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wronged thine excellency, disgraced thy saints' glory, by my own exceeding, disproportionable portraying. I will bewail, from my heart, that my conceivings fall so short, my apprehensions are so dull, my thoughts so mean, my affections so stupid, and my expressions so low and unbeseeming such a glory. But I have only heard by the hearing of the ear: 0 let thy servant see thee, and possess these joys; and then I shall have more suitable conceivings, and shall give thee fuller glory, and abhor my present self, and disclaim and renounce all these imperfections. “I have now uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Yet I believed, and therefore spake.” (Job xlii. 3.) Remember with whom thou hast to do : what canst thou expect from dust, but levity; or from corruption, but defilement ? Our foul hands will leave, where they touch, the marks of their uncleanness; and most on those things that are most pure. “I know thou wilt be sanctified in them that come nigh thee, and before all the people thou wilt be glorified.” (Lev. x. 2, 3; Numb. xx. 12; Deut. xxxii. 51.) And if thy jealousy excluded from that land of rest, thy servants, Moses and Aaron, because they sanctified thee not in the midst of Israel, what then may I expect? But, though the weakness and irreverence be the fruit of my own corruption, yet the fire is from thine altar, and the work of thy commanding. I looked not into thine ark, nor put forth my hand unto it without thee. 0, therefore, wash away these stains also in the blood of the Lamb: and let not jealousy burn us up; lest thou affright the people away from thee, and make them, in their discouragement, to cry out, “How shall the ark of God come to us? Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? Who shall approach and dwell with the consuming fire ? ” (2 Sam. vi. 9; 1 Sam. vi. 20; Matt. xxvi. 14.) Imperfect, or none, must be thy service here. Oh! take thy Son's excuse, “The spirit is willing, but the Aesh is weak.”
Secr. I. Having thus opened you a window toward the temple, and showed you a small glimpse of the back parts of that resemblance of the saint's rest which I had seen in the Gospel-glass, it follows, that we proceed to view a little the
adjuncts and blessed properties of this rest; but, alas! this little which I have seen makes me cry out, with the prophet Isaiah, (chap. vi. 5—7,) “Wo is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts !” Yet, if he will send and touch my lips with a coal from the altar of his Son, and say, Thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged, I shall then speak boldly; and if he ask, Whom shall I send, I shall gladly answer, “Here am I, send me.” (Ver. 8.) And why doth my trembling heart draw back ? Surely, the Lord is not now so terrible and inaccessible, nor the passage of paradise so blocked up, as when the law and curse reigned. Wherefore, finding, beloved Christians, “ that the new and living way is consecrated for us, through the veil, the flesh of Christ, by which we may with boldness enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, I shall draw near with the fuller assurance.” (Heb. x. 20—22.) And finding the flaming sword removed, shall look again into the paradise of our God: and because I know that this is not forbidden fruit, and, withal, that it is good for food, and pleasant to the spiritual eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one truly wise and happy, (Gen. iii. 6,) I shall take, through the assistance of the Spirit, and eat thereof myself, and give to you, according to my power, that you may eat. For you, Christians, is this food prepared, this wine broached, this fountain opened; and the message my Master sends you is this hearty welcome, which you shall have in his own words, “Eat, О friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.” (Can. v. 1.) And, surely, it is neither manners nor wisdom for you or me, to draw back or to demur upon such an invitation.
And, first, let us consider of the eminent antecedents, the great preparations; that notable introduction to this rest; for the porch of this temple is exceeding glorious, and the gate of it is called beautiful : and here offer themselves to this distinct observation, these four things, as the four corners of this porch.
1. The most glorious coming and appearing of the Son of God,
2. His powerful and wonderful raising of our bodies from the dust, and uniting them again with the soul.
3. His public and solemn proceedings in their judgment, where they shall be justified and acquitted before all the world.
4. His solemn celebration of their coronation, and his enthronizing of them in their glory. Follow but this fourfold
stream unto the head, and it will bring you just to the garden of Eden.
Sect. I. And well may the coming of Christ be reckoned into his people's glory, and enumerated with those ingredients that compound this precious antidote of rest: for 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. Whether his own exaltation, or theirs, were his o primary intention, is a question, though of seeming usefulness, yet, so unresolved, for aught I have found, in Scripture, that I dare not scan it, for fear of pressing into the divine secrets, and approaching too near the inaccessible light. I find Scripture mentioning both ends distinctly and conjunctly, but not comparatively. This is most clear, that to this end will Christ come again to receive his people to himself, “that where he is, they may be also.” (John xiv. 3.) The Bridegroom's departure was not upon divorce; he did not leave us with a purpose to return no more: he hath left pledges enough to assure us; we have his word in pawn, his many promises, his sacraments, which show forth his death till he come, and his Spirit to direct, sanctify, and comfort, till he return. We have frequent tokens of love from him, to show us he forgets not his purpose, nor us. We behold the forerunners of his coming, foretold by himself, daily come to pass. We see the fig-tree put forth her branches, and therefore know the summer is nigh. We see the fields white unto harvest: and though the riotous world say, “ Our Lord will be long a-coming,” yet let the saints lift up their heads, for their redemption draweth nigh. Alas! fellowChristians, what should we do, if our Lord should not return !p What a case are we here left in! What ! leave us among wolves, and in the lion's den, among a generation of serpents, and here forget us ! Did he buy us so dear, and then cast us off so : to leave us sinning, suffering, groaning, dying daily, and come no more to us? It cannot be; never fear it: it cannot be. This is like our unkind dealing with Christ, who, when we feel ourselves warm in the world, care not for coming at him ; but this is not like Christ's dealing with us. He that
• Of the man Christ, next the glory of the Godhead. Rom. xiv. 9; 2 Thess. i. 10; Tit. ii. 14.
p Matt. xxiv, 32, 48, and x. 16; Psal. Ivii. 4; Matt. iii. 7. The ancient Christians still worshipped in the churches with their faces eastward, to
would come to suffer, will surely come to triumph; and 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? Were we not left of all men most miserable ? Christians, hath Christ made us forsake all the world, and be forsaken of all the world; to hate all, and to be hated of all; and all this for him, that we may have him instead of all ? And will he, think you, 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 must not the Comforter be sent ? Was not the work all on earth done? Must he not receive the recompense of reward, and enter into his glory? Must he not take possession 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 ? Our abode here is short; if he had stayed on earth, what would it have been to enjoy him for a few days, and then die? But he hath more in heaven to dwell among; even the spirits of the just of many generations, there made perfect. Besides, he will have us live by faith, and not by sight. O fellow-Christians, what a day will that be, when we, who have been kept prisoners by sin, by sinners, by the grave, shall be fetched out by the Lord himself; when Christ shall come from heaven to plead with his enemies, and set his captives free! It will not be such a coming as his first was, in meanness, and poverty, and contempt : he will not come to be spit upon, and buffeted, and scorned, and crucified again: he will not come, O careless world, to be slighted and neglected by you any more. And yet that coming, which was necessarily in 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 joy to all people :”r and the heavenly host must go before, or accompany the celebration of his nativity, and must praise God with that solemnity, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men;" O, then, with what shoutings will angels and saints at signify their continual expectation of Christ's coming, who they thought should appear in the east; from that of Matt. xx. 27; John xvi. 7, and xvii. 4; Heb. xii. 2; Luke xxiv. 26; Johu xiv. 3; Heb. vii, 25, 26; Gal. iii. 14; Eph. iv. 8, 9.
r Luke ii. 22.
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 the King of Israel, riding on an ass, made his entry into Jerusalem with hosannahs, “ Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord : peace in heaven, and glory in the highest ;"8 O with what proclamations of blessings, peace, and glory, will he come toward the New Jerusalem! If, when he was in the form of a servant, they cry out, “What manner of man is this, that both wind and sea obey him?" what will they say when they shall see him coming in his glory, and the heavens and the earth obey him! “ 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.”u O Christians, it was comfortable to you to hear from him, to believe in him, and hope for him. What will it be to see him? The pro· mise of his coming and our deliverance was comfortable. What will it be thus to see him, with all the glorious attendance of 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 might judge his people. Gather my saints together to me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice; and the heavens shall declare his righteousness ; for God is Judge himself.” Selah. (Psalm 1. 1–6.) This coming of Christ is frequently mentioned
s Luke xix. 33.
+ Matt. viii. 27. u Mark iv. 41, and xxiv. 30.
* Stoicis constans opinio est quod consumpto bumore, mundus hic omnis iguescet. Et Epicureis de elementorum conflagratione, et mundi ruina, eadem ipsa sententia est. Loquitur Plato partes orbis nunc inundare, nunc alternis vicibus ardescere. Et cum ipsum mundum perpetuum et insolubilem diceret esse fabricatum ; addit tamen ipsi artifici Deo soli et solubilem esse et mortalem. Ita nihil mirum est, si işta moles ab eo quo extructa est destruatur.-Minut. Felix. Octu. p. (mihi) 394. Cum tempus advenerit quo se mundus renovaturus, &c., omni flagrante materia uno igne, quicquid nunc ex disposito lucet ardebit. Nos quoque fælices animæ et æterna sortitiæ, cum Deo visum erit iterum ista moliri, &c. Felicem filium tuum, Marcia, qui ista (mortuus) jam novit. -Senec. Consol. ad Marciam.