Now is the Accepted Time

from a sermon by John Logan

 

 

         The book of Job contains the history of a righteous man, fallen from the height of prosperity, into scenes of great distress.  Almost every affliction, which falls to the lot of mortal man, embittered his life.  His goods were taken away by robbers; his body was smitten by a loathsome and tormenting disease; his family was cut off, and all his company made desolate by a sudden stroke from heaven; his surviving friends proved miserable comfort and, instead of relieving, adding to his afflictions.

 

          In the course of his complaint, he utters the genuine voice of sorrow, and pours forth his soul in lamentation and woe.   He sets before us the evil day; he shows us the dark side of things, and presents to view those shades in the picture of human life, which must one day meet our eye.  From these calamities, he passes by a natural transition to the consideration of the last evil in human life.---“I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.” 

 

         Since we know then assuredly, that God will bring us all to death, and to the house appointed for all living, let us consider, in the first place, the certainty of its approaching soonsecondly, the manner of its arrival; and , thirdly, the victory given to us by Jesus Christ over death.

         

          All the works of nature, in this inferior system, seem only made to be destroyed.  Man is not exempted.   There is a principle of mortality in our frame, and, as if we were only born to die, the first step we take in life, is a step to the grave.  

       

It was not always so. Adam came from the hands of his Creator perfect and immortal.    The Almighty created man after his own image.     He planted in his frame the seeds of eternal life, to grow and flourish through a succession of ages.   This noble shoot, which the hand of the Most High had planted, was blasted by sin.     When man became a sinner, he became mortal.     The doom was pronounced, that, after few and evil days, he should return to the dust from whence he was taken. 

 

Since that time, as soon as our eyes open on the light, we come under the law of mortality, and the sentence of death is passed.     In the morning of our day, we set out on our journey for eternity; thither we are all fast tending; and day and night we travel on without intermission.       There is no standing still on this road.  To this great rendezvous of the sons of Adam we are continually drawing nearer and nearer.

 

Our life is forever on the wing, although we mark not its flight.   Our motion down the stream of time is so smooth and silent, that though we are forever moving, we perceive it not, till we arrive at the ocean of eternity.

    

 Even now, death is doing his work.  At this very moment of time, multitudes are stretched on that bed from which they shall rise no more.  The blood is ceasing to flow; the breath is going out, and the spirit taking its departure for the world unknown. 

 

           When we look back on our former years, how many do we find who began the journey of life along with us, and promised to themselves long life and happy days, cut off in the midst of their career, and fallen at our side!       They have but gone before us; one day we must follow.     The friends whom we knew, and valued, and loved; our companions in the path of life; the partners of our tender hours, with whom we took sweet counsel and walked company to the house of God, have passed to the land of forgetfulness and have no more connection with the living world.

 

Low lies the head that was once crowned with honour.  Silent is the the tongue to whose accents we surrendered the soul, and to whose language of friendship and affection we wished to listen forever.        O foolish Man!  who now rejoicest in the pride of life, and looking abroad, sayest in thy heart, thou shalt never see sorrow, ….for thee the bed of death is spread; ….the worm calls for thee to be her companion; thou must enter the dominions of the dead, and be gathered to the dust of thy fathers. 

 

But shall it always continue so?

            

If a man die, shall he live again?

             

There is hope of a tree if it be cut down; but man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? 

            

Has the breath of the Almighty, which animated his frame, vanished into the air? 

            

Is he who triumphed in the hope of immortality inferior to the worm, his companion in the tomb?

 

Will light never rise on the long night of the grave?

             

Does the mighty flood that has swept away the nations and the ages, ebb to flow no more?             

 

No.       While “the dust returns to the earth as it was, the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”  Life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Who was foretold in ancient prophecy, as a magnificent Conqueror.  His victories were celebrated, and his triumphs were sung, long before the time of His appearance to Israel.        As a Conqueror, he had to destroy the works of the great enemy of mankind; and to overcome death, the king of terrors. —for the scripture says    “I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.—I shall give him the heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession.”

 

            The method of accomplishing this victory, was as surprising as the love which gave it birth.  For as the scriptures say,  “Forasmuch as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he himself likewise took part of the same, that through his Own death, he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the Devil, and deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

 

Accordingly, his passion on the cross, of which you yourself have heard, was the very victory which he obtained.  The hour in which he suffered was also the hour in which he overcame.                                       Not for himself, but for us did he conquer.        The Captain of our salvation fought, that we might overcome.     He obtained the victory, that we might join in the triumphal song; “O Death! Where is thy sting?  O grave!  Where is thy victory?”

  

          The message which he brought was life and immortality. As a proof of immortality, he called back the departed spirit from the world unknown; as an earnest of the resurrection to a future life, he himself arose from the dead. 

 

When we contemplate the tomb of nature, we cry out, “Can these dry bones live?”  When we contemplate the tomb of Jesus, we say, “Yes, they can live!”  As he arose, we shall in like manner arise.

         

In the tomb of nature, you see man return to the dust from whence he was taken.  …..In the tomb of Jesus, you see man restored to life again. 

                     

       In the tomb of nature, you see the shades of death fall on the weary traveler, and the darkness of the long night close over his head.  …….In the tomb of Jesus, you see light arise upon the shades of death, and the morning dawn upon the long night of the grave. 

 

On the tomb of nature, it is written, “Behold the end, O man!  Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return. Thou, who now callest thyself the son of heaven, shalt become one of the clods of the valley.”  ……But on the tomb of Christ is written, “Thou diest, O Man, But to live again!  I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” 

  

From the tomb of nature, you hear a voice, “For ever silent is the land of forgetfulness. From the slumbers of the grave, shall we awake no more?  Like the flowers of the field, shall we be, as though we had never been?”  ….But from the tomb of Jesus you hear, “ Blessed are the dead that Die In The Lord, thus saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours, and pass into glory;--In my Father’s house, there are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you; I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go away, I will come again, and take you unto myself , that where I am, there ye may be also.”

 

         Will not this assurance of a happy immortality, and a blessed resurrection, in a great measure remove the terror and the sting of death?  May we not walk without dismay through the dark valley, when we are conducted by a beam from heaven? What cause have we to dread the messenger who brings us to our Father’s house?

        

          It is the glory of the Christian faith, that it abounds with consolations under all the evils of life; nor is its benign influence confined to the course of life, but even extends to death itself.  It delivers us from the agony of the last hour; sets us free from the fears which then perplex the timid; from the horrors which haunt the offender, though penitent, and from all the darkness which involves our mortal state.

 

So complete is the victory we obtain, that Jesus Christ is said in Scripture to have abolished death.

 

Therefore, if then death be certainly approaching fast, let us learn the true value of life.      If death be at hand, then certainly time is precious.      Now the day shines, and the Master calls us;  in a little time the night cometh, hear the voice which calls you to heaven.   –“Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation.”

 

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