Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer. Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days. Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.—Rev. 2:10.
My soul! thy last evening meditation, by faith, was on Pisgah’s top. This evening, do thou attend to what thy Saviour speaks in this scripture of the prospect of a prison. This forms the state and condition of the believer. The transition he is sometimes, and suddenly, called to make is, from the house of feasting to the house of mourning. He is here but by a wilderness at the best; and whatever accommodations he meets with by the way, the apartments of joy and sorrow are both under the same roof, and very often it is but a step from one to the other; yea, sometimes, and not unfrequently, when Jesus hath been feasting with his people, and they with him, before the cloth hath been taken away, and the blessings offered up, a reverse of circumstances hath followed.—But what saith thy Lord in this sweet scripture (for it is a sweet one, if well considered)? “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer.” There is a fear which belongs to our very nature, and impossible wholly to be free from; it is indeed part of ourselves. No creature of God but one, and that is the Leviathan, that we read of, is wholly free from it. (Job 41:33.) The blessed Jesus himself, when assuming our nature, condescended to take all the sinless infirmities of our nature, and therefore was subject in some degree to it; for we are told that “he was made in the likeness of sinful flesh.” (Rom. 8:3.) Hence, we read, that his holy soul, when in the garden, was “sore troubled, sore amazed, and very heavy.” Listen, my soul, to these complaints of thy Redeemer! And when at any time fear ariseth within at the conflicts of Satan, recollect how Jesus felt during his unequalled agony. One look, by faith, directed to him, as in the garden, will quiet all. “Having himself suffered, being tempted, he knows how to succour them that are tempted.”—But, besides this natural fear, to which our nature is subject, there is a sinful fear, which unbelief, doubt, and distrust, too often bring into the soul. And it is this, if I mistake not, to which Jesus hath respect in his precept before us. All hell is up in arms to harass and distress a child of God; and if the devil cannot deprive the believer of his heavenly crown, he will rob him as much as possible of his earthly comfort. Mark, then, my soul, what thy Jesus here proposeth for relief. The devil would cast thee into hell, if he could; but his rage can reach no farther than to a prison. He would cast the whole Church, if he could, into it; but it shall be only some of the Church. He would cause the confinement, if he could, to be for ever; but Jesus saith, it shall only be for ten days. And the Holy Ghost hath caused it to be left on record, as a thing much to be observed, that when the Church was in Egypt, and Pharaoh would have kept the people in vassalage for ever, yet when the Lord’s time before appointed, was arrived, “the selfsame night, the Lord brought them forth with their armies.” (Exod. 12:41, 42.) Oh! it is a subject worthy to be kept in everlasting remembrance, that “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.” Now, my soul, ponder well these things; and connect with them what Jesus hath connected with the subject in that sweet promise: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Precious Jesus! put thy fear in me; and the fear of man, which bringeth a snare, will depart. Be thou with me in trouble, and my trouble will be turned into joy. Should a prison shut me in, no prison can shut thee out. Every distressing thought will be hushed asleep, while by faith I hear my Lord speaking to me, in those soul-comforting words: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” (Isaiah 41:10.)