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"to them that trouble you; and to you, who are "troubled, rest with us," 1Thess. i 6, 7.—Where, you cannot but fee that rest is the antithesis to tribulation; consequently, that must no less include positive happiness, than this does positive misery.
As one branch of positive salvation, their Jilting, or lying down, conveys the chearing and delightful idea of being at home. While on earth, the heirs of glory are pilgrims, strangers, sojourners, and way-saring men, i. e. they are not at home, are not in a reclining and resting, but in a moving and striving posture: Whereas, in the kingdom of God, they will be where all their present desires and endeavours tend;—at the point wherein all their ambition terminates; nay, beyond which it does not, would not, cannot possibly go. There they shall find "the work of righteousness" to have been "peace, and the effect of righteousness, "quietness and assurance for ever."—There they "(hall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure M dwelling, and in quiet resting-places," If. xxxiL '17, 18.
Their sitting devrn in the kingdom of heaven, according to the spirited import of this phrase, it particularly expressive of the repast or entertain. ment to which they will there be admitted. There shall be a table covered for all the heirs of promise, at which they will be perpetually regaled with the richest produce of Emmanuel's land.
One end our Lord has in view, by the conveyance of this inheritance, is, " that they may eat *' and drink at his table, in his kingdom," Luke xxii. 30. It is his table; and, therefore, the banquet itself will be suited to the state of such a king. ^11 the b!ils which the hidden manna, Rev. ii. 17. —the tree of lift, Rev. ii. 7.—the rivers of plea'Tftires, P&l. xvi.'11.—and tbe wine of the kingdom, dom, Matth. xxvi. 29*—can jield, will there be copiously enjoyed.
And, what cannot sail of giving a distinguishing relish to the whole, the ransomed guests will have Ae presence and hearty welcome of the King of Glory himself, who, as the munificent entertainer, shall occupy a chief room, and cut a most distinguishing figure at his own table above :—for " the "Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall "feed them, aud lead them unto living fountains ■ of waters," Rev. vii. r7.
When all these various circumstances are taken into the account, who can say how glorious the rest,—how inconceiveable the privilege, and how rich the entertainment will be?—It is represented indeed by material imagery, to suit the weakness of our present capacities;—but will be found infi" nitely to out-do all the richness, beauty, and excellence, to which it is compared.
That this gospel-argument "for endeavouring M to propagate Christian knowlege," may be the more conclusive, there is yet another part of the happiness promised to Gentile sinners in our text, which merits particular attention,—namely, thew fitting down in the kingdom of heaven, with Ahraham, Isaac, Jacob, ar.d all the prophets.
Man is a social creature, and much of his happiness depends upon the quality of those with whom Jie is connected : that nothing, therefore, may beawanting to render the heavenly state a rational, it is represented as a facial happiness; while the whole members of that society are of such a quali» ty, as shall rend»r them blessings unto, and blessed in one another *. For illustrating this part of the argument, it may be observed,
* This and the former circumstance in future happiness*
That, though none bin the patriarchs and prct* phcts are mentioned, other saints under the Old Testament dispensation are by no means excluded. Than speaking of the whole by a part, there is no figure jn speech more samiliar to the holy writers. All the iaints, therefore, from Abel, who first sat down in the kingdom of God, until the day when our Lord uttered the words of this text, - whether in the antedcluvian world,—the patriarchal ages,-— or days of the prophets; -all the Old Testament saints,— whether male or female, more or less remarkable,—recorded, or unnoticed, in scripturehistory ;—all of them are included in the blissful society with whom ransomed sinners, under the New Testament dispensation, shall spend an eternity in the kingdom of heaven.
. Their sitting down with these venerable tribes, seems sarther to intimate, that they shall be introduced to their particular acquaintance, though they never saw one another on earth. The sweetness of social lise depending so much upon this, it is scarce
piness, entered into the theology of the ancient Heathens: " Neque vero, (aitbat Cicero) cos solum Cob« "venire aveo, quos ipse cognovi; fed illos etiam de »* quibus audivi, et legi, et ipse conscripsi.—Nec ni'c "vixisse poenitet: quoniam ita vixi, Ut non frustra
'*» me natum existiraem; et ex hac vita ita discedo, tan"quam ex hospitio, non tanquam ex dorao: commo** randi enim natnra diversori«m nobis, non. habitandi, "dedit.—O præclarum diem, cum ad illud divinum a'* nimorum concilium, coetumque, proficiscar; cumque "ex hac turba et culluvione discedam !—Proftcilcar
." enim, non ad eos solum viros, de quibus ante riixi, "fed etiam ad Catonem meuni,—quo, nemo vir me"Iror natus est, nemo pictate praestantior,' ire—»
,Cjc. De senect. cap. 23.
to be imagined, that the -redeemed tribes will sit down with those they know nothing of.
The fcnowle'ge, indeed, and .enjoyment of " the "only true God, and JeUis Christ whom he hath "sent," will be a happinels ib complete, lo glosious, and finished in itself, that nothing will be needed to crown the jubilee, or per»ect the salvation: John xvii 3 Hut, if our Lord had not considered the society of saints, as, at least, contributing toward the perfection of that bliss, it is not easy to see why he would have made such.particular mention of their partners in the glory to be revealed.
Besides, there are different notices in the sacred records, by which this hypothesis will be more directly supported. Hath Jesus Christ, for instance, promised to confess his people, not only before his Father which is in heaven, Matih. x.. 32. but before the angels of God, Luke Xm. 8 who .vre not so much as of the same order "in the leale of being with themselves? and can it be thought, that 'e will leave them unacquainted with ihiir dear brethren and fellow-heirs?
Of Peter. James, and John, we are told, th.it they knew Moses and Elias upon the mount, and -distinguished them by their n;imes, though fhey had never seen these illustrious personages, or either of them, in the fleth, Matth xvii. 3, 4. Rut is it to be imagined 'hat, in such palling excursions, .glorified saints should be known by men on e u th, and yet unknown by the same very persons whin they meet with them to part no more, in the heavenly world?
And if in a certain parable, Luke xvi. 23. 24. it is insinuated, thnt from the sarther fide of the impassable gulph, the heirs of glory may bodi '.'e desciied and distinguished,—can any thing be mote
abiuid, absurd, than to hesitate a moment concerning the propriety of this cUlightful truth?
Moreover, sitting down with the patriarchs and prophets, is an intimation that Gentile converts fhill be raised to a level with the most eminent saints in the Jewish church. They shall be in the same state, of the same sanvly, at the same table-and have all their immunities secured by the same divine perfections. Have the patriarchs and prophets the seal of God in their foreheads? Rev, vii. 3.—they shall have the name of God written upon theirs, Rev. iii. 12. Are these arrayed in the uniforms of Emmanuel's land '—so shall these. Po the former make eflenml parts of the heavenly, -the triumphant commonwealth? so shall the lat' ter.
A diff,rence indeed may take place between the glory of one saint and another, in respect of degrees; but each of them shall be as glorious as they are capable of,—as glorious as it is possible for them to be. Though, like so many vessels, redeemed fouls may be more or less capacious, they shall all be filled to the brim, consequently, according to their different measures, intirdy upon Sa Jtvel *.
* We cannot with precision now judge of the rank
which different saints may beai in the church of Ood above, siom th: places they occupy in the church vf (iod on earth; -for it is not only passible, but beyond doubt, that some bearing 1 ffi:e in the church, and 40 that view superior to those whom the exercise os their office respecteth, are not the holiest .01 the community} an.i therefore, in as far as the degrees of future gloi y may he inferred from the degrees of present gr-ce, it Units follow, that those who ar? greatest in the church here, any be least in the church hereafter; while these