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our neighbours by the outward respectability of our conduct can deceive them so no longer. If we are acquitted we slink out of court self condemned and feel unable any longer to look honest men in the face. If we are condemned we must bear the sentence with the additional burden of knowing that it is deserved.
Let us draw from these thoughts the following lessons :
1. If the judgment of our fellowmen is thus terrible to us, what must be that of God, who knows us so well? Our faults are not hid from Him. He knows the very secrets of our hearts, and these will not bear the scrutiny of our fellows what must we be in His sight before whom the very Heavens are unclean!
If our hearts condemn us God is greater than our hearts and knoweth all things."
2. Are we not hypocrites ? The secret of our fear of the judgment of our fellows is that we are not what we seem to be. The fair outward face which we are able to put on is not an honest indication of the darkness within ? Let us seek then above all things to be honest and open, never to be otherwise than we seem- never to seem otherwise than we are. There are few better tests of the reality of our spiritual life than the knowledge that we are always acting up to this rule.
II. The Heavenly Tribunal.
“ When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy
angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory."-S. MATTHEW xxv. 31.
“ And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, îrom
whose face the earth and the heaven fled away ; and there was found no place for them."-REVELATION xx. 11.
Let us place ourselves in thought before that awful white Throne of Judgment which these passages refer to. The Great Day, the Day of the Lord has
It has been long it may be as men count time since we lay down in the sleep of death and our souls went forth from their homes of clay. We have been waiting in the Resting place of the Blessed, in the Paradise of Jesus, as prisoners of hope, our prayers ever mingling with those of thousands of saints who have never ceased in their cry, “How long, O Lord, how long, Holy and True,"—longing with a ceaseless longing for the coming of that time which shall give to them a consummation of their bliss in bringing them face to face with Him whom they have loved better than life itself, to be for ever with Him:
companions of Dives we have been waiting in terror for the moment when the sentence which the soul has pronounced upon itself shall be irrevocably confirmed by the mouth of the Great Judge Himself, and the torments which it has suffered in anticipation shall become awful and eternal realities. And at last the Day for which we have so long waited in hope or in dread has come. The trumpet voice of the Archangel has sounded. The prison doors are thrown open, and willingly or unwillingly the souls burst forth to be reunited to the bodies which they have so long forsaken. It is a day of terror and of joy. Everywhere the earth is pouring forth its countless hosts of dead. In the distant Heavens the sounds of an advancing Army of Triumph are heard. Already the Banner of the Great King, the Sign of the Son of Man is seen advancing in the Heavens, and following close upon it surrounded by countless myriads of adoring angels is the Person of the once despised and Crucified One.
The Throne is set. On it is seated One whose Name is Terrible. Circling round the Throne and reaching far away in the distance as far as eye can see are the forms of cherubim and seraphim, angels and archangels, thrones, dominions, princi. palities and powers, witnesses of the coming shame and the coming triumph. And now all is ready. The
Books are opened. The accuser of our brethren stands by, to bear his accursed witness against those whom by his arts he has ruined, and to claim for his own all who shall fail to pass through the fearful ordeal. What wonder if amongst that innumerable multitude of all nations, tongues, and languages we see thousands upon thousands wringing their hands with fear at the thought of the shameful exposure which awaits them! not daring to look upon the face of Him whom in time past they have so cruelly mocked-crying aloud in the madness of their despair to the rocks and the mountains to fall on them, and show them that mercy which they dare not hope for otherwise--seeking to hide themselves amongst the multitude from the piercing gaze of that Eye from which there is no escape.
On the other hand there are those whose faces are already lit up with joy in the anticipation of their approaching glory. There is nothing terrible to them in the appearance of Him who sits on the Throne, for is He not their Saviour? Do they not see in those glorious scars in His Hands and feet and Side proofs of His love, compassion and mercy ? Have they not long loved Him with a love surpassing all things ? Is not this the Day they have looked for and prayed for through many weary years of waiting? they await the coming ordeal with calm confidence, knowing in whom they have trusted, that He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Himknowing that their peace is made and their salvation
there are besides across whose faces we may see the dark shade of fear chasing the bright light of hope in rapid alternations. Their fate is yet in the balance. Poor weak souls ! On Earth their repentance was so late or so imperfect, their faith so weak, their love so poor, that they feel that if they are saved it will be “ so as by fire," and only by the exercise of that mercy which they have no right to claim even whilst they venture to hope for it.
And now the Judgment begins. One by one each is summoned to take his place before the Throne and to receive the verdict of acquittal,“ Well done, good and faithful servant"-or the sentence of condemnation,
Depart, thou cursed.” One by one, as the sentence is pronounced, each takes his place on the right hand or the left of the Great Judge. At last our turn
There is no escape, no chance of concealment. We must obey the call, must stand trembling before the Throne. The book of our life is unfolded. And what a record it is ! Day after day, page after page tells its fearful tale. Our faithless memories refuse to recall now that awful list of sins which will then be revealed with such distinctness. Words which