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§. 10. It is true, christian, it is an awful day; a day in which nature shall be thrown into a confusion as yet unknown. No earthquake, no eruption of burning mountains, no desolation of cities by devouring flames, or of countries by overflowing rivers or seas, can give any just emblem of that dreadful day; when the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, as well as the earth, and all that is therein shall be burnt up*; when all nature shall flee away in amazement, before the face of the universal judget, and there shall be a great cry, far beyond what was known in the land of Egypt, when there was not a house in which there was not one dead. Your flesh may be ready to tremble at the view; yet your spirit must surely rejoice in God your Saviour §. You may justly say, "Let this illustrious day come, even with all its horrors!" Yea, like the christians described by the apostle, you may be looking for, and hastening to that day of terrible brightness and universal doom. For your Lord will then come, to vindicate the justice of those proceedings which have been in many instances so much obscured, and because they have been obscured have been also blasphemed. He will come to display his magnificence, descending from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God; taking his seat upon a throne infinitely exceeding that of earthly, or even of celestial princes, clothed with his Father's glory and his own **; surrounded with a numberless host of shining attendants, when coming to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe++. His enemies shall also be produced to grace his triumph: the serpent shall be seen there rolling in the dust, and trodden under foot by him and by all his servants: those, who once condemned him, shall tremble at his presence and those who bowed the knee before him in profane mockery, shall in wild despair call to the mountains to fall upon them, and to the rocks to hide them from the face of that Lamb of God, whom they once led away to the most inhuman slaughter.
6. 11. O christian, does not your loyal heart bound at the thought? and are you not ready, even while you read these lines, to begin the victorious shout in which you are then to join? He justly expects, that your thoughts shall be greatly elevated and impressed with the views of his triumph; but at the same time he permits you to remember your own personal share in the joy and glory of that blessed day: and even now he has the
2 Pet. iii. 10, 12. 1 Thess. iv. 16.
Rev. xx. 11. Exod. xii. 50. § Luke i. 47. || 2 Pet.iii. 12. ** Luke ix. 26. †† 2 Thess. i. 10. ‡‡ Rev. vi. 16.
view before him, of what his power and love shall then accomplish for your salvation. And what shall it not accomplish? He shall come to break the bars of the grave, and to re-animate your sleeping clav. Your bodies must indeed be laid in the dust, and be lodged there as a testimony of God's displeasure against sin; against the first sin that ever was committed, from the sad consequences of which the dearest of his children cannot be exempted. But you shall then have an ear to hear the voice of the Son of God, and an eye to behold the lustre of his appearance; and shall shine forth like the sun, arising in the clear heaven, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chambert. Your soul shall be new dressed, to grace this high solemnity; and be clothed not with the rags of mortality, but with the robes of glory; for he shall change this vile body, to fashion it like his own glorious body‡. And when you are thus royally arrayed, he shall confer public honours on you, and on all his people before the assembled world. You may now perhaps be loaded with infamy, called by reproachful names, and charged with crimes, or with views which your very soul abhors: but he will then bring forth your righteousness as the light §, and your salvation as a lamp that burneth ||. Though you have been dishonoured by men, you shall be acknowledged by God; and though treated as the filth of the world, and the off-scouring of all things, he will shew you that he regards you as his treasure, in the day that he makes up his jewels**. When he shall put away all the wicked of the earth like dross††, you shall be pronounced righteous in that full assembly; and though indeed you have broken the divine law, and might in strict justice have been condemned, yet being clothed with the righteousness of the great Redeemer, even that righteousness which is of God by faith, justice itself shall acquit you, and join with mercy in bestowing upon you a crown of life§§. Christ will confess you before men and angels, will pronounce you good and faithful servants, and call you to enter into the joy of your Lord ¶¶: he will speak of you with endearment as his brethren, and will acknowledge the kindnesses which have been shewn to you, as if he had received them in his own person***. Yea, then shall you, O christian, who may perhaps have sat in some of the lowest places in our assemblies, though (it may be) none of the rich and great of the earth would condescend to look upon, or
Mat. xiii. 43.
‡‡ Phil. iii. 9.
*** Mat. xxv. 40.
Psal. xix. 5. ¶ 1 Cor. iv. 13. §§ 2 Tim. iv. 8.
Phil. iii. 21. **Mal.ii. 17. Luke xii, 8.
§ Psal. xxxvii. 6. ++ Psal. cxix. 119, ¶¶ Mat, xxv, 21.
to speak to you, be called to be assessors with Christ on his judgment seat, and to join with him in the sentence he shall pass on wicked men, and rebellious angels.
§. 12. Nor is it merely one day of glory and of triumph. But when the judge arises and ascends to his Father's court, all the blessed shall ascend with him, and you among the rest: shall ascend together with your Saviour, to his Father, and your Father, to his God and your God*. You shall go to make your appearance in the New Jerusalem, in those new shining forms that you have received, which will no doubt be attended with a correspondent improvement of mind; and take up your perpetual abode in that fulness of joy, with which you shall be filled and satisfied in the presence of Godt, upon the consummation of that happiness, which the saints in the intermediate state have been wishing and waiting for. You shall go, from the ruins of a dissolving world, to the new Heavens and new Earth, wherein righteousness for ever dwellst. There all the number of God's elect shall be accomplished, and the happiness of each shall be completed. The whole society shall be presented before God, as the bride, the Lamb's wife§, whom the eye of its celestial bridegroom shall survey with unutterable delight, and confess to be without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; its character and state being just what he originally designed it to be, when he first engaged to give himself for it, to redeem it to God by his blood. So shall you ever be with each other, and with the Lord **; and immortal ages shall roll away, and find you still unchanged: your happiness always the same, and your relish for it the same; or rather ever growing, as your souls are approaching nearer and nearer to him, who is the source of happiness, and the centre of infinite perfection.
§. 13. And now, look round about upon earth, and single out, if you can, the enjoyments or the hopes, for the sake of which you would say, Lord, delay thy coming; or for the sake of which you any more should hesitate to express your longing for it, and to cry, Even so come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!
The Meditation and Prayer of a Christian whose Heart is warmed with these Prospects.
"O BLESSED Lord! My soul is enkindled in these views, and rises to thee in the flame+t. Thou hast testified, thou comest quickly: and I repeat my joyful assent, Amen, even so
*John xx. 17.
+ Psal. xvi. 11.
2 Pet. iii. 13.
§ Rev. xxi. 9. tt Judg. xiii. 20.
come, Lord Jesus*. Come, for I long to have done with this low life to have done with its burdens, its sorrows, and its snares! Come, for I long to ascend into thy presence, and to see the court thou art holding above!
"Blessed Jesus, death is transformed, when I view it in this light. The King of terrors is seen no more as such, so near the King of glory, and of grace. I hear with pleasure the sound of thy feet, approaching still nearer and nearer: draw aside the veil, whenever thou pleasest: open the bars of my prison, that my eager soul may spring forth to thee, and cast itself at thy feet; at the feet of that Jesus, whom having not seen, I love; and in whom, though now I see thee not, yet believing, I rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory! Thou, Lord, shalt shew me the path of life: thine hand shall guide me to thy blissful abode, where there is fulness of joy, and rivers of everlasting pleasure. Thou shalt assign me an habitation with thy faithful servants, whose separate spirits are now living with thee, while their bodies sleep in the dust. Many of them have been my companions in thy laborious work, and in the patience and tribulation of thy kingdom §; my dear companions, and my brethren. Oh shew me, blessed Saviour, how glorious and how happy thou hast made them! Shew me, to what new forms of better life thou hast conducted them, whom we call the dead! in what nobler and more extensive services thou hast employed them! that I may praise thee better than I now can, for thy goodness to them! and Oh give me to share with them in their blessings and their services, and to raise a song of grateful love, like that which they are breathing forth before thee!
"Yet, O my blessed Redeemer, even there will my soul be aspiring to a yet nobler and more glorious hope; and from this as yet unknown splendor and felicity, shall I be drawing new arguments to look and long for the day of thy final appearance. There shall I long more ardently than I now do, to see thy conduct vindicated, and thy triumph displayed; to see the dust of thy servants re-animated, and death, the last of their enemies and of thine, swallowed up in victory. I shall long for that superior honour that thou intendest me, and that complete bliss to which the whole body of thy people shall be conducted. Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly, will mingle itself with the songs of Paradise, and sound from the tongues of all the millions of thy saints, whom thy grace hath transplanted thither.
*Rev. xxii. 20. † 1 Pet, i, 8. Psal. xvi. 11. § Rev. i. 9.
Cor. xv. 26, 54.
disorder: and I the rather hope, that what I say may be useful to you, as methinks I find myself disposed to address you with something of that peculiar tenderness which we feel for a dying friend; to whom, as we expect that we shall speak to him no more, we send out, as it were, all our hearts in every word.
§. 4. I would advise then, in the first place, " that as soon as possible, you would endeavour to get rid of all further care with regard to your temporal concerns, by settling them in time in as reasonable and christian a manner as you can." I could wish, there may be nothing of that kind to hurry your mind when you are least able to bear it, or to distress or divide those who come after you. Do that which in the presence of God you judge most equitable, and which you verily believe will be most pleasing to him. Do it in as prudent and effectual a manner as you can; and then consider the world as a place you have quite done with, and its affairs as nothing further to you, more than to one actually dead; unless as you may do any good to its inhabitants, while you yet continue among them, and may, by any circumstance in your last actions or words in life, leave a blessing behind you to those who have been your friends and fellow-travellers, while you have been dispatching that journey through it, which you are now finishing.
§. 5. That you may be the more at leisure, and the better prepared for this, "enter into some serious review of your own state, and endeavour to put your soul into as fit a. posture as possible, for your solemn appearance before God." For a solemn thing indeed it is, to go into his immediate presence; to stand before him, not as a supplicant at the throne of his grace, but at his bar as a separate spirit, whose time of probation is over, and whose eternal state is to be immediately determined. Renew your humiliation before God for the imperfections of your life, though it has in the main been devoted to his service. Renew your application to the mercies of God as promised in the covenant of grace, and to the blood of Christ as the blessed channel in which they flow. Resign yourself entirely to the divine disposal and conduct, as willing to serve God, either in this world or the other, as he shall see fit. And sensible of your sinfulness on the one hand, and of the divine wisdom and goodness on the other, summon up all the fortitude of your soul to bear as well as you can whatever his afflicting hand may further Jay upon you, and to receive the last stroke of it, as one who would maintain the most entire subjection to the great and good Father of spirits.
§. c. Whatever you suffer endeavour to shew yourself an