Plain Sermons by Contributors to, Tracts for the Times
1 Peter 1:17-21
And if you call on the Father, who without respect of persons judges according to every man's work…
If these words were not known for certain to be the words of Holy Scripture they would appear to many very severe, very unfit to win souls to God. "What!" it would be said, "are people to fear always? all people, those who are farthest advanced in true religion and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost? What, then, is to become of the natural cheerfulness of youth; of the enjoyments inseparable from even health and spirits, kind relations and friends; what of the testimony of a good conscience? All this and more is said by different sorts of persons against those who, following God's own method, would make them serious in the true scriptural way; by teaching them, and encouraging them in the true reverence. It may be of use to us if we consider what those tempers are which are most apt to make men impatient of being told to "pass the time of their sojourning here in fear." There is a certain time of life in which we are almost all of us, more or less, partakers of this pagan error of disliking all that is really serious, all that would impress us thoroughly with the fear and dread of Almighty God. When youth and strength are high, before we have tasted of our Father's severer discipline, we shrink from the sadder lessons of Scripture and the Church: we say to ourselves, "Surely this world, so full of enjoyment, can never have been meant merely as a place for the exercise of hard and severe penitence." If, then, any young person happen now to be listening to me, let me beseech him to be aware of this danger: to watch in himself that spirit of confidence and gaiety which, under pretence of mere youthful cheerfulness, would lead him to make light of God's most holy commandments. Let us only recollect ourselves, how it is with us at our prayers. Are we not too much inclined to say them over without seriously bringing before our minds the awful presence of Him to whom we pray? This too is one of the reasons why outward religion, the religion of the body, is of so very great consequence; viz., that it helps very much to keep and improve in our hearts the true and wholesome fear of God. Because in truth not only does nature teach us to express our feelings in such postures, but also these very bodies of ours, so fearfully and wonderfully made, are of purpose so framed as to have an influence in their turn on our souls. Soldiers, we know, in all armies, are made to march erect, and to be firm and straight in all their bodily movements; not merely for the appearance' sake, but because the very attitude, in some unaccountable way, tends to make them bolder and firmer in mind; and in like manner there is no question, that kneeling and other humble gestures in devotion, practised not for form's sake, but in obedience to the Church, and in the fear of God, would cherish and improve that very fear in our hearts. Bishop Wilson has said, speaking of small instances of self-denial, "Say not, It is a trifle, and not fit to offer in sacrifice to God." And the same may be said of small occasions of nourishing the remembrance of Him; of short prayers frequently through the day, of turning every event and accident of life, not openly, but as much as may be in secret, into an opportunity for devout prayer and recollection.
(Plain Sermons by Contributors to "Tracts for the Times.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: