Why, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…
Suppose that you were involved in temporal difficulties, that a benevolent friend came forward to pay your debts, and place you in a better position than you had ever occupied, would you argue, "Well, I need not care how wasteful I become, or how heavy the demands which he may meet; he has enough and to spare. As his heart overflows with benevolence, I will leave him to settle all matters without my aid, and when everything has been done, I may be prevailed on to take advantage of his goodness; but, in the meantime, I will be as reckless as I may"? The question instantly occurs, How it is either possible or right, consistent with benevolence, to assist such a character? Suppose that your house were on fire, and a well-appointed train of firemen, with their engines, were at hand, to assist in quenching the flames, would you retreat from a scene where perhaps your most important worldly interests were at stake, and where lives dearer to you than your own were in danger, and betake yourself to dissipation or amusement, saying there were persons paid for the work, and whose office and duty it was to attend to it, and that you would devolve all the trouble on them? You could not be so unnatural; you would do everything to rouse the sleeping inmates, to secure your most important papers; and whatever energy, daring, and skill and diligence could accomplish, you would do. Or suppose, again, that you were placed in a garrison which was beleaguered by fierce and formidable foes, that the attacks upon the fortifications were pushed most vigorously on all sides, and it required all your skill and labour night and day to defend yourselves; but in the meantime a numerous and well-appointed army had been sent by your sovereign to your relief, well able to raise the siege and effect your liberation; when you heard the news, would you remit your ardour and watchfulness? When you heard the sound of the trumpets, and the roar of the artillery as they marched to the conflict, and when you knew that the moment of your rescue was at hand, is there a man who would fold his arms, and refuse to mount the ramparts, to sally out and make a diversion on his own side of the camp? who would not dare and do everything to make the defeat of the enemy as complete as possible? If the men refused, the very women would cry shame upon them, take up the arms which the dastards had thrown away, and help to achieve the victory. But, my friends, you have auxiliaries far mightier and stronger than the best disciplined and most enthusiastic troops that ever general brought into the field of battle. You have the army of the Lord of hosts, and at its head the Captain of your salvation; you have all the resources of Omnipotence collected and concentrated for your deliverance. If ever impulse or energy was communicated to the human mind, it must be by such considerations as these; and with all these mercies, boundless and glorious, around you and before, is it not high time to shake off your slumber, to commence your work, and to ask with eagerness, "What shall we do to be saved?" "What shall we do that we may do the works of God?"
(R. Redpath, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.