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Faith and Work
Faith in the Choice of Occupation
Faith and Help at Work
Faith and Serving God at Work
Faith and the Discomforts of Work
Faith casts the Burden on the Lord
Faith and the Results of Work
Faith and Leaving Work Behind
Seventhly, faith has this sweet influence upon our present life, that it enables a man cheerfully to leave his occupation when the time comes. A Christian may have to quit a favourite vocation on account of circumstances over which he has no control; he may have to emigrate to a distant land, or altogether to change his mode of living, and this may involve many a wrench to his feelings. It is not always easy to leave the old house, and all its surroundings, and to take a long journey; nor is it pleasant to change one's settled habits and begin life anew; yet true faith sets loose by worldly things, and is ready to haul up the anchor and make sail at the divine bidding. The believer says, "Command my journey, and I go." I am but a tent dweller, and must expect to be on the move. Like Israel in the desert, we must follow the cloud, and journey or rest as the cloud ordains, for here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come. Faith has the same gracious influence upon those who enjoy unbroken prosperity; it keeps them from taking root in the soil of earth, and this is a miracle of grace.
Sometimes our vocations have to be given up through weakness or old age. It is a hard pinch to many a busy man when he feels that he has no more strength for business, when he perceives that other and more vigorous minds must be allowed to step into the long occupied position. The workman cannot bear to feel that his hand has lost its cunning: it is a sharp experience. Faith is of essential service here. It helps a man to say, "My Master, I am one of the vessels of thy house; if thou wilt use me I will be glad; but if thou wilt put me on the shelf, I will be glad too. It must be best for me to be as thou wouldst have me." If faith resigns herself to the supreme wisdom and love and goodness of Christ, and says, "Do with me even as thou wilt: use me, or set me aside," then retirement will be a release from care and no source of distress. The evening of advanced age may be spent as joyfully as the noontide of manhood if the mind be stayed on God. "They shall bring forth fruit in old age" is a promise full often realized by believers, for all around me are venerable brethren who are more useful and more happy than ever, though the infirmities of years are growing upon them.
And then comes at last the leaving of your vocation by death, which will arrive in due time to us all. Then faith displays its utmost energy of blessing. Brethren, may we meet death as Moses did, who when God bade him climb the mountain, for there he must die, uttered no word of sorrow, but like a child obeyed his father, went upstairs to bed, looked wistfully out at the window upon the promised land, and then fell asleep. How sweet to look upon the goodly land and Lebanon, and then to be kissed to sleep by his Father's own mouth, and to be buried man knoweth not where. His work was done, and his rest was come. Beautiful are the departing words of Samuel when, laying down his office, he can challenge all men to bear witness to his character. Happy man, to depart amid universal blessing. O that each one of us may be ready to render in his account before the judgement-seat of Christ-let the last day come when it may.
Our Master, by whose dove we have been endowed with faith, has taught us how to die as well as how to live. He could say, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do," and he would have us say it. Thrice happy man who, in laying down the shepherd's crook or the carpenter's plane, in putting aside the ledger or the class-book, never to open them again, can exclaim, "I have fought a good fight; I have kept the faith. henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of life which fadeth not away." Good old Mede the Puritan, when he was very old, and leaning on his staff, was asked how was was, and he answered, "Why, going home as fast as I can; as every honest man ought to do when his day's work is done: and I bless God I have a good home to go to." Dear aged saints, so near home, does not faith transform death from an enemy into a friend, as it brings the glory so near to you? You will soon be in the Father's house and leave me behind and yet I cannot tell: I remember that the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre, and so, perhaps, may I. You have the start of us in years, but we may be called home before you, for there are last that shall be first. Let death come when it may we shall not be afraid, for Jesus, who has loved us and given himself for us, is the resurrection and the life. Living this life in the flesh by faith upon the Son of God, we are waiting for the usher of the black rod to bring a message from the King to summon us to meet him in the upper house. Why should we be loth to go? What is there here that we should wait? What is there on this poor earth to detain a heaven-born and heaven-bound spirit? Nay, let us go, for he is gone in whom our treasure is, whose beauties have engrossed our love. He is not here, why should we desire to linger? He has risen, let us rise.
Thus, from the beginning to the end of the life that we live in the flesh, faith upon the Son of God answereth all things, and all its paths drop fatness.
[Sermon no.1,599 in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit series]
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