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Its main directions are
ready laid before men. to love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, with all thy mind, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and to love thy neighbour as thyself; but it calls for perfect and entire obedience, without one omission; whosoever shall keep the whole Law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James ii. 10.) A perfect pattern of obedience was given in the life of Christ, and the law is so just and reasonable, its requirements are so clearly our duty, and tend so to promote our happiness, that disobedience is without excuse. If we say that we are unable to keep it, that very plea is our condemnation. Unable supremely to love thy Creator, thy chief benefactor, una e to love thy neighbour as thyself! O how great thy sinfulness! how utterly indefensible that plea! How self-condemnatory that excuse!
There is then the book of PROVIDENCE.
This comprehends the various talents entrusted to us, of whatever kind; whether ability of understanding, or wealth of substance, or influence of condition, or strength of body. It includes all the advantages which we have enjoyed from our earliest years: our birth, our baptism, our education in a christian country, and the knowledge imparted and stored up for future usefulness in life: the christian friends who counselled us, the sermons and the sacraments of the church. The
book of providence records all the opportunities which we have had, whether improved or neglected and all the seasons in which we might have prayed and read the Scriptures. It then marks down the patience, and forbearance, and long-suffering of God, his waiting long for our repentance, and the various affecting calls and awakening incidents, the sudden deaths, the touching sermons, the afflictions, and losses, and every thing else that God in his goodness designed and sent, to lead you to repentance: and the way in which these have been met by you. O how will you be astonished at your unconcern and hardness of heart, amidst so many things to rouse and awaken you!
In the book of SATAN'S ACCUSATION, behold another fearful register! He is always, by his innumerable agents of evil, present with men, and noting down their doings. There is no place so secret, but he can be there-no work of darkness so hidden, but he with malignant joy can observe it, and takes account of it. You may have long ago forgotten, he never forgets.His name is Adversary, his office is the Accuser of the brethren, which accused them before our God day and night. (Rev. xii. 10.) He will enumerate the sins to which he seduced and tempted you, and every aggravating circumstance of each, of all; and O what an unexpected,
what a lengthened catalogue will he have to produce!
The BOOK OF CONSCIENCE will also be there. Conscience now soon loses sight of what is past; it is also apt to slumber and to become blinded and seared by custom in sinning. But the great and terrible scenes of the day of judgment will effectually awaken conscience. Times of alarm have often this effect even in this world. When Joseph's brethren fell into trouble, their conscience, which, as far as appears, had slept for many years, was suddenly roused, their sale of their brother to be a slave rose up afresh in all the horrors of a guilty conscience; and, when nothing seemed to lead them to it, they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear, therefore is this distress come upon us. The book of conscience does now record all those secret sins which you may have securely kept from all your fellow-creatures; every secret impurity, every hidden work of dishonesty, and every slander meditated or uttered in private; but the writing is like that which remains invisible till it be brought to something that discovers it; the day of judgment will exhibit legibly all the secret records, and your own eyes will be enlightened clearly and fully to behold all your life distinctly. If now even the enlightened
conscience of the believer testifies in his heart, mine iniquities are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me, (Psalm xl. 12,) what an accumulated multitude of sins will conscience in that day unveil !
Another book is that of HUMAN TESTIMONY: and this either that of good men or of bad. Good men must be witnesses in that day against those whom they counselled, instructed, and warned in vain. Enoch and Noah will have to testify against the ungodly world before the flood: Lot against the wicked men of Sodom: Elijah and Micaiah against Ahab: and all the faithful ministers of Christ will have to give testimony how their message was received, and of some, alas, they must give account with grief, and not with joy. On the other hand, there will be the mutual accusations of sinners against sinners: of companions and associates against other. This is also a tremendous book. The wicked father accuses the wicked son, and the son recriminates against his father: the wicked husband testifies against the wicked wife, and the wife against the husband the wicked master against the wicked servant, and the servant against the master. And their testimony embraces all injuries received, all duties neglected, all the want of religion in the family, all neglect of God in the house, and in the daily occupations. Indeed every part of the
earth will have a testimony respecting us. Do not such places, such houses, such rooms as have been the scenes of sin, recall the sin to your mind? In the language of scripture, The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.
One more book comprehending more than all others shall be added, the book of GOD'S PERFECT KNOWLEDGE. The omniscient eye of God has seen the whole of man. His knowledge is perfect. -All things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. (Heb. iv. 13.) No darkness hides from his eye to whom the darkness and the light are both alike. (Psalm cxxxix. 12.) All the inward parts of men, their thoughts, motives, and dispositions, as well as the outward effect in their words, and writings, and works, are recorded in this book. Nothing is forgotten, nothing overlooked, nothing screened, but as in the blaze of noonday, all is manifest and clear.
For these books are to be OPENED-to be laid opened to be visibly unfolded, that the equity of the Divine judgment may be universally cleared, and without exception acknowledged and confessed. O what should we now think, to have every secret sin blazoned abroad among all around us! The opening of these books is but the illustration of what our Lord says, Nothing