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The Second Watch

The Second Watch

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord
when he cometh shall find watching. . . ,
And if he shall come in the second watch . . .
and find them so, blessed are those servants.'
—Luke xii. 37, 38.

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord
when he cometh shall find watching. . . ,
And if he shall come in the second watch . . .
and find them so, blessed are those servants.'
—Luke xii. 37, 38.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Jul 27, 2012
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THE SECOND WATCHBY JAMES MOFFATTBlessed are those servants, whom the lordwhen he cometh shall find watching. . . ,And if he shall come in the second watch . . .and find them so, blessed are those servants.' —Luke xii. 37, 38.During the first watch, from sixo'clock to ten, the ordinary occupa-tions of the evening went on, as inthis parable the wedding feast atwhich the master of the house wasabsent. The first half of it, at any-rate, was a fairly stirring time, whenthe brisk intercourse and avocationsof men had not yet died away. Nospecial strain attached to the first117118 SECOND THINGS OF LIFEwatch upon the whole. Even thethird watch was partly relieved bythe dawn. The most trying periodwas probably the second watch, fromten at night to two in the morning,when sleep was most likely to pressheavily on the eyelids, during thesedragging, cold hours in the dead of night. Noises were hushed in thestreets. The day's work began to.tell upon the watchers. Drowsiness became more and more overpower-ing, and a real test fell upon obedi-ence and alertness. In warfare itwas the favourite time for surprisingthe enemy by a night attack. Inordinary life, says Jesus, the master house may return then. Hehd his servants indoors, butcan he depend upon them being
 
THE SECOND WATCH 119awake and ready to receive Him ?If so, blessed are those servants.Twice over Jesus repeats the phrase.Blessed are those servants, whomthe lord when he cometh shall findwatching. . . . And if he shallcome in the second watch and findthem so, blessed are those servants.It is as though this spirit of per-sistent fidelity and self-denial weresingled out as exceptionally rare.Jesus had- just told the disciples,i&rfr~your trectmace is, there willyour heart be also. JjT&mr mindsand hearts were really in their-wprk,he continues, they would be settingstheir Lord's interests above their own; even in the dead of night,when it was hardest to keep awake,with no outward stimulus, with little120 SECOND THINGS OF LIFEor nothing to remind them of their duty to Him, they would be showingtheir devotion by behaving as thosewho lived for more than could beseen, and who were thinking con-stantly and chiefly of what their Lord had a right to expect fromthem. Let your loins be girdedabout, and your lamps burning;and be ye yourselves like unto menlooking for their lord, when he shallreturn from the marriage-feast ; that,when he cometh and knocketh, theymay straightway open to him.The primitive Christians weretempted by their belief in the near advent of Jesus, either to be excited
 
and feverish, as if the crisis wereimminent, or to grow presumptuousand careless, as if it were a remoteTHE SECOND WATCH 121contingency which justified themmeanwhile in taking things easy.These words of Jesus are addressedto the latter danger. They bear upon the sense of false securitywhich assumes that because nothinghas happened as yet, nothing islikely to happen in the immediatefuture. 'The sense of security/George Eliot once wrote, 'springsfrom habit rather than from con-viction, and for this reason it oftensubsists after such a change in theconditions as might have been ex- pected to suggest alarm. The lapseof time during which a given eventhas not happened, is, in this logicof habit, constantly alleged as areason why the event should never happen, even when the lapse of time122 SECOND THINGS OF LIFEis precisely the added conditionwhich makes the event imminent.'For ourselves, though the form of this duty of watchfulness has altered,the spirit of it remains. The re-ligious significance of that ardent belief in the second coming of Jesuswhich controlled the early churchlay in the fact that it expressedvividly the entire dependence of theChristian situation upon the personand will of Jesus Christ. The destinyof the Christian was bound up withHim; the rule of the Christian lifedid not lie in natural inclinationsor expectations. And this is the

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