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crable sinners that need this salvation, and must perish eternally without it, - to take earnest pains to obtain an interest in it after it is procured, and all things are ready ?
4. Shall the great God be so concerned about this salvation, as so often to overturn the world to make way for it; and when all is done, is it not worth your seeking after? How has the Lord of heaven and earth been as it were engaged about this affair' What great, what wonderful things has he done from one age to another, removing kings and setting up kings, raising up a great number of prophets, separating a distinct nation from the rest of the world, overturning one nation and kingdom, and another, and often overturning the state of the world ; and so has continued bringing about one change and revolution after another for forty centuries in succession, to make way for the procuring of this salvation! And when he has done all; and when, at the close of these ages, the great Saviour comes, and becoming incarnate, and passing through a long series of reproach and suffering, and then suffering all the waves and billows of God's wrath for men's sins, insomuch that they overwhelmed his soul : after all these things done to procure salvation for sinners, is it not worthy of your taking so inuch notice of, or being so much concerned about, though you are those persons who need this salvation, but that it should be thrown by, and made nothing of in comparison of worldly gain, or gay cloth. ing, or youthful diversions, and other such trilling things ?
To! that you who live negligent of this salvation, would consider what you do! What you have heard from this subject, may show you what reason there
s in that exclamation of the Apostle, Heb. ii. 3: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation ?" And in that, Acts xiii. 41, “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” God looks on such as you as great enemies of the cross of Christ, and adversaries and despisers of all the glory of this great work. And if God has made such account of the glory of salvation as to destroy many nations, and so often overturn all nations, to prepare the way for the glory of his Son in this affair ; how little account will he make of the lives and souls of ten thousand such opposers and despisers as you that continue impenitent, in comparison of that glory, when he shall hereafter come and find that your welfare stands in the way of that glory? Why surely you shall be dashed to pieces as a potter's vessel, and trodden down as the mire of the streets. God may, through wonderful patience, bear with hardened, careless sinners for a while ; but he will not long bear with such despisers of his dear Son, and his great salvation, the glory of which he has had so much at heart, before he will utterly consume without remedy oj mercy.
I will conclude with a second use, of encouragement to burdened souls to put their trust in Christ for salvation, To all such as are not careless and neg. ligent, but do make seeking an interest in Christ their main business, being sensible in some measure of their necessity of an interest in Christ; being afraid of the wrath to come; to such, what has been said on this subject holds forth great matter of encouragement, to come and venture their souls on the Lord Jesus Christ : and as motives proper to excite you so to do, let me lead you to consider two things in particular.
:: 1. The completeness of the purchase which has been made. As you have heartı, this work of purchasing salvation was wholly finished during the time of Christ's humiliation. When Christ rose from the dead, and was exalted, from that abasement to which he submitted for our salvation, the purchase of eternal life was completely made, so that there was no need of any thing more to be done in order to it. But now the servants were sent forth with the mesjage which we have account of in Matt. xxii. 4:“ Behold, I have prepared my dinner : my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come anto the marriage.” Therefore all things being ready, are your sins many and great ? Here is enough done by Christ to procure their pardon. There is no need of any righteousness of yours to obtain your pardon and justification : no, you may coine freely, without money and without price. Since therefore there is such a free and gracious invitation given you, come; come naked as you are; come as a poor condemned criininal; come and cast yourself down at Christ's feet, as one justly condemned, and utterly helpless in yourself. Here is a complete salvation wrought out by Christ, and through him offered to you. Come, therefore, accept of it and be saved.
2. For Christ to reject one that thus comes to him, would be to frustrate all those great things which you have heard that God brought to pass from the fall of man to the incarnation of Christ. It would also frustrate all that Christ did and suffered while on earth; yea, it would frustrate the incarnation of Christ itself, and all the great things done in preparation for his incarnation ; for all these things were for that end, that those might be saved who should come to Christ. Therefore, you may be sure Christ will not be backward in saving those who come to him, and trust in him; for he has no desire to frustrate himself in his own work; it cost him too dear for that. Neither will God the Father refuse you; for he has no desire to frustrate himself in all that he did for so many hundreds and thousands of years, to prepare the way for the salvation of sinners by Christ. Come, therefore, hearken to the sweet and earnest calls of Christ to your soul. De as he invites, and as he commands you, Matt. xi. 28, 29, 30,“ Corne unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and iny burden is light.”
In discoursing on this subject, we have already shown how the work of redemption was carried on through the two first of the three periods into which we divided the whole space of time from the fall to the end of the world; and we are now come to
The third and last period, beginning with Christ's resurrection, and reaching to the end of the world; and would now show how this work was also carried on through this period from this
PROPOSITION, That the space of time from the end of Christ's humiliation to the end of the world, is all taken up in bringing about the great effect or success of Christ's purchase.
Not but that there were great effects and glorious success of Christ's purchase of redemption before, even from the beginning of the generations of
men. But all that success of Christ's redemption which was before, was only preparatory, and was by way of anticipation, as some few fruits are gathered before the harvest. There was no more success before Christ came than God saw need feel to prepare the way for his coming. The proper time of the success or effect of Christ's purchase of redemption is after the purchase has been made, as the proper time for the world to enjoy the light of the sun is the daytime, after the sun is risen, though we may have some small matter of it reflected from the moon and planets before. And even the success of Christ's redemption while he himself was on earth, was very small in comparison of what it was after the conclusion of his humiliation.
But Christ, having finished that greatest and most difficult of all works, the work of the purchase of redemption, now is come the time for obtaining the end of it, the glorious effect of it. This is the next work he goes about. Having gone through the whole course of his sufferings and humiliation, there is an end to all things of that nature: he is never to suffer any more. But now is the time for him to obtain the joy that was set before him. Having made his soul an offering for sin, now is the time for him to see his seed, and to have a portion divided to him with the great, and to divide the spoil with the strong.
One design of Christ in what he did in his humiliation, was to lay a foundation for the overthrow of Satan's kingdom; and now is come the time to effect it, as Christ, a little before his crucifixion, said, John xii. 31: “ Now is the judgment of this world ; now shall the prince of this world be cast out." Another design was, to gather together in one all things in Christ. Now is come the time for this also : John xii. 32, “ And I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me;" which is agreeable to Jacob's prophecy of Christ, that when “ Shiloh should come, to him should the gathering of the people be,” Gen. xlix. 10. Another design is the salvation of the elect. Now when his sufferings are finished, and his humiliation is perfected, the time is come for that also : Heb. v. 8, 9, “ Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered : and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Another design was, to accomplish by these things great glory to the persons of the Trinity. Now also is come the time for that: John xvii. 1, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee.” Another design was the glory of the saints. Now is the time also for this : John xvii. 2, “ As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as inany as thou hast given him.” And all the dispensations of God's providence henceforward, even to the final consummation of all things, are to give Christ his reward, and fulfil his end in what he did and suffered upon earth, and to fulfil the joy that was set before him.
Before I enter on the consideration of any particular things accomplished in this period, I would briefly observe some things in general concerning it; and particularly how the times of this period are represented in Scripture.
I. The times of this period, for the most part, are those which in the Old Testament are called the latter days. We often, in the prophets of the Old Testament, read of such and such things that should come to pass in the latter days, and sometimes in the last days. Now these expressions of the prophets are most commonly to be understood of the times of the period that we are now upon. They are called the latter days, and the last days; because this is the last period of the series of God's providences on earth, the last period of that great work of providence, the work of redemption ; which is as it were the sum of God's works of providence, the time wherein the church is under the last dispensation of the covenant of grace that ever it will be under on earth.
II. The whole time of this period is sometimes in Scripture called the end of the world as, 1 Cor. x. 11 : “ Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” And the Apostle, Heb. ix. 26, in this expression of the end of the world, means the whole of the gospel day, from the birth of Christ to the finishing of the day of judgment : “But now once in the end of the world, hath he appeared, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” This space of time may well be called the end of the world; for this whole time is taken up in bringing things to their great end and issue, that great issue that God had been preparing the way for, in all the great dispensations of providence, from the first fall of man to this time. Before, things were in a kind of preparatory state; but now they are in a finishing state. It is the winding up of things which is all this while accomplishing. An end is now brought to the foriner carnal state of things, which by degrees vanishes, and a spiritual state begins to be established, and to be established more and more. First, an end is brought to the former state of the church, which may be called its worldly state, the state wherein it was subject to carnal ordinances, and the rudiments of the world: and then an end is brought to the Jewish state, in the destruction of their city and country : and then, after that, an end is brought to the old Heathen empire in Constantine's time; which is another and further degree of the winding up and finishing of the world : and the next step is the finishing of Satan's visible kingdom in the world, upon the fall of Antichrist, and the calling of the Jews : and last will come the destruction of the outward frame of the world itself, at the conclusion of the day of judgment. But the world is.all this while as it were a finishing, though it comes to an end by several steps and degrees. Heaven and earth began to shake, in order to a dissolution, according to the prophecy of Haggai, before Christ came, that so only those things that cannot be shaken may remain, i. e., that those things that are to come to an end may come to an end, and that only those things may remain which are to remain to all eternity.
So, in the first place, the carnal ordinances of the Jewish worship came to an end, to make way for the establishment of that spiritual worship, the worship of the heart, which is to endure of all eternity : John iv. 21, “ Jesus saith unto the woman, Believe me, the hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.” Ver. 23, “ But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” This is one instance of the temporary world's coming to an end, and the eternal world's beginning. And then, after that, the outward temple and the outward city Jerusalem came to an end, to give place to the setting up of the spiritual temple and the spiritual city, which are to last to eternity ; which is another instance of removing those things which are ready to vanish away, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. And ther, after that, the old Heathen empire comes to an end, to make way for the empire of Christ, which shal last to all eternity; which is another step of bringing the temporal world to an end, and of the beginning of the world to come, which is an eternal
world. And after that, and upon the fall of Antichrist, an end is put to Satan's visible kingdom on earth, to establish Christ's kingdom, which is an eternal kingdom ; as the prophet Daniel says, chap. vii. 27 : “ And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him ;" which is another instance of the ending of the temporary world and the beginning of the eternal one. And then, Jastly, the very frame of this corruptible world shall come to an end, to make way for the church to dwell in another dwelling place, which shall last to eternity; which is the last instance of the same thing.
Because the world is thus coining to an end by various steps and degrees, the Apostle perhaps uses this expression, that the ends of the world are coine on us; not the end, but the ends, of the plural number, as though the world has several endings one after another.
The gospel dispensation is the last state of things in the world; and this state is a finishing state: it is all spent in finishing things off which before had been preparing, or abolishing things which before had stood. It is all spent as it were in summing things up, and bringing them to their issues, and their proper fulfilment. Now all the old types are fulfilled, and all the prophecies of all the prophets from the beginning of the world shall be accomplished in this period.
III. That state of things which is attained in the events of this period is called a new heaven and a new earth : Isa. Ixv. 17, 18, “For behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth : and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be you glad and rejoice for ever in that which ] create: for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy." And ch. lxvi. 22, “For as the new heavens and the new earth which I make, shall remain before me; so shall your seed and your name remain.” Sec also ch. li. 16. As the former state of things, or the old world, by one step after another, is through this period coming to an end; so the new state of things, or the new world, which is a spiritual world, is beginning and setting up.
The heaven and earth which are corruptible, are shaking, that the new heavens and new earth, which cannot be shaken, may be established and remain.
In consequence of each of these finishings of the old state of things, there is a new beginning of a new and eternal state of things. So was that which accompanied the destruction of Jerusalem, which was an establishing of the spiritual Jerusalem, instead of the literal. So with respect to the destruction of the old Heathen empire, and all the other endings of the old state of things, till at length the very outward form of the old world itself shall come to an end ; and the church shall dwell in a world new to it, or to a great part of it, even heaven, which will be a new habitation; and then shall the utmost be accomplished that is meant by the new heavens and the new earth. See Rev. xxi. 1.
The end of God's creating the world was to prepare a kingdom for his Son (for he is appointed heir of the world), and that we might have the possession of it, and a kingdom in it, which should remain to all eternity. So that, so far forth as the kingdom of Christ is set up in the world, so far is the world brought to its end, and the eternal state of things set up. So far are all the great changes and revolutions of the ages of the world brought to their everlasting issue, and all things come to their ultimate period. So far