Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found your works perfect before God.…
First, man's search may be without finding; but now when God searcheth men, He is sure to find men out (Psalm 139:1). Secondly, man's searching hath ever ignorance foregoing, though after search maybe he comes to know, yet before searching he knows not (Job 29:16). God searcheth because He doth know, man because he doth not. Thirdly, man's searching is properly so called; but when searching is spoken of God, it is after the manner of men; God doth rather act a kind of searching, then search indeed. Fourthly, it is man's duty to search if he know not any particular passage of his life, whether it be warrantable or no. Fifthly, man's searching is for himself, that things may appear to himself; but when God searcheth it is that it may be manifest abroad, that a man's sell and others may see it. The reasons of this are, first, because it is God's prerogative thus to do, because the perfection of men's works; though men may give a guess at it, yet it is a secret. Secondly, as this is God's prerogative royal, so of all things in the world He will bring that which is secret out, whether men be sincere or no. Thirdly, because it is for the glory of God to search men out. Fourthly, it is for the truth of God; He hath said He will search every one out, as you may see (Job 34:22). Fifthly, this is for the justice of God, that God should search out every one what he is, and what his works be; how should God judge the world else? The first use may serve to reprove most men generally; we do not consider that God will search us. What a company of pleas are there to do evil? What a company of put offs to do good duties? The second use is to bid us take heed how we hide our sins from others, or from ourselves. The last use is for exhortation. Will God search us out? then we should search ourselves what our works are, whether good or evil; as the apostle saith (2 Corinthians 13:5). First, consider we can never repent of what is amiss in ourselves, or in our works, except we search ourselves (Lamentations 1:43). Secondly, consider it is a mark of the child of God that he doth desire, and is one that doth search himself; nay, he doth not only use all the means he can to do it, but he doth cry to God to help him (Psalm 139:23). Thirdly, consider, if we do not search ourselves, it will be the worse for us.
(Wm. Fenner, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.