ON THE GOSPEL OF GIRDING THE LOINS, &c., LUKE xii. 35, &c, READ FOR ST. SILVESTER
Consider first, those words of our Lord to his disciples, and in them, to all Christians; 'let your loins be girt, and lamps burning in your hands; and be you like to men who wait for their Lord, when he shall return from the wedding: that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching.' This girding of our loins, and having lamps burning in our hands, are to be taken in a spiritual sense, as containing great and necessary lessons for every part of our lives. As we know not the hour when our Lord will come to us, and knock at our door by death, we must keep ourselves always awake, and in a proper posture and readiness to open to him without delay, and to welcome him. Now, this proper posture and readiness to welcome our Lord whensoever he shall come and knock, chiefly consists in those two things, in having our loins always girt by a constant restraint of our irregular inclinations and lusts; and having lamps always burning in our hand, by the constant exercise of Christian virtues; which may shine forth to the glory of God and the edification of our neighbours. And those servants are happy indeed, who are always waiting for the coming of their Lord, with their loins girt in this manner, and holding such lamps as these always burning in their hands.
Consider 2ndly, what follows in the same gospel, with regard to the immense reward of these faithful servants. 'Amen, I say to you, that their Lord will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and passing will minister to them.' Christians, what an honour, what a happiness is here promised us, if our Lord, at his coming, shall find us watching! He will gird himself to be ready to wait upon us; and he will make us sit down to table; and he will pass and minister to us. O, what incomprehensible joys are here signified by our Lord's ministering to us, by us making himself, as it were, over to us, to be perpetually enjoyed by us! O, what a table is this, at which we shall be invited to sit down, to be eternally entertained by him with all the delights of heaven,; with the sweet fruits of the tree of life, and the delicious waters of the fountain of life! And lest we should be discouraged by the apprehension of our being excluded from this eternal banquet, because we have already passed a good part of our lives without being in that readiness which our Lord expects of us at the time of his coming, he adds for our comfort, that 'if he shall come in the second watch; or if he shall come in the third watch, and shall then find us watching,' we shall still be happy. 'Blessed', said he, 'are those servants.' So that, if we have hitherto been careless; if we have let the first, or even the second watch pass, without being upon our guard, and he has been so good as not to come and surprise us; let us now at least awake, let us gird our loins now, and have our lamps, for the future, burning in our hands, and we may still be blessed.
Consider 3rdly, the remaining words of this gospel: 'But this know ye,' saith our Lord, 'that if the householder did know at what hour the thief would come, he would surely watch, and would not suffer his house to be broken open. Be ye also ready; for at what hour you think not, the Son of Man will come.' This is that great lesson of always watching, which our Saviour perpetually inculcates as our only security against the dreadful evil of an unprovided death; and all those endless evils, which are the unhappy consequence of an unprovided death. O let us lay up this lesson in our hearts; let us meditate daily upon it; let us conform ourselves to it in the practice of our lives. O, let us always watch! Our Lord, who has borne with us all this year, has in the meantime knocked at the door of thousands of others, who this day twelvemonth were as likely to live as ourselves. Their bodies are now corrupting in their graves; but O! where are their souls? And where shall our bodies, where shall be our souls be, a twelvemonth hence? Let us then be always ready; because we know not the day, nor the hour, when our Lord shall come.
Conclude to observe well these evangelical prescriptions, of girding your loins, of having your lamps ever burning in your hands, and of being always ready to open the door to him; and you shall not fail of being of the number of those happy servants that shall enter into the eternal joy of their Lord.