Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

beg that you may be recovered from this unhappy state, and brought to a meetness for his kingdom, and a title to it. For your sakes therefore, and for the sakes of others in your state, having already explained, illustrated, and confirmed the proposition in my text, I proceed, III. To represent to you the importance of the argument sug

gested here; or to shew you, how much every unregenerate sinner ought to be alarmed to hear, that while he continues in his present state, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

And ah! that while I endeavour to illustrate this, my Words might enter into your minds as goads, and might fix there as nails fastened in a sure place! The substance of my argument is Given forth by the one great Shepherd *; may the prosecution of it be blessed, as the means of reducing some wandering sheep into his fold;

Now in order to illustrate the force of this argument I beseech you seriously to consider, what this kingdom is, from which you are in danger of being for ever excluded; and what will be the condition of all those, who shall be finally cut off from any interest in it. [1.] Consider, “what that kingdom is, from which the unre

generate, or those who are not born again, shall be excluded.”

And here you are not to expect a complete representation of it: For that is an attempt, in which the tongues of angels, as well as men, might fail ; or how proper soever their language might be in itself, to us it would be unintelligible; for 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 t. And surely these final and most illustrious preparations of his love must, beyond all others, exceed our description and conception. A minister that with the apostle Paul, had been Caught up into the third heaven, if he would attempt to speak of the glorious scenes which were there opened to him, must say, they were unutterable things I: And one, that with John, had laid in the bosom of Christ himself, must say, as that apostle did, It does not yet appear what we shall beg. And indeed, when we go about to discourse of it, I doubt not, but the blessed angels pity the weakness of our apprehensions and expressions, and know that we do but debase the subject, when we attempt the most to exalt and adorn it.

* Eccles. xii, 11. Isa. xxii, 23. t 1 Cor. ü. 9. 1 % Cor, xii. 2, 4. 8 1 John iii. 2.

Yet there are just and striking representations of this kingdom made in the word of God; and we are there often told, in general, wherein it shall consist. You no doubt remember, that I was, in the last of those lectures, going over several important views of it. I then told you, it will consist, in the perfection of our souls in knowledge and holiness; in the sight of God, and our blessed Redeemer; in exercising the most delightful atfe:tions towards them, and in being for ever employed in rendering them the most honourable services; in conversing with saints and glorious angels; and in the assured expectation of the eternal continuance of this blessedness in all its branches. That this is the scriptural representation of the matter, I proved to you from many express testimonies in the word of God: And, I doubt not, but you have often heard the excellency of each of these views represented at large, in distinct discourses on each.

I will not therefore now repeat what has been said upon such occasions ; but will rather direct you to some general con. siderations, which may convince you of the excellency of that state and world, from which, if you continue unregenerate, you must for ever be excluded: For I would fain fix it upon your minds, that it is in this connection, and for this purpose, that the representation is made. And oh! that you might so review it, as no longer to Neglect so great salvation *, nor act as if you Judged such everlasting life to be beneath your attention, and unworthy your care and regard +! You cannot think it so, when you consider, that it is represented in scripture under the most magnificent images ;-that it is the state, which God has prepared for the display of his glory, and the entertainment of his most favourite creatufes ;-that it is the great purchase of the blood of his eternal Son ;-that it is the main work of his sacred Spirit to prepare men's hearts for it;—and the great business of our inveterate enemy the devil, by all possible means, to prevent our obtaining it. Each of these considerations may much illustrate the excellency of it, and all taken together yield a most convincing demonstration. 1. Consider, “by what a variety of beautiful and magnificent

images this happiness is represented in the word of God;"
and that may convince you of its excellency.
When the blessed God himself would raise our conceptions

* Heb. ii. 3,

4 Acts xii. 46

of a state of being, so much superior to any thing we have ever seen or known, unless he intended a personal and miraculous revelation of it, he must borrow our language, and in painting the glory of heaven must take his colours from earth. And here the magnificence of a city, the sweetness of a garden the solemn pomp of a temple, the lustre of a crown, and the dignity of a kingdom, strike powerfully on the human mind, and fill it with veneration and delight. But when such figures as these are borrowed from this low world of ours, faintly to shadow out that which is above, there is always the addition of some important circumstance, to intimate how far the celestial original exceeds the brightest earthly glory, by which the divine condescension has vouchsafed to describe it.

The enumeration of a variety of scriptural descriptions will set these remarks in the strongest light. If therefore heaven be described as a city, it is The New Jerusalem, the city of our God, that cometh down from God out of heaven*: The pavement of its Streets is all of pure gold, its gates are pearl, and its foundation jewelst.-If it be a garden, it is The Partdise of Gods, and so far superior to that which he at first prepared and furnished out for the entertainment of Adam in his state of innocence, that it is planted on every Side with the tree of lifes; of which there was but one alone in the garden of Eden ; and is watered, not with such common rivers as the Tigris and Euphrates, but with that living, copious, inexhausted stream, the River of the water of life, which proceeds from the throne of God|l, and gently glides along through all its borders. -When it is represented as a temple, we are told, that instead of a golden ark placed in the remotest recess, to which only the high-priest might once a year approach, and on which he might not be allowed to gaze, The throne of God is erected there, perpetually surrounded with myriads of worshippers, who See his face, and, like the high-priest, when clothed in his richest robes, have his name written in their foreheads**. Instead of the feeble rays of that golden candlestick, whose lamps shonein the holy place, the heavenly temple is illuminated in a more glorious manner, and Needs no candle, neither light of the sun, for the glory of God continually enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereoftt: Nay, we are assured, that its sacred ministers are Made kings as well as priests unto God It; and,

* Rev. ii. 12. xxi. 2.
Ś Rev. xxii. 2.
** Rev. xxii. 4.

+ Rev. xxi. 19, 21.
|| Rev. xxü, 1.
# Rev. xxi, 23, xxii. 5.

| Rev. č. 7.
g Rev. vii. 15.
## Rev. i. 6.

accordingly, being Clothed in white raiment, they have crowns of gold on their heads*; as well as Harps and golden vials, or censors, full of incense, in their handst: And lest we should think, these pompous services are only the entertainment of some peculiarly sacred seasons, we are told that They rest not day nor nights, adoring him that sits upon the throne, and are fixed, as Pillars in his temple, to go out no more §. --Again, if it be spoken of as a crown it is represented as incorruptible; A crown of glory that fadeth not away.-And when it is called a kingdom, the scripture does not only add, as here in the text, that it is the kingdom of God, which must certainly exalt the idea of it; but that it is A kingdom which cannot be moved **, an Everlasting kingdomtt: Nay, to carry our thoughts to the highest degree of dignity and glory, it is spoken of as a Sitting down with Christ on his throneff.

But further, the value of these illustrious representations is much enhanced, if we consider the character of the persons by whom they are made. They were persons well acquainted with these things, having received their information from a divine Revelation, and from the immediate visions of God. They were also persons of such sublime and elevated sentiments, that they had a sovereign contempt for all the enjoyments of time and sense, even those which the generality of mankind set the greatest value upon; and Counted all things but loss for the knowledge of Christ $$, and The testimony of a good conscience ||, while they Looked not at temporal, but at eternal things. They could deliberately, constantly, and even cheerfully, resign all the riches, and honours, and carnal pleasures, which they might have purchased by their apostacy from religion ; and were ready to embrace bonds, imprisonments, or death itself, when it met them in the way of their duty.--Now certainly a glory, with which such holy, wise, and heroic persons were so passionately enamoured, and which they describe with such pathos of language, and such extacy of delight, while they were trampling with so generous a disdain on every thing which earth calls good and great, must deserve our very attentive regard. And this it will more evidently appear to do, if we consider, 2. “ It is the state and world, which God has prepared for the

display of his glory, and the entertainment of the most favoured of his creatures.

* Rev. iv. 4.
|| 1 Cor. ix. 25.
11 Rev. iii. 21,

+ Rev. v. 8.

1 Pet. v. 4.
$$ Phil. iii. 8.

Rev. iv. 8.
** Jleb, xii. 28.
!!!! 3 Cor. i. 12.

Rev. ii. 19. H2 Pet. i. 11, 412 Cor. iv, 18

This argument seems to be hinted at, when it is said (as in the place I referred to before) 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 hin *. God well knows the capacity of his creatures, and how much happiness they are able and fit to receive ; and he can fill their capacities to the utmost ; nay, he can farther enlarge them to what degree he pleases, that they may admit superior degrees of glory and felicity. A happiness therefore which he has prepared on purpose to display the riches of his magnificence and love, and to shew what he can do to delight his creatures, must certainly be in some measure proportionable, if I may so express it, to the infinity of his own sacred perfections. "Let us then seriously consider, who God is; and attentively dwell, in our meditation, on the extent of his power, and the riches of his bounty ; and our conception of the happiness of heaven must be raised to something more glorious, than the most emphatical words can perfectly describe.

And here, to assist our imagination in some degree, let us look round us, and take a survey of this visible world. This earth, how conveniently has he furnished it, how beautifully has he disposed it, how richly has he adorned it! What various and abundant provision has he made for the subsistence, the accommodation, and the entertainment of creatures that inhabit it! and especially of man, in whom this scheme and system of things appears to centre, and to whom it is all most wisely and graciously referred ! Yet earth is the habitation of a race of mean and degenerate creatures, who are but in a state of trial; nay, it is the habitation of thousands and ten thousands of God's incorrigible enemies, with whom he Is angry every dayt. Already it is marked with some awful characters of the divine displeasure ; and the scripture assures us, that it is Reserved unto fire, against the day of judgment, and perdition of ungodly ment. Yet even this earth is not a spectacle unworthy our regard ; nor can we, if we allow ourselves to survey it with becoming attention, behold it without an affecting mixture of admiration, of love, and of joy : Passions, that will strike us yet more powerfully, if from this earth of ours we raise our eyes to the visible heavens; and there behold the glory of the sun, the brightness of the moon, and all the numerous hosts of heaven that attend in her train. Who that considers, with any

I 2 Pet. iii. 7.

* 1 Cor. ii. 9. VOL. II.

+ Psal. vii. 11.

3 N

« ZurückWeiter »