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Remember ye not that this same Jesus, when he had asked for the largest blessings that his love could think of or desire for his people, offered his requests for his disciples thus— '' Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory —the glory which I had with thee before the foundation of the world." The Apostle Paul was of the same mind, for he said, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lobd"—and he gathered up his own experience, his hopes, his desires, in this matter, in language often read by ns, "I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better."
Recollect he had been in heaven, he had seen its glory; but this, this it was that lived longest in his recollections—this it was that had impressed his heart with the greatest power, and drew him back to heaven again with strong attraction—Christ—Christ is there. Oh, my hearers, I know there are those who think this a very trivial, a very mean, a very barren description of the celestial world, and they are ready to say, if this be heaven we scarcely desire it, or, if they say not this in so many words, it is the feeling of their hearts; but sure I am, that the mind that has been enlightened by the Spirit, the heart that has been renewed by grace, the man who .has been justified by faith, that feels the
influence upon his soul, of the love of Christ, when asked to speak of the heaven which he desires and expects, in one short sentence would say, my heaven is to be with Christ. And this is the heaven set forth in Scripture— "Come," said the Saviour, "Come
Lastly—The sentence is uttered in
THE LANGUAGE OF MUNIFICENT COMMUNICATION. "Come, inherit the kingdom." The kingdom prepared— prepared for you—prepared from the foundation of the world, and which you are to receive by inheritance. The felicities of a future state are set forth in Scripture by a great variety of figures. For affection, their felicity is compared with that which is enjoyed by a harmonious family—a closely united and loving family—heaven is the meeting of the whole redeemed family. For joy and delight, it is frequently compared to a feast; heaven is an eternal feast for the mind upon the first fruits, and of the heart upon the chief good. For dignity, for affluence, for honour, heaven is compared to a kingdom : "fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's pleasure to give you the kingdom;" and hence we read of "an incorruptible crown"—" a erown of glory that fadeth not away"—" a crown of life"—" a kingdom and a crown"—the most magnificent object of human ambition—for human ambition can go no further than a kingdom.
What an idea that a poor disciple, an individual that, in respectofthis world,can call nothing his own but his poverty, and his sorrow and his disappointment —for him to receive a crown, and to be invested with a kingdom? Yes, Jesus will say to the poorest in his family, "Come, my disciple, leave thy poverty, leave thy privations, leave thine adversity, leave all behind, and come receive the kingdom which is prepared for you. Oh, what a deep unfathomable abyss of glory is contained in that invitation! You must be aware that the word "prepared" frequently is used, in Scripture, in connexion with the future blessedness of the righteous. Christ is represented as going to prepare a mansion, and God is said not to be ashamed to be called the God of his people, because he hath prepared for them a city—intimating the exercise of the infinity of his wisdom, of his power, of his grace, to render it a state of felicity that shall be worthy of himself to bestow.
Oh, that expression! he is not ashamed to be called their God." As much as if the Apostle had said, If it had not been something so glorious as to be worthy of himself, he would have heen ashamed of it. And when hereafter the future state of the righteous shall be visible, there shall be found something worthy of all that is said about it in Scripture, and worthy of the God by whom it has been prepared—worthy of his infinite riches— the riches of his grace, and wisdom, and power. "He hath prepared for them a city." It is a kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. The preparation hath been going on from eternity—it is not something hastily done, it is something prepared—not something that may be represented as a kind of after-thought —it is something on which the mind of Omniscience has been employed from the foundation of the world—it is a
prepared place for a prepared people, and the preparation of both, in purpose and destination, has been going on from eternity.
I have thus endeavoured to illustrate the language of the text in the sentence which, at the last day, shall be pronounced on the righteous. And now, my Christian friends, what inferences may be deduced from the whole? First: How astonishing the grace of God, to provide such an inheritance for such sinful aod guilty creatures! My hearers, there is something so vast in the subject, and especially when viewed in connexion with the moral character of those for whom the inheritance has been provided, that the very magnitude of it seems to raise a feeling of incredulity in our minds. Oh, the stupendous and unsearchable grace of our God! that we sinful creatures, rebels against his holy law, and deserving only the perpetuity of his curse, should have preparation like this made for our happiness! My hearers, how is it that we do not more frequently and more gratefully meditate upon this wondrous grace of Almighty God? We haTe become carelessly and sinfully negligent in respect of this matter—we sink into a sort of indolence when we speak of those things, and yet there is in it that which excites the astonishment of every order of creatures exceptourown.
Secondly: How much are we indebted to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ for giving us a previous acquaintance with those things so far as our minds can understand and appreciate them! He might have kept us all in the dark as to what glory he had provided for us, or he might have thrown a veil over it impenetrable by us. He might have said nothing about it, but that he had provided some great thing for us; but yet he has, in his marvellous condescension, done more —he has opened up the vista of futurity—he has torn aside the covering—he has told us that all cannot be told, but he has told us much—he has brought life and immortality to light, and they who believe shall, at the last day, be acknowledged by him in the presence of an assembled universe, and receive from his hand every token of honour, and every mark of royal distinction—that he will pronounce them blessed, and take them to dwell with himself for ever and ever. How should we value the Scriptures where this discovery is made, and which contain the record of those glorious prospects? Oh, what are the creations of genius, and the sublimest works that the sublimest mind of man ever penned, compared with this one. It is, viewing ourselves as immortal creatures, going on to an unending state—it is worth all the volumes that have ever been written on all other subjects. I do not undervalue science or literature, I give to them all that can be claimed for them; they embellish life, they multiply the sources of our innocent gratifications, they raise us above the low and grovelling habits; but, my friends, what is all that science and literature can do for us, compared with what the Bible unfolds? This sets immortality and eternal life before us; and oh, the wickedness, the desperate wickedness of man, that he should be anxious to read every book but that which God has written, and on every subject but that of immortality! Deny the doctrine of human depravity! My hearers, here is a proof that may serve instead of a thousand—God has given man this book, written by his own finger; given it to him to open before him an interminable career of knowledge, of holiness, of life and happiness, and to teach him how these may be obtained; God has given him this book to guide his feet into everlasting life, through life's dark gloomy valley;
and, instead of being thankful for the gift, he allows his mind to be absorbed by any other work, and neglects the only volume that can conduct him to glory, honour, immortality, and eternal life. And oh, shame, Christian, upon you and upon me, that the book has not more of our attention, that we do not read that book with more frequency, more earnestness of mind, and with more intense delight, which speaks to us of God, which speaks to us of the Saviour, of glory, of heaven; that fits man for communion and fellowship, notonly with the church on earth, but conducts him into fellowship with angels, with the redeemed spirits in glory and with God himself. My friends, we should blush before God that we are not more attentive to this i
Again, let the believer, amidst all his trials, afflictions, conflicts with the sorrows and cares of the present life, anticipate the decision of the judgmentday. Oh, Christian, what is before you 1 What a scene of wonder, and what a prospect of glory opens up here to the eye of faith! Christians, what is there that should concern you then! Why should you think so much about your privations or sorrows, that day will make amends for all. If this be pronounced upon us—if we hear Christ say, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Believer, go back to thy sorrows, to thy conflicts, to thy poverty, to every thing, go with a smile of comfort upon thy brow. Thou hast heard a distant echo of the voice which on the day of judgment is to be pronounced upon thee, and make thee blessed. Thou hast seen the first beam of the rising sun, which is, in all his glory, to burst upon thee—then should not this reconcile thee to any thing?
But, oh, remember now that there is another sentence at that day. God, in his mercy, grant that it may not be pronounced upon us! If we have not faith in Christ, if we are not among the number of the righteous—if we are not righteous in the sight of God through the righteousness of Christ—if we are not righteous by the work of the Holy Spirit, sanctifying our hearts, and having that faith which worketh by love, that other sentence will be pronounced upon us, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." Christ will pronounce that too. A separation, awful and final, shall then be made between the righteous and the wicked—between
brother and sister—between husband and wife—between pastor and people— if they are not bound by the tie of religion—the wicked to take their place at the left hand of the Judge, to hear that dreadful sentence, " Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting punishment prepared for the devil and his angels." Instead of this, may you and I, belonging to the number of the righteous, hear that blessed welcome, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Amen.
a dFunnal &tvman
DELIVERED BY THE REV. W, B. LEACH,
(occasioned By The Death Of The Rev. Basil Wood) At Robert Street Chapel, Orosvenor Square, Sunday Evening, April 24, 1831.
-" For he wai a good man, and full of the Holy Ghott and of faith: and much people wai added unto the Lord.
Our much respected neighbour, the Rev. Basil Wood, is no more. His ministerial work is done—and he has gone to receive "the crown of life which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give unto him" at the great decisive day. His affectionate flock have felt, and will long feel, the separating stroke. He was to them a worthy pastor, father, and friend. Most of them, no doubt, were presented by him in their infancy at the baptismal font, grew up to maturity under his ministerial oversight, viewed their children as the lambs of his fold under the great and good Shepherd, and felt an attachment to his person and official character, which the revolution of forty-six years could not fail to consolidate and strengthen. And though his venerable brow, covered
with the snow of nature's winter, would naturally remind them that their beloved pastor would shortly be gathered to his Fathers; still, we can easily imagine, that when the time of his departure arrived, they keenly felt that pang which was to separate them until the resurrection of the just. Their consolation, however, is, that he was spared to them so long—that his character was untarnished for so lengthened a space—that their loss is his indescribable gain—that the great Lord of the church, as "the ancient of days," ever liveth to guide, to supply, and to support them in their individual and social capacity; and that their beloved pastor, whom they have, within the last few days, followed to the grave, with so much affection and respect, was so deservedly esteemed by them, and by those who knew him, as a consistent, amicable, and useful minister of Jesus Christ—" For he was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."
Our text forms the high encomium which it pleased the Holy Ghost to confer on Barnabas, who was one of the first preachers of the Gospel in the primitive age. He was denominated the son of consolation, and shone as a bright star amidst the surrounding darkness of Judaism and paganism. And in wishing to pay our last public token of respect to our deceased neighbour, the text instantly occurred to us, as a very suitable exposition of the amiableness of his temper, the piety of his heart, the consistency of his deportment, and the usefulness of his ministrations. It is only since I entered this sanctuary, that I have heard, that the same text to which your attention is now drawn, was the theme of meditation in our friend's chapel this morning; but it shows us, by this interesting analogy of thinking and feeling, the high estimation in which both preachers held the deceased.
With these introductory remarks, let us now proceed to consider in the First place, the personal character and ministerial success of Barnabas, and endeavour in the Second instance to trace the resemblance to this pious model, which was borne by our esteemed departed friend.
First, our attention is drawn To
THE PERSONAL CHARACTER OF Bar
NAdas. "He was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith." This, you will allow, my dear hearers, is an appellation of the very highest order. It rises infinitely above all the titles of sovereignty and nobility— eclipses the splendid garniture of crowns and cornets—and places the favoured individual who sustains it in
a close alliance with angels and seraphs.—It is also a mark of his adoption into the family of God, forms a practical attestation of his union to the Saviour, and will survive the ravages of death and the destruction of the universe.—" This honour have all the saints."
To be "a good man" is to be a converted man, a new creature in Christ Jesus—to be born again of the Spirit —to have the heart sprinkled from an evil conscience by the precious blood of Christ—to have the understanding made light in the Lord, the enmity of the carnal will subdued, and every thought brought into subjection to the obedience of the Saviour.—To be so endowed, as to view religion as his element, to possess a spirit of piety and devotion, which hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and which cannot be satisfied with any attainments short of the image of God impressed upon the heart.
Such a state of godliness and spiritual excellence is not natural to us. We are born in sin and shapen in iniquity; and until that evangelical change ensues which causes us to bearthe image of our heavenly Father, and to possess the mind of Christ, we walk according to the course of this world, actuated by the prince of the power of the air, the spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience. But it is the great design and specific tendency of the Gospel to produce this holy transformation. It "new models all the carnal mind, and moulds the man afresh;" and, then, when the tree is good the fruit becomes good, when the fountain is cleansed the stream which issues from it must of necessity be pure. And let me assure you, my dear hearers, that nothing short of this sanctity of mind andcharacter can makeyou happy. You may have made great attainments in religious knowledge—you may be very charitable in your actions—