« AnteriorContinua »
"Christ." To do justice to this subject, it will be necessary to consider three things. I. The state to which the Christian looks forward, "the everlasting "kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Chrift." II. The mode of his admission, "an entrance minis"tered abundantly." III. The condition on which the privilege depends, it is the consequence of something clearly implied; "So, So AN ENTRANCE SHALL
BE ADMINISTERED UNTO YOU
ABUNDANTLY, INTO "THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND "SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST."
I. Christians, we know very little of "the hope "which is laid up for us in heaven;" it is "the glory "which shall be revealed in us." While we are in this weak state of flesh and blood, the full disclosure would be too dazzling for the feeble eye. It would also, by making too ftrong an impression, operate injuriously, unhinging us from our present connections, and depriving those concerns which demand a subordinate share of attention, of all power to ftrike and engage our minds. "We walk by faith, not by sight;" but "we know in part." We have some representations of our future blessedness accommodated to our faculties, and derived from scenes with which we are familiar.
It is a KINGDOM, a ftate of royal empire, expanding over a better, a heavenly country, where there is no curse; whose laws are equity and perfection; whose riches and honours and resources are infinite; whose subjects are all wise and good; living together as friends, all princes themselves, all happy, escaped
from the troubles of life, the infirmities and diseases of body, the distresses and accusations of conscience, the remains of ignorance and of sin, and innumerable. vexations, which now make us groan, and long to emigrate thither. Two things are spoken of this kingdom, which deserve remark.
The first concerns its permanency and duration. It is "the EVERLASTING kingdom of our Lord and "Saviour." Every thing here is perishable and transitory. We tremble to look at our possessions and enjoyments, left we should see them in motion, spreading their wings to flee away. Many already in talking of their comforts are compelled to go back; "I "HAD a husband, children, health, affluence, and I "said, I shall die in my neft."
As it is with individuals and families, so it is with communities. "The fashion of this world passeth "away." Where now is the city whose top was to reach to heaven and defy a second flood? What have become of the kingdoms of the earth, whose fame fills the page of hiftory? The Assyrian, Persian, Grecian, Roman empires arose, aftonished mankind for a season, and disappeared. And not only the moft magnificent and durable productions of human power and skill, but even the established frame of nature shall be demolished; "The heavens fhall pass away with a
great noise, and the elements fhall melt with fervent "heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein "fhall be burnt up. Nevertheless, we according to "his promise look for new heavens and a new earth, "wherein dwelleth righteousness." Then follows a kingdom not marred by sin, not liable to declension
or change; a kingdom which cannot be fhaken, se cure from internal decay and external violence; a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, and which shall survive its dissolution, and having seen the sun turned into darkness and the moon into blood, fhall flow on through eternal ages.
The greater any good is which we possess, the more does it awaken our concern, and the more anxious are we to inquire after security and tenure. But here is no room for apprehension; the happiness is as certain as it is excellent, as durable as it is vaft; and the scripture never overlooks this important consideration. Is it "meat?" It" endureth to everlasting "life." Is it a "treasure?" "Moth and ruft can"not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal." Is it "a crown of glory?" It "fadeth not away." Is it a "house?" It is "a building of God, not made "with hands, eternal in the heavens." Is it a "city?" It is "a city which hath foundations, whose builder "and whose maker is God." Is it a "kingdom?" It is "everlasting."
Behold the second circumstance with regard to this blessed state. It is "the everlasting kingdom of our "LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST." And what means this relation? It is surely designed to distinguish him from a mere possessor, and to intimate peculiar prerogative, residence, administration. It is his by claim. As the Son of God he is "Heir of all "things being made so much better than the angels, "as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excel"lent name than they. For unto which of the angels "said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have
"I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a "Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, "when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the “world, he saith, And let all the angels of God wor"ship him. And of the angels he saith, Who mak"eth his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of "fire. But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O "God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom: thou hast loved "righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of "gladness above thy fellows." For under another view he acquired it as the reward of his obedience and sufferings. "For unto the angels hath he not "put in subjection the world to come, of which we "speak? But we see Jesus, who was made a little "lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, "crowned with glory and honour." "Who, being "in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be "equal with God; but made himself of no reputa ❝tion, and took upon himself the form of a servant, "and was made in the likeness of men; and being "found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and "became obedient unto death, even the death of the ૬
cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted "him, and given him a name which is above every "name; that at the name of Jesus every knee fhould
bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and "things under the earth; and that every tongue should "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of "God the Father." He has now the disposal of the offices and privileges of the empire among his faithful
followers. This was surely the idea of the dying thief, when he prayed, "Lord remember me when thou "comest into THY kingdom;" and of Paul, when he said, "and the Lord shall deliver me from every evil "work, and preserve me unto HIS heavenly king"dom." He is the Sovereign; and there he rules, not as here in the midst of his enemies." No treason, no sedition, no disaffection there. All are adoring and praising him; "Worthy is the Lamb that "was slain to receive honour, and riches, and wisdom, * and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” There he reigns immediately, always in view, and accessible to all. There he appears in our nature, the principle, the image, the pledge of our glory and happiness. He has taken possession in our name; and is preparing a place for us; and will by and by receive us to HIMSELF, that where HE is, there we may be also.
It has been often said, "that however we may dif "fer from each other, we all hope for the same heav "en." But nothing can be more false. The believ er in Jesus, who loves him above all, and places the whole of his happiness in him, he, and he alone, really desires the heaven of the Bible; a pure, spiritual, CHRISTIAN heaven, the essence of which is the presence and glory of the Redeemer. This is the heaven he demanded for all his followers; "Father, I "will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with "me where I am to behold my glory." This is the heaven Paul desired for himself; "I long to depart, "to be with Christ, which is far better." And such is the disposition of every true follower of the Lord Je BB b