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WATCHING FOR THE COMING OF CHRIST.
REVELATION xxii. 12.
“ And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every
man according as his work shall be.”
It is a sad and fearful thing to think of, but I fear it is true, that the great doctrines and truths of our religion have, with very many of us, less power over our minds, less effect upon our lives, every year as we grow older.
And yet it is our duty as Christians, to be continually using ourselves to remember and to consider more and more the reality and vast importance of these eternal unseen things, and therefore their influence over us ought, on the contrary, to increase. We ought to accustom ourselves to have regard to them, rather than to the things of this world, from which we are so soon to be parted, and where we shall be soon forgotten.
But if, on the contrary, we have let ourselves form the habit of thinking almost always about things connected with this life, such as, how we can be most comfortable, and get on best in this world, and what people will say and think about us, how we can appear of consequence in their
eyes, and so forth, it is no wonder that our hearts and minds become drawn off from the great truths of religion, and unused to think of them with any earnestness.
And thus, while men acknowledge with their lips the certainty of those great changes which are most certainly fast drawing upon us, such as death and judgment, they have continually less regard to them, and learn to live as if they were never to give an account of themselves, but were to continue in this world for
We all know we must die before long, and probably there was a time in the life of most of us, when this consideration of death was to us more or less serious and even heart-stirring ; but when people have been much and long engaged in worldly business, or in worldly enjoyments, their minds become so strangely hardened, (especially if they be in good health,) that they see and hear of people's dying all about them, with very little thought that it must be their own turn before long. And thus it comes to pass that so very many people, especially middle-aged and old people, seek the good things of this world as eagerly, and place their happiness in them as much, as if they expected to live on in this world
And the same sort of observation would apply to the effect on our minds of the great doctrine of Christ's coming to judgment.
There is something in the short and simple accounts the Bible gives us of that great Day of Christ, so truly awful, that in childhood and in early youth, the minds of many persons are much struck by them. Perhaps, some of us may remember a time when the expectation of the sights we are then to see, for a little while took great hold of our minds, and we seemed as though we could not forget it.
But, alas ! as we grow older, it too often happens that our minds become so taken up with these present worldly things, with worldly cares and earthly trifles, that we hardly ever think of the judgment to come, except when something we hear forcibly draws our mind to it for a short time. In short, we do not keep up the habit of looking for Christ's coming, and of remembering the great account we are to give before His awful judgment-seat. And then, by natural consequence, we have but little regard to it in all our doings, and learn to live as if we had no account to give, unless it be to the foolish and wicked world, whom, indeed, we are apt enough to try to please, loving, as we do, to be approved in the eyes of men.
It is indeed but natural, that our feelings should be more moved by a truth the first time we hear it, than after we have become used to the thought of it; nor are we to blame our
selves for this. It is not to be expected that you should be as much affected and alarmed by what I may state to you to-day out of God's Word, concerning the Day of Judgment, as if this was the first time you had heard of it. But it is plain, that
every time we hear of it, every time we read of it, we ought to learn to live more and more as those who are indeed to see this awful Day of Judgment, and are then to be tried and judged by JESUS CHRIST, according to His Word.
If we do not learn thus to prepare ourselves for His Coming, we have heard of His coming in vain.
Perhaps we are persuading ourselves in our hearts, that Christ's Coming will not be just yet; but that as He has delayed it so long, that we need not doubt but that He will put it off longer. It is fearful to consider how many people now think like this, and find comfort in the thought, find comfort in their own fancy that their Saviour and Judge is not coming yet.
Surely, it must be of those who think like this, and so by this thought are encouraged to live according to their will, to take their own pleasure, and follow their own way ;-surely, I say, it was of such as these our Saviour spoke those awful words : “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.
Plainly, then, unless we would greatly displease our SAVIOUR, and bring ourselves into immediate danger of intolerable misery, we must not allow ourselves to give way to any thoughts the devil or our own evil hearts may put into our mind, that we need not look for the Day of Judgment just yet.
We must be always expecting it, always preparing for it.
And as your minister, let me solemnly advise and entreat you to begin now, if you have not begun hitherto, to accustom yourself often to think of that judgment, of what the Bible says concerning Christ's Coming and that awful Day; and this not only when you read your Bible, when you come to Church, and when you are praying at home, but at all times ; at every few minutes of leisure, and even in the midst of your worldly employments, if they will admit of it, use yourself to think of the solemn account you are to give for all you do at Chrisr's judgment-seat.
1 Matt. xxiv. 48–51.
And whenever your minds are moved and affected by the expectation of these things that are most surely coming on us, take good care that your thoughts lead to some good. Begin at once to prepare yourself to meet your God in judgment. Begin at once to find out what you must set right in your disposition, your heart, and way of life. At once pray to God, humbly and earnestly for Christ's sake, to help you to find out what there is in you that is displeasing in His eyes, and to amend it. And do not mind what you give up, what you go through, if you can but prepare yourself.
Oh! when that Day shall come, as it most certainly will come, and we shall be placed each one of us to answer not for our lives, but for our everlasting Salvation, before Him Whose eye is now always watching us, how little will the hardest earthly trial, how less than nothing will the greatest worldly gain appear, when set against the blessing of being then acquitted, then received and forgiven !
Let us consider what St. John saw, when the sight of this great day was set before his eyes in a vision, even just as it will appear to each one of us in reality; and would that God would teach us to keep the expectation of that always before us !
“I saw,” says St. John, “I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from Whose Face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened : and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works ?."
Then, according to our Saviour's own words in St. Matthew,
? Rev. xx. 11-13.
“ The Son Of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory; and before Him shall be gathered all nations, and He shall separate them (oh, awful, everlasting separation !) as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. And they that are set on the left hand shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal 3.”
Then shall they that are counted worthy be made like unto the angels of God, yea, like unto God's own Eternal Son, their Lord and God, ever after to be with Him, and to see Him as He is, receiving from His blessed presence peace and joy such as have never yet entered into the heart of man. At that same day, the world and all the works that are therein shall be burned up with the fire of God, and the prisons of hell, the places of eternal torment, shall be opened. The wicked and the worldly shall in vain call on the mountains and on the rocks to “ fall on them, and to hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the LAMB 4."
Then shall the impure and unholy be forced to stand, in their shame and their terror, before the face of perfect Holiness, and Purity, and Justice. And were it not that our Saviour was to be the Judge, who could stand in that day? All our hopes for that day stand only on His mercy and on His love to man; but through that mercy and love, they will be found clothed with His own righteousness who have served Him and sought His grace humbly and faithfully on earth.
But we must not deceive ourselves. He has clearly warned us that when He comes again He will acknowledge none but those who have faithfully prayed, and endeavoured to do what He commands, those whom He, at His coming, shall find watching and prepared.
“ Take heed to yourself,” says our LORD HIMSELF, " lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that Day come upon you unawares 5.'.
From this warning we learn, that if we would really watch for our Lord's coming, if we would really be prepared for the Day of
3 See Matt, xxv. 31–33. 46.
4 Rev. vi. 16.
5 Luke xxi. 34.