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enly blessedness, as cannot fail to interest and affect the reader.
It is observable in this book, that when some calamitous period of the church is foretold, there soon follows a description of the happiness of those, who have passed through it with christian integrity and firmness; a happiness, which is quite an overbalance for all the
ufferings, which the faithful disciples of Jesus have been called to endure. Such prophetic representations of trials firmly endured, and of the happiness succeeding, as a gracious reward, have a tendency to prepare
the followers of Christ, in other ages, to meet their own trials with fortitude, and to sustain them in moments when christian integrity and virtue are in the greatest danger. The wisdom and goodness of the great Head of the church are worthy of our thankful admiration, since by the spirit of prophecy he has made provision against the ill effects of persecution, and extends support and consolation to his faithful friends in those seasons, when, without this aid, they might faint and sink in the sharp conflict. The chapter, preceding the context, gives a representation of the rise and establishment of the papal power, and of the dreadful cruelties, practised by the man of sin. And what can sustain those who are called to bear the burden and heat of this day of persecution ? What, but a prospect of the blessedness of the high and holy place. To this, the enraptured apostle saw some of the faithful disciples of Jesus safely arrived; and the scene is described in the chapter connected with the text. In his vision, he saw a Lamb, standing on Mount Sion, surrounded by a vast company, “having his Father's name written in their foreheads," as a mark of the divine approbation and acknowledgement. They were occupied in the solemn worship of the heavenly temple, with angels, and with saints of former and later times; and they were singing a new song, the full understanding of which was peculiar to those who had escaped the pollutions of the world. “These are they," says the text, “who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth." In these words a character is concisely, but strongly drawn—the character of true christians; a character, by which they are as much distinguished from the rest of the world, as by the glory and blessedness, to which the apostle saw them exalted. Those whom John heard singing in the mansions of the blessed, while on earth, followed the Lamb whithersoever he led them. If we would indulge the cheering hope of rising to that blessedness, the same must be our character, the same our course of life while here.
Let us, then, seriously consider in this discourse, the meaning of the expression, “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth ;" and the connexion of this character with heavenly blessedness.
I. Then, let us consider the meaning and extent of the expression, “ follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.” The Lamb, or Christ, is here set in opposition to the man of sin, in the preceding chapter, who assumed dominion over a great part of the world. He is represented as a general at the head of his army,
and as followed by faithful persons, distinguished from others, who had deserted his banner; that is, had apostatized from the purity of his religion, and had gone over to the enemy of truth and righteousness. Elsewhere, in this book, Christ is represented as a leader, contending against the adversaries of his cause, and having with him a body of those who are called, and chosen, and faithful. By following Christ, then, we are to understand, a pure and invincible attachment to him as our divinely appointed leader, and the support of a character and conduct, corresponding to such affection.
Such is the general account of following Christ. Permit me to illustrate the point, by descending to particulars; and
1st. He who follows Christ, has a settled faith in his authority to cornmand ; that “all power is given unto him in heaven and earth,”—that “God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” The scriptures are full in declaring, that Christ is exalted at the right hand of power; and those who follow him, account it a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, “that he is set as king on the holy hill of Sion.” Thus following Christ, is an acknowledgement of his authority, and right to lead. Others may pretend to a power and right to guide and restrain the consciences of men, and to determine their modes of faith and worship, as the bishop of Rome has done, and many, even among Protestants, assume to do; the one taking away the scriptures from the people, and the other denying christian privileges and even the christian name to those who interpret the scriptures differently from themselves. But the character in the text admits no authority but what is subordinate to that of Christ, and is exercised consistently with his own revealed will. He keeps ever in mind the words of Christ himself, “Call no man Rabbi, or master, or father upon earth; for one is your master and all ye are brethren.” Any absolute decision of religious matters, or denial of the right of anyof all to interpret the will of God, revealed in his word, for themselves, the true follower of Christ regards as an usurpation of the authority of the great Head of the church. And that honor which is due to him alone, he refuses to give to any man, or body of men, uninspired. But,
2. They who follow Christ not only firmly believe his authority; they listen attentively and submissively to his command. They are solicitous to know his will ; and they search in the divine word, to learn “ what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” The sincerity of those professions of attachment to Christ is much to be suspected, which are unattended with diligence to learn his requisitions. “1 follow Christ so far as I know his will,” may be the anguage of some, who have very limited conceptions of him, and of his gospel; and this, not through any deficiency of natural talents, or suitable opportunity to enlarge them, but because they have used no proper diligence to that important end. They content themselves in culpable ignorance. “ Lord, what wilt thou have me to do!" was the exclamation of the awakened Paul; and the same disposition is characteristic of every sincere follower of Jesus. It is not his art to know as little as possible of the will of Christ, that he may have the less difficulty to perform it. He desires that his knowledge may be perfect, that his obedience may approach as nearly as possible to perfection. And he knows that he must be active to acquire this knowledge; for to suppose that it is imparted to the mind, without any effort on his part to acquire it, would be absurd and dishonorable to the grace of God. If this precious knowledge is imparted in a direct and sovereign way, it is difficult to say why a revelation has been given for us to consult. Men do not become eminent in any art or science, or in any profession or station, without study, and the use of proper means. Can we suppose, then, that inquiry is needless to be made into the requisites of the christian character, as drawn by the great Teacher, in the gospel? The word of Christ is profitable for instruction in righteousness, “ that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work.” With what diligence, then, should that blessed word be consulted, It should be the subject of our meditation, day and night. It is by this that our heavenly leader guides his people, saying, “ This is the way, walk ye in it.” This, this is now the pillar of cloud and of fire, by which he guides us to the land of everlasting rest. I proceed to add farther