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.and contempt from foes,--and sometimes from . friends themselves; but when that which is perfect , takes place, they shall appear in their true light, as heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and be treated as becomes the children of such a 'king. In their characters and interests, they may now be oppressed, by the men who are God's hand, without being able to vindicate or extiica'e themselves.; but then, their righteousness shall break forth as the light, and their judgment as the noon day :— When the morn of glory dawns, these righteous ones shall have dominion over the wicked.
What then, believers, though your present state be extremely mixed, and the di»ferent periods of lise chequered with trials and temptations, since; better things are provided and secured for you?
That in as sar as motives arising from interest €an weigh, or ambitiori be roused by all that is great and good, we should be prevailed with . to set our affections upon and bend our course toward the heavenly, the better country. Has the Father promised, the Sou purchased, and the Holy Ghost by the gospel exhibited the conveyance of this kingdom, is this conveyance exhibited to sinners, sinners of mankind, the chief of them not excepted Who then would not aspire after a lot and part in this matter ? O that every one may now lay for himself, Whatever I have formerly been and done, whatever my fellow sinuers thin't of doing, I cannot any longer resist the heavenly call; whether, therefore, the former hejr^-pf t;u kingdom have gone, I am now (blessed? t&tifaifc Go J of my salvation) determined to go ;.their people shall henceforth be my people, and their Go.L my God.
4. Is it.so, that Gentile converts shall sit dowa K 5 WitM
with the patrarchs and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God? Then fee
That, as there will be a most intimate communion among glorisied saints, the -knowlege and experiences of patriarchs and prophets, will become yours; while yours mall also become theirs. The history of their warsare and salvation, their trial and triumph; the history of God's dealings with them in their respective conversions, hi* dealings with them through the lise of grace, and through the valley of death; the history of their doings and susserings in the wilderness, therr downcastiags and up-lis tings; the history, in one word, of their access to the kingdom of God, together with the holy surprise, rapture, and delight, the sirst view of Emmanuel gave them; the history of these things siom their own mouths, as aU tending to exalt the riches of sovereign grace, wiH be vastly entertaining, singularly refreshing to you. Nor will it be less joyous and transporting, to have an opportunity, of recounting the labours of your own seet, and telling the patriarchs and prophets, with -your whole other ransomed friends, under what obligations to the same grace you yourselves tre laid. Arc such communications as these delightful to Christians on earth? And shall they Hot much more be so in heaven,! See further
That true Christians part with one another at death to meet again. You have possibly mourned over the loss of Christian friends and acquaintance time after time :—But you need not sorrow as they who have no hope; for there is nothing between them and you, but the.vail fit clay, which shaU no sooner be rent in twain, than your acquaintance and friendship "shall be renewed, with improvements which are, inconceivable at present,vimprovements which are peculiar to ,that,exalted , state slate of things. Holy parents, for instance, and children, believing husbands and wives,—masters and servants,—pastors and people, who were heirs of the grace of life, shall meet together in the temple,—at the table above, without the fear or most distant possibility of being separated any more' for ever. Should not this hope reconcile us to the loss even of such relatives or companions were most comforting and useful ?—especially 'since your temporary loss is the dawn of theif everlasting gain,—and since of their gain also you shall soon partake Lift up your heads, therefore,' and rejoice, because your redemption will draw near: And see
That you who continue in an tmregenerated state, are not so much as in- the way to the kingdom of heaven. If you prefer the society of thg Wicked to that of the godly, and conference upotl -Meless or sinful topics, to that of a serious and spiritual nature ;—if the duties of religion wherein ftoly souls delight, are an inferable burden to you; if the devotional li»e is considered as enthusiasm, the strictness of the Christian walk afe.grimace .'and hypocrisy; and if you reckon the One and other of these no better than fruits of. weakness or Wickedness, .delusion or design:—if that be the case now, you certain'y belong not to the spiritual commonwealth ; and should you die in jehat' state of mind, it is impossible to imagine you ell have any fellowship with the patriarchs and prophets in Emmanuel's better land.
Consequently, in hoping to get to heaves while yon remain in the gall of bitterness, yda impose upon, and satally deceiv.2 yourselves. Either heaven must be a different place,— the heirs of It different persons,—and their employments in it of a different quality, from whit the holy scriptur?s K 6 every every where represent them to be ;—or else, yoa in your present situation, shall not have access there. It is an irrtpealable law of the kingdom, that "without holiness,"—such in kind at least as the patriarchs and prophets have acquired, "no man"—Whatever he be, have, or do in other respects, "shall see the Lord," Heb. xii. 14. This statute, therefore, though more stable than the laws of the Medes and Persiaus, must be dispensed with, or you must be made holy, in order to your sitting down with the ransomed tribes above. Bus, because the former cannot be supposed, the latter must take place, otherwise you must be shut out from the kingdom of God. But,
Though for' argunicnts's sake, the reversion of that law could be imagined, and your admission to the table above luppoied; yet your account would not be found in it,—your happiness could not be promoted by it:—for, if you find it unnatural to think, and disagreeable to talk of divine things upon earth ;—what relish can you propose to have in such topics of contemplation and conversation in heaven ?—If joining in prayer and praise for a few hours, would be a punishment here *; how
* A late minister of this eburch, had a complaint lodged by the greater part of his session, against one particular member, whose conversation was not as it became the gospel; -instead os encouraging a proposal, to have him expelled according to the form of process, that venerable sather overtured that from thenceforth the session should agree 10 spend an hour or two in prayer, at every meeting. If ye do so, said he, the brother who walketh disorderly will soon save yi u the trouble of deposing him, by a voluntary desertion ; — soi, added he, ''it is possible to pray a graceless man *' to death."
could the exercises of divine worship prove a pleasure hereafter ?. --And if but one day in God's house would be a weariness, an inexpressible weariness, at present, what a dismal eternity behoved the ceasclets employments of the upper house to be?
Your present connections with many heirs of the kingdom, will only contiibute toward the increase of j our misery and anguish, in the world of spirits. How must you wail to behold others in the realms of light, while you are shut up in the blackness of everlasting darkness? How will you gnash your teeth, to see your sathers or mothers, brethren or sisters, sons or daughters, husbands or wives, masters or servants, shining in all the gloiits of the heavenly state; while you are clothed with shame and sunk in irrecoverable: despair? How, O how will you gnaw jrour tongues with pain, to discover those very persons whom ye despised, whom ye injured, whose holy conversation you abhorred, let among the princes of the kingdom, while you are mingled with devils and reprobate men, in the regions of woe? Be exhorted to pray, that by the grace promised in our text, you may be brought to yourselves and to the Saviour, be thereby capable of fellowship with the church of Christ here, and have an entrance ministered for you into the kingdom of glory hereafter. Upon the whole, see
That though the conversion and salvation of Gentile sinners are the matter of this promise, access to the gospel, as God's appointed mean of effecting these ends, must be necessarily understood.
If this is not attended to, the most wretched use may be made of the doctrine before us, as if the promise in our text altogether superseded the , necessity of propagating Christian knowkge. But