FOLLOWERS OF THAT WHICH IS GOOD
"Followers of that which is good." 1 Peter 3:13
How much of man's wealth consists in anticipations! There is the Christian's wealth also. He is poor in person; but he is rich in partnership. He has nothing of his own; but he is one with the Lord, who possesses everything in heaven and earth. What he is in the present life, is very manifest. Full of trials. Often a person of a sorrowful spirit. What he shall be hereafter, does not now appear. But it is in no degree uncertain. When his Lord shall appear, he will be like him. As he has borne the image of the earthy, he will also bear the image of the heavenly. This is a future good, but it is not a contingent, doubtful good. This the Christian pursues, in every path and in every change of life. For the attainment of this, he presses forward in his pilgrimage, and endures even to the end. He is saved by hope. He is ever a follower of that which is good. Am I such?
1. Then how EARNEST ought I to be! The prize before me is of incalculable worth. It is beyond my power to conceive its excellence, or value. The difficulties around me are many; and the snares to entangle me are continual. I have but a little period in which to finish my course, and to complete my journey. "The night is far spent, the day is at hand." Within are fears, and without are fightings, every day. Heaven is all in earnest for my deliverance. Earth and hell are all in earnest for my destruction. Oh let me not be the only listless one! Me, for whom alone it is the personal, peculiar concern. How can I be too earnest in such a pursuit?
How engaged are men in earthly things! How eager to attain their measure of earthly goods! How active to avoid suspected loss! Let not the children of this world be so much wiser than the children of light. I have never yet been half awake in securing the interest of my soul's salvation. Oh let me arise, and call upon all that is within me, to engage with unrelaxing earnestness in this immense and glorious pursuit! I have no time for anything else.
2. How HOPEFUL ought I to be! I am the heir of an estate of priceless worth. It has been bought for me, secured for me, prepared for me, and is kept for me. And I am traveling rapidly on to take possession of it. I may arrive in my desired haven tomorrow. I may see all the glories of my inheritance before I see another earthly night. Ah, how animating the prospect! a voyage home, where so many wait for me, so many will welcome me, so many will bless me, so many will comfort me forever! I shall then go no more out. That finishes my pilgrimage, my doubts, my contests, my difficulties, forever. Surely, if this is the fact, my condition is most hopeful and happy, and the state of my mind ought to be accordant with it. What reason have I for gloom, or despondency, or fear? I can adorn my profession, my avowed relationships, only by the constant exhibition of an animated, hopeful spirit. This my Lord expects of me. This alone can make me useful to others. This my fellow Christians have a right to expect of me.
"Why should the children of a King
Go mourning all their days?"
I am a follower of that which is good--I will rejoice in the constant hope of it.
3. How WATCHFUL ought I to be! My daily walk must be consistent with my avowed character. I must not dishonor my Ruler, nor my nation, nor my family, nor my own character, in this foreign land. My fellow pilgrims need all the influence of my example. The world around me will form their opinion of the character of our Master and our home, by their observations of our conduct. My Savior must not be wounded in the house of his friends. My blessed hope must be the great argument for watchfulness against every temptation and every evil. I cannot yield to sin. I cannot walk carelessly, loitering along the way. I cannot stop by the way-side. I must not break my ranks. I must abide by my standard. Oh let me set a constant watch over my eyes, that will not cease from sin--over my tongue, that strives to break every bond--over my heart, that true life may issue thence--over all my members, that they may be servants unto holiness. Thus may I walk successfully, not overcome of evil, but overcoming evil with good.
4. How USEFUL ought I to be! This is the purpose of my continued life on earth. I must be doing good while I dwell in the land. The partaker of such a hope ought to be a blessing to many. A follower after such good ought never to be content to go alone. How many around me are wandering in every path of ruin! Can I bear to see them go on unwarned? Can I behold, unmoved, the destruction of my kindred? Can I selfishly turn away my head, and try to forget their sad state? Ah, what selfishness would be thus displayed! Why are friends and family given to me, and why am I made a follower of that which is good among them, but that I should say to them all, "Come with us, and we will do you good?" My conversation, my example, my occupations, my tempers, my habits, my enjoyments, ought all to be inviting to them. Let me see how many I can attract to Christ--whom I can lead to his feet--to whom I can tell in any way what a Savior he has been to me. I would make this the great business and consideration of my life, to do good to all, to do good to somebody all the time.
5. In these attributes would I shine. I would be earnest, hopeful, watchful, and useful, in my whole pursuit of the good which my Savior offers me. But his Holy Spirit alone can enable me to be so. I must seek his constant power and presence; his daily, hourly influence upon my soul, to keep my mind set upon the good before me, and to make my heart active in its faithful pursuit. Thus my days will pass happily on, and every day bring nearer my glorious good.
Onward, Christians, onward goľ
Press to heaven through every foe;
Faint not, though the strife be long,
Soon will victory tune your song.
Onward then to glory move,
More than conquerors you shall prove;
Still through danger, toil, and woe,
Onward, Christians, onward go.