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Him from eternity; and as He will condescend to make Him known to those whom He admits to a participation of that ineffable delight.” And this is honour indeed.
It deserves to be remarked, that this one word comprises all that God has been pleased to reveal concerning the blessedness of the saints departed. Much as men have desired, and variously as they may have attempted, to get beyond this, all has been in vain. Where (that is, in what precise portion of the universe) Christ is, and how we shall commune with Him, are points reserved; possibly, because no revelation concerning them would have been intelligible at present; but, for whatever reason, strictly reserved ;--and; as in the temple of old, he who would see within the veil must purchase his knowledge with his life. Perhaps this reserve may be designed to test not only our humility, but our love to our Saviour. God says to us, in effect, “ Love Christ, live to Christ, and you shall go to Him and live with Him." Let us ask ourselves, Is this enough ? Am I content to know no more? Unsanctified nature, with its restless curiosity and its proud desire of knowing everything, may be uneasy, and, if it were honest, would probably say, No! Faith and love, however, say, Yes!
“Let others stretch their arms like seas,
And grasp in all the shore;
And I desire no more." And we may depend upon it for a most certain truth, that if this is not enough for us, we either do not know Christ, or do not love Him as we ought.
For let it be well considered, how much is contained in those words—to “ live together with Him." He is at rest. His days of humiliation, toil, and sorrow, are at an end. No malice however ingenious, no power however mighty, can reach Him now, to injure or even to disturb Him. He has put off the crown of thorns, and put on the crown of glory. “When He had by Himself purged our sins," He “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Heb. i. 3.) TO LIVE with Him is to rest with Him ; to be free from the toils, anxieties, and dangers of life ; free from “this present evil world ;" beyond the range of “your adversary the devil ;” and no longer needing to be warned against “an evil heart of unbelief.”
But His rest is not insensibility. He is safe, but not weary; calm, but not apathetic ; dignified, but not indolent. He lives for the noblest and most important purposes, and anticipates their accomplishment with inexpressible delight. “From henceforth ” He “expects till His enemies be made His footstool.” (Heb. x. 13.) Look round upon His enemies. How many are they that rise up against Him! how mighty, and (seemingly) how successful! Fiends and fiend-like men make havoc of the world. Intellect, wealth, science, and art, are lavished to uphold the empire of evil. The friends of Christ are thwarted—their plans miscarry—death thins their ranks, and cuts short their labours. Centuries roll on, and His interest is
still feeble ; His sheep are a little flock, and His “name continually every day is blasphemed." Yet He waits, knowing that His triumph is secure, and gradually approaching. “He dwells in the purest calm. No anxiety sits upon His brow. No doubt represses His heart. He has nothing to learn, nothing to resolve. In the settlement of His plan and the certainty of His reward, He lives assured, He exults meekly. His very rapture is tranquillity,' and He diffuses around Him an infinite repose.”* Who would not “live together with Him?” To co-operate with Him according to our ability here, is honourable and glorious. A little sympathy with His purposes and hopes is a source of inexpressible comfort, and a powerful motive to holiness ; but when that sympathy is entire and constant, what will it be!
Nor do we stop here. The blessedness of a state of well-grounded expectation is great, but that of a realised expectation greater. When the last enemy has been destroyed, a new scene opens upon His people. A new creation rises. But not separate from Him. Still the same leading idea obtains, “ on earth, in paradise, in heaven.” “I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John xiv. 3.) “Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with me where I am ; that they may behold my glory.” (John xvii. 24.) “They shall walk with me in white.” “He shall sit with me on my throne.” (Rev. ii. 4, 21.) Such are the descriptions which He Himself gives of the ultimate blessedness of His people. It is to consist, mainly and primarily, in closer and more intimate communion with Him; for which we are to be qualified, not only by moral excellence here, but by receiving a higher physical organization at the resurrection of the just. To know the full blessedness of “living together with Him,” you must not only die, but be raised again,-transformed into the likeness of “ His glorious body," and consequently able " to see Him as He is.”
Amidst all the mysteries of that final state, one thing is clear. The intercourse of saints with the Saviour is not a selfish or a solitary blessedness. In this sense of the word also, as well as in that more exact sense already given, we are to “live together with Him ;” and, among the subordinate elements of our happiness, this is undoubtedly the chief. Such is the constitution of our nature that we can be happier in society than apart; and our fellowship with Christ will be all the sweeter, by reason of the myriads who will share it with us. Such, too, is His fulness, that the very number of those who partake of it will augment the gratitude and delight of each. We find it to be so now in part. The worship of the great congregation enlivens our sensations, enlarges our views, quickens our perceptions, kindles our sympathies, to an extent not easily described. Our largest gatherings here, however, are but as a drop to that ocean of life. Each of the glorified company finds his All in the Saviour. None is overlooked in the throng. All are “ helpers of the joy” of every one ; and every one
* Hamilton's Sermons, 1833, p. 426.
contributes something, in return, to the general blessedness. “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah!...... Let us be glad and rejoice!” This is to “live together with Him” at last; to “have our perfect consummation and bliss in His everlasting kingdom.”
III. All this, and much more, implied in “ living together with Him," we are to ascribe to the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1. By His atoning sacrifice He satisfied Divine justice, and opened the way for our return to an offended God. Unpardoned sin must ever have remained an insurmountable obstacle to fellowship with God, but for Christ's gracious interposition. But He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, and merited for us all the privileges of the Gospel, however many and however precious they may be.
2. He died for us that His sanctifying Spirit might be given to create and mature the dispositions which make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints.”—Congruity is the ground of comfortable fellowship; and unless our hearts are renewed by the Holy Ghost, the society of Christ Himself would possess no attraction, and yield no enjoyment. But the Cross of Christ is at once the means by which we obtain the Spirit, and the instrument which that Spirit employs to make us holy; and when by that Cross the world is crucified to us, and we to it,—when we have learned to glory in it aright, to make it the centre of our purposes and the motive of our actions, as well as the foundation of our hopes,—then, beloved, though never till then, we shall be happy with Him who hung upon it, and who carries the marks of it even in His glory.
3. Our Lord Jesus, by dying for our race, acquired a mediatorial right in and over us, in virtue of which He will raise His people from their graves to inherit His eternal glory.— Without Him heaven would have remained closed against our souls, and the grave would have shut up our bodies as in a perpetual prison. But He“ died, and rose, and revived, that He might be Lord both of the dead and living.” He has the keys of death and the grave. (Rom. xiv. 9; Rev. i. 18.) And, accordingly, our bodies are His purchased possession. He will call them from their graves. He will “ change” them “according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”
Thus is His death our life. Thus are we taught to hang upon Him all our hopes for both worlds, and to recognise in Him the procuring Cause of all our mercies. “Of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things : to whom be glory for ever! Amen.”
It now only remains to give some brief account of the life, character, and end of our dear friend departed.—He was born at Bradford, Yorkshire, May 3d, 1777. When about thirteen years of age, he came to Manchester to reside with his uncle, Mr. Peter Wood; with whom he regularly attended Oldham-street chapel. In his earlier years he had been favoured with some gracious visitations of Divine influence; but he now experienced deep convictions of sin, and strong desires after holiness and salvation. His struggles and exercises of mind were great, especially while listening to the powerful ministry of Mr. Benson. In 1794 he united himself to the Society, and joined a class which was led by the late Mr. Robert Barnes, who was in the habit of paying a praiseworthy attention to the young. Of his early religious experience no record is known to exist ; but it is believed that, about the time when he entered the Society, he became a partaker of pardon and regeneration. Certainly, at whatever time it may have been effected, his conversion was sound and indisputable; clearly ascertained to himself, and plainly apparent to others. The determination which was so prominent a feature in his natural character, was now, under the influence of Divine grace, turned to good account: he entered with all his heart into plans of self-improvement; often devoting the hours of the night, as well as the leisure of the day, to the pursuit of knowledge and Christian edification.* Halting and besitation were far from him : he had counted the cost, and was prepared to forsake all, so that he might approve himself Christ's disciple.
His Christian character was marked by other features which deserve to be distinctly mentioned. I would particularise, 1. His great frankness and sincerity. He avowed his convictions, and acted on them, at times, and in places, where the avowal implied the bearing of a considerable cross; and, having made up his mind, he never laid himself open to the imputation of being “given to change." 2. His devout temper, sustained by a diligent and serious observance of the ordinances of religion, both public and private. At home he was careful, even when most engaged in business, to secure time for private and family prayer ; and his love to “ the Lord's house” was most conspicuous and exemplary. He delighted to wait upon God in the sanctuary on week-days, as well as on Sundays; and even in old age did not allow a little thing to hinder him. He reverenced the Sabbath and the sanctuary; and was always ready to join in religious conversation and prayer. 3. Yet he was no pharisee: he avoided all ostentation in religion, and cultivated a low estimate of himself and his attainments. He had a strong sense of the evil of his nature, and of his continual need of the renewing grace of God. On no subject do I remember his expressions to have been more strong and forcible than on this. 4. What he did, he did with his might. He entered early upon his course of labour. In the Sunday-school and the prayer-meetings, and especially as a Visiter of the sick in connexion
* I mention this as a fact illustrative of the fixed resolution and ardent zeal of our departed friend; but do not propound him as an example. The habit of nightstudy (which he acquired early, and did not soon relinquish) injured his health in more ways than one; and must, in the great majority of cases, lead to the same results still. Let the young student beware of the fascinations of the midnight hour, nor argue from a present to a perpetual impunity. Nature will assert her claims in due time, and perhaps with interest.
with the Strangers' Friend Society, he began to exercise those talents which long contributed to render him a very acceptable and useful Class-Leader and Local Preacher. These offices he held to the close of his life ; and he was earnest and conscientious in the discharge of them. 5. Integrity was another prominent feature in his character. He had a high standard of moral excellence in his mind, by which to adjust all his transactions; and it is believed that, throughout the course of a long life, he never impaired or debased it. Diligent in business, and determined to lose no opportunity of advancement, he was equally determined not to rise by withholding the rights, or betraying the confidence, of others. His commercial career presents a noble example of the elevating influence of Christianity applied to the affairs of ordinary life; and much of that confidence that was reposed in him is undoubtedly to be regarded as the providential recompence of his unfaltering uprightness.*
It would be wrong to pass by his large-hearted catholicity. He was a lover of good men for their Master's sake, and evinced a pleasing interest in the cause of Christ at large. The recent efforts for the promotion of Christian Union met with his hearty support. At the time of his departure, he filled the office of Chairman of the Manchester sub-division of the Evangelical Alliance.
No one, however, could mistake his liberality for latitudinarianism. He avoided an offensive sectarianism; but reserved, as in duty bound, his best affections, and his best services, for the people of his choice. A valued friend (the Rev. F. A. West) mentious several traits, with just admiration : “His attachment to the principles of Wesleyan Methodism ; his zeal for the upholding of moral as well as economical discipline; his love of simple, evangelical, heartfelt, practical truth in the pulpit; his desire to profit himself, and to secure the profit of others, in the sanctuary; his frankness in the statement of his Christian experience at the Quarterly Visitation, and the manner in which, as an aged Christian, he received the word of exhortation from men much younger than himself; the humility and fervour with which he joined in social prayer, and the deep concern which he often expressed for the spiritual welfare of his class; are points which have passed under my notice. In counsel he was cautious, wise, and eminently trustworthy; guided by high moral principle, and by steadfast attachment to church order, and to the princi
* Few men have received more unequivocal tokens of esteem from their fellowtownsmen. In addition to many appointments which he held in connexion with mercantile Companies, and to parochial and other public offices, it may be mentioned, that on the formation of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, he was elected the first President, and re-elected to the office for several successive years; and that, when the franchise was conferred on Manchester, he received a requisition to become a Candidate for the Representation. At a later period he declined an appointment as Magistrate for the Borough, to which he had been nominated by the Home Secretary. At the time of his death, however, and for some years before, his name was included in the Commission of the Peace for the Southern Division of the County of Lancaster,