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of their graces may entertain their Beloved. They lay aside every weight, and disengage themselves as much as possible from worldly affections and incumbrances: they gird up the loins of their minds, that they may be ready to set out at a moment's warning. They are sober — abstaining from inordi . nate cares and inordinate pleasures, and every thing that would entangle or intoxicate them, and so unfit them for the serious work before them. They are vigilant--always wakeful; “ looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” They are vigilant too, that none of those numerous enemies, with which they are surrounded, may gain any advantage over them: and, fully sensible that all their caution is too little, they watch unto prayer, and put themselves under the Divine guidance and guardianship; and pray, that when they walk through the valley of the shadow of death they may have nothing to fear; that they may have his presence with them, and his rod and staff to support and comfort them. And so, with their loins girded about, and their lights burning, they wait for their Lord, that, whenever he cometh and knocketh, they may open to him immediately. Let us inquire,
II. What is implied in the saints' entering in with Christ to the marriage.
And here we cannot order our speech, by reason of darkness; for “eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what God hath laid up for them that love him." There is a vail, that hides the holy of holies from the sight of curious and prying mortals : now and then it hath been drawn a little aside, and VOL, II.
highly-favoured souls have had a hasty glimpse of things unutterable; but we must content ourselves with what God hath thought proper to reveal in bis word: and well enough we may, for there is enough there to excite astonishment and joy. “ Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God!” And the heirs of glory have often entertained themselves with walking about Zion, marking well her bulwarks, counting all her palaces, and admiring the security and grandeur of their future residence. We soon lose ourselves in general surveys, and therefore I always choose as much as possible to keep my eye fixed on the particular spot which my text, whatever it be, directs to. Our present subject leads us to consider heaven as the marriage supper of the Lamb. “ They that were ready, went in with him to the marriage.” Particulars might be easily multiplied : indeed, we are so fond of talking of our own riches and honours, that it is no easy matter to keep within bounds.
The more we think of the subject before us, the more we are amazed. We read the passage over and over again, as if we could not believe our own eyes; as if we were afraid to accept what God hath condescended to offer.-Two circumstances only I shall take notice of.
1. They shall enter into the nearest relation to Christ.
Here, the contract is made. The Lord Jesus sends his ambassadors with his proposals, which he by his Spirit secretly and sweetly inclines and enables us to consent to. He says,
" And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in love
ing kindness, and in mercies : I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” (Hos. ii. 19.) We say,
Come, and let us join ourselves unto the Lord in a perpetual covenant, never to be forgotten. We agree to take him for our head and husband; we give our whole selves to the Lord, and vow everlasting fidelity and subjection: and there have been times, when such mtual interchanges of love have passed, that we could with full assurance of faith say, “ My beloved is mine, and I am his.”
But still, this is at best but a marriage by proxy: The articles, as I said just now, are drawn up and agreed to; they are even signed and sealed : and the terms therein stipulated, believers think themselves bound by, and endeavour to conform to. But it is not till you enter in with him to the marriage, that the relation is confirmed, and the union completed. Then, Christians, he will own you before his Father, and before the holy angels, as the Bride, the Lamb's wife. Here this mystical union is shadowed forth, under those similitudes borrowed from nature, which imply the closest possible connection : – He is represented as the vine; we, as the branches : He, the head; we, the members. But these are nothing to that infinitely astonishing comparison, which Christ himself hath mentioned, in that mysterious prayer of his, which shall then receive its full accomplishment : “ That they all may
as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” (John xvii. 21.)— There is enough in that passage to furnish you with matter for contemplation as long as you live: and
indeed, this is a subject fitter for contemplation than discourse.
2. They shall enter into the joy of their Lord.
Weddings are usually times of mirth and festivity. As the bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride, so will Christ rejoice over the church, his chosen, that he hath brought home to his Father's house. Then there will be joy in heaven, among the angels of God: and nothing less than Christ's own throne, and Christ's own glory shall be thought high enough for these dignified, I had almost said deified
Here, Christians, you may be ready to think that your relation to Christ entitles you to riches and respect among men : but Christ's kingdom is not of this world : his love-tokens are of a spiritual nature; and the peace he gives, is such as the world, in its greatest good-humour, cannot give, and, in its greatest fury, cannot take away. Be content to live mean, to fare hard, to be despised and persecuted, now; but“ rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” In a little time, “ He that shall come will come ;' and his reward is with him. Then he will receive you to himself; and he will exalt you, and enrich you,
be yond your most sanguine expectations. Then, he will take off your sackcloth, and gird you with gladness : he will then give you beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. You shall be always near him, and always smiled upon by him. The lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed you, and lead you to living fountains of waters, and wipe
away all tears from your eyes; and delight over you to do you good, with his whole heart, and with his whole soul. This honour have all the saints. Praise ye the Lord.
III. I observe, that, when Christ and his saints are entered into heaven, there will be neither going out nor coming in, for ever.
1. There shall be no going out, for those that are within.
One would think the door need not be shut for that: surely, none, that are once admitted into that blessed place, can ever be inclined to leave it. If the door were always left open, no temptation, one would imagine, would be able to prevail with any of those blessed inhabitants so much as to let a thought wander outside the gates of the New Jerusalem. And yet we know the angels left their first habitation : holy and happy as they were, and safe, as one would have thought them, so near the throne of God, sin found its way into their hearts, and enticed them to rebellion: so he drove them out. And who, or what, are we, in our most exalted state, if left open to the assaults of principalities and , powers, that we should despise a temptation by which angels fell before?-Be thankful, then, that, as soon as ever you are entered with the Bridegroom, the door will be shut, and your eternal happiness secured. - Here, you may have no continuing city; you may be strangers and sojourners on earth, as all your fathers were. Here, you may be foolish enough to forsake your own mercies : sin may put on some pleasing form, and draw you away from God. You may recollect many a time, when you have left the closet, left the sanctuary, left the most