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is so merciful and so true,-so awful, because He knows and feels for us so perfectly. so perfectly. He knows what our excuses really mean; and that men fail because they will not try.

In His three awful Parables of the Judgment, our Lord has set before us in different ways, what it is that will be accepted, what it is that will be refused. What is it that will be accepted? Watchfulness, faithfulness to opportunities, a ready eye and heart to do service to those who need it. What are the fatal signs of reprobation? It is remarkable that He does not dwell on great and open wickedness, on manifest crying sins. These need no warning. But the five foolish slothful virgins, the slack easygoing servant, who hid his talent and thought it did not matter, the people who are surprised that He should charge them with want of willingness to help Him, because they did not discern Him in common, every-day, human suffering :—these are the types of what He pronounces ruinous to hope. Is it not a very tremendous thought that they are so like the lives of so many of mankind?

We have to stand before the Son of Man-before Him whose life and labours and death, whose very coming down to be made man, and to be one of us, have made every human life so inexpressibly serious in its career and its results. A great master of science, and a great master of language, who can see nothing in this world beyond the stern powers of Nature, has imaged human life under the likeness

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of a game to be lost or won.1 Suppose," he says, "it were perfectly certain that the life and future of every one of us would, one day or other, depend on his winning or losing a game at chess. . . . The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us. We know that his play is always fair, just, patient. But we know, to our cost, that he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man who plays well, the highest stakes are paid with that overflowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in strength; and one who plays ill is checkmated-without haste, but without remorse. My metaphor will remind you of the famous picture in which the Evil One is depicted playing a game of chess with man for his soul. Substitute for the mocking fiend in that picture a calm strong angel, playing, as we say, for love, and who would rather lose than win, and I should accept it as the image of human life."-Translate Nature into the living and loving Son of Man. Substitute for the calm strong angel of fancy, the Crucified seated at the Right Hand of God till the last hour of the world; willing all men to be saved, but unable to save men against their will; with His infinite compassion and His inexorable justice; substitute for the pitiless laws of nature the law and discipline of the Spirit, the dispensation of 1 Huxley, Lay Sermons, p. 31.

remedy and restoration, the blessed possibilities of repentance, the sweet hopes and strength of grace, and we too, I suppose, must accept that awful image as the image of human life, as it will be seen when all is over, when we stand before the Son of Man.

May He, the all-merciful, the true, who is so boundless in His care and love for human hearts, help us in His wonderful and unsearchable ways, to clear these hearts of ours from all self-deceits and self-indulgence; these wills of ours, so wayward and unstable, yet charged with all our fate, from pretending to be weaker than they are. O brethren, we who have to do with such a Lord, and such a Judge, and such a destiny, let us not blind ourselves to what we are about now, to where we shall one day have to stand. Now, in this hour, this short hour of waiting, may that precious blood, by which we were all redeemed, win us, cleanse us, heal us, strengthen May it be given us, when the veil is rent, and this dream of life is passed, to see His Face, to endure His Judgment, and to enter into His Eternal Joy.




"In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel."--ROMANS ii. 16.

THE Gospel, like all that we know of God's world and government, comes with the twofold aspect of mercy and severity. Mercy, not in words or notions, but in realities; severity, not in words or threats, but in certainties. On the one side, mercy beyond thought or imagination of man, such as that the Son of God, God our Creator, became man out of love for man, and died to save us; on the other, severity, as that all the evil which is so familiar to us in history and society, all that we know is wrong, all that we shrink from remembering, all our self-deceit, all our imperfections, must sooner or later really pass under the judgment of the All-seeing, the Most Just, the Most Holy. As in Nature so in the Gospel, these two great aspects of truth pass successively before us, each in its own certainty and completeness, almost as if they belonged to separate and opposite dispensations. We know that they are but different sides of the one Divine Government: we know it, but we cannot always see it. They are like the

summits of mountain ranges deep below the sea; the summits rise into distinct and far-parted islands; but the foundations are out of sight under the waters, and we cannot trace the connecting links. With our limited faculties, our common inability to take in and grasp together facts and truths of different orders which seem to clash, we have to contemplate each by itself, if we wish fully to comprehend its length and breadth and greatness. Here in Church they come before us, each in its appointed season and consecrated services. Soon it will be the time to give ourselves to the thought of that ineffable grace which showed us the Maker and Saviour of mankind as the little Child at Bethlehem. Now it is the time to deepen in our souls the sense of the truth that a time is before us when the Son of God shall come to be our Judge,—Judge of all things, Judge of all men.

I. No one can read the New Testament without seeing that, to impress this ineffaceably on the convictions and the conscience of mankind, was one of the primary objects of the teaching which it records. In the definiteness and prominence there given to this announcement, it is, notwithstanding all that had been spoken by ancient Psalmists and Sages and Prophets, almost a new feature in religion. The instinct, the foreboding, the augury, the vision, -the misgiving from which there was no escape, the assured hope of a generous and loyal faith,— were now turned into explicit disclosures, coming


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