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its fulfilment to the very letter. It is true, that in the mean time many generations have fallen short of the predicted judgment; and, had the word of God been constructed for special application to their individual case, it might seem to have passed away with them. But it is constructed with such an eye to the corporate aspect of the church, that while year after year bears testimony to the truth that all flesh is grass, and all the goodness thereof is as the flower of the field, the grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of our God abideth for ever.
The time is short in the sight of God. With him a thousand years are as one day. The Christian church has not yet been two days suffering; and the third day is the resurrection! The end is sure. The day of the Lord will come; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it. The world, in its present state, is not to last for ever. Generations of mankind are not to continue to succeed one another, son after father, as they have done. Kingdoms on the earth are not to rise and fall, in interminable succession. A change, complete, fundamental, and as unexpected as complete, will take place suddenly. the midst of all the business and bustle, and merriment of a giddy world; even while the preached and published warnings of the ambassadors for Christ are neglected, and the deceitful hearts of men are whispering to themselves and to their posterities, peace and safety: Behold! the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump
We have already seen the issue, both to his friends and enemies. 1. “He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, in that day.” The expression in this verse is remarkable; to be admired in all them that believe. (ΕΝ πασι τοισ πιστευουσιν.
Tv.). His image will be manifested in each of them. Their souls will be completely conformed to the mind of God, as revealed in the human soul of Jesus; and their bodies transformed into a perfect similitude of the glorified body of Jesus. Each will behold and admire Jesus in every other: every stone of the temple reflecting the image of the presiding Lord of the temple; and every voice, as with one note of simultaneous joy, giving praise, and honour, and glory, to him who is the sure foundation-stone, the chief corner-stone, the head stone of the corner.
This is salvation, perfected-soul and body. It began in the soul of each with the first movements of the Holy Ghost, teaching the sinner to believe and trust in Jesus; to hate sin, in the pollution of it; and to hate it more and more, in propor
, tion as he became more and more assured, that he was freely and completely delivered from all condemnation for it. It proceeded further, when the believer was enabled, by the same Spirit, to adorn, before men, the doctrine of God his Saviour, by bringing forth fruits of righteousness. It advanced, when the believer was strengthened to glory in tribulation also, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience gives experience, and experience increases hope, and hope, though long deferred, maketh not ashamed, because it is grounded on the sure word of God, and the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, leading it in meekness of wisdom to read and kiss the rod. It advanced again, when the believer was called to lay aside his earthly house of this tabernacle, and being absent from the body, to be present with the Lord. And it shall advance finally, and to perfection, when the believer, receiving back again his body, immortal, incorruptible, glorious, shall see Jesus as he is, and be like him, and be with him for
Have patience, then, dear Christian brethren. I speak to those who have faith, whose faith groweth, and whose love to one another aboundeth. I speak to those who have sorrow under the afflicting hand of God; or persecution, it may be, from the enmity of men: not, indeed, the rack, the faggot, or the sword, (glory be to God, who hath, in this favoured land, restrained the violence of human passion, by the barrier of human laws!) but the tongue that stings; the supercilious scorn that wounds; the adroitly-pointed ridicule that provokes retaliation, bitterly repented of the next moment: or the cunningly devised falsehood, which, with some remote appearance of truth maliciously laid hold of, succeeds in affixing a stain upon your Christian reputation. Oh, have patience: exercising that faith which wovercometh the world.” "He that believeth shall not make haste.” You are now often compelled to eat the bread of sorrow, and drink the cup of affliction: but yet a little while, and your Lord will come, and he will give you to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. You are now often compelled to groan, being burdened in a body of sin and death, and are exposed to trials which are more severe to your affectionate hearts than death itself: but yet a little while, and your Lord will come, and you shall not be hurt of the second death. You are now forced to feel your weakness, and the utter incapacity under which you labour, to defend yourselves against your powerful enemies around you; but yet a little while, and your Lord will come, and he will give you power over the persecuting nations, to rule them with a rod of iron: as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces, and he will give you the morning
star. You are now compelled to sit down as a poor desolate widow, rejected and scorned, and cast out as the off-scouring of all things: but be of good cheer, yet once a little while, and your Lord will come, and he will give unto you to sit down with him in his throne, even as he himself has in the mean time, sat down in the Father's throne. Oh, let patience have her perfect work: repose yourselves on the unseen but ever present arm of the Lord; seek not by any carnal device to escape from trial or from duty: be faithful unto death, and he will give you a crown of life. If you suffer with him, ye shall also reign with him. He will righteously recompense unto you, rest.
You shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on you, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed you, and shall lead you unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from your eyes.
II. But oh! there is another, and a fearful side to this picture. To the troubled, rest; but to the troublers-oh! gracious God! are there any such here present: hearing the gospel from curiosity, or controversy, or custom; but rejecting the gospel, and therefore hanging on the verge of everlasting destruction! Great God! teach them by the word of the Lord to know and believe the terrors of the Lord, and to flee from the wrath to come!
Fellow sinners, hear me. Because you have no changes, therefore you fear not God. You abuse the merciful and patient uniformity of God's dealings in providence, into a secret plea for infidelity. And because judgment is not speedily executed against worldly-mindedness, your hearts are fully set in you to be worldly-minded. Judgment does not indeed come speedily, as man counts speed; but it comes surely. You are warned by word and deed. God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell. He spared not the old world, but brought an exterminating deluge upon the ungodly. He set forth Sodom and Gomorrah, as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. He spared not the impenitent Egyptians, but overthrew them in the Red sea: nor the impenitent Amorites, but gave commission to the sword of Joshua, to leave none remaining, but utterly destroy all that breathed: nor the Assyrians: nor the Babylonians; nay, he spared not Jerusalem herself, but addressed these words of terror to her, a prelude to her destruction, Fill ye up, then, said the Lord Jesus to that incorrigible people, who refused to be warned, after all the long-suffering patience of God, with the many generations who had gone before them: Fill ye up, then, the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers! how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify: and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city. That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily, I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem! Jerusalem! thou that killest the prophets, and stoneth them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto
* See Rev. ii. and iii. throughout, and vii. 13-17.
you desolate. *
Men and brethren, are all these warnings to be thrown away upon you? In the Lord's language to Jerusalem, we perceive the great and terrible truth, that the climax of the judgment falls upon the last generation. All these things are written for our learning upon whom the ends of the world are come. Each suoceeding generation of wicked men, has been living in aggravated wickedness; not merely in their own individual transgressions but in transgression under the peculiar circumstances of longer delayed retribution; transgression under the peculiar provocation of despising so much more patience.f Thus, the longer the patience of God waits, the more inexcusable becomes the wickedness of men. Each generation inherits a burthen of transgression from their fathers, adds their own to it, and bequeaths it thus increased to their children. The long-suspended blow is gathering strength; and when it falls, it will fall with an energy of vengeance and utter ruin, collected from the accumulated provocation of many generations. Thus, while the Lord waits to be gracious; sin, persevered in, becomes more aggravated in its guilt; and judgment deferred, becomes more overwhelming in its character. And the end shall be as the end of Jerusalem. The climax of the judgment shall fall upon the last generation of the unconverted, the generation which shall be alive on the earth when the Lord Jesus shall descend from heaven. All the generations of mankind who have died in impenitence and unbelief, must indeed be finally ruined; but there is a peculiarity of instantaneous and perfected damnation, soul and body, which awaits the last generation.
Destruction! everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power! I beseech you, * Matt. xxiii. 33–38.
+ See Rom. ii. 4-6.
brethren, by the mercies of God; the all-sufficient, redeeming mercies of God, as yet freely proclaimed to you in the blood of Jesus Christ, and saying to you with all the urgency of intense affection,-Behold, now is the appointed time; to consider deeply what destruction means. It is truth known too late! It is penetrating conviction of
! sin, when there remains no sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin. It is pollution felt to be misery, combined with the certainty that holiness is now for ever unattainable. It is iniquity in perpetuity. It is to be effectually deprived of all carnal callousness, all stupifying worldly-inindedness, all hardening infidelity; to be forced to think and feel; and to find thought and feeling agony. It is to shrink from the relentless fury of the storm, when shelter has become absolutely hopeless; to cast a look of desperate wretchedness at the ascending ark, while the fiery flood below encircles the writhing body, and the brightness of the glory of the long despised Jesus, pierces the impotent and despicable, but still malignant soul. It is to see the saints whom you hated and jeered, and slandered; delivered from all your malice, and exalted to glory: yea, to see that your persecution of them gave occasion to them of exercising those graces which have enlarged their capacities for the enjoyment of eternal glory: to be provoked to madness by their prosperity; and still more, by discovering that in the righteous judgment of God, the time has come when they shall triumph in holy indignation over your deserved ruin. They shall be so entirely on the Lord's side—their minds and wills so harmonized with his-that when it becomes a righteous thing in him to take vengeance, it will be a righteous thing in them to rejoice at it. While on earth they wished you well, and did you good in spite of all your opposition: they prayed for you, and would not be provoked by all your ill treatment of them. You could not understand their principles of forgiving love, which they had learned in the cross of Christ; and being actuated only by your own maxims of human pride, you despised, or affected to despise, their littleness and want of spirit. But now the principles of judgment and justice are in action. The Lord Jesus Christ is revealed from heaven in flaming fire, and his saints are called to sing hallelujahs, while they behold the ascending smoke of your eternal torments.* The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeunce; he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. + The enigma of Providence shall be finished. The solution of judgment shall be manifested: not in some hitherto untried region of creation, * Rev. xix. 1, 2, 3.
+ Psalm lviii. 10.