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upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
Jesus was speaking to his disciples, and through them to all who should hereafter become his disciples, yet to them he thought it needful to give this caution. He knows the weakness of our nature, and how readily we fall into sin, even in the use of things lawful to us.
It is lawful for us to enjoy times of gladness in the moderate use of the good things God hath given us. It is right for us to have care for the provision of our families, both for the present and the future time; but unless we watch our hearts and lives, these enjoyments and these cares will become our chief objects, and so lead us to forget God. Let us take earnest heed that the things of the world are kept in their right place, that they are not suffered to overcharge our hearts and to fill up our thoughts :* lest that day come upon us unawares. That day! it may be the day of our deaths, it may, even to us who read and hear these words, be the day in which shall be seen the sign of the Son of man in heaven. God grant that we may not be of those who seeing it shall mourn,t but of those who shall “ look up and lift up their heads," knowing that the day of our redemption draweth nigh. I The nature of man is not changed :
Matthew xxiv. 37–41. “As the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two men be in the field ; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.”
* The words translated " overcharged with surfeiting, &c.," literally means a clogging of the head ;” precisely that which is brought about in every case, where the things of this world, whether its business or its cares, are made the chief end-the object of life. + Matthew xxiv, 30.
I Luke xxii. 28.
How full of meaning is every line of Scripture! In these four verses we have a history which, had it been left to man's devising, would have filled pages. They tell in a few words how the inhabitants of the earth shall go on as usual, disbelieving or unmindful of every warning, even as the people did before the flood, till the latest hour. That which the entering of Noah and his family, with the creatures appointed to be saved, into the ark, was in the old time, the sign of the Son of man in heaven shall be in the time to come; a sign that cannot be mistaken, and which shall immediately be followed by the bursting of that last tempest which “ once more shall shake the heavens and the earth.”
They tell also that it is not the ungodly alone that shall carry on their usual business till the latest hour, for we are shown as in a picture, two men at work in the field, and two women at the mill, all seemingly alike in outward show, at least alike in their employments, yet so different in their hearts, in that inner life that supplies the motive of all we do, that one of each pair is taken, and the other left. St. Luke makes the picture more striking still by describing two asleep in one bed, of whom one shall be taken, and the other left. “Left” to the doom that is coming upon “the whole world that lieth in wickedness—“taken” to that place of safety in which shall be gathered together God's elect from the four corners of the earth. God's elect! Who are they? How solemn is the question ? Listen to our Lord, and we shall find the answer.
Verse 42–44. “ Watch therefore : for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the good man of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready : for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."
God's elect then, are they who watch and are ready. How we may be of that number, Jesus tells us.
Verse 36. “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
The words “accounted worthy,” must not be lightly passed over; for none can be really in themselves worthy, but they may be accounted worthy, who, being the true followers of Christ, serve Him faithfully. All men are of right His servants, seeing that He died for the sins of the whole world;" and especially all baptized Christians belong to His household, and have each their appointed work. Let us take careful heed to the lesson given by our Lord.
Verse 45–51. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them their meat in due season ? Blessed is that servant whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken ; the Lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites : there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Is there any one who says, 'This is no lesson for me; I no ruler in God's housebold; my place is only to obey; I am under the rule of others ?' It is true that these words of our Lord do very particularly teach all whom He has placed in authority of any sort ; they do also very particularly teach each mortal man, for as each ruler must himself be ruled, so must each servant in some sort rule. He must learn that hardest task, to rule himself. His own heart, and life, and will, -are subject to him; and he may either, like the good servant, be carrying out the intentions of his Lord in the constant hope of his coming, or he may, like the evil servant, misuse his fellowservants, and give himself over to the sinful lusts of the flesh, in the hope that his Lord will not come. The poorest drudge, the weakest child who is old enough to think and to act because he thinks, may greatly help forward the plans of God. He may be poor, he may be weak, but his Lord hath given him a noble work to do, and he will shortly come to see how it is done. Men, women, and children, be diligent in the work your Lord hath appointed for you.
He is coming. Oh, let us “watch and pray always,” that weak and worthless as we are, we yet "may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
Prayer. How shall I stand before thee, O gracious God? How shall I, for one moment, endure thy searching glance ?
Blessed be thou, the God and Father of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who, according to thine abundant mercy, hast created me anew unto a lively hope of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. O keep me by thy power, through faith unto salvation. Give me such faith that I may rejoice, even though in heaviness through temptation. Give me, though I have not seen thee, to love thee; and, though now I see thee not, yet believing, to rejoice in thee with joy unspeakable, and full of glory. I was not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from a life of vanity, but with the precious blood of Christ; give me then to be sober, and to watch unto prayer. The end of all things is at hand. I cast all my care upon thee, for thou carest for me. Blessed be thy name, for
ver and for ever. Amen.*
LUKE XVIII. 148.
LUKE XVIII. 1-8. "And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint: Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. And he would not for a while : but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet, because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. 'And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth ?”
Jesus knew our need of constant prayer, and he knew how apt we are to be discouraged, and to think that if we have not immediately the things we ask, we are not heard, and for that reason to give over praying. Times of terrible trial were at hand--the only hope of safety was from God; and those who
* See sundry verses in the First Epistle of St. Peter.