« FöregåendeFortsätt »
How can I stand,' the Christian says, in the midst of melting elements and dissolving worlds ? or how can I endure the noise of the passing heavens; or retain the least composure, when all around is one general tumult?' It is this universal crash of nature that unnerves the spirit. Let it, however, be recollected, that the first work the Lord will perform on that great day, is to change the bodies of his people; and thus to assure them, before this general dissolution, that He is coming as their Friend, and their Redeemer.
How strikingly is this stated by St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians! “Now, this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep; but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” Here you observe, that, as the trumpet sounds, it is said “we shall be changed;" even “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye."
So in the Epistle to the Thessalonians: " For this we say unto you, by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we, which are alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall be ever with the Lord.” That is to say, the saints on earth when our Lord shall come will be immediately transported to a place of safety. Whilst the fire of God is about to dissolve the carth, and the elements are ready to melt with fervent heat, the followers of Christ are caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air. They are “ with him,” far above the terrors of the scene, in the full possession of the favor and protection of the Lord.
This consideration may at once dissipate the fears of the timid Christian; for well may he say, Why should I fear the trumpet's sound, when that sound is to change my vile body, that it may be like to His glorious body? No rather I may rejoice, yea, greatly rejoice. For, if one who, at the season of repose, had retired to
his uneasy couch weak and feeble, the subject of disease and racking agony, would rejoice at the dawn of day to perceive his pain and debility removed, even if this healthy state should continue but for a short period; how much greater joy may fill his heart who sees that this corruptible is about to put on incorruption, and this mortal to put on immortality! The trumpet's sound will indeed be a joyful sound to him.
I mention this first privilege, also, to remove an error, into which Christians sometimes íall. Their ideas are so entirely spiritual, that, in contemplating their future blessedness, they detach from their thoughts all respect for the body. They are apt to say, “As to my body, I care not what becomes of this: when I depart, my spirit will be with the Lord; and this is all my desire.' My beloved friends, however spiritual this may appear, it is not so scriptural. Let it be recollected, that, although our bodies, in their present fallen state, are a hindrance to the soul, they will be otherwise in their glorified state. As it has been well observed, when God first created man, he gave him a body: when he specially honored Enoch and Elijah, he took them body and soul to heaven: and when the heavenly gates were opened to admit the King of Glory, it was not as an unclothed spirit he passed the celestial portals; it was as one arrayed in a body like our own. Nor, my friends, will the happiness of his children be fully complete, till, like their risen Saviour, their souls are reunited to their glorified bodies, and, thus reunited, be “ forever with their Lord.”
This was the hope of the pious patriarch Job. “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, and minc eyes shall behold, and not another.” This, again, was the consoling promise addressed to the church by the Prophet Isaiah:-" Thy dead men shall live: together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is the dew of herbs; and the carth shall cast out the dead." It is for this, also, that “the whole creation groans and travails in pain; waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body."
This blessedness, the friends of Christ may say, shall be ours, at his coming; for then “ he will change our vile body, and fashion it like to his own glorious body."
Another event, which may make his Advent desirable to his friends, is, that at that day, as their bodies, so their spirits will be like his.
This delightful truth is declared by St. John: “We know not yet what we shall be"-as if he would say, It is vain to speculate upon the details of our existence when the end comes 266 but this we know, that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." That this likeness refers to the inner man is clear from the declaration which follows: “ And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” That is, every one, who has a hope of being conformed to the Saviour at his coming, is now seeking after this inward purity; for as hope is made up of desire and expectation, whatever we really desire at a future period, we wish, as far as possible, to attain at present. Every one, therefore, who has a hope of conformity to the Saviour at a future time, is now desiring some traits of this resemblance; “to be pure as he is pure.”
At His coming then, my beloved brethren, St. John declares, we shall be like him;" or, that “the mind which is in Christ Jesus” will then be in you: you will be completely restored to his image in righteousness and true holiness.
That you may delight yourself a little in this blessed privilege, let me remind you of some of the characteristic graces of the Lord Jesus Christ which are so peculiarly excellent.
You well remember His meekness. — These were his words: “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls." rit was in entire accordance with this memorable saying. No pride, no self will, appeared in the lowly Jesus. Though " He was in the form of Cod, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, he made himself of no reputation, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men." His whole life was a life of meekness. He commenced his ministry with these words: “ Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." The closed his mediatorial office on earth by steps of increasing humility: he first washed the feet of his disciples; he then passed through the gate, bearing his cross; and, finally, was nailed to the accursed tree.
You recollect also His wisdom.-Although his adversaries pursued him with the greatest keenness and subtlety, they never
could entangle him. He confounded them at one time with his words; at another by his silence. Wisdom dwelt upon his lips, and manifested itself in bis whole life.
His goodness also remains in your memory.-Oh, what goodness filled his soul, when, having, as the Son of God, left the bosom of his Father to tabernacle with men, he repeated these words; “ But I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how am I straightened till it be accomplished!" Under the Law, the priests to be fully qualified for their office, were thrice baptized, or sprinkled; first with water, then with oil; and, finally, with blood. He had alrcady been baptized with water, by John, in the river Jordan. He had also been baptized with oil, by the descent of the Holy Ghost anointing him with the oil of gladness.” There still remained the baptism of blood; but it was to be blood of a very different kind to that with which the Levitical priests were sprinkled: it was to be with his own most precious blood. But such was the goodness which filled his soul, such his desire to make sinners like us eternally happy, that, so far from shrinking from this baptism, he was 6 straightened till it was accomplished"—till " by his own offering, he had obtained eternal redemption for us.” My beloved friends, there is an ineffable pleasure in beholding the munificent bounty of the Lord Jesus Christ; in dwelling upon that part of his history which leads us to say, with the prophet, " How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!"
There are, however, other graces yet to admire: such as His holiness.—Follow him into whatever society you may; trace his steps in his public ministry, or in his private intercourse with his disciples; you ever see them the “Holy” Jesus, the “ Lamb of God, without spot and without blemish,” “ harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” That which you see in Him, at His coming you will feel in yourselves. Those graces which you have often admired, but which you have been deeply convinced you were far from possessing, will then dwell in you, in all their beauty. Your spirit will be meek and lowly: the loftiness of pride, the obliquities of envy, the bitterness of selfishness, will have passed away. Your soul will be like a sea of glass,—solid, transparent purity; never ruffled, never disturbed, never defiled; but like the spirit of Jesus, when in perfect meekness he said, “ Not my will, but thine, be done.” Your mind also will in its measure be like lis, full of wisdom; and your heart as His heart,
full of love and goodness, expanding with delightful complacency and perfect benevolence through the regions of boundless space.
Ah! my friends, there are happy seasons in a Christian's life, in which the sin that is in him is laid asleep, and in which the new nature, active by the power of the Holy Ghost, realizes in a degree what St. John says; "He that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in hiro." A coal from the altar has touched his lips, and his spirit burns with a portion of seraphic love.When the Saviour comes, this will be your never-varying state. Love will be your constant inmate; love in unceasing exercise, without abatement and without alloy. — How delightsul will this be! When we would refresh ourselves with a subject of holy pleasure, we fix upon the love of Christ; we survey “its breadth, its length, and depth, and height;" we think of him as he is described, with a love “which passeth knowledge.” Such, in your measure, will your state be when " He appears;" your love will have no bounds.
Like him, also, you will be holy. That crystal stream, which flows from the throne of God and the Lamb, has filled your souls with perfect purity. Or, rather, the Sun of Righteoueness, now appearing in his meridian splendor, has shined upon you. His glorious rays have entered the inner man, and have transformed you into his likeness. You are completely renewed in knowledge and true holiness.
Such, my beloved brethren, are some of the objects of desire to his friends in the Saviour's Advent. There are others which I must postpone till a future season. In the interim, let that which has been spoken lead us to inquire, Are we the friends of Jesus? For it is of the privileges of his friends I have been speaking. “We,” says the apostle, referring to the true followers of Christ, 6 have our conversation in heaven; from whence, also, we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." This is our expectation: we are waiting for his appearing: for there is a union between us; we are one with Christ; we are united to him by a living faith. Are you
then the friends of Jesus? They cannot be more accurately described than in this chapter: “ We are the circumcision, who worship God in the spirit, who rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” What things were gain to me, these I counted loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count