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Him, as done unto HIMSELF. Now, as the one, and only thing needful, is to prepare to meet our God; what an infinite blessing and privilege is it to us, that Jesus Christ has not only washed us in His Blood, and given us HIMSELF to be the food of our souls; but has set before us a most perfect pattern of what God is, before Whom we have to appear; in order that we may know Whom we have to copy and resemble, so that at the last we may be approved of by Him! And this St. John often sets before us, as in these words, “We know, that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure.”
The thought of meeting God is of itself so awful, that we might have been disposed to sit down in despair at the contemplation of it, were it not for this access to the FATHER which we have in JESUS CHRIST, Who is HIMSELF the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and no man cometh unto the FATHER but by Him. He is now set before us as our perfect example: as our High Priest, to intercede with God for us; as our King : but when He shall appear as our Judge, then we must remember that He will be seen not as Man only, concealing, as it were, from our sight His Divine Power and unspeakable Godhead; but He will appear as God also, in His own Glory, and in the Glory of the Father, and with all the Holy Angels with Him. It is this which renders the great Day of Judgment so inconceiv ably fearful, that the Heavens and the earth will pass away at the sight of it, because God will then HIMSELF be manifest : and all His creatures must meet Him and stand before Him. Then man must meet his God, for “ we shall see Him," it is said, He is;" and behold, (oh, the awful and amazing words !) we shall behold and “ see Him face to face!" Then the servant shall meet his MastER, to deliver in the account of his service, and the use of the talents committed to him ; then the subject shall meet his King, to be set by Him on the right hand of His throne or on the left : then shall the criminal be brought before his JUDGE, to be acquitted or condemned by Him : then shall we stand before the great Witness, the Holy Spirit of God, Who knows all our evil thoughts, and words, and deeds, better than we know them ourselves; for the great Searcher of hearts will then be manifested in His wonderful knowledge. Then shall we behold Him Who is called the Alpha and Omega, that is to say, the First and
the Last, the Beginning and End; and our beginning and end will for ever be in Him.
Wbat all this is, I say, we know not, but we know that it is an awful thing to fall into the hands of the living God:” and our LORD bas told us not to fear death, or any evil upon earth, on account of the greatness of that fear, which we ought to have of Him Who hath power after He hath killed to cast body and soul into hell.
We know also, that as ever since the fall of Adam every generation of men has been warned by God of some great impending event which was coming on them, so are we now warned that we are to “prepare to meet our God.” But never was any warning of any coming event so often and so distinctly repeated to any generation as this warning is to us of these latter days—that we “prepare to meet our God.” As sure as Holy Scripture is true it will have come and gone by in an instant, before we are aware of it, and our eternal portion will be assigned; for our LORD says, It will come as a snare on all them that dwell upon
the face of the whole earth :" it will have come and gone by in an instant, like some circumstance here below, which we look forward to and expect, and have very soon to look back upon.
Who can think of these things worthily?” All we know is that it is of infinite consequence that we should be prepared, “lest that day should overtake us unawares.” And we also know in what way we are to be prepared, what the things are which will be required of us. We cannot undo the past, which must all come before the all-seeing eye of our JUDGE ; but during the little time that remains to us we can earnestly ask forgiveness with fastings, and prayers, and tears, for the sake of Christ; and thus we may, with God's mercy, gain some hope and comfort before we die.
Prepare to meet thy God.” To how many thousands have these words been addressed since they were first written; not to us only of this generation, but to those that are past? And they alone can fully know how gracious this warning was, and how important its full meaning, which we cannot understand before we die. To many persons of whom we read in holy Scripture these words were once spoken, as they now are to ourselves. This very warning was given to that covetous man, of whom our Saviour spoke, who was building new barns, wherein to stow his increasing goods, when it was said to him, “ This night shall thy soul be required of thee.” This warning was spoken, as it now is to us, to that rich man who was faring sumptuously every day, when Lazarus lay at his gate full of sores, and in vain desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from his table. And when he cried to Abraham, and entreated that some one should be sent from the dead to his five brethren, he was told that they had Moses and the Prophets,—wherein this warning had been so often written,—that if they would not hear them, “neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
To many who have lived nearer our own day, of whom we read in history, or whom we have known and seen, was this warning addressed, as it now is to us, and many times repeated in their ears : and their condition now depends on the attention they then paid to this warning.
If the rich man, so selfish as he was, yet even in the place of evil spirits felt so intense an interest for his brethren in the flesh, to know whether or not they were giving timely heed to this admonition, how much more, may we suppose, must those who are now with God, and received into His favour, be earnestly desirous that we who remain should not forget these words, while they are now addressed to us, and can so much profit us? We may
eager desire they now watch us ; indeed, not only the spirits of the dead, but all the Angels of Heaven are looking down, doubtless, with awe and wonder at our doings, for “there is joy among them over one sinner that repenteth. They know what God is—they see how far we are from Him, how far we wander away from Him in darkness and blindness; how little we know, and how very
little we consider the importance of these things; how God is even now about our path, and about our bed, and spying out all our ways, while we think not of it; and they know that of a sudden He will be revealed and made manifest to us. Let us endeavour to feel for ourselves, as they feel for us; let us endeavour to feel for ourselves as God feels for us; let us take up His ords, and act up to them, being assured that a day will come when we shall know their true meaning and full importance.
THE WORD ABLE TO SAVE.
James i. 21.
“ Receive with meekness the engrafted Word, which is able to save your
The Word of God engrafted, like a living bud, into the heart, and therein received with meekness,—This it is which is able to save the soul;—This it is which, like the seed received into the honest and good heart, brings forth fruit unto everlasting life, thirty, or sixty, or an hundredfold. But it must be received and taken into the heart; and received with meekness, with an humble and obedient spirit; so as to become engrafted, bringing in an entirely new nature of its own; so that, like a branch grafted into the wild tree, its leaves and fruit should be entirely its own, partaking no more of the old stock, but quite of another nature.
Now the Word which is to be thus engrafted and received with meekness, may be understood in many senses, all equally true,-all, we may suppose, intended in Holy Scripture, and all so wrapped up together as in a manner to contain each other. Now, first of all, the Word may signify the Sacred Name of the Ever-blessed Trinity, into Which we are baptized, and are made thereby new creatures; for thus Baptism is called the washing of regeneration by the Word, i. e. the outward washing of water together with the Holy Name of the Three Persons in One God. And in this sense the engrafted Word would be a living faith in God the FATHER, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. It would come to signify the same as the Creed,---faith working by love in all holy obedience. And surely it would be very right and proper for us to understand the text in this sense,-of the all-powerful Word,—the Word of God, by which the heavens were made,—the Name of God, grafted in the soul at Baptism, which is a new birth within us, and shows forth itself in a new life.
Or, again, the Word might be understood to mean the written Word of God, which is able to make wise unto salvation, if received with meekness, when it becomes written on the heart by the Finger of God, Which is His Holy SPIRIT. And this sense is not contrary to the former, but the same in another form : for to believe in the Three Persons in One God, or in the Apostles' Creed, is, in fact, the same as to believe the Bible; nor is there any saving faith in the Bible excepting this : for all Scripture is to set forth to us, how we are to have God for our Creator, and Redeemer, and Sanctifier. And thus the written Word of God becomes, as it were, a living power in the soul, “ able to discern,” as Scripture says, “ the thoughts and intents of the heart,” like the Eye of God Itself in the soul, watching over it, and keeping it, and bringing every thought into the obedience of Christ.
Or, again, the Word in this passage may be understood of Him, of whom it is said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The engrafted Word in this sense, then, would be Christ crucified, Who is often spoken of, as received into the heart, and manifested therein by His Grace. As St. Paul says, “I live no more, but CHRIST liveth in me." The question, then, according to this sense would be, whether we receive into our hearts with meekness the doctrine of Christ crucified, being made conformable unto His death; being in all things obedient unto Him, Who is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.
And, again, if we take it in this meaning, then especially does this apply to the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood, of which He says,
“ Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” This is indeed receiving, in the very highest sense, that engrafted Word, which is able to save our souls : whereby
bodies are made clean by His Body, and our souls washed by His most precious Blood.”
But now, in all these senses in which God speaks to us,-of the engrafted Word saving our souls,—there is nothing more