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it fill thee with joy now, if a voice from heaven should assure thee of the love of God, of the pardon of thy sins, and of thy part in eternal joys! Oh! what then will be thy joy, when thy actual possession shall convince thee of thy title, and thou shalt be in heaven before thou art well aware; and when the angels shall bring thee to Christ, and when Christ shall take thee by the hand, and conduct thee to thy purchased possession, and bid thee welcome to his rest, and present thee unspotted before his Father, and give thee thy place about his throne !
But it is not thy joy only, it is a mutual joy as well as a mutual love. Is there such joy in heaven at thy conversion, and will there be none at thy glorification? Will not the angels welcome thee thither, and congratulate thy safe arrival? Yea, it is the joy of Jesus Christ; for now he beholds the end of his incarnation, and sufferings, and death, when “he is glarified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe.” This is his harvest, when he shall reap the fruit of his labours; when he shall “ see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”
Yea, the Father himself will joy, too, in our joy. Christian, write these words in letters of gold, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save; He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love; He will joy over thee with singing."
THE PREPARATIVES TO THE HEAVENLY REST.
Let us consider the eminent antecedents, the great preparatives, the notable introduction to this rest; for the porch of this temple is exceedingly glorious, and the gate of it is called Beautiful.” Here these four things offer themselves to our observation, as the four corners of this porch :—The glorious appearing of the Son of God, at the last day: His raising of our bodies from the dust, and uniting them again with the soul : His public and solemn proceedings in their judgment : His solemn celebration of their coronation, and his enthroning them in glory. Follow but this fourfold stream to the head, and it will bring you to the garden of Eden.
I. Contemplate the coming of Christ at the last day as connected with the everlasting rest of his people. To this end it is intended; and to this end it is of apparent necessity. For his people's sake he sanctified himself to his office; for their sake he came into the world, suffered, died, rose, ascended; and for their sake it is that he will return. “ If,” says he, “I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. The bridegroom's departure was not upon divorce; he did not leave us with a purpose to return no more; he has left pledges enough to assure us of his return. We have his word, his promises, his sacraments, which show forth his death till he come; and his Spirit to direct, sanctify, and comfort us till he return. We have frequent tokens of love from him to show us that he forgets not his purpose nor us. Alas! my fellow Christians, what would we do if our Lord should not return? Fear not, it cannot be. He that would come to suffer, will surely come to triumph. He that would come to purchase, will surely come to possess. Alas! 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? Would we not be of all men most miserable ? Christians, has Christ made us forsake all the world, and be forsaken by all the world; to hate all, and to be hated by all; and all this for him, that we might have him instead of all ? And will he, after all this, forget us and forsake us himself? Far be such a thought from our hearts ! But why stayed he not with his people while he was here? Why,was not his work on earth done ? Must he not receive the recompense of reward, and enter into his glory? Must he not take possession of heaven in our behalf? Must he not go to prepare a place for us? Must he not intercede with the Father, and plead his sufferings, and be filled with the Spirit to send it forth, and receive authority to subdue his enemies ?
But oh! what a day will that be, when Christ shall come from heaven to set his captives free! It will not be such a coming as his first was, in poverty and contempt. He will not come to be buffeted, and scorned, and crucified again. He will not come, Oh ! careless world! to be slighted and neglected by you any more. And yet that coming, which was necessarily an infirmity and reproach for our sakes, wanted not its glory. If the angels of heaven must be the messengers of that coming, as being “ tidings of great joy to all people ;” and the heavenly host must celebrate his nativity in the sublimest strains, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men ;» Oh! with what shoutings will saints and angels at that day proclaim “Glory to God, and peace and good will towards men !” If the stars of heaven must lead men from remote parts of the world to come to worship a child in a manger, how will the glory of his next appearing constrain all the world to acknowledge his sovereignty! If he ride into Jerusalem amidst hosannahs, “ Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, and glory in the highest,” Oh! with what proclamations of blessings, peace, and glory will he enter the new Jerusalem! If, when he was in the form of a servant, they cry out, “ What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?” what will they say, when they shall see him coming in his glory! " Then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory." The promise of his coming and of our deliverance was comfortable. What will it be thus to see him with all the glorious attendance of his angels, come in person to deliver us ! « The mighty God, the Lord hath spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. A fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; and the heavens shall declare his righteousness; for God is judge himself.” The coming of Christ is frequently mentioned by the prophets as the great support of his people's spirits; and whenever the apostles would quicken to duty, or comfort and encourage patient waiting, they usually do it by mentioning Christ's coming. Why then do we not more use this consideration as a cordial whenever we want support and comfort? To think and speak of that day with horror does well beseem the impenitent sinner, but ill the believing saint. Such may be the voice of a believer ; but it is not the voice of faith. Christians, what do we believe, and hope, and wait for, but to see that day? This is Paul's encouragement to moderation, “ The Lord is at hand." This is his consolation in the prospect of dissolution: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them that love his appearing.” Dost thou long to have him come into thy soul with life and comfort, and considerest thyself as but a forlorn orphan, while he seemeth absent? And dost thou not much more long for that coming which shall perfect thy life, and joy, and glory? Dost thou rejoice after some short and slender enjoyment of him in thy heart? Oh! how wilt thou then rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory. Believe it, fellow Christians, this day is not far off; “for yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” And though the unbelieving world, and the unbelief of thy heart, may say, “Where is the promise of his coming? Do not all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation ?” yet let us know, “ The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness. One day is with him as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
When the conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah shall appear with all the hosts of heaven; when he shall surprise the careless world as a thief in the night; when was the lightning appeareth in the east, and shineth even unto the west,” so shall they behold him coming,---what a change will the sight of this work both with the world and with the saints! Now, poor deluded world, where is your mirth and your frivolity? Where is your wealth and your glory? Where that profane and careless heart, that slighted Christ and his Spirit, and all the offers of his grace? Where now that tongue that mocked the saints and jeered the holy ways of God, and laughed at his people's imperfections and their own slanders ? Ah! your heart condemns you, and is ready to sink within you. Even when you say, “ Peace and safety, then sudden destruction shall come upon you, as travail upon a woman with child, and ye shall not escape.” But, “ blessed is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching :” “When the chief Shepherd shall appear, he shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Oh! how should it then be the character of a Christian 6 to wait for the son of God from heaven, even Jesus who delivereth us from the wrath to come !” And seeing he comes “to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe," what thought should gladden our hearts more than the thought of that day? O! Christians, how heartily should we put up that petition, “ Thy kingdom come !" “ Surely,
says he, “I come quickly. Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus.'
II. The second stream that leads to paradise, is that great work of Jesus Christ, the raising of our body from the dust, and uniting it again to the soul. A wonderful effect of infinite power and love! Yea,