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sentence that shall then be passed on the righteous and on the wicked, viz. a sentence of abfolution, of. solemn approbation, of a glorious reward, to the righteous; " Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the "kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of "the worldBut a sentence of condemnation, of amazing horror, to the' wicked; "Depart from me, "ye cursed, into everlasting sire, prepared for the devil "and his angels:" He concludes the awsul scene with the verse which contains the words of our text: "And these" i. e. the wicked " shall go into ever** lasting punishment, but the righteous into lise eter"nal."
Concerning the sirst of these, the deplorable condition of the wicked in another world, I shall not now discourse. But I would lead your thoughts to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerufalem; to the general Assembly and Church of the First-born ; to God, the Judge of all; to the spirits of just men made persect; and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. And here, indeed, a beautisul scene opens to our view, a most delightsul prospect to every sincere Christian, the serious contemplation of which is of admirable use to keep us stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.
In discoursing, then, on this delightsul subject, aster describing the character of the righteous who shall go into eternal lise, I shall endeavour to give you fome impersect account of that suture state os happiness into which they shall enter; and then make fome practical improvement.
I. With respect to the character os the righteous, the apoltle Paul describes it in sew, but expressive words: "They are justisied, washed and fanctisied "in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit "' of our God (a).n
(*) 1 Cov. vi. if.
1. They are justisied through the persect righteousness of Christ imputed to them: And this, as it is their distinguishing privilege, displays also the exceeding riches of Divine grace: For God having accepted the obedience and fatisfaction of his own Son, the Mediator, in their stead, he has placed it to their account, and reckons it theirs, as if they themselves had performed it; and in this manner, they have obtained the forgiveness of their sins, and are accepted as righteous in the sight of God. Hence, in scripture, they are-not only faid to be justisied freely by h"is grace', through the redemption that is in Jesus; but to be made the righteousness of God, '/. e. righteous in. the sight of God, through him.
2. They are alfo fanctisied by renewing grace. And this indeed inseparably accompanies the former; for, 'whom God justisies, them he alfo fanctisies. And thence, there results an inward sincerity and purity of mind and intention, a disposition to comply with every part of duty, and a converfation becoming the gospel of Christ. Not, that they are righteous in a strict and persect sense. No; the righteousness of the best and most improved faint, were it to be tried fey the rule of persection, and examined by the light of Divine holiness and knowledge, would be found extremely d^ective; for in " many things we osfend "all." But the meaning is, they are really, though not completely, righteous; their minds unfeignedly approve the whole law of God, their wills prevailingly consent to it, and the course of their actions manisests their zeal to observe it. In a word, persection in holiness is their earnest wish, though not their actual attainment; it is what they now aspire to, hut cannot sully reach; this being reserved as part of their premised reward, and a necessary ingredient in that suture happiness for which they are now preparing.
This, then, is the character of the righteous, that which distinguishes them from the men of the world.
2 I 2 These. These are they who,. having washed their robes, wo made them white in the blood of the Lamb, flrai ftand before the throne of God, and serve him day »nd night in his heavenly temple. And thk bring; me,
II. To give you some account of that suture stat! of happiness, here called eternal Use, into which tt: righteous shall enter.
But, who is equal to such an undertaking f Th; grandeur of the subject dazzles our minds, transcend our most lofty conceptions, and cannot be represented by the most signisicant words. It doth not yet appear, says the apostle, what we shall be. Itisagiwy and a happiness yet to be revealed, of which we cic form no distinct notion, till we enter within the vail, and are admitted into the heavenly sanctuary. Nay, to check presumptuous and unavailing curiosity, *i are expressly told, that " eye hath not seen, noi eat "heard, neither hath it entered into the heart oi ** man to conceive, the' things which God hath pit's pared for them that love Him"
As God, however, has been pleased to afford M some light concerning the suture, and as we ought to be frequently employed in meditating on this d:lightsul subject, I shall endeavour to gi,«e you, firm Divine revelation, some impersect account of that suture state of happiness, which is promised to the righteous. And, O that, by the blessing of God, it mir beget in you an ardent desire aster it, and engage y' %o seek that temper and disposition of soul, WS" alone can qualify you for the enjoyment of it.
This state of suture happiness is represented in the text, under the notion of eternal lise, and to this I shall chiefly consine myself in what I am to fay concerning it.
Lise, you know, is the foundation of every enjoyment ;. nay,- in the. common.estimation of men, iti
c the the most desirable of earthly blessings. The true notion of it is, to be well and happy. The damned in hell are alive; but they are so sar from enjoying lise, that their deplorable and wretched condition is styled in scripture the second death: nay, the Spirit of truth • will not allow the life os the wicked in this world to be true lise, but speaks of them as dead m trespasses and sins. Even that decaying and frail lise we now live, though we be so fondly in love with it, does hardly deserve the name of lise. But the lise of the blessed in heaven, is lise in its utmost persection; pure, unmixed, unallayed lise. For,
1. They are persectly delivered from every thing that makes the present lise uneasy and burthensome.
In this state of mortality, there is nothing so grievous to a good man, to an exercised Christian, as sin. This is that law in his members that warreth against his mind. At intervals, in spite of all his ex- ertions, his propensities to pleasure and folly are reviv-ed; and though the general tenor of his conduct e-vinces that his heart is right with God, yet he often see-Is the ardour of his love to him abated; he seels reluctance'' and aversion to persevere- in his service,, and is sometimes tempted to restrain prayer beforehiiTK These sailures are a source of frequent lamen-. tation ; a source however, that, in this lisej will never . wholly be exhausted. Perfection, is the standard which man should set before him; but persection- he nevercan attain. He may attempt to purify his heart as God is pure; but iniquity f must-still prevail against him. In the lise to come, however^ he will ohtain complete deliverance.. The very being os'sin will theft be destroyed, every evil inclination eradicated, and the foul forever-freed from this-intestine enemy. Think with yourselves, ye children of-.God) what a happy lise you would lead here, if sin did-not disturb ytftHr peace, if it did- not imbitter your-comforts, and: impress you with the dread of suture wrath.- How 2 1 3, Iwppy-• happy, then, are they, to whom an entrance is at hit administered into that world, in which its power it no more selt? Happy indeed, unspeakably happy, those persected spirits of the just, whose warsare with sin is now ended, who have obtained a complete victory, an eternal triumph over it!
But again, all the natural consequences, the peneffects of sin, will be excluded from that happy state. These now prey upon our transitory lise, and diminil'r its comforts. Our sweets here are still attended with a sting, and great enjoyments bring greater sorrow; but, there, they will not disturb our repose. The inhabitants of that upper house shall not say they ait sick, neither shall they grieve; for God will wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there (hall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things ate passed away. In a word, in the midst of that innumerable assembly of the blessed, there is not one eye that weeps, one breast that sighs, or one tongue thit complains. How happy then are those glorisied fcnu, whose sears are vanished with their guilt; and who, as they shall sin, so they shall sorrow no more!
Finally, the temptations of Satan, and of a wicked world, shall have no place there.. There, the wicked cease from troubling; there, the weary are at rest, and they hear not the voice of the oppressor. Then, Satan, their implacable enemy, will be bound in chains, and cast into the bottomless pit. The Christian, once landed on the heavenly shore, is sase, and eternally out of his reach. Prom him he has thenceforth nothing to sear. And, O, with what pleasure will he look back, as it were, on the amazing dangers he has escaped, on the boisterous waves by which he had been tossed, while in this waste and howling wilderness! And how cheersully will he join with his fellow saints in that triumphant song; " Now is cotnt "salvation, and the kingdom of our God, and the