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VI. A glorious kingdom awaits the flock of the Redeemer after death.
A kingdom whose foundations are firm and strong, of great magnitude and of much riches and glory; a kingdom procured by the obedience and sufferings of the Son of God, and for whose preparation he is ascended into heaven where he ever liveth to make intercession for them ; a kingdom that shall be bestowed freely, and upon all the subjects of grace; into which no enemy will enter, and from which no friend will ever depart ; a kingdom prepared before the foundation of the world, and eternal in its duration ; entered upon individually by every believer when he has finished his pilgrimage on earth; and collectively by all the redeemed, at the last day. It highly becomes every reader to recollect that he will soon need a better residence than the present world; and that the immortal soul will at death be either admitted to the inheritance of the saints in light, or doomed to the kingdom of darkness and despair for ever. Nor is it enough that believers aim at the hope of deliverance from condemnation by the exercise of faith in Christ ; but at such a degree of conformity of the Redeemer's image as shall conduce to their having an entrance ministered to them abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
V. Their heavenly father greatly delights in his flock, and will take a holy satisfaction in putting them into possession of his eternal kingdom and glory.
There is nothing in military tactics, and prowess
to engage his affection ; "for he delighteth not in the strength of the horse : he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man:" nor does he delight in the wealth and splendour of earthly kingdoms, nor in empty titles, nor even in a devotion which is merely external; but he feels a complacency in all the subjects of his grace. He loves the gracious dispositions they possess, the various graces they exercise, and the holy fruits they produce. He is well pleased with the worship in which they engage, the services they perform, and the efforts they employ to extend his kingdom in the world. They are the objects of the Father's love, who chose them before the foundation of the world ; and of that of the Son of God who has died to redeem them, and likewise of that of the Holy Spirit who at first regenerated and now renews their souls. They are his bride, the Lamb's wife, and “ he who toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye.” God has shewed his love to his people in not sparing his own Son to suffer and die for them. In calling them by his grace and carrying on in their hearts the work which he has begun. In constituting the Redeemer their constant advocate and intercessor at his right hand, and by the covenant he has made with his Son, and the promises he has made to them of complete victory over every spiritual enemy, and the full possession of his heavenly kingdom. It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. It will be his delight to honor them at the last day, and to make "the righteous shine as the sun, in the kingdom of their father ;” and they will enter into the joy of their Lord. It will then appear that they were saved fully, completely, and with an everlasting salvation. It will then be evident, that however much they were despised by the world, and however mean the opinion they entertained of themselves, and however great the fear they endured in respect to their progress and perseverance in the ways of God, that the Lord had loved them with an everlasting love, and therefore with lovingkindness had he drawn them. Nor will this glorious kingdom be ministered to some distinguished saints only, to apostles and martyrs for Christ; but unto all them also that love his appearing; to the lambs as well as to the sheep of the flock. “My Father,” says the Saviour, “which gave them me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.".
VI. It highly becomes the flock of Christ to dismiss their fears, and to believe that God will not permit them to want any good thing in their way to the kingdom.
It is surely unreasonable to imagine that He who gives you the kingdom will suffer you to lack either the provision of his providence, or the supplies of his grace, while you are travelling to its possession. He who has promised you the greater, will not deny you the less. “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" We ought to remember that the prevalence of fear will not only distress our minds, but paralyze our efforts. It will lead us to say at the approach of every the least difficulty, “there is a lion in the way; a lion in the streets !” Let us not forget likewise, that although the sheep of Christ are of themselves weak and defenceless, they are placed under the protection and guidance of the Shepherd
and Bishop of souls. He is called “ the good Shepherd that gave his life for the sheep; " " the great Shepherd of the sheep ;" “ the chief Shepherd,” who shall ere long appear, and from whom all his ministers--the under-shepherds and their respective flocks, shall receive “a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” So long as his people are travelling through this wilderness, he has engaged to feed his flock, and cause them to lie down, and to seek that which was lost, and to bring again that which was driven away, and to bind up that which was broken, and to strengthen that which was sick ; and thus supported who can faint ! Besides the covenant into which God has entered with his Son, and the promises made to his people through his mediation, warrant you to expect the supply of all your need, according to the riches of his glory by Christ Jesus. Compare your temporal necessities with his gracious promises and abundant resources; compare the subtilty and strength of your spiritual enemies, with his infinite wisdom and almighty power; and compare the remains of the corrupt affections of the old Adam which you still lament, with the exhaustless supplies of grace treasured up in the second Adam —the Lord from heaven ; " and be not faithless but believing." But the admonition in the text against fear implies such a freedom from excessive care, as will make us disposed to exercise a spirit of benevolence; for our Lord had no sooner cautioned his disciples against fear than he immediately adds, “ Sell that ye have and give alms ; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that fadeth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth.” And what is the chief bane to benevolence? what is it?
let each reader ask himself, what prevents him doing more for the poor of Christ's flock, and for the extension of his kingdom at home and abroad ? Is it not the mistrust of his providence ? the fear that although he has hitherto wanted nothing, he may, notwithstanding, one day know want? But this is a grand mistake, for “he that giveth to the poor lendeth to the Lord," and that which he hath given him, he will pay him again ; always in kindness, and very often in kind. The more you do for God, and for his cause and people, the more he will do, and the more evidently will he interpose, for you and your children. Cast, then, thy bread upon the waters ; hence you perceive, what you give must be your own, thy bread; and taken not from the superfluities, but the necessaries of life, thy bread, for thou shalt find it after many days ; give a portion to seven and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evil shall be upon the earth.
The subject should lead us to personal examination. Are we found amongst the sheep of Christ ? Have we been returned from our wanderings? Do we possess the docile, inoffensive, and harmless disposition of his followers ? “As he was, so are we in this world !" Many are goats, or only “wolves in sheep's clothing." The day of discovery and separation will soon come, when the Son of man shall appear in his glory, and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. The sheep he will admit to the mansions of heaven, and the goats, his implacable enemies, will be doomed to the region of despair. And the context