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Opened Up, Urged, And Enforced.
The substance of several Sermons preached at Etterick in the year 1730.
Luke xii. 40. Be ye therefore ready also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
FTER all we have heard of the other -world, what will it avail, if it issue not in preparing for our removal into it? That is certainly the use which all of us are to make of it, which we have in the words of the text. In which we have two things:
1. An alarm to be ready for a removal into the other world*' Be ye therefore ready also.' In the parable of the rich man, ver. 16,—21. our Saviour had shewn the dreadful surprising removal of secure sinners into it,
*when they are not at all ready for it, hut dreaming of a long continuance at ease here, which puts preparation for it out of their heads. And thence he proceeds to caution against inordinate care for this uncertain life, and to stir up to be ready, to be on the wing, for the other lise, ver. 33.; and to be always ready, as those that are at an uncertainty as to the time of their removal. This is to be ready also, as well as the goodman of the house would be if he knew what hour the thief would come.
2. The reason why we should be ready, always ready, never unprepared: "For the Son of man cometh at an hour when we think not." Because we know not when we may be called off more than one knows what time of the night the thief will break in on his house. Now Christ the Son' of man comes as a thief, at a time uncertain to us. There is a twofold coming of the Son of man. (t.) At the general judgment. (2.) At death. Both are to remove us into the other world; the word is general, agreeing to both; and in point of our ma
king ready they come to one, because whatever readiness we can be in for the general judgment, must be made before death, there being no access aster that to make ready any more, but as the tree falls it lies. So we shall consider it as his coming at death, to carry us osf hence. There are two things here:
ifl, The certainty of our removal into the other world,—" The Son of man cometh;" he will certainly come, how long soever he may delay his coming. That is a tryst that cannot be broken.
idly, The uncertainty of the time of it, as to us, however precisely it is appointed in the divine decree; he has not told us when it shall be, more than the thief tells the good-man when he is to make an attempt on his house. So that if there be any time when we are not ready, he may for any thing we know, as readily
come then, as at any time From the text ariseth this
weighty point of doctrine, viz.
Doct. Such is the certainty of our removal into the other world, and the uncertainty of the time of that r*moval, that we ought always to be ready for it.
In discoursing from this doctrine, I shall,
I. Premise some things imported in it.
II. Consider the certainty of our removal into, the other world.
III. The uncertainty of the time of it-
IV. The readiness for that removal.
I. I Shall premise some things imported in this doctrine.
1. Great is the weight that depends on our being ready for a removal into the other world. Eternal well or wo depends on it; for according to-the situation we are found in at our removal, so will we be received and lodged there; in the upper part, the region of blisi, or the lower part, the region of horror, to remove no more. And this makes carelessness to prepare for it absolutely unaccountable. 2. We
2. We are naturally unsit and unread)' for that removal. Were it a matter indisserent, which part of that world we should land in, we could at no time be reckoned unsit and unready for it; for they that are not ready for eternal light above, are ready for eternal sire below. But it can never be indisserent to a rational creature, which of these shall be its portion. And therefore they that are not ready to be inhabitants of heaven, are not ready for their removal; and such are we all naturally, having no title to it, Eph. ii. 3. 12. and no meetness for it, till we get it anew by grace, Col. i. 12.
3. Now is the time, and here is the place, of getting ready, 1 Cor, vi. 2. " Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of Salvation." We are set into this world, to make ready for the other; and time is given us to prepare for eternity. If time be once over, and we be turned out of this world, we have no more access to make ready for the other, Eccl. ix. 10. "There is no work nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave whither thcu goest.' Soitiswithus,nowornever.
Lastly, We ought always to keep ourselves in readiness, that we be not surprised, and taken at a disadvantage; hence says our Lord, Luke xxi. 34,—36. " Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surseiting and drunkenness, and cares of this lise, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man." One may be ready at one time, who is not ready at another as he ought to be; falling carnally secure, aster he has bestirred himself to prepare. But at that time when he is least looking for the removal, it may be nearest; and whatever unreadiness it trysts him with, so great will the loss be.
II. We shall consider the certainty of our removal into the other world,
1. It was the other world, and not this, that man was chiefly and in the sirst place designed for, as to his settled abode. When God made this world, he made it but as 2 thorough-fare to the other, a place through which mas should pass into the other, Mat. xxv. 34. The otherworld was always the home, this was but the place of the pilgrimage, where at no time man was to stay for good and all, but only to sojourn. For consider,
(1.) This world was ordained to be the place of trial, the other the place of retribution, according to mens works. The trial cannot always last, otherwise it would be no trial; but the retribution may very well last for ever, and really will do so. Therefore we must necessarily remove out of this world as the place of trial, into the other as the place of retribution, which therefore must be looked on as our settled abode, Matth. xxv.ult. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into lise eternal." (2.) This world never had in it, that persection of either happiness or misery, that was designed for man . according to his behaviour in it. Even in paradise there Was a want, and in the deluge there was an ark. But God will persect his work of whatever kind. Therefore the settled abode is there, not here.
Wherefore it is a fatal mistake ever to look on thii world as our horne, whether we be saints or sinners; that is the use of the other world only.
2. The man Christ is removed into the other world, never to come back to dwell in this; and to that world where he-is we must needs go. The happiness secured for his own people, who must be taken to the place where he is, John xiv.. 3. and the misery ensured for his enemies, who must be " punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord," 2Thefl".i.9. brought thither and stain before him, Luke xix. 27. make this necessary. Therefore, as sure as Christ hath removed into that world, we must follow.
3. Men must be for ever, but this world will have
an end; therefore our removal out of it into the other world is most certain. "This is not your rest, because it is polluted;" and because of its pollution, it must be burnt up, 2 Pet. iii. 10. Now the foul is immortal, and the body shall have a resurrection, and so the man must be for ever; he must be in some world, and since this will be destroyed, he must certainly remove to the other.
4. Our lise in this world is a journey thro' it, ending, in a going out of it, and therefore into the other world, Psal. xxxix. ult. We enter upon it at our birth, make progress therein in our lise, and come to the end of it at death, which is the passage into the other world. All things are in motion here, and every thing undet> goes changes; but none does more so than man, who; springs up, and quickly goes down again; and at length his place knows him no more.
4. Death, the passage into the other world, is appointed to all, Heb. ix. 27. "It is appointed unto men once to die." All must pass through that dark and shady vale, and then they are in the other world; and have no more concern in what is done under the fun. And the certainty of our dying, we may not only read. in our Bibles; but in our very bodies themselves, where every gripe, pain, and weakness we seel overtaking us, are tokens of death approaching.
Lastly, The experience of all ages since the beginning consirms the certainty of this removal. Where are the generations that have been before us? They are no more to be seen in this world, more than if they had never been in it. Yet God's word assures us that they are in being, the godly ones of them happy, and the ungodly miserable. They are gone then into the o-. ther world. And do we not see by daily observation, that the course of dying is continuing as before? And are there any of us all, who have not some that were our acquaintance in this world, already removed into the other before us? And are we to expect the rocks to be removed for us?
H h * III. The