Page images
PDF
EPUB

xxi. 5.

The state of this world is fitted for mens probation and trial, and is very variable; the state of the other world, of men, and affairs in it, will be quite new, suited for reward of mens deeds done in the flesh; and it will be made unalterable for ever. It is begun already in the case of separate souls, godly and wicked; but then it will be brought to a pitch, the godly made happy, the wicked miserable, completely, and settled for ever there no more to change.

II. I proceed to consider Christ's public owning the saints as his own. At that time when Christ comes again for these great purposes, what will be the lot of believers? Why, he will own them as his saints. We may take up this in the following things.

i. Saintship will be the only mark of distinction among men then.

The persons of distinction now are those descended of honourable families, the rich and wealthy, able to make a figure in a vain world, that appear in their gay clothing; they must gather by themselves now, others must know and keep their dil. tance. But then all that kind of distinction is razed for ever, and there is an absolute levelling. The only perfons of distinction remaining are the saints, to be honourably gathered to the great King, while others are all to be cast away out of his presence, as the vile trash of this world.

2. Saintship will then be declared Christ's badge. In all ages of the world, while hypocrítes have falsely pretended to it, it has been the object of the ridicule of the profane, and an eye sore to both, Isa. lix. 15. Saints is a name of mockery with many ; but they will see it then a name of honour. The faith that is without works of a holy tender life, whereby people pretend to be believers in Chrift, but shew not holiness in their life, will leave them without the mark, Rev. xiv. 1. Only a faith that sanctifies the heart and life will avail.

3. Those

[ocr errors]

3. Those that have borne this badge, Christ will not forget, nor misken. Thoʻthey have been long buried and out of mind in the world, he will remember them j tho' they have lain among the pots, under various afdi&tions, reproaches, and ill names, he will not misken them. He was himself once in a very low condition, but then he will appear in glory; and so shall they with him, Luke xxii. 28, 29. All the filth cast on them will then be wiped off.

4. He will own them as his before his Father and the holy angels, Rev. iii. 5. “He that overcometh I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” He is to bring them into his Father's house there to dwell for ever; and therefore he owns them before his Father, because they can come thither only in his right. They are to be the companions of the angels for ever, and this is the recommendation of them to them, they are my faints.

Lastly, The grounds of his special propriety in them fhall then be opened and appear, Mal. iii. 17. “ They thall be mine,” i. e. appear to be mine, “faith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels." He will own them as his Father's gift to him, his own purchase, his own conquest by his grace, his by his own consent, participation of his Spirit, and spiritual marriage ; his people, his brethren, his spouse, his own members myftical.

III. I SHALL next consider the gathering of them to him. This gathering,

1. Pre-supposes the resurrection of the dead saints, and the changing of those found alive. Of the miniItry of the angels in these we find no mention; the voice of Christ himself raiseth the dead, John v. 28. whether the archangel that sounds the alarm, 1 Theff. iv. 16. be a created angel or not. And the changing of those a. live appears to be performed in the same manner, 1 Cor. xv.52. That they may be gathered to Chrift, they are въ

raised

ing among

raised upout of their graves, and soul and body reunited,

2. It lies in these three things. (1.) In severing and separating them from among the wicked. Those found alive will be found mixed with wicked ones, and those in the graves will be found ly

the wicked too. But the angels will make a separation, a cleanly separation, that they shall never mix more, Mat. xiii. 48, 49. Sometimes they fighed, and said, "Wo is me, that I sojourn in Mefech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar. My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace," Pl. cxx. 5,6. But the beginning of that gathering will put a full end to that.

(2.) In bringing them together from all corners of the earth into one company, Mat. xxiv: 31.

By the gospel efficacy on them, they were separated from the world in respect of their state and manner of life ; and were gathered together in one fpiritual bond; but in respect of their bodily presence they were til mixed with unbelievers, andata distance from other saints. They were scattered far abroad over the face of the earth, and few places could shew any considerable number of them together; but then the eastern and western saints, the northern and southern, shall all be gathered into one glorious company. The evening of the world is come, and Christ's flock is brought together.

(3.) In bringing them altogether unto Jesus Chrift, in the place where he will be in the air, 1 Thefl.iv. 17. Thither the Judge will come, and there will he fet his throne; and where the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Thither will the raised and changed faints afcend to him in one glorious company, and be set on his right hand as his friends, while the wicked are left standing as criminals on his left hand on the earth. And thus the happy gathering is completed.

3. For the kind of it, this gathering will be,

(1.) A great gathering, greater than any now to be seen in this world. It is true, the saints appear few now

in comparison of others; but when the saints of all generations, in all places of the world, shall be gathered together, it must needs be a great gathering; they will be numerous like the stars of heaven, which no man can number, Gen. xv. 5. Accordingly John saw "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands," Rev. vii. 9.

(2.) A speedy gathering, being performed by the ministry of angels which move like a flame of fire, Pfal. civ. 4. The bodies of the saints will then no more be heavy and lumpilh, but spiritual bodies, light; nimble, and active like fpirits, being new fashioned after the likeness of the second Adam's body. So that it must needs be foon dispatched. Yet,

(3.) An exact and accurate gathering, fo as there shall neither be one goat brought away with the sheep, nor one sheep left

among

the

goats. But all saints that ever lived from the beginning to the end of the world, shall be gathered together to Christ, and they only, without the least mixture of another sort.

(4.) A gathering never to part. The gatherings in this world, good as well as bad, continue only for a little; they soon break up and disperse; but this gathering being once assembled, shall never break up nor be diffolved, but continue thro' all the ages of eternity,

IV. I SHALL drop a word to the other for gathering them to him.

1. It speaks them his favourites, whom he has a special regard for. Now he is coming in flaming fire to take vengeance on his enemies; but as the angels were dispatched to Sodom to bring away Lot, before the overthrow of that city; so are they ordered to gather Christ's saints to him before the final overthrow of the world, and the wicked therein. Others had common favours in life heaped on them, but now these

B b 2

are

are at an end ; and the saints appear the only fa. vourites of Heaven.

2. A design to honour them before the world, as when one is by a great man called to him in the fight of cthers. God's people have their time of trial, and living by faith on Heaven's promises; the world there. fore reckons them fools, and because their course and way is opposite to theirs, they hate them and are hard on them. Now Chriit comes to end the dispute, and declare and decide at length, who were the wife, who the fools ; and decides it by their gathering to him, while others stand trembling before him awaiting their fearful fentence.

3. A design to complete their desires and happiness. It was their desire to be with Christ, as best of all, and now says he, “Gather them to me." They were weari. ed of Mesech and Kedar ; they longed for the society of faints that would be comfortable, and to be at the highest pinnacle of their happiness. This gathering them to him answers all these ends.

I SHALL conclude.this doctrine with an use of exhortation. I exhort you,

1. To be in greatest concern of all things, to be Christ's faints now. Defpife it not; if sò, you will see yourselves fools at last. Neglect it not, left ye be neglected and passed by when this gathering comes. It is better to have your name enrolled by Jesus among his saints, than by men among the great and honour. able of the earth.

2. Gather to Christ now as your head, by faith. He has his Father's commission for this purpose to take out of the world lying in wickednefs, a people for himfelf, Gen. xlix. 10. “ Unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” He has visited our ends of the earth for that purpose, set up his standard among us, and now we have, as we have often had, a folemn call to

come

« PreviousContinue »