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gain by it. For me to live in Christ, says the apostle, and to die is gain. This will separate the believer from the world, but it will never separate him from the love of God in Christ; no, it will bring him to a more full enjoyment of this love, than ever he experienced before, or ever could have experienced, had he remained in this world.
Judgment will be a solemn scene. It will be dreadful to the wicked. They are offended at the distant sound of it. But there is a delightful sound which issues from the judgment seat. Let them hear this. To some the Judge will say, come ye blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you. These shall enter into eternal life. And who are these? They are such as receive and obey his gospel. Unbelieving sinners will be judged by the law according to its strictest tenor—they will be condemned for every transgression of the law. But in regard to believers Christ has fulfilled the law; and they will be judged according to the gracious tenor of the gospel. Their repentance of sin, and faith in the Saviour, interest them in that perfect righteousness which he has wrought out, so that to them who are in him there will be no condemnation. They will be accepted in the beloved, and will be rewarded according to those works of faith and labors of love which by the grace of God they have been enabled to perform.
When Christ shall come in flaming fire, to take vengeance on them who know not God, and obey not the gospel of his Son, he will be glorified in the saints, and they glorified in' him, and he will be admired in all them who believe. Guilty, impenitent, unpardoned sinners will tremble and be dismayed in the presence of the Judge. But saints will have boldness in the day of judgment, and rejoice in the presence of the Lord at his coming.
Is judgment a dreadful sound ? Be awakened by it to repentance-resort to Jesus by faith-cleave to him by obedience. Then it will become a delightful sound. In that day you will receive from the dust your bodies, new raised, refined and immortal. You will meet the glorified saints and mingle with the joyful throng of those who have been redeemed from the earthyou will be admitted to sit with Christ on his throne, and to share with him the glories of his kingdom-you will be ever with the Lord.
Hell is a dreadful sound. But if this sound awakens you to flee from the wrath to come, it will to you be a happy sound. Life and death-heaven and hell are set before you. Death is set before you that you may choose life-hell, that you choose heaven. Make a right choice, and you have nothing to fear, but every thing to hope. Entertain no prejudice against the gospel on account of its threatenings. These do not create your danger-they only warn you of it. Your sins create your danger. The warnings are sent, that you may flee from the danger which threatens you. If the gospel had never said a word about future punishment, still it would be as true as it is now, that a sinful course and impenitent death must terminate in misery. Hell though a terrible, is a necessary sound. The design of it is to alarm the sinner and excite him to seek safety by repentance toward God, and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. If the misery of hell is the fruit and result of sin indulged in the heart and practised in the life, then the sound which seems so dreadful is from yourselves. Let your fear come home to yourselves. Let it operate where it ought to operate, against your own iniquities. There is your danger. It is not from the character, or from the threatenings of God—but from your opposition to his character, and disregard of his threatenings. His word sets hope before you; lay hold on it and live. He is long-suffering to sinners, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repent
Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound. They shall walk in the light of God's countenance. In his name shall they rejoice all the day. In his righteousness shall they be exalted.
Let none despise the awful sound which they hear from the law, the judgment and the threatenings of God-but all hear and take warning. They are words of truth and soberness. Awakened by these sounds, let them dread the consequence of impenitence and unbelief; and hear and obey the joyful sound, which calls to repentance, promises pardon and offers grace to help in time of need.
There is an accepted time—there is a day of salvation. The salvation offered was purchased by the blood of Christ. It is promised by the faithfulness of God. It is proclaimed in your hearing by a voice speaking from heaven. You may obtain it by a seasonable and diligent application. But how will you escape, if you neglect so great salvation, which began to be spoken by the Lord himself and was confirmed by them who heard.
If you finally neglect this salvation, which is proclaimed in such encouraging sounds, you will sink into regions of darkness and despair, where these delightful sounds will be reverberated in dismal echoes.
It will be no small part of the misery of condemned sinners, that they neglected the day of grace-despised a dying Saviour trampled on the warnings of God's word, and resisted the energies of a striving spirit.
If the dreadful sound now in your ears, makes no impression on your hearts, nor calls their attention to the offers of deliverance and safety; they must one day hear a sound more dreadful from the final sentence of the Judge-Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.
Know in this your day the things which belong to your peace, before they are hidden from your eyes.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHARACTER OF PETER.
JOHN XXI. 7, 8.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved, saith unto Peter, It is
the Lord. Now when Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits) dragging the net with fishes.
Our blessed Lord, after his resurrection, seems not to have been constantly with his disciples, as he was before his crucifixion; for they were now dispersed to follow their several occupations, only meeting at proper times for friendly conversation and social devotion. But he visited them occasionally to give them evidence of his resurrection, and to impart to them such instructions, as their present circumstances and future employments might require. These visits were made sometimes to two or three of them, and sometimes to a greater number, when they happened to be together.
John, in this chapter, relates the appearance of Jesus to seven of his disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He says, " This is the
third time, that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead." He means, that this was the third time of his shewing himself to them in a body; for the evangelists mention five or six other times before this, when he shewed himself to some, or all of them.
Seven of the disciples being now together in a house near the sea of Tiberias, Peter proposed to his brethren to go a fishing; to which they agreed, and immediately took a boat, went out with a net on the water, and labored through the following night with
In the morning Jesus came and stood on the shore. They saw a person, but knew not who he was. It is probable that day-light was not yet perfect. He might appear in a dress, in which they had not been accustomed to see him. They had no expectation of meeting with him at this time and in this place. It therefore is not strange, that they did not immediately recognize him. Probably they supposed him to be some man, who came to buy fish of them. They were within call from the shore. The stranger asked them if they had any meat. They answered, that they had none, for they had caught nothing through the night. He directed them to cast their net on the right side of the ship, which they did, and caught such a number of fishes, that they were hardly able to draw the net toward the shore.
John, who is here and elsewhere called the disciple whom Jesus loved, astonished at this wonderful draught of fishes, thought of Jesus, and looking more attentively, as it grew lighter, perceived that it was certainly He. And he said to Peter, It is the Lord. Peter, hearing that it was the Lord, was in haste to be with him; and impatient to wait the slow progress of the boat, put on the loose garment which he had thrown off for labor, stept into the sea and waded to the shore. The water so near the shore was shallow enough for a man to wade. Had he intended to swim, he would not have put on his outward garment. He hastened to land, and left his brethren to drag along the rich booty, which they had taken.
We will make some remarks on John's information to Peter; and on Peter's behavior in consequence of it.