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when we have regained our pristine honours. Let us once be set free from all the consequences of the fall, let our bodies and our souls be fully purged and renovated, and there will be a consciousness that we have reached at length the dignity of our nature, an ineffable serenity will be diffused through our whole being. The diseases and the pains, the mischances and the disappointments, the tangible sufferings and the nameless ills, the misery arising from a distempered fancy, the turmoil succeeded by depression, which lust and passion engender, remorse for opportunities neglected, and for mercies abused, horror at finding ourselves so far gone from original righteousness, quaking under the Almighty's frown, and the dread of perishing eternally—these, the grisly train which sin bas brought into our world, and by which at every turn and resting place we are more or less beset, cannot possibly haunt us after our redemption is completed. The war will then bave ceased between our worse and our better principles: all will then be peaceful, because all will then be holy. Standing in the presence of our adorable Chief, what delight must it yield us to know that we are like him, and that his image is stamped upon us too palpably to be mistaken! and, about to be called to a new sphere, and to higher services, how great must be our joy to learn that we are capacitated for the element in which we are to move, and for the work to which we are to be appointed! In the assembly of the first-born, you will look in vain for a countenance which will wear any expression but that of triumphant satisfaction, and the only strains you will hear from them will be the strains of ardent gratitude to the Holy and the Blessed One who will bave perfected their salvation.
This, then, was the hope which David cherished. He knew that with his contemporaries he had to sleep the sleep of death, and lie for ages in the loathsome charnel-house. But he should stand in his lot at the end of the days: he should awake in the likeness of his promised Deliverer; and, beholding the face of Jesus, and reflecting his image, bis wishes should be all gratified, his joy should have no limit. The prospect of a glory and a bliss so exquisite gave a warmth to his devotion, and a loftiness to his poetry; nor could he refrain from putting his sentiments on record, that the church in after times might know the view he could command.
Are believers at this day forbidden to use the gladdening words of the Old Testament saint? Have they no such prospect to cheer and to awaken them? Does futurity present to their eyes but a repulsive aspect? The truth is, their situation is much more favourable than David's. The transactions on which he rested bis hope have taken place. Our representative bas died; our representative has risen ; our representative has gone in his glorified humanity, to take possession of our inheritance, and to prepare it for our arrival: so that Christians can silence every distressing apprehension, and calculate with certainty on the perfection of their whole nature. Let them fall where they may: let them be buried in whatever cemetery, they shall not sleep neglected, they shall not sleep for ever. As their disembodied spirits shall be safe with Jesus, so even their mortal remains shall rest in hope, destined to be re-united to their ancient companions, not again to be separated, and never to regret the alliance. At the great and last day, they have the word of Christ for the fact, and the language of his Apostles does not contradict, but confirm it—at the great and last day they shall stand on his right hand, a bright, a holy, a triumphant company. No remnant of sin, no vestige of dishonour, no flaw and no weakness shall cleave to any of them. They shall possess a resemblance to their elder brother, and be gratified to find it so perceptible and striking.
Can this favoured band, while they sojourn here, forget their high destiny, and prove themselves unworthy of it? Can they be the slaves of mean pleasures ? Can they seek their portion on the earth? Can they grow wearied and careless in the work of the Lord ? Can they be utterly cast down in the day of sore trial? And, when smitten by a sickness from which they may not recover, can they cling to
poor life with all the tenacity of a worldling? Never; never can such inconsistency be theirs. To abstain from Justs that war against the soul, and that bring the body to feebleness and a premature grave; to have their conversation in heaven, from whence also they look for the Saviour; to discharge with fidelity and ardour the high duties of their calling; to glory in tribulation, knowing that it cannot deprive them of their reward, and that it affords them an opportunity to evince the strength of their principles; to meet the last enemy, I shall not say with scorn, but with a persuasion that his sting is extracted, and that his reign will soon be over-this, my fellow-Christians, is the part of that fraternity to which we bave professedly joined ourselves, and in whose expectations we share. Let it appear that our connection with them is something more than nominal. Let us cherish their hope : let us be marked by their peculiarities : let us imitate them in their endeavours to tread in the footsteps of Christ--that when he comes, as come he will, to glorify his own, and lead them, withi songs of jubilee, to the house of his Father, he may admit us to the ranks of that noble army, at whose head he will place himself, and whom he will conduct to his kingdom. If we would reign with hiin in the Regeneration, let it never be forgotten that we must now belong to his people in reality, as well as name.
The Lord keep us by his power through faith unto salvation, and bring us at length to see the good of his chosen ! Even so: Amen.
THE VISION OF STEPHEN.
By the Rev. ROBERT BRODIE, A, M., GLASGOW.
Acts vii. 55, 56.
“ But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into
heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God; and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God !”
If, in Scripture, it had been nowhere expressly affirmed, that 66
as our days were, so should our strength be,” and that God would proportion his aid to the exigencies of his people, we should have been entitled to infer this from the inspired record of his providential dealings. In cases where fortitude and fidelity in the endurance of trials are especially required, and where, from the effect of the example, particular, importance attaches to the exercise of these virtues, the sufferer is prepared for the conflict by the Divine support which he receives. On the eve of the decease which the Saviour should accomplish at Jerusalem,” and of the sufferings which he described as “ the hour and power of darkness," on a mountain to which he had retired with three of his disciples, an occurrence took place which was well calculated to prepare his mind for meeting the events before him.
6 The fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. And, behold, there talked with him
two men, who were Moses and Elias. There came a bright cloud and overshadowed them; and there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son, hear bim.” The decease of Stephen is not, either in respect of its nature or importance, to be compared with that of our Lord. It resembled it, however, in being inflicted by the hand of violence. It was the first instance in which “the testimony of Jesus Christ” was sealed with blood: and it was preceded by no common tokens of the special countenance of heaven. The honour which was, on this occasion, conferred on the disciple, was, in one respect, superior even to that given to bis Divine Master. It was not Moses and Elias—it was Christ himself who appeared to the sufferer.
The passage of Scripture which I have read, and in which this remarkable incident in Stephen's history is described, will form no unfit subject for our meditations, met, as we now are, to commemorate our Redeemer's death. May that Spirit who descended, in the plenitude of his supernatural agency, on the person of the martyr, and without whose spiritual influences our assembling at this time will not be for the better, raise our souls from the Sacramental sign to the thing signified, and from the beggarly elements of the earthly sanctuary to the unseen realities of the heavenly! And do thou, ascended Redeemer! who, from thy throne of glory, didst behold the conflict of thy martyred servantwho in him didst fight, and in him didst conquer-do thou grant to the speaker rightly to apprehend, and worthily to unfold the glory which descended and settled on bis closing scene !
I. Let us consider the supernatural endowments which Stephen on this occasion possessed—“ He was full of the Holy Ghost.”
The reference, in these words, is not to the ordinary, but to the extraordinary operations of the Spirit. This is the