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fulness, and in penitent faith, seek forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and be purified by his Holy Spirit from every remaining spot and stain, and rendered more exactly conformed to his image: then we " wash our robes and make them white in "the blood of the Lamb."
Thus each of that company which the apostle saw had been employed on earth ~ but the work was then completed; their " robes were white in "the blood of the Lamb;" Christ had "presented "them to himself, as a glorified church, not having "spot, or blemish, or any such thing:" and now they had only thankfully to say, " Unto him who "hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in "his own blood, and hath made us kings and "priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory "and dominion for ever and ever: Amen."1
Compare this my brethren, with the faithful but inadequate sketch of the character above given, and ask yourselves, was she not, for nearly fifty years, daily employed in washing her robes, and "making them white in the blood of the Lamb?" —To the last hour 'a vile sinner' in her own estimation, her whole trust was placed on "the Lamb "of God who taketh away the sin of the world :" and her most ardent desire was that she might be made perfectly holy by his new creating Spirit. Perhaps no one ever more sincerely used the words of that beautiful collect in our church service: 'Almighty God, who hast given thine only Son 'to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an 'ensample of godly life; give us grace that Ave may 'always most thankfully receive that his inesti'mablc benefit, and also daily endeavour ourselves 'to follow the blessed steps of his most holy life, 'through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.'1 Often indeed was she almost out of heart and patience ; not through pains and trials, but because she could not attain that perfection of which she heard, and after which she ardently aspired, yea panted.—" I opened my mouth and panted, for I "longed for thy commandments."2 But she has now attained it: she has joined "the spirits "of just men made perfect." "Hope deferred "maketh the heart sick: but, when the desire "cometh, it is a tree of life."3 Long had she said, as dying Jacob, " I have waited for thy salvation, "OLord:" and probably, being kept from the courts of the Lord by age and infirmity, she was at the close of the week, expecting a solitary and perhaps joyless Lord's day, when behold, he sends his messenger, (for "fire and stormy winds "fulfil his word,") and conveys her at once to his courts above, to spend the day, yea an eternal day, among the heavenly worshippers! What a transition! How different the morning from the preceding evening and night! "Sorrow may con"tinue for a night; but joy cometh in the morn"ing." Often, no doubt, she had accommodated, as many do, words spoken on a very different occasion ; " Why is his chariot so long in coming? "Why tarry the wheels of his chariot ?" 4 But the chariot suddenly came even "a chariot of fire,"
1 Rev. i. 5, 6. VOL. VI. 2 M
as that is described to have been in which Elijah was translated. Her passage, indeed, was very different from his ; but it was of short continuance, and it conveyed her to the same state of glory and felicity. But, oh! my brethren, had her life been spent to the last in scenes of frivolous dissipation; for even the aged, on the very brink of eternity, especially when affluent, can find some feeble means of dissipating the thoughts of death and judgment, of God and eternity; had she lived "without Christ;" had she not" washed her robes "and made them white in the blood of the Lamb;" how different would the event have appeared to every serious and reflecting mind !" The wicked "is driven away in his wickedness, but the "righteous hath hope in his death."1 Her Lord "indeed came suddenly, but he did not find her "sleeping."
"Therefore they are before the throne of God, "and serve him day and night in his temple." Observe the word therefore; it is more emphatical in the original Sii rHTM, because of this. The blessed company were " before the throne," not on account of their moral virtues, or superstitious austerities, or human absolutions: nor even on account of their repentance, love, obedience, and other things "accompanying salvation:" but "because they "had washed their robes and made them white in "the blood of the Lamb." "I am the way, and the "truth, and the life ; no man cometh to the Fa"ther but by me." Christ alone is our salvation; faith alone receives Christ for salvation; but faith is not alone in him who possesses it. The eye alone sees, yet it is the eye of a living man: it is not alone; an eye separated from the living body could not see. All things else truly good, "ac"company salvation :" none are saved in whom they are wholly wanting; none come short in whom they are found.1
1 Prov. xiv. 32.
To be " before the throne of God," in this connexion, evidently means admission into a state of perfect happiness, in the immediate presence, and manifested glory, and communicated love, of Almighty God. "Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, from henceforth : Yea, saith the "Spirit that they may rest from their labours, "and their works do follow them."2 "There "remaineth therefore a rest" (the keeping of a sabbath, o-aZGaritrpos) " to the people of God :" 3 but not a rest of indolence, or inactive repose ; for they "serve God day and night in his temple." This may refer to the services of the priests and Levites at the sanctuary; some of whom, in the days of David and of other pious kings ministered and sang praises to God without intermission, day and night.4 These could do it only by rotation, one company succeeding and relieving another: but the heavenly worshippers do it all together and perpetually, without weariness, and with incessant delight. The apostle in his description of the holy city the new Jerusalem, says, "I saw no temple in it: for the Lord God "Almighty and the Lamb arc the temple of it."5 The manifested glory of God, as " a God of salva"tion," in and through Jesus Christ, seems in
1 Heb. vi. 9. • Rev. xiv. 13. 'Heb. iv. 9. 4 P*. exxxiv. i Rev. xxi. 22.
tended by "the expression " in his temple." Thus the worshippers " cried with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation to our God, who sitteth on the throne, "and unto the Lamb: and all the angels stood "round about the throne, and about the elders, "and the four living creatures, and fell before the "throne on their faces, and worshipped God say"ing, Amen!"
"Serving God" here means especially religious worship: though, no doubt, the blessed in glory serve God in various ways of which we have no knowledge or conception; and most perfectly and delightfully fulfil the whole will of their heavenly Father. Like the holy angels, they " do his com"mandments, hearkening to the voice of his "words."l But worship is here especially intended. In the fourth chapter of this book, a vision opens in which the whole church of God, by its representatives and ministers, is introduced as worshipping God, saying, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Al"mighty, who was, and is, and is to come." Thus they " worship him who liveth for ever and ever, "and cast their crowns before his throne, saying, "Thou art worthy to receive glory, and honour, "and power; for thou hast created all things, and "for thy pleasure they are, and were created."2 They adore the living, the eternal, self existent, and most holy God, as the Creator of all things; though the mysteries of the Godhead and of redemption are generally allowed to be intimated in the threefold repetition of the word " holy."
In the subsequent chapter, however, another
1 Ps.chi. 20. • Rev ir. 8-11