« הקודםהמשך »
people's glory. For their sake he came into the world, suffered, died, rose, ascended, and for their sake it is that he will return. To this end will Christ come again to receive his people unto himself, that where he is there they may be also.(3) The bridegroom's departure was not upon divorce. He did not leave us with a purpose to return no more. He hath left pledges enough to assure us to the contrary. We have his word, his many promises, his sacraments, which shew forth his death till he come ;(t) and his Spirit, to direct, sanctify, and comfort, till he return. We have frequent tokens of love from him, to show us, he forgets not his promise, nor us. We daily behold the forerunners of his coming, foretold by himself. We see the fig-tree putteth forth leaves, and therefore know that summer is nigh.(u) Though the riotous world say, My Lord delayeth his coming ;(w) yet let the saints lift up their heads, for their redemption draweth nigh.(0) Alas, fellow christians, what should we do if our Lord should not return! What a case are we here left in! What! leave us in the midst of wolves,(y) and among lions,(z) a generation of vipers, (a) and here forget us ?- Did he buy us so dear, and then leave us sinning, suffering, groaning, dying daily, and will he come no more to us? It cannot be. This is like our unkind dealing with Christ, who, when we feel ourselves warm in the world, care not for coining to him: but this is not like Christ's dealing with us. He that would come to suffer, will surely come to triumph. He that would come to purchase, will surely come to possess. Where else were all our hopes ? What were become of our faith, our prayers, our tears, and our waiting? What were all the patience of the saints worth to them? Were we not left of all men most miserable?(6) Christians, hath Christ made us forsake all the world, and be forsaken of all the world ? to hate all, and be hated of all ? and all this for him,
(s) John xiv. 3. () Cor. ix. 26.
(u) Matt. xxiv. 30.
that we might have him instead of all ? And will he, think you, after all this, forget us, and forsake us himself? Far be such a thought from our hearts ! But why stayed not he with his people while he was here? Why, was not the work on earth done? Must he not take possession of glory in our behalf? Must he not intercede with the Father, plead his sufferings, be filled with the Spirit, to send forth, receive authority, and subdue his enemies? Our abode here is short. If he had stayed on earth, what would it have been to enjoy for him a few days, and then die? He hath more in heaven to dwell among; even the spirits of many generations. He will have us live by faith, and not by sight.
§ 3. O fellow christians, what a day will that be, when we, who have been kept prisoners by sin, by sinners, by the grave, shall be fetched out by the Lord himself! It will not be such a coming as his first was, in poverty and contempt, to be spit upon, and buffeted, and crucified again. He will not come, O careless world! to be slighted and neglected by you any more. Yet that coming wanted not its glory. If the heavenly host, for the celebration of his nativity, inust praise God,(c) with what shouting will angels and saints at that day proclaim, Glory to God, peace and goodwill towards men. If a star must lead inen from remote parts of the world to come to worship a child in a manger;(d) how will the glory of his next appearance constrain all the world to acknowledge his sovereignty! If, riding on an ass,(e) he enter Jerusalem with hosannas; with what peace and glory will he come toward the new Jerusalem! If, when he was in the form of a servant,(f) they cry out, “ What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey bim?"(8) what will they say, when they shall see him coming in his glory, and the heavens and the earth obey him! “ Then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn."(h) To think and speak of that day with horror, doth well become the impenitent sinner, but ill the believing saint. (c) Luke ii. 13, 14. (l) Matt. ü. 2. (e) Matt. xxi. 5-9 (1) Phil. Ü. 7. (3) Matt, viii. 27. (W) Matt. xxiv. So.
Shall the wicked behold him and cry, “ Yonder is he, whose blood we neglected, whose grace we resisted, whose counsels we refused, whose government we cast off?” And shall not the saints, with inconceivable gladness, cry, “ Yonder is he, whose blood redeemed us, whose Spirit cleansed us, whose law did govern us, in whom we trusted, and he hath not deceived our trust; for whom we long waited, and now we see we have not waited in vain ? O cursed corruption, that would have had us turn to the world and present things, and say, “ Why should we wait for the Lord any longer?" Now we see “ blessed are all they that wait for him."(K)-And now, Christians, should we not put up that petition heartily, “ Thy kingdom come?" The Spirit and the Bride say, Come; and let him that heareth and readeth say, Come. Our Lord himself says, Surely I come quickly. Amen, even so, come Lord Jesus. (0)
4. (2) Another thing that leads to paradise is, that great work of Jesus Christ, in raising our bodies from the dust, and uniting them again unto the soul. A wonderful effect of infinite power and love! Yea, wonderful indeed, says unbelief, if it be true. What! shall all these scattered bones and dust become a man? -Let me with reverence plead for God, for that power whereby I hope to arise. What beareth the massy body of the earth? What limits the vast ocean of the waters? Whence is that constant ebbing and flowing of the tides? How many times bigger than all the earth is the sun, that glorious body of light? Is it not as easy to raise the dead, as to make heaven and earth, and all of nothing ?-Look not on the dead bones, and dust, and difficulty, but at the promise, Contentedly commit these carcases to a prison, that shall not long contain them. Let us lie down in peace, and take our rest: it will not be an everlasting night, nor endless sleep. If unclothing be the thing thou fearest, it is that thou mayest have better clothing:(m) If to be turned out of doors be the thing thou fearest (1) 2 Kings vi. 33.
(k) Isa. xxx. 18. (1) Rev. xx. 17, 20 • (m) 2 Cor, v. 4
remember, that when the “ earthly house of this tabernacle is dissolved, thou hast a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."(n) Lay down cheerfully this lump of corruption; thou shalt undoubtedly receive it again in incorruption. Lay down freely this terrestrial, this natural body; thou shalt receive it again a celestial, a spiritual body. Though thou lay it down with great dishonour, thou shalt receive it in glory. Though thou art separated from it through weakness, it shall be raised again in mighty power; “ in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."(0) “ The dead in Christ shall rise first. Then they who are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."(p) Triumph now, O Christian, in these promises: thou shalt shortly triumph in their performance. “ This is the day which the Lord will make, we shall rejoice and be glad in it."(9) The grave, that could not keep our Lord, cannot keep us. He arose for us, and by the same power will cause us to arise. “ For if we believe that Jesus died, and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."() Let us never look at the grave, but let us see the resurrection beyond it. Yea, let us “be stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know our labour is not in vain in the Lord."(s) . .
§ 5. (3) Part of this prologue to the saints' rest, is the public and solemn process at their judgment, where they shall first theinselves be acquitted and justified, and then with Christ judge the world. Young and old, of all estates and nations, that ever were from the creation to that day, must here come and receive their doom.--O terrible, 0 joyful day! Terrible to those that have forgot the coming of their Lord! joyful to the saints, whose waiting and hope was to see this day! Then shall the world “behold the good(11) 2 Cor. v. 1. (o) i Cor. xv. 42—44–52. (p) i Thess. iv. 16, 17. (9) Psalm cxviii. 24. (r) i Tl:ess. iv. 14. (s) 1 Cor. xv. 58. ness and severity of God: on them who perish, severity; but to his chosen, goodness.(t) Every one must “ give an account of his stewardship."(u)- Every talent of time, health, wit, mercies, afflictions, means, warnings, must be reckoned for. The sins of youth, those which they had forgotten, and their secret sins, shall all be laid open before angels and men.—They shall see the Lord Jesus, whom they neglected, whose word they disobeyed, whose ministers they abused, whose servants they hated, now sitting to judge them. Their own consciences shall cry out against them, and call to their remembrance all their misdoings.- Which way will the wretched sinner look? who can conceive the terrible thoughts of his heart? Now the world cannot help him; his old companions cannot; the saints neither can nor will; only the Lord Jesus can: but, there is the misery, he will not. Time was, sinner, when Christ would, and you would not; now fain would you, and he will not. All in vain to cry “ to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne;"(w) for thou hast the Lord of mountains and rocks for thine enemy, whose voice they will obey, and not thine. “1 charge thee therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearing and his kingdom,”(2) that thou set thyself seriously to ponder on these things..
$ 6. But why tremblest thou, O humble, gracious soul? He that would not lose one Noah in a common deluge, nor overlook one Lot in Sodom; nay, that could do nothing till he went forth; will he forget thee at that day? “ The Lord kroweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations; and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished.”(y) He knoweth how to make the same day the greatest terror to his foes, and yet the greatest joy to his people. “ There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Who shall lay any thing to the
(t) Rom. xi. 22. (u) Luke xvi. 2. (w) Rev. vi. 13. a) 9 Tim. iv. 1. (9) 2 Pet. i. 9.