…is sent on a mission intimately connected with the honor of Christ, and the salvation of the world –with the spread of truth and the overthrow of error. To his care and stewardship talents have been committed, on the right and diligent employment of which, the improvement of the neighborhood around him, the rescue of sinners, as “brands plucked out of the fire, “his own final acceptance, and the brightness of his crown, are dependent.
The charge which every Christian has received from his Lord and Master is, “Occupy till I come;” and the stimulus and warning which are perpetually sounding from the sacred page are, ” We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
The impressive thought, is that before this year has reached its close, we may have passed away from the post of usefulness which we now occupy, and from the opportunities of self-improvement and growth in grace which we now enjoy” that the talents committed to our hands may have been recalled, and our place assigned us among the great company of the dead, ought surely to arouse, and quickens us to increased activity and zeal, as if an angel spoke. The day is already far spent, and the night is at hand. The hour is speeding on, and this year it may strike, when we must cease from our labors on earth, and given account of our stewardship.
And that hour will be calm and peaceful, and gladdened by the ministry of waiting angels, in proportion to our diligence and devotedness in the sphere where our lot has been cast, and our willingness to count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, and the high honor of a “well done” whispered by His lips. It is not zeal for a creed, or party, or church, but zeal for Christ, and the salvation of men that testifies to true Christian devotedness, and will stand the test of a death-bed. Amid the solemnities of the last hour, which may now be throwing its shadows around us, names and parties, churches and ceremonies, will vanish away, leaving us alone with Christ, who will receive us with the benediction, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of thy Lord,” simply on the ground of our faith in His righteousness, and our earnest, child-like, and untiring efforts to spread the glory of His name.
If now, with the ear of faith and humble trust, we can catch the whisper of our Lord and Master saying, “You have done what you could,” the consciousness of this, as a token of His presence and encouragement, combined with the thought that our efforts for His glory on earth may speedily come to an end, should stimulate us to higher and more self-denying acts of consecration to His service. It should quicken us to increased efforts for the true prosperity of the Church with which we stand connected “for the salvation of the families to which we belong,” and for the enlightenment of the neighborhood where we dwell “and for the spread of the Gospel throughout the world at large.
As the time to attest our zeal for Christ, and to hang fresh trophies around His cross is short –as its end is rapidly drawing near, our diligence should he augmented, and our steps quickened, like travelers, around whom the shadows of evening are gathering, and to whom warning voices call, telling them that “the night Cometh.”
If, on the other hand, our hearts condemn us “if the conviction will thrust itself upon us, through every subterfuge, and the thickest web of self-deception we can weave, that we have been unfruitful in the work of the Lord; that we have sought our own things rather than the things of Christ; and that our place must be assigned us among the luke-warm and the indifferent, surely the times calls us to decision, and faithfulness to the profession we have made. If we feel that, as our Lord and Master swept His eye, at the close of the year, over the position and doings of His followers, He said, in reference to us, in mingled tones of sadness and condemnation, “behold, I came seeking fruit on this fig tree and found none;” surely, the startling thought that the day is far spent, and the night is at hand ” that the bridegroom may be about to summon us to go forth to meet him ” and that our lamps may be untrimmed and going out, loudly calls us to deal faithfully with ourselves, to test our principles by the standard of Divine truth, to weigh and examine our professions, and to cast loathingly from us all mere forms and shams.
We are called upon, not only to be true to the professions which we make, and to unite with our fellow Christians in efforts to promote the glory of Christ and the salvation of man; but to see that what we do is not marred, and rendered offensive, like the gift of Ananias and Sapphira, by the part which is kept back in the spirit of dishonest and selfish concealment or in the coldness of unbelief and half-hearted indifference.
Let, then, the solemn thought be realized, that this year we may die, and it cannot fail to lead at once to deep searching of heart, and more earnest and unreserved devotedness to the service of God. He who really feels that his opportunities of honoring Christ, and extending His kingdom, may speedily terminate, will be found active, vigilant,- and prayerful. He will neither slumber at his post, nor unrighteously withhold what his Lord demands. His doings will be in accordance with his means, and his welcome, when the hour of his departure has come, will be: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
Excerpts taken from the Rev. W. Campbell, 1867.