« ForrigeFortsæt »
are, have been recovered by the word of his gospel, and the influences of bis Spirit, to a new nature and life of holiness? How many are there, who from children of wrath, have become the sons and daughters of the most high God, heirs of this blessedness, and prepared for the enjoyment of it? O take heed that you resist poc his grace, por rebel against the kind and sacred motions of the blessed Spirit within you, when his very office and business is to change your sinful natures, and to prepare you for the regions of eternal holiness and peace.
4. Think yet further, what advantages you have had from the weekly ministrations of the word of grace, from 'reading the book of God in your own language, and from the pious educa
of you have enjoyed in the families from whence you sprung. "Think what awakening hints you have received by the inward conviction of your own consciences, and by the christian friends you may have conversed with: Have you nut been told plainly enough by the voice of conscience, that you are now utterly unprepared for heaven? Have not public and private admonitions given you sufficient warning of the danger of your present state? And after all this will you proceed in your sinful course, till
you arrive at the very gates of hell and destruction, till you have prepared yourselves, and made your souls ripe for the vengeance of God, and are plunged into it by death without remedy or relief.
5. Consider how dreadful will your state be, if death meet you in all your guilt and defilements, unwashed, unpardoned, and unsanctified, without any garment of righteousness, without any robe of salvation. What a terrible sentence is that which death will pronounce upon every such sinner the moment that he strikes their heart? Hear it and tremble, O miserable creature! Hear the formidable and eternal sentence, Let him that is unholy be unholy still ; Rev. xxii. 11. Let bim that is unprepared for heaven go down to the regions of death and hell, for which his iniquities have best prepared him.
6. Think with yourselves, if you have any thing of importance to do in this world, or have any momentous scene of life to pass through, how diligent are yun in preparation for it? If you are but to visit the court of a prince, or go to make your
addresses to any great man of honour and power, or to be admitted into any numerous society of a superior character, how diligently do you endeavour to furnish yourselves with such knowledge of the common ceremonies of life, and such ornaments about your body, as may render you acceptable amongst those whom you are going to converse with? And does not an en
into the court of heaven, into the presence of a God of holiness, and into the society of pure and blessed spirits, require solue solicitude and care about those ornaineats and qualifications
which are necessary for so solemn and glorious an appearance? If you are designing in this life to commence any trade or busihess for your employment and your support, you are willing to serve an apprenticeship of seven years in order to a preparation for the exercise of this public business ; and can you not afford one day in a week to learn the business of heaven, and to preparc
for the blessedness of it?
And let parents also consider with themselves, what pains they bave taken that their children may be fit for the trades and employments of life to which they design them, and then let each enquire of their own consciences, “have I ever done so much to train up my sou for the heavenly world, to fit him for the appearance before God, and saints and angels, and for all the unknown services of that celestial country?"
7. Go on yet further, O impenitent sinners, and consider with yourselves what a blessedness it is to be prepared for heaven; for then you are prepared for death, and at once you take away all the terrors of it. O what an unspeakable happiness is it to pass through this world daily without the fear of dying? What is it that makes life so bitter to multitudes of souls, and every malady or accident so frightful to them, but the perpetual terrors of death? Think what a divine satisfaction it is to walk up and down in this desart land, ready prepared for an entrance into the land of promise, the inheritance of the saints in light. Think of the solid joy and inwarel consolation of those souls who feel in themselves an habitual readiness for a departure hence, and who are wrought up by divine grace to a preparation for the business and the joys above. Think of the victory over death, which is obtained by such a readiness for heaven, and how glorious a thing it is to meet that last enemy the king of terrors, and encounter bim without fear, and to triumph over tim with divine language, 0 death! where is thy sting? 1 Cor. xv. 55. How joyful a scene would it be to take leave of all our friends in this land of mortality, with an assured hope that we are entering into a happier climate, and a better country, ready prepared for all the more glorious scenes that shall meet us in the in visible world?
It is an amazing thing to me, how the children of men, who are dying daily off from this stage of life, who must all shortly die, and enter into a world of eternal futurity, should be no more concerned about a preparation for their departure tience : That they should be so stupidly thoughtless of a world to come, while they are on the very borders of it, and eternal joy or eternal sorrow depends on this one question, “ Am I prepared for hea ven, or not ?" O those two awful regions of the unseen world :: where the love of God shines with its brightest glories, or where's the vengeance of God is discovered in all its anguish and horror!
One of these will be the certain and eternal dwelling-place of the souls that are prepared for them, and there must they pass their long immortality, either iv joy or in sorrow, without a changes and yet the foolish and besoited tribes of mankind to have abandoned all thought and concern about them. A dangerous lethargy, or distraction !
What shall we do to cure sinners of this madness? Shall I try to rouse these indolent unthinking wretches out of their dangerous and mortal slumbers with the loudest voice of thunder and divine terror? But the lethargy of sin is proof against all, these terrors and thunders. Shall I call for a fountain of tears into my eyes, and weep over them with the tenderest sympathy and compassion ? But they feel not any meltings of pity for themselves, nor are their hearts to be softened by all our tears and wailings. Shall I beseech them in the name of Christ by the bowels of bis dying love, and the blood and anguish of his sufferings for our'salvation ? But even these divine and astonishing instances of tenderness and mercy make no impression on their souls. While Satan holds them in his chains, they are sleeping the sleep of death. Ofor a word of sovereiga and almighty grace to reach the centre of their spirits! To shake all the powers of their nature ! To awaken them to behold their eternal interest! and to prepare for heavenly felicity! Awake, O sleepers, ere the angel of death seize you, and the grave shut ils mouth upon you; then all your seasons and hopes of mercy are cut off for ever, and you will awake hopeJess immortals.
I shall conclude this discourse with one word of exhortation to those who are in any measure wrought up to a preparation for the heavenly blessedness. “ O happy creatures ! whatsoever pains yon bave taken, whatever conflicts you have endured in the matter of your own salvation, yet let God and his grace have all the honour of this work. It is to God you owe your sacrifices of praise. He that hath wrought you up for this felicity is God. It was he who awakened you first, and set you a thinking of your most important concerns : It was he that led you first into the way of salvation by Jesus Christ his Son, and hath thus far crowned your labours and your prayers with success and blessing. Every stumbling-block in your way might have thrown you down to perdition: Every templation might have turned you back from this glorious pursuit: Every enemy of your souls might have discouraged or overcome you; if God and his grace had not been engaged on your side.
It is he hath upheld you when you were falling, he hath taken you by the hand and led you right onward when you were wandering, and lie hath sapported you by his divine cordials of promise when you were fainting, li is God who hath enabled VOL. PU.
yon to maintain your conflict with all the mighty obstacles of your faith and hope ; it is his grace bath renewed your nature, hath weaned you from this vaig. flattering world, and given you a sacred relish of divine blessedness. It is he who hath formed you again after his own image, and hath trained you up, and made you meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Call Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy
, the Bless the Lord for ever, and forget not all his benefits ; Ps. ciji. 1, 2. It is God who hath called me out of darkness into his marvellous light, and given me to see the things that belong to iny everlasting peace. It is God who washed away my iniquities in the blood of his own Son, and bath renewed me unto holiness by his blessed Spirit. It is God who hath takeu me out of the family of sid and satan, and given me a place among his cbildren who bath begun to prepare me for the joys and blessings of heaven, and in his own time he will fulfil all my hopes, and compléte my felicity. Walks before him with all holy care and watchfulness, and take heed that you lose not the things which you have wrought, nor the things which God bas wrought in you, but that persevering to the end you may receive the full reward, and obtain the crown of everlasting life ; 2 John, verse 8. Amen.
No Pain among the Blessed.
THERE Lave been some divines in ancient times, as well as in our present age, who suppose this prophecy relates to some glorious and happy event here on earth, wherein the saints and faithful followers of Cbrist shall be delivered from the bondage and miseries to which they have been exposed in all former ages, and shall enjoy the blessings which these words promise. Among these writers some have placed this happy state before the resurrection of the body; others make it to belong to that first resurrection which is spoken of in Rev. xx. 6. But let this prophecy have a particular aspect upon what earthly period soever, yet all must grant it is certainly true concerning the heavenly state; from whose felicities, taken in the literal sense, these figurative expressions are derived to foretel the happiness of any period of the church in this world ; and in this sense, as part of our happiness in heaven, I shall understand the words here, and propose them as the foundation of my present discourse.
Among the many things that make this life uncomfortable and render mankind unhappy here below, this is one that has a large influence, namely, that in this mortal state we are all liable to pain, from which we shall be perfectly delivered in the life to
The Greek work which is here translated pain, siguifies also toil and fatigue and excessive labour of the body, as well as anguish and vexation of the spirit: But since in the two other places of the New Testament where it is used, the word more properly signifies the pain of the body, I presume to understand it chiefly in this sense also in my text.
I need not spend time in explaining what pain is, to persons who dwell in flesh and blood : There is not one of you in this assembly but is better acquainted with the nature of it by the sense of feeling, than it is possible for the wisest philosopher to inform you by all his learned language. Yet that I may proceed regularly, I would just give you this short description of it :“ Pain is an uneasy perception of the soul, occasioned by some indisposition of the body to which it is united ;" whether this arise from some disorder or malady in the flesh itself, or from some injury received from without by wounds, bruises, or any thing of the like kind. Now this sort of uneasy sensations is not to be found or feared in heaven.
In order to make our present meditations on this part of the blessedness of heaven useful and joyful to us while we are here on earth, let us enquire :