The Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing. — 2 Timothy iv. 1 . AMO G the untold secrets of sensitive childhood, hidden in the little quivering heart, are those sudden wakings from sound sleep, in the dead of night, with a strong conviction that something terrible is happening. "Perhaps it is the Judgment Day ! " whispers the accusing conscience. Real sins and small peccadilloes, in indiscriminate confusion, rise up before the memory of the affrighted child, filling it with a vague feeling of unutterable horror. The sublime picture of the solemn throne and the unspeakable glory of the Divine Presence flashes on the mind. The child, in dread waiting, hides its head till, strange to say, nature comes to its aid with the same sweet sleep as before that startled waking. The angels again watch over the little culprit, who opens his eyes in the morning refreshed, and with only a dim remembrance

276 OUR ELDER BROTHER. of that wild, troubled hour, as of a passing dream. More terrible is the awakening which sometimes comes in maturer years, in a critical moment of utmost danger, or in the quiet sick-room, when the possible peril of the patient is written on the anxious faces round his bed. Here is

often the same bewilderment as in the case of the child, — a sense of general sinfulness and certain doom, rather than penitence for particular sins and a sincere prayer for pardon. There may be a real call for mercy, and an honest purpose to lead a new life in case of recovery or escape from danger. More often it is a spurious conversion, like that of the wicked sailor who prays for help during his swift fall from the rigging, but resumes his cursing and his old life as soon as his feet firmly touch the deck. A sudden deathbed repentance is always possible. The recovery of such apparent converts shows too often, however, that their temporary religiosity has been but a self-seeking, a longing for safety, with no horror of sin, and no true acceptance of our Lord as Saviour and Example and Purifier. Doubtless, on the other side, there have been many sufferers who in the retirement of a protracted illness have passed from death unto life,

COMI G AGAI . 277 and yet, through the weakness of mind and body consequent upon extreme prostration, have been unable to breathe even to the fond friends beside them a word of their new hope, or the separation they believe to be so near. The patient knows he could not bear a conversation that would deeply move him. He undertakes it no more than he does to get up and go about his room as usual. A wistful eye, a meaning glance, or a pressure of the hand may be all of which he is capable, save the sweet patience and loving-

ness that spring from a heart renewed. Our friends who have gone from us without a word of a new hope or a new Master may have been welcomed by rejoicing angels, and received to the kingdom of the Father by the merciful Son, who has seen their deep penitence and accepted their helpless reliance on Him at the eleventh hour. What have old, experienced Christians to offer at the great tribunal after their years of stumbling along the narrow path? What but the "full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice" of the Lamb once ottered for the sins of the world? For that great day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, He has reserved a token of His infinite loving-kindness. One may have been long in the Christian life before one

278 OUR ELDER BROTHER. fully grasps the precious truth, known theoretically from childhood, that it is by Christ Jesus "that Man whom He has ordained," that God will judge the world. He who was " tempted in all points like as we are, " He who has been child and youth and man, He who has had bitter enemies and faithless friends, He who washed the feet of His unstable disciples, — He, our Elder Brother, is to judge the poor children of earth, for whom He was willing to leave His Father's Home of glory and suffer a malefactor's death ! He who has heard our first faltering prayer to be led in the right way, He who has known our sins and our repentance, He who has accepted

our poor offering of ourselves and all we are, and has been pleased to acknowledge us as His own, He who has companied with us all the days of our pilgrimage, He on whom we have leaned in sorrow and sickness and approaching death, — will not desert us when we stand before the great white throne, awaiting our final sentence. Because we are His, we shall share His home, and to His great name be the glory ! And what revelation have we of the test of discipleship in that awful hour? We hear of no questionings as to devout frames and glowing feelings, no mention but as warning, of having prophesied in His name. What, then, is the test?

COMI G AGAI . 279 Christ has left on earth His types, His substitutes, His ambassadors, — the poor, the stranger, the widow, and the fatherless, — the helpless and distressed of the human race. What is written? " Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me!" Searching, solemn, condemning words ! Lord, "deal not with us according to our sins, neither reward us according to our iniquities ! " Give us all grace to love as brethren, and share with glad, grateful hearts the blessings Thou in mercy hast given us ! Make us so to trust and follow Thee that we may dare to meet Thee, our Redeemer, as our Judge and King !



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