תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of Christ's glorified body. And this will that we have said, to keep within the limits of be his heaven, that he will serve God with the record, and to offer no other remarks than out a struggle, and in a full gale of spiritual those which may fitly be suggested by the delight--because with the full concurrence circumstance, that a new earth is to be creof all the feelings and all the faculties of ated, as well as a new heavens for the future his regenerated nature. Before death, sin accommodation of the righteous. We hare is only repressed after the resurrection, no desire to push the speculation beyond all sin will be exterininated. Here he has what is written, but it were, at the same to maintain the combat, with a tendency to time, well, that in all our representations of evil still lodging in his heart, and working the immortal state, there was just the same a perverse movement among his inclina- force of colouring, and the same vivacity tions; but after his warfare in this world of scenic exhibition that there is in the New is accomplished, he will no longer be so Testament. The imagination of a total thwarted--and he will set him down in an- and diametric opposition between the reother world, with the repose and the tri- gion of sense and the region of spirituality, umph of victory for his everlasting reward. certainly tends to abate the interest with The great constitutional plague of his na- which we might otherwise look to the perture will no longer trouble him; and there spective that is on the other side of the will be the charm of a genial affinity be- grave; and to deaden all those sympathies tween the purity of his heart, and the that we else might have with the joys and purity of the element he breathes in. Still the exercises of the blest in paradise. To it will not be the purity of spirit escaped rectify this, it is not necessary to enter on from materialism, but of spirit translated the particularities of heaven-a topic on into a materialism that has been clarified which the Bible is certainly most sparing of evil. It will not be the purity of souls and reserved in its communications. But unclothed as at death, but the purity of a great step is gained simply by dissolving souls that have again been clothed upon at the alliance that exists in the minds of many the resurrection.

between the two ideas of sin and materialBut the highest homage that we know of ism; or proving, that when once sin is done to materialism, is that which God, manifest away, it consists with all we know of God's in the flesh, has rendered to it. That He, administration, that materialism shall be the Divinity, should have wrapt his unfa-perpetuated in the full bloom and vigour thomable essence in one of its coverings, of immortality. It altogether holds out a and expatiated amongst us in the palpable warmer and more alluring picture of the form and structure of a man; and that he elysium that awaits us, when told, that there, should have chosen such a tenement, not as will be beauty to delight the eye; and music a temporary abode, but should have borne to regale the ear; and the comfort that it with him to the place which he now oc- springs from all the charities of intercourse cupies, and where he is now employed in between man and man, holding converse preparing the mansions of his followers; as they do on earth, and gladdening each thai he should have entered within the vail, other with the benignant smiles that play and be now seated at the right hand of the on the human countenance, or the accents Father, with the very body which was of kindness that fall in soft and soothing marked by the nails upon his cross, and melody from the human voice. There is wherewith he ate and drank after his resur- much of the innocent, and much of the inrection---that he who repelled the imagina- spiring, and much to affect and elevate the tion of his disciples, as if they had seen a heart, in the scenes and the contemplations spirit, by bidding them handle him and see, of materialism and we do hail the inforand subjecting to their familiar touch the mation of our text, that after the dissolution flesh and the bones that encompassed him ; of its present frame-work, it will again be that he should now be throned in universal varied and decked out anew in all the graces supremacy, and wielding the whole power of of its unfading verdure, and of its unheaven and earth, have every knee to bow bounded variety—that in addition to our diat his name, and every tongue to confess, rect and personal view of the Deity, when and yet all to the glory of God the Father-- he comes down to tabernacle with men, we that humanity, that substantial and embo- shall also have the reflection of him in a died humanity, should thus be exalted, and lovely mirror of his own workmanship; a voice of adoration from every creature, and that instead of being transported to be listed up to the Lamb for ever and ever-- some abode of dimness and of mystery, so does this look like the abolition of materi- remote from human experience, as to be be alism, aster the present system of it is de- yond all comprehension, we shall walk for stroyed; or does it not rather prove, that ever in a land replenished with those sentransplanted into another system, it will be sible delights, and those sensible glories, preferred to celestial honours, and prolonged which, we doubt not, will lie most profusely in immortality throughout all ages ? scattered over the “new heavens and the

It has been our careful endeavour, in all new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." II. But though a paradise of sense, it will soul, and spirit, and body, under the presidnot be a paradise of sensuality. Though noting authority of heaven's principles. so unlike the present world as many appre- This will make plain to you how it is that hend it, there will be one point of total dis- it could be said in the New Testament, that similarity betwixt them. It is not the entire the "kingdom of heaven was at hand”substitution of spirit for matter, that will and how, in that book, its place is marked distinguish the future economy from the out, not by locally pointing to any quarter, present. But it will be the entire substitu- and saying, Lo here, or lo there, but by the tion of righteousness for sin. It is this which simple affirmation that the kingdom of heasignalizes the Christian from the Mahome- ven is within you—and how, in defining tau paradise-not that sense, and substance, what it was that constituted the kingdom and splendid imagery, and the glories of a of heaven, there is an enumeration, not of visible creation seen with bodily eyes are such circumstances as make up an outward excluded from it, but that all which is vile condition, but of such feelings and qualities in principle, or voluptuous in impurity, will as make up a character, even righteousness, be utterly excluded from it. There will be and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost-and a firm earth, as we have at present, and a how the ushering in of the new dispensaheaven stretched over it, as we have at pre- tion is held equivalent to the introduction sent; and it is not by the absence of these, of this kingdom into the world-all making but by the absence of sin, that the abodes of it evident, that if the purity and the princiimmortality will be characterized. There ples of heaven begin to take effect upon our will both be heavens and earth, it would heart, what is essentially heaven begins with appear, in the next great administration, us, even in this world; that instead of asand with this speciality to mark it from cending to some upper region, for the purthe present one, that it will be a heavens pose of entering it, it may descend upon us, and earth, “wherein dwelleth righteous and make an actual entrance of itself into ness.”

our bosoms; and that so far, therefore, from Now, though the first topic of information that remote and inaccessible thing which that we educed from the text, may be re- many do regard it, it may, through the ingarded as not very practical, yet the second fluence of the word which is nigh unto you, topic on which I now insist, is most emi- and of the Spirit that is given to prayer, be nently so. Were it the great characteristic flighted up in the inner man of an individual of that spirituality which is to obtain in al upon earth, whose person may even here, future heaven, that it was a spirituality of exemplify its graces, and whose soul may essence, then occupying and pervading the leven here realize a measure of its enjoyments. place from which materialism has been And hence one great purpose of the inswept away, we could not, by any possible carnation of our Saviour. He came down method, approximate the condition we are amongst us in the full perfection of heaven's in at present to the condition we are to character, and has made us see, that it is a hold everlastingly. We cannot etherealize character which may be embodied. All its the matter that is around us-neither can we virtues were, in his case, infused into a corattenuate our own bodies, nor bring down poreal frame-work, and the substance of the slightest degree of such a heaven to the these.lower regions was taken into intimate earth that we now inhabit. But when we and abiding association with the spirit of are told that materialism is to be kept up, the higher. The ingredient which is hea- . and that the spirituality of our future state venly, admits of being united with the inljes not in the kind of substance which is to gredient which is earthly--so that we, who, compose its frame-work, but in the charac-by nature are of the earth, and earthly, ter of those who people it—this puts, is not could we catch of that pure and celestial the fulness of heaven, at least a foretaste of element which made the man Christ Jesus heaven, within our reach. We have not to to differ from all other men, then might we strain at a thing so impracticable, as that too be formed into that character by which of diluting the material economy which is it is that the members of the family above without us; we have only to reform the differ from the outcast family beneath. moral economy that is within us. We are Now, it is expressly said of him, that he is now walking on a terrestrial surface, not set before us as an example; and we are remore compact, perhaps, than the one we quired to look to that living exhibition of shall hereafter walk upon; and are now him, where all the graces of the upper wearing terrestrial bodies, not firmer and sanctuary are beheld as in a picture; and more solid, perhaps, than those we shall instead of an abstract, we have in his his. hereafter wear. It is not by working any tory a familiar representation of such worth, change upon them that we could realize, to and piety, and excellence, as could they an extent, our future heaven. And this is only be stamped upon our own persons, and simply done by opening the door of our borne along with us to the place where he heart for the influx of heaven's affections-- now dwelleth-instead of being shunned as by bringing the whole man, as made up of | aliens, we should be welcomed and recog

nised as seemly companions for the inmates! It is thus that heaven may be established of that place of holiness. And, in truth, the upon earth, and the petition of our Lord's great work of Christ's disciples upon earth, prayer be fulfilled, “Thy kingdom come." is a constant and busy process of assimila- | This petition receives its best explanation tion to their Master who is in heaven. And from the one which follows: “Thy will be we live under a special economy, that has done on earth as it is done in heaven." It been set up for the express purpose of help- just requires a similarity of habit and chaing it forward. It is for this, in particular, racter in the two places, to make out a simithat the Spirit is provided. We are changed larity of enjoyment. Let us attend, then, to into the image of the Lord, even by the the way in which the services of the upper Spirit of the Lord. Nursed out of this ful- sanctuary are rendered—not in the spirit of ness, we grow up unto the stature of perfect legality, for this gendereth to bondage, but men in Christ Jesus--and instead of heaven in the spirit of love, which gendereth to the being a remote and mysterious unknown, beatitude of the affections rejoicing in their heaven is brought near to us by the simple best and most favourite indulgence. They expedient of inspiring us where we now do not work there, for the purpose of mak. stand, with its love, and its purity, and its ing out the conditions of a bargain. They sacredness. We learn from Christ, that the do not act agreeably to the pleasure of God, heavenly graces are all of them compatible in order to obtain the gratification of any with the wear of an earthly body, and the distinct will or distinct pleasure of their circumstances of an earthly habitation. It own, in return for it. Their will is, in fact, is not said in how many of its features the identical with the will of God. There is a new earth will differ from, or be like unto perfect unison of taste and of inclination, the present one—but we, by turning from between the creature and the Creator. They our iniquities unto Christ, push forward the are in their element, when they are feeling resemblance of the one to the other, in the righteously, and doing righteously. Obeonly feature that is specified, even that dience is not drudgery, but delight to them; “therein dwelleth righteousness.”

and as much as there is of the congenial And had we only the character of hea- between animal nature, and the food that is ven, we should not be long of feeling what suitable to it, so much is there of the conthat is which essentially makes the comfort genial between the moral nature of heaven, of heaven. “Thou lovest righteousness, and and its sacred employments and services hatest iniquity; therefore, God; thy God, Let the will of God, then, be done here : hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, it is done there, and not only will character above thy fellows." Let us but love the and conduct be the same here as there, but righteousness which he loves, and hate the they will also resemble each other in the iniquity which he hateth, and this, of itself, style, though not in the degree of their would so soften and attune the mechanism blessedness. The happiness of heaven will of our moral nature, that in all the move- be exemplified upon earth, along with the ments of it, there should be joy. It is not virtue of heaven-for, in truth, the main sufficiently adverted to, that the happiness ingredient of that happiness is not given of heaven lies simply and essentially in the them in payment for work; but it lies in the well-going machinery of a well-conditioned love they bear to the work itself. A man is soul and that according to its measure, it never happier than when employed in that is the same in kind with the happiness of which he likes best. This is all a question God, who liveth for ever in bliss ineffable, of taste; but should such a taste be given as because he is unchangeable in being good, to make it a man's meat and drink to do the and upright, and holy. There may be audi- will of his father, then is he in perfect ble music in heaven, but its chief delight readiness for being carried upwards to beawill be in the music of well-poised affections, vén, and placed beside the pure river of and of principles in full and consenting har- water of life, that proceedeth out of the mony with the laws of eternal rectitude. throne of God and of the Lamb. This is the

There may be visions of loveliness there, way in which you may make a heaven upon but it will be the loveliness of virtue, as seen earth, not by heaping your reluctant offers directly in God, and as reflected back again at the shrine of legality, but by serving God in family likeness from all his children-it because you love him; and doing his will, will be this that shall give its purest and because you delight to do him honour. sweetest transports to the soul. In a word, And here we may remark, that the only the main reward of paradise, is spiritual joy possible conveyance for this new principle

and that, springing at once srom the love into the heart, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the possession of spiritual excellence. - that in no other way, than through the It is such a joy as sin extinguishes on the acceptance of its free pardon, sealed by the moment of its entering the soul; and such a blood of an atonement, which exalts the joy as is again restored to the soul, and that Lawgiver, can the soul of man be both immediately on its being restored to righ-emancipated from the fear of terror, and teousness.

solemnized into the fear of humble and holy

reverence—that it is only in conjunction not what else can be done, than to urge with the faith which justifies, that the love upon you the great propitiation of the New of gratitude, and the love of moral esteem, Testament-nor are we aware of any exare made to arise in the bosom of regene-pedient by which all the cold and freezing rated man; and, therefore, to bring down sensations of legality can be done away, the virtues of heaven, as well as the peace but by your thankful and unconditional acof heaven, into this lower world, we know Iceptance of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

. : . SERMON VIII.

The Nature of the Kingdom of God.
." For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power."-1 Corinthians iv. 20.

THERE is a most important lesson to be larity and of the world, looks as if he had derived from the variety of senses in which been cast over again in another mould, and the phrases "kingdom of God," and "king- come out breathing godly desires, and aspirdom of heaven," are evidently made use of ling, with a newly created fervour, after in the New Testament. If it, at one time, godly enjoyments. And so, without any carry our thoughts to that place where God such conversion as this, heaven may still be sits in visible glory, and where, surrounded conceived to minister a set of very refined by the family of the blessed, he presides in and intellectual gratifications. One may full and spiritual authority-it, at another figure it so formed, as to adapt itself to the time, turns our thoughts inwardly upon senses of man, though he should possess ourselves, and instead of leading us to say, not one single virtue of the temple, or of Lo, here, or lo, there, as if to some local the sanctuary; and one may figure it to be habitation at a distance, it leads us, by the so formed, as, though alike destitute of these declaration, that the “kingdom of God is virtues, to adapt itself even to the spirit of within us,' to look for it into our own man, and to many of the lostier principles breast, and to examine whether heavenly and capacities of his nature. His taste may affections have been substituted there in the find an ever-recurring delight in the panoplace of earthly ones. Such is the tendency rama of its sensible glories; and his fancy of our imagination upon this subject, that wander untired among all the realities and the kingdom of heaven is never mentioned, all the possibilities of created excellence; without our minds being impelled thereby and his understanding be feasted to ecstacy to take an upward direction-to go aloft to among those endless varieties of truth, that place of spaciousness, and of splendour, which are ever pouring in a rich flood of and of psalmody, which forms the residence discovery, upon his mind; and even his of angels; and where the praises both of heart be kept in a glow of warm and kindly redeemed and unfallen creatures, rise in one affection among the cordialities of that beanthem of gratulation to the Father, who nevolence, by which he is surrounded. All rejoices over them all.

this is possible to be conceived of heaven; Now, it is evident, that in dwelling upon and when we add its secure and everlasting such an elysium as this, the mind can pic-exemption from the agonies of hell, let us ture to itself a thousand delicious accom- not wonder, that such a heaven should be paniments, which, apart from moral and vehemently desired by those who have not spiritual character altogether, are fitted to advanced by the very humblest degree of regale animal, and sensitive, and unrenewed spiritual preparation, for the real heaven of man. There may be sights of beauty and the New Testament--who have not the brilliancy for the eye. There may be sounds least congeniality of feeling with that which of sweetest melody for the ear. There may forms its most essential and characteristic be innumerable sensations of delight, from blessedness—who cannot sustain on earth the adaptation which obtains between the for a very short interval of retirement, the materialism of surrounding heaven, and the labour and the weariness of communion materialism of our own transformed and with God-who, though they could relish glorified bodies. There may even be poured to the uttermost, all the sensible and all the upon us, in richest abundance, a higher and intellectual joys of heaven, yet hold no taste a nobler class of enjoyments and separate of sympathy whatever, with its hallelujahs, still from the possession of holiness, of that and its songs of raptured adoration--and peculiar quality, by the accession of which who, therefore, if transported at this moa sinner is turned into a saint, and the man ment, or if transported after death, with the who, before, had an entire aspect of secu- frame and character of soul that they have at this moment, to the New Jerusalem, and cumbrance of a vile body, the spiritual repast the city of the living God, would positively which is thus provided, is not without its mixfind themselves aliens, and out of iheir kin- tures, and without its mitigation. In a word, dred and rejoicing element, however much the essential elements of heaven's reward, they may sigh after a paradise of pleasure, and of heaven's felicity, are all in his posses or a paradise of poetry.

sion. He tastes the happiness of heaven in It may go to dissipate this sentimental kind, though not in its full and finished deillusion, if we ponder well the meaning gree. When he gets to heaven above, he will which is often assigned to the kingdom of not meet there with a happiness differing in heaven in the Bible; if we reflect, that it is character from that which he now seels; but often made to attach personally to a hu- only higher in gradation. There may be man creature upon earth, as well as to be crowns of material splendour. There may be situated locally in some distant and myste-trees of unfading loveliness. There may be rious region away from us--that to be the pavements of emerald-and canopies of subject of such a kingdom, it is not indis- brightest radiance-and gardens of deep and pensible that our residence be within the tranquil security-and palaces of proud and limits of an assigned territory, any more, in stately decoration--and a city of lofty pinfact, than that the subject of an earthly nacles, through which there unceasing flows sovereign should not remain so, though a river of gladness, and where jubilee is travelling, for a time, beyond the confines over rung with the concord of seraphic of his master's jurisdiction. He may, though voices. But these are only the accessaries away from his country in person, carry of heaven. They form not the materials about with him in mind a full principle of its substantial blessedness of this the of allegiance to his country's sovereign; man who toils in humble drudgery, an utter and may, both in respect of legal duty, and stranger to the delights of sensible pleasure, of his own most willing and affectionate or the fascinations of sensible glory, has got compliance with it, remain associated with already a foretaste in his heart. It consists him both in heart and in political relation- not in the enjoyment of created good, nor ship. He is still a member of 'that king in the survey of created magnificence. It is dom in the domains of which he was born; drawn in a direct stream, through the chanand in the very same way, may a man be nels of love and of contemplation, from the travelling the journey of life in this world, fullness of the Creator. It emanates from the and be all the while a member of the king-countenance of God, manifesting the spiritudom of heaven. The being who reigns in al glories of his holy and perfect character, supreme authority there may, even in this on those whose characters are kindred to his land of exile and alienation, have some one own. And if on earth there is no tendency devoted subject, who renders to the same towards such a character-no process of authority the deference of his heart, and restoration to the lost image of the Godhead the subordination of his whole practice. -no delight in prayer--no relish for the The will of God may possess such a moral sweets of intercourse with our Father, now ascendency over his will, as that when the unseen, but then to be revealed to the view one commands, the other promptly and of his immediate worshippers--then, let cheerfully obeys. The character of God our imaginations kindle as they may, with may stand revealed in such charms of per- the beatitudes of our fictitious heaven, the fection and gracefulness to the eye of his true heaven of the Bible is what we shall mind, that by ever looking to him he both never reach, because it is a heaven that we loves and is made like unto him. A sense are not fitted to enjoy. of God may pervade his every hour, and But such a view of the matter seems not every employment, even as it is the hand merely to dissipate a sentimental illusion of God which preserves him continually, which obtains upon the subject. It also and through the actual power of God, that serves to dissipaie a theological illusion. he lives and moves, as well as has his being. Ere we can enter heaven, there must be Such a man, if such a man there be on the granted to us a legal capacity of admission face of our world, has the kingdom of God and Christ by his atoning death, and set up in his heart. He is already one of perfect righteousness, has purchased this the children of the kingdom. He is not capacity for those who believe ; and they, locally in heaven, and yet his heaven is be-by the very act of believing, are held to be gun. He has in his eye the glories of hea- in possession of it, just as a man by stretchven ; though, as yet, he sees them through ing out his hand to a deed or a passport, a glass darkly. He feels in his bosom the becomes vested with all the privileges which principles of heaven ; though, still at war are thereby conveyed to the holder. Now, with the propensities of nature, they do not in the zeal of controversialists, (and it is a yet reign in all the freeness of an undis-point most assuredly about which they puted ascendency. He carries in his heart cannot be too zealous)-in their zeal to the peace, and the joy, and the love, and the clear up and to demonstrate the ground on elevation of heaven; though under the in-1 which the sinner's legal capacity must rest,

« הקודםהמשך »