1 Corinthians 4:3
I care very little, however, if I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.
Sermons
Human Characters Determined Only by Divine DecisionAndrew Lee et al 1 Corinthians 4:3
The Three TribunalsAlexander Maclaren1 Corinthians 4:3
A True and a False Estimate of Genuine Ministers of the GospelD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Clergy and LaityJ. Beeby.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Faithful StewardshipJ. Parsons.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
FaithfulnessWeekly Pulpit1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Man a StewardJ. Harding, M. A.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Ministerial StewardshipD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Ministers and StewardsCanon Evans.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Character of Gospel MinistersJ. Guyse, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Christian MinistryR. Walker.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Ministerial TrustJ. Duncan.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Ministers of ChristH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The MinistryM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Mysteries of GodCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The Steward of God's MysteriesJ. N. Norton, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
The True Estimate of the Christian MinistryF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Ministers as StewardsC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 4:1-7
A Threefold Judgment of the Christian TeacherR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Conscience the Approver, But not the Justifier of the ChristianW. W. Champneys, M. A.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
False PeaceE. B. Pusey, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
God Glorified in the JudgmentH. Melvill, B. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Hidden Impressions RevealedThe Homilist1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Hidden Things Revealed1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Human and Divine JudgmentsE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
JudgmentFamily Churchman1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Judgment of MinistersW. S. Smart.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Judgment, Human, and DivineJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
MagnanimityC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Man's JudgmentsT. Arnold, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Premature Judging ForbiddenJ. Lathrop, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Premature Judgments DiscouragedS. Pascoe.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Public OpinionCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Righteous JudgmentCanon Liddon.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Self-Judgment IsJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
The JudgmentJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
The Judgment of Men Compared with the Judgment of GodT. Chalmers, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
The Only True JudgeHomiletic Monthly1 Corinthians 4:3-5
The Processes of the Last JudgmentH. Melvill, B. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
The Terror of the Day of Judgment as Arising from its JusE. B. Pusey, D. D.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
Unrighteous JudgmentH. O. Mackey.1 Corinthians 4:3-5
No man can work entirely with reference to his own labours and his own opinion of them. We all need to live under the sense that others are taking some notice of what we do; and with most there is danger of attaching exaggerated importance to human criticism. But it is well for us to cherish the feeling of the nearness and the supervision of the omniscient Searcher of hearts. In this passage St. Paul represents the effect which both human and Divine judgment should have upon the Christian's life.

I. THE JUDGMENT WHICH IS DEPRECATED. This is the judgment:

1. Of our fallible fellow men. For they have not the necessary material or the due knowledge and opportunity for forming a just judgment. Men are influenced in the opinions they form of one another by their prejudices and prepossessions. We judge our friends too favourably, and are too severe in our censure of our opponents. Hence our Lord has warned us, "Judge not!"

2. That which is passed at this present time. This is the time for work, not the time for judging and for recompense. No man's work can be Girly judged until it is completed. And beside this, we cannot see life in its true proportions when we look at it from a point of view so near. To judge now is to judge "before the time."

II. THE JUDGMENT WHICH IS ANTICIPATED.

1. This is God's judgment. He will bring every work into judgment. His acquaintance with all who shall appear before his bar is perfect. His material for forming a judgment is complete. His mind is unclouded by human prejudices. He is infinitely just.

2. This shall take place upon our Lord's return. His parousia, is what the Church looks forward to with affectionate interest and hope. Her children offer the frequent prayer: That at thy whom God hath appointed to judge the quick and the dead."

3. This shall be accompanied by revelation. There are hidden things of darkness which must be brought to light; virtues and vices of which the world has taken little or no note, but which must be brought forward and taken into account, in order to a just decision and award, There are counsels of the heart to be made manifest; for whilst men necessarily judge by the conduct, God will take into account the secret intentions and motives of those who have laboured for him, both good and evil.

4. This will be by a perfect discrimination. The hypocrite shall be distinguished from the sincere, the diligent from the idle, the time server and men pleaser from the true servant of God.

5. This will be the occasion of recompense. The case of the utterly unfaithful is left out of view as irrelevant in this connection. But among the faithful it is presumed that there are degrees of fidelity; and every man shall have his praise from God. This implies that each has a special need for special service; and it also implies that praise shall be accompanied by a substantial and everlasting recompense. It is well, therefore, to work "as ever in the great Taskmaster's eye," to avoid judging one's self, to be indifferent to the partial judgment of men, and to wait for the revelation and the awards of eternity. - T.







But with me it is a very small think that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment.
Family Churchman.
I. IS THE PREROGATIVE OF GOD.

1. It belongs not to man.

2. Not to ourselves.

3. But the Lord.

II. Is PREMATURE IN THIS LIFE. Because —

1. Many things are hidden.

2. There is no universal and absolute standard.

3. None capable of applying it.

III. IS RESERVED TO THE COMING OF CHRIST.

1. To Him all judgment is committed.

2. By Him all hearts shall be disclosed.

3. From Him every man shall receive his reward.

(Family Churchman.)

I. OF MAN IS OF TITLE VALUE. Because —

1. Without authority.

2. Seldom just.

3. Always transient.

II. OF OUR CONSCIENCE IS DECEPTIVE. Because —

1. We are ignorant.

2. It cannot justify us.

III. OF THE LORD IS DECISIVE.

1. True.

2. Supreme.

3. Final.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Many are in the habit of reversing the apostle's words; and what is most surprising is that great numbers who would be shocked at the thought are nevertheless really more governed by the opinions of men than by the Word of God. The truth is, the fear of man grows up with us from our infancy, is often encouraged by education, and is disguised under fair names, or mixed up with something allowable, so that we become enslaved to it without suspicion. Combined with this passages of Scripture are passed lightly over, which pronounce it to be a bad sign when all men speak well of us. Let us see —

I. WHAT THE CASE ACTUALLY IS.

1. The foundation of a great part of the evil is the want of accustoming children to be influenced by the love or fear of God. On the contrary, they have too often no other motives placed before them than those of pleasing their parents, of being well thought of by their friends. Besides, it is natural to wish to be thought well of by others, because we often derive solid benefits from a good reputation, and great inconvenience from a bad one. This leads to the great evil of substituting an idol for God; and this idol often applauds what God condemns, and condemns what God approves. And rather than sacrifice this idol men will go to great lengths — even to murder and suicide.

2. But it may be said that he who is indifferent to the opinion of others must lose one great check on his vices, and that men, in proportion as they despise the judgment of others, magnify themselves in their own conceits. True, they who are without God can but go from one extreme to another; and indeed it is better to fear other men than to fear no one, and there is worse selfishness and pride in consulting only our own judgment than in following after the praise of others. But all this is excluded if we submit to the judgment of God. Here is a check upon carelessness and hardness to reproof, and here, too, is freedom from all unworthy compliances, and a freedom which can nowhere else be found pure from pride and contempt of our neighbours.

II. HOW FAR THE SCRIPTURE ALLOWS US TO DESIRE OR CARE FOR THE GOOD OPINION OF OTHERS.

1. It is clear that to gain a good character with men must never be our chief object; if it is, the praise of men will be our only reward. So parents should teach their children to secure the approbation of God first; then they will know that in trying to please them they are obeying God, who has commanded them to honour their parents.

2. The approbation of good and wise men should be received with thankfulness. On secular matters bad men can judge as well as good; but in all matters of right and wrong, no opinion but that of a Christian is worth a moment's notice. They have the mind of Christ, and their praise or censure is really our interpretation of God's.

3. But the judgment of God is the final appeal. To our own Master we stand or fall.

(T. Arnold, D. D.)

I. MINISTERS OF CHRIST MUST EXPECT TO BE MADE THE SUBJECTS OF HUMAN JUDGMENT. They are like a city set on an hill, and every action they perform will be weighed, and every word they speak will be examined. Nor can there be any doubt about the right of men to judge the ministers of Christ. Ministers come to them professing to be commissioned from God, to deal with them about the concerns of their souls, and have they not a right to examine the truth of their statement, their qualifications for their work, and the manner in which they discharge the duties of their high office? That the right of judging ministers is often grossly abused cannot be denied. But this can never be assigned as a reason why they should be deprived of it altogether. Those who hear the gospel are commanded to prove all things, and to hold fast only that which is good.

II. THOUGH THE JUDGMENT OF MAN SHOULD NOT RE ENTIRELY OVERLOOKED, IT IS A MATTER OF COMPARATIVELY SMALL IMPORTANCE. Many ministers pay far too little attention to the good opinion of their people. But though the judgment of man should not be overlooked, yet it is a matter of comparatively small importance. The opinions which men form about ministers are often prejudiced, unjust, and fluctuating; and it is not by their judgment that they shall be tried at the last day. Their applause need not flatter our vanity; their condemnation need not make us sad.

III. MINISTERS MUST NOT REST SATISFIED WITH THE FAVOURABLE OPINIONS WHICH THEY MAY BE INCLINED TO FORM OF THEMSELVES. Paul says, "I judge not mine own self." This expression must refer to his ministerial character. As a believer in Christ he knew much of himself, and bitterly bewailed the existence of sin within him. But as a minister of Christ he was not conscious in himself of having been negligent, partial, or unfaithful. He was able to make solemn appeal to the elders of Ephesus (Acts 20:18-21). But though he knew nothing of which he could accuse himself, "yet," he says, "am I not hereby justified." The opinion which I have of myself does not determine my character, nor shall it determine my condition. But if Paul did not justify himself, how shall we justify ourselves? Who will have the presumption to compare himself in zeal, in faithfulness, in ability, in diligence, in success, with this holy apostle? Are we not commonly blind to our faults? Are we not equally prone to overrate our virtues? But however much we may be disposed to conceal our faults from ourselves and others; however much we may be disposed to overrate our virtues, still the opinion which we may form of ourselves will have no influence in determining our everlasting condition. The Lord shall judge righteous judgment. It is not impossible that we may be proud even of our faults, and may think that a ground of self-justification which in the sight of God is a ground of condemnation. We should tremble at the thought of deceiving ourselves. If men deceive us as to the affairs of this world, future watchfulness and diligence may repair all the damage which we have sustained, but if we deceive our own souls the consequences may be eternally ruinous.

IV. WE MUST LOOK CHIEFLY TO THE JUDGMENT OF GOD, AND UNDER AN ABIDING SENSE OF ITS JUSTICE AND IMPARTIALITY ENDEAVOUR TO REGULATE OUR OWN CONDUCT.

1. He is perfectly acquainted with our character and conduct. What is the judgment of our own mind when compared with the judgment of Him whose "eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and the good"?

2. The opinion which He forms of us determines our character. We are in reality what He sees us to be. Prejudice, passion, interest, partiality, can have no influence upon His mind: He sees things as they really are. The world may approve — but what is this if the Lord condemn?

3. His judgment shall fix our everlasting condition. In the present world the wheat and the tares grow together. But when the Lord shall come to judgment, the unclean shall be separated from the clean, the unfaithful from the faithful ministers of Christ; and upon each a different sentence shall be passed.

V. IT BECOMES US TO REGULATE OUR WHOLE BEHAVIOUR BY THESE SOLEMN AND IMPORTANT TRUTHS. If we daily remember that we shall be judged by the Lord, we shall be —

1. Excited to faithfulness. We must boldly and resolutely publish the whole counsel of God. We must "reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering, and doctrine," whether men will hear or whether they will forbear.

2. This will prove a powerful antidote to trifling with the concerns of immortal souls.

3. The remembrance of this will render our conduct the more becoming.

4. The remembrance of this will support us under the unjust censures and calumnies of men. The reproach which you bear for Christ will ultimately redound to your glory. "If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him."

5. The remembrance of this will support us under that neglect into which our talents and performances may undeservedly fall. Ministers of the most eminent talents and faithfulness and piety are often neglected. That love of novelty which is so prevalent in the human heart, and which, if not laid under proper restraints, is attended with such serious consequences, is apt to render the labours of the same individual tiresome. When this temper of mind is produced prejudice, and not reason, becomes the judge. But when this happens, and it has happened often and will certainly happen again, a faithful minister rejoices that it is but a light matter to be judged of man's judgment, but that He that judgeth him is the Lord.

(W. S. Smart.)

1. When two parties meet to adjust their respective claims, the principles on which they proceed must depend on the relation in which they stand to each other; and there is no more fatal delusion than that by which the principles applicable to the case of a man entering into judgment with his fellow-men are transferred to the case of man's entering into judgment with his God.

2. blow a man may have the judgment of his fellows, and yet be utterly unfit for contending in judgment with God; and it is possible to build on the applause of man the sandy foundation of a confidence before God. Have we never met with men esteemed in society who find scriptural views of humanity to be beyond their comprehension, and with whom the voice of God is deafened by the testimony of men? And thus many live in the habitual neglect of a salvation which they cannot see that they require. To do away this delusion, we shall advert to the distinction between the judgment of men and that of God.

I. FOUNDED UPON THE CLAIMS OF GOD WHEN COMPARED WITH MAN'S.

1. People have no right to complain, but are willing, indeed, to applaud if I give to every man his own. In an unfallen world this virtue would not at all signalise me, but it so happens that I live in a world where deceit and dishonesty are common. But again, I may give to others more than their own, and thus earn the credit of other virtues. A man may, without any sensible surrender of enjoyment at all, stand out to the eye of others in a blaze of moral reputation. And even when the man can appeal to some mighty reduction of wealth, as the measure of his beneficence, is there not still left to him that without which all is nothingness? A thousand avenues of enjoyment are still open to him, and he is free to all the common blessings of nature, and freer still to all the consolations and privileges of the gospel.

2. Thus it appears, that after I have fulfilled more than all the claims of men, and men are filled with delight and admiration, the footing on which I stand with God still remains to be attended to, and His claims to be adjusted. While not one claim which your neighbours can prefer is not met most readily, the great claims of the Creator may lie altogether unheeded. God is not man, nor can we measure what is due to Him by what is due to our fellows in society. Amid all the praise we give and receive from each other, we may have no claims to that substantial praise which cometh from God only.

3. A just sense of the extent of claim which God has upon His own creatures would lead us to see that we may earn a cheap and easy credit for such virtues as will satisfy the world, and be utter strangers to the self-denial and the spirituality and the affection for the things that are above — all of which graces enter as essential ingredients into the sanctification of the gospel.

II. FOUNDED ON GOD'S CLEARER AND MORE ELEVATED SENSE OF THAT HOLINESS WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE HIS FACE, AND WITHOUT WHICH WE ARE UTTERLY UNFIT FOR THE SOCIETY OF HEAVEN.

1. Man's sense of right and wrong may be clear and intelligent enough, in so far as that part of character is concerned which renders us fit for the society of earth. Those virtues, without which a community could not be held together, are both urgently demanded, and highly appreciated. And even without any exquisite refinement of these virtues, many an ordinary character will pass; and should he be deformed by levity, or even by profligacy, he may still bear his part among the good men of society. And if such indulgence be extended to the iniquities of the outer man, let us not wonder that the errors of the inner man should find indulgence. What else can we look for than that the man who feels no tenderness towards God will tolerate in another an equally entire habit of ungodliness? And with a man whose rights I have never invaded, and who shares equally with myself in nature's blindness and propensities, I will not be afraid of entering into judgment.

2. Man and man may judge each other in mutual complacency. But between man and God there is another principle and standard of examination. There is a claim of justice on the part of the Creator, totally distinct from any human claim; and while the one will tolerate all that is consistent with society upon earth, the other can tolerate nothing that is inconsistent with society in heaven. God made us for eternity. He formed us after His own likeness; and ere we can be re-admitted into paradise, we must be created anew in the image of God. Heaven is the place into which nothing that is unholy can enter; and we are not preparing for our inheritance unless there be gathering upon us the lineaments of a celestial character. Think then of the delight which God takes in the contemplation of what is pure and righteous; think how one great object of His creation was to diffuse over the face of it a multiplied resemblance of Himself; and that, therefore, however fit you may be for sustaining your part in the alienated community of this world, you are most assuredly unfit for the assembly of the spirits of just men made perfect, if, unlike unto God who is in the midst of them, you have no congenial delight with the Father of all, in the contemplation of spiritual excellence. Take the case of Job. In reference to his fellows, he could make a triumphant appeal to the honour and the humanity which adorned him. But when God at length revealed Himself, and brought His claims to bear upon his conscience, he. abhorred himself and repented in dust and in ashes. It is indeed a small matter to be judged of man's judgment. The testimony of our fellows will as little avail us in the day of judgment, as the help of our fellows will avail us in the hour of death. He who judges us is God; and from this judgment there is no escape.

(T. Chalmers, D. D.)

This is the language of a man exposed to sharp and unfriendly criticism. There were some busy persons at work by whom everything that the apostle did or said was misrepresented. Besides this, there was much going on which called for a sharp exercise of the apostolical authority, and we all know that the exercise of authority creates opposition. So St. Paul's enemies succeeded in creating a body of public opinion against him. Consider —

I. THE NATURE AND AUTHORITY OF PUBLIC OPINION. No sooner are men formed into society than, in order to keep this society together, the members instinctively secrete a certain deposit of thought and feeling about their common interests. To this deposit everybody contributes something, and by it everybody tacitly understands that they are to be bound. Thus every family has its public opinion. Thus every village and every town has its public opinion. Again, classes and professions have a public opinion, which in some cases is tyrannical. And, above all this, arises a larger public opinion, to which they all contribute, and by which they are each in turn controlled, the public opinion of the country. And this, we all know, is a tremendous force. Then, again, as civilisation advances, as nations come to know more and more of each other, there springs up the opinion of the civilised world. This will probably be more felt in days to come than it is now. So Churches have a public opinion of their own. Outside the faith, which rests upon God's authority, there is a large margin of questions upon which the opinion of Christians is incessantly taking form; and this is by no means certain to be always well-informed or just. It was with this that St. Paul here stood face to face.

II. THE APOSTLE'S INDEPENDENCE OF IT. Not that he had any pleasure in feeling or proclaiming this independence; but as matters stood, he felt that he could not hope to be of service unless he were perfectly candid and independent. It is sometimes assumed that when a man blames public opinion he must necessarily be right, as it is an act of conscience requiring courage and resolution; but an eccentric man may defy public opinion simply to give play to his personal peculiarities. Public opinion often smiles good-naturedly at such, rating them at their proper value. But, again, a criminal is at war with public opinion; for public opinion asserts as much of moral truth as is necessary to keep society together; and a criminal offends against some part of that moral truth which society defends. Looked at from its moral and religious point, public opinion is at best a compromise. It affirms not the whole law of God, but just so much as may be useful for social purposes. It strikes an average from the impulses it receives from above and from below — between the good and bad elements of human society. The criminal makes war upon public opinion because he is below it; the true Christian is at war with it because he is above it. St. Paul was opposed to the public opinion of the Church of Corinth in this latter sense. If that public opinion had been successful the apostle would have had all heart taken out of him; for it denied the virtue of the Redeemer's work, and restricted the universal Church of God within national frontiers. St. Paul did not care how he was judged by a public opinion intent upon such purposes as these.

III. THE CONSIDERATIONS THAT SUSTAINED ST. PAUL IN HIS INDEPENDENCE. To a good man it can never be a pleasure to find himself differing from other people; because it means that one side must be wrong. The precept, "As much as lieth in you live peaceably with all men," implies that a Christian should do his best to keep in harmony with the common opinion of his fellow men. But there are times and circumstances when such agreement is impossible, and such was St. Paul's case. He had heard as it were the hum of unfriendly voices which pronounced him a faithless steward of the Divine mysteries. Not in contempt or scorn did the great apostle say, "For me it is a small thing to be judged of you or of man's judgment." He spoke out of another world. He was in spirit with God. He did not venture to judge himself. He knew nothing against himself; but he did not feel his ignorance to be a certificate of acquittal. He felt that in his own mysterious being there were unsuspected depths, which God alone could fathom. But the All-seeing he knew was also the All-merciful; and if there were that in His servant which moved Him to displeasure, so also there was in Himself that which would cancel it. God knew the purity of the apostle's intention, and it was the sense of this Divine judgment which made him feel the worthlessness of those judgments of the Corinthian Church. There can be no doubt that any man who serves God must expect, sooner or later, to be judged hardly by public opinion. It is the average public opinion which blames those whose crimes would, if they could, destroy society; and so, on the other hand, it condemns those who, not content with so much of moral and religious life, desire to have as much of holiness as they can. So it was with Noah, in his time; so it was with Abraham, Moses, and the great representative prophets. And our Lord warned us that we must not expect the world to change; "If the world hate you, it hated Me before it hated you"; and again, "If ye were of the world," &c. Thus the apostle concludes that whoever will live godly must suffer persecution. So it has ever happened, from the time of the apostles, that the Church has been at war with public opinion. The history of all the martyrs is a history of this conflict of public opinion pushed to its last extremity. But before a man steels himself against the judgment even of a section of his fellow men, he ought to be very sure of his ground. A man may hold the truth, not as God's voice in him, but as a personal prejudice or passion of his own. This spirit will reproduce, not the temper of Paul, but the temper of the Pharisee. But on the other hand, when on the one side there is human error, and on the other eternal truth, then to give way is to be a slave and a coward. Conclusion: St. Paul's words remind us of two classes who suffer because of public opinion.

1. Take the case of a public man who is convinced that a certain line of legislation is for the true interests of his country. He hopes that his countrymen will share his convictions, but, alas! he is disappointed. The judgment formed of him becomes more and more unfavourable. It may be that there are documents which would at once restore confidence; but these for reasons of public policy cannot be published for years to come, and then only to vindicate his memory. He whispers to himself, "There is a witness of my intentions — one who hereafter will make my righteousness as clear as noonday. He is my strength." And as he passes out from public scenes he can say to the nation which is dismissing him, "For me it is a small thing," &c.

2. Look at the young man who has just come up to London to begin life. He finds himself among three or four hundred companions of his own age. He is a member of a society which has a public opinion of its own. If he be going to cling unflinchingly to what he knows to be right, he will have to reckon, sooner or later, with that opinion. Many young men would go bravely through fire who cannot stand ridicule; and ridicule is the weapon which a narrow and rude public opinion invariably uses in enforcing or trying to enforce its assertions. Sooner or later that young man will have to say, "For me it is a small thing to be judged of you or of man's judgment"; but yet let him remember that he may say it in the spirit of the Pharisee or in the spirit of the Christian. I cannot say that he will escape suffering; but he can, like the apostle, turn from the hard words of man unto the love of God. There is an old Latin maxim, "Don't let us say hard things about the dead." Why not? Because they have already been judged, and have learnt what awaits them at the general judgment. Remember always that there are two judgments — the human and the Divine. Let us not ignore man's judgment; but let us not forget that upon the greatest of subjects it is sometimes likely to be mistaken, and that beyond it there is another judgment which cannot err.

(Canon Liddon.)

Some person reported to the amiable poet, Tasso, that a malicious enemy spoke ill of him to all the world. "Let him persevere," said Tasso; "his rancour gives me no pain. How much better it is that he should speak ill of me to all the world than that all the world should speak ill of me to him!"

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I Judge not mine own self.
I. FALLIBLE. Because —

1. Partial.

2. Founded in ignorance of ourselves, and of the true standard of judgment.

II. INSUFFICIENT.

1. It may condemn.

2. But cannot justify us.

III. WITHOUT AUTHORITY.

1. The Lord is our Judge.

2. He knoweth all things.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified; but He that judgeth me is the Lord.
1. Man is God's masterpiece, but conscience is the masterpiece of man. It is clear, both from Scripture and from the experience of our own hearts, that every man is a partaker of this wonderful faculty. But this natural conscience is in every unconverted man an accusing conscience. It witnesses against him; it condemns him. The sense of sin on the natural conscience is one of Satan's strongest chains. While a man is under it he will only run further into sin. We may see how it worked in Adam, the first sinner, directly he had broken God's commandment, and his conscience accused him as guilty. It drove him to fly from God, and when called out to appear before his Judge, drove him to excuse himself. And so in every man a guilty conscience leads into more sin; and the more surely he believes God to be a holy God, that hates sin, and a just God, that will surely punish it, like the devils, he believes and trembles. And he never can get peace by any effort of his own. The criminal who knows that he has broken the laws of his country, and that his life is forfeited to the justice of his country, can have no peace while he knows that. The gospel discovers to us the only way by which sin can be pardoned. Thus the tidings which the gospel brings can alone give peace to the conscience of any man.

2. Now St. Paul had found the blessing of this way of peace in the gospel. And from the hour that Christ manifested Himself to him, to his soul, it was his continual endeavour to "keep a conscience void of offence both towards God and man." And that, by the grace of God, which was given him, he had not endeavoured after this in vain, our text shows. Observe —

I. THAT ST. PAUL HAD KEPT A "CONSCIENCE VOID OF OFFENCE, BOTH TOWARDS GOD AND MAN." "I know nothing against myself." There was no permitted sin allowed in his mind. He had known the deep corruption of his own heart (Romans 7:18). He found that without Christ he could do nothing; that he had no power of himself to think anything of himself"; therefore by the Spirit he sought strength out of himself, and by that Spirit was enabled to do what his conscience, cleansed by Christ's blood and enlightened by Christ's Spirit, bade him do, and to avoid what it taught him to avoid (2 Corinthians 1:12). "His heart did not condemn him." He knew that he had endeavoured as in the sight of God to speak and to live in Christ; and thus at the very close of his life he wrote 2 Timothy 4:7.

II. THAT NOTWITHSTANDING THIS, HE WAS NOT HEREBY JUSTIFIED. Now this is the very opposite of what the worldly moral man and nominal Christian say. Their ground of confidence is just that which St. Paul declares was no ground of confidence in him. "I have done my duty; thank God I have nothing to fear." Done their duty! St. Paul had done more than them, and yet he did not say what these say. This was not that on which he rested his hope of acceptance before God, though it was a proof that God had accepted him, and, as such, a subject of rejoicing and a ground of thankfulness. He felt, that after all he had done, he was an unprofitable servant, and that he had done nothing by himself, but only the grace of God that was with him. His only ground of hope and confidence was Christ (Philippians 3:8).

(W. W. Champneys, M. A.)

It is then possible that a man's conscience may think that all is well with it; and yet all may be very ill. St. Paul had declined all judgments of men. One only can judge the heart, He who made it. Man can judge from the surface only. In the very plainest cases he may be mistaken. Human praise and blame are mostly valueless, because men know not the whole which they praise or blame (1 Corinthians 2:11). But neither must man trust wholly his judgments of himself. Since even an apostle said, that although he "knew nothing of himself," he was not thereby justified, what a vast abyss then must the unexamined conscience of a sinner be!

I. THERE ARE TWO SORTS OF PEACEFUL AND OF TROUBLED CONSCIENCES.

1. There is a good conscience which is peaceful, because it mourns its past sin for love of Him who loved us; it resists present temptation, in His might who overcame the evil one; it trusts in Him who never fails those who trust Him. This is a foretaste of paradise (Philippians 4:7).

2. But peace, as it is the blessing of the good conscience, so it is the curse of the bad conscience. A troubled, remorseful conscience has life. There is hope of a man amid any mass of sins, if he hates them; but a conscience wholly at peace and yet sinning is not alive, but dead. The eye of the soul is blind; the ear has been stopped; the heart has been drugged (1 Timothy 4:2).

II. HOW THEN MAY WE KNOW WHETHER OUR PEACE IS THE FALSE OR THE TRUE?

1. False peace needs but that a man should follow his passions; true peace requires that a man should have resisted them. True peace rests on the knowledge and love of God; false peace relies on ignorance of God and of itself.

2. It is something to see that there is such a thing as false peace. It is something to know that all is not, of a necessity, well with a man, because he is at peace with himself. For this is his very delusion. "I have nothing against myself; my conscience does not reproach me." Take some instances.(1) How was David at rest for a whole year after his sins of adultery and murder! His conscience was alive as to the injustice of taking away a poor man's ewe-lamb; it was dead to his own.(2) How did Balaam blind his conscience! He did speak God's words in his office as a prophet; as a man, he gave the devilish counsel to seduce Israel to idolatry by the beauty of the daughters of Midian, and fell in the battle with the people whom, in the name of God, he had blessed.(3) How did Simeon and Levi blind their conscience by their passion in their treacherous vengeance! Yet they themselves had no doubt that they were justified (Genesis 34:31).(4) Esau justified himself by looking away from himself, and calling Jacob a supplanter.(5) Saul, in his first act of disobedience, did violence to himself; in the second he justified himself. When he consulted the witch it was on the plea of necessity, and when he murdered himself, religion was still in his mouth, "lest the uncircumcised should abuse me."(6) Samson deceived himself by tampering as to the secret of his strength, making as though he had betrayed it, when he did not, until at the end, when he did betray it.(7) Ahab coveted Naboth's vineyard, and held himself justified, while he inquired not how Jezebel would give it to him.

3. But since there has been such a large reign of self-deceit, how may any of us know that we are not deceived now?(1) Men have thought they did God service while they murdered God's servants. It is not enough, then, to think that we do God service.(2) A conscience, healthfully at peace, has been kept in peace, through believing in God, loving God, serving God, and, by the grace of God, conquering self for the love of God. A conscience, falsely at peace, arrived at its peace, through ignorance of God and of itself, amid the dislike to look into God's Word or to compare its own ways with it, persuading itself that what it likes is not contrary to the law of God, stifling doubts, that it may not be according to the law of God.(3) That is a false peace, which would be broken, if man knew the whole heart and the whole life. Any moment might break it; if not broken before, it will be broken more terribly in the day of judgment.(4) A false peace is founded on false maxims, such as — "Why should I not do what others do? Why should I be singular?"(5) A false peace is gained by looking at this or that fault of another. "This thing cannot be so bad, because such an one does it." These may be tests to you. Has thy peace come to thee, while looking into thyself, or looking away from thyself? by taking up with corrupt maxims of the world, or while looking into the law of God? while listening to conscience, or while escaping from it? while encouraging thyself by the sins of those around thee, or while looking to Jesus to forgive thee the past, to keep thee by His Spirit and give thee power over thy sins?Conclusion:

1. Look well then whether, at the beginning, thy conscience followed thy desires, or thy desires thy conscience. Granted that there is nothing about which you reproach yourself, that your desires and your conscience are at one, how was the peace made — which gave way? People begin mostly in little things. They take some little thing which is not theirs, or which seems of no great value to its owner, or which, it is thought, he will not miss. Conscience remonstrates, "Thou shalt not steal." And then the will cozens the conscience, and says, it is but "this and that." The deed is done again. Conscience again forbids. Then it is put off. "Only this once; I cannot help it now. I have begun. I cannot draw back," Conscience is thrust back again, wounded, murmuring. When next conscience forbids, it is put off to a more convenient time, or the passion turns away from it, or tells it to its face, "I will do it." And then, to avoid conscience, the soul buries itself amid any tumult of pleasure, or thought, or care. In this way does the soul inure itself to break every commandment. The conscience is first dulled; then drugged to sleep; then stupefied; then seared and past feeling. Look at the first step and the last! Who in the first act of self-indulgence could picture the bloated drunkard? Who could picture the remorseless hardened sinner in the first forced stifling of remorse?

2. But conscience has an inextinguishable life. It cannot be destroyed. It will awake again once; here, or in eternity. Pitiable it is, when it wakes on the death-bed, and says to the dying sinner, "Behold thyself." Miserable and pitiable as this would be, it would be a great mercy of God. If the soul is awakened even on the death-bed, it may yet be saved by the grace of God. Too often, if it has slept till then, it seems then to sleep the sleep of death. But miserable and pitiable as this awakening of conscience would be then, at the the last, there is what is more miserable still, that it should not awaken, What would it be if your conscience were to awake first at the judgment-seat of Christ?

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

Homiletic Monthly.
I. CHRIST AND NOT MAN THE ONLY JUDGE OF HUMAN CONDUCT.

1. Human judges are imperfect in knowledge and wisdom.

2. They are often unrighteous in their purpose.

3. Their ability to punish or reward is limited.

II. CHRIST'S QUALIFICATIONS AS A JUDGE.

1. He is our Master.

2. He is the head of the family to which we as Christians belong.

3. He has perfect knowledge of the law by which we are to be judged.

4. He knows all about every one of us.

5. He has absolute power to enforce His decisions.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

tice: —

I. TERRIBLE ARE THE OUTWARD CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DAY OF JUDGMENT (2 Peter 3:10; Matthew 24:29), BECAUSE THEY IMPLY SOME GREAT DISPLEASURE OF GOD. But not against things inanimate could that displeasure be (Habakkuk 3:8). Through that mysterious law whereby the creation is bound up with the lot of man (Psalm 107:34; Romans 8:22), the visitation of this our dwelling-place indicates displeasure against ourselves. But it will be terrible to those only whom the judgment shall condemn.

II. THE TERROR OF TERRORS IN THAT DAY IS, THAT IT IS JUDGMENT. Of all the attributes of God, that which is, above all, terrible is — His justice. Man can bear to look on His holiness, and even on His majesty and almightiness: these are not of necessity directed against him; he can even endure to think of His wrath against sin, His heavy displeasure against the sinner. To be passed over-might imply that God knew the soul to be dross from which the refiner's fire could extract no gold. The most awful severity of God were a token of love, that God had not abandoned us. But justice! It is terrible, because God Himself is, as it were, bound by it (Acts 10:34). He cannot show favour, where it is a question of justice.

III. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT, AS THE SUMMARY OF ALL PARTICULAR JUDGMENTS ON INDIVIDUAL SOULS, IS THE GREAT JUSTIFICATION OF GOD; the unfolding of the righteousness of His judgments. We know that there is to be a final parting between the righteous and the wicked. We know too that they who have made most diligent use of the talents committed to them shall have higher rewards, and that among the lost there will be degrees of punishment. And since all these on both sides will vary with each several soul, so each must come into its own distinct judgment, that it and all besides, men and angels, may know why God assigned to it its place; why He could not, without violating His own justice, assign it to any other. All nations and each individual will be judged (Matthew 25:31, 32; Romans 14:10-12; Revelation 20:12, 13). Until God brings home to the soul the value of a soul, mankind seems such an uninteresting mass. Those ever-renewed millions of China are born, live, die, and are to us as one man. We think of them as "the Chinese." It never even occurs to most of us that they have any individual character. So as to those hordes, who, at any time, overran the world. In God's sight they are individual souls, each with its own separate history, by which they have been or shall be judged. But then how fine and minute and appreciating an attribute that justice must be which will allot to every soul of man its own place, its own degree of bliss or of suffering, relatively to every other! For this belongs to exact justice. There can be no ground of complaint there. We could not there wish it otherwise; for it were to wish that God were less just. We shall be judged according to our works; not the works of one period of life only, but all (Ecclesiastes 12:14; Matthew 16:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10); not of one age only, but of all; not good alone, but bad also; nor deeds only, but the "idle word"; nor by these alone, but "by the thoughts and intents of the heart."

IV. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WILL BE A GREAT SURPRISE, BECAUSE MOST OF US, AT THE BEST, KNOW SO LITTLE OF OURSELVES. "The foolish virgins" will expect that the door will be opened; and they will find it shut. They think that they stand in a relation to Him, as their Lord; He knows, owns them not. They shall be amazed at their exclusion. Even among the saved, St. Paul speaks of what must be the most agonising surprise, short of the loss of the soul itself, the loss of the soul's imagined store with God (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

V. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WILL ALSO BE A GREAT REVERSAL. "Many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first." Every human standard will simply cease in that day; everything, whereby we can estimate our fellow-men; all which is admired, looked up to, idolised, will be of no account. One question alone there will be then, What use has been made of all and each? Every gift of God well used will have its appropriate reward; but one question will anticipate all, "Whom, according to your light, have you loved and obeyed?"

VI. THE DAY OF JUDGMENT WILL BE A GREAT DISCLOSURE. How few outstanding things will even a strict sifting of the conscience disclose! You see the countenance marked with vanity or cunning or contempt or sensuality, &c. — how many thousand, thousand indulged thoughts or acts must have gone to stamp that expression on the countenance which was formed to be the image of God. They are forgotten, dead, buried: but there is the terrible resurrection. His sins of omission, who can ever imagine? One has but to name the word "prayer," and with what a countless multitude of omissions it encompasses us! Yet even sins of omission are in some degree imaginable, but what about graces neglected or despised! And then the calls of God's providence any one of which might have led to a lasting conversion to God, where have they left us? "To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required." What we have had, might have made glorious saints of those who have had less. Who will be able to bear the sight of all his neglected privileges? Embrace them, then, this day, and so prepare for that day.

(E. B. Pusey, D. D.)

Therefore Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come.
The apostle here teaches us that all pretensions to a certain knowledge of other men's sincerity in religion are rash and unwarrantable.

1. We are in some cases more competent judges of the wickedness than of the goodness of men's hearts. Particular acts of sin are incident to good men. But the habitual indulgence of sin is characteristic of the wicked only. But then, on the other hand, we cannot with equal certainty pronounce any man to be holy; for worldly motives may operate on corrupt hearts to produce the appearance of holiness.

2. Though we cannot absolutely determine any man's godly sincerity, yet we may form such a charitable judgment concerning our fellow Christians, as is sufficient to religious communion. We may have different degrees of evidence in favour of different persons, arising from their different attainments, or from our different acquaintance with them. But our judgment must always incline to the favourable side. We are to hope every man a saint, till we have conclusive evidence that he is not such. Having stated the doctrine in the text, note some arguments in support of it.

I. THE KNOWLEDGE OF MEN'S HEARTS IS GOD'S PREROGATIVE. "I, the Lord, search the hearts," &c. It is on this ground that the apostle cautions us not to judge anything before the time. For us to judge the heart is to invade His throne.

II. IT IS NO EASY MATTER FOR MEN TO KNOW THEIR OWN HEARTS. "The heart is deceitful above all things,... who can know it?" So the apostle says, "I judge not my own self," &c. We are cautioned not to deceive ourselves, nor to be deceived.

III. WE CAN JUDGE THE HEARTS OF OTHERS ONLY BY EXTERNAL INDICATIONS. In conversing with a friend we may be much pleased with his doctrinal knowledge, religious sentiments, and professed experience. This, however, is but external evidence. We know not but he aims to deceive us, or may be deceived himself. Such works as are the proper fruits of faith are more solid evidence; for in these there is less room for dissimulation. But we may misjudge even here; for it is but a small part of any man's life which falls under our observation.

IV. THE SCRIPTURE GIVES US MANY INSTANCES OF THE UNCERTAINTY OF HUMAN JUDGMENT IN THIS MATTER. All the disciples were deceived by the hypocrisy of Judas; and none of the first believers in Jerusalem could discern the sincerity of Paul. What arrogance, then, must it be in us to assume the bold pretension of ascertaining the existence of grace in other men's hearts! Wise is the caution given in the text. Conclusion: The subject suggests some useful remarks.

1. The spirit and temper of the primitive disciples afford a substantial evidence of the truth of our religion. They were not credulous, but cautious; not hasty in their judgment, but deliberate in their inquiries.

2. Worthy of our imitation is the prudence of the early Christians in regard to those whom they received as teachers of religion. In admitting members into the Church, they were liberal and candid; but in receiving public teachers they acted with great caution. They required, not only a present personal profession, but a testimony from others of previous good conduct.

3. The sentiment entertained by some, that there is in true Christians a kind of sympathy or fellowship, by which they infallibly know one another, appears to be irrational and unscriptural.

4. It is dangerous hastily to pronounce men in a converted state. This is judging before the time. As we cannot know others infallibly, so neither can we form a probable judgment of them speedily.

5. We cannot be sure of forming a pure Church on earth.

(J. Lathrop, D. D.)

How necessary it is to make charitable judgments of our fellow-men! We cannot wholly know them now. We see the husk of the man only, the kernel is not yet fully revealed. We must wait. In looking at our fellow-men we are sometimes like as though we were walking through a friend's orchard in the autumn. We see a tree with only a few scrawny apples upon it. We have only contempt for such a specimen, and say to the owner, "Why don't you cut that tree down? It does not deserve a place here." But the owner replies: "Cut that tree down! Why it is one of my best varieties, but the season has been against it. First of all, the rabbits almost barked it, then it was almost uprooted by a storm, but it is coming round, and next year I will show you some of the finest fruit in my orchard from that tree." So we, in looking upon a human life, judging from a few imperfect specimens of its character that circumstances largely controlled, may possibly condemn it as being unworthy. But perhaps the Great Husbandman is saying, "Circumstances have been against him for awhile, but a high quality of life is there; it is growing to something better than now appears, and in spite of adverse influences, it is even now a worthier life than many of loftier pretensions.

(S. Pascoe.)

The Church of Corinth was largely turned into a school of ill-natured criticism.

1. Each of the parties was occupied in finding fault with the names appealed to by the others; and thus some taunted those who clung especially to St. Paul with the suggestion that their much-loved apostle might be an active teacher and organiser, a great letter-writer, an ingenious disputant; but he was not faithful: he was wanting in that sincerity of purpose which is indispensable in a public servant of Christ. St. Paul here deals with this charge. No doubt a steward must be before all things faithful; but whether the Corinthians or any other men think him faithful or not matters very little to him, since he does not venture to decide even for himself. His conscience, indeed, accuses him of unfaithfulness; but then he does not see very far, and he is judged by One who knows all. Therefore the Corinthians had better give up their habit of judging "until the Lord come."

2. This precept often occurs in the Bible. Our Lord says, "Judge not, that ye be not judged"; and St. Paul warns the Romans: "Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest."

I. WHAT IS THE IMPORT OF THIS PRECEPT?

1. It is not meant that we are to form and express no judgment whatever upon human conduct. For —(1) Many judgments are inevitable if we think at all. Judgments of some kind issue from us just as naturally as flour does from a working corn-mill. How can it be otherwise?(a) God has given us a moral sense, and if this be alive it must judge with utter antipathy that which is in contradiction with this governing law; not to do this is to capitulate to the forces of evil, and to cancel the law of right within us.(b) God has given us also a law or sense of truth. As to what is true, some of us are better informed than others. We are, e.g., instructed Christians, who know and believe the whole body of truth taught by our Lord and His apostles; and so we approve of agreement and disapprove of disagreement, to what we hold for truth. In our days men sometimes think it good-natured to treat truth and falsehood as at bottom much the same thing; but this cannot be done with impunity.(2) Holy Scripture stimulates and trains the judicial faculty within us. The great servants of God in the Bible are intended to rouse us to admire and to imitate them; the sinners in the Bible are intended to create in us moral repulsion for their crimes. And what is this but an inward judgment? And as the Jewish law, by its higher standard, makes the judicial faculty in man more active than it was in the case of the heathen, so Christianity, with a higher standard still, makes it more active in the Christian than it was in the Jew. A Christian cannot help condemning acts that violate the law of Christ; not to do so is to renounce that law as a rule of thought and conduct. A Christian ought, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews, to have his moral senses exercised so as to discern between good and evil. Evidently the apostle wished the faculty of moral judgment to be very active at Corinth in the case of the incestuous person.(3) Human society has always found it necessary to lay upon some of its members the duty of judging others. Every day of term causes are heard and judged in our Law Courts before the time. Is this to contravene the teaching of St. Paul? Is it not clear that without some such officer as a judge associated human life would be impossible? No, a judge, so far from being an unchristian functionary, is the organ, within certain limits, of the judgment of the human and Christian conscience.

2. What, then, is the apostle's exact meaning — what is the class of judgments no one of which is permitted to a Christian? Some of the Corinthians undertook to decide what was the character and worth of Paul's motive, and therefore he bids them judge nothing, i.e., of this purely internal character, "until the Lord come." Our Lord would drag bad motives from their obscurity and show in the full light of day the real motives upon which all before His throne had acted. It is, then, the judgment of that which does not meet the eye, the judgment of the characters as distinct from acts, which is forbidden. If we witness an act of theft, we must say that it is an act of theft, and that Almighty God will punish it. If we are asked to say further what is the moral condition of a thief before God, the answer is by no means so easy.

II. THE REASONS WHICH MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR ALL OF US TO JUDGE THE CHARACTERS AS DISTINGUISHED FROM THE ACTS OF OTHER MEN EQUITABLY.

1. We have our likes and dislikes; only those who have a very strong sense of justice keep these tendencies well in hand before they speak or act in relation to others.(1) We do not welcome virtues which condemn ourselves. If our tendency be to vanity, we find it hard to do justice to the humble, &c., &c.(2) We assume that the virtues which cost us little or nothing to practise are the most important, and that the vices which contradict these virtues ought to be judged with the greatest severity. A bias like this disqualifies us for equitable judgment and warns us not to attempt to judge character "before the Lord come."

2. We are necessarily ignorant of circumstances, which, if they do not decide our action, they do, nevertheless, influence it very seriously. One eye only can take a full account of circumstances. He knew what had been the circumstances of the penitent thief when He said: "This day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." He knew what had been the circumstances of Judas when He said, "It were better for that man if he had never been born." As for us we do not know, and therefore we had better "judge nothing" as to character "until the Lord come."

3. We see only the outside of character in those whom we know most intimately. Sometimes, under most unpromising appearances, there is a fund of hidden good. On the other hand, outward appearances may be uniformly fair while concealing some deep secret evil that is eating out the very heart of the soul, like the disease which is at work upon the constitution while the bloom of health still lingers on the cheek. Every man who is trying to serve God must deplore the contrast between his real life and the favourable reputation which he enjoys among his friends, and must experience something like relief when, now and then, he gets abused, it may be quite unjustly, since in this way he feels the appraisement is partly redressed. We cannot anticipate God's judgments in either direction. He looked of old on a pagan and He said, "Lo! I have not found so great faith; no, not in Israel." He called some who had the greatest reputation for goodness "whited sepulchres," &c. He said that the first on earth would often be the last hereafter, and that the last would be first. You may here remind me of our Lord's words, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Yes; but He is speaking of false prophets, and He tells us that the goodness or badness of human actions is a guide to the worth of the systems which produce them; He is giving us a test of doctrines. As for character it is by no means almost or adequately to be measured by acts. The Pharisee's good acts were more numerous and indisputable than those of the publican, but the publican's inward disposition was his justification before God.

4. Once more, there is the soul of every action, the intention with which it is done. Apart from this an act is merely the product of an animated machine. Many actions in themselves excellent are corrupted by a bad motive. Prayer is a good action, so is fasting, so is almsgiving; but we remember what our Lord said of those who prayed or gave alms, or fasted to be seen of men. On the other hand, a good motive cannot transform an act in itself bad into a good act. A lie remains a lie, even if we tell it with a pious motive. Oh, what a mysterious unknown world is the world of motives! Human law has little to do with it; it touches the fringe of it, but reluctantly now and then, as when it essays to distinguish between manslaughter and murder. But do we really know about it? and, in our ignorance, how can we possibly undertake to judge the inward life of others before the time? On two occasions St. Paul seems to have violated his own precept: when he denounced Elymas and Ananias. But he was acting under the guidance of an inspiration which discovered to him the real character of these men, but which it would be contrary to humility and good sense in us to assume that we were possessed of. If our Lord said to His hearers, "Ye hypocrites," He saw the men through and through, so that there was not a trace of possible injustice in His description.

III. WHEN THE LORD COMES THERE WILL BE A JUDGMENT AT ONCE ADEQUATE AND UNIVERSAL.

1. Well it is for us that we have not to trust to any of the phrases that are sometimes proffered us as substitutes for the last judgment — the judgment of posterity. Posterity, the chances are, will know nothing whatever about us. Posterity does judge the few eminences of a past age, but whether posterity is right or wrong what does it matter to those most concerned? They hear nothing of its favourable or unfavourable verdict, they have long since passed before a higher tribunal. And what about the millions of whom posterity never hears? Surely it is well that we may look forward to something better than a judgment of posterity.

2. "Until the Lord come." Yes; He can do that which we cannot do; He can judge men as they really are. There is no warp in His perfect humanity that can for a moment affect the balance of His judgment; there is no sin or weakness to which He has a subtle inclination, or of which He will ever exaggerate the evil. He is acquainted with any circumstances that excuse or enhance the guilt of each who stands before His throne. He has had His eye all along upon each one of us. He can form not merely an outward but an inward estimate of us; He is never misled by appearances; and therefore, when He does come, His judgment will be neither superficial nor inequitable; it will carry its own certificate of perfect justice into the inmost conscience of those whom it condemns.

(Canon Liddon.)

General Grant, speaking of charges of cowardice, says, "The distant rear of an army engaged in battle is not the best place to judge what is going on. The stragglers in the rear are not to make us forget the intrepid soldiers in front." But how many judge the Christian Church and religion by its worst representatives!

(H. O. Mackey.)

Who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart. —
This is a very simple description of the last judgment, only a brief statement of some things to be done by the Judge, without any of those details which address themselves irresistibly to the imagination.

I. CHRIST WILL BRING TO LIGHT THE HIDDEN THINGS OF DARKNESS.

1. Now such is the imperfectness of the strictest human legislation that a great deal of crime passes undiscovered. The effect of this is to encourage many to commit it in hope of impunity. If it were certain that every breaker of the law would be visited with its penalties, there would be few violations of its statutes.

2. But this holds good not only in regard to legal offences which cover only a limited range of wickedness. There are many sins which a man may commit without exposing himself to any legal penalty, but not, if the commission be known, without suffering in his good name or reputation. You have only to bring it about, that public odium shall be attached to a certain action, and you may almost reckon on it becoming comparatively unknown. But then public opinion, as well as the law, maybe altogether evaded through concealment. There are so many ways of hiding vice, so many chances against being found out. There is hardly anything so powerful as an encouragement to sin as the expectation of concealment.

3. Yet the very publicity to which we attribute such power may be affirmed in regard of all of us. The moment you recognise the Divine omnipresence you make the very notion of secrecy absurd. And yet so powerful is practical unbelief that the very things which men would not dare to do, if they thought themselves observed by a human being, they do without scruple if observed only by God.

4. But let us see whether it be of any real advantage that the inspection is that of God and not that of man. We will suppose it known that on this day twelvemonth there shall be made a revelation of the actions of every man's life: now would not the prospect of this have a vast influence on a man; would not those actions which he would not have dared to commit, had he not looked for concealment, press on his mind and cause him deep agony; and would he not instantly set about the work of reformation, that he might reduce as much as possible what would have to be disclosed? It is not, then, the temporary impunity which induces a man to commit what would bring him to shame if it were but disclosed — it is the hope of escaping altogether. And it is no imaginary case which we thus bring to convict you of the worst infatuation, if you could be content with hiding from your fellow-men what is faulty in your actions; this is the very ease which is actually to come to pass.

5. We do not see why it should practically make any difference to you, that this revelation is not to take place until after death. Except that you should be vastly more affected than if it occurred during your life; for if you dread the revelation because of punishment which may follow, you should dread it the more when the punishment is eternal; and if it be the shame that you fear, where would your exposure be so terrible as in the presence of myriads of angels, and of the whole human race? And now we want to know why the very men, on whom the prospect of such a revelation would tell with awful force, if it were certain to take place during their natural lives, can regard it with the most utter indifference, because not to take place until they have passed into eternity? It must, we think, be that they do not associate such a revelation with the business of the last judgment. We need not suppose there is any one of you who has secretly transgressed the laws of the land, in such sense, that if his actions were exposed, they would bring on him judicial interference; but we may suppose that there are numbers who would be horror-struck with the idea of having their lives laid bare, so that every man might know whatever they had done. Does the merchant allow himself to be guilty of practices not strictly honourable, &c., &c.? Why you would sink into the earth for very shame if this revelation of yourselves were to take place now in the face of the congregation! Oh! then, think, Shall we be able to bear it better when spirits innumerable from every district of the universe shall look with searching gaze on all our hidden doings? If the disgrace of exposure would make you long now to hide yourselves in the depths of the earth, shall you not then be of those who will call passionately on the rocks and mountains to cover them? — passionately, but vainly — for there shall be no more darkness but the darkness of hell, and that is the darkness of a fire which cannot conceal because it cannot consume.

II. CHRIST WILL MAKE MANIFEST THE COUNSELS OF THE HEART. But there are many who might venture to live in public; so high are their morals, so amiable their tempers. These men will not fear exposure. But if there be some who might venture on submitting their lives, who is there that would venture OH submitting his thoughts? Active sin bears hardly any proportion to imagined sin; for whilst a thousand things may put restraint on the actions, there is nothing whatever to control the imagination, save an earnestness to obey, by God's help, the injunction, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." Compassed, as we all are, with infirmity, there is no diligence which can keep watch over an ever active fancy; so that almost before we are aware, there will be defilement within, whilst all is yet purity without. But there will be a scrutiny going down into the heart out of which proceeds evil thoughts, adulteries, &c. Well might Malachi exclaim, "Who can abide the day of His coming?" This ought completely to overturn every confidence, except that which is based on the mediation of Christ. We do not see how any self-righteousness could think of submitting to such a trial as is here spread before us. No living man can endure such a scrutiny, unless he has applied, by faith, to the conscience, that blood which cleanses from all sin.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

The hydrometer is an instrument by which the strength of spirit is determined, or, rather, by which the quantity of water mixed with the spirit is ascertained: and the dependence which may be placed on its accuracy once gave rise to a curious scene in China. A merchant sold to the purser of a ship a quantity of distilled spirit, according to a sample shown; but not standing in awe of conscience, he afterwards, in the privacy of his storehouse, added a quantity of water to each cask. The article having been delivered on board, and tried by the hydrometer, was discovered to be wanting in strength. When the vendor was charged with the fraud, he stoutly denied it; but on the exact quantity of water which had been mixed with the spirit being named, he was confounded; for he knew of no human means by which the discovery could have been made, and, trembling, he confessed his roguery. If the ingenuity of man is thus able to detect the iniquity of a fellow-creature, and to expose his secret practices, how shall we escape the all-seeing eye of the Almighty, that omniscient Being, "who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the heart"?

The Homilist.
Place on a cold polished metal, such as a new razor, a wafer. Breathe on it; and though, when the wafer is removed, no trace of the wafer whatever will be discovered, breathe again, and a spectral image of the wafer will come plainly into view. And as often as you repeat the breathing, the image will appear. More than this, if the polished metal be carefully put aside where nothing can deteriorate its surface, though it remains for many months, breathing on it again will cause a shadowy form to emerge. Indeed, a shadow never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace, a trace which might be made visible by reverting to proper processes. In photography, peoples, palaces, churches, landscapes, &c., may lay hidden from the eye on the sensitive surface for years, and reappear in all their freshness, reality, and proportion, as soon as the proper developers are applied. It is thus with mental impressions. No impression once made upon the mind is ever lost. Like the wafer image on the polished metal, or the picture on the sensitive plate, it may lay concealed; but a mere breath, or beam, or particle will call it forth in all its reality, and thus on for ever. A man commits a trifling sin; the act falls as a mere wafer on the surface of his soul; but the impression of that wafer is more lasting than the stars. But God has given to the human soul a quality which no polished metal or sensitive plate possesses. No impression made thereon is ever obliterated, though it is multiplied on millions of millions of times. Every impression is vividly and imperishably fixed in all its own distinctiveness, and so it would be well for us to reflect as we look or think or act.

(The Homilist.)

And then shall every man have praise of God.
It is evident enough from the connection that the apostle does not mean that every man, whosoever he may be, shall obtain praise of God. This taking for granted the excellence of the individual would be distinctly opposed to all his reasoning. He can only mean that every man, whose conduct has been acceptable to God, shall be openly approved, and that in exact proportion to his piety and zeal. But when you consider the text as containing generally a description of the last assize, you cannot fail to be struck with the largeness of the assertion. By no perverse ingenuity can the words be made to sanction the wild notion of universal salvation, for those who indulge in the idle dream would not venture to talk of having praise of God. But, nevertheless, it would seem as if there might be some sense in which all, without exception, shall have praise of God, viz., in the sense that all are to be made to glorify God. It will be for the fulfilling this end that any receive commendation; and so far then as every man may at length be said to fulfil it, every man may be spoken of as in the position of one praised. And whether or not it be a groundless conjecture, that the praise given to every man may denote that every man will be made to glorify God, we know, at least, that this latter is not supposition but fact. We can never weary of endeavouring to expel the delusion that God is too merciful to inflict lasting pain, and that He never will, therefore, exact what His Word threatens. The delusion is based on a manifest fallacy. It supposes that it must be at variance with the Divine nature. But God will be glorified in punishing the rebellious, as well as in pardoning the penitent. God has made all things for Himself. He is His own end, and it is Godlike in Him to do and allow whatsoever promotes His own glory. For this it was that thousands of worlds glittered through infinite space; for this it was that earth, sea, air, teemed with animated beings; for this it was that He sent His own Son as the surety of the lost; for this it was that He opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers; aye, and for this it was that He appointed the prison of hell to all despisers. You are wrong in thinking that He has nothing to gain in condemning you. He has glory to gain; more glory than in releasing you, if you die in your sins; for this were to compromise, whilst the other is to display all His attributes. Examine the terms of salvation through Christ; comply with them, and then shall every man literally have praise of God: "Well done, good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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