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life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse; but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candles; neither light of the sun: for the Lord God giveth them light; and they shall reign for ever and ever. And he said unto me, these sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: Blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Amongst the crowding topics for the application of this subject, which present themselves, I will select, and conclude with, one.
A large majority of mankind are free from those extra calamities which afflict a few; as blindness, and deafness, and madness. Behold, then, the efforts, the noble efforts, which are made by mere philanthropy, to mitigate these, the aggravated groans of suffering creation. Asylums, refuges, hospitals, spaciously erected, and liberally endowed, bear testimony to the zeal of man in the cause of his afflicted fellow man. In themselves they are so many monuments, in honour of the victories of humanity over selfishness; and, in their effects, they supply a sort of retail anticipation of the great redemption. They follow, indeed, in the wake of Christianity, and where the gospel is best known, there they most abound. But they are largely supported without any direct reference to the truths or motives of the Gospel. It is important to observe this, and to bear in mind, that Christianity may elevate a whole kingdom into the enjoyment of the wide-spread blessings and benefits of civilization; while nothing more than a comparative remnant of the population are evangelized unto eternal life. A higher tone of moral feeling, a more sedulous cultivation of the tender sympathies, and instincts of animal nature, and a deference (amounting to terror) to the great idol, public opinion -these are effective to civilize, but impotent to save.
The church of Christ is free from another class of calamities under which the majority of mankind labour; as ignorance of God, insensibility to sin, spiritual death, actual transgression. Alive to the existence of these evils in others; with an ear open to these groans, these maniac preludes to eternal woe: what is the church about? Where are the trophies of her spiritual conquests in these days? Oh! let the persevering and effectual labours of the philanthropist, in the cultivation of the field of nature, touch, and stir up the Christian, to yet nobler achievements in the service of our God and Saviour. True, we have great difficulties to contend against. We are in a minority; and in all our efforts we have to stem the strong tide of the multitude, rushing to do evil. We are more hindered, , also, by the great and active enemy of all righteousness, the Devil, who goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.* He has, comparatively, but little objection to the
. efforts of unsanctified humanity. He cares but little, that the groans of three score years and ten be mitigated, if he can secure the groans of eternity. He sees nothing in the widespread conquests of civilization, which touches the turning point of salvation, and therefore he cares but little to disturb them. He harbours comparatively small enmity against a field of philanthropic labour; because, yet a little while, and the fruits are all his own.t Nay more! if he can render the present amelioration a ground of carelessness about, or false confidence for, eternity, he will rather aid, than retard the deceitful culture.
But when he sees salvation going on—when he sees a man made sensible of his galling yoke of corruption, and struggling into the glorious holy liberty of the children of God; receiving divine truth into his understanding, and his heart; and honouring Jesus, by casting the burden of his undivided confidence upon the all-sufficiency of his obedience unto death, even the death of the cross—then Satan is wrath indeed. His time is short with such a man. And, therefore, the virulence of his enmity is taxed to the uttermost of its malignant and persevering opposition, against the man and his work.
But if the Christian Church be thus exposed to special opposition, my brethren, we have more than a counterpoise in our special strength. For God himself is with us.
The Holy Ghost dwelleth in us. As it is written, ye are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. On this truth is grounded that form of rebuke which the Lord Jesus addressed to his disciples: What do ye more than others?
Oh! my Christian friends, be not deterred by difficulties. Up, and be doing. Be more resolute in the service of our
* 1 Pet. v.8.
+ Works done before the grace of Christ and the inspiration of his spirit, are not pleasant to God, forasmuch as they spring not of faith in Jesus Christ: neither do they make men meet to receive grace, or (as the school authors say) deserve grace of congruity: yea rather, for that they are not done as God hath willed and commanded them to be done, we doubt not but that they have the nature of sin.-- Article xiii.
precious Saviour. Pray for more willingness to take up your cross daily, and follow his steps who went about doing good. We want labourers among you, men of prayer, who will come and help us.
The ungodly rich are inaccessible to man. How hardly shall they enter the kingdom of God! But the poor, with scarcely an exception, are willing to hear the Scriptures. Come, then, christian brothers, give an hour in the day, especially in the evening; deny yourselves the comforts of a domestic-fireside, and go, with the word of God in your hands, and the spirit of God in your hearts; go with tender affection, and holy zeal, to read the glad tidings of redemption in the habitations of the poor; and to encourage and quicken them, to attend the ordinances of the church. Is this too much to ask? Oh, remember, this world is not our rest in any sense. -There remaineth a rest for the people of God.”
Till Jesus comes, our labours must not cease;
“Our joys are joys of conquest, not of peace.” I will now conclude, by reading you a song of triumphant thanksgiving, which shall be sung in universal chorus by a ransomed creation, in the day when the Lord Jesus shall make all things new.
O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand and his holy arm hath gotten him the victory. The Lord hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly showed in the sight of the heathen. He hath remembered his mercy and his truth towards the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth; make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise. Sing unto the Lord with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm. With trumpets, and sound of cornet, make a joyful noise before the Lord the king. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof: the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together before the Lord: for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.* Even so come, Lord Jesus!
* Psalm xcviii.
The Second Advent of the Lord Jesus Christ, in its experimental and practical power, over the true believer's heart and life.
Rev. iji. 21. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my
throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
Is there any practical power in this doctrine of the second coming of our Lord? Is there any experimental application of this study of prophecy? O yes, my dear brethren, there is much every way; especially because it addresses itself to one of the strongest affections of the human heart, one of the most influential springs of the believer's character. It sets before us the Scriptural objects of Hope. Of course, however, before it can have an experimental interest, or practical influence, it must be believed. It is unfair, because it is premature—it is as unreasonable as it is unscriptural, for those who do not believe the doctrine, to ask where is the application of it. Where, I ask, is the application of the doctrine of the atonement to the man who does not believe it? And if he will not believe it until he experiences the application of it, he will never believe it. For the only way in which any truth can become experimental, is through being first believed. Faith is the cordial reception of truth on the authority of God's word. Experience and practice are the consequences. And for a man with a statement of the Bible before him, to say, I will not believe it till I feel its experimental power over me, would be, as if a gardener, with a young tree in his hand, were to say, I will not plant it, till I see it bud and blossom, and bear fruit.
The primary inquiry to be made concerning the doctrine of the Lord's second coming, as concerning every doctrine, is, Does the word of God reveal it. I have been supplying you with an answer to this question, by pointing out several plain and decisive declarations of holy scripture upon the subject. My present object is, first, to give further explanation upon one important point; and then to call your attention to the way in which the whole subject does indeed become experimental, and practical, in the highest degree, when it is believed.
For this purpose I have selected this text from the address
of our Lord Jesus Christ, to the church of the Laodiceans, and through them, to all his waiting disciples, until his coming again. The words contain four statements, which may, for clearness sake, be arranged, and considered, in the following order:
1. Jesus overcame.
II. Having overcome, he sat down with the Father, God Almighty, in his throne.
III. All who profess his name, are called to overcome.
IV. To as many as do overcome, will the Lord Jesus give, to sit down with him in his throne.
1. Jesus overcame. Victory achieved implies a foregoing conflict. Jesus was in conflict. Almighty God, in the person of the Eternal Word, emptied himself of his absoluteness and omnipotence, made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant, was made of a woman, made under the law, made in the likeness of man, and being found in fashion as a man, he became subject to conflict. He entered into conflict with the enemies of man, and he sustained the conflict, and achieved the victory as a man of faith, and prayer, and dependance upon God the Father. The enemies of man, as enumerated and described in the holy Scripture, are the world, the flesh, the devil, and the grave. With all these Jesus entered into conflict, and over all these he was completely victorious. It accords not with our present object to enter into the details of his temptation. I need only remind you that they were real. In the truth of our nature, he was exposed. In the tenderness of our nature, he deeply felt, and suffered being tempted. In the weakness of our nature, he was cut
* off, and laid in the grave. But in every thing he overcame. He knew no sin, and it was not possible that he should be holden of death. He rose triumphant from the dead, in that nature which he had assumed in its weakness, and now restored to its strength. And with all that truly appertains to perfected humanity,t he entered into the exercise of the sovereign and universal dominion of God the Father. This leads to our second statement.
2. Jesus, having overcome, sat down with the Father, God Almighty, in his throne.
The throne of God the Father is thus described, Isa. chapter lxvi. ver. 1. Thus saith the Lord: The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? and thus referred to, as a thing
* St. John xi. 35. Heb. ii. 18, and iv. 15. + See the 4th Article of the Church.