« PreviousContinue »
in rags and on a dunghill
. Secondly, There is a solemn admiffion of thalaints unto this their kingdom, Come ye, inherit the kingdom. In the view of angels, men and devils, they are invelied with royalty, and folemnly inaugurated before the whole world, by Jesus Christ the heir of all things, who hath all power in heaven, and in earth. Their right to the kingdom is folemnly recognized and owned! They are admitted to it, as und ubted heirs of the kingdom, to possess ii by inheritance or lot, as the word properly fignifies; because of old, inheritances were disigned by lot, as Canaan to Ifrael, God's first-born, as they are called, Exod. iv. 22. And because this kingdom is the Father's k ngdom, therefore they are openly acknowledged in their admission to it, to be the blaffed of Christ's Father: the which blessing was given then long bof re this sentence, but is now folemnly recognized'and confirmed to them by the Mediator, in his Father's name. It is observable, he says' not, Ye blefied of the Father, but Ye blessed of my Father;'to Mew us, that all blessings are derived upon us from the Father, the fountain of blessing, as he is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we are blessed, Eph. i. 3. And finally, they are admitted to this kingdom, as that which was prepared for them from the foundation of the world, in God's eternal purpose, before thry, or any of them were; that all the world may fee eternal life to be the free gift of God.
DOCTRINE, The Saints shall be made compleatly happy in the Poliellion
of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Two things I shall here inquire into, (1.) The nature of this kingdom. (2) The admiffion of the saints thereto. And then I shall make fome practical improvement of the whole, - First, As to the nature of the kingdom of heaven, our knowledge of it is very imperfect; for "eye hath not seen, nor ear " beard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things “ which God hath prepared for them that love him.” i Cor. iige As, by familiar.resemblances, parents instruct their little children, concerning things, of which otherwise they can have no tolerable notion: fo our gracious God, in contemplation of our weakness, is pleased to represent to us heaven's happinels, under fimilitudes taken from earthly things, glorious in the eyes of men; si ce naked discoveries of the heavenly glory, divested of earth y resemblances, would be too bright for our weak eyes, and in them we would but lose ourselves. Wherefore now, one can but speak as a child of these things, which the day will fully discover.
Tie siate of glory is represented under the notion of a kingdom ; a kingdom among men, being that in which the greatest number of
carthly good things doth concen:er. Now every saint shall, as a king, inherit a kingdom. All Christ's subjects fhall be kings, each one with his crown upon his head: not that the great King Shall divest himself of his royalty, but he will make all his children partakers of bis kingdom.
1. The saints shall have kingly power and authority given them. Our Lord gives not empty ticles to his favourites; he makes them kings indeed. The dominion of the saints will be a dominion far exceeding that of tire greatest monarch ever was on earth. They will be absolute masters over sin, that sometime had dominion over them. They will have a compleat rule over their own spirits; an entire management of all their affections and inclinations, which now create them so much molestation: the turbulent root of corrupt affections shall be for ever expelled out of that kingdom, and never be able any more to give them the least disturbance. They Shall have power over the nations, the ungodly of all nations, and fall rule them with a rod of iron, Rev ii 26, 27. The whole world of the wicked shall be broken before chem: Satan shall be bruised under their feet, Rom. xvi. 20. He hall never be able to falien a temptation on them any more: bút he will be judged by them; and in their sigbt, cast with the reprobate crew into the lake of fire and brimstone. So shall the rule over their opprelfors. Having fought the good fight, and
got the vi&ory, Chris will entertain them as Joshua did his captains, causing them come near, and put their feet on the necks of kings, Josh. x. 24.
Il. They shall have the ensigns of royalty. For a throne, Chrift will grant them to fit with him on his throne, Rev.č. 12. They will be advanced to the highest honour and dignity they are capable of; and, in the enjoyment of it, they will have an eternal undisturbed re. pose, after all the toffings they meet with in the world, in their way to the throne. For a crown, they hall receive a crown of glory, that fadeth not away, 1 Pet. v. 4. Not a crown of flowers, as subjects being conquerors, or victors, sometimes have got: such a crown quickly fades, but their crown never fadeth. Not à crown of gold, such as earthly kings do wear: even a crown of gold is of en trained, and at belt can never make them happy who wear it. But it shall be a crown of glory. A crown of glory is a crown of life, (Rev. ii. 10.) that life which knows no end: a crown which death can never make to fall off one's head. It must be an abidir.g crown; for it is a crown of righteousness, 2 Tim. iv. 8. It was purchased for them by Christ's righteousness, which is imputed to them; they are qualified for it by inherent righteousness; God's righteousoess or faithfulness secures is to them. They mall have a fceptre, a rod of iron, (Rev. ii, 27.) terrible to all the wicked world. And a sword too, a two-edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance upon the hea then, and punishment upon the people, Pfal. cxlix 6,7. They fall have royal apparel. The royal robes in this kingdom are white robes,
Rev. ii. 4. They Mall walk with me in white. And these last do, in a very particular manner, point at the inconceivable glory of the state of the saints in heaven,
The Lord is pleased often to represent unto us the glorious state of the saints, under the notion of their being clothed in white garments. It is promised to the overcomer, that he shall be clothed in white raiment, Rev. iii. 5. The elders about the throne are clothed in white raiment, chap. iv. 4. The multitude before the throne are clothed with white robes, chap. vii. 9. arrayed in white robes, ver. 13. made white in the blood of the Lamb, ver. 14. I own the last two testimonies adduced, do refpeet the state of the saints on earth: but withal the terms are borrowed from the state of the church in heaven. All garments, properly so called, being badges of sin and shame, shall be laid aside by the faints, when they come to their state of glory. But if we consider on what occasions white garments were wont to be put on, we shall find much of heaven under them.
First, The Romans when they manumitted their bond-fervants, gave them a white
garment, as a badge of their freedom. So shall the saints that day get on their white robes ; for it is the day of the glorious lie berty of the children of God, (Rom. viii. 21.) the day of the redempti. on of their body, ver. 23. They shall no more see the house of bondage, nor ly any more among the pots. If we compare the state of the saints on earth with that of the wicked, it is indeed a state of freedom; wheras the other is a state of slavery : but in comparison with their ftate in heaven, it is but a fervitude. A faint on earth is indeed a young prince, and heir to the crown; but his motto 'may be, I serve, for • he differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all,” Gal. What are the
groans of a saint, the fordid and base work he is sometimes found employed in, the black and tattered garments he walks in, but badges of this comparative servitude? But
from the day the saints come to the crown, they receive their compleat freedom, and serve no more. They shall be fully freed from fin, which of all evils is the worst, both in itself, and in their apprehension too: how great then must that freedom be, when these Egyptians whom they fee to. day, they shall
see them again no more for ever? They thall be free from all temptation to sin : Satan can have no access to tempt them any more, by hijnself, nor by his agents. A full answer will then be given to that petition, they have so often 'repeated, Lead us not inte temptation. No hifling serpent can come into the paradise above: no fnare nor trap can be laid there, to catch the feet of the saints: they may walk there fearlesly, for they can be in no hazard: there are no lions dens, no mountains of the leopards, in the promised land. Nay, they shall be set beyond the possibility of firining, for they thall be confirmed in goodness. It will be the consummate freedom of their will, to be for ever unalterably determined to good. And they shall be freed from all the effctts of fin; “ There hall be no more death, neither * Corrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain," Rev.
xxi. 4: What kingdom is like unto this? Death makes its way now into a palace, as easily as into a cottage: forrow fills the heart of one who wears a crown on his head. royal robes are no fence against pain, and crying by reafon of pain. But in this kingdom no misery can have place. All reproaches shall be wiped off; and never Mall a tear drop any more froin their eyes. They shall not complain of defertions again; the Lord will never hide his face from them : but the Sun of righteousness thining upon them in his meridian-brightness, will dispel all clouds, and give them an everlasting day, without the least mixture of darkness. A deluge of wrath, after a fearful thunder-clap from the throne, will sweep away the wicked from before the judgment-seat, into the lake of fire: but they are, in the first place, like Noah brought into the ark, and out of harm's way.
Secondly, White raiment hath been a token of purity, Therefore the Lamb's wife is arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, Rev, xix. 8. And those who stood before the throne washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, chap. vii. 14: The saints shall then put on the robes of perfect purity, and shine in fpotless holinets, like the fun in his strength, without the least cloud to intercept his light. Absolute imocence shall then be reitored, and every appearance of sin banished far from his kingdom. The guilt of sin, and reigning power of it, are now taken away in the saints; nevertheless sin dwelleth in them, Rom. vii. 20. But then it shall be no more in them: the corrupt nature will be quite removed, that root of bitterness will be plucked up, and no vestiges of it left in their fouls : their nature Mall be altogether pure and finless. There shall be no darkness in their minds; but the understanding of every faint, when he is come to his kingdom, will be as a globe of pure and unmixed light. There shall not be the least averfion to good, or inclination to evil, in their wills: but they will be brought to a perfect conformity to the will of God; bleft with angelical purity, and fixed therein Their affe&tions Thall not be liable to the least disorder or irregularity: it will cost them no trouble to keep them right: they will get such a set of purity, as they can never lose. They will be so refined from all earthly drofs, as never to favour more of any thing but heaven. Were it poflible they Thould be fer again amidit the enfaring objects of an evil world, they Should walk among them without the least defilement; as the fun thrines on the dunghill, yet untainted, and as the angels preserved their purity in the midst of Sodom. Their gruces shall then be perfected; and all the imperfections now cleaving to them, done away. There will be no mort ground of complaints of weakness of
grace: nune in that kingdom ihall complain of an ill heart, or a corrupt nature. It doth not y t appear what we shall be, but--- when he fall appear, we Shall be like piim, 1 John iii. 2.
Thiruli, Among the Jews, these who desired to be admitted into the priestly office, being tried, and found to be of the priest's line, and without blemill, were clothed in white, and enrolled among the
priests. This seems to be alluded to, Rev. iii. 5. “He that over: rc cometh--the saints shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will " not blot out his name out of the book of life.” So the faints shall not be kings only, but priests withal; for they are a Royal Priesthood, 1 Pet. ii. 9. They will be priests upon their thrones. They are judicially found descended from the great High-Priest of their profeilion, begotten of him by his Spirit, of the incorruptible feed of the word, and without blemish: fo the trial being over, they are admitted to be priests in the temple above, that they may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. There is nothing upon earth more glorious than a kingdom, nothing more venerable than the priezt hoodi and both meet 'together in the glorified state of the faints. The general assembly of the first-born, (Heb. xii. 23.) whose is the priesthood and the doubl. portion, appearing in their white robes of glory, will be a reverend and glori. ous company. That day will thew them to be the persons, whom the Lord has chosen out of all the tribes of the earth, to be near unto him, and to enter into his temple, even into his holy place. Their priesthood, begun on earth, shall be brought to its perfection, while they ihall be employed in offering the sacrifice of praise to God and the Lamb, for ever and ever. They got not their portion, in the earth, with the rest of the tribes: but the Lord himself was their portion, and will be their double portion, through the ages of eternity.
Fourthly, They were wont to wear white raiment, in a time of tritmph; to the which allo there seems to be an allusion, Rev. iii. 5. “ He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment." And what is heaven but an everlasting triumph! None get thither, but such as fight, and overcome too. Though Canaan was given to the Israelites, an inheritance: they behoved to conquer it, ere they could be possessors of it. The saints, in this world, are in the field of battle; ofren in red garments, garments rolled in blood : but the day approacheth, in which they shall stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, (Rev. vii.9.) having obtained a compleat victory over all their enemies. The palin was used as a sign of victory; because that tree, oppreffed with weights, yieldeth not, but rather shooteth upwards And palm-trees were carved on the doors of the most holy place, (1 Kings vi. 32.) which was a special type of heaven; for heaven is the place, which the saints are received into, as conquerors.
Behold the joy and peace of the saints in their white robes. The joys arising from the view of past dangers, and of riches and honours gained at the very door of death, do molt sensibly touch one's heart: and this will be an ingredient in the everlasting happiness of the saints, which could have had no place, in the heaven of innocent Adam, and his finless offspring, suppoling him to have stood. Surely the glorified faints will not forget the entertainment they met with in the world : it will be for the glory of God to remember it, and also for the heightening of their joy. The Sicilian king, by, birth the son of a potter,