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will acknowledge the fair company for his contracted spouse, his children, his members, even them, and every one of them.
2dly, How he will acknowledge them then. He will do it openly, most publicly and openly. Consider here,
(1.) Our Lord Jesus acknowledges all that are his, even now in this life, not only in his own breast, by looking on them as his; but before his Father, in whose presence he appears making intercession for them as his own, John xvii. 9, 10. He does it also by the testimony of his Spirit to their sonship, Rom. viii. 16; by the seal of his own image set upon them, and by many signal appearances of his providence for them.
(2.) He will then acknowledge them in a quite other and open manner, before many witnesses, so as men and devils shall be obliged to understand, that these are they whom the King on the throne delights to honour. He will do it before his Father, and the angels of heaven, Rev. iii. 5. in effect saying to his Father, 'Behold me, and the children thou hast given me. He will acknowledge them in their own hearing, and the hearing of all the world, Matth xxv. 34.
3. They shall be openly acquitted by the Lord in that day, by the sentence solemnly passed in their favour, whereby also they are adjudged to life, Matth. xxv. 34. Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Consider here,
1st. What they shall be acquitted from. They shall be acquitted from all the guilt of all their sins, and for ever discharged from all punishment for them, Acts iii. 19. The mouths of all accusers shall be finally stopt, and the white stone shall then be given in a way of eminency.
Adly, Are they not acquitted now? Yes, they are in the first moment of believing acquitted of the guilt of eternal wrath for ever, Rom. viii. 1; and on their fresh application to the blood of Christ for their after sins, they likewise are blotted out, 'Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.' And at death they get their acquittance too, Heb. ix. 27. Yet at the general judgment they are acquitted likewise.
3dly, Wherein doth their acquittance now and at that day agree and differ.
(1.) They agree, [1.] In the substance of the acquittance, which is the same now and hereafter, from the guilt of sin, and punishment thereof. [2.] In the ground of it: it proceeds in both upon the merits of Christ, Eph. i. 7. and not on works, which are brought in at the last day as evidences of their faith, not as causes of their justification.
(2.) They differ, [1.] In respect of openness. Now they are acquitted in the world, Rom. viii. 1. where yet they have much ado to read it sometimes; in their own consciences, 1 John iii. 21. which they themselves only can understand ; but then from the throne, in
, the presence of angels and men. [2.] In respect of assurance and comfort. Of the former a believer may doubt, but not of the latter. [3.] In respect of fulness. In the last day they are acquitted from all effects of sin whatsoever, their bodies being, never to die more : and joined to their souls, never to be separated more ; but not so in the former.
4thly, Why shall they be openly acknowledged and acquitted at the last day? He will do it,
(2.) To wipe off, with his own fair hand, all the foul aspersions which the hypocrites and profane did cast upon them in this world, Isa. lxvi. 5. Many a time the Lord's dearest children are made to lie among the pots, blackened with ill names, reproaches, &c. But then they shall be like doves whose wings are covered with silver, and their feathers with yellow gold.'
(2.) To give them a reward of grace, for their confessing him before the world, cleaving to his truths and ways, in the midst of an adulterous generation, and their not denying him on whatever temptations, Matth. x. 32. " Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.' Compare 2 Tim. ii. 12, 'If we deny him, he will also deny us.' The prospect of this made the martyrs cleave to him in the face of cruel deaths.
(3.) To seal the end of all their own doubts, jealousies, and fears, 1 Cor. iv. 4. Many a time it is a question with the believer, whether he belongs to Christ or not: even when he has in all sincerity embraced the covenant, yet these like so many ghosts haunt him. No doubt by that time they will all be gone, but by this acknowledgement their departure will be sealed.
(4.) For the increase of their joy, and the shame of their enemies, Isa. lxvi. v.
4. They shall be adjudged to everlasting life, and solemnly invited to enter into possession of the kingdom, Matth. xxv. 34. • Come ye,' &c. in which every word has a weight of glory.
5. Lastly, They being themselves absolved, shall be honoured to be Christ's assessors in judging the wicked, 1 Cor. vi. 1. “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?' They shall judge them by way of communion with Christ their head, this work being a part of the Mediator's honour redounding to all his members: By way of approbation of the Judge's sentence against them, saying
Amen to the doom of the wicked, even the godly parent to that of the wicked child, the holy husband to that of the unholy wife, &c. Rev. xix. 1, 3. See Rev. iii. 21.
Thirdly, We shall consider the consequents of the resurrection after the judgment. Believers shall be made perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity. Here I shall shew,
1. Wherein perfect blessedness lies.
1. I am to shew wherein perfect blessedness lies. It lies in two things.
1st, Perfect freedom from all evil whatsoever, whether of sin or misery. Thus blessed shall believers be then, perfectly free from sin, Eph. v. 27. and free from suffering any manner of way, Rev. xxi. 4.
2dly, Full satisfaction to all the desires of the soul, Phil. xvi. 11. Their desires shall be fully satisfied; they shall have that beyond which they can crave no more. For where there is any want, there can be no perfect blessedness.
2. I am to shew what shall make them thus perfectly blessed. It is the enjoyment of God. They shall have his glorious presence with them, Rev. xxi. 3. They shall see him as he is, 1 John iii. 2. the man Christ with their bodily eyes, and the invisible God with the eyes of their minds, called the beatific vision, the most perfect knowledge of God which the creature is capable of. They shall be knit to him gloriously, Rev. xxi. 3. just quoted. Love then will be at its height. And they shall enjoy him to their full happiness.
(1.) Immediately; not in the use of means and ordinances, but there they sit down at the fountain-head, Rev. xxi. 22.
(2.) Fully; God will with-hold nothing of himself from them : they shall be stinted to no measure but what their own capacity makes; and in him they shall have what will satisfy all their desires.
3. Lastly, Eternally, 1 Thess. iv. 17. “So shall we ever be with the Lord.'
I conclude this subject with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Come out now from among the wicked world. tion there will be betwixt the godly and the wicked. If it be in your favour, it will begin now.
Leave them now,
if ye would not be left with them after the resurrection.
2. Beware of rash judging those that have any lineaments of Christ's image upon them. Ye may judge and condemn the evil actions of the best of men, if ye be sure from the word that they are evil. But, O my soul! enter not into the secret of those who pre
sumptuously take upon them to judge men's state, hearts, and consciences, upon slips of human infirmity and weakness.
3. Let none be ashamed to own Christ and his truths and ways before the world, remembering that the day cometh in which he will confess those that confess him, and deny those that deny him.
4. Though the day of judgment be an awful thought, it will be a happy day to believers, as they will then be for ever delivered from all moral and penal evils, and admitted into the greatest felicity in the enjoyment of their God and Redeemer for ever.
5. That there is no true happiness till we come to the enjoyment of God, nor full happiness till we arrive at the full enjoyment of him.
6. Lastly, Miserable is now, and at the resurrection will be, the state of the wicked, where the reverse of all the happiness of the saints will be found, and that in the most dreadful manner. then all seek to be found among those who shall be partakers of the better and glorious resurrection.
OF THE DUTY WHICH GOD REQUIRETH OF MAN.
1 SAM. xv. 22.-- And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ?
Tuus text is a reproof given to one that wore a crown, teaching him, that though he was Israel's sovereign, he was God's subject. Saul had been sent, by God's express command, on an expedition against the Amalekites, with a solemn charge utterly to destroy all that they had, and spare them not; but to slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass,' ver. 3. The expedition was crowned with success. Saul having destroyed all the people, took Agag their king prisoner, and saved the best of the cattle ; and when quarrelled by Samuel for this his partial obedience to the heavenly mandate, he pretended that the people had spared the sheep and oxen, which had been devoted to destruction as well as the people, to sacrifice unto the Lord in Gilgal. The words of the text contain Samuel's answer to this silly apology: Hath the Lord (says he) as great delight in burnt-offerings and sucrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord ? importing, that obedience to the voice and will of God is more acceptable to him than all the sacrifices in the world.
In the words we may notice,
1. The duty which God requires of men, which is obedience. This is required of man, of all men, rulers and ruled : those whom others must obey, must obey God.
2. What they are to obey the voice of the Lord, whereby he manifests his will: it is his revealed will, whatever way he is pleased to notify it to them. Hence the obedience in the text is called hearkening; the soul first receiving the knowledge of God's mind, and then complying with it.
3. The excellency and eminency of this duty. (1.) God delights in it.
(2.) All other things must yield to it, but it to none. Burntofferings and sacrifices, even the fat of them, are nothing in comparison of this.
The text affords the following doctrine, viz.
I. For explanation, let us consider the duty which man owes to God, of whom he requires it, the rule of it, the properties of it, and on what accounts we owe it.
First, Let us consider the duty which man owes unto God. That is obedience. We are in a state of subjection to God. He is our superior, and his will we are to obey in all things. He is our King, and we must obey him as his subjects, by complying with all his statutes and ordinances. He is our Father, and we must shew him all respect, reverence, and affection, as his dutiful children. He is our Lord and Master, and we must yield him the most cheerful and unlimited service, as is our reasonable duty. He is our supreme Lawgiver, and we must receive the law at his mouth, every law and precept, every ordinance that is stamped with his authority, whatever is subscribed with a Thus saith the Lord,' readily obeying it.
Secondly, Let us consider of whom the Lord requires this duty. Of every man without exception, capable of knowing his will. The greatest are fast bound to his obedience as the meanest, the poor as well as the rich, Pagans as well as Christians, kings as well as subjects. No man can be free from this duty more than he can be a God to himself. Not a son or daughter sprung from Adam can plead an exemption from this duty of obeying the will of the Lord. It is an easy yoke wreathed upon the necks of all, and is imposed on them by an indispensable law.
Thirdly, Let us consider the rule of that obedience. It is the will