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or sinners, they are said to be “ gathered to their people.” Thus, concerning pious, faithful Abrabam, it is said (Gen. xxv. 8,) that “ he died in a good old age, and was gathered to his people”– that is, he was added to the spirits of the just made perfect: and concerning Ishmael it is said (ver. 17,) that when he died he was “ gathered to his people” --that is, to those who, like him, had been scoffers and revilers of religion and its professors. affect the company of those only who are “ lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God;" if you “ walk in the counsel of the ungodly, and stand in the way of sinners ;” and are happy no longer than-whilst you are out upon some party of amusea ment ;---why then, these are your people; and to them you will be gathered when you die. may not find their company so entertaining then; for in the grave, and beyond the grave, there are no pastimes, no kill-times, to be met with.But, I repeat it again, and I would repeat it a thousand times over rather than you should not take notice of it, that if you will make these your chosen and chief companions here, you shall be shut up with them for ever. You may not run with them to the same excess of riot; you may even shudder at the lengths that some of them go, and the daring liberties they take with God's holy laws and God's holy day. No matter --- it is 'dangerous to be much with them; the “ companion of fools” shall be destroyed. You know what God said to Israel concerning Babylon; “Come out of her, my people; that
ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. xviii. 4.) So would I say to you, " Have no fellowship with the
unfruitful works of darkness.” A separation there must be, or the consequences will be fatal. If you are determined to conform to the world, and run with the multitude, and do as the generality do now; you must be content to fare as they do hereafter.-In short, if you will spend all your time with them in mirth and jollity, you shall surely spend an eternity with them in weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.
If you are shocked at the thought of this; if you would rather die the death of the righteous, and have
your last end like theirs; you must live like them, and live with them. You must be companions of them that fear God, and of them that keep his precepts. You must not only keep their compapany,
but you must love their company. You must be able to say of the saints, as the Psalmist did,
They are the excellent of the earth, in whom is all my delight.” (Ps. xvi. 3.) You must be able to prefer an hour spent in social prayer, or serious conversation with a poor disciple of Christ, to a thousand merry-meetings with the carnal and profane. If this seem irksome to you, if you have no relish for such company; you would have no relish for heaven; and without a change by grace, you will never get there. Therefore,
2. Pray earnestly that you may be “ renewed in the spirit of your minds.”
For if you do not see these things through a glass darkly now, you will never see them face to face hereafter; if you die in all the blindness of your natural state, you will continue blind for ever. The cure must be performed here or not at all; for
Verily, verily, I say unto you," (and it was
Christ himself that said it), “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." (John iii. 3.) You can have no more conception of the beauties and glories of heaven, than a man born blind can conceive of the beauties of a rainbow. Pray, therefore, for spiritual illumination : let it be your first and your last prayer, “ Lord, that I may receive my sight—that the eyes of my understanda ing being enlightened, I may know what is the hope of thy calling, and what the riches of the glory of the inheritance of the saints :"
They would be so indeed. Could you, through faith's telescope, look within the vail, and see what God hath laid up for them that love him; could you see what shall be done to the man whom God delighteth to honour ; could you see the robes, the crowns, the thrones, the dignity and blessedness, of glorified saints: you would never relish the paltry profits and pleasures of this world any more: you would turn away from them with contempt and disgust as trifles not worth looking at. But this is not to be expected, without enlightening, purifying, renewing grace ; for the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. ii. 14.) If, therefore, you have any desire to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light hereafter, you must be turned from darkness to light here : you must begin to see, though it be but im
perfectly ; though you only see men as trees walking, yet something you must see ; you must be able to perceive a beauty and excellency in divine things, infinitely superior to any thing you had any notion of before ; you must have such glimpses and glances of spiritual objects, as shall make you indifferent to every thing else.-It may give you pleasure to hear, that it is one part, and a principal part, of Christ's commission, to open blind eyes : and as he is now passing by, seize the precious opportunity, and cry, as blind Bartimeus did, « Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me!"
“ Mighty Redeemer set me free
old state of sin: O make
soul alive to thee;
And mould my heart afresh ;
And turn the stone to flesh !
From sin, and earth, and hell,
I would for ever dwell.”
3. I observe that we are not to look for perfect knowledge, or perfect satisfaction, here :
For “ now we see through a glass, darkly ; but then face to face !” In the present state, God doth not so much feed the senses, as exercise the faith, of his people. Somewhat, indeed, they have now; just enough to support and refresh them in the wil. derness; but it is at best but as “ the earnest and first-fruits" of their inheritance : 6 for we are saved by hope ; but hope that is seen, is not hope: for
what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for ? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” (Rom. viii. 24, 25.) The generality are all for the present good : “ Give me the portion of goods that falleth to me,” is the prevailing cry: let me have enough to clothe me in “purple and fine linen,” and to “ fare sumptuously every day,” and let futurity take care for itself. But when it comes to “Son, remember that thou in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus his evil things; and now he is comforted, and thou art tormented;" then they will wish that they had made a different choice. The true believer considers himself as “ a stranger and a sojourner” here, and is content to wait for his portion till he gets home: and this reconciles him to many hard things in providence and grace, which would otherwise perplex and overwhelm him. If he hath little of the world-yea, and little sensible enjoyment of God—yet still he “rejoices in hope.” David had more gladness in his heart from the glimpse he had of the light of God's countenance, than others had in all their increase of corn and wine. (See Ps. iv. 6, and Ps, xvii. 15.)— When he was speaking of the men of the world, who had their portion in this life, and whose belly God had filled with his hid treasures; he envied them not "I have meat to eat which they know not of.”“I shall behold thy face in righteousness:”” that is my portion; and I am content to wait for it. I do not care how little I have of the world: he hath promised me food and raiment; and that is enough for the little while I have to live in this world : “. I shall be satisfied, when I