« AnteriorContinua »
But we shall be no more in a state of probation, either by returning to this world, or enjoying those means or advantages for it in another, which here we are taken from.
1. No more restored to live on earth, to make a new choice for eternity, or do the work preparatory to it, that was not finished before we were called away. This is the day and state in which we are to work out our salvation, and endeavour to make our calling and etection fure. Happy they, who while the feason lafts, finish the work on which eternity depends. Bat they with whom it is gone over in vain, will no more be favoured with its return.
If importunity could prevail how earnestly would they beg and cry for this? What passionate requests would they put up? O that we might be permitted again to live upon earth, in a state of hope, and under the means of grace we once enjoyed ! O that we might again see one of the days of the Son of man, and therein hear the joyful found ; feel the strivings of the blessed Spirit ; have former opportunities and helps restored, to make better preparation for an endless life, than once we did ! But this shall not be. One life is appointed to us on earth, wherein to flee from the wrath to come, and make fure of heaven and eternal glory; and they that lose this, shall not be favoured with another. They that now will not hear, and pray," and watch, and strive, fall, when this life is at an end, have no more opportunity for any of these.
A life of trial on earth once over, is no more to begin. If we go hence unholy and unprepared, before our great work is done, or our fouls safe, we are to come back no more, to do what was left undone, or rectify what was done amiss. In the present life, the carnal may
be renewed, the guilty pardoned, the perishing faved: enemies to God may be reconciled, and they that are afar off may be brought nigh. This we are not only invited to, but have the greatest helps and advantages for : but all this ends at death, as by this we depart once for all from the present state. On the other side of death, it will be in vain to cry, Lord send us again to earth, to hear the voice of mercy, and have the tenders of life and salvation by Christ, and we will not neglect and make light of all, as once we did. Such cries could they be made, would be immediately silenced with the cutting reply, 'Tis now too late.
If ever we make provision for death, judgment and eternity, it must be whilst this life lafts, it being no more to be restored.
2. Sinners that are removed unchanged, shall not again, in an after-state, be favoured with the like means and advantages which they enjoyed here. Death transmits us to judgment, which determines our eternal state without pofsibility of change. This is the life of trial and preparation; the next of reward or punishment, according as we carried it here. There is no repentance in hell, nor call to it; no believing in a Saviour, in order to their release from chat place of torment, and obtaining everlasting life. They that here made sure of heaven, shall at death be admitted into it, and go out no more: they that, notwithstanding the offers of a Saviour, died in their fins, are cast into the prison of hell, from whence there is no redemption.
No messengers are to be sent after lost finners from this to the next world ; no hope of mercy is to be vouchsafed them there. Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation ; but it concludes with the sinners last breath. If a man dies shall he live again, i.e. in such a state as this? It is apparent to all, it cannot be, Job xiv. 14.
Probationers for an after-state, when they go hence hall be no more here. Hereupon,
III. Wherein lies our strength for going hence ?
The answer to this is obvious. Being to remove out of time into eternity, our strength for this consists in our readiness for a blessed eternity; that so it may go well with us in the next world, whenever we are taken out of this. And this readiness in general, consists in having an interest in Christ the only Saviour, and through him, in being in a state of peace with God, before whom we are going to appear. It confifts particularly, in having our fins done away in the blood of the Lamb; our natures healed by the power of his Spirit ; grace accompanying falvation in exercise ; comfortable evidence of a title to heaven, and meetness for it; and fo a lively hope that we shall change for the better, whenever removed from hence. These
are the things that make up our strength for our long journey, and enable us to go through the valley of the shadow of death, and fear no evil.
It cannot but be delightful to hold our thoughts a little
them. In general our ftrength for dying or going hence, is when we have an interest in Christ the only Saviour, and are through him in a state of
with God, before whom we are going to appear, and are among the happy number that shall find mercy of the Lord in that day. From the very mention of this, we may learn what strength there lies in it for our going hence, and how weak and discouraged, faint and feeble, we must be without it. Well may that soul tremble and be afraid, when ready to take its flight into the other world, that is going to appear before an angry Judge, and having no relation to Chrift, the only Mediator, to plead for him. But with what fafety and satisfaction may the penitent believer depart; being to go to God as a Father through Jesus Christ, the most potent and prevalent advocate with him? Who Mall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect, now, or at the last day? It is God that justificth: who is be that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather that is rijen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us, Rom.
viii. 33, 34.
This is our strength in general for going hence.
Particularly, We may be said to be ready to go hence,
1. When our fins are done away in the blood of the Lamb. We go hence to be judged. Now: when fin lieth at the door, no wonder if we have little ability or inclination to go forth. Unpardoned guilt Thakes the confidence of the departing soul, and fills it with horror, as about to appear naked and defencelefs before an angry God. But when fin is pardoned in the blood of Jesus, the soul is prepared, and fo strengthened for a remove : having no guilt to keep him out of heaven, and having a prevailing Advocate attending, to plead for his admission thither.
2. We may be said to be prepared, and so ftrengthened for going hence, when our nature is healed and fanctified by the Holy Spirit. Blef sed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. And where this heart is found, the perfon is disposed for a happy remove. Impure souls will be carried downward by the weight of corruption as well as guilt ; but they that are born from heaven, are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, and so may fweetly mount upward to take poffeffion.
3. Grace accompanying falvation in vigorous exercise, is a farther addition to our strength for
When repentance, faith, hope and love are excited, and set a work by the hand by which they were first implanted, the soul is dressed to meet its Lord. This is intimated in our Lord's Command of having our loins girt, and our lights burning, like men that wait for their Lord.