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Jesus Christ at His coming, they are described as those who love His appearing, who are looking for His glorious appearing with a blessed hope, that will not make them ashamed; who are looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God. It is to be observed that the elect of God are called His saints, and them that believe. They are termed His elect, because it pleased the Lord to make them His people. As our Saviour said to His disciples, Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you; 63 so it was not because they chose Him, but because He chose them, and called them by His grace to believe in His name, that they became His people. This character is given them to show that every blessing they enjoy is the gift of God. They are indebted to Him for all. All is derived from His unmerited goodness, and therefore to Him they are to ascribe the glory. His distinguishing grace should fill their hearts with love to Him. His mercy should ever excite their most grateful feelings of praise, and most humble devotedness to His service. They are known to God as His elect, peculiar people, whom He has formed for Himself to show forth His praise; they are known to the world by their profession of being believers in Christ, and by their conduct as saints or holy persons;
60 2 Tim. iv. 8. 61 Tit. ii. 12. 62 2 Peter iii. 12. 63 John xv. 16.
who desire and endeavour by His grace to live and walk according to the holy law and word of God. When the Son of man shall come in His glory, He will gather together His elect to Himself. He will say to them, Come ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. And then they shall go into life eternal; and so shall they ever be with the Lord.65 Such will be the blessedness of the saints of God, of believers in Christ, at His coming to judge the quick and the dead, at His appearing, and His kingdom.“
Let us ask ourselves, Are we among those who shall then be blessed by Him? Are we truly believers in the Lord Jesus Christ? He our hope? Have we peace with God through faith in His name? Do we walk humbly with our God, being accepted in His beloved Son? Have we not merely a name to live, but do we really live the life which we now live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God? Does our conduct manifest that we are influenced by His Spirit? Are we saints of God, holy persons, set apart to His service, living to His glory? If so, we have reason to trust that when He shall send His angels, and gather together His elect, we shall be found among His chosen people, and partake of their eternal
64 Mat. xxv. 34, 46. 65 2 Thess. i. 17. 66 2 Tim. iv. 1. 67 Gal. ii. 20.
blessedness. But if not, what is our prospect for eternity? It is an awful one indeed. If we are living without the knowledge and love of Christ, or in disobedience to His holy will and commandments, the gospel which we have heard will not prove the means of our salvation; but the wrath of God which is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,68 will abide on us for ever. May God of His infinite mercy deliver us from the everlasting destruction which is denounced against His enemies. Let it be our earnest prayer that we may be numbered among the elect believing saints of God, whom He shall gather together to Himself, whom He shall own before the assembled world, and bless for evermore.
68 Romans i. 8.
SUNDAY CALLED SEPTUAGESIMA.
THE LABOURERS IN THE VINEYARD.
Matthew xx. 16.
SO THE LAST SHALL BE FIRST, AND THE FIRST
LAST; FOR MANY BE CALLED, BUT FEW CHOSEN.
THESE are truly solemn words, and deserve the serious consideration of all who are favoured with religious privileges. Our blessed Lord had made use of similar words at the close of the preceding chapter: Many that are first shall be last, and the last first. He then brought forward the parable which is appointed as the Gospel for this day, in order to illustrate His meaning. He had before spoken of the glorious reward of grace which should be given to His true disciples,
who, as St. Peter professed to have done, had forsaken all and followed Him: Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit on the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundred fold, and shall inherit everlasting life. And then He added, But many that are first shall be last, and the last first,69 or many that were foremost in making a profession of willingness to follow Him, should be the last in enjoying the benefit; and many that were last and least, and most backward in making this profession, should be the first to receive the blessing. In illustration of this, the parable before us was related. May the Spirit of God be our Teacher, while we consider it! And may He enable us by His grace to seek first and above all things those spiritual and eternal blessings which He bestows upon His chosen people, that we may be numbered among them in life, in death, and in eternity.
The parable begins as follows, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labour
69 Matthew xix. 27-30.