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But now these illustrious inhabitants of heaven, who stand before the throne of God, in comparison with whom all the princes and nobles of the earth are as insects, presented themselves before him as his friends, companions, and guides, welcomed him to their affection and esteem, and proffered voluntarily to him every kind office. The eye of contempt could now no more glance at him, the finger of scorn no more mark him as its butt, the heart of unkindness no more harden itself against his sufferings, nor the door of pride be insolently shut against his petitions. Now he was changed from the beggar, the leper, the child of suffering and despair, into a son, and king, and priest of God, and he was destined to reign with him for ever and ever.
3dly, He was happy.
He was happy in external things, in which he was before miserable. All such things now became supremely delightful and desirable to him. His habitation, now, was the house of his heavenly Father, one of the mansions of which was henceforth allotted to him as his everlasting residence. In this glorious place he was united to companions and friends, who knew, and acknowledged, and rejoiced, in his worth, who possessed the same character, delighted in the same objects, and were occupied in the same pursuits with himself. To minister to his enjoyments, and to receive from him with pleasure and gratitude his kind offices, was one of the employments which they coveted, and to which they were to be for ever, devoted. The master, whom both he and they served, and were for ever to serve, was their infinite and eternal friend, who forgave, redeemed, and sanctified them all, and who removed them from this miserable world to his own immediate residence, only to bestow on them a never-ending series of blessings. Here he was a son, an heir, a joint-heir with Christ, the first-born, to an inheritance undefiled and that fadeth not away. His prospects were, therefore, all bright and ravishing. On earth all the evil that he was ever to suffer had been received. Throughout the ages of the eternal future nothing remained for him but good, overflowing and eternal good.
His conduct during his probation on earth was approved.
He had been faithful over the few things intrusted to his charge, and being pronounced to have well done, he was admitted for ever into the joy of his Lord. His sins were all forgiven, and washed away in the blood of the Redeemer. His soul was purified from every stain, and delivered from every error, and from every fear. His former hopes were now terminated in fruition immensely superior to all that eye had seen, or ear heard, or heart conceived. His faculties were ennobled and perfected. To know, to love, and to enjoy, was henceforth his only business; the proper destination of a rational, virtuous, and immortal mind.
To the resurrection he looked forward without impatience, but with a delightful assurance of hope. Then his vile body, committed to the grave in weakness, corruption, and dishonour, he knew would be raised in power, incorruption, and glory, and changed and re-fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself. He knew, from the promises of God, that, at that period, his body and mind would be re-united, and would constitute one perfect and glorious man, formed for none but exalted purposes and enjoyments. He also knew, that, at that period, all his companions in the faith and patience of the saints would be united with him, and that, thus united, all would commence the divine system of virtuous existence and virtuous conduct destined to adorn the new heavens and the new earth, wherein righteousness shall dwell for
THE COMING OF CHRIST.
LUKE XII. 40.
"Be ye, therefore, ready, also; for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”
In the preceding part of this chapter our Saviour gives us a series of most solemn and important instructions concerning our conduct in the present life, and our preparation for that which is to come. In the 35th verse he enjoins the duty of watchfulness, as eminently interesting to man, especially to Christians, and in the succeeding verses enforces it by several solemn considerations. To this injunction he returns, immediately, in the text, and annexes to it a reason of the highest moment, "Be ye, therefore, ready also; for the Son of Man "cometh at an hour when ye think not."
In discoursing upon this passage, I propose to consider briefly,
I. The persons to whom the command is addressed.
II. The command itself; and
III. The reason by which it is enforced.
I. The persons to whom the command was addressed were originally the audience to which our Saviour was speaking.
These, as St. Luke informs us, were an innumerable multitude of people, gathered, as it would seem, to hear him preach the Gospel. A part of them were his disciples, a part of them were his enemies, and a part, probably including the greatest number, could scarcely have known any thing of him, unless by report. To all these classes of men the command is addressed in the written Gospel. To him who reads it, and to him who hears it, it is addressed alike, and that whether he be a Christian, or a sinner, acquainted with Christ, or unacquainted. At the present time, it is addressed immediately to every member of this audience.
II. In examining the command itself, I shall briefly mention,
First, What that is for which we are to be ready; and
1st, We are required to be ready for the coming of Christ. There are several senses in which this phrase may be fairly understood, as used in the Scriptures. When it is applied to individuals, it particularly denotes the day of death. Death to every man is the time in which Christ will come, which will terminate every man's probation, and put an end to the necessity and duty of watching, so solemnly enjoined in the text. All the purposes for which he is to watch are then finally settled, and all the opportunities of becoming ready for the appearance of his Master are ended for ever. Whatever privileges, whatever means of amendment he may have possessed, he will possess them no more. Whatever resolutions he may have formed, whatever labours he may have begun, towards the preparation enjoined, they will all cease at this period. If the work is not now done it will never be done. For the coming of Christ, then, on our dying day we are here commanded to be ready.
We are also required to be ready for the judgment. When we leave the world, we shall be summoned to give an account of the manner in which we have spent our probation, and employed our talents. This account we shall give to Christ himself, and shall then be declared by him to have done well or
ill. The sentence which he will here pronounce will be irreversible, and the trial admit of no appeal. Our souls will be suspended on its issue, and whatever good or evil may be in store for us during the progress of our future being; whatever may be hoped, and whatever may be dreaded by us, it will all follow this decision. For an event of this magnitude it is immensely important that we should be ready.
We are also to be ready for eternity. In this immense duration the final sentence will be carried into complete and endless execution. Every work which we have done in this life, will then find its reward, and the sum of happiness, or the mass of misery allotted to us, will be immeasurably great. Who ought not to be ready for such a state of being as this? What measures ought to be grudged? What pains ought to be spared? What self-denial ought not cheerfully to be undergone?
Secondly, I will now proceed to inquire what is included in being ready.
This subject, for reasons which satisfy myself, I shall canvass in the negative form. From the characteristics of those who are not ready, my audience may, if they are willing, learn with some advantages, which are peculiar to this mode of discussion, the true nature of that preparation for the coming of Christ, which he has enjoined in the text.
In the first place, no person is ready for the coming of Christ, who does not keep the Sabbath holy.
We are required in the Scriptures to turn away our foot from the Sabbath, from doing our pleasure on this holy day; to call the Sabbath a delight, and the holy of the Lord honourable, and to honour him, not doing our own ways, nor finding our own pleasure, nor speaking our own words. If we do this, we are furnished with a series of most gracious promises, conveying to us the richest of all blessings. We shall be accepted in all our solemn services; shall be enabled to delight ourselves in Jehovah; shall be made joyful in his house of prayer; and shall have given to us an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. At the same time, we are required not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together; to wor