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every word, yea of every thought that rises in our minds; that from this awful, this continued, this never to be avoided scrutiny, our eternal condition may be fixed at the judgment-day.
How plain are the declarations of Scripture :
“God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil.” Eccles. xii. 14. “He hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness.” Acts xvii. 31. “God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ." Rom. ii. 16.
“Every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.” Rom. xiv. 12. “The Son of man shall come in the glory of his father, with his angels: and then he shall reward every one according to his works.” Matt. xvi. 27. For by actions, the sincerity of faith in Christ is best known and evidenced. And our reward, though not of debt but of grace, will be more or less glorious according to our works, those fruits of faith, done for Christ in this present world. See Matt. x. 42. xxv. 34. 40. Dan. xii. 3. Cor. xv. 41. 42.
In like manner, the punishment of unbelievers will be proportionate to their respective degrees of wickedness, and their comparative abuse of light, mercies, and privileges vouchsafed to them.
“ Wo unto thee, Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida: if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. I
say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
“Every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment; for by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Because our words will evidence the state of our hearts; and therefore prove us either in the faith or unregenerate before an assembled world.
“He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart." 1 Cor. iv. 5.
How infinite is that omniscient God, who can search the deep recesses of every heart; yea, of hundreds of millions of hearts in every age, and at the same moment of time, without confounding in the least degree the motives and purposes of his rational creatures ; and who at the great day of account will reveal to each his secret sins, while all shall stand speechless and self-condemned before his awful tribunal.
Lord, give me grace to judge myself now, that I may not be condemned in that day. O! send down thy blessed Spirit into my heart. Sanctify every thought, every affection and desire. Purge me with the cleansing blood of thy dear Son. Clothe me with his spotless righteousness; that, being viewed by thee, in Christ my Saviour, I may be saved with an everlasting salvation; and never be confounded world without end.
“Thou, God, seest me." To feel the abiding impression of this solemn truth, would be a sacred preservative from sin. When an evil thought arises in my heart, should I like to divulge it to my nearest friend ? Ah! no. Conscience, shame, or a regard to his good opinion checks the disclosure. What ! and shall I dare to indulge such a thought, exposed to my Almighty friend, and naked in his
sight, when I would not dare to mention it to a fellow-worm? Where is the fear of God? Where is the belief of his omniscience ? Where is the awe of his omni. presence ? Where is the dread of final judgment ? Yea, where is my love to Christ, who died to save
sins ? 66 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps ?” Job xxxi. 4.
This method of addressing conscience, may, through grace, present a powerful barrier against the
injections of Satan, and the workings of natural corruption. Lord, strengthen me more and more.
Give me grace never to harbour a thought, which I should be ashamed to express. May I never forget, that, as speaking is but thinking aloud; so thinking is speaking to thee, who requirest not, like weak mortals, the medium of words and sounds. Chou hearest the inward voice of the soul, pouring out itself before thee in silent, yet fervent breathings of desire; and thou knowest the subtle workings of inbred sin.
May I ever consider myself as in thy immediate presence ; surrounded by thy immensity. “ Thou God seest me.” May this thought constrain me to act with purity, truth, and sincerity, when no human eye can observe my actions; or if my actions are visible, when they cannot unveil my motives.
May I do all from a principle of love to thee, and with a simple desire in all things to promote thy glory; for thine eyes “run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew thyself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards thee.”
How consoling is this view of the divine immensity, with respect to our distant Christian friends. Wherever they are, whether crossing tempestuous oceans, or dwelling in distant climes; whether traversing dreary deserts, or climbing craggy steeps ; God is still near them, to protect and bless them.
Should he call them out of the body, when separated from all they love upon earth ; yet he is still near, to cheer their departing spirits, and to conduct them in safety to their eternal home.
Let me then rejoice, O! Lord, in thy presence. Let me be always happy in this sweet assurance, that, thou art a sun and shield, and wilt give grace and glory to every humble follower of the Lamb.
O! may I live daily nearer to thee by faith and prayer.
heart to fear thy name. Bind my affections to thy cross; and suffer me not one moment to wander from thee, or lose the thought of thy immensity and glory. It is in thee, that I live, and move, and have my being; it is from thee, that I derive every spiritual and temporal blessing; and it is through thee, that I humbly hope to be brought in safety, as a monument of mercy, into thy everlasting kingdom.
0! holy, holy, holy Lord,
Whom angel-hosts adore ;
The bright celestial choir ?
In pity, view a sinful worn,
A pris'ner here below ;
Of darkness, sin, and woe.
Ten thousand voices round thy throne,
Unite in hymns divine;
As high in bliss they shine.
To thee, my God and friend ;
In praise which ne'er shall end.
XI. ON THE DIVINE SOVEREIGNTY.
At the creation, amidst the darkness of chaos, Jehovah said: “Let there be light, and there was light.” When veiled in human flesh, he commanded the raging wind and waves, saying, “ Peace, be still: and immediately there was a great calm.” To
his tempest-tossed people he now speaks these composing words: “ Be still, and know that I am God” --and they find rest unto their souls.
In violent public commotions, God can still the madness of the people;” and in inward mental agonies, he can calm the agitated spirit. “When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or a man only.” Job xxxiv. 29.
When we read the history of past ages, and consider the ever-changing scene before us; when we study man, and perceive though but a small portion of the passions, and contending interests which shake the fabric of society, how delightful, how composing to the mind, is this all-gracious declaration : Bestill, and know that I am God.”
The political world, like the air and sea which surround us, is ever in motion ; but the happy believer finds his rest in God. In the present day, the human mind seems to be acted upon in a most remarkable manner. Knowledge is diffusing its light in every direction; and the intellectual powers are acquiring an expansion, which their ancient boundaries can neither limit- nor controul. The Christian world is all awake to the spiritual and moral degradation of mankind; and is labouring to disseminate the sacred truths of revelation, which alone can raise our fallen race.
The enemies of the Gospel and of social order are alike awake to their deeds of darkness.
There is, therefore, at the present eventful period, an evident struggle between light and darkness. The struggle may be violent, but the believer hears the cheering voice from heaven, which dissipates every rising fear: “ Be still, and know that I am God.”