourself.
The question is, "Will you be diligent in prayer, and in reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and the flesh?"
Now this is the second question put to the candidates for ordination concerning the Holy Scriptures, and it will help us to see the exact meaning of your pledge to compare it first with that which you have already given. In the former question, then, you were asked as to your belief in Holy Scripture as the ultimate rule of faith. The enquiry then was, "Whether you believed that it contained sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation, and whether you were determined to instruct out of it those committed to your charge." This question, then, had reference to the matter of your teaching: it took security of you as to [171/172] what you would teach; that your teaching should be the pure Word of God, and not the fables or inventions of men. And so the same question, with but little variation, was addressed to the candidates for Deacon's orders as well as to those who sought the Priesthood. For it is a part of the Deacon's special charge "to read the Scripture to the people," and so he was questioned as to his own faith in it, and as to his purpose of reading it to the people. But no question answering to that which we to-day consider is put to the candidates for Deacon's orders; whilst in the office for the consecration of a Bishop this question re-appears, in some degree enlarged. This restriction of the question to the higher orders of the ministry might of itself lead us to see its special object; for it shews us that it bears upon that part of the ministerial work which is not to be entrusted to the Deacon. The Deacon is to read the Word of God to the people, and if specially licensed by the Bishop, but not otherwise, he may preach. But the Priest is distinctly commissioned to preach; and, yet further, to be "a dispenser of the word of God:" and so in his case this question, bearing upon the new power entrusted to him, is added to the simpler enquiry which alone is addressed to the candidate for Deacon's orders. And for this reason it follows, as you may notice, the engagement of the Priest, which we have already considered, "to banish and drive away all strange doctrine, and to use publicly and privately monitions and exhortations amongst his flock." What, then, is the special meaning of the question in this connexion? Doubtless it has reference to his own qualifications as a teacher. He has already undertaken to teach out of the [172/173] Scriptures; the rule of his doctrine has been settled. He has further promised boldness, diligence, and care in this work: but how is he to be enabled to teach out of the Scriptures? By knowing them well and practically himself; by seeking continually the aid of God's Spirit, that he may himself understand and receive them; by guarding against those habits of mind which would make him unable to enter into the depths of their hidden meaning. This, then, is the purpose of the question; it is to this you will pledge yourself. It refers directly to the inner life of your own spirit; it refers only indirectly to the act of teaching. It is not saying over again more diffusely, "Will you teach out of the Scriptures?" but it is saying this: "You are about to be made a dispenser of God's Word to others, will you so live that you may be able to dispense it?" And this is brought out even more clearly still as the question reappears in the office for the consecration of Bishops, where it stands thus: "Will you faithfully exercise yourself in the Holy Scriptures, and call upon Cod by prayer for the true understanding of the same; so as you may be able by them to teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gainsayers?" Here the meaning of the question is perfectly plain: "The priest's lips are to keep knowledge," [Mal. ii. 7.] but that power of keeping knowledge must itself be the result of being in a certain spiritual condition. "Will you, then," is the enquiry of our Church, "so exercise yourself that by the grace of God you may hope to make that condition yours?"
Now this opens to us a most important subject of [173/174] enquiry, and one which will lead us to some considerations which may greatly aid us in seeing how we may faithfully fulfil that which we are here called upon to promise. For we are met here by this question; How far is faithfulness or unfaithfulness, as a dispenser of God's Word, connected with the inner life and spiritual state of the minister in Christ's Church? Surely this is a question of awful import to all who are seeking this office. For consider how far it reaches. We sometimes hear it laid down that nothing can be wrong in a clergyman which is not just as wrong in a layman; and so men who wish to lower for themselves the ministerial standard reason backwards. They say, Such and such amusements, as, for instance, field sports, balls, and other such like pastimes, moderately enjoyed, are clearly not wrong in a layman if he is in other respects a good man: why then should they be wrong in a clergyman?
Now the deepest and truest answer to all such questions--and they are very many, and very practical, and some of them, when looked at only in themselves, not a little puzzling,--lies, I think, in the truth with which we are now dealing. For what constitutes in its highest essence the office of Christ's minister? No less than this--that it does really wield the powers of the world to come; that it is truly and indeed a spiritual office, not only because it is concerned about spiritual things, but because, if it is to be discharged aright, the powers of the blessed Spirit of God must accompany the outward acts which Christ's minister performs in the name of Christ. Let the unbelieving world scoff as it may, it still remains true that these powers are in the Church of Christ. The Holy Ghost abides with her. By Christ's own word His [174/175] presence was promised to the end, and His word is sure. That promise, then, does continue. The Comforter is present with us, as He is not with the world. And what is it that God must intend to convey to us by the promise of a special Presence? Surely it is that He condescends to our infirmities, and employs our language. And with us bodily presence and the power of performing any works are so identical, that we naturally associate the two together; so, when God means to raise our expectations of the certainty of His working His work within us, He, Who by the necessity of His divine nature is always present everywhere, speaks of Himself as being specially present with us in the offices of His Church. And how then does God work in the Church of Christ? Surely by Sacraments and means of grace; by a living ministry, in the performance of its special functions; by acting through His ministers upon the souls and spirits of those to whom they minister; by acting through them as His instruments, sometimes merely officially, so that what they do according to His will, He does,--as when they minister the Sacraments, or declare His absolution to the penitent; to the validity of which official acts, manifestly, the holiness or unholiness of the minister can add no weight, and interpose no bar; because in them His ministers are but the simple instruments for doing acts, to the doing of which acts He has appended His blessing for every faithful recipient of them. But this extends not to all their acts. For he uses His servants not merely as simple instruments for doing certain actions, but He employs also the powers of their minds and souls to affect the minds and souls of their brethren. This it is which makes them [175/176] dispensers of His Word. His Word is to be applied, enforced, explained, brought home to souls, by the intellectual and spiritual powers of His ministers, and through these powers of theirs He acts; so that their spiritual office reaches to this; it secures for its due holder, when duly exercised, the co-operation of the Holy Spirit with him in his work; and hence, of course, is all its efficiency and strength. For how could man's mind or spirit, without this marvellous gift, act upon the mind and spirit of another so as to quicken it towards God and leaven it with holiness? But there is this power in man's ministrations, because it is God's.plan to work thus through men on others. So, manifestly, it has been ever since the Church of Christ was founded. The New Testament itself is mainly the result of such an acting, in its highest degree, of God on the minds and spirits of men, and through them on others. The Gospels indeed abound with the very words of Christ; but even the Gospels in large part, and the Epistles altogether, are the utterances of the souls of holy men under the strong afflatus of the Divine Spirit. And so we find the spiritual character of the man who is the instrument shaping, moulding, and throughout flavouring the revelation which we receive at his mouth. Hence the wonderful difference of the addresses which God's wisdom has given us from the mouths of St. John, St. Peter, St. James, and St. Paul; the revelation common, the truth one; but its application, its tone, its power of meeting the wants of different characters, its direct and immediate action with the fullest force on one and another, most eminently various. And that which we see thus most plainly in these, who were direct recipients of [176/177] inspiration, and who were therefore the types of all inspiration, this is indeed repeated in its measure in every true minister of Jesus Christ; he, too, by his ordination, is made "a fellow-worker with God;" he, too, who by his baptism was brought for himself as a living soul into the midst of the mighty powers of the world to come, whereof we speak; he now, of God's great goodness, in his ordination is made a channel whereby these spiritual blessings are to be conveyed to others. He is to be a stirrer-up of other souls; the breath of God's awakening, convincing, converting, enlightening, purifying Spirit is now to breathe through him; the Spirit is to speak through him: though he has not, and needs not, any new revelation so far as concerns the great subject-matter of his doctrine, though that has from the first been written down for him in God's Word, and since defined and explained in creeds and articles, and held in, and, as need has been, drawn forth afresh from, the living spiritual consciousness of Christ's Church, yet from him it is to be reproduced as a new thing for others: the Holy Ghost will overshadow his spirit; and his spiritual life in its conflicts, hopes, fears and joys is to pour itself forth for others in appeal, doctrine, warning, comfort, and instruction. And as in a glass, face answers to face, so does the soul of the hearer find an answer to its own consciousness in the faithful minister of God's Word. This is the teacher's office in Christ's Church: this is the fruit of the Lord's ascension and the gifts of Pentecost,--"When He ascended up on high, He gave gifts unto men: and He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, pastors and teachers:" [Ephes. iv. 8, 11.] this is the prophet's office, this is the prophet's [177/178] power--and remember, beloved brethren, this is the prophet's responsibility. For there is, indeed, this awful character about the office you are seeking. Prophets you too must be; false prophets, or true; prophets who quench and dumb the voice within you, and so who grow to prophesy deceit and lies; or prophets of truth and righteousness, whom our Lord will own as such at the last. Has this ever occurred to you? or have you thought, as it is but too evident that many do think, that in seeking the office of Christ's ministers they are but undertaking to perform certain acts, or, at the very best, are bound to certain intellectual exertions, and know nothing of being thus clothed in the rough garments of the prophet, and of sharing his risks?
Yet in good truth how did that office in its most essential characters differ from ours? By the prophet God spake to his brethren. Sometimes, indeed, it is manifest that the Divine afflatus took possession of the inspired man, and spoke by him as if his intellectual being and physical organs were a mere instrument for the utterance of that voice of God. But this was far from being always the case. There is the same difference between the prophecies of Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Amos, and Isaiah, that there is between the writings of St. John, St. Paul, St. Peter, and St. James, marking that there was then under the old dispensation the same colouring of the message by the earthly instruments, as we have already noticed in the case of inspired men within the Church of Christ. Now when the Divine afflatus took whole possession of the prophet, there seems to have been, so far as the utterance of his message was concerned, no room for unfaithfulness, Balaam, when that overruling breath of God fell upon him, prophesied as [178/179] truly as Isaiah; Saul was, as much as Samuel, amongst the prophets. The false prophet manifestly was detected in those other exercises of the prophetical office, wherein the human element mingled with the working of the enlightening Spirit. And it is further remarkable that the essence of the deceit of the false prophet does not appear to have lain in his directly conscious perversion of his message, but in an unconscious perversion, which deceived himself as well as others. It was not that, knowing the voice of God to say one thing, he deliberately uttered the opposite; but it was that he himself had come to a state in which, to his own internal consciousness, the true and the false were so confounded together, that he uttered the false not discerning it: from the true. This is plain from a multitude of expressions in God's Word. It is said, that "when the day of God comes the prophets shall wonder':" that they themselves, that is, shall be amazed at the failure of their predictions. Again, they are said to "prophesy a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart;" "They speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord;" "They have seen vain and foolish things for thee;" "They have seen a vain vision;" all implying that they did sec, or think they saw, the falsehood which they uttered. And so again, we read, "They have spoken vanity," with the reason explicitly given, "because they have seen lies." And there is yet one expression stronger still, for we read of a "prophet being deceived, and the Lord having deceived that prophet."
 Now to what class of falsehoods in the false prophets does all this manifestly refer? surely not so much to a wilful and intentional perverting of truth, as to his becoming himself first the victim of the lie by which afterwards he misled others.
And if we seek to find how they themselves became thus deceived, we are not left long in doubt. They are charged by the true prophets with direct transgressions against what they did know to be God's will. Thus adultery, drunkenness, cruelty, and the love of gain are severally charged against them as the causes of their reaching this state of darkness. The prophetical power in them was thus turned into delusion, and became their destruction,
From more than one specially recorded instance we may perhaps trace this downward course.
With their spirits, as with Saul in his transgression, there would be first a diminishing, and then a withdrawal of the utterances formerly vouchsafed. The Lord would cease to answer by Urim or by Thummim, and the man in his distress would turn to other modes of eliciting the answer which he sought. He might trust to natural excitements, and come to mistake them for the heavenly guidance. He might, as Balaam seems to have done, have had recourse to incantations to quicken the lingering inspiration. Balaam's case, indeed, on the one side, and that of Jeremiah on the other, seem to put this truth in the strongest light. We can see Balaam's strong desire of gain warping his whole mind; and we can understand how, though for a season the Spirit of the Lord, for a special purpose, forced him into true prediction, yet that he was ready, even then, to fall under his [180/181] strong temptation. We sec that he longed at the very time to say the opposite of that which, under the strong control of God's Spirit, he actually uttered. The voice of his own worldly desire sounds so loud, along with the very words of inspiration, that even whilst he was God's instrument for blessing Israel, we feel the man himself to be rather a soothsayer than a prophet; we expect to find the true voice die out of his soul, and the voice of lies and falsehood become, as we know it did, his only utterance.
In Jeremiah's case we see the directly opposite course: to him it was revealed as a direct message from God, that the King of Judah was to go forth from Jerusalem, and deliver himself up to his enemies. The declaration of this truth woke up against the prophet the bitterest hatred. Then all means of kindness and violence were successively used to induce him to tamper with or suppress his message. The vision does not seem to have been repeated; but he had once been charged with it. Here, then, was the exact case in which in the worldly-hearted man, lower motives of all kinds would have begun to work, until in time they might have overclouded the truth of God. But none of these things moved him: in the king's house, with the message of the princes, now threatening, and now enticing; with the denunciation of instant death ringing in his ears; and in the hungry depths of the miserable dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelcch, his heart was alike firm: and so his prophetical spirit was kept clear and unfaltering, and no lying vision ever cheated his soul.
Now, then, how plainly in all essential points was their case ours. A truth from God is conveyed to us as it [181/182] was to them. This truth is to form our message from God to our brethren. It makes no material difference whether that truth was conveyed to the prophets' mind by a direct illapse of the informing Spirit, as with them, or whether, as with us, it is learned through the teaching of the same Spirit from a written revelation. The prophet of old was tempted by earthly allurements, first, perhaps, to be silent when he ought to have spoken, and thus he might (as the old prophet who dwelt at Bethel seems to have done when he remained there in spite of Jeroboam's idolatry) make the voice of God utterly dumb within him; or he was tempted to swerve from strict and exact truth in delivering an unwelcome message; or, again, he might cloud his soul by allowed sin, or habitual softness and love of man's favour, so that in the dimness which spread over it he could not discern the lie from the truth: and as he yielded to this temptation he became a false prophet. He failed, that is, in his own moral and spiritual probation, and that failure led him to misuse his high gift, and involved him in the peculiar sin of being a false prophet. And if this be so, how exactly may we follow his course, and find ourselves at last in his condemnation. For we, in our day, have the same dangers to resist: sin and earthliness may dim our eye, so that it will become undiscerning of the heavenly light; the hindrances to our delivering simply our message may lead us to suppress or tamper with it until we become visionless and dumb, or grow to speak unawares altogether another message from that put by God into our mouths. And this fearful ruin may overtake us in the midst of what seems to be a harmless ordinary ministry. We start back, indeed, with horror at being [182/182] found to be false prophets, but, after all, what is easier, brethren, than such a fall? We enter, perhaps, upon our ministry with some real desire to bear the burden of God's message to our brethren. We begin at first to watch and pray, and study God's Word. We speak with some power. There is some stirring amongst our people. But we find that this declaration is unwelcome in this quarter, and that truth distasteful in another: and so we soften them down; or postpone urging them till some future time; and thus our voice grows uncertain and feeble, and no longer gives offence: perhaps we become popular with our people, are welcome at their tables, and are treated by them with respect: and suppose that all is going well with us. For there is nothing in this to arouse our suspicions. No great irregularity startles us. On the contrary, this temptation will specially beset those who are most regular in the discharge of their outward duties; for this regularity and external decorum in the discharge of our functions is even necessary to enable us thus to quiet the consciences of our people. They want to have a prophet dwelling amongst them. Their religious appetencies require such a gentle stimulus. Their fears would be roused if they thought that they had actually driven from them all God's witnesses. And so, just as the worst kings of Israel wanted and had many prophets at their court and table, so they want a prophet; only he must be one who will prophesy smooth things, and such as they choose to hear. Yet, after all, brethren, what is all this, which is indeed the true history of many a respected decent ministry, but the old story of the false prophets of Judah. How, in its lowering effects upon [183/184] the true spiritual character of a parish,--how, in its utterly dumbing effect upon the spiritual discernment and prophetic power of Christ's messenger, does it differ from that which of old awoke God's righteous indignation, so that He said, "I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they strengthen the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all unto Me as Sodom?" [Jer. xxiii. 14.]
Or take, for a moment, another case. A young man enters on his ministry with some lively sense of the greatness of that to which God's voice has called him. Some vision of his Master's Cross has been vouchsafed to him: he has groaned under the burden of indwelling sin, and he has himself found some deliverance at the foot of Calvary. The Spirit of God is breathing over him. He longs to bear this blessed message to every other sinner. He sees men sunk in sin and misery; he longs to tell them, 'God loveth you; God would save you. The Saviour yearns for your salvation; turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?' In this spirit, perhaps, he enters on his ministry as a true prophet. What would he not do for his people? For the worst and vilest of them his Lord has shed His Blood; perforce the servant of that Lord must love them. Now from such an one, as he labours and prays, and lives on amidst the mysteries of God's Word, voices of God to all around him will be perpetually breaking forth. If he continued in this spirit, all his own growth in the spiritual life, his deeper humility, his keener eye for every sin within himself, his increasing tenderness, his wider knowledge of God's truth, all would, under the Spirit's influence, [184/185] make his witness for God bolder, fuller, more appropriate to every altering circumstance around him, more searching, more convincing, more winning, more saving. He might be an Elijah standing before Ahab, or a Jeremiah weeping sore for Judah. But this early fervour does not last. His zeal is chilled by the cold professional decency and comfortable worldly maxims of some, perhaps, of his elder brethren in the ministry: or some temptation overcomes him. The flesh betrays him. By almost imperceptible steps his personal religion decays. Or vanity and self-seeking spring up. His secret prayers become few and cold. His interior communion with his Lord is interrupted; the work of the Spirit is stayed. He goes on outwardly, perhaps, as of old; nay, it may be that in mere outward observances he is stricter, or that in preaching, as the case may be, he is more excited, than heretofore. He clings desperately to these miserable remains of what was once a true work of (rod within him. But through all, he is but deceiving himself. For what is all this but the building of seven altars, but the slaying of the seven oxen and seven rams, and the seeking enchantments by one who ought, instead, to be full of the Spirit of the Lord? What is indeed the state of such an one but that of a false prophet, who finds now no vision from the Lord, in whose inmost soul the work of God has perished, and so in whom the power of prophecy has turned into a lie? What an ending, beloved brethren, of what a beginning! What would be the putting out of the sun's light compared with this darkness? What shall be the wakening up from such a sleep? How shall we who have preached to others endure to be cast away? Oh! in our hour of temptation, [185/186] when the flesh is strong, or the world alluring or self soliciting, oh for one sight of the Judge's face and the eternal doom! Oh for one sight of the Cross on Calvary, of the pierced hand, and of the wounded side! Oh for one keen throb of remembrance, How shall I look on Him whom I betrayed? How shall I, on whom His hand was laid, to whom His powers were granted, bear to hear from Him "Depart thou cursed?" How can I endure to find that there is for me "the yawning hell, the unquenchable flame, the dark prison, the undying worm, the bottomless chaos, the impassable wall, the unconsolable cry, with none to stand by me, none to plead for me, none to snatch me out?" [Bishop Andrewes's Devotions, Meditation on the Day of Judgment.]
Here, then, is the conclusion of the matter. By the essential nature of her constitution, the prophetical office whereby God's message is delivered to every soul survives in the Church of Christ. This is the fruit of the indwelling of God the Holy Ghost, of the promised presence of the Spirit of truth, convincing the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. You are to be the organs by which that prophetic office is to be discharged: your living souls, your reasonable spirits are to be the recipients and transmittors of this work of the Holy Ghost. See, then, how great is your responsibility. Doubtless to us every woe denounced against false prophets may come personally home. Yea, and as the presence of the Holy One with us is closer, more abiding and more intimate than of old, so our guilt may be even more direct and fearful than was theirs.
And in what, then, is to be our safeguard? Doubtless in that which, with tender and loving prescience of [186/187] our need, the Church sets here before us:--"Will you be diligent in prayers, and in reading of the Holy Scriptures, and in such studies as help to the knowledge of the same, laying aside the study of the world and of the flesh?" Whilst we keep this threefold guard, we shall, through God's grace, be safe.
First, We must be diligent in prayer. Hither must be our first resort, because in this we fly to God. Surely, always, for all reasons, above all others, we have need to be men of prayer. For those over whose souls we are set to watch we need to pray always, because we shall prophesy in vain unless the Lord, the Spirit, open their cars; because on our knees we shall learn best to love them, and to watch for them; because from our knees we render them the truest aid. And for ourselves, what need have we to pray that for Christ's sake, and through His great love, our past and present sins, negligences, and ignorances may not grieve utterly the Spirit, and drive Him to leave our hearts to their own barrenness and blindness; that our souls may be so cleansed that we may love Him; that we may have the firmness, coolness, wisdom, insight, pity, love, tenderness, diligence, and care, all of which are so needed, and in such large measures, for the fitting discharge of our prophetic function!
Surely, beloved brethren, it is not in vain that the Church, by her rule for us her ministers, has so laboured to secure our being men of prayer: for all will wither without this, all will tend to growth and verdure if these refreshing dews are frequent and abundant. If we would keep quick and lively in our hearts the power of discerning and imparting truth, we must copy him in whom [187/188] the greatness and business of the court of the Chaldees could not dull the highest gifts of prophecy, because he set his "face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes." [Dan. ix. 3.]
Secondly, to a life of prayer must be added a deep, constant study of God's Word for our own spiritual growth. It is not a superficial reading of it for the sake of others which will do. If we limit ourselves to this, we shall but defeat our own purpose; we shall grow shallow, self-repeating, and unreal. Our own souls must be continually bathed in those living streams if we would keep them apt and ready for heavenly visitations. Thus only will our ministry have that breadth and compass, and our doctrine that just harmony of several truths in their due proportions and relations, of which I have already spoken to you so fully. No substitute will do here. The very best books are separated by an impassable gulf from the Book of God. It is only by daily "reading and weighing of the Scriptures" under the "heavenly assistance of the Holy Ghost" that we can "wax riper and stronger in our ministry;" it is only by studying God's Word for ourselves, and not merely to teach out of it, that our faculties for teaching can be in any measure perfected. On the great deep of Holy Scripture we float away from our prejudices and preconceptions, and afar from the creeping mists and rocky barriers of the narrowing coast, and, alone with God, can see in open vision the vastness of all His loving purposes. They who haunt these mighty tides "see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the deep."
But then, lastly, to this must be joined the "laying [188/189] aside of the study of the world and of the flesh:" a hard work, indeed, for such as we are, and yet, above all things, necessary for him who would be a prophet of the Lord. For these carnal and worldly studies do of necessity dim the eye which should be purged to see God's truth, dull the ear which should hearken for His warning, and tie the tongue which should be ready to speak freely at His bidding. Even a Jew [Maimonides.] could discern this great necessity, and declare, "Prophecy resideth not but in a man great in wisdom and virtue, whose affections overcome him not in any worldly things; but by his knowledge he overcometh his affections continually. On such a man the Holy Spirit cometh down, and his soul is associated to the angels, and he is 'changed to another man.' "Which passage another, who, if ever man did, knew by blessed experience the truth of that which he commends, quotes and thus enlarges: "We find that the prophets inquired and searched diligently" into what was directly revealed to them. "They studied, that is, to keep the passage open for the beams of those divine revelations to come in at; not to have their spirits clogged and stopped by earthly and sinful affections, endeavouring for that calm, and quiet, composed spirit in which the voice of God's Spirit might better be heard." [Archbishop Leighton's Commentary on St. Peter, i. 10.]
Brethren, beloved in the Lord, strive earnestly to enter now on such a life. Let not even lawful things draw you down from it. Live in God's presence; meditate and pray beneath your Saviour's cross; bear with meek resolution your portion of His burden; pray and strive, [189/190] through the grace of the Holy Spirit, to lay aside as far as possible the ever pressing, soiling studies of the world and of the flesh. It will be a life of labour, toil, and self-denying watchfulness. But it will have its compensations even here. God's presence will be round you. The pierced hand will be held out above you, the communion of the Holy Ghost will dwell with you. Though a toilsome life, its toil will be soon ended. "Behold," is His perpetual message, "Behold, I come quickly." And what will not that coming be to every faithful servant? The end of waiting, and toiling, and sorrow, the everlasting presence of all joy. "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.]