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the incarnate Redeemer. When he bringeth his first begotten into the world, he saith, •' Yea, and let all the angels of God worship him." When he was born there was "suddenly a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will towards men." John heard them saying with a loud voice, " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and stref%th, and honour, and glory, and blessing." And is there a Christian upon earth that does not delight in the same praise —that does not sing,
"Jesus is worthy to receive
They are his most heavenly moments, in which he is fullest of this interesting theme, and can breathe out his very soul in saying, "Unto him that 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.
V. We Ake To Come To Them As AssoCiates, with whom we are to blend our future being, and from whom we shall derive no inconsiderable part of our happiness.
It is not good for man to be alone. He is formed for social enjoyment; and it is a great source of his present pleasure. The representation of heaven meets this propensity. We are assured that it is a state of society. And there are two classes of beings that will contribute much to our satisfaction and improvement
The one is endearing.—It takes in those you loved in life, with whom you took sweet counsel together, and went to the house of God in company, your pious friends and relations, who now sleep m Jesus. With what reluctance you yielded them up!—Sorrowing most of all that you should see their face, and hear their voice no more? Memory from month to month renews the anguish, and opens afresh the wounds which time was begmning to heal. But wipe away your tears. They are not lost Their separation from you is but temporary. You shall see and hear them again. You shall know them; and shall together review all the way by which the Lord has led you in the wilderness.
The other is dignifying.—It comprehends patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs—angels. You shall be introduced to company of the very first sort Angels are the flower of the creation; and the poorest, meanest believer shall enjoy it; and be prepared for it There are many now whose excellences you venerate, but their pre-eminence confounds and embarrasses you. You long to be in their presence, but shrmk from the interview. You could wish to be with them without being seen or heard, such a sense have you of their wisdom and your weakness; their goodness and your unworthiness. But nothing of this perplexity which now often robs us of half our social enjoyments, shall hereafter be known. Whatever sense we have of our inferiority, it will not be disagreeable; we shall feel no fear, no reluctance. These glorious beings are all generosity, tenderness, and love. They will receive us with joy. We shall find ourselves perfectly free nndPtiappy. With what pleasure will they communicate their knowledge! And with what eestasy will you receive it I How instructive, how sublune will our intercourse be! How delightful to find ourselves translated from this bedlamworld, this Mesech,
253 THE CONNEXION BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND ANGELS.
•• From there low grounds where sorrows prow
to that better, that heavenly country: and to exchange the society of men, vain men, vexing men, sinful men, for "an innumerable company of angels."
Let us conclude with two questions.
First How can it be said that "we are come to" this blessed assembly? Are Christians already in heaven? Is it possible to conceive how we are come to this innumerable company of angels, as friends who are reconciled to us, as attendants who care for us, as witnesses to observe, and as examples to stimulate us! All this regards the present state; but to be with them as our eternal associates, from whom we are to derive so much of our happiness—this regards a future state. How then are we said to be already come to this glorious community ?—By the certainty of the event By promise—and "the Scripture cannot be broken." By hope —and "hope maketh not ashamed." By anticipation, by earnests, by foretastes of this exalted felicity. A real Christian needs not to be informed that "he that believeth hath everlasting life." He is often reminded of the words of the Apostle, He "hath raised you up, and made you to sit together with him in heavenly places." In the closet in the temple, in the communion of saints he knows that heaven is not entirely future; it is already commenced. And whatever the people of the world may think of religion, he can look them in the face, and say,
"The men of grace have found
"The hill of Zion yields
Secondly. To whom are you come? I shudder as I proceed to press this mquiry. I have been speaking of heaven: but remember, there is another society—a society of wicked and miserable beings—a society of which the
devil is the head—a society that is constantly labouring to multiply its victims, and bring them into the same place of torment. How many are hastening to mix with it! To how many will the Judge say," Depart, ye cursed, into everlastmg fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?' Will this be your destiny in the great day? What! instead of going with the righteous, will you "be led forth with the workers of iniquity?" Instead of joining God and his angels, will you lave your " portion with the devil and his angeUr
There cannot be a more awful question. And one would naturally conclude that yea could "not give sleep to your eyes, or slum, ber to your eyelids," till you had endeavour*! to answer it But you ask, Is it possible to answer it? It is: and observe, I beseech you, the rule of judgment It is not an arbitrarr one. It is founded in justice and reason. It is not impulse, but character. It is not some unaccountable impression, but the principles that govern you, the dispositions of the heart, the habits of the life. By these you are to try yourselves. To know what you will be in another world, you must inquire what yon are in this. To decide with whom you will have your portion in eternity, you must determine who are your companions in time. "Be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap: for he that soweth to the flesh shaD of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting."
Whom then do you most admire?—Are they " the saints, the excellent of the earth, in whom is nil your delight?" Have you taken hold of "the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, I will go with you, for I have heari that God is with you." Look forward and rejoice. As sure as you can appeal to God when you come to die, and say, "Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy housc°and the place where thine honour dwelleth," you may with confidence and success plead— "Gather not my soul with sinners, nor my life with bloody men." Being let go, y* will repair to your own company.
But are you vain? Are you ambitious? Are you lifted up with pride?—You will "fall into the condemnation of the deviL Can you vilifv and reproach the good? Can you rejoice m discovering their blemishes, and magnifying their infirmities!—Areyoa regardless of truth ?—Doyou indulge in falsehood and hypocrisy?—Do you nate your neighbour, and harbour in your bosom malice and revenge ?—Do you endeavour, by your influence or example, to poison the principles, and sap the morals of those around you? There is already a connexion established, that death will only discover and complete; your resemblance points out your party ana your doom—you are devils by anticipation, DISCOURSE LXX.
and must have your portion with him who is the " accuser of the brethren; a liar; a murderer from the beginning; a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour." Oh! to be—for ever a companion with Robespierre, with Nero, with Judas, with Pharaoh—with the devil—and his angels!! Surely there is enough in the thought, to keep any man in his senses all his life long from the paths of the destroyer, and to induce him to pray every moment, " Hide thy face from my sin, and blot out all my transgression. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Save me, and I shall be saved; heal me, and I shall be healed; for thou art my praise." May God inspire you with these desires, and to him be glory. Amen.
THE AGED SAINT COMFORTED.
Jlnd even to old age J am he; and even to your hoar hairt -will I carry you: / have made, and I will bear; even I -mill carry, and will deliver you.—Ieaiah xlvi. 4.
Such was the address of God to his peculiar people, the Jews. He has a peculiar people now; and we need not ascend up into heaven, and examine the book of life, to know who they are. We have a copy of this book of life in our possession. It is the Scripture. There we have not only their portion secured, but their characters described. Let us take one exemplification only. "We are the circumcision," says the Apostle, " who worehip God in the spirit; and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."
Do you " worship God"—in public? Alone? Habitually? Do you worship God "in the Spirit.'" Have you only "a form of godliness wnile you deny the power thereof!" Do you "draw nigh to him with your mouth, and honour him with your lips, while your heart is far from him?" Or do you pray, "Unite my heart to fear thy name?"
Do you "rejoice f Are you grateful for your mercies; or full of murmuring and complaining! Is the service of God your pleasure, as well as your employment? Your privilege as well as your duty? Do you "rejoice in Christ Jesus V Do you find consolation in him when the world is a vale of tears! When creatures fail you! Are you encouraged by the thought that there is such a Saviour? That he is so suitable to your case? So sufficient to save? Do you, even while unable to claim him, rejoice in hope; and under every dejection, throwing yourself at his feet, say,
"Should worlds conspire to drive me hence,
Have you "no confidence in the flesh?" No dependence upon your own resources, for your happiness! No dependence upon your own righteousness, for your justification? No dependence on your own strength, for your sanctification? No dependence upon your own wisdom, for your guidance?
These quesnons we ask so early in the discourse—that if you find yourselves to be strangers to the character of the Israel of God, you may be aflected with your condition; and that, while you hear of their blessedness, you may sigh after it:—and if you are able to determme in your favour, and humbly hope, that you have avouched the Lord to he your God, and joined yourselves to him in a perpetual covenant, you may sit and hear, with gratitude and joy, that you have chosen that good part which shall not be taken away from you. I. What Has God Done? He has made
III. Howlong? How Far? To old age; to gray hairs. "And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
I. What Has God Done Fob Tou Already? "/ have made." This brings him very near. It presents him to us as our Creator; as the Fountain of life. Others have claimed us as children; and we early learned to say, My father; my father. But to them we owe our being subordinately, and instrumentally: to Him we owe it supremely and efficiently. They were " fathers of our flesh:" but He is "the Father of our spirits."
I love to realize this relation. Is my body fearfully and wonderfully made? Do I possess reason and immortality? Are matter and spirit, clay and thought, strangely united together, to render me the being I am? "His hands have made me and fashioned me." I behold, I feel his wisdom, power, and goodness; and at once embrace him and adore! The view is instructive; it is encouraging. The constitution I possess, limited as it is m capacity, and subject as it is to infirmity, he
fve me. The degree of health and strength enjoy, he assigned- me. He knows my frame; and remembers that I am but dust He sees that to will is present with me, though how to perform that which is good I find not: he knows that the spirit indeed is willing, though the flesh is weak." Why does Peter admonish those that suffer according to the will of God to commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, "as unto a faithful Creator?"—Because he who made me is perfectly acquainted with all I feel; because he who made me is able to save me;
because he who made me has a benign propension to the work of his own hands. Do I form a garden, or plant a tree? I feel a propriety in jt That upon which I expend my exertion and care will soon be interesting and endeared. If a fine piece of statuary could be possessed of intelligence, the figure would find much less satisfaction in the workman than the workman in the figure. A real benefactor feels more pleasure in doing a kindness than the beneficiary feels in receimg it What a strength of attachment has God produced in all creatures towards their young! And will the author, and the model, of all these sympathies abandon those who live, and move, and have their being in him?
But there is another and a higher operation of which the Scripture speaks. "This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise." We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." He has a new nature; new powers; a new heart; new eyes; new ears—not physically, but morally new: not new as to substance, but as to transformation and use. It is the production of a Christian out of a man: it is the change not only of that which was vicious into virtuous, but of that which was earthly into heavenly; and that which was natural into spiritual. It is of this the Apostle speaks when he says to the Philippians; "I am confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" Whence it appears, that this operation is not only certain in its issue, but divine in its origin and progress; and, therefore, excellent in its nature. All God's works are good; but this is called good by way of distinction. O Christian! it is the best work God ever did for thee. His making thee a man was far less than his making thee a new man. The one brought thee into the world of nature; the other into the world of grace. The one made thee a partaker of a life full of vanity and sorrow; the other commenced in thee "the life of God!" As the creature of his power, thou art encouraged to hope in him; but this relation alone does not secure thee from his displeasure—for it is written, "Because they are a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favour." But, as the subject of his grace, a foundation is laid for everlasting confidence and joy in him. He "taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy." He has said, " I will never leave thee nor forsake thee:" therefore they may boldly say, "the Lord is my helper; 1 will not fear;" and plead with him, like David; "Perfect, O God, that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever; forsake not the works of thine own hands." Our
promise echoes back the prayer, and leads us,
n. To consider What Ood Will Do. "/ will carry. I will deliver."
First He will carry. This implies something more than to guide and to lead them, It supposes helplessness and inability on their side; and tender support and assistance on his. If a man has any thing very valuable, and peculiarly esteemed, he would not willingly leave it, or intrust it to another. God's people are his jewels. They are precious in his sight, and honourable, and he has loved them. A father carries his child, and the burden is a pleasure. Moses, in his improper expostulation with God, says, "Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursmg father beareti the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?" The imagery is here taken from a journey. A family is traveling. But the babe cannot go alone, The father is mentioned as being the stronger parent of the two; or, rather, it intimates— that the mother is dead, perhaps she expired in giving life—she is left behind—the father therefore becomes the nurse, lays the hereaved babe in his bosom, now doubly endeared, and goes forward. God has a large family; but, as Bishop Hall observes, none of his children can go alone. Yet they are not left to perish in their weakness. He will render them equal to the difliculties and duties of the Christian life. He will aflord them seasonable and adequate succour. His grace shall be sufficient for them; and bis strength shall be made perfect in their weakness. "Fear not," says he, "for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right band of my righteousness."
Secondly. He will deliver. This implies that they are exposed to danger; but that they shall not become a prey.
He delivers them from trouble. Who can imagine from how many evils you are preserved in a world like this—every day and every hourl From how many afflictions have you been released in your passage through life? How has he appeared for yon when there seemed no possibility of escape! But he turned the shadow of death into the morning. He brought your souls out of prison —and compassed you about with songs of deliverance.
He delivers them in trouble. A state of suffering is a state of trial; and it is mentioned as a moral prodigy in the affliction of Job, that "in all this he sinned not, nor charged God foolishly." Rebelta agamst divine providence; distrust of God's goodness ; impatience; envy at the exemptions and indulgences of others—to these and many other kindred sins, we are peculiarly liable in the day of adversity; and it is a distinguished privilege to be preserved from them, even if the distress should be continued.
He delivers them by trouble. But for "the thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet him," Paul would have been "exalted above measure." "Before I was afflicted," says David, "I went astray, but now have I kept thy word." It was "the hedge of thorns" that restrained the church from " finding her paths, and following her lovers." Who is not more indebted to his trials, than to his enjoyments!
And this leads us to another view of the deliverance here promised. Our bodily dangers are nothing to our spiritual. We should be chiefly concerned for the safety and welfare of the soul. Now what are our moral hazards? Is not "our adversary, the devil, like a roaring lion, going about seeking whom he may devour?" Do we not live in a world of error? Are we not surrounded with evil examples? Are there not "fleshly lusts that war against the soul?" Is there not "in us an evu heart of unbelief in departing from the living God ?"—Who then can be saved? Who can hope to endure to the end ?—No one but the Christian; and even his expectation would be no better than presumption, were it not that he has an Almighty Deliverer who* is pledged to secure him. To him he looks: on him he relies. His defence is of God, that saveth the upright in heart He "is able to keep him from falling, and to present him faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy;" and he says to him, as David did to Abiathar, "Abide with me, for he that seeketh thy life seeketh my life, but with me thou shalt be in safeguard."
HI. But How Long! How Far will his tenderness and care extend? To old age; to hoar hairs. "And even to your old age I am be; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
This is a period in which a man is deprived of many of his relations and friends; is gazed on by a new generation; feels a thousand infirmities, anxieties, and distresses; and is reduced to dependence upon those around him. "When thou wast young," says our Saviour to Peter, "thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not" Owing to the nature of this period Barzillai refuses the offers of a palace: "I am this day fourscore years old: and can I discern between good and evil? Can thy servant taste what I eat or what I drink? Can I hear any more the voice of singing men and singing women? Wherefore then
should thy servant be yet a burden unto my lord the king?" Such also was the view David took of the same season: "The days of our years are threescore years and ten: and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off; and we fly away." But Solomon has given us an enlarged representation of the decline of life; and he mentions the disadvantage of it to enforce an important duty: "Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them." Then will you be unable to discharge the duties of religion; then will you require all its comforts; then how dreadful to encounter the remorse of reflection, and the horror of anticipation!" While the sun, or the light or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain; in the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, and the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of music shall be brought low; also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond-tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity."
Such is the period to which the promise extends; and two things may be observed concerning it
First The promise does not necessarily suppose that you will reach this period. Immensely the majority of mankind die before time can snow upon their heads. There are few comparatively who "come to their grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season." The wonder is that there are so many.
"Dangers sland thick through all the ground,
"Our life contains a thousand springs,
But the meaning is, that if you should reach this period, you need not be afraid of it; he will be with you, and "a very present help in trouble."