« VorigeDoorgaan »
ever, is unlikely) you should walk in darkness to your dying day. He does not tantalize his people : but having given thee a taste of his love," he will in his own way, and in his own time, satisfy thee with the fulness of joy. When we part with an earthly friend, one of the most embittering considerations is, that we may, perhaps, see his face no more * below; enjoy no more of his company, and receive no more of his visits. But when the holy Spirit withdraws the comforts of his presence, and is as one that hides himself, or as one that is gone into a far country, we may be certain of his return. His consolations may stay long, but they will come back at last. You may depend on a fresh visit, in due season. They who have felt his gracious influence once, shall feel it again. There is a true ground of joy, in reflecting even on past experience (see Psalm xlii. 6.) Communion with God leaves a calm and a sweetness upon the soul, which are remembered after many days : as a vase of rich perfume, or of odoriferous unguent, scents the air with fragrance, even after the vessel that contained it, is stopped up and put by.
Once more. God may be said to visit his people, when he calls them away from earth to heaven. To them, who are in a state of grace, death is no more than a friendly visit from the God of love. person” (to use the comparison of an excellent writer) " that takes a walk in his garden, if he spy a beauteous full-blown flower, gathers it, and gives it a place in his bosom; so the Lord takes as it were, his walks in his gardens, the churches, and gathers his lilies, souls fully ripe for glory, and with delight takes them to himself.” Not satisfied with only deputing his angels to escort believers to the sky, he comes himself, in the manifestations of his presence, and, as it were, takes them by the hand, and leads them safe to Zion his holy mountain.
66 As a
* Acts. xx. 38.
What is this world, but a sort of an academy, wherein God's children are placed for education ? And, when their education is finished, when they have taken their degree in holiness, and are properly qualified for heaven, the Father of mercy orders out the chariot of death, to convey his children home. From that hour, he no longer visits them, but they visit him; and are with him, for ever and ever.
O, what a burst of joy, what a scene of glory opens to the ravished view, and beams on the triumphant soul of a saint, in the moment of departure! The death-bed of a Christian is the antichamber of heaven, and the very suburbs of the New Jerusalem.
When the silver cords of life loosen apace,when the last pins of the earthly tabernacle are taking out, when the lips of the expiring saint turn pale, and the blush forsakes his cheek, and what little breath he draws returns cold, when his limbs quiver, when the pulse forgets to beat,
when the crimson current in his veins begins to stagnate, and the hovering soul is just on the wing for glory-fast as the world darkens upon his sight, fast as the ro Ivrlov, the mortal part (2 Cor. v. 4.) of his composition, subsides and falls off from the dis-imprisoned spirit; he brightens into the perfect image of God, and kindles into more than an angel of light. Jehovah visits him with smiles of everlasting love; Jesus beckons him to the regions of eternal day; the blessed Spirit of God wafts him, with a gentle gale, over the stream of death. The angelic potentates deem it an honour to usher the ransomed soul, and convoy the precious freight. Dis-embodied saints, who were landed long before, throng the blissful coast, to congratulate the newborn seraph on his safe arrival.- When Virgil entered the Roman theatre, the whole auditory testified their respect, by rising from their seats.
When a believer lands in glory, the whole church triumphant
may be supposed to welcome the new-admitted peer. He makes a public entry into the celestial city, the Jerusalem which is above. As joy is in heaven, when a sinner repents; so joy is in heaven, when a saint is taken home.
God will, indeed, pay his people one visit more, and but one. I mean, in the morning of the resurrection, when he shall re-build their bodies, into temples of perfection, immortality and glory. The souls of the regenerate, from the instant they take their flight, are admitted to the sight and fruition of his glorious godhead; and their bodies lie down in the grave, as a prince retires to his wardrobe, or as a bride withdraws to her closet, to come forth with additional beauty and lustre, by and by. Lihe a tender watchful parent, God is mindful of his elect, while they are fast asleep: and, at the destined season, he will bring them from the east, and gather them from the west; he will say, to the north, give up; and to the south, keep not back; bring my sons from far, and my daughters from the ends of the earth, Isa. xliii. 5. Their dust shall praise him.
All their bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee? when that which was sown in corruption, weakness, and dishonour, is raised in incorruption, power and glory. He, who raised up Jesus from the dead, will also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you, Rom. viii. 11. That same divine Spirit, the third person in the godhead, who, on earth, quickens and raises the souls of the elect from a death in sin to the life of righteousness, will be immediately concerned in re-quickening their bodies, the temples in which he dwells, and to which he is incomprehensibly united even while they lie mouldering in the grave. In his book are all their members written. Every essential atom of their dust stands registered in the volume of omniscience. Every atom is numbered.
Every atom is precious in his sight. Nor shall a single atom be lost. Whatever changes their bodies may undergo, by a resolution into their first principles, or even by incorporation with other beings; the constituent particles requisite to identity, shall, when the trumpet sounds, be collected from every quarter of the globe, whither they have been scattered; or, more justly speaking, treasured up: for the world is but a vast store-house, wherein the dust of the saints is reposited. What though, for a few days and nights, we lend our bodies to the tomb,
Join the dull mass, increase the trodden soil,
And sleep till earth herself shall be no more? the grave is but a steward, entrusted with our ashes, and responsible for the charge. Soon will the several elements resign their deposit, and give back the Joan; the hallowed dust of God's elect; O death! no longer thine. While their souls are happy in the converse of Christ and angels, their bodies lie refining in the tomb, until the latter have slept away their dross, that both may be glorified together.I shall only observe further,
1. That God is mindful of his saints, and visits them in all these respects, not for any merit of theirs, but freely, and for his own name's sake. He first gives them grace, and then glory. He makes them saints, and crowns them angels. sons and things,” says the excellent Dr. Arrowsmith, “ because they are lovely: but God loves his people first, and makes them lovely afterwards. Our cause of love is in the objects loved; but the cause of God's love is entirely in himself. We were predestinated after the counsel of his own will ; Eph. i. 11. not after the prior good inclinations of ours."And, indeed, the text plainly teaches this most important truth: for, if the righteous were before hand with God, i. e. if there were any goodness in the buman will, of which God himself
66 We love perwas not the absolute author and efficient, David must have asked a very absurd and a very heterodox question, in saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?
2. If Jehovah in all his persons, if Father, Son, and Spirit, are thus mindful of men; O let men in return, be mindful of God! mindful of his truths, mindful of his ordinances, mindful of his love, mindful of his word, mindful of his providence, mindful of his commandments! I wish every one of you what I wish for myself; a clear head, a warm heart, and an holy life: a mind enlightened into a judicious knowledge and perception of the gospel doctrines, in all their purity, harmony, and extent; an heart warmed with the vital experience of grace, with the love of Christ, and the consolations of his Spirit; from whence will infallibly proceed a life practically devoted to God, and a conversation adorned with every Christian and moral virtue.To this end, let the Psalmist's prayer be yours. Be mindful of me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people ; 0 visit me with thy salvation! that I may, for myself in particular, see the felicity of thy chosen, and rejoice with the gladness of thy nation, and glory with thine inheritance, Psalm coi. 4.