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to God. He does not countenance deception; neither is it possible to deceive Him. Earthly masters, even the most quick-sighted, may be thoroughly imposed on. But there is a Master to whom we are all responsible, and whose back is never turned. His eye observes every act we do, and His ear hears every word we utter. Faithful servants fear and honour Him. They do their work as in the presence of the Lord, whose favour they value more than that of any one on earth; so that it makes no difference on their conduct whether their earthly master is with them or away from them—at home or abroad. This is a true test of character. Do we speak of our masters with the same respect in their absence as in their presence? Do we do their work with the same diligence and care when they are afar off as when they are at our side? If not, we have reason to doubt whether the religion which we profess is anything better than an empty name. At least our remembrance of God is far from being what it ought to be; our faithfulness to Him is as yet very imperfect indeed. If we are true to Him, we will strive to obey our earthly masters—"not with eye-service, as men-pleasers; but as the
servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart."
Again, our obedience ought to be "with good will." Whatever we do should be done heartily. The Lord has no favour for a sullen, reluctant, grudging disposition. Even though we discharge our work fully and honestly, yet if we do it in a spirit of envy and of discontent, we fail to commend ourselves to God. He looks for heartiness in His servants. The produce of the hands is always intended to be a benefit to some one; and those who put their hands to the service ought ever to be animated by an earnest and generous desire that the full benefit may be realised. Their hearts ought not to be turned to their wages merely, but they ought to seek and to rejoice in their master's prosperity.
Those who act thus will not lose their reward. It may happen that their faithful and generous conduct will meet with but a poor return from men. It may not be appreciated as it should be by the persons whom they serve on earth. But whatever differences there may be in the characters of their earthly masters, they have all their lives one Master in heaven, who fails not to remember and to reward abundantly every good deed done by those who honour and obey Him. They "know that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free."
"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him."—Ephesians vi. 9.
QOCIETT has been marred in all its members *.* and in all its relationships. An element of bitterness more or less intense pervades it everywhere, and makes it restless and unhappy. For this evil there is no effectual cure but one, and that is the grace which is in Christ Jesus. Let that grace only enter every heart—let it diffuse its influence through the body of society —and then the bitter element of which we complain will disappear, and in its place will come the sweetness of heavenly peace. Let the divinely appointed cure be fully believed in and applied; and the unhappiness of individuals, of families, and of nations will be felt no more.
One fruitful source of the evil under which society groans is the disorder which prevails in the relations subsisting between the different members of families and of households; and with a view to its removal, the Lord of all speaks to them from heaven. He addresses Himself to wives and to husbands, to children and to parents, to servants and to masters. His word is still with power. Wherever He comes, He says, as of old, "Peace be to this house;" and if He is honoured and welcomed, the blessing He promises is certainly bestowed. On the other hand, wherever His counsel is despised and His presence lightly esteemed, the curse of sin keeps that house in continual bitterness and trouble.
Having just pointed out to servants their duty, the apostle adds—"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him."
There is no relationship in which the duties are all on one side. They are fairly balanced. When certain things are required to be done by