Amos 4:12
Forbearance has its limits, and probation is not forever. Discipline itself is temporary, and, when the purposes of God concerning men are fulfilled, will come to an end. There is a time for preparation, and then after that comes the time for reckoning and for recompense.

I. THE PERSONS DIRECTED TO PREPARE FOR THIS MEETING.

1. Especially the disobedient, the threatened, the chastened. The previous verses make it evident that it was to these that the admonition was particularly addressed. The people of Israel, as a whole, had departed from God, and had been censured and chastened by God. It seems to have been in consequence of their impenitence and obduracy that they were addressed in the solemn language of the text.

2. Yet the appeal has surely reference to such as were learning the lessons so powerfully though so painfully inculcated by Divine providence. There were individuals disposed to profit by the awful dispensations that were befalling the nation, and by the faithful admonitions addressed by inspired prophets.

II. THE EVENT DESCRIBED AS A MEETING WITH GOD.

1. It is not to be supposed that there is ever a time when God is not in immediate contact with his creatures. We meet him at every turn, we meet him at every moment. His eye is ever upon us, his hand is ever over us. "Whither shall we flee from his presence?" To the pious soul this thought is grateful, congenial, welcome. To the irreligious soul this thought should be productive of sincere humiliation and penitence.

2. There are, however, occasions appointed by the providence of God upon which the sons of men are constrained, manifestly and unmistakably, to meet their God. Nations meet God in national crises, in solemn conjunctures of incident, of probation, of destiny. Individuals meet God in critical events in human life, in remarkable experiences of the inevitable incidence of the moral law of God.

3. All Scripture declares that there is a future judgment, when all the intelligent and accountable shall be summoned into the Divine presence and before the Divine tribunal. "After death the judgment;" "Then shall every man give account of himself to God." We are directed to keep this day of account before our view, and to live in prospect of it.

III. THE PREPARATION HERE ENJOINED.

1. In character it must be thorough and sincere. Nothing hypocritical or superficial can suffice. For the meeting anticipated is with him who is the Searcher of all hearts.

2. In nature it must consist of true repentance and true faith. A turning of the heart from evil, and a turning unto God, - these are essential. Unfeigned repentance and cordial faith are indispensable.

3. In manifestation it must be in conformity with Divine requirements. If thou wouldst meet God with holy confidence, then must thou "do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God." - T.







Prepare to meet thy God.
We will endeavour to enforce the exhortation of the text in a series of arguments, illustrating the reasons why due obedience and attention should be given to this command of the great Omnipotent.

1. Because we shall most certainly be summoned to His tribunal, a We must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ." Do you believe this awful fact? You shall meet God, to give an account of every thought, word, and deed. Are you seeking a preparation for this dreadful period? The very idea of standing before the judgment-seat of Christ should so overpower the mind with its awfulness that every moment should be busily employed in preparing for that hour.

2. Because we shall then receive our everlasting destiny. Then we shall know our irreversible fate. The condition after judgment is unchangeable.

3. Because our time on earth is short and uncertain.

4. On account of the promised blessedness and happiness of heaven. The reward of glory, honour, and eternal life awaits those who have made due preparation to dwell in the celestial kingdom.

(J. M. Burton.)

: — To prepare to meet Him implies a firm belief of His approach, and careful consideration in what way best to receive it. This precept is often applied to the idea of meeting God in another world. But we may, apply the lessons of this teaching to what goes on in this world. How may we '"prepare to meet our God" as He comes near to us?

I. DURING OUR PROBATION ON EARTH.

1. In the way of repentance. God reveals Himself to us as willing and waiting to be gracious; He calls on the careless and impenitent to meet Him in mercy, and tells them to do so —

(1)Quickly.

(2)Carefully.

(3)Decidedly.

2. In the way of temporal blessings. Then we should meet Him in a spirit of gratitude and praise.

3. In the way of temporal sorrow. Sorrow is often represented in Scripture under the idea of the clouds, the whirlwind, and the storm.

(1)Endeavour to turn judgment aside by humble prayer.

(2)Bear it as coming from God.

4. In the use of the means of grace, Men often lose much from not preparing to meet God in His own ordinances. Prepare to meet Him —

(1)With reverence and godly fear.

(2)With earnest expectation.

5. In the works of righteousness.

II. AFTER THE TIME OF OUR PROBATION IS OVER.

1. Very solemn and awakening is the thought of meeting God at that moment, when every earthly prop will have been taken away from the soul, and the veil of flesh removed, and every delusion will have vanished for ever. Remember this in the midst of the engrossing concerns of this uncertain life. Realise that you are only,, strangers and pilgrims here.

2. After death comes judgment, when we must be made manifest "before the tribunal of Christ. Prepare for that day. Judge yourselves now.

(Vincent W. Ryan, M. A.)

I. GOD MEETS US NOW, AND WE MEET HIM AT SUNDRY TIMES AND IN DIVERS MANNERS. If in His own appointed ordinances we draw nigh to Him, it is our privilege to feel assured that He will most certainly draw nigh to us. But there must be antecedent preparation. God meets us in the time of trial, and we should prepare to meet Him. We should carefully and honestly examine ourselves — search, as before Him, our thoughts, feelings, opinions, and habits. There are temporal blessings in which God meets us, and in which we should prepare ourselves to meet Him, by habitually cherishing a contented and thankful spirit.

II. GOD MEETS US HEREAFTER. That meeting is certain. The doctrine of a future judgment is, no doubt, peculiar to Divine revelation, but it receives the strongest confirmation from the natural conscience. It well-nigh overwhelms the mind to think of the disclosures of the great day. The final inquisition shall be spiritual. We all admit that the character of an act is determined by the motive in which it originates. God will then "make manifest the counsels of our hearts." There is in this much call for alarm, but there is also abundant consolation. To the ungodly there cannot but be something terrible in these words, "Prepare to meet thy God." How unbearable is the thought when it flashes even for a moment on the guilty conscience, "Thou God seest me"! We must remember that our Probation is limited to this present life. We must prepare to meet our God now or never.

(R. W. Forrest, M. A.)

How often have these words been turned into words of terror; how many noble discourses have been preached from this text which had no relation whatever to its meaning! This is the voice of love. All punishment, has failed — what now is to be done? Something larger, nobler. Prepare to meet thy God." "Prepare": there is forewarning. When God forewarns He means to give us every opportunity of repentance; if He were not determined upon giving us every opportunity He would plunge upon us without warning, and carry us away as a flood in the night-time, The very word "prepare," so used in,, this relation is itself a Gospel term. Prepare to meet thy God. Still it is thy God." Men give up God, but does God give up them? They forget that there is a double relation. Imagine not that God is moved by your fickle changefulness. You may have renounced God, but God has not renounced you.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

The words of Amos, as they are understood by Christendom, bidding us prepare for a final and extraordinary meeting with God, appeal to our sense of prudence and to our sense of justice. The words rouse these original instincts of the human soul to a new activity. Behind the sense of justice and of prudence there is in the soul of man another feeling, more indefinite, yet not less real than these — the sense of awe or reverence. Fear, love, and admiration enter into reverence in different proportions, but it cannot be identified with any one of them. It is the virtuous emotion whereby the soul of man sincerely acknowledges the presence of greatness. Reverence is not in any sense a fictitious sort of virtue. Some think reverence is the upshot of artificial circumstances, of artificial and stinted convictions, a fruit of narrow associations, of subjection to characters and to traditions of a particular type. But, reverence, like all virtue that deserves the name, is based on truth. And it is not exclusively, or even chiefly, ecclesiastical excellence. It is true that the Church of Christ is the great school of reverence, because, within it, the highest and most commanding greatness is continually presented to the soul of man. But reverence, as a human excellence, is older than the Church, older than Christianity, older than revelation; it is as old as the idea that there is anything in existence that is greater than man. The first school of reverence which has been provided for us is the natural world around us. I an feels, behind nature, a higher power of some kind, which appeals to his sense of greatness. In the absence of revelation, the mystery of the natural world has led to abundant error and degradation. Nature is, in a way, God's first revelation to man. It is our first teacher of that practical sense of a higher greatness which we call reverence. The lesson is learned more effectively from man himself. Man becomes an object of reverence whenever a higher greatness than his own rests upon him; and it may do this in one of two ways, as the greatness of office, or the greatness of character. High office, always and everywhere, is a shadow of the majesty of God. But character commands reverence more than orifice. Office is in a sense outside a man, character is himself. Conspicuous goodness, in every age, compels reverence. Aristides, by his justice; Scipio, by his chastity; Cato, by his inflexibility. Nor is reverence less due to great names because it has been exaggerated. Exaggeration becomes impossible when we remember that the true object to which reverence is due is nothing in the man himself, as it is not anything in nature herself. It is that higher greatness which in both may be discovered beyond. Reverence is no mere inoperative sentiment when it is sincere. It carries with it practical consequences. Hence the extreme importance that the objects of reverence should be, as far as may be worthy of it. That one human form, one human character might command a boundless reverence, the Infinite Being submitted Himself to bonds, and appeared among us m a created form, that in Him all Christian reverence might centre. Below the throne of Jesus Christ reverence is always paid to a greatness distinct from and beyond the object which immediately provokes it; it is paid to God. Behind nature we find the omnipotence of God; behind human office the authority of God; behind human character, in its highest forms, the holiness of God. We do not vet see God, we feel God. Amos knows the difference between that sort of apprehension of God which is common among men; between talking about Him as men do, and "meeting" Him. Israel was irreverent, and Amos bids Israel prepare to meet its God in quite a different sense to that in which He had been met either at Bethel or Samaria in the prosperous days which were drawing to their close. Israel was to meet Him in suffering. Suffering strips off from the eye the conventional films which hide out God; it brings us face to face with Him. So, too, with us Christians as to death and judgment. How are we to be educated for the sight of God after death? Chiefly by worship. Religion is neither morality nor worship. It is the relation which binds the soul to God, of which religion morality is a necessary symptom, and worship a necessary exercise. But who ever heard of anything that could be called religion which was without a worship? Worship is the highest expression of reverence. Worship is an education for the inevitable future, a training of the soul's eye to bear the brightness of the everlasting sun.

(Canon Liddon.)

Mere belief in the existence of the Deity may be the belief of the basest sinner. If my faith in God is not influencing my heart and my conduct Godward, so far as my spiritual condition is concerned, I might just as well have been born a heathen. Why should you prepare to meet God?

1. Because you must meet Him. There are a thousand things we can refrain from doing. Men can refuse to pray; refuse to repent and reform their ways; refuse to make confession of Christ: but there is one thing they cannot refuse to do, — they cannot refuse to meet God. The call of death all must hear and obey.

2. Because you may have to meet Him soon. The time is uncertain. Delay in other matters is sometimes prudence; but in all that relates to the safety of the soul, delay is dangerous, and indifference is inimical to the highest well-being of man.

3. Because you will have to meet Him alone. We meet in crowds now; but as individuals then. We must all die alone; we must all meet God alone. 4 Because to meet Him unprepared will be the greatest calamity, of your being. How will you meet your Maker if you neglect the preparation. What shall be the end of them that obey not the Gospel?"

(Enoch D. Solomon.)

I. AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN GOD AND MAN IS INEVITABLE,

II. PREPARATION IS NECESSARY TO MAKE THESE MEETINGS SALVE AND HAPPY

1. A preparation of sincere repentance.

2. A preparation of faith in the Lord Jesus.

3. A preparation of regeneration.

4. The preparation of good works.Not works of merit; but works of goodness, produced in us by His Holy Spirit. Works of devotion to God, and beneficence and compassion to men.

III. URGE THE ADMONITION OF THE TEXT.

1. Prepare scripturally.

2. Prepare earnestly.

3. Prepare immediately.

4. Let all prepare.

(J. Burns, D. D.)

nts of His hand: —

I. PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD, O ISRAEL, ACKNOWLEDGE WHO IT IS THAT IS COME OUT AGAINST THEE. Stop not at second causes — dwell not and trifle not about petty and subordinate excuses. Acknowledge God to be the author of the calamity. It is His providence — His hand — His voice.

II. ACKNOWLEDGE THY INABILITY TO MEET HIM. How can man meet and bear and endure and sustain the judgments of his Creator? Our weakness being too great — our guilt too apparent — our folly too monstrous.

III. THE ABASING OF OURSELVES BEFORE GOD IN TRUE PENITENCE. Abase thyself before Him — return from all thy transgressions — cast away your idols — return unto God, and seek His face.

IV. WE MUST CAST OURSELVES UPON HIS GRACE AND MERCY IN JESUS CHRIST. Prepare to meet thy God by throwing thyself at the foot of the Cross — and by relying on justification and acceptance in the atoning blood and meritorious propitiation and sacrifice of the eternal Son of God.

(D. Wilson.)

Our consideration is called to the coming of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, as God manifest in the flesh. In the language of Scripture, the design of Almighty God in any way to bless or to punish mankind is often represented by the declaration of His coming among them for that purpose. In His own existence God necessarily fills all space, and is at all times equally present in every portion of the universe which He hath formed. Yet He speaks of Himself as dwelling among His people, departing from them, etc. All these forms of expression arise from the peculiar government which He exercised over the Israelites, often called a theocracy. Because every instrument, either of good or evil, was powerful and effectual only as employed by Him. God is also said to have personally done that which was done by His permission. While God warns His people of His approach, either for purposes of mercy or judgment, He commands them also to prepare for His reception; to be ready to meet Him with that reverence and gratitude and submission which comported with His high authority, and with their dependence upon His power. It seems that the afflictions of Israel had not been allowed by them to produce their proper effect, in bringing them to repentance. God threatens them therefore with further execution of His determinations for punishment, and solemnly admonishes them to be prepared for His coming.

I. THE EVENTS WHICH MAY BE REFERRED TO AS THE COMING OF GOD. Two great events referred to under this peculiar designation. The advent of God in His Incarnation, for the redemption of His people. And the second personal advent to judge the world in righteousness.

1. The first advent of God, to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, in some of its aspects, may be considered as a past event. But, in regard to its final object, the accomplishment of man's salvation, it must be considered as enduring until every ransomed soul has been brought home, converted from the world, and fully devoted to God. The great purpose of this coming He is affecting every day. But to the heart yet unchanged, the real advent of Christ, for man's salvation, is as much a future event as it was to Abraham.

2. The second advent is, for all who live now, a future event; and it will be for the full salvation of His people, for the universal judgment of the world, and for the final settlement of His glorious and ever. lasting kingdom. How far removed this day is neither men nor angels know.

II. THE STATE OF MIND WHICH IS IMPLIED IN THIS CALL FOR PREPARATION.

1. In regard to His first advent, a Divine messenger was sent to make ready His way. The same work of preparation must be finished before your hearts can find peace with Him. The world and self are to be forsaken and denied. Your own righteousness, as a ground of hope, is to be relinquished.

2. In regard to the second coming of Christ, the exhortation of our text becomes still more solemn and important. What progress in holiness shall be too large a preparation for that momentous hour of the soul's existence? What life of faith can be too elevated? What heavenliness of character can be too exalted? Personal holiness and active beneficence constitute the whole amount of pure and undefiled religion, as exemplified in the character which is required of the people of God. And though no worth can appertain to either, as proceeding from an imperfect and sinful being, yet undoubtedly, the higher are our attainments in both, the more full of peace and comfort will our souls be, at the coming of our God. In all the duties of a holy, active life, the spiritual Israel is to be prepared to meet their God.

III. THE CHARACTER UNDER WHICH GOD WILL COME TO HIS SPIRITUAL ISRAEL. "Thy God." Whether He comes in His first, or in His second advent, He comes as a Saviour who is welcome to His people; He is their God.

1. God the Saviour is ours, by His own election of us to be His people. When we knew Him not, He called us to receive the fulness of His grace.

2. By a voluntary donation of Himself for us. By this donation of Himself, He purchased for Himself a peculiar people, who shall glorify Him on the earth, and become partakers of His glory in heaven.

3. By our voluntary acceptance of His mercy.

4. By the personal consecration of ourselves to His service. This is the fourfold ground of that reciprocal property which subsists between God and His people. But we must consider Him, not only as theirs, but as their "God." We may be joyful in our King, because of the glorious character of the Being whose coming is proclaimed.

IV. WHAT WILL BE THE RESULTS OF HIS COMING TO THEM?

1. His first advent is to their hearts, with the demonstration of the Spirit, and with Divine power, and its result is, that they are born again and made new creatures in Christ Jesus. The acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ, in the great offices which He exercises for men, is the characteristic distinction of the people of God; the grand discriminating mark of converted souls.

2. Then, being redeemed, there will be nothing disheartening or terrible in His second coming to finish His purposes of love for us. The text having thus far been applied to spiritual Israel, may now be applied to idolatrous Israel.To this class it is the solemn warning of an approaching judgment.

1. This text, as a warning, was addressed to those whose service and affections had been voluntarily withdrawn from the living God, and devoted to objects prohibited by Him. The Israelites had openly established idolatrous worship in the land; and had secretly withdrawn their hearts from God, even while professing outwardly to serve Him. Every unconverted man is really an idolater. The covetousness of the world is idolatry. The proud, the vain, the envious, are all idolaters. It is the voluntary idolatry of men's hearts which forms the guiltiness of their unconverted state.

2. The exhortation of this text was addressed to those who had experienced many chastising visitations from Almighty God without effect. Every painful providence dispensed to man is either a blessing or a curse. If it merely hardens us in a state of sin, it is a punishment.

3. The warning of the text was addressed to those who had been the peculiar objects of Divine forbearance, without repentance.

V. WHAT WILL RENDER THE DAY OF GOD'S COMING INTOLERABLE TO THOSE WHO HAVE DONE EVIL, and who must be judged for the evil which they have done.

1. In that day of God's coming, you will think of the clear and inestimable manifestations of Divine love which you have neglected.

2. You will think of the laborious and expensive system which was devised and executed for your redemption.

3. The recompense of that dreadful day of God's coming will be further aggravated by a clear view of the dignity of that holy and merciful Being who has been thus despised.

4. You will reflect upon His long-continued forbearance, which has been abused and exhausted by your perverseness in sin. Then I entreat you to look at the character of your own lives, and see if you are prepared to meet your God. Whatever be the outward habits of your lives, whatever the opinions which men entertain of your characters, without the power of godliness in your souls renewed by the Holy Ghost, you are weighed in the balance, and found wanting. Acquire, then, this spirit of true religion. Consider the value of your eternal interests.

(S. H. Tyng, D. D.)

Is this to be considered the language of irony or of seriousness? We view the words seriously. Not as an insultation over their weakness, but as an expression of kindness designed to hinder the misery it foretold. The Divine threatenings are always conditional; either stated or implied. If God ever takes a sinner by surprise, it is after the rejection of a thousand warnings addressed to him. God strikes before He destroys, and He speaks before He strikes.

I. GOD IS COMING. Coming to apprehend, and to punish, without repentance. This may be applied to any of His awful dispensations. To destroy nations, in ways of spiritual judgment. God's coming to judgment is rendered reasonable and probable by the testimony and terrors of conscience. And this coming to judgment is rendered certain by the Word of God. Here is an event in which we are not to be mere spectators, but parties deeply concerned.

II. WE OUGHT TO BE PREPARED TO MEET HIM. Attend to three questions.

1. Can you escape?

2. Can you contend with Him?

3. Can you endure Him?

III. THERE IS A PREPARATION WHICH WILL ENABLE US TO MEET HIM IN SAFETY AND PEACE. The Bible tells us what we should do, and assures us of full provision for all that we are required to do.

1. You must go forth with the world behind your backs.

2. With tears in your eyes,

3. With ropes upon your necks.

4. With a petition in your hand.

5. With Christ at your side.Go forth thus to meet Him, and He will fully pardon you and welcome you.

(William Jay.)

I. TO WHOM MAY THIS COMMAND BE CONSIDERED AS ADDRESSED? All who have made no preparation for meeting God.

1. Those who have designedly crowded the whole subject from their minds.

2. Those who have deferred the subject with an intention to prepare at a future time. They have some sense of the importance and necessity of making preparation.

3. Those who spend their time in preparing for other things, so as to crowd this subject out, though without any specific or settled intention to do so.

4. Those who have given some slight attention to the subject, but have settled down on that which will, in fact, constitute no preparation when they come to appear before God. They are relying on some delusive views and hopes, some erroneous doctrine or opinions; some vague, unsettled, and unsubstantial feelings. These classes embrace a large portion of the human family.

II. WHY SHOULD PREPARATION BE MADE TO MEET GOD?

1. Because it is to be our first interview with Him face to face.

2. Because we shall meet Him in very solemn circumstances.

3. Because we go there on a very solemn errand.

4. Because God has solemnly commanded such preparation.

5. Because when we are brought before Him, it will be too late to do what is necessary to be done.

III. WHAT IS NECESSARY TO BE DONE IN ORDER TO BE PREPARED TO MEET GOD? Mere bravery or courage is not a preparation to meet God. Not more is he prepared to meet God who bids defiance to death. Nor is studied insensibility in death the proper preparation.

1. It is necessary to be reconciled to God. No one is prepared to meet Him to whom He is a stranger or a foe.

2. To be born again; to be renewed by the Holy Ghost.

3. There must be true repentance for sin, and true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The sum of what I say is this, — To be prepared to meet God, we must comply exactly with what He requires. We must meet His terms. No one need ever to have made any mistake on this point.

IV. WHEN WE SHOULD PREPARE TO MEET GOD. We must attend to it to-day; we must defer it no longer. The Bible requires it to be done at once; it demands that everything else should give way for it; that this day may end your probation; and that there is slender probability of preparation being made on a dying bed.

( A. Barnes, D. D.)

These words contain the two elements of all advent thoughts, the promise of a coming, and the exhortation to prepare for that coming. The one great difference between Christianity and all other forms of life and thought is, that the former has an advent in it, and that the latter have not. Christ taught men to look forward. In other life there is no such definite spirit of anticipation. The plans of those who consider themselves progressive men are often more destructive than constructive. All true progress, either conscious or unconscious, voluntary or compulsory, can be defined as God and man meeting together. To some advent lessons of preparation for meeting our God let attention be given. There is always a generation that is growing up, preparing for the world, as we say. But what is this for which they are preparing? "Prepare to meet thy God" presents a very different ideal It supposes that the world of men and women, of events and circumstances, was made and is controlled by God. He is in it. Behind all its more evident aspects He exists as a great power which is unlimited in its plans, and unmeasured in its force. Into such a world we are called to enter, and for preparation toward such a destiny are needed spiritual acquirements, — the power of patience and self-denial, the accurate perception of what is for and what is against God's glory, the possession of firm principle and courageous faith to resist the wrong and to assist the good. How many men have failed in the world for want of just those things! The whole moral aspect of life was obscured to them. The advent message brings back the true ideal. Its message is — Before us is God. Do not treat life as an earthly and insignificant thing; but at every step be sure that there is present the power of God, demanding our most complete preparation for what it lays upon us. The preparation for such daily meetings with God is a wide one. It neglects none of the ordinary preparations, in body, mind, and spirit; for every emergency requiring wisdom and power, it adds to that, it crowns it all, with that preparation of spirit, trained by intercourse with God Himself, in the closet, in the Church, by prayer, and by meditation, that we may be able to recognise His coming, and to do His will. "Prepare to meet thy God" is a command which, when we have once heard it clearly in Christian revelation, can be heard re-echoed from all the surrounding points of human life. The words of the text also relate to death. Religion did not make the grave; it only found it, and declared how it could be received. Something besides earth claims us, and we must go forth to meet it. It is the Gospel which says, "Prepare to meet thy God." Let that day not come upon you unawares, as a thief in the night; refuse to be snared by and identified with that bodily life which must fail you; live by the power of Him who came from heaven, and took flesh upon Him, only that by that life in the flesh He might do the will of His Father, and call men back to Him.

(Arthur Brooks.)

Plain Sermons by Contribution to "Tracts for the Times. "
The whole business which we have in the world is this, to prepare to meet God. This is the meaning of the whole Bible, to warn us that we must meet God, and to afford us every assistance and encouragement in this preparation. It is this in which mankind differs from all other creatures of God which we know of. Angels have not this call made to them. Brute creatures have not to appear before Him. Every man that is born must at last come into His presence. "Who may abide the day of His coming?" Our Lord's warning is, "Be ye ready!" What it will be to "meet our God" no heart of man can conceive; for what thought of man can ever understand what God is? But we may come to know Him even in this world far more than we think we can, as He is revealed to us in Jesus Christ. The thought of meeting God is of itself so awful, that we might have been disposed to sit down in despair at the contemplation of it, were it not for this access to the Father which we have in Jesus Christ. It is of infinite consequence that we should be prepared, "lest that day should overtake us unawares." And we know in what way we are to be prepared, what the things are which will be required of us. We cannot undo the past, which must all come before the all-seeing eye of the Judge; but during the little time that remains to us we can earnestly ask forgiveness, with lastings, and prayers, and tears, for the sake of Christ; and thus we may, with God's mercy, gain some hope and comfort before we die.

(Plain Sermons by Contribution to "Tracts for the Times. ")

I. TO WHOM THIS COMMAND APPLIES. It is applicable to all those who have not made any preparation.

1. There are those who have not made religion a personal matter.

2. Those who defer the subject with the intention of preparing at some future time.

3. Those who are so engrossed with other matters as to banish this subject from their minds.

4. Those who have given some attention to religion.

II. IN WHAT DOES SUCH PREPARATION CONSIST This is an important question. It does not consist in courage or bravery. Not in infidel stoicism. Not in beauty, wealth, etc. Not in amiability, honesty, justice, a fair character. Two great difficulties stand between a sinner and heaven: a legal one — man is a condemned sinner; a moral one — man is unholy. Justification will remove the legal difficulty; and regeneration will remove the moral one. Justification is that which God does for us; regeneration, that which He does in us.

III. SOME REASONS FOR PREPARING TO MEET GOD.

(J. D. Carey.)

Every one knows that this life is but the childhood of existence. A great many, and not such as pass for bad men either, are making no sort of preparation for another life. In all that respects this world's gain, the eye of the lightning is not sharper than theirs. And nothing can exceed the thoughtfulness and attention they bestow in preparing the comfort of their declining years. But take one of these deliberate and sagacious men, ask him what duty he is doing because Christianity requires it; ask him if he makes a point of doing, not what pleases himself, but what will please God. If he tells the truth, lie will reply that he thinks of no such things. He is contented if he preserves a good moral character, and does not materially injure others. He is quite easy as to his last account with God. But after giving all the praise due to this conduct, the great question returns, What is there in all this that you can call preparation for another existence? All this begins and ends with the present world. In all this there is nothing serious, nothing devoted, nothing high, nothing which could not be done as well without Jesus Christ as with Him. So many are in error. They are moving on in the voyage of life as if they were sure of drifting to the right harbour. What is the preparation required? Devotion and benevolence constitute the preparation; — in better words, the preparation is to love God with all the heart, and our neighbour as ourselves. Devotion does not consist in solemnity. The solemnity Christianity wants is that of a heart deeply engaged, interested, busy in its duty. I call that man devout who feels, and tries to feel, the presence of God; who is not afraid nor unwilling to have the eye of God upon him. Such a man prays, to make his requests known unto God; praises, because praise is the feeling of his heart; and his greatest endeavour is to bring his thoughts and deeds into subjection to the Christian law. Devotion means devotedness, readiness to do and suffer everything that pleases God. Devotion means something more than prayer. I would judge of the devotion by the life, and not of the life by the devotion. And the benevolence that makes part of the preparation is an active desire to do good to men. Mark the words "active desire"; for the mere desire is nothing. Very often there is a selfishness in the midst of benevolence. There are those who are willing to do good, but will to do it in their own way. Even the benevolent must be on their guard; they are far too apt to take as much with one hand as they give with the other. Mere feeling will do good as long as it is pleasant, and no longer. Principle is something worth having; it is patient, not easily discouraged, and enduring.

(W. B. C. Peabody, D. D.)

I. THERE IS A PERIOD TO DAWN UPON MANKIND WHEN THEY SHALL COME TO A PARTICULAR CONTACT WITH GOD. This period is —

1. Certain. Nature teaches the fact. Conscience indicates the same truth.

2. Uncertain, as to its time.

3. The greatest of all periods of importance.Then the actions of the life will be brought to the test.

II. THIS PERIOD WHICH IS TO DAWN UPON MANKIND REQUIRES PREPARATION ON MAN'S PART.

1. Man, in his natural state, is not in a condition to meet God.

2. Man is in a state of possibility to prepare.

3. Man's agency is necessary to his preparation.

III. GOD FEELS DEEP INTEREST IN THE WORLD'S PREPARATION. He desires the salvation of the world.

1. From what He has done for humanity.

2. From what He is doing in man.

3. From what He has promised to do for us in future.Attention to God's voice will secure our everlasting happiness.

(J. O. Griffiths.)

I. EVERY ONE OF THE HUMAN FAMILY MUST STAND BEFORE GOD. In the world of spirits we shall all meet God.

1. When the soul is dislodged from the body.

2. In the judgment at the last day. Note —

(1)The awful character and appearance of the Judge.

(2)The surrounding changes which will take place.

(3)The innumerable multitude that will then be assembled.

(4)The suddenness of the summons.

(5)The trial, or testing, through which every one must pass.

II. THE NATURE OF THE PREPARATION NECESSARY TO ENABLE US TO MEET GOD WITH COMFORT.

1. The justification of our persons.

2. The sanctification of our nature.

3. The improvement of the talents entrusted to our care.

III. THE NECESSITY OF ATTENDING TO THIS IMPORTANT PRECEPT. Consider —

1. The awful character of God.

2. The mighty purposes for which this meeting is convened.

3. The vast importance of this duty, compared with the utter insignificance of all earthly pursuits.

4. The means of attaining this great end are abundantly supplied.

5. We beseech you to act upon this advice, from the assurance that on it depends your everlasting happiness or misery.Address —

1. Those who have made no preparation for leaving this world.

2. Those who see the need, but delay.

3. Those who are diligently making preparation.The more they arc like God, the better prepared they will be to meet Him. Only by a diligent attendance on the means of grace can this be secured.

(R. Treffry.)

The Jews were incorrigible. God had tried for their correction, captivity, famine, too much rain, too little rain, universal sickness, lightning, and war, No good result. He now tells them that greater judgments are to come. With God we must meet.

1. In the misfortunes of life. Times of sickness, disaster, etc.

2. In the bereavements of life. We cannot escape then, unless man stands all alone — fatherless, motherless, brotherless, sisterless, childless.

3. An interview of this kind will take place in our last hour.

4. We must meet God in the great day. Common sense teaches us that there must be a judgment-day. How are we to prepare to meet God? Two words will tell you. Repent. Believe. That is, give up your sin, and be sorry for it. Take Christ for your Saviour.

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

The late Dr. Arnold, of Rugby, one of the most serious minded and earnest men whom England has produced in this century, was suddenly summoned to meet death and judgment. In the midst of perfect health he was attacked with spasm of the heart, and learned that in a moment he would be called into the infinitely holy presence of his Maker. He knew what this meant; for the immaculate purity of God was a subject that had profoundly impressed his spiritual and ethical mind. He felt the need of mercy at the prospect of seeing God face to face; and as he lay upon his deathbed, still, thoughtful, and absorbed in silent prayer, all at once he repeated firmly and earnestly: "And Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed; blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed."

(W. G. T. Shedd.)

Sunday Companion.
He who simply trusts the Saviour, he who faithfully performs every known duty, he who keeps a clear account with conscience, is always ready to enter heaven. There is deep truth in John Ruskin's words: "The only place where a man can be nobly thoughtless is on his deathbed. There ought to be no thinking left to be done there." Yes, we know how to die if we know how to live.

(Sunday Companion.)

As a cathedral built in the heart of a great city rises with the other buildings round about it, keeps company with them a certain distance, and then leaves them all behind, soars away skyward, and at last, solitary and alone, looks up into the infinite spaces, so every man lives among men. He rests with them upon the same political and social foundation; he stands with them in a wide and important fellowship; he rises with them in a certain way, and then he goes beyond them all, and the last look and reference of his spirit is to the Eternal. We draw our being from God, we live and move and have our being in God, and at death we breathe back our life into God's hands. The first thing in our existence is our Maker, and when we have done with all others we have still to do with Him.

(G. A. Gordon, D. D.)

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