« AnteriorContinuar »
by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1 Pet. i. 5.
(4.) But no attribute of God will shine so bright in that day of the saints' meeting together, as that of his free grace, this orient pearl in the gold ring of glory will shine the brightest. That uphill city is built all of free-stone, none of them had mounted so high, had not the arms of love been under them. When this headstone of glory is laid, it will be with “ shoutings, grace, grace unto it,” Zech. iv. 7; the celestial palace will ring with acclamations of grace: grace laid the foundation, and grace lays the topstone in glory. The glorified soul will stand amazed, and say, “who am I, 0 Lord God, and what is my house that thou hast brought me hitherto ?”* and saints and angels will stand gazing at them, and at God in them, that of such polluted creatures hath made such a holy people, that of such lepers so disgusting in appearance he hath advanced many above the ordinary rate of men, “equal unto the angels.”+ Fellow saints will adore free grace, devils will fret, reprobates gnash their teeth with envy, angels will gladly admit them into their society, and God will be glorified in all.
This is the first and chief end God hath in view in gathering the saints together.
2. There is also a secondary, subordinate end of God's bringing his saints together, and that is for their mutual communion, converse, and society with each other.
Negatively, it will not be,
(1.) To trade, buy and sell, and have civil commerce together, to make great purchases, or to go to fairs and markets, or meet upon exchange for business; there are no such things there; “Nor shall they marry or * 2 Sam. vii. 18.
+ Luke xx. 36.
be given in marriage;" nor converse as husband and wives, Luke xx. 35.
(2.) Nor shall they suffer together, or be thrown into prisons, or driven into dens and caves of the earth, to endure hardships, seeking relief, or begging their bread; the devil and his instruments are there nonsuited, "the accuser of the brethren is cast down," Rev. xii. 10; and all his angels and agents.
(3.) Much less shall they sin together, by acts of immorality, or idle talk or chat, there shall not be uttered one vain word to all eternity; nor shall they quarrel, or contend, and thereby grieve and fret or vex the spirits one of another, or sadden the hearts of each other. No, no, there shall be perfection of grace, and complete harmony of minds and affections.
(4.) Nor shall there be one word of complaint as now there is; Christians when they meet here, spend much of their time in mourning over themselves, in mourning over one another, in mutual compassion, confessing their faults to each other, acquainting christian friends with their grievances, begging their advice, and the help of their prayers.* Oh, saith one, I am ignorant, hard-hearted, unbelieving, have a treacherous memory, am very unprofitable. Oh, saith another, I am sore assaulted with Satan's suggestions, and hellish temptations; another saith, I am in the dark, God hides his face, I know not what to make of my condition; another complains of dark providences, and is afraid of missing his way, in such a case; all have their peculiar distresses and grievances; and one while raise their hearts to God, another while to christian friends; but there shall be no such thing as a whimper of complaint, when they meet together in that solemn day.
* James v. 16.
But more positively and affirmatively, the purposes for which the saints shall come together are these two:
To augment their personal felicity, and to enjoy mutual society and intercourse.
With respect to their own personal felicity, they shall assemble,
(1.) To rest together; as their bodies shall rest in the grave, so shall their souls rest with God. This is the time of “refreshing that comes from the presence of the Lord,” Acts iii. 19; “Now they rest from their labours,”* painful and marred with sin, never to be pestered any more with the hurries of a distempered world, temptations of a malicious devil, or corruptions of a treacherous heart. Rest is sweet, this rest is most sweet, “ when they enter into peace they rest in their beds," Isa. lvii. 2.
(2.) To be rewarded ; "great is their reward in heaven," Matt. v. 12. This reward doth greatly animate God's saints amidst their labours and losses, they still " have respect to the recompence of reward," and they shall not be disappointed for it is a sure reward;t and their confidence “ hath great recompence of reward,” Heb. x. 35. Not from any thing we have done in point of commutative justice, yet by distributive justice, by virtue of God's promise in the new covenant, God will be as good as his word.
(3.) They meet to rejoice together. At present, “they rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” Rom. v. 2. But heaven is the true proper element of joy. If at a distance and unseen, the Christian “ can rejoice with joy unspeakeable and full of glory," upon the exercise of a faith of adherence; O what joy will the Christian have above; this is an entering into our master's * Rev. xiv. 13.
+ Heb. xi. 26. Prov. xi. 18.
joy, because our vessels are too narrow for this joy to enter into us. O what a transport of joy at the saints' arrival !
(4.) They meet to reign. “The saints of the most high shall take the kingdom and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever,” Dan. vii. 18. Rev. xxii. 5. Not only shall godly ministers "receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away;"but suffering saints shall have a crown of life, “which God hath promised to all that love him," James i. 12. Earthly crowns are but gaudy trifles, compared with this crown that all saints shall receive. This is a high transcendent preferment.
(5.) They meet together to receive their inheritance. At present they are only as children in their minority, but at death they take possession of their rightful inheritance, and it is an “inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them," 1 Pet. i. 4. All God's children are heirs, and “ heirs according to promise,” I and this glory they have hereafter is a “reward of inheritance," Col. iii. 24. The kingdoms of the earth are not to be compared with this blessed inheritance above.
(6.) They meet together to triumph on their blessed conquest. What wonderful triumphers shall saints be hereafter, “who are more than conquerors here?” || All the saints shall be clothed with “white robes and have palms in their hands,” Rev. vii. 9. O the triumphant song they sing, Rev. xv. 3.
It is unintelligible to others, and cannot be learned by any but such as overcome. O happy souls !
(7.) They meet to see the execution of God's vengeance upon the wicked, Jude, 14, 15, “Behold
Isa. xxxv. 10. 1 Pet. i. 8. Matt. xxv. 21. + 1 Pet. v. 4.
Gal. iii. 29. || Rom. viii. 37.
the Lord cometh to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly, of their ungodly deeds and hard speeches—the righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance,” Psal. lviii. 10. The more the saints' will is melted into God's will, the more satisfaction will they have in the executing of justice, not so much on the wicked considered as God's creatures, but as his enemies, see 2 Thess. i. 6-9.
(8.) They meet for a clear manifestation of their inward principles and outward practices. Saints are called hidden ones,* their best part is most out of sight; “ their life is hid with Christ in God, but when Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we appear with him in glory,” Col. iii. 3, 4. Yea, and the “creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God," Rom. viii. 19. O what a display will there be at that day of men's inward states one to another, never before known, 1 John iii, 1, 2.
(9). They meet to have their graces perfected. Then, and never till then, is the day when that is accomplished, Eph. iv. 12, 13, “The perfecting of the saints; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ;" then will every corner of the soul be filled with grace. He that hath “begun a good work in believers here, will perform it till the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i. 6. Now they have gained what they were pressing after: 0 blessed day! O happy attainment!
(10.) Yet, once more they meet to enjoy God immediately together. This crowns all the rest, this is the summit of all, the acme and highest felicity of a rational soul. This is what they have been long breathing after. Some glimpses of his blessed face
• Psalm lxxxiii. 3.