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God was heard exceeding loud,* it waxed louder and louder; the peopie trembled, and Moses spoke. The apostle records his words. Even Moses the favoured servant of God, said, “I exceedingly fear and quake.”+ But the sound of the last trump, when the Lord shall descend again, will be much louder, and the effects much more important and extensive.
It will be heard not only in the neighbourhood of one mountain, but from east to west, from pole to pole ; not only by the living, but by the dead; by all who ever lived.
Then, at his great command, they that dwell in the dust shall awake.I The earth and the sea shall deliver up their dead. There will be a resurrection both of the just and the unjust. Some shall arise to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."$
The joy, this day, for the recovery and appearance of our King, is general, I hope universal. I hope there are few persons in the kingdom who do not cordially share in it. However, if contrary sensations do exist, they are suppressed and concealed. But the Great King has borne with many avowed enemies, and with many traitors disguised under the profession of his name, from age to age. He will not bear with them always. He knows them all, and not one of them can escape his notice. To them the language of the trump will be, “ Arise and come to judgment !" My heart is pained to think, that, possibly, some of this description may be now present in our assembly. Yet I am glad you are here, that I may warn you to flee from the wrath to come. What a dreadful day will it be, when you, if uphumbled, unpardoned, upsanctified, as you now are, shall be compelled to stand before his tribunal! For we are assured, that when he returns to bless his willing people, he will summon his enemies, who would not that he should reign over them. He will place them at bis left hand, and denounce that awful sentence upon them, “ Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting fire." As yet he is upon a mercy-seat. Oh! “ seek him while he may be found ; call upon him while he is near !"** There is forgiveness with him. Humble yourselves before him, and entreat for mercy. Entreat him to show you who he is, and what he has done for sinners ; that you may believe and be saved. Otherwise you must stand before his judgment seat. Then his wrath will burn like fire.
But it is of the dead in Christ I am Chiefly to speak. These shall rise first, and, together with those of his servants who shall be living at his coming, shall be caught up to meet him in the air.
* Exod. xix. 16-19. + Heb. xii. 21. Isa. xxvi, 19. || Luke, xix. 27.
Matih. xxv. 41.
** Isa. lv. 6.
& Dan. xii. 2. * Luke, xxii. 30. 1 Cor. vi. 3. Phil. iii. 21.
There are expressions in Scripture which intimate, that the servants of the Lord Christ shall have the honour of being, in some manner beyond our feeble apprehension, assessors with their Lord in the day of judgment.* They will witness and approve his proceedings. In this state of infirmity, it becomes them, and is their duty, to pity and pray for the wicked, and to use all their influence to persuade them to pity theinselves, to forsake their evil ways, that they may live. But in the great and terrible day, when the wicked shall be turned into hell, the righteous will be so perfectly impressed with the justice and holiness of the sentence of condemnation, that they will not hesitate to say, “ Amen : So let thine enemies perish, O Lord !"f
But the apostle, using the language of prophecy which speaks of the future as though it were actually present, says, furtber, “Then we that are alive, and remain, shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air." Not, as I apprehend, that be expected to be living when the Lord shall descend; by the word we, he expresses his joint relation with the many members which constitute the one body, of which the Lord Christ is the head. there will be some living when he shall appear. And of these, he says elsewhere, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.”İ They will not suffer that separation of soul and body which we call death. But as mortal flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, He will change their vile bodies, according to the pattern of his glorious body,s and they, like Enoch and Elijah of old, shall ascend, together with those who are raised from the dead, to meet him in the air.
These will constitute his train. The redeemed from the earth; they who lived and died in the faith of his name, through a course of successive generations; and they who shall be alive at bis coming, shall be all collected together, and prepared to welcome Him.
of the numbers who will rejoice to see the King to-day, many, though loyal subjects, will only behold him at a distance ; and the far greater part of his people will not behold him at all. Few but the nobility and principal persons can gain admission into the church ; though the crowds in the street will participate in the general satisfaction. Could we suppose that, instead of the common people, the streets were filled, and the windows lined by the great ; that all the sovereigns, potentates and illustrious personages in Europe, were assembled, to be spectators of the joyful event which now calls for our thanksgivings; splendid as the concourse might appear in the eyes of men, they would be unspeakably inferior, in rank and dignity, to those who shall meet the Lord. Not one of his people will be absent; and, however poor
† Judges, v. 31.
f 1 Cor. xv, 51, 52.
. and unnoticed many of them once were, they will then, every one, be greater than the kings of the earth. They will all claim the title, and the claim will be allowed, of “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty."* They will all possess “ that honour which cometh of God only.”+ The glorious company of apostles, the goodly fellowship of prophets, the noble army of martyrs, will march in the procession ; and, besides these, an exceeding great multitude, which no man can number, whose exaltation and happiness are but imperfectly represented to us by images borrowed from the things which are deemed most valuable and honourable amongst men. They are said to be clothed with white robes, to have crowns upon their heads, to be furnished with harps, aụd to bear palms (the emblem of victory) in their hands. I
“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”s May grace preserve you from being ashamed of your Lord now, and you will not be ashamed of Him, nor will he be ashamed of you, when he shall come to judge the world.||
When all mankind shall be ranged before this Great Judge, he will own and vindicate his people in the presence of assembled worlds, and pass an irrevocable sentence of exclusion and condemnation upon his enemies ; and then, he will say to those on his right hand, “Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you;T then he will present them “ before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ;'** then time shall be no more ;tt they will no longer measure their existence by the revolutions of the sun and the moon ; they will enter upon an eternal state. With this event the apostle closes the description in my text. Here he stops the rest is too great for language to express, or thought to conceive. He can only say, “ and so we shall for ever be with the Lord." Who can expound this sentence? We must leave this world, and be admitted into the inheritance of saints in light, before we can fully understand the import of these few words.
We shall be with the Lord. There is no doubt, that if the power of our King were equal to the benevolence of his heart, he would willingly make all who shall see him to-day, yea, all his
* 2 Cor. vi, 18. † John, v. 44.
| Rev. iv. 10. vii. 9.
Luke, xii. 32.
** Jude, 24.
subjects, in every part of his dominions, completely happy. But can he take them all with him to court? Can he treat them all as his own children? Can he invest them all with dignities and possessions equal to the largest desires of their hearts ? Could we, for a moment, conceive it possible for an earthly king to do thus, still it would afford but a very faint illustration of our subject. The highest effects of his favour would be precarious and transient, confined to the term of a short life, and, in their nature, incapable of answering the instinctive appetite of the soul of man, formed for immortality, and endued with a capacity for good, wbich nothing less than being with the Lord can satisfy.
When Peter saw bis Saviour transfigured upon the mount, a glance of his glory instantly fixed and filled bis mind. He forgot all inferior attachments, and said, “it is good to be here."* He would have been glad to build tabernacles upon the mount, and to return to the world no more. He knew not, indeed, what he said ; there was much for him yet to do and to suffer for bis Master ; but he well knew why he said it : and all who are partakers of the grace of God are like-minded with Peter. And though at present they walk by faith, and not by sight, they are sometimes favoured with seasons of refreshment, with golden hours, when, according to bis gracious promise, he manifests bimself unto them, as he does not unto the world, f and causes his goodness to pass before them : then, for the time, they are raised above both the cares and the comforts of this world, and could be glad to remain with him. But, like Peter, they must return to fill up the duties of their situation in life, till his appointed hour of dismission. However, these foretastes convince them that they cannot be properly happy till they are with bim in bis kingdom, where nothing will conceal him for a moment from their view.
Their nearest approaches to him now are likewise subject to abatements. Something from within or from without still occurs to interrupt, and too often to suspend their joys. Their communion with him is indistinct, through the medium of ordinances, and a vcil of flesh and blood. This veil hinders them, not only as it is polluted, but as it is weak, and subjectito many infirmities. We cannot see bim as yet, and live.g If he did not accominodate the discovery of himself to the frailty of our nature, we should be overpowered. The beloved disciple had often conversed familiarly with his Lord, and reclined on his bosom during his state of bumiliation ; but when he appeared in the Isle of Patmos, though his majesty was attempered with mildness and love, and his design
* Matth. xvii. 4.
$ 2 Cor. x. 7.
John, xiv, 22.
$ Exod. xxxii. 20.
was to honour and comfort him, he says, “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead."*
Further : pain, indisposition, and trouble, often distract their attention, or detain them from the opportunities in which he has promised to meet bis people. They are glad when it is said unto thein, “Let us go up to the house of the Lord ;t but they are frequently shut up, and cannot come forth : and though he supports them under all their afflictions, yet it is no small trial to be confined from his ordinances. But when they shall meet their Lord in the air, they will be freed from every defect, defilement, and impediment. They will see Him as he is, without any interposing veil or cloud. They will be out of the reach of sin, temptation, pain, and grief. They are blessed now, though often calle ed to mourn, because they will then be comforted.
Again : we shall be for ever with the Lord. Oh! that word for ever! Even to be with the Lord, and to possess a happiness commensurate to the utmost grasp of our capacity, if it were only for a month, or a year, or an age, or a thousand ages the thought that this happiness must at length have an end, however distant the termination might be, would cast a damp upon the whole enjoyment. But to know that the happiness is eternal, that they who are once with the Lord, shall be with him for ever, this is, if I may so speak, the heaven of heaven itself. Such honour awaits all the saints : for thus hath the Amen, the faithful and true witness, already declared, “ Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the house of my God, and he shall go no more out :"|| “ Thy sun shall no more go down, neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.”T
I hope I have not digressed from the design of this day by attempting to lead your thoughts to the day of the Lord. I have availed myself of every occasion which my views of the text have suggested, to impress upon your hearts, and my own, a sense of the very great mercy which God in answer to prayer, has bestowed upon us, by restoring health to the King, and enabling him to pay his public acknowledgment to the Most High, and to revisit bis affectionate people. But never are our temporal mercies so sweet, so valuable, nor so likely to be perinanent, as when they are thankfully contemplated in immediate connexion with the hand of Him by whom kings reign, and, “ who doth what pleaseth him, in the armies of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth."** Nay, to us, who are soon to pass into an eternal
* Rev. i. 17. #Rev. iii. 12.
† Psalm cxxii. 1.
Isa. Ix. 20.
| Psalm lxxxviü. 8.
Matth. v. 4.