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the beams of hope ; to conduct it safely through the trials and dangers of this melancholy pilgrimage; to bar the gates of perdition against its entrance; and to open for its reception the door of endless life.
The same character will be still more illustriously manifested in what he will do beyond the grave. There he will make his followers sons, and priests, and kings, to God. In other words, he will bring them into the intimate relation of sons; endow them with the sanctity of priests; and raise them to the glory of Kings. As sons, they will love, and will serve, him throughout the ages of eternity with an intense and unalterable affection; and be regarded by him with infinite tenderness and complacency. As priests, they will offer up from the altar of the mind the everlasting sacrifice of praise to their boundless benefactor. As kings, they will live, and reign, with him forever and ever.
5thly. The love of Christ will be Eternal.
The truth of this declaration is sufficiently evident from the last head. That, which does not change, is of course endless : and the importance of that which is endless, generally considered, need not now be explained. But there is one point of view, in which it may be useful to examine this subject, brief as the examination must be. The events of this life are interesting to us on account of their number and variety, as well as their nature. The nature of future events is generally, and perhaps I ought to say loosely, supposed to be important, as well as their duration. The Scriptures have every where spoken of them in exalted terms, and often in language of hyperbolical sublimity. Hence we are compelled to believe, or at least to imagine, that they must be important. Yet almost every where they are mentioned in phraseology so general, as to leave upon inattentive readers a faint and loose impression of their meaning. This impression has also been rendered more faint by the manner, in which this subject has been customarily handled by preachers. These, even when men of great respectability and worth, may, I suspect often, be fairly numbered, at least if we may be permitted to judge from their writings, among the inattentive readers of this part of the sacred oracles: for they certainly have done, in most instances, little more than to reiterate a few of the Scriptural exhibitions of this
subject, in language even more general, and far from being equal. ly expressive. Little more is derived from most of them than that a future life is endless ; free from sin and suffering ; possessed of the favour of God; and fraught with love, gratitude, and praise, to him, friendship to his children, and a general state of high and uninterrupted enjoyment. I do not intend, that these things are not in themselves pre-eminently important. They are obviously of the highest importance. Still I insist, that, when holden out to the eye in this abstract manner, they strike it with little force; and leave behind them feeble impressions. To me it seems that to act in the service of God, and to communicate good to others, constitutes, according to the Scriptures, one vast and glorious division of the celestial happiness, usually, Jeft out of view in discourses on this subject. To me it seems also, that both of what we are to be, and what we are to do, many more things are directly said, and those of a highly interesting nature, than have been customarily supposed. From these, when we compare them with diligence and attention, a great multitude of other things, deeply interesting, may be derived by irresistible inference: more, I suspect, than will ever be imagined by him, who has not seriously made the trial. To give a single example: those, who obtain immortal life, are said by our Saviour to be sayyedos equal, or like, to Angels. This one declaration opens to us a wide field of inquiry and conclusion; and assures us, that whatever Angels are, or do, or are exhibited as being, or doing, in the Scriptures, we also shall substantially be, or do. But the things, which Angels do, together with their attributes, and circumstances, are, as exhibited in the Scriptures, very, numerous, and very great: and these irresistibly infér others, which are great and numerous also.
The number and variety of events, which make up our system, hardly strike our minds at all; and probably never enter the imagination of most men, even among Christians. Yet, if we read the Scriptures with attention, and believe what we read; we must clearly discern, that both the number and the variety are immense. The inhabitants of heaven serve God day and night in his temple. The services of those, who in this life fill up their duty, are certainly very numerous; and are so entirely varied.
that no two actions among them all are alike. How multiplied, then, must be the actions involved in a service, which night never interrupts; of a mind and a body, which are never wearied ; and of an existence, which knows no end. That they are endlessly varied is unanswerably evident from the consideration, that vo two bei gs in the creation, and no two events in the Providence, of God have been found exactly alike. Variety is a standing law of created existence, and providential dispensation; and throughout eternity will be the great means of disclosing to the intelligent universe the glorious thoughts, and purposes, treasured up from everlasting in the Omniscient mind.
Instead therefore of being, if I may be allowed the phraseology, the tame, dull, spiritless existence sometimes presented to us, immortal life is a state of intense energy, vast design, and vigorous action; in which to know and to love, to do and to enjoy, will form a combination of dignity, glory and happiness, transcending every earthly conception. All this, also, will expand, and rise, and improve, forever.
From these observations may be conjectured, very imperfectly indeed, some of the things, which Christ will do hereafter for the objects of his love. All, that I have alluded to; the attributes, the energy, the activity, the success, and the consequent enjoyment, he will give ; and will give with a liberality, suited with the love, with which he hung upon the cross.
II. These observations teach us the Earnestness, with which we should labour to glorify our Redeemer.
Think for a moment of what Christ has done for us. What is there, of a desirable nature, which he has not done? Look at the body, the soul, and the exterior circumstances, of yourselves; and of every thing, which is hopeful or comfortable in either; and you will be compelled to say, " This is the gift of Christ.” Look at sin and sorrow, at death and hell, and you will be obliged to say, “My deliverance from these incomprehensible evils Christ purchased with his own blood." Draw the curtains of eternity; and, while overpowered by the splendours of immortal life ; you will be forced to exclaim, . These, also, are the good and perfect gifts of the same glorious person."
How evidently is all, which we can do to retribute this mighty benefactor, nothing, less than nothing, and vanily? Even this, although done in obedience to his pleasure, is, in the proper sense, in no wise profitable to him. He is not served, as though he needed any thing; seeing he giveth unto all life, and breath, and all things. Though Israel, though we, should not be gathered, yet will he be glorious in the eyes of Jehovah. Should we serve him to the uttermost of our power; the only good, which he will gain, will be that, which a virtuous parent enjoys in the character and behaviour of a dutiful child, formed to excellence by his own care, labour and expense; the pleasure of seeing that child virtuous and lovely. Of what materials must the child be composed, who would not exert all his faculties to give this pleasure to his parent? What must be the spirit of that man, who would not labour with all his powers thus to requite his Redeemer ?
Do you inquire what you shall do, to accomplish this divine purpose? You cannot doubt that he, who died to expiate sin, must be earnestly desirous that you should hate your own sins ; that you should mourn for them; that you should forsake them; that you should watch against temptation; that you should abstain even from the appearance of evil; that you should mortify those passions and appetites, which so frequently betray you into iniqui. ty; that you should resist those 'enemies to him and yourselves, whose only employment it is to seduce you from your duty. He, who came from heaven in the character of a Saviour, and has done all the things mentioned in these discourses, to accomplish this salvation ;. He, who has in this manner infinitely merited your highest confidence ; cannot but be pleased to see you confide in his righteousness, his intercession, bis government, and his pro. mises. He, who has laboured and suffered without a parallel to re-establish holiness in your minds, must be delighted to see this glorious end accomplished; to see you assume, improve, and brighten, this beauty of the mind, this divine excellence, this image of himself. How obviously will the gain of all these things be
III. These considerations forcibly impress upon us the duty of loving one another.
This is the very inference of St. John from the great subject of the present discourse. “Beloved,” says that amiable Apostle, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another."
When a Christian looks round on his fellow-christians; he sees those, for whom Christ died; those who are united to himself in the same faith, and the same covenant; who are members of the same delightful family ; who are fellow-travellers towards Heaven; who will be forever voited with him in the friendship of that happy world; who are to share together in its immortal enjoyments; who are loved by Christ with a love, which admits no limits, and which will know no end. Shall not these persons love each other with an intense, unchanging, and everlasting love? How obviously are Christians bound and compelled by this great argument laboriously to promote each other's welfare, in all their progress through this vale of tears?
The good offices, which Christians are thus required to render to each other, are all pointed out to them, and enforced on their consciences, and on their hearts, by the example of Christ. He fed the hungry; healed the sick; released the prisoner; comforted the sorrowful; instructed, ceproved, warned and edified, his followers; prayed for them earnestly and continually; set before them an example, blameless, and harmless, and without rebuke ; and universally helped them onward towards eternal Life. These are the very things, which he requires Christians to do to each other; and in these he exhibited, while in the world, and in the gospel still exhibits, to his faithful followers his unspeakable love. Here we behold, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord. How desirable is it, that we should be changed into the same image, and raised from excellence to excellence, and from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord ?
Christians have innumerable wants, which their fellow-christians are to supply; and many sufferings, which their fellow-christians are to relieve. They are poor; and need food and raiment, fuel, beds, and houses. They are sick; and need medicine, attendance, nurses, and physicians. They are in distress; and need relief. They are in sorrow; and need consolation. They are perplexed ; and need to have their doubts removed. They are desponding; and powerfully claim to be cheered with