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REVELATION xix. 1, 2, 3.
And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Allelujah, salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God. For true and righteous are his judgments, for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Allelujak, and her smoke rose up forever and ever.
HIS is a Hymn of praise, sung by the church in heaven, on occasion of the downfall of that idolatrous and persecuting power, which had long corrupted the earth, and oppressed the servants of God.
In our meditations on this hymn, we have observed;
That there is much people in heaven.
That the people there are employed in praising God.
That one grand theme of their songs, is God's judgments in this world.
That they glorify God, not only for his judg ments in this world, but also for the punishment of sinners in the future world.
A state of future punishment for the impenitent is here plainly supposed, and the eternal duration of it strongly expressed. And when the smoke of their torment arises, the saints and angels are represented as saying-Hallelujah; salvation and glo. ry to the Lord our God. We must not conceive them as rejoicing in the misery of others from malice or revenge; there are no such passions in heavThey rejoice not in the punishment of the ungodly, considered simply as misery: But they adore the holiness, truth and justice of God displayed in their sufferings. The sight of this awful scene raises their admiration of, and gratitude for, the salvation bestowed on themselves. And as the punishment of the wicked must be supposed to answer some great purposes in God's moral government, so these purposes are better understood in heaven, than they can be here on earth.
On these thoughts, we enlarged in a former discourse. It is proper that we now attend to the prac tical and instructive uses of a subject so solemn and interesting.
1. It appears that the happiness of the saints in glory will suffer no interruption from a sight of those in misery, who were once dear to them on earth. They justify God in the punishment of these, as well as of others.
In the present life there is a natural, and a civil connexion between saints and sinners. They dwell together in the same society-in the same vicinity and often too the same family. They are unit, ed in their worlay interests, and in their natural, or contracted relations.
Children are dependent on the parent, and he, in his turn, may be dependent on them. The husband and the wife, have a common concern in the family, and there usually is, and always there ought to be, a strict union between them. The brethren of the
same household, mutually related, and growing up in familiarity, strongly feel for each other. Neigh bours and friends, by long acquaintance, free conversation, and reciprocal kindness, form a nearness little inferiour to brotherhood. In the present state, it is necessary it should be so. No man can subsist alone. None of our designs can be carried into effect without the concurrence of others. In the feeble state of infancy, the impotence of sickness, and the decripitude of age, we must soon perish, without the support of those around us. That we may, with greater facility and promptitude, perform all necessary offices to each other, the author of our nature has either implanted in us an affection for our relatives and dependents; or so framed us, that we naturally acquire an affection for those, who are cast on our care, and to whom we daily minis
It is painful to us to behold a child, a brother, or friend in danger and distress; and we hasten to his relief. It gives great anxiety to the godly, when they see one, for whom they have an immediate care, pursuing a course which leads to misery; and they wish to reclaim him. While we live together in the present connexion and dependence, this reciprocal affection is of great utility. Without it we could not subsist. But in the heavenly world, it will be otherwise. Society subsists there; but subsists in'a state of perfection. They neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God. They neither hunger nor thirst any more-are no more subject to pain or danger-and no more need those kinds of service which are so necessary here. There is no more to be done for those in a state of misery; for their state is eternally fixed by God's immutable justice. There is therefore no more use for our partial regards to particular relatives and friends. We shall there subsist in a manner quite different
from the present-not by families and separate connexions, but in one grand and glorious community, through which is diffused a universal love. Natural and partial affections are swallowed up in benevolence to all holy beings, and in supreme love to God, the most glorious of all beings. The sight then of a child, a brother, or companion, under punishment, will give no more anguish to the saint in glory, than if the former relation had never subsisted. They are now no nearer to him than others of the human race. And he has such clear views of God's wisdom, truth, and justice, displayed in the punishment of the obstinate, that he feels a perfect probation of it. His benevolence is not confined to those, whom once he called by the endearing name of friends-it extends to all the virtuous and good-to all whom he sees to be the objects of God's benevolence. Though he rejoices not in the misery of the wicked, considered simply as misery, yet he rejoices in the great ends for which this misery is intended; to display the glory of God, and promote the happiness of the moral creation. It gives him no disturbance to see the glory of God advanced in those who once were his relatives, more than in others. He is fully convinced that God has laid upon them no more than is right-that the constitution of his government is wise and good-that the world is judged in righteousness, and the most glorious purposes are carrying on in all the divine works. He joins in this song, The Lord reignsLet us rejoice and give honour to him.
2. It appears from our subject, that God will get glory to his name from all his creatures. Even sinners, however useless they may be in their life, will be made useful in their death.
God is glorified in the irrational and inanimate parts of the creation. The heavens declare his glory; the firmament sheweth his handy work-the
earth is full of his riches-all his works praise him in the display of his wisdom, goodness and power. Rational creatures are to glorify him, not merely as the irrational, by the silent display of his perfections in their wonderful frame; but by contemplating him in his works-entertaining exalted thoughts of him, and pious affections to him-employing their intellectual powers in his service-proclaiming his praise with their tongues-and by imitating his character in works of righteousness and beneficence to one another. It is in this manner, that they are to glorify him.
But, How great a part of the rational creation deny him this tribute of glory? Vast numbers of the angelick host have revolted from his government, and are pursuing a rebellion against it. The human race have apostatized too. And though he has sent a divine Saviour to recover them, How many refuse to return! How many live without regard to God in the world, insult his authority, and profane his name! How many neglect the great salvation, which is offered them, and trample on the precious blood, by which it was purchased! How many disbelieve, or disregard the gospel of God, spurn his invitations, mock his warnings, abuse his patience, and grieve his Spirit!
If the heathens, who are vain in their imaginations, and change the glory of God into an image made like to corruptible man, glorify him not as God; much more do they, who know his will and yet despise it, through breaking the commandment, dishonour him. The wicked lives of sinners are an insult on the Divine Majesty. If they profess to know him, yet in works they deny him. They were made to do good; but the imagination oftheir hearts, and the course of their lives is evil continually. Instead of promoting virtue and happiness, they are spreading vice and misery. It is said in