HEIRS TOGETHER OF THE GRACE OF LIFE
"Heirs together of the grace of life." 1 Peter 3:7
This marks my relationships to the Christian household, in connection with my future hope. But it is especially my relationship to those on earth. Here we are heirs together of the grace of life. The grace of life is the gift of life eternal. It is the free gift of God in Christ to every believer. How great and wonderful is this gift! I do not now see its glory. I cannot now comprehend its extent. Its enjoyment is future, unrevealed in its particulars. But it is life--life with Christ. I shall not die, but live. There is no more death. It is life for ever. It is the gift of God. Perfectly secure, because God bestows it. Glorious and sufficient also, because Christ has prepared it. Here I have a short probation with my fellow heirs. But our life remains to be had hereafter. Of this I have no exclusive possession. I am an heir, together with others. It is one fact of our blessed communion. Thus Christians journey on together with a glorious hope.
1. Then we are pilgrims and travelers together, and we ought to live happily together on the road. "See that you don't argue along the way," said Joseph to his brethren. How painful to the soul are religious quarrels and controversies! How unhappy do they make the church! How injurious is their influence upon the world! How ruinous to the work of religion in the soul! The soul that harbors unkind tempers, unjust suspicions, harsh judgments, can never prosper. Better to bear anything than resent, or retaliate. I have no time for fighting with my fellow soldiers. Let me cultivate the spirit of peace and edification. I shall surely wish I had done so hereafter. I would drive no wedge of separation between Christian brethren. I would strive to reconcile all, and to unite all to each other and to Christ. In this I shall much promote my own happiness, as well as the happiness of others. It is worth all my labor. It is worth any labor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace, with all the heirs of God and partakers of his glorious gift.
2. Then we are subjects of common trials, and we ought to comfort each other under the burden. "The heir, as long as he is a child, differs nothing from a servant, though he is lord of all." We are fellow pilgrims in this wilderness world. We have many burdens to bear, many sorrows to feel, many falls and losses to endure. What room there is here for mutual consolation! How blessed is the effect of such consolation! With words of mutual kindness we can bear anything. Ah, how much they ease affliction, and take away the bitterness of sorrow! Let us bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. How much such a spirit of kindness helps in prayer! What peace it creates in the household! What happiness in social communion! I wish to follow out this spirit always. I long to be tender, patient, and affectionate. I would not have a hard and unsympathizing heart, for all the gains of earth. Words of peace! Sweet words! I would always speak them, and speak them from the sincere feeling of my heart.
3. Then we have glorious prospects before us, and we ought to encourage each other to press forward to attain them. Our heavenly inheritance binds us all together in the same lively hope. But we have many infirmities, and many struggles along the road. And the strong must not rebuke or undervalue; but help and encourage the weak. How hard it seems to talk of our glorious hope! Why is it so? If I really valued it, and enjoyed it, would it be so? If my heart was in it, and I believed the hearts of others were in it, would it be so? It surely should not be so. Why have I a tongue, and a mind, and a heart, if not for this? Why have I been placed in this mixture of trials and privileges--of hopes and sorrows, but that I might thus learn to be useful and helpful to all? My influence may be little; but it is not less for Christ, than for earthly things--whatever it is, it shall be his. If I have but one talent, I would use it faithfully for him, to spread his truth, to edify his flock.
4. Then I shall soon take possession of my inheritance, and I ought not to be discouraged with trials by the way. The road is not always smooth. I meet with many difficulties and obstacles. I bear many losses and pains. What of that? How transitory they are! They all pass rapidly away. And soon all will have passed, and I shall be finished them forever. There is no endless quagmire in my path. No sorrow endures forever for me. Why, then, should I ever complain or be discontented? Is it thus, with my condition? But has not my Giver of life appointed it? How could it be made better, when his wisdom has arranged the whole? Is it thus, with my own heart and life? Why do I not daily strive to amend these? This may be done. He has given me abundant means to do it. Let me never despond nor halt in my course. A cheerful, happy spirit should becomes me always. A spirit of contentment, and peacefulness, and hope. With this, I shall edify others. With this, I shall enjoy a life of blessedness myself.
5. How manifest are these attributes and duties of the heirs of life. Peace together. Reciprocal consolation. Mutual encouragement. Individual contentment. Let me strive for all these. Let me watchfully endeavor to exercise them. I will soon meet all my fellow heirs happily before God. How soon that gracious gift of God may come! Can it be too soon? Happy will be the day, when the whole redeemed church shall appear; when the Savior can say, "Of those who you gave me I have lost none," John 18:9
Onward, then, to glory move,
More than conquerors you shall proveľ
Still through danger, toil, and woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go.