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for our sakes. Shall we not then love Him who so loved us ?
2. It deepens in our souls the sense of the thorough hatefulness of sin—when no less a death than this could satisfy the justice of God. O my soul ! thou art tempted at times to think lightly of thy sins, to esteem them of no more than passing moment in the eyes of thy God. Learn then, from the sight upon which thou hast been gazing, to think differently. Read in the death agonies of thy Saviour the weight of the lightest of thy sins, and shudder to think how often thou hast carelessly-nay, even wilfully-condemned Him to this death,
III. My Own Death.
Let me try to picture to myself the moment of my own death. I have been stricken down with some disease. It is fatal. I know it. The increasing anxiety of my friends, the more sedulous care of the doctor, the silent tears which from time to time roll down the faces of those who watch around my bed, tell me that
time has come-that there is no more hope. I can no longer look forward to the possibility of living many years or days,—but I know now that a few hours or minutes, and I am, as the world counts it, no more. Already the dew drops of death clam my brow. Already the watchers wipe away the foam of death from my lips. Is it fear or hope that sends that strange tremor through my frame? Is it the joyful effort of the soul to escape to the loving embrace of its Saviour? or is it the fierce struggle of the unwilling soul to retain possession of its miserable and suffering home of clay, rather than go forth to meet its doom? Do I rejoice in my spirit or fear with a terrible fear at the thought of a speedy death? But now the struggle is over. My body, that which I so lately called mine, lies on the bed, still, motionless, soulless, food for corruption. My soul, my real life, goes forth into that wide pathless expanse of the world of souls to seek its doom,borne by the gentle hands of angels to its sweet rest in the bosom of Jesus, or fiercely driven by evil angels to the restless abode of the lost.
One thought comes to us with overwhelming force, as we seek thus feebly to realize to ourselves the moment of death, and that is the thought of our own ignorance--our own helplessness. We are altogether in the hands of God. He knows, but we know not either the time when, or the means by which God will call us,-whether it will be to-day, to-morrow, next day, or fifty years hence-whether it will be a sudden unexpected death, by what the world terms an accident,—whether it will be preceded by a few days’ illness, or by a long wasting away of our powers,—whether in short we shall have any time for special preparation or not. It follows, then, that our only safety lies in being always prepared, always living in expectation of death. O my soul! art thou prepared ? Thou knowest that if thou art the way of death is easy, for Jesus has died. Thou knowest that to the Christian to die, is but to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. Why then dost thou shrink? Why dost thou cry out for a little more time, when thou hearest in the distance the flutter of the dread angel's wings? What is there in thy present life to make thee fear? Whatever it is, it must be taken away at once. Resolve then, O my Soul, that thou wilt from henceforth seek to live in a state of daily preparation for death,—that thou wilt never do any. thing which thou wouldest be afraid to be found doing at the moment of death.
I. The Earthly Tribunal.
Let us try to place ourselves, in thought, before an earthly tribunal. We are accused, it may be, of some dreadful crime: and we are placed there in the dock to prove our innocence if we can.
Let us suppose first of all that we are innocent. But our innocence is not known to the Judge; he is only a man like ourselves, and must judge by the evidence placed before him.
It may be appearances are against us. It may be that we shall have difficulty in proving our innocence. Can we realize at all what our feelings would be if placed in such a position ?
1. Shame at being placed there—a feeling of degradation at even being accused of such a crime. not this one of the severest trials of our Blessed Lord ?-being dragged before the judgment seat of short-sighted man, and there being accused of the crime which in His Soul of Souls He most loathed. “ Shame hath covered My Face.” We stand there with all eyes upon us, --some full of curiosity, some
mocking at our misery, others pitying us with the pity which is akin to suspicion. Oh, if we could only put ourselves out of sight-if we could escape from it all. But no, we are helpless, we must bear it as well as we can—we must wait till the sentence is pronounced -till we hear the doom of acquittal or condemnation.
2. Secondly, there is Fear. What, if in spite of our innocence, we should be found guilty. The judge and jury are but men. They may be mistaken, they may give a wrong judgment, and if so we shall have to bear not only a sentence we have not deserved, but the bad opinion of all those who have hitherto loved and respected us. Innocent men have suffered before now,- perhaps it may be our case. Oh! how full of anxiety are we to know the result! Oh! the torture of that suspense as the jury retire to consider their verdict, and minute after minute passes by and they return not!
Next, let us suppose that we who stand in that dock on our trial are guilty. True, we may not be condemned, the evidence may not be enough to convict us, and we may get off.
What are our feelings? There is the same shame and the same fear, but intensified. There is the secret conviction of guilt to weigh us down. There is no honest pride of conscious innocence to support us.
We feel that we are found out : that we who have so long deceived