Изображения страниц


principally solicitous about that. This is their main interest: and they who are inwardly renewed, are effectually secured having oil in their vessels, and grace in their hearts, they need not be all their life. time, through fear of death, subject to bondage.Let what will happen, they are provided against the most sudden calamity. Should the alarm of the Bridegroom's coming be the next moment, they are safe.

But it may not be amiss to give a more particular account of this habitual readiness; because we sometimes see persons called away, without having an opportunity of giving their dying testimony to the truth of grace, concerning whom we have, nevertheless, no doubt of their being born again, and heirs of the kingdom.

Those, then, may be considered as having a work of grace upon their hearts, who have been effectually called. The foolish virgins had the external call: the Gospel came to them, as well as to the others; but, then, it came in word only hearing, they heard, but did not understand. Whereas to the wise it came, not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.— "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past, ye walked, according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom we all had our conversation in time past, in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind: but God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with

Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."

And being thus effectually called by the word, they are justified by his grace-that is, they are delivered from hell, and have a title to heaven. By sin they had forfeited their claim to eternal life, and had incurred the sentence of death: but Christ redeemed them from the curse of the law, being made a curse for them: he magnified the law, and made it honourable he came and preached deliverance to the captives: and then, leading them by the hand, and adorning them with the robe of his righteousness, he presents them to his Father as the purchase of his death: the Father of mercies smiles; embraces them; and declares them accepted in the Beloved.

Nor is this all: they are also sanctified by the Spirit. And this was as necessary as either of the former. As we just now observed, they were by nature children of disobedience, and children of wrath, even as others. Sin had the dominion in them, and over them: they loved it as dearly, and indulged it as freely, as the rest. But when Christ called them, he called them, not to uncleanness, but to holiness: he opened a fountain for sin and for uncleanness; and presents them to himself not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Not that the work of sanctification is complete in this life: we have frequent and melancholy instances to the contrary: the best are sanctified but in part: but so far is true of all real saints, that they "hate every false way;" that there is no sin but what they had a thousand times rather part with than keep :

[ocr errors]

and no command but what they had a thousand times rather keep than disobey.

If any thing need be added to this, it is, that they persevere herein to the end. They keep up to their first engagements. They do not, as many do, leave all in the first heat of their religious zeal, to follow Christ, and upon second thoughts step back to fetch such a thing, and by and by, another thing; and a day or two hence, another: and so on, till they have got all their old things about them again, and are become as carnal and sensual as ever. No: having put their hands to the plough, they will not so much as look back; but, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth to the things which are before, they press towards the mark.

This is habitual readiness: and the soul that is thus ready, may die safely at any time.

But besides this habitual readiness, there is also, 2. An actual readiness.

When the lamp is not quite out, it may burn exceeding faint and dull, for want of trimming. Even those among us that fear the Lord, and obey the voice of his servant, may yet walk in darkness and see no light. Inherent grace is not a selfenlightening principle; but like the moon, which gives light no longer than while the sun is shining upon it. When gracious souls, therefore, have notice of their Lord's coming, they endeavour to put themselves in the best posture to receive him. They bestir themselves, and pray earnestly to the Father of lights to shine upon his own work, and that in. his light they may see light; that he would cause the north wind to awake, and the south wind to come and blow upon their spices, that the fragrance

of their graces may entertain their Beloved. They lay aside every weight, and disengage themselves as much as possible from worldly affections and incumbrances: they gird up the loins of their minds, that they may be ready to set out at a moment's warning. They are sober - abstaining from inordinate cares and inordinate pleasures, and every thing that would entangle or intoxicate them, and so unfit them for the serious work before them. They are vigilant-always wakeful; “ looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." They are vigilant too, that none of those numerous enemies, with which they are surrounded, may gain any advantage over them : and, fully sensible that all their caution is too little, they watch unto prayer, and

, put themselves under the Divine guidance and guardianship; and pray, that when they walk through the valley of the shadow of death they may have nothing to fear; that they may have his presence with them, and his rod and staff to support and comfort them. And so, with their loins girded about, and their lights burning, they wait for their Lord, that, whenever he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Let us inquire,

II. What is implied in the saints' entering in with Christ' to the marriage.

And here we cannot order our speech, by reason of darkness; for “eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what God hath laid up for them that love him.” There is a vail, that hides the holy of holies from the sight of curious and prying mortals : now and then it hath been drawn a little aside, and


[ocr errors]



· [Serm

highly-favoured souls have had a hasty glimpse of things unutterable; but we must content ourselves with what God hath thought. proper to reveal in his word: and well enough we may, for there is enough there to excite astonishment and joy. “ Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!” And the heirs of glory have often entertained themselves with walking about Zion, marking well her bulwarks, counting all her palaces, and admiring the security and grandeur of their future residence. We soon lose ourselves in general surveys, "and therefore I always choose as much as possible to keep my eye fixed on the particular spot which my text, whatever it be, directs to. Our present subject leads us to consider heaven as the mar-riage supper of the Lamb. They that were ready, went in with him to the marriage.” Particulars might be easily multiplied : indeed, we are so fond of talking of our own riches and honours, that it is no easy matter to keep within - bounds.

The more we think of the subject before us, the more we are amazed. We read the passage over and over again, as if we could not believe our own eyes; as if we were afraid to accept what God hath condescended to offer.-Two circumstances only I shall take notice of. · 1. They shall enter into the nearest relation to Christ.

Here, the contract is made. - The Lord Jesus sends his ambassadors with his proposals, which he by his Spirit secretly and sweetly inclines and enables us to consent to. He says,


" And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in rightecusness, and in judgment, and in lov

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »