صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

against them, shall never destroy the meanest of their number. Greater is he that is in them, than he that is in the world, 1 John iv. 4. Let Satan and all his legions earthly or infernal attack them, they cannot be destroyed. He in whom they believe is Immanuel, God with us, and before him devils and men are as dry stubble before the whirlwind, or the devouring flame. He overcame the world, and therefore it shall not overcome them, John xvi. 33. A battle they may lose, but in the war they shall certainly be victorious. That Saviour who saves them from other enemies, will not leave them to perish by the world. All that it can do against them shall be rendered ineffectual in the issue. Its machinations may be reduced to two, viz. its flatteries and its frowns. By those it attempts to work on the believer's hopes, and by these, on his fears. In its one hand it holds the intoxicating cup of pleasure, in its other the bitter cup of pain. Such as will not receive the honey, it threatens with the worm-wood and the gall, and by these two, as by warlike engines, it destroys its thousands and its ten thousands. But from this destruction the believer is saved by the Lord Jesus Christ. All that the world can offer is too little to operate on his hopes. Its treasures and its kingdoms have not the bulk or the beauty in his eye, that the things unseen have, Heb. xi. 26. Its threatenings, in their most dreadful array, have not half the influence on him, that the word of the living God bath, And. hence believers have unreluctant been cast into the lion's den and the fiery furnace. To all this they have been strengthened by the Saviour: and though weak in themselves, made more than a match for all their enemies. As Egypt with all their united cunning, cru. elty, and strength, could not prevail against the Israelites, neither shall the world against such as are in Christ.

5thly. Such as believe in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved from death. Christ and his people have many enemies, and death is none of the least of them. But it is devoted to destruction at last, and even now

it is disarmed. It entered into the world by sin, Rom. v. 12. Sin was the wide gate by which that Trojan horse did enter in. And since that era, O what havoc has it made among mankind! Thousands and thousands it has swallowed at a meal. The first it carried off was a saint, and him it seized in a most violent manner, not waiting till the lamp of life was in the socket. Abel's blood was shed, and that by the hand of a brother. How extensive the empire of death! All that have been born have died, except two. And as if to balance that, two died, who were never born, viz. Adam and Eve. The saints in their various generations have died as well as others. Nevertheless, paradox as it seems, they are saved from death: though not from its painful stroke, yet from its poisonous sting. Death, though introduced by sin, is made subservient to believers. While it takes others by the throat, hauling them away to the infernal prison; it puts an end to the sins and sufferings, the sensible sufferings, of the saints. True, it tears soul and body asunder, but notwithstanding, the dying believer is a gainer on the whole. For though absent from the body, he is present with the Lord, 2 Cor. v. 8. Present in such a manner as he never was while in this life. And thus the soul, though it has lost, or rather left the servant for a season, the body, I mean, yet it has got the Lord and Saviour. Therefore according to the justest reckoning, for the believer to die is gain, Phil. i. 21. Death is one of the all things that are his, 1 Cor. iii. 22. He may sometimes be troubled with its fear, and often feel its pain, but never, never shall he know its sting. Christ took that away, together with the hand-writing that was against us. He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb. ix. 26. And the sting of death is sin, 1 Cor. xv. 56. While death seals up unbelievers under all their guilt and filtli, saying let him that is filthy, be filthy still, it has quite a dif ferent office in the believer's case. It finisheth transgression, makes an end of sin, and brings in everlasting righteousness. And if it make an end of sin by


[ocr errors]

introducing the believer into a sinless state, is it not evident as the light, that its sting is gone? Thus in dying, believers are saved from the sting of death.

6thly. Such as believe in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be saved from the grave. Though at death the souls of believers are made perfect in holiness, and do immediately pass into the presence of the Lord, yet their bodies lie in the grave, as so many trophies it would seem, of victorious death. Though a part, yet not the whole of the man has escaped its cold clutches. Therefore the salvation is not yet complete. Death seems to reign over the believer's dust. How universal its domain. How long has it retained its power over half the man at least! All the bodies of the saints, since Abel's blood was shed, are lying under the leaden hand of death; except Enoch, Elias, and such as arose after Christ's resurrection. Death has turned its adamantine key and locked its rusty door upon them. There they have lain thousands and thousands of years, and according to the judgment of sense, the longer their continuance in death's dominions, they are the farther from liberty; the more hopeless is their resurrection. So to raise Lazarus on the fourth day appeared more miraculous than to have done it on the first, John xi. 39. The bodies of all the former generations of saints, where are they? None but the omniscient God can say. He sees them now though dissolved into dust, and at last he will save them with an everlasting salvation. The Saviour is Lord both of the dead and living, Rom. xiv. 9. All that died in him shall at last in their whole man live with him. Death and the grave must resign their long continued captives. He uttered a creative word at first, Let there be light, and it was: Let there be a firmament, and it was. At last he will speak a resurrection-word, Arise ye dead! and they instantly shall. The sea and the earth shall give up their dead. The rusty doors of mortality shall fly open! and the saints come forth of their subterraneous chambers, where they have slept for ages. As in dying they were saved from the sting

of death, then they shall be victorious over the grave itself. The Saviour will swallow up death in victory, Isaiah xxv. 8. According to his promise of old, he will ransom his people from the power of the grave: he will redeem them from death. Trampling these mighty monarchs under foot, he will cry as in triumph, Death, I will be thy plague! O grave, I will be thy destruction! repentance shall be hid from mine eyes, Hos. xiii. 14. Thus the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death, death reigning in the grave, 1 Cor.

XV. 26.

7thly and Lastly. The salvation promised to believ ers implies a state of everlasting glory in the heavenly world. This I mention as something distinct from, and vastly superior to, all the preceding particulars, Suppose believers possessed of all these but not of this that is, that raised from the grave they returned to this world fitted for them, as paradise for innocent Adam, their condition would differ from his in one thing only, they being in a state of confirmation, whereas he was in a state of probation. But such a state would be as different from the heavenly glory, as Adam's was from that which was further promised him, having run the race of obedience that was set before him. Believers being saved from the devouring grave, shall in their whole man enter into eternal glory. So the apostle speaks, 2 Tim. ii. 10. the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory. As it is little we know, so little, very little, we can speak of this glory. We apprehend it consists chiefly in three things, viz. vision, assimilation, and enjoyment.

1st. Believers shall be honoured to see God and the Lamb. Now they believe on a word, they hear with the hearing of the ear, but then they shall see with the seeing of the eye. Here they believe God's word, but there they shall see himself. Now they trust in an unseen Saviour, then, then they shall see him face to face. With their bodily eyes they shall see a God in flesh. Not in the likeness of sinful flesh, as some of them saw him on earth, but in sinless shin

ing flesh, resplendent with the lustre of indwelling Deity. That blessed body which was formed in the virgin's womb, hung on the tree, and lay in the grave, they shall see exalted on a throne far above angels, principalities and powers, and every name that is named. They shall see for ever without interruption, for there shall be no night there, Rev. xxi. 5.

2dly. Sight shall issue in assimilation. We shall be like him, says the apostle, for we shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. Moses conversing with his Maker on the mount, got such a radiance on his face, that mortals could not look upon him when he descended. But O, what a far more exceeding and eternal weight shall result from the uninterrupted vision of God and the Lamb! The saints shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory. Gazing as with eagles' eyes on the Sun of Righteousness, they themselves shall shine. If beholding the Saviour in the glass of the word, produced such a conformity to him, certainly the naked vision of his fair, fair face, shall make us perfectly like him: as like him as children can be like a father. Light and likeness shall go hand in hand.

3dly. Believers shall be perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity. Enjoyment shall result from sight and assimilation. Sight will prompt desire, and assimilation will qualify for the enjoyment of the object desired. Every look shall be followed with ineffable love, and being assimilated to the Divine Image, they will be able to take in unutterable joys. Without a perfect conformity to God's image there can be no perfect enjoyment of him. Enjoyments must ever bear proportion to the nature and capacity of the subject. Thus the beasts that perish are incapable of rational enjoyments, and the illiterate must be strangers to the pleasures of the learned. It is only such as are partakers of the divine nature that are qualified for joys divine. Believers being at last. made perfectly like God, shall thereby be capacitated to enjoy him. O what joy to be ever receiving of the

« السابقةمتابعة »