Page images
PDF
EPUB

You will forgive me for quoting the words of the great Leighton, once Archbishop of Glasgow, in troublesome times, now in the heights of heaven, looking back, with pleasure, on all these troubles, and trials, and dangers, to which he was once exposed, though one of the greatest and best of men that then lived. And, oh! says he, what will it avail a man to be compassed about with the favour of the world; to sit unmolested in his house and possessions, and to have them very great and pleasant; to be well monied, and lauded, and befriended; and yet estranged and severed from God, not having any token of His special love? Thus spoke and wrote this pious Episcopalian; and well will it be for us if we stand in the lot with him at the end of the days. Seek the Lord, then, while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

Secondly, The pleasure of the redeemed will be increased by the holy and happy state into which they are brought, and the harmonious society into which they are admitted.

The sorrows of the righteous being turned into joy, and the pleasure of escape from the dry and parched, the waste and howling wilderness of this world, and from all those foes, who, like so many beasts and birds of prey, dogged their steps, and growled behind them to the very waters of Jordan, will be still augmented by the state for which they are prepared, and the society to whom they are introduced. We cannot tell the feelings, and sensations, and thoughts, of a soul just landed in Immanuel's land; but, surely, their deliverance will constitute the first gladdening impression that fills their overjoyed hearts, and almost constitute the first expression that bursts from their rejoicing tongues. Suppose a weary benighted traveller, followed by the yellings and howlings of the beasts of the forest, and the hissings of the serpents of the desert, to come, all at once, into a village where the hospitable door hastily opened, snatched him from the very jaws of death; or, suppose a shipwrecked crew lashed or clinging to the masts and yards, without a single individual lost, all at once, in the dark, and dreary, and tempestuous night, to enter, without the least previous expectation, into a safe and crowded harbour, where hundreds were ready to loose them from the shrouds, to convey them to their warm and cheerful houses, to strip off instantly their sea-drenched clothes, to chaff their benumbed limbs, to lay them in well-seasoned beds, and administer by drops the restorative cordial,-would not the first im

pression, after their fears had subsided, and senses had been restored, in both cases, be their unexpected and almost miraculous escape. But after they were completely delivered from the fear of imminent destruction-after they were convinced they were not only safe from the monsters of the desert, and the billows of the ocean, but also from the dread of inhuman man-after they were enabled, without dismay, to survey their shelter and their safety, how would they be delighted, yea, even transported, with the countenances of their deliverers beaming with joy, while they were lulling them to rest by the powerful charms of harmony and melody, and administering relief in every possible way to their bodies worn out, and their minds oppressed. They would survey the house and its godlike inhabitants, while the tear of gratitude stole silently down their way worn cheeks, and the faltering accents of gratefulness were slowly and feebly uttered by their enfeebled tongues. It is impossible to conceive or describe the feelings of persons so wonderfully and humanely rescued from being torn and mangled by the beasts of prey, or devoured by the overwhelming deep. But what is any salvation from a temporal death, which must one day inevitably approach, and separate the closest union upon earth; or what is the expression of the strongest sympathy of a fellow-creature, or the kindest and sincerest expression or declaration of the most real condolence and kindness, to the salvation from sin and death of the immortal soul, and the reception the redeemed will meet when they shall, in all the radiance of celestial glory, enter, in triumph, the everlasting gates? As it is written,-Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. What a gladdening sight to behold the great and high_wall of jasper-the twelve gates, consisting of twelve pearls; every several gate of one pearl-to see the twelve foundations garnished with all manner of precious stonesto view the golden streets of the new Jerusalem-to behold the pure river of water of life clear as chrystal-to see. in the midst of the street, and on either side of the river, the tree of life, which bears twelve manner of fruits, and yields her fruit every month, and the very leaves of which are for the healing of the nations! We are told in a genuine and authentic history, that when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions; and Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from the king which he told her not. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen all Solo

mon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers and his cup-bearers, and the ascent by which he went up to the house of the Lord,-there was no more spirit in her; and she said unto the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit, I believed not the word until I came, and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half was not told me-thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men-happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighteth in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel; because the Lord loved Israel for ever: therefore made He thee king, to do judgment and justice. If the Queen of Sheba was so much astonished at the sight of Solomon, how much inore shall the realities of heaven exceed all description and all conception! To see such myriads of angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim, thrones and dominions, principalities and powers-all rejoicing, and exulting, and striking their harps with the greatest rapture, when they behold a soul saved from death;-to see all the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, crowding, as it were, around the newly-arrived stranger, to administer, if it were possible, to his comfort, and heighten his joy ;-to behold such radiant glory encircling every head, and such unmingled joy overspreading every countenance ;-and to hear such harmony pervading every tongue, while they sing, Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. This would be too much for flesh and blood; but the prepared spirit, forgetting the sorrows that are past as the streams of the brook that passeth away, shall mingle, at once, with the general assembly and church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. Without any previous preparation, after he arrives in heaven he shall enter, at once, into the full enjoyment of felicity and glory. He shall play as correctly upon the golden harp, and sing as melodiously the new song, upon his very entrance into heaven, as if he had been trained to it for a thousand years. There is no jarring, no discord, in that happy land. There may be degrees of

glory and felicity; but all will be glorious, and all happy. The still-born babe, saved by grace, shall play as skilfully as David, the sweet singer of Israel, or Paul, who was caught up into the third heavens, and heard and saw things unutterable. Geologists unwisely, and even impiously, talk as if God could not, or, at least, did not make this world of nothing at the time He has said, and fashioned it as it appeared before the flood, in the space of six days; whereas the work of God is as perfect at the first touch, or the first fiat of His will, as it could be after any indefinite length of time employed in its formation and construction. The poorest beggar on earth shall be equally apt as the highest prince. The simple, unlettered Christian, who has only read his Bible, shall be as expert as the profoundest scholar. Poor Joseph, who merely heard that it was a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; and who thought he loved Christ for that; and that Joseph, after all, might be saved; and who gave his few hard-earned pence to the friends of Jesus,-shall be as correct, as holy, and as happy, as Sir Isaac Newton. or Paschal, or Howard, or Taylor, or Butler, or Tillotson, or Barrow, or Rutherford, or Boston, or Baxter, Doddridge, Whitefield, Walker, Hall, Foster, Chalmers, Inglis, or Moncrief. Every want shall there be supplied, every necessary ingredient of happiness shall be added. Knowledge, and love, and joy, shall be complete in every inhabitant of heaven, and they shall all, with one voice, and one heart, say, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.

But amongst all the rest exalted there, shall be One who shall chiefly attract every wondering eye, and whose praise shall occupy every labouring tongue. For, in the

Third place, Their pleasure shall be increased by for ever beholding the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

As we did not attempt to describe the joys of heaven, or its pleasures, as they shall be then really enjoyed, neither do we now design to attempt to place them before you in that order and succession in which they shall be actually exhibited. We have no doubt, that the perfect safety, the holy condition, and the happy society, will greatly and essentially add to the enjoyments of heaven. A Paul will no longer exclaim, Oh! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? No longer will He have fightings without and

fears within. No more will Job cry, Oh! that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come even to His seat. I would order my cause before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments. No longer shall David thus express himself,Thou didst hide thy face, and I was troubled. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? why art thou disquieted within me? Oh! that I had wings like a dove, then would I fly away and be at rest. Never again shall the publican stand afar off, and, smiting his breast, say, God be merciful to me a sinner. Nor the jailor, in the greatest perplexity and agony, cry out, What shall I do to be saved? No more shall the woman who was a sinner (Mary Magdalene) anoint His feet with her tears, and wipe them with the hair of her head. But it would be endless to particularize. There shall be nothing to hurt or destroy there. No fear, no apprehension, no terror, shall be felt in that happy land. No night shall be there; for their sun never goeth down, nor doth their moon withdraw herself; nay, there shall be no need of the sun; for the Lord shall be their everlasting light. There shall be no more pain; for the former things are passed away. But while everything that can possibly give the very least annoyance, shall be completely and for ever taken away; and while the place, and the state, and the society, shall be unutterably and inconceivably holy and happy, there shall be one object that will chiefly attract the attention of every newly-arrived pilgrim. At the very entrance of heaven, at the very moment of the departure of the soul from the body, the great and glorious leader of His people will say, Arise, thou fair one, and come away, (Cant. ii. 10-13.) To-day, this instant, thou shalt be with me in Paradise. Come, then, thou blessed, come away. Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord. No long journey shall be taken. No ascent from earth, as it were, to heaven. The moment the soul leaves its clay tenement, until again it is raised a glorious body, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal immortality, the instant the separation takes place, the soul shall be in heaven. We do not attempt to explain the rapid motions of spirits; but if they can move as rapidly, at least, as we can, in thought, place ourselves in the sun or the most distant twinkling star, how inconceivably quick will be the transition! It will help us to understand how the souls of believers do, at their death, immediately pass into glory. One thing is certain, there shall no sensible portion of duration take place till they are glorified.

After the glorious Captain of Salvation hath presented the

« PreviousContinue »