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This is one of these glorious promises by which he encourages them to own him, and to endure with him now—Matt. x. 32, “Whosoever, therefore, shall confess me before men, him will I also confess before my Father which is in heaven.” To the same purpose does he speak in Revelation iii. 4, “ Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy. And I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." They are likewise to have the high honour of being a kind of assessors with Christ in the judgment which he will pass on the wicked world of men and angels, in respect of their giving their hearty amen to the sentence. Hence is what we have in 1 Corinthians vi. 2, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world ? Know ye not that we shall judge angels ?" But who can conceive what honours and dignities are included in various other things which the Redeemer promises unto them, while he speaks of making them kings, giving them crowns of glory, and granting them to sit with him on his throue ! Revelation iii. 21, “ Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
2. It comprehends perfection in holiness. “There shall in no wise enter” into the heavenly kingdom “any thing that defileth.” While, therefore, Christ promises to give this kingdom unto his faithful followers, it implies that he will make them completely ready for it. Hence we have that description of them as being made perfectly holy. Rev. vii. 13, “What are these who are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have vashed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God.” While in the present world, they are lying “among the pots," but they "shall appear as the wings of a dove, covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.” The sam of their holiness will just consist in their being made like unto Christ; and this is what they have all ground to hope for. 1 John iii. 2, “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be : but we know that; when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
3. It comprehends inexpressible happiness. The human nature of Christ is in possession of the most inconceivable happiness in the enjoyment and presence of his Father, in whose presence “there is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore." All this his followers are to be put in possession of; accordingly, he tells them, that he will say unto them, as in Matthew xxv. 21, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord,” i.e., into the joy which thy Lord himself possesses. A great variety of expressions are employed in Scripture to bold forth the unspeakable nature of this happiness. It is set forth by their "entering the king's palace," " dwelling in God's house," having “God dwelling among them," " seeing God's face,” “ beholding the glory of Christ," "bungering no more, and thirsting no more," being "led to living fountains of water," and "God wiping away all tears
from their eyes." Among other expressions of it, our Lord sets it forth in the verse which follows the text, by their feasting at the same table with him. "I appoint unto you a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.”
Branch 2. Of the certainty of this reward, according as this is intimated in the expression, “I appoint unto you a kingdom.”
1. It was appointed for them in the eternal love-purpose of God. This is the ground of the Apostle's thanksgiving. Ephs. i. 3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.” To the same purpose, 2 Thes, ii. 18, “We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren, beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth.” This makes the possession of the kingdom of God absolutely sure to those who continue with Christ in his temptation,” for “the purposes of the Lord endure for ever, and the thoughts of his heart to all generations.” Accordingly, when Christ is at last to put his followers in the possession of the kingdom, by that blessed sentence which he is to pronounce upon them, in the judgment of the great day, he will, as matter of high consolation, remind them of this eternal appointment of his Father. Matthew xxv. 41, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you”-i.e., in his eternal counsels and purposes—" before the foundation of the world.”
2. It is appointed for them in the promises of the everlasting covenant. "This," says the Apostle John, “is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.” And eternal life is just the same with the kingdom in the text. There are many exceeding great and precious promises to this purpose, on which we cannot dwell. The sum of them is what our Lord says for the encouragement of those that continue with him in Luke xii. 32, “ Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Now these promises are surer than heaven or earth. They are the promises of a sworn covenant. “Once have I sworn by my holiness, that I will not lie unto David.” They are the promises of him with whom it is impossible to lie.”
3. This kingdom is appointed by Christ's Testament. The words, according to the original, may be read, “I dispone to you by way of testament.” Christ, the blessed Friend, Brother, Father, and Husband of his people, made bis testament before he died. And what is contained in this Testament? Just all the blessings of that covenant of which you have been hearing. All the promises of it he has turned into so many legacies. He died to confirm this testament. He ratified it by the shedding of his blood. And for the confirmation of the faith of his people, he gives them the seal of it in the Sacrament of the Supper. This
cup," says he, “is the New Testament in my blood." His death, therefore, rendered his testament absolutely sure. Thus the Apostle reasons, Heb. ix. 16, “Where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator; for a testa
ment is of force after men are dead.'' But as our glorious Redeeme died to ratify his testament, so he is now alive, and will live for ever, as the glorious executor of it. Every thing is here, then, which can make sure as to his followers coming to the possession of the kingdom. What more security could be desired, or even conceived ? Legatees among men are satisfied of the firmness of a testament, that it can neither be revoked nor altered, in consequence of the death of the testator. But here there is not only the death of the Testator, but his everlasting life, in the character of the executor of his own testament. Therefore does he address all his followers in these most comfortable words, “ Fear not, I am be that liveth, and was dead; and behold, I am alive for evermore."
1. Those who are endeavouring to continue with Christ, in respect of faithfully adhering to his cause, in the present time, have no reason to stumble at the temptations which they are meeting with. They are such as have been experienced in many former periods by the faithful followers of Christ. There is not one of them to which you are exposed for owning the cause of the Redeemer, which they had not to encounter. We may therefore address you in the words of the Apostle, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." You are only going " forth by the footsteps of your flock." You may see yourselves a compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses," who, in the ages before yo!ı, had a similar race of temptations, difficulties, and trials to mind, because of their faithfulness to Christ; yea, the temptations you are meeting with are scarcely to be mentioned in comparison of what many of them had to endure. If it is true, in some respects, that we have suffered " the spoiling of goods ;" yet we have not been called to endure “bonds and imprisonments," far less have we "yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." Beware, then, of murmuring and complaining, or giving way to spiritual fainting and discouragement, under any small hardships you may be suffering, for continuing "with Christ in his temptations." “Rejoice in as much as you are partakers of his sufferings, t at when his glory is revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy."
2. We may see what ought to be accounted no small source of consolation under these temptations which have to be endured in the way of continuing with Christ. It onght to be so, that he accounts them his temptations. It is, certainly, highly honourable to suffer in Christ's company, to suffer in his cause, to snffer with him. Every one of these sufferings for him, which his followers endure in his cause, he accounts his own, and will deal with the instruments of them accordingly. It is long since he said from heaven, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me." "In all the afflictions of his followers, he is aftlicted,” and has a sympathy with them, as one who has “a fellow feeling of their infirmities."
3. We may see some things which it concerns those who, by their -profession, are continuing with Christ, to make sure of. It highly
concerns you to make sure of it, that you have been really brought to hin by efectual calling, -that you have embraced his cause from knowledge and faith, founded on the word, so as that you can say with Peter, “ we believe and are sure.”' Without these things in some degree, you may hang for a while in a professed adherence to Christ; but as he will not own any appearances you make for him, so you are in the greatest danger, some time or other, of going back, and walking no more with him.”
4. We may see that it is no just ground for being offended at Christ's cause, that few do “ continue with him” in respect of a faithful adherence to it. It has been so in many past periods of the Church. It was so during the time that himself was on the earth. “ Ye are they," said he to his disciples, “ who have continued with me in my tenintation.” And how few were they? The greater part, in tho present time, judge of Christ's cause just in the same way that the Jews did then ; and therefore they deny it, oppose it, or are entirely indiferent about it. “Have any of the rulers of the Jews,” said they, * or of the Pharisees, believed on him?" The argument has just as much weight belonging to it as it had then, that is, none at all.
1. Let persons make it their concern and study to examine where Christ is to be found in respect of his cause in the present day. This, many may think, is no easy matter to find, while one is saying, “ Ló here is Christ, and another, lo he is there." But those who are in good earnest, seeking to know this, shall not, in the way of their using the means of his appointinent, be left always in the dark in reference to it. His promise is, “ The meek will he guide in judgment; the meek will be clearly teach his way.” Examine this matter by the light of the Word. Consider what profession of the name of Christ appears to come nearest to that.
“ To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
Again, examine where Christ's cause is by means of " the footsteps of the flock.” Most of you will allow, we presume, that there was a race of Christ's faithful followers, ministers, and private Christians in the land, in former times, particularly during the Second Reformation period, and during the persecution. Examine what profession of the name of Christ, in the present day, comes nearest to what they held in respect of doctrine, worship, government, and discipline, as held forth in the subordinate standards of the Reformed Covenanted Church of Scotland, or rather examine what profession is the same. See if it has not the marks of Christ's cause, and take his direction, “Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock.”
2. Lay to heart that is a very dangerous course, instead of continuing with Christ in respect of a faithful adherence to all his known interests, to be walking contrary to him in any part of profession or practice. “If they walk contrary to me, I also will walk contrary to them;" yea, it is a very dangerous matter to be in a state of indifferency, Gallio-like, or to behave as neutrals in Christ's cause. Indeed,
himself assures us that there can be no real neutrals as to this matter. “ He,” says he," that is not with me, is against me.”
3. Seriously ponder, on the one hand, the joyful prospect which is presented to all those who are endeavouring to continue faithfully with Christ in his temptations; and, on the other hand, the awful prospect which he sets before those who act a contrary part. Matt. X. 32, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father who is in heaven; but whosoever sball deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” Consider what are all the riches, pleasures, and honours which this world can afford, compared with the kingdom which he hath appointed to his followers! How abundantly will this compensate for all these losses, hardships, and sufferings which may have to be endured now, in the way of continuing with him! On the other hand, what will these enjoyments as to the things of this world, which persons may have now, compensate for being disowned by Christ at the great day, when he will say, " Those that would not that I should reign over them, take them, bind them hand and foot, cast them into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Be advised to lay these things seriously to heart; for however distant they may appear to be at present, they will, most certainly, be found to be the greatest realities at last.
We may see from this subject manifold grounds of encouragement to those who are endeavouring to continue with Christ in his temptations, and manifold motives to excite others to join themselves to him and his cause.
Consider what an honour it is to be on Christ's side. What a glorious and non-such person is he! “The brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person." "He hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Consider how honourable it is to be companions and associates with those who have faithfully continued with Christ in all former periods. “We are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses." “Be ye followers of them, who, through faith and patience, have inherited the promises.” Consider that Christ bears all the charges of those who continue with him. He does not call any to go on this "warfare on their own charges." His faithful promise is, “my grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness," and "as thy day is, so shall thy strength be." Consider, in a word, the glorious recompense of reward of free grace, which is awaiting at the end of the race and warfare, “ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father also hath appointed unto me."