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in this world, however terrible the coming of Christ may be to others, it will be a day of joy to His believing people; who have been accustomed, in the midst of all their outward tribulations, to look to Him for peace and comfort. Under whatever discouragements they may be labouring, the signal of the coming of the Son of man will be hailed by them as the termination of their trials, and the commencement of their endless and unutterable bliss. Their Saviour commands them to look up, with gratitude to their gracious Deliverer, in expectation of the speedy accomplishment of the promises which He has made to them. As He said to His sorrowing disciples, I will see you again, and your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. They are to lift up their heads with joy, no longer to hang them down with grief and mourning, but to prepare to meet with gladness their Saviour and their friend; and to welcome His appearing in the language of the prophet, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is the Lord, we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.58
The reason given for the exhortation in the text is, for your redemption draweth nigh. By redemption we may understand complete deliver
57 John xvi. 22.
58 Isaiah xxv. 9.
ance from all the evils of this mortal life. Apostle represents the whole creation or all mankind as anxiously expecting this time. He says, We know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now: and not only they, but ourselves also which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit the redemption of our body; that time, respecting which it is said, The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God, in hope that the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. 59 The redemption of the body, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, is a consequence of the redemption of the soul. Victory over death, and the grave is obtained only through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those only shall rise to the life immortal, who are justified freely by grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus;61 who have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.62 These the Son of man came to seek and to save when they were lost, and therefore when He shall appear again with power and great glory, He will acknowledge them as the purchase of His own most precious blood; as having been redeemed
59 Rom.viii. 22,19,21. 601 Cor. xv. 54. 61 Rom. iii. 24. 62 Eph.i.7.
not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot.
If then, we would look forward to the coming of the Son of man without dismay, we must have a good hope of the forgiveness of our sins through faith in the Lamb of God. This is God's appointed method of pardon, and therefore if we do not embrace it, we cannot possibly obtain the blessedness of those whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered, and unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. If we would be saved, we must thankfully accept of salvation in the way that God has promised to grant it. There is no forgiveness of sins, but through faith in the bloodshedding and death of Jesus Christ our Redeemer. If our hope be in Him, we are prepared for death and for judgment; but not otherwise.
The scene described in the Gospel for this day will most assuredly be realised. And it will take place suddenly and unexpectedly; for the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.65 Whether we shall witness it in the body or not, we need not be concerned to know. It is not for us to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.66 It is rather our concern to live in a state of preparation for it.
63 i Pet. i. 18. 64 Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. 651 Thess. v. 1. 66 Acts i. 7.
For at all events, death will certainly overtake us; and in the state in which we are found at death, we shall appear in judgment, to give an account before the Son of man of the deeds done in the body. There is no repentance in the grave. We must obtain repentance and pardon now, or they will be unattainable for ever. After death comes the judgment; and however long the interval may seem to us, one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. If we would look up, and lift up our heads with joy, when the Son of man shall come with power and great glory, we must be prepared for death. The word of God informs us that Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many, that He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, and that unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.68 The means of preparation for His coming, is to look to Him for the pardon which He came to procure for and to bestow upon them that believe in His name. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.69 Infinite joy, or endless woe awaits every one of us; as we go off the stage of life, we enter upon the one or the other. What, then, is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and
67 2 Peter iii. 8. 68 Heb. ix. 26-28. 69 John iii. 26.
lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? 70 Can any thing recompense us for the loss of our immortal souls? Assuredly nothing whatever. Yet how careless are multitudes about their salvation, as if there were no death, no judgment, no hell, no heaven! Many indeed express a transient wish, as the wicked prophet did, Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his." But if the salvation of our souls give us no more concern than a temporary wish of this kind may manifest, we shall not die the death of the righteous, and our future condition will be very different from his. For while the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father," the portion of those who have neglected the salvation of Christ will be with the unbelievers and the hypocrites, in eternal misery and unhappiness, in unavailing weeping and wailing, in horrible gnashing of teeth through torment, where the worm of an accusing conscience dieth not, and the fire of Divine wrath is not quenched. May we all be persuaded that it is not an unimportant thing to ascertain what will become of our immortal souls, when we depart hence, and are no more seen in this world.
As we profess to be Christians, let us direct our attention seriously to what our Lord Jesus Christ has said respecting eternity. The invisible
70 Mat. xvi. 26. 71 Num. xxiii. 10. 72 Mat. xiii. 43. 73 Markix. 44.