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and honour, and glory, and blessing." And there shall he reside, unseen by mortal eye, until the blast of the archangel's trumpet shall announce the consummation of all things. And what, my Christian brethren, should be the result of the Redeemer's departure and separation from us? Why, that we in our spirits, while here, should wend our way to him, and repose the love o our heart upon the place, and mode, and scenes where he resides. Hear th. voice which comes to you now with mighty, and almost overwhelming power "If then ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your lives are hid with Christ in Goa. When Christ, who is your life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." Brethren, this day I call upon you to arise; and let every true Christian also call upon his spirit to arise: "Arise and depart, this is not your rest: it is polluted."
"Rise my soul and stretch thy wings,
To heaven thy native place.
Rise, my soul, and haste away,
To seats prepared above."
But again, you will observe, while the Redeemer taught his disciples to anticipate an event of speedy separation, he taught them also to anticipate an event of ultimate re-union. "I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." The apostles were distinctly taught, that although, for a season, they were to be separated from their Lord, there was to be a meeting again in circumstances of gladness and of joy. There are some, we are aware, by whom the promise is confined to the apostles alone. But we have abundant reason for extending it to others, as it comprehends all those who believe on the Saviour through their words in every age of time: the same destination shall be their's and the same happiness shall be their's. There are two facts connected with this ultimate meeting to which your attention must now be addressed.
You will observe all the followers of the Saviour shall be brought to "the Father's kingdom." This is one fact which is clearly and distinctly promised. By" the Father's kingdom," there are some who understand nothing more than the Gospel dispensation, as it was to be established after the resurrection of the Saviour from the dead, and by the outpouring of the Spirit. We may object to this interpretation, that the Gospel dispensation is not "the kingdom of the Father," but that it is "the kingdom of the Son:" and further, that in the language of Scripture in the New Testament, the phrase "kingdom of the Father," is presented to us as being emphatically and distinctly the heavenly world. There are two examples contained in the Gospel from which we now address you. The one example we find in the conclusion of the parable of the tares. You will there remark that the Saviour sets forth the time of everlasting destiny, at the conclusion of the world. "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire;
there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forta as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." And again, we remark, how the Saviour speaks of the final welcome to be pronounced on the blessed: the invitation is, "Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you"-doubtless by him for you" from the foundation of the world:" and the righteous shall enter into" life eternal." It will be therefore observed, without further argumentation, that we have good ground for considering, that when the Saviour speaks of " the Father's kingdom," he means the celestial world.
Without detaining you by noticing the reasons particularly, on account of which the heavenly world is presented to us as the Father's kingdom, I would proceed to remark, that the mediation of the Lord Jesus Christ, of which the paschal rite is to be regarded as a permanent and a symbolical pledge, is of such a nature as to secure that all those who have possessed a personal interest in that mediatorial work shall be brought into a state of glorious redemption in the bright worlds which lie beyond the grave. The atonement which the Saviour offered on the cross, and the intercession which the Saviour is constantly presenting before the throne-these, brethren, are the doctrines to which we advert, and on which we implicitly rely, as containing within them the certainty, that the Saviour will redeem " to the uttermost" all who come to God by him. Every saint who dies in Jesus dies to enter into "the kingdom of the Father:" and all saints, whatever be their differences of colour, or of time, or of nation, or of language, or of rank, at the appointed period, which has been determined in the counsels of eternity, shall be made to stand in one vast contemporaneous throng, without one being wanting, for the purpose of receiving the palms of victory and wearing the crowns of glory which shall never fade away. We bring you to the foundation, and we lay as it were, that foundation bare; and pointing you now to the atonement of the cross, which it is the great object of this discourse to exhibit, connected with the subsequent parting of the Saviour, to plead the merits of that cross before the heavenly Father, we tell you that we believe that, as atonement has been offered for you, it is a matter of firm and unalterable necessity that there shall be a final glorious assemblage of all who have believed in Christ in the kingdom of the Father. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." It is thus, my brethren-we state the fact on the Redeemer's promise-that his followers at last shall be made the inhabitants and the possessors of the Father's kingdom.
The other statement connected with this, and arising from the words of the Redeemer, is, that in the kingdom of the Father the followers of the Saviour shall possess unspeakable and everlasting joy: "I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." Here is the symbol of the pleasures to which we
advert. It must be understood, of course, that in the kingdom of the Father there grow no vines, with their clusters of purple grapes, and that there is no hand to press the juice into the chalice, and which is to be taken by those who have been received into the joys of that eternal paradise. The language must be regarded as one of those beautiful figures by which things spiritual are illustrated by referring to things corporeal and temporary. When the Saviour speaks of drinking wine new with his followers in the Father's kingdom, he means to say, that there they shall possess the actual fruition of all the blessings of which the rite was the symbol and the type: and that the mental pleasures which are enjoyed by his followers here, by receiving the tokens of his dying love, shall be brought out in futurity into such a state of perfection and extacy, that they shall be considered as perfectly new; and that newness at the same time be regarded as denoting their permanence; that the pleasures there perfected and refined, shall be made by them to be their possessors, without a change. They are to possess the fulness of joy, at the right hand of God, and pleasures for evermore.
You will observe, that the pleasures which are to be enjoyed by the followers of the Saviour, in the Father's kingdom, are especially to be regarded as associated with his presence. The grand promise which shall include all other promises the grand enjoyment, which comprehends within it all other enjoyments-is, that there the followers of the Saviour are to enjoy communion with him "until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom;" all the expressions signifying the most intimate, familiar, and affectionate intercourse which mind can hold with mind.
It is most interesting to observe, in the promises of the New Testament, how pre-eminently the presence of Christ, without any additional illustration whatever, is presented as constituting the happiness of the celestial world. Take a few examples which occur. Said the Saviour, in John, xii. 26, " If any man will serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be." In John, xiv. he says, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." Again, in his intercessory prayer: "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me : for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." The Apostle of the Gentiles says, "We are confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord (for we walk by faith, not by sight): we are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord." How beautiful is the anticipation which he expresses with regard to himself as constituting the very sum of his eternal felicity:
According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you."
My Christian brethren, let us fix our one scrious contemplation on this solitary application-that in heaven, the kingdom of the Father, we are to have near, intimate, and affectionate communion with Christ. Because Christ is there, all sin must be destroyed: because Christ is there, all adversaries must be chased away: because Christ is there, all sorrow must be terminated and expelled: because Christ is there, all happiness must be secured, and every treasure and every honour must be bestowed upon the adorned and crowned heads of those whom he has bought with his blood. Blessed Jesus! we want nought besides, except the fulfilment of thy promise, that thou shouldst take the wine of the kingdom, new with us, in the kingdom of the Father. Grant us this, and all then is comprehended and is safe-safe in life, and in deathsafe and happy throughout the ages of eternity. Here is the very climax of the Christian hope, and the very well-spring of the Christian joy: and so shall we be for ever with the Lord.
There are two remarks which must terminate this address, and I cannot terminate it without briefly presenting them.
First: how vast and how wonderful is the love of Christ to men! Brethren, go through the mystery of godliness, and stop, if you can, in the successive stages of its development, for the purpose of beholding the wonder of love. He who was "in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him 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 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 should 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." But, brethren, go not to-day to the scenes of his exaltation, but go to the scenes of his humiliation and death. Go to Gethsemane, where his very sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Go to the judgment-hall, and see him spit upon, and buffetted, and smitten with the palms of the hand. Go to Calvary, and see him stretched between two thieves, himself in the centre as the very vilest of them all. Hear the cry of his mysterious destitution" My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And listen to him again in pronouncing these last words at once of suffering and of victory"It is finished!" and see him bow his head, and give up the ghost. My brethren, here is the very mount and summit of infinite and eternal love. O, who will not acknowledge it ?-and who will not prize it ?—and who will not especially pray, that, being strengthened with might in the inner man, he may be rooted and grounded in love, and so be "able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that he may be filled with all the fulness of God?"
And then, finally, observe the vast importance of being numbered amongst the followers of Christ yourselves. My brethren, you have often been told that except ye be numbered amongst the followers of Jesus Christ, by faith in his atoning blood, it is impossible for you finally and everlastingly to be saved. The destinies of heaven, then, or of hell, are suspended upon the inquiry whether you are the followers of the Lord Jesus Christ If, my brethren mys
terious splendour were suddenly to fill the house where we are assembled; and if, as in the time of the apostle Paul, a light far greater than the light of the sun, were to cast its radiance amongst us, and there, in embodied glory, were to be seen for a moment the separated Redeemer; and if he were to ask the solemn inquiry, from each one now in his presence, "Lovest thou me ?— lovest thou me? what would be the reply? There are some who can answer with the apostle at once, " Yea, Lord; thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." But how many are there with regard to whom it must be feared the answer would be, "No, we love thee not!" My fellow sinners, I pray you for one moment to pause. Jesus is now speaking by these elements of bread and wine now before you, and of which his people are now about to partake. He speaks by his ministry and his written word; and he tells you that if you depart beyond the scenes of the temporary probation of this world, without having been numbered amongst those who follow him in the spirit of repentance and faith, there is a period when the sentence will be pronounced of separation, never, never to be closed. You shall meet Jesus: but how? Upon his judgment throne-not as the Lamb, but as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah ;' and in place of hearing those accents of infinite mercy, "Enter into the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world," all the sounds of his voice will be still, and in place will reverberate the mighty and the overwhelming thunder" Depart !"—and it is He who would have been the Saviour who speaks it--" Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." The cup shall be taken-but it is the cup of wrath and of indignation; and the fallen spirit will drink it to the dregs: and it will rankle, and burn, and scorch in his veins, as a living, immortal poison, in order to fulfil the annunciation of "fiery indignation" against them who refuse him, who was able to save to the uttermost.
My dear friends, pardon me-if it require an apology, for earnestness and for prolonged importunity: but what we want is, that none amongst you should be lost in hell, but that all should be exalted to the enjoyment of the Father's kingdom. May the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, who supplies his place in this lower world, now render his mightiest influences, and cause you all to feel the attraction of the cross of Calvary! Amen.