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He begins his affectionate farewell in these words, “Let not your heart be troubled ; ye be“ lieve in God, believe also in me. In my Fa" ther's house are many mansions. If it were “ not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare “ a place for
and if I go and prepare a place “ for you, I will come again, and receive you “ unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be
, 66 also.”
In pursuing the subject, I propose to illustrate the whole passage in the following order :
First, I shall call your attention to the sense in which it was necessary that Jesus Christ should go and prepare a place for his people;
Secondly, I shall consider the place into which he receives the righteous at their death; and
Thirdly, The great consolation we should derive from this promise of our Saviour, that he will come again and receive us unto himself.
First. In what sense was it necessary that Jesus Christ should go and prepare a place for his people? In the account which he himself has given us of the final separation between the righteous and the wicked, he represents the King as saying unto them on his right hand, “Come, “ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom “ prepared for
from the foundation of the “ world.” If, then, those mansions of glory were already prepared; if they had been prepared from
the foundation of the world, why did our Saviour represent that as the purpose of his leaving his disciples at this time?
My brethren, it is a proof of the goodness of God, that from all eternity he willed the happiness and salvation of those who love, fear, and obey him; and therefore, from all eternity, it was his gracious purpose to admit such to the participation of his glory. When it is said, then, that this kingdom was “ prepared from the founda« tion of the world,” it is in allusion to that purpose and will of God; and that purpose was founded upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to be completed in the fulness of time. The expression therefore is to be understood in the same manner as when, in allusion to the same purpose, Christ is said to be “the Lamb slain from the foundation " of the world.”
But when the undertaking of Christ was in fact fulfilled, when he had put away our sin by the sacrifice of himself, it was necessary that he, as our High Priest, should go into heaven, to propitiate the justice of God, to present his own blood before the Father on our account, and having made manifest that he had paid the price of our ransom, to take possession of the purchased inheritance, to prepare a place for his people, and to open the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
“ Christ being come,” sạys St. Paul, “ a High « Pri st of good things to come, not by the blood VOL. II.
“ of goats and calves, but by his own blood, he “ entered into the holy place, having obtained “ eternal redemption for us.”
This entrance of Christ into heaven was prefigured in the Jewish Church, by the entrance of the High Priest into the second tabernacle, once every year, “not without blood, which he offered “ for himself and for the errors of the people.” This was “a figure for the time then present, the
Holy Ghost thus signifying that the way into " the holiest of all was not yet made manifest." But Christ having actually suffered the sharpness of death, and the satisfaction being fully paid, it was fit that he should go, “not like the High “ Priest to enter into the holy places made with
hands, but to enter into heaven itself, to appear “ in the very presence of God for us."
It was thus, and by this costly sacrifice, that the heavenly courts' were sanctified, prepared, and set apart, for the abode of men; and had not that blood been shed, and had it not been pleaded there, we, polluted and miserable creatures, had never dared to raise our hopes to those blissful mansions to which we may now aspire. True, that place which Christ prepared has never yet been occupied by mortals. It was not entered by those saints who died before our Saviour's sacrifice, neither has it been entered by those who have since departed this life in his faith and fear. But it is reserved for the permanent abode
of the redeemed, when, after the resurrection, the soul being united to its glorified body, the Church shall assume its triumphant state. Then, but not till then, shall the blessed be called to inherit the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. But now the joys of that state are as yet unknown. The holy city, the new Jerusalem, is yet unoccupied by human spirits. The nations of them which are saved have not yet possessed it. Its streets of pure gold have not yet been trodden, nor its gates of pearls been entered, even by those who are written in the Lamb's book of life. What its joys are, therefore, it is not for them, nor for us, yet to know, until the first heavens and the first earth having passed away, and all things being made new, “this cor“ ruptible shall put on incorruption, and this “ mortal shall put on immortality.”
If it be asked, then, in reference to our second inquiry, what is the place into which Jesus Christ receives the sàipted spirits of the righteous at death, we can only answer, that it is the same to which he promised to conduct the penitent thief, and which he himself called Paradise ; which, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, is called Abraham's bosom; and which, in our creed, is called the place of departed spirits. In other words, it is that intermediate state of expectation and hope, where they that die in the Lord rest from their labours, awaiting in joy the morning of the resurrection, and anticipating the blessed sentence of final approbation and reward. It is in this intermediate state that the spirits of those who depart hence in the Lord do live, that with him the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity.
The happiness of this state, though great, is incomplete; and we recognise this thought when, in the burial service, committing to the ground the body of a deceased brother, we carry forward our view to the period when that state shall terminate, “looking for the general resurrection at - the last day, and the life of the world to come,
through our Lord Jesus Christ; at whose se6 cond coming to judge the world, the corruptible “ bodies of those who sleep in him shall be - changed, and made like unto his own glorious ** body.” The same idea of a greater happiness to come is recognised in the prayer for the whole state of Christ's Church militant, when, as we bless God's holy name “for all his servants de
parted this life in his faith and fear,” we pray 5 that with them we may be partakers of his hea“ venly kingdom.” And we acknowledge again that their happiness, though great, is incomplete, when we pray “that we, with all those who are “ departed in the true faith of God's holy name,
may have our perfect consummation and bliss, 56 both in body and soul, in his eternal and ever