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But how still more inconceivably horrible will it be, when instead of finding this a temporary pang, the mere agony of a natural dissolution, that ushers them into another existence of peace;
; they shall find those very flames with all their scorching torture, to be their appointed and eternal dwelling place; and that the pang of dying in tormenting fire is to be the perpetual experience of everlasting years.
But let us turn to the last point of resemblance. Thanks be to God, this is not the destiny of universal man. The day that judicially appoints the wicked and the unbelieving to their doom, makes manifest the complete salvation of the righteous. In the midst of the horrors of the flood, the ark of salvation rode peacefully upon the waters. And so in the crisis of this world's destiny," the holy city, the New Jerusalem, having the glory of God,” shall come down from God out of heaven, "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;" and then the righteous, the redeemed of the Lord, they who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” shall “ shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” They are ever safe, be the threatcned and deserved vengeance what it may. Their safety is not in themselves, it is in the grace, and protection, and presence of their God, who has said, "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; when thou walkest though the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”
” It is a glorious thought to dwell upon, that in that day an innumerable company, redeemed out of every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation, and language, shall be recognized as the children of God, as having been delivered from the wrath to
It will be indeed a blessed experience for them to look back upon a world lying in wickedness; to recall the recollection of the day when they were individually the children of wrath even as others, walking in the course of this world, and serving the prince of darkness; and then to trace the opening of their minds to religious truth, the effectual striving of the Spirit of Christ with their consciences,—to remember all the way that they have been led, and the faithful and unfailing care which still sustained and sanctified them, and kept them from falling, till they were presented faultless before the presence of the glory of God. How blessed will be the recollection of all this experience, heightened by the final calamity of the unbelieving recently passing before
their eyes: and then to cast the golden crown of their victory and their glory at the feet of their Redeemer, and to sing “ Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and over."
We have now, then, seen the close analogy or resemblance which exists between the wrath of God executed upon the old world, and the wrath to come, which the Son of man shall inflict at his second coming. However long the threatened vengeance may be delayed, it will come in all its merited fullness; but it will be sudden and unexpected, and it will be fatally destructive. Here, then, is a most solemn call on us, for seriousness and diligence. We may as well disbelieve the past as the future; but we must reject neither. My friends, that day must not so come upon us as a thief. “ Seeing that we look for such things, let us be diligent that we may bc found in peace, without spot and blameless." You see how casy it is, and how consistent with our
" fallen nature, to let time slide away amidst the cares and comforts of this world, and to loose sight of the future judgment. A whole world except eight persons did it. But you see the fatal consequence of such a habit. You may slumber away the intermediate period; but you cannot slumber over the day of judgment, or in the fires of retribution. The days in which the Spirit of Christ shall strive with men are running rapidly out; and then there remains nothing but “a fcarful looking for of judgment, and of that fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversary."
It behooves us, then, to use diligently all the means, to listen to all the warnings, and to avail ourselves of all the helps, granted us, for (ixing our attention upon the one great subject. Let us think as we ought of the rapid wast of life. We spend our years as it were a tale that is cold. They fly like a dream or a watch in the night. Let us look then to the days of Noah, and on the Saviour's testimony, take it as a pattern of the coming of the Son of man.
It were dreadful indeed, for the remaining sands of life to run out, and the day of our dissolution to fix our perpetual lot, and then the day of account to find us with an enlightened understanding and an awakened conscience, but with an unsanctified heart. Oh! if we felt this risk as we ought, and if we judged of the risk of the future by the negligences with which we have suffered the past to slip away, how deeply earnest would we feel! Ilow vain would the trifies or the solemnities of time appear! They would shrink into a point compared with eternity; and all that we have ever thought interesting would appear insignificant, compared with the offered salvation of the gospel of Christ. This would call out our energies. This would cheer our spirits. This only, and at all times would, like the ark to Noah, rise up before us, with all the interest of a prepared and appointed shelter, from an otherwise inevitable destruction.
And you, my Christian friends, be comforted. It is awful to think that the vengeance of God, which slumbereth not, will come suddenly, terribly, unexpectedly, and fatally upon the world: that the portion of creation in which we dwell, shall be involved in annihilating flames; and that if we have not something that can outlive the destructive power of almighty vengeance, that doom, sudden and unlooked for, must be ours. This is awful. But you have a sure word of prophecy—a sure foundation of hope. In that day that shall burn as an oven, God will spare his redeemed children, “ as a father spareth his own son that serveth bim.” Your shield against all evil, is everlasting love, omnipotent mercy
- the eternal covenant of peace in Christ Jesus. The blood of Jesus speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. This cries for mercy with a louder voice than that for vengeance. And your garments washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb, shall pass harmlessly through the fire of judgment, so that their lustre shall not be changed, nor the smell of fire pass upon them. In looking forward, my friends, to that awful day, we have no other confidence but the righteousness of him who was slain, and who is pow at the right hand of God. But rest assured, that they who by his grace have really found refuge in his mercy, shall never perish. Whatever are the horrors of that last conflagration, they shall float innocently by the true servant of Christ; they shall bear him subserviently and peacefully to the eternal palaces of light.
THE SECOND ADVENT OF CHRIST DESIRABLE TO
By the Rev. JAMES HALDANE STEWART, A. M.
PHILIPPIANS, üï. 20.
These words, my friends, are taken from a chapter in which St. Paul, writing not only with the authority of an inspired Apostle, but with the tender affection of a spiritual father, declares to the Philipians his personal experience,--his principles, his desires, his practice. After relating different steps in his progress, he mentions this as his own happy state, and as the point to which he would lead his spirital children,—to be looking for the coming of the Saviour; or, as those who were citizens of “a better country, that is, a heavenly,” to be expecting, and earnestly desiring, the day when the Lord Jesus should be manifested, and the privileges of his eternal kingdom be fully enjoyed.
This expectant state was habitual to the Apostles, and to the Christians in general of those early days. This St. Peter speaks of himself, “ as a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” St. John also mentions this as the general hope of the church of Christ: “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is.” And St. James directs his brethren to “stablish their hearts for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” They were all like men who were waiting for their Lord.
I proceed, then, to unfold some of the PRINCIPLE EVENTS, connected with the Advent of our Lord, which may RENDER HIS COMING DESIRABLE TO HIS FRIENDS.
First, I would notice, that, when He comes, “ He will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body."
This is one of the blessings, which, as mentioned in the verse immediately following the text, He will then confer upon bis people.
That we may the more highly value this privilege, let us briefly refer to some of the evils we suffer from our bodies as at present formed.
Their weakness. For though some are favored with so large portion of health as to be enabled to perform much labor and to endure great fatigue, who is there amongst us who does not feel the weakness of his body as an incumbrance to the soul? Its frequent demands for food, for rest, for sleep, disable the spirit for the continued service of God. How soon is the eye wearied with reading, the ear with hearing! We only serve our God a few hours, and, however pleasing the occupation, the necessities of the bodies require us to pause. We are as creatures 66 driven before the moth.” A little pain, a little languor, a little discomposure of frame, unfits us for duty, and compels us to cease from our employment.
This, however is not the only evil. The corrupt appetites of the body are frequently inlets to sin.—These are so well known, that I need not detain you by entering on this painful theme. How delightful, then, is the truth, that when He comes, “ He will
66 change our vile body!” that it will be no longer a hindrance, but as a help-mate to the soul; enabling it, through its medium, more perfectly to comprehend, more readily to serve, and more devoutly to adore, the great and glorious Jehovah! Those happy saints who were revealed to St. John in this glorified state, “rest not day nor night,” but uninterruptedly continue their blessed service. They behold Him with perfect vision, without weariness, and without suffering. They adore him with constant abasement, and chaunt his praises through an eternal day.
This, my beloved friends, will be the first act the Lord will perform at his coming. I mention it, to remove the fear of the timid Christian when meditating upon this great event. The grand solemnities of that day, will at times appal the mind.