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divided them, shall meet again and dwell for ever, in sweet communion with each other and with God.* It is a state where all that is dark and mysterious shall be cleared up, and the soul shall behold with unclouded vision,t the celestial glories of the Sun of Righteousness, I where all shall know even as they are known.g It is the heavenly Jerusalem where those who overcome shall sit upon a throne with Christ,|| shall cast their crowns of glory before the Lamb, who hath redeemed them by his blood, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever. I Comforted by this assurance which the text conveys, I can bow in resignation to the will of God, and praise his mercy, even though he strips me of friends and family, and leaves me alone in this world's wilderness. The heart will mourn at each bereavement, but why should the Christian continue to grieve for the departed. “I heard a voice from Heaven which said, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” They have been delivered from the bondage of corruption--from “the miseries of a sinful world”—“ they rest from their labours.” They have only set out a little earlier upon their homeward journey, and soon we shall follow, provided we are found ready, when the summons comes, to render up our account with joy. Followers of Christ, you may expect to be afflicted, for God dealeth with you as with sons, and what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? but let the anticipation of this happy rest, cheer you amidst the trials by which it is the will of God to prove you-yet a little while and the soul shall quit its earthly tabernacle, and soar into the regions of eternal day-an ever-living spirit of God-perhaps at this moment the bridegroom cometh-prepare to meet himthere is joy amongst the blessed angels, says our Lord, over one sinner that repenteth—but oh! what ecstacy pervades the heavenly host, when the warfare is accomplished—when the race is over-when death is swallowed up in victory, and the justified sinner no longer militant but triumphant, enters into the joy of his Lord.
* 1 Thess. iv. 17.
+ Heb. xii. 14.
* Rev. xxii. 4.
Rev. iy. 10,
Unspeakable, however, as is that everlasting bliss, the text which we have chosen declares for whom it is reserved—the people of God. May the Holy Spirit be with us, whilst we inquire who they are, and what is their unerring characteristic. Alas! they walk along a narrow path, and few comparatively in number
good pleasure to bestow the kingdom-not from any awful sentence of rejection—not from any irrespective condemnation passed upon
but from their own deliberate and sinful choice--"ye will not come to me that ye might have life.”*— They love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evilt-are his declarations, who willeth not that any should perish; and therefore, upon the delinquent's own head rests the blame of his depraved preference of this world, and its empty joys, to Heaven and its unimaginable glories. Yes, brethren-satisfaction has been made for sin. The remedy-praised be the undeserved mercy of God-the remedy is as prevalent as the disease. Though sin abounded, grace did much more abound-and though we learn from Scripture, that faith is essential to our salvation, that faith which leads the sinner to Jesus as his only Saviour-which purifies the heart—and works by love--and produces holiness of life--if we perish for want of it, it is solely because we resist the strivings of the Spirit, and will not drink of those living waters, which flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and of whose refreshing streams all are invited freely to partake.
* John v. 40.
+ John iii. 19.
1 Cor. ii. 9.
The people of God, then, my brethren, are surely not those who live in the commission of any known sin, or the neglect open or secret of any of his commandments. What communion hath light with darkness? What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness ? Neither are they those whose christianity consists merely in the partial, or even strict observance of the forms of religion, and the performance of their social duties. There was one who thought so, but happily for man, so prone' to self-deceit, so disposed to set aside the Saviour, and to exalt himself into the vacant place-to turn from that living way by which alone the Father can be approached, and to strike out a path of his own; happily for man, it was Jesus Christ himself who undeceived him. These commandments have I kept from my youth up, what lack I yet? Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor ;* eradicate that one passion which rules the heart, and prevents its entire devotedness to the will of God. Our Saviour loved him, but he rejected his partial
* Our blessed Lord, who knew the heart of man,
previously enumerated only Five Commandments of the Decalogue--he now condemns the vice of covetousness,which above all others dries up every affection of the heart, whether to man or to God-St. Paul forcibly calls it idolatry, Col. iii. 5. * Matthew xix. 16, &c. Gal. iii. 10.
loyalty ; and the young and amiable moralist departed sorrowful, and returned no more. *
Neither do the people of God, my brethren, possess inherently the qualities which can in any way entitle them to the appellation. One deadly and malignant disease infects the human race, without a solitary exception; and the new-born babe is not more incapable of discharging the duties of adult life, than the sinner's heart is by nature incapable of turning to God, and rendering to his Creator the obedience which he requires. The Scripture hath concluded all under sin,+ says St. Paul, and the judgment is not less deserved than it is awful. It was not always thus. At the creation, a covenant of works, by which I mean the promise of a heavenly reward to the performance of a stipulated and possible obedience was established, and man might have fulfilled that which was required; but at the fall, the power was lost, and that covenant of works became a curse—for it is written, cursed is every one that continueth not in in all things, which are written in the book of the law to do them. Yes, my brethren, if I am to be judged by the law of works,
+ Gal. iii. 22. § Deut. xxvii. 26.