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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, which nothing less than being with the Lord can satisfy.
When Peter saw his Saviour transfigured upon the mount, a glance of his glory instantly fixed and filled his 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 his 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 his gracious promise, he manifests himself unto them, as he does not unto the world, 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 him in his 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 veil of flesh and blood. This veil hinders them, not only as it is polluted, but as it is weak, and subject to many infirmities, We cannot see him as yet, and live. If he did not accommodate 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 humiliation; but when he appeared in the Isle of Patmos, though his majesty was attempered with mildness and love, and his design ‡ John, xiv. 22. ◊ Exod. xxxiii. 20.
*Matth. xvii. 4. † 2 Cor. v. 7.
was to honour and comfort him, he says, fell at his feet as dead."*
"When I saw him, I
Further pain, indisposition, and trouble, often distract their attention, or detain them from the opportunities in which he has promised to meet his people. They are glad when it is said unto them, "Let us go up to the house of the Lord ;† 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."¶
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 his affectionate people. But never are our temporal mercies so sweet, so valuable, nor so likely to be permanent, 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.
Psalm lxxxviii. 8. & Matth. v. 4. ** Dan. iv. 35.
state, the most important concerns of nations and kingdoms are, in reality, trivial as the sports of children, unless we can acknowledge, trace, approve, and admire, the great and ultimate designs of God, to which all the revolutions that take place in human affairs are subordinate and subservient.
His wise and holy providence ruleth over all; and every movement has either a more remote or a more direct tendency to bring forward the glories of that day, when the Lord himself shall descend to receive his own people, and to execute vengeance upon his adversaries.
Knowing to whom I am preaching, I have not thought it necessary to offer proof, that the God who has restored health to the King, and happiness to the kingdom, is he to whom my text refers, He of whom we say in our public Liturgy, “We believe that thou shalt come to be our judge." It is the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, the Son of God, the Saviour of sinners. We rest in his own declaration unmoved by all the cavils of those who, alas! know him not, that all things "are delivered unto him, all power committed to him, in heaven and earth."* How else could we trust to him for the expiation of our sins and the salvation of our souls, guilty and helpless as we are in ourselves, and conscious of the snares, difficulties, dangers, and enemies to which we are exposed? "The Lord reigneth."+" He is King of saints, King of nations, King and Lord of the universe." "The government is upon his shoulders." This God is the God we adore, and we now aim to imitate the songs of those with whom we shortly hope to join: "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
While I exhort you to rejoice, and join with you in rejoicing, for the late instance of his goodness to the King, to the nation, and to ourselves, I feel the highest pleasure in the thought, that I see many around me, (Oh! that I could hope the same of you all,) to whom I may warrantably say, Rejoice on these accounts; but rather, especially and above all, " Rejoice that your names are written in heaven," and that the Lord whom you love, and who now guides you by his counsel, will shortly descend to receive you to his glory.¶
*Matth. xi. 27. xxviii. 18. Psalm xcix. 1. Isa. ix. 6. Rev. v. 12. Luke, x. 20. Psalm lxxiii. 24.
A HYMN OF THANKSGIVING
THE KING'S HAPPY RECOVERY.
MAN can seldom prize the blessings
Comets or eclipses wake him,
Hurricanes or earthquakes shake him,
And extort an anxious cry;
Neither gratitude nor fear.
God, in mercy to this nation,
Whose benign administration
Cheer'd us like the sun in spring.
Truth and liberty were nourish'd
Thus, in peace, the kingdom flourish'd;
When a dark eclipse succeeded,
Fear a thousand ills surmis'd;