If in this world only we have hope we are of all creatures the most miserable. It is comparatively easy for the few of us who live in comfort, who have been refined by culture and thought till we can see how the shadows of time lend a new intensity and beauty to its lights, and how pain and suffering are a discipline in wisdom and goodness, to think this world a very tolerable one, and to regard human life as a grand, a sacred possession. But think what life is to the countless myriads of our race; think what the world is, and has been, as a whole. Remember how in all ages the vast majority of men have been plagued by toil, by care, by fear, by sordid penury; how they have been crushed under the bloody heels of tyrants who were bound to protect them, maimed and tortured, stultified and coerced, by the very priests who were bound to enlighten and emancipate them; how they have been decimated and degraded by war, by famine, by disease, by ignorance and superstition; and who can deny that, if this life be all, then human life taken as a whole, is the most fatal of blunders, of curses the most terrible? If the tragedy of human life be pregnant with no divine purpose, if there be no better time coming, no golden age of righteousness and peaceif, in short, we can no longer believe in the advent and reign of Christ, then surely every thoughtful spectator of this vast tragedy must say, "It were better for men that they had never been born!"
But if we believe in this great promise, if we cherish this great hope, then can we with patience wait for it. And this is the very posture which our Lord enjoins. He would have us to be like servants who watch for the coming of their Lord, that, when he comes, they may open to him immediately. He would have us believe in, and look for, the advent of a better era, in which all the wrongs will be rectified. He would have us sustain ourselves under all the toils and sorrows of our individual lot, and under the still heavier oppression of the world's lot, by looking forward to that end and purpose of the Lord God Almighty which will vindicate all the ways in which we have been led, the painful discipline by which we have been tried and purified and refined. And whosoever holds fast this great hope for himself and for the world at large, he is a true believer in the distinct promise of the New Testament, viz., the second advent of Christ, and may use with sincerity all the words and phrases which it has expressed.The Expositor.