O may we ever bear in mind that we are not sent into this world to stand all the day idle, but to go forth to our work and to our labour until the evening! Until the evening, not in the evening only of life, but serving God from our youth, and not waiting till our years fail us. Until the evening, not in the daytime only, lest we begin to run well, but fall away before our course is ended. Let us „give glory to the Lord our God, before He cause darkness, and before our feet stumble upon the dark mountains;“ (Jer. 13:16.) and, having turned to Him, let us see that our goodness be not „as the morning cloud, and as the early dew which passeth away.“ The end is the proof of the matter. When the sun shines, this earth pleases; but let us look towards that eventide and the cool of the day, when the Lord of the vineyard will walk amid the trees of His garden, and say unto His steward, „Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.“ That evening will be the trial: when the heat, and fever, and noise of the noon-tide are over, and the light fades, and the prospect saddens, and the shades lengthen, and the busy world is still, and „the door shall be shut in the streets, and the daughters of music shall be brought low, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond-tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail,“ and „the pitcher shall be broken at the fountain, and the wheel broken at the cistern;“ then, when it is „vanity of vanities, all is vanity,“ and the Lord shall come, „who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts,“—then shall we „discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.“ (Mal. 3:18.)
May that day and that hour ever be in our thoughts! When we rise, when we lie down; when we speak, when we are silent; when we act, and when we rest: whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, may we never forget that „for all these things God will bring us into judgment.“ (Eccles. 11:9.) For „He cometh quickly, and His reward is with Him, to give every man according as His work shall be.“ (Rev. 22:12)
„Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.“ Blessed will they be then, and only they, who, with the Apostle, have ever had on their lips, and in their hearts, the question, „Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?“ (Acts 9:6.) whose soul „hath broken out for the very fervent desire that it hath alway unto His judgments;“ who have „made haste and prolonged not the time to keep His commandments;“ (Ps. 149:20, 60.) who have not waited to be hired, nor run uncertainly, nor beaten the air, nor taken darkness for light, and light for darkness, nor contented themselves with knowing what is right, nor taken comfort in feeling what is good, nor prided themselves in their privileges, but set themselves vigorously to do God’s will.
Let us turn from shadows of all kinds,—shadows of sense, or shadows of argument and disputation, or shadows addressed to our imagination and tastes. Let us attempt, through God’s grace, to advance and sanctify the inward man. We cannot be wrong here. Whatever is right, whatever is wrong, in this perplexing world, we must be right in „doing justly, in loving mercy, in walking humbly with our God;“ in denying our wills, in ruling our tongues, in softening and sweetening our tempers, in mortifying our lusts; in learning patience, meekness, purity, forgiveness of injuries, and continuance in well-doing.
From the Sermon: The Work of the Christian. Sermons bearing on Subjects of the Day, 1, pp. 11-13