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being so different to what they see. But we know that all things are possible with God; and that it is as easy for him to bring to light every thought in our past lives, as it is for him to have made us and keep us alive. It was in like manner that the Sadducees of old would not believe in the resurrection, and our Lord said that they greatly erred, because they knew not the Scriptures, nor the power of God.” If, therefore, we take the Scriptures into account, and the power of God, then it is infinitely certain, and infinitely easy: nothing in the world can be more sure, nothing that we behold more real and true, being the declaration of God; for our Lord has said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away,
but my words shall not pass away.”
Now it is the hearty belief and persuasion of the judgment to come, that makes all the difference between a good and bad Christian. How does it come to pass, that some men are so well pleased with themselves, so busily taken up with the thoughts of business or pleasure, and so indifferent about sin? Their words and actions they seem very careless and unconcerned about : and if they have done anything that is wrong, that brings no immediate bad consequences with it, they are as well pleased with themselves afterward as they were before. And they wonder how other persons should be so particular. They think the Christian religion the best religion that ever has been in the world, because in it God's mercy to mankind is revealed. They are glad that Christ should be preached everywhere; that the good tidings of salvation should be published, they do not think it matters much where it is, whether it is according to God's ordinance from his own appointed ministers, or anywhere else which is not according to Christ's appointment. They think it very necessary for men to be honest and just in their dealings; because a good character is a great thing in the world. And thus they live and die without fear, and the reason is because they do not believe, or rather do not consider a judgment to come.
On the contrary, how is it, it may be asked, that good Christians think themselves “miserable sinners;" and he who labors most of all, like St. Paul, “to have a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward man,” calls himself “ the chief of sinners ?” How is it that he who labors most earnestly and diligently to keep the commandments, always declares that he has no hope but in Jesus Christ? How is it that the best men are always the humblest men, that is, men that in truth serve God the best, walking blameless in all the ordinances of religion, think most lowly of themselves? How is it that such persons are so very particular about keeping close to all God has ordained and appointed: his sacraments, his ministers, the sacred days of his church? are so acc
ccurately observant of little duties and private prayer, and more concerned at the omission of these things, than others at the commission of great sins? The reason is, because they have a hearty belief of the judgment to come, and therefore tremble at God's word: for our Lord has said : “Fear not them that kill the body, but fear Him who after he hath killed, hath
power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, fear The difference, therefore, between good and bad men consists in their believing, and considering, and realizing to themselves, or not, the doctrine of a judgment to come. Some do it more, and some less. But now it is very evident our believing it or not, though it makes all the difference with respect to ourselves, yet it makes no difference with respect to that judgment itself. That is equally certain, whether we think of it or not ; that equally approaches nearer and nearer every day, whether we are looking out for it and preparing for it or not. It will not wait till we are ready. The chariot-wheels of that dread tribunal will not tarry because we refuse to hear the sound of them as they approach and become louder every returning year.
Whether we turn to the right hand or to the left, that equally draws near to meet us. It is not only certain, but it is the only future thing which is quite certain : even death itself is not
quite certain, for judgment may come before it; nothing future is quite unavoidable but this.
So also the eye of God, that watches and takes account of us, is equally as much upon us whether we think of it or not. And every day we live, adds something to the contents of that book, either of good or evil. Whether we are sensible of it or not, God is equally present, and we cannot escape from him. “Thou art about my path, and about my bed,” says the Psalmist, “and spiest out all my ways, for, lo, there is not a word in my tongue; but thou, O Lord, knowest it altogether.”
Nor can he think of any mode whatever of escaping from this eye of God; nor, indeed, does he wish to do so. "Whither shall I go then from thy spirit, or whither shall I go then from thy presence ? If I climb up into heaven, thou art there ; if I go down to hell, thou art there also.”—“If I
Peradventure the darkness shall cover me, then shall my night be turned into day. Yea, the darkness is no darkness with thee, but the night is as clear as day.” There is, therefore, no escaping the eye and the hand of God: even on that day when God shall be revealed, we read that many
shall “call on the mountains to fall upon them, and the hills to cover them”—but in vain ; the mountains themselves, we are told, and the hills, shall flee away before his face.
So closely and mysteriously are we even now encompassed and wrapped round by his presence, in a man. ner that we shall then be brought to understand and know. What, therefore, must be our conclusion—the only one that we can come to—but this : earnestly to pray to God to make us sensible of these things before it be too late! what other prayer or desire can we form, but that which the psalmist expresses at the close of this most beautiful psalm, “ Try me, O God, and seek the ground of my heart; prove me, and examine my thoughts. Look well if there be
of wickedness in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
THE CROSS OF CHRIST.
GALATIANS vi. 14. "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus
Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world."
If we were to be asked what is the great and distinguishing mark of St. Paul's character, it might be said to be shortly contained in these words of the text.
Whatever we read of his doing in the Acts of the Apostles, and whatever he says in his letters, he seems to be always full of the feeling which is thus expressed. The divine and heavenly wisdom, the great charity and earnestness for the good of others and self-denying forgetfulness of himself, which abounds in all that we know concerning him, seem to flow from this great principle, written in the depth of his heart, in these words: “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
And this deep impression which had sunk into his soul and influenced all his thoughts, often breaks out in expressions such as these. Thus in another place he
What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ, yea, doubtIess, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him;"
“That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death."
And in another place, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;
and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
And surely if we were to study St. Paul, and try to know what spirit he was of, we should say that he was one who appeared quite dead to all things which the natural man desires, and to be, as far as this world is concern. ed, no longer alive, as he says, and that all his thoughts, and words, and actions, were such as to prove that he could not be a mere man, but nothing less than Christ Jesus living in him, and speaking and acting in him.
So much did his mind appear to be absorbed in the thought of Jesus Christ suffering for him and for all mankind, as if his heart and affections were dwelling with him that was gone.
Thus did he speak of filling up that which was behind of the sufferings of Christ, and called upon others to be followers of him as he also was of Christ.
And this state of being crucified with Christ, he speaks of being necessary for all Christians.
They that are Christ's,” he says, “have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts."
And again, “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized unto Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death; for if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection-knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him.”
And again, “For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Not to multiply passages of this kind, which are very numerous; we may perceive that this is nothing else but following up and exemplifying the commands of our blessed Savior to all Christians, that “ they must bear their cross after him.”
And, perhaps, by the merciful providence of God it was so ordained that this should be signified by that transaction which the evangelists have recorded as