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had more than heart could wish, the righteous were poor, and oppressed, and aflicted; plagued every morning, and chastened every moment. were ready to ask, If they are his, why are they thus ? You were so perplexed at the strangeness of his providence, that your feet were almost gone, and your steps had well nigh slipped. But even then, he told you that his ways are not our ways; he told you that his people were under an economy, a very small part of which falls within your inspection; he told you that the dispensations you complained of were not yet terminated : he said, “ Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come."-But here is the full
Look at them NOW. All that was darkness, is now illuminated; all that appeared disorderly, is now arranged: all that seemed evil, is now acknowledged good. Now we have the clue, and the difficulties are loosened. Now we have the end, and this justifies the means. We now see by what his dispensations towards them were regulated, and in what they have resulted. They were chastened of the Lord, that they might not be condemned with the world. The trial of their faith was much more precious than that of gold that perisheth, because it was to be found unto praise, and glory, and honour, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. The light afflictions which were but for a moment, have worked out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. They "themselves are more than satisfied. They acknowledge that he hath dealt well with his servants. They exclaim, He hath done all things well.
6 Marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are all thy ways, O thou King of saints."
Behold the GLORIFIED Christian, and see the justification of his choice. Here, his fellow-creatures despised him, or affected to pity. If they allowed him to be sincere, they reproached him as weak, and considered his life a system of restraints, and privations, and sacrifices. Even then wisdom was justified of all her children. Even then they were conscious that reason itself bore them out in their preference. Even then they were not ashamed of their self-denial or sufferings, for they knew whom they had believed ; and were persuaded that he was able to keep that which they had committed unto him against that day. Even then they rejoiced in the testimony of their consciences, and the secret smiles and whispers of their Lord and Saviour. But the world knew them not. They were princes in disguise. Their titles were refused, and their honours and riches were turned to scorn.
And they bore this with firmness and patience for they saw that their day was coming. And lo! now it is arrived. Now they shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Now is the manifestation of the sons of God. Now their enemies return and discern between the righteous and the wicked; between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not. And 0! how changed their sentiments and their language now.
“ We fools counted their life madness, and their end to be without honour! How are they numbered with the saints, and their lot is among the children of God."
Contemplate him WHERE he is, and inquire whether you will be a partaker of the same blessedness. Is it not astonishing that you can put such a question from you, as if it was the greatest impertinence, from
week to week, from year to year, though in the midst of life you are in death, and after death is the judgment?
And is it not strange that others can remain in a state of indecision, with only such a peradventure as this to support their peace-Perhaps I am in the way to heaven, and perhaps I am in the way to hell! What is your real condition with regard to that eternity, on the verge of which you are? Have you a title to glory? This results from relationship: “ If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." Have you any meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light ? Without this you cannot see the kingdom of God, not only for want of permission, but for want of capacity. Threatenings are not necessary to exclude your disposition bars you out. The excellency of the state cannot make you happy without an adaptation to it: your contrariety of temper and taste would make you miserable. “God has wrought us,” says the Apostle, “ for the self-same thing." Has he done this for you? Have you any thing in you that is congenial with heaven? Heaven is a holy place. Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? It consists in the presence and adoration of Christ. Are you at home now when you are saying, “ Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, be glory and dominion?” There, all religious distinctions will be done away; and the question will be, not where you have worshipped, but only how. Can you now rise above a party and say, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity?" Many of you
do not hope for heaven; do not desire it. You cannot hope for it, you cannot desire it, unless you can love and enjoy its ingredients now.
Let the CONTEMPLATION bring you "upon your knees, and be this your prayer : “ Remember me, O Lord, with the favour thou bearest unto thy people; O visit me with thy salvation, that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, and glory with thine inheritance." O! how shall I plead with you for this purpose ? By what motives can I urge you to make it your immediate and prevailing concern ?
Need I remind you of the importance of the object ?—Glory! Honour! Immortality. An eternity, an infinity of blessedness!
Need you be told that it is placed within your attainment—that you are allowed, invited, commanded to seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness, with an assurance of success ? And if you perish, what an aggravation of your misery will this produce! When an event is unavoidable, you may lament, but you feel no self-reproach. When you suffer innocently, conscience even commends you ; you feel a little of the spirit of a martyr; you claim on your side a God of judgment, and believe that in due time he will appear on your behalf. But here you will be speechless. You will feel that you have destroyed yourselves. Your misery will be your greatest sin. Every mouth will be stopped ; and you will be found guilty before God. Guilty of what? Of transgressing his law. Yes but still more of neglecting so great salvation, of rejecting the counsel of God against yourselves, and judging yourselves unworthy of everlasting life.
And allow me to ask, for what is it that you are determined to sacrifice this attainable and infinite boon? Are you not spending your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? You condemn the folly of Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birth-right. You reproach Adam and Eve, who lost the garden of Eden for a taste of the forbidden tree. But you are making a far worse, a far viler exchange. You are sacrificing all the glory of God and the Lamb—I again ask for what? You would be losers if you gained the whole world. But are you gaining empires ? provinces ? estates ? Are you gaining reputation ? The esteem of the wise and good ? Health? Peace of mind? Support in trouble? Freedom from fear? Sin ought to yield you much, for it will cost you dear. But the way of transgressors is hard. There is no peace to the wicked. When you lie down in sorrow, how will you answer the question, “ What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? for the end of these things is death." Remember also the alternative.
For missing this, there is nothing but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversary. If you are not with the sheep at the right hand, you must be with the goats at the left. If you hear not the sentence, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” you must hear the doom, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
Lastly. Let us Look and hail those who can make the prospect their own. We talk of happiness! Can any thing equal the state of those who can humbly and confidently say, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom also we have access by faith into this grace