Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

tabernacle is with men, dwells in us, and makes us his habitation and holy temple.

We are come also to an innumerable company of angels. When Jacob went out, God's hosts, his Mahanaim, went out with him ; and when Elisha was on the mountain with his servant, and persecuted by the king's army, a multitude of angels were their guards, the whole hill was filled with chariots of Gre, and horses of fire. To this day the heavenly hosts minister to the heirs of salvation, and encamp round about us, day and night; an innu-, merable company attend the church militant, and no army, of angels, no legion of seraphims do think ịt beneath them to wait round about our beds, or watch our way, since they have seen how dear we are in the eyes of their Maker. They saw the tears he shed, the streams of blood he spilt for us ; they saw his griefs, his agonies, and were the eye-witpesses of all his sufferings on our account. They heard his intercession, his strong cries and tears in our behalf, and must count it a favour and honour to nurse or minister to souls, bought so dearly, and loved with 80 great a love. If they were allowed to, appear visibly to us, and to converse with us, their salutation would be daily like Gabriel's to the virgin, “ hail! ye highly favoured !” for they know how highly esteemed we are by the Son of God our Saviour. But though so many of these ministers are with us constantly, it is good that we do not speak with them and see them, since it would be easy-for us to put them in the stead of our Saviour, and be less eager to enjoy himself. He speaks with us, and is always near us, and can manifest his love, and make it surer to us, than if an angel had told us of it. An angel could only speak to the ear, but he to the heart, and is better to us than all the angels in heaven ; but yet a time shall come when the dan

ger

ger of idolatry shall be over, and then we shall see the innumerable company, who now are our attendants. They shall one day carry us to Abraham's bosom, and sing us into our Father's house. They shall soon see us upon the throne with our husband, and be our fellows for evermore, and the virgius that shall bear us company.

We are come to the general assembly, and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven. That is to say, to the one fold, to the one church of God, to the elect and bride of Jesus, to the catholick, or general assembly of the faithful; we are added to the goodly company of the prophets, to the noble army of martyrs, and in the family with the apos i tles of the Lamb, and all his disciples and friends, gathered out of all nations and lands, and which are properly his first-born; that is, his heirs, such as have his Father for their Father, and his God for their God, and whom he will not be ashamed to call brethren. In the last day, in the harvest, when the angel shall preach the everlasting gospel to all that dwell upon the earth, and when a nation shall be born at once, and whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved; then shall these who have believed in Christ now, and are his first-fruits in the earth, have the honour to be the first-born among many brethren. As in the days of the law there was the feast of the first-fruits, when all the first ripe grapes, olive-berries, ears of corn, flowers, &c. were gathered and presented to the Lord, so also was there a feast of harvests, when all was brought in safe out of the field. Now the Lord takes one out of a city, and two out of a family, and bringeth them to Zion; he gathers in the first ripe fruits 'out of every land, and makes him little households in the earth like a flock, and like an handful of corn, and these are his first

2 B 2

born, born, his chosen, the heirs and joint-heirs with their elder brother Jesus; but there shall be also a “ har, vest-day, when the nations shall flow to him, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong," and have an innumerable host for his inheritance, and when his seed shall be like the stars of heaven for multitude, and which no man can number, but even through eternity, those who in this day of grace came to the Lord, and partook of the communion of the saints, shall be for ever blessed in being the first-born.

These are written in heaven, and in their happiness our Saviour would have his disciples rejoice more than in having the devils and evil spirits subject to them, and being able to work miracles and do wonderful works. He says, “ Rejoice not in this, but rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven." It was not their gifts that made them children of God, or proved to them the certainty of their salvation : but the spirit of God, who bore witness with their spirits, that they were written down in the Lamb's book of life. This is now our joy, who be. lieve in Jesus, we are persuaded our names are graven on our Saviour's hands. He remembers the anguish his body and soul endured, when the iron pens stamped our names there, and this endears us to him and him to us. Let our names be here cast out as evil; let them be noted down with hereticks, and fools, and madmen; let our friends, our dear and nearest relations, be ashamed to mention our names ; let them be a by-word, and proverb of re. proach, for our Saviour's and the gospel's sake; let our enemies mock them, and the drunkard and persecutors slander and reproach our names in their songs, and make sport with them; yet will we rejoice and be glad, for they are precious in our Saviour's sight, and honoured more than it written on the breast of Aaron, or borne on the breast-plate of

tha

We come

the high priest; for the nails that tore the hands of the holy child Jesus, engraved with the engraving of a signet our names there: what the church once so heartily prayed for, “ Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm,” we have obtained; and now our high priest, the Son of God, carries us graven upon his heart, and written upon the palms of his hands. Our names are written in heaven, nor will our loving Lord and Master blot them out of his book of life, but confess them before his Father, and in the presence of the holy angels.

We are come to God the Judge of all. guilty criminals, self-condemned, and judged worthy of eternal misery, but we are justified; the Judge of all the earth has acquitted us, and now there is no condemnation for us. Who can lay any thing to our charge! “ It is God that justifies us, who can condemu us? It is Christ that died for us," and was judged and sentenced to death in our stead, that we might not be judged of the Lord. There was a time when an assize was held in our own breasts, when our sins and guilty conscience cried out against us, and we felt the sentence of death in ourselves; the Lord set before us in array and order, all what we had done amiss, and wherein we had dealt wickedly; and it was as if his sword was drawn to cut us off, and send us accursed from his presence. O how did our hearts trenible! and every lonely walk and field, every closet and secret chamber, were witnesses to our sighs and tears. We did not dare look up to beaven, but like the publican smote on our breasts, and prayed, “ God be merciful to me a sinner!" Have pity upon the chief of sinners! What a sight and sense of sin had we! Our spirits sunk within us, and our hearts ached and failed with dread and fear. We stood like 'poor malefactors before their judge, and guilty as robbers, thieves and murderers, 2 B 3

and

and waited, not knowing if we should not be utterly rejected and banished from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power ; when in this sad estate Jesus undertook for us, he led us to the fountain of his blood, and bid us look upon him and be saved. In bis hands we saw our receipts, and in his body beheld all our sins and offences; in the red-sea of his blood he washed us, and his bleeding wounds healed us, and on his account, and for his sufferings' sake, we are forgiven and pardoned, In this the Judge of all the earth has done right, for Jesus had merited our pardon, paid our debts, cancelled our bonds, broke the engagements, dissolved the old covenant, blotted out the hand-writing that was against us, and nailed it to his cross, and for us suffered the heavy curse and wrath, and endured our chastisement, death and hell. Now can we approach the Judge of all boldly, and call him My Father, and for this grace thank him, who once stood with his hands tied, and in bonds, at the bar of Pontius Pilate. He has burst our bands asunder, and cast away our cords, “ he has preached deliverance to the captives,” and said, “ Loose them, and let them go. O Jesus ! Glory be to thee !

We are come to the spirits of just men made perfect, and are complete in our Saviour. We are without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, because his blood has washed away our {uil, and the comeliness which he has put upon us, has made us perfect before him. We stand before God happy and blessed in his righteousness, and his holiness makes us all glorious within, our cloathing is of that wrought gold. We taste and enjoy, in part, that divine and spiritual happiness those possess above, and are safe in their safety, and sealed to the same redemption, only we are like children toiling in the field, or yet upon our journey, and tley have entered

the

« PoprzedniaDalej »