« PrécédentContinuer »
be adds: “ It shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father,” Matt. xx. 23. and he insinuates to them,
. that one way of being nearest to him in his glory, is to “ drink of his cup, and be baptized with the baptism, with which he was to be baptized;" that is, to suffer in testimony to truth, if called thereto. In figurative expressions he pronounces a special blessing upon men of uniform virtue and obedience. “ Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh shall find watching. Verily, I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them,” Luke xii. 37. When Thomas, upon the ground of an overbearing evidence, admitted the truth of his resurrection, our Lord graciously accepted the profession of faith which he made : but at the same time, he breaks forth into a superior commendation of such as should be better disposed to truth. “ Jesus saith unto him: Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed : blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed,” John xx. 29.
Agreeable hereto are many declarations of the apostles, “ For,” says St. Paul, “ our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” 2 Cor. iv. 17. And St. Peter: “ That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, may be found unto praise and honour and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 7. that is, they who when tried by difficulties and sufferings in the cause of truth, are not thereby overcome, but still continue faithful, and are only more and more refined and sanctified, shall receive abundance of honour and praise at the appearance of Jesus Christ.
Hereby the Lord will be glorified; when the truth and equity of his judgment shall be manifest in rewards, proportioned to his declarations, and the great hopes he had sed in the minds of the sincere and upright. The cause of virtue is then completely vindicated by him. Every instance of right conduct is recompensed: and the most eminent virtue, which here on earth is sometimes exposed to the greatest difficulties, and the worst reproaches, receives an equal reward. This is glorious to the Judge of the world.
These are perfections of Christ, which are glorified by the perfect holiness, external glory, and great number of his people: for, as the apostle says, " Whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice in it,” 1 Cor. xii. 26. so also is Christ, the head, honoured and glorified in the honour of each saint, much more in the honour and glory of the whole church, which is his body. This is the day, when good men, of all ages and nations, of every rank and condition, of different capacities and attainments, who have lived under the several dispensations of reason and revelation, make up one visible and harmonious assembly. Nor is there any longer one member of the church suffering, or tenipted: all have finished their course, and their warfare is accomplished. In the style of the Revelation, “ they are clothed in white robes, with palms in their hands," Rev. vii. 9. the ensigns of victory and triumph.
It is then a day glorious to Christ, and a day of unspeakable joy to his people. He must be honoured and revered by those also, to whom his appearance is not joyful: for all the unjust neglect and contempt of him and his people are for ever confuted and put to shame; and a full conviction
; is wrought in the minds of all, concerning the reasonableness of the gracious promises formerly made in favour of virtue, and the great rewards now conferred upon it.
It is, moreover, reasonable to suppose, that at this time, Christ will be very glorious in the esteem of the blessed angels, and all orders of intelligent beings: for the angels are said to be “ ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them, who shall be heirs of salvation,” Heb. i. 14. and they “ desired to look into those things,” 1 Pet. i. 12. that were done at the publication of the gospel. It may be therefore justly concluded, that they likewise partake in the joy and acclamations of this day; and that in their eyes, as well as in those of his people, Christ is glorified : especially since they are spoken of as present at this time, and coming as attendants on the Judge of the world. See Rev. v. 11-14.
Prop. III. When Christ comes again, he will be admired, particularly, by all them that believe. Three things will appear admirable at that time: Christ's personal glory, the greatness of his love in what he has done for his people, and his goodness in the kind reception he gives them, and the great reward he bestows upon them.
1. Christ's personal glory. He comes on the clouds, with an innumerable company of the heavenly inhabitants in his train: and many awful appearances there will be to increase the grandeur and solemnity of that day. There will be also the glory of his own person, suited to his real dignity, and the great characters he sustains, of the Head of the church and Judge of the world. Once, when he was on earth, in the days of his humiliation, he was gloriously transformed in the view of three of his disciples : “ His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment became white as the light." The description given of that one transient glorification may help us to some imperfect idea of the present glory of the human nature of Christ in his state of exaltation; and of that in which he will appear, when he comes to judge the world. But though we cannot now distinctly conceive of it, we may be assured it will be such, as will raise the wonder of all, and afford every believer a pleasing surprise and joy. Each saint will have a glory of his own, with which he will be satisfied: all will admire, and be delighted with the transcendent glory and majesty of him who is their common Lord and head.
2. Another thing that will be admired at that time is the love of Christ in what he has done for his people, in order to bring them to the glorious and happy circumstances in which they then appear. This was always matter of wonder to those who duly considered it. It will hereafter appear more admirable. It was owing to the doctrine taught by him in a mean condition, and farther confirmed by his painful death and glorious resurrection, that their hearts were won to God and virtue. It was by looking unto Jesus, who endured the cross, despising the shame, and then sat down on the right hand of the throne of God;" that they “ laid aside every weight, and ran with patience the race that was set before thein,” Heb. xii. 1, 2. If he had not first overcome, neither had they overcome, as they have done, the allurements and terrors of an evil world. His victory encouraged them, and made them conquerors. So it is in the apostle's triumphant challenge: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution ? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that loved us,” Rom. viii. 35–37.
3. Another thing, that will be admired by them that believe, is the goodness of Christ in the kind and gracious reception he gives them, and the reward he bestows upon them. This may be argued from the representation, which our Lord himself has given of the solemn procedure at the end of the world : “ Then shall the King say unto them on the right hand : come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat ; thirsty, and ye gave me drink; a stranger, and ye took me in. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying: Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee) or thirsty,
and gave thee drink ?” Matt. xxv. 34-37. It will appear amazing goodness in him, to consider, and reward acts of kindness done to their afflicted and necessitous brethren, as done to himself; especially as they are conscious, that the principle of virtue, from which those good works have proceeded, was formed by his care and institution, and was owing to that love, wherewith he first loved them, in living a life of sorrows, and dying a painful death for their sake.
Thus we have meditated a while upon the several parts of this text. And we perceive, the day of Christ's second coming will be a day of great splendour and magnificence: and shall it not be a day of joy unto us? shall we not partake in the glory and triumphs of that time? This well deserves our consideration. It was a desirable thing, to see the Saviour of the world, when clothed in the sinless infirmities of the human nature : it must be much more desirable, to see him coming in his glory: but neither of these his comings is of advantage unto all. They were his disciples only; and such others, as attentively heard his words, and received them into good and honest hearts, who were entitled to a blessing, as he says to them: “ Blessed are your
6 eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear,” Matt. xiii. 16. So it will be likewise in the time of his second coming. He
appears to complete the redemption of those only, whose salvation was begun here, and who were made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the sons of God.
This text leads us to two things necessary to our seeing Christ with joy ; that we be saints, and believers; or, that we have a faith, which purifies the heart, and produces works of righteousness in our lives. So let us be prepared for the coming of the Lord : and let us be diligent, “ that we may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless,” 2 Pet. ii. 14. Let us be such in the frame of our minds, and in all our actions, at every season, that we may be ready to meet him, whenever he comes. These are they, whom Christ pronounceth blessed, as before shown. His words at length are these ; “ Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching. Verily I say unto you, that he will gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants," Luke xii. 37, 38.
May this be our case, as we have reason to believe it was that of our honoured Pastor, whose death we, and many others, now lament! At the same time we ought to be
thankful, that he has been so long upheld by his Lord and Master in his service, and particularly, as pastor of this congregation, for the space of forty years and upwards: of which relation to this society, and the harmony that had all along reigned therein, he speaks with satisfaction in the preface to his discourses on the principal representations of the Messiah, throughout the Old Testament : Recommend*ing them particularly to those of his own charge, to whom • he had then stood so long related, and with whom he had • lived in an uninterrupted peace, and with many marks of • a distinguishing respect;' which is to your, as well as his honour. He concludes that preface with these words, showing what was the constant aim of his labours, and what the reward he most desired : “Such as they are,' says he,' I make • a humble sacrifice of them to the honour of the blessed Re• deemer, and lay them at his feet: having no higher ambition
in this world, than to serve his interest, and be accepted of • him; nor higher expectation and hope, than to be with him 6 and behold his glory.'
His sermons in the stated course of his ministry were judicious and practical, filled with just sentiments, and texts of scripture aptly applied ; composed with great propriety of expression, and exactness of order and method; suited to meaner, as well as better capacities; the fruit of much study, serious thought and consideration. The subjects of his preaching were of a large compass, taking in the general principles of religion, with the grounds and evidences of them, and the important duties of the christian life, recommended by forcible motives and considerations : not neglecting any of the various wants and exigences of men, but aiming, by proper and well-chosen arguments, to awaken the secure, quicken the slothful, comfort the afflicted, and strengthen the weak; nor always laying the foundations of religion, but carrying on good beginnings toward perfection. Thus, as a faithful steward and wise overseer, he divided to every one a portion. How he performed some other branches of his pastoral office, many of you must likewise be very sensible, and can bear testimony to the fidelity and tenderness with which he admonished, warned, advised, comforted in private, as the circumstances of things required. His performances at the public ordinations of ministers were always greatly esteemed. In funeral discourses, whether for ministers, or other useful christians, he had a happy art of giving the best likeness without flattery. His delivery, as you well know, was grave and manly, entirely free from affectation, with very little action, in a word,