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hearts are open, and from whom no secrets are hid.
II. If the Almighty were a mere spectator of all that is passing in this lower world, it might be considered as a matter of comparatively little moment, whether the doctrine be true or not: but we learn from the Scriptures, that as God is acquainted with every thought, every word, and every act of our lives, so he preserves of them all an imperishable record ; and that finally he shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. *
Hence, therefore, we see the importance of a practical belief of the doctrine : such a belief as shall impress it strongly upon our minds : and as it is a doctrine which too easily escapes our recollection, the minister of divine truth can never be charged with taking unnecessary labour if he endeavour to urge it again and again upon the consciences of those who hear him. It is important to every individual of the two great classes into which the world is divided, the righteous and the wicked.
(1.) It is important to the righteous ; to those
* Eccl. xii. 14.
who have believed in Christ Jesus, and have become the children of God by adoption and grace.
They will find in it, firstly, a motive for vigilance and circumspection. Why is it that so many of those who have enrolled themselves under the banner of Jesus Christ, seem almost to live as if no enemy were to be found, and no danger to be apprehended? Is it that cautions and warnings have not often been given to them? Is it that they are ignorant of the nature of their calling, and of the temptations which surround them? Would they be thus remiss, if that God, who has thus admonished them of their danger, were visibly present to enforce the admonition? Would it not excite them to indefatigable vigilance ? Would it not prompt them to call forth all their energies, to resist the tempter ?* To abstain from all appearance of evil?† “ To keep themselves unspotted from the world ?”When Peter denied his Lord, he did it, as he supposed, when that Master neither saw nor heard him. One look from Jesus Christ pierced the unhappy offender to the heart, and he melted into tears. Only let the Christian realize to himself the acknowledg* James iv. 7. + 1 Thess. v. 22. | 1 James i. 27.
ment, Thou God seest me:* only let him exercise the vigilance and self-denial to which the manifest presence of his Lord would assuredly call him, and he will find himself armed anew against the powers of temptation, and zealous in maintaining that character of watchfulness which becomes a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, a powerful incitement to active duty. When St. Paul wishes to stir up the Hebrews to diligence and perseverance in their Christian course, he tells them of that noble army of martyrs and confessors, who had finished their pilgrimage of faith, and had obtained their reward. Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.t
Was it to be an incentive and a ground of encouragement to the Christian, that the spirits of the just, of those who were once engaged in the same conflict with ourselves, are now observing our exertions, and witnessing our triumphs ? How cogent then, must be the reAlection, that we are running in the presence
of * Gen. xvi. 13.
+ Heb. xii. i.
Him who is one day to award the crown! That the contest is maintained under the immediate view of the Captain of our salvation, who will hereafter himself bear witness to our fidelity, and proclaim and recompense it before assembled worlds!
Thirdly, a source of great consolation.
The psalmist mentions it as a circumstance peculiarly delightful, that God was with him ;* and he frequently speaks of the comfort and support which he derived from this consideration. The apostle would doubtless, in the same way, dwell with holy delight upon the assurance of their Master, that he would be with them, even unto the end of the world.+ What thought could be more cheering, even under the severest storms of persecution, and the darkest night of earthly sorrows, than that, in the midst of all, the Saviour, in whose name they taught, and for whose cause they suffered, was ever present, and that to bless them! And have not we the same promise, even unto the end of the world! Cannot the faithful man, even now, repose upon the assurance, that with him also is the presence of that gracious Redeemer ? And is not this the pledge of every blessing which can contribute either to his present or bis eternal good? Let him, by the eye of faith, contemplate, as Stephen was permitted to do with his bodily eyes, the reality of that divine favour and protection ; let him look upon his Saviour as watching over his troubles, and standing in the attitude of preparation, to afford him his invincible aid; and what a solace does he possess, amidst all the changes and chances of this mortal life! Is he under temptation ? Behold One who can succour the tempted!* Is he under the influence of mental depression ? Here is the Physician of the soul!t Is he terrified at earthly reproach? He can turn to Him who has endured the cross, despising the shame.I Does he find that, after all his progress, he is still harassed by an evil nature, and that his hopes are often clouded by painful apprehensions? Let him look to Jesus, and he will find One who is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.Ş He has no need to go up to heaven to bring down the Redeemer; no need to seek Him in the tomb;
* Ps. xxiii. 4.
+ Matt. xxviii. 20.