The Lord Our Righteousness
OR A CALL TO CONSIDER
THE CERTAIN DESTRUCTION OF ALL CREATED THINGS,
Eternal Duration of Righteousness & Salvation;
THE SUBSTANCE OF TWO SERMONS, PREACHED AT PROVIDENCE CHAPEL, GRAY'S INN LANE - OCTOBER 27, 1811
WILLIAM HUNTINGTON, S. S.
IF you read the fourth verse of this chapter, you will therein discover unto whom it is that the Lord is speaking; who it is that he desires to look at the Heavens and on the Earth, and you will find it is to some who are acquainted with wisdom and understanding, and in whose hearts is his fear; for he addresses himself to them, saying, "Hearken unto me my people, and give ear unto me my nation;" and by which you see it is his own people and his own nation, and not to those who have not God in all their thoughts. "My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth;" by which you may see it is a righteousness that God himself hath promised, and a righteousness which none but God himself can bestow; and it is such a one as will admit a sinner into the presence of God; for, says the Father, speaking to the Son, "Thy people shall be all righteous, they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified;" and all this lay in a promise. The Father promised that them that believed in Christ should be all righteous. It lay in a promise, yet it was so already in the sight of God; before this righteousness was imputed, or the promise applied to the sinner, for the Lord speaks of things that are not as if they were. He saith they shall be all righteous, but you may ask me what is to make them so; I answer, it is not their own good works and human performances that is to procure a righteousness for them, as Papists and Arminians teach, but it is to be the work of the Lord's hand, that he may be glorified, and Christ Jesus is particularly called the Lord our righteousness; that is the righteousness that he hath wrought out and brought in, is freely imputed to the sinner, which is accepted of God as the sinner's own; and hence it is the Lord Jesus is called our righteousness; and you that know him so to be in your experience, will glorify God. Now all this lay in a promise; and in the first place, the promise was made to Christ, and then to his seed through him, which are the elected in Christ Jesus - which are first called, chosen; and so says Peter. But ye are, says he, a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people: and the Angel told John that all that were with the Lamb, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords; by which he meant Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords; that all that were with him, are chosen, and called, and faithful; therefore they are chosen: for, saith the Lord, you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you; and what I say unto you, I say unto all, (that is all my elect or chosen ones.) And they are called the redeemed.
Read the eleventh verse of this chapter, and you will there find, that the Lord saith, "Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return and come with singing unto Zion, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;" and to this agrees the words that John tells us of, that he heard the saints of the Lord sing a new song in honour of their Lord, unto whom they said in songs of Joy, "Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation:" which, in another place, is said, that the Angel informed John when he beheld the innumerable multitude of saints, that "..these were redeemed from among men, being the first fruits unto God and to the Lamb;" and this may be sufficient to satisfy you and me of the folly and weakness of workmongers, who expect to gain admittance into heaven by means of their own performances, who are sold unto sin, and must be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. or they will never get there: they are likewise called his offspring; and this the Lord told the Jews, by the prophet Isaiah, that he would hasten it in its time, when the seed, (that is believers in Christ,) should be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people. Forasmuch then, says Paul, as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto silver, or gold, or stone; they are likewise called his people, and the price of his blood; ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; and Paul when he departed from Ephesus, told the Ephesians to feed the Church of God; which, says he, "He hath purchased with his own blood;" and therefore if they are His chosen, His redeemed, His off-spring, His people, and the price of His blood, you must agree with me in this, that they are nothing of themselves nor in themselves, and that it is God alone that can give them this righteousness. And if you will not believe nor agree with me, then hear what he himself says to his Church, the elect of God. "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against the in judgment, thou shall condemn;" this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, (mind that,) and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord. Therefore, however men may rail against an imputed righteousness, and against those servants of his who preach it, and enforce it; who, as Paul says, are the partakers of the righteousness of Christ; or however they may go about to establish their own righteousness, crying up their own good works, righteous performances, or human merits; yet notwithstanding all their legal zeal and formal profession, God's word will remain true and faithful; that this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me saith the Lord; therefore all the righteousness that is found on the people of God, and that will be of any service to their souls, is truly of God - it is his free gift; and so says the Apostle, (Rom. v. 17.) "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one, much more they which receive abundance of grace, and of the GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ." But moreover they are to be called trees of righteousness, which perhaps you will say is a strange name, and are ready to ask what you are to understand by God's people being so called; hear me attentively, and I will tell you. And in the first place you must know, when the Lord is about to make a person acquainted with his covenant of life and salvation by Christ, he is pleased to begin this by sending cutting convictions into the soul, and to make that man understand the wretched condition he is in by nature; and this is called a set time to favour Zion, for her set time is come. But doth the soul understand this to be favour; no, for he thinks it very unfavourable; but you are to remember, this is the beginning of his favour; he brings him off from trusting in his own heart, by making him feel the abomination, and carnality, and the hardness thereof; he brings him off from trusting in a broken law, by showing him its spirituality, and by making him feel the condemning power thereof; he brings him off from trusting in his own righteousness, by showing him, that in him dwelleth no good thing, and that of himself he can do no good thing; he gives him the power, the affection, and the will to make choice of Christ, and that in preference of every other object; he loves him from a sense of the love that he knoweth Christ hath, and hath had to him, in stooping so low as to death and the grave, and for bearing such unprecedented suffering in his room and stead; he makes him close in with Christ, who is made the righteousness of God in him, for so saith the Apostle, "He was made unto us righteousness; he becomes his willing and loving servant; thy people shall be all willing, says he, in the day of my power; he trusteth in him with his whole heart, and when this is the case, he is compared to a tree, which you know, as it continueth to grow upward, continues to take root downward, that it may be able to support its standing in the storm, the wind, and the tempest that is likely to come against it; and so in like manner a soul begotten of God, and taught to believe in Christ, is called a tree of righteousness, and is so called because, by virtue of his Saviour's righteousness, he stands, for no unrighteous person can stand before God; and no other righteousness will do, but the righteousness of the Son of God; and when he hath this righteousness on, he is a tree of righteousness rooted and grounded in love, in hope, and in faith; for by faith we stand, and Christ is in us the hope of glory, and in the Lord we have righteousness and strength. We are called trees, because trees are planted, and we are planted by Christ, taken out of the wild wilderness of nature, and transplanted into the church, the garden of God: "for," saith Paul, "if ye have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection." We are compared to trees, because like a tree we have no power to grow, nor take root, nor to bring forth fruit; it is the work of the Lord to do all this for us, and to carry on his work within us, that we may do that which is pleasing in his sight; we have no power of our own; a spiritual and divine power to perform good works is of the Lord; and hence it is we cannot trust in him, nor hope in him, nor believe in him, nor close in with him, nor love him, before he gives us the power, and furnishes our souls with his grace; and when he hath once freely bestowed these heavenly gifts and graces, he assures us, that these trees shall be continually watered by his most Holy Spirit.
And because, says David, " He is planted by the rivers of water, he bringeth forth his fruit in season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper: but the ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff driven by the wind:" They have no righteousness but their own; let them alone, for every tree that my heavenly father hath not planted, shall be rooted up: this was the state of the Scribes and the Pharisees; Christ told them they should be rooted up; these were the dry trees twice dead, and now were to be plucked up by the roots; take notice of our Lord's words to the women that followed him to Calvary: for as they were following him to his crucifixion weeping, he turned to them saving, "Daughters of Jerusalem weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and your children, for if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry."
Now our Lord meant by this, that he was the green tree, and the people of God being possessed of the Holy Ghost, are called by Isaiah and by Zechariah green trees; and the wicked are by Jude called dry trees. And Paul writing to the Romans, calls Jesus the good olive tree, who is the tree of life; and therefore if the wrath of God knew of no abatement - if offended justice exacted the very utmost mite from a suffering Saviour, who bore with patience the cruelty and insults of men and devils - what shall be done in those dry trees, who are void of the spirit of God, who have no interest in Christ when his wrath is kindled against them; will it not burn with indignation for ever and for ever to the lowest Hell: "Let them alone," says the Saviour, "for every tree that my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up;" but my righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, says the Father; and his love and affection to sinners made its appearing at the birth of Christ Jesus, who was the righteousness of his people, and was looked for in every age. The Redeemer shall come to Zion, says the prophet Isaiah; and the desire of all nations shall come, says the prophet Haggai: and in the fullness of time he did come, according to the promise of God and the predictions of good men; for he was spoken of by the messengers of God in all ages; and when he was come, he put on righteousness as a breast plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloak, for he knew he had to contend against Satan, sin, and death, the infernal malice of devils and of men; and having on this armour, he went forth for our salvation against all opposers, and never gave up until all was finished by his death on the cross; and as no man can stand against the accusation of his own conscience, (for a wounded spirit who can bear,) he will soon sink under the weight of his own guilt; but if the Holy Ghost takes possession of him, reveals the righteousness of Christ to him, passeth the sentence of justification in his conscience, that man will then find peace, for being justified by faith, (in the righteousness of Christ,) we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Before justification, all was confusion, guilt, sin, and the sentence of a broken law in the conscience, with the accusation of Satan, fear of death, and dread of judgment; but the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever; so that if a man is once pardoned by the blood and righteousness of Christ, he is sure to have peace in his conscience; but before this, his conscience is the principal accuser.
But there is another thing which may be called a second branch of this righteousness, that is, if a man is complete in the righteousness of Christ, he will find the love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost; and hence it is the Apostle tells you to put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness, and true holiness is, in the highest sense of the word, love towards God, wrought in the soul by the Holy Ghost. "Love," says the Apostle, "worketh no ill to his neighbour," therefore love is the fulfilling law; and thus righteousness and true holiness is the new man of the soul. We may hear people speak of different kinds of holiness, and many have wrote on it, yet the Bible treats of but one, which is the love of God shed abroad in the soul by the Holy Spirit; and if we never have this, whatsoever other holiness we may have, we shall be deceived after all, and be found to be, as Paul expresseth it, (that is, without charity,) "To be nothing, for love is the fulfilling of the law; and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, I am nothing; for all that we may have without charity, will profit us nothing, but that which will profit us, is the love of God that passeth all understanding" or charity; and thus righteousness and true holiness, which is love, is the new man of the soul; for him that loveth is born of God and knoweth God, for Gods love, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and it is the obedience of our surety. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous," and this righteousness is unto all and upon all that believe.
And in the next place, this righteousness is called a wedding garment, as may be seen in our Lord's parable of the wedding feast. "And when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment," - he had not on the spotless obedience of Christ Jesus; he came into a profession under the gospel, but never trusted in the righteousness of Christ for salvation; he was seeking to be saved by his own righteousness - he was trusting in a broken law - that was a way that seemed right in his eyes. "There is," says Solomon, "a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death," and this is truly the case with thousands; they trust in their own righteousness and in the precepts of a broken law, and perish out of Christ: and that this was what the man was deficient in is plain, by John, who informs us, that at the marriage supper of the lamb, the guests were arrayed in fine linen, clean and white, which he says is the righteousness of the saints, by which is meant the righteousness Christ hath obtained. Now by this parable you see a person may be taken into the church militant, as many are, without this righteousness on; he may deceive his fellow men, but he cannot deceive the Searcher of Hearts; he will never enter the Church triumphant, without he is perfectly and completely enrobed in the righteousness of the Saviour of sinners. But you may say, how are we to get this righteousness into our souls. Why I can tell you, that one single act of faith on the Lord Jesus Christ, will bring it in - and faith is his gift; and, says the Saviour, "ask, that you may receive:" therefore if you can but act faith on the spotless obedience of Christ, it will bring peace, love, joy, and consolation into the soul. Now if so be that either of you were accused of murder, and was brought to take your trial in either of our courts in this land, and although you were perfectly innocent, yet there were some to witness against you, and prevailed so as to influence the minds of the Judge and Jury, and there was nothing for you left but to expect the sentence of condemnation; but at that juncture of time, a person unexpected should appear in your behalf, and so plead your cause, as to answer to your honour all they could alledge against you, and silence all the accusers, insomuch that the whole court clearly saw you were an injured person, and therefore sentence of justification was passed upon you, or in other words, you were acquitted; now don�t you think you should love and respect that person. So it is with a soul whom God justifies, only with this difference, we are all sinners and guilty before God. And of this Satan accuses us, the law that condemns us, conscience accuses us, sin is a burden, guilt is intolerable, death is terrifying, and the thought of future judgment awful. Until God the Holy Ghost enters the soul, silences all accusers and accusations, points to Calvary and a bleeding Saviour, applies his merits, his death, his satisfaction to Justice, and spotless obedience to God's most holy law, as the poor sinners righteousness. And thus by the ransom price Christ hath paid, he is delivered from going down into the pit; and then by the Holy Spirit shedding abroad his love in the heart, the poor sinner is enabled to love him with a love inexpressible, and he is sensible it is unmerited and undeserved, which makes him highly prize the salvation appointed of God. This was the case with Joshua the High Priest; when he stood before the Lord, we are told that Satan stood at his right hand to resist him, that is to accuse, condemn, and to make a prey of him; but to the comfort of Joshua, the Saviour appeared, he was Joshua's surety, and he said to the Devil, the Lord rebuke thee Satan, even the Lord that has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire - and you all know what a brand is - it is a piece of wood or stick that is almost consumed, insomuch that there is scarcely any thing but the coal left, by which you may see what a deplorable state man is in by nature. He must be regenerated and made anew, or else he will eternally perish. And what the Lord said of Joshua is applicable to all who are saved by grace. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? Take away, saith the Lord, his filthy garments. Here went his sin and filth. "Behold," saith the Lord, "I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee," and remember I have done this myself, it is a free gift of pardon, for no man can save his own soul, no man can add to nor diminish from the work which I perform. "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect," says Paul. It is a God that justifies, who can condemn. "I will clothe thee," saith the Saviour, "with a change of raiment" - this is enrobing the soul. Now, Satan, (says the Saviour,) can you accuse and condemn a righteous man? Can his conscience condemn him? Can the law condemn him? Can sin destroy a righteous person, one who hath faith to purify his conscience, faith to credit his Saviour's love, faith in the spotless obedience of his surety, and unto whom my righteousness is freely imputed? Is not this a brand plucked out of the burning, a sinner that hath been burning in the fire of his lust until he was almost destroyed, and to appearance nothing but a coal? Therefore what hast thou to do with a righteous man, seeing he is a brand plucked out of the fire? Ah, says the malice of the Devil, I see the salamander, and if I had my will, he should burn to ever-lasting death. But, say the Scriptures, "whom God justifies, them God glorifies;" and glorification is the believers right and title; and Paul the Apostle tells us, that whilst he remained here below, that he waited in hope of eternal life beyond the grave, which, says he, "God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." But, say you, how did Paul know that. Hear what he saith: it begins thus - "which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began, but hath in due time manifested his word through preaching, which is committed unto me according to the commandment of God our Saviour;" and if you have, what Paul had, you have Christ in you the hope of Glory. You have the Truth and Eternal Life, for Christ is the Truth, that is, he is the true God, and the truth of the Scriptures who have their fulfilment in him. Christ is the life of the soul, and you that have got him have got every needful blessing in him. Then ask that you may receive.
My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth. - This was spoken in the next place of our Lord on his entering into his ministry, for Christ is our righteousness. For, says Paul, "He was of God made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." My Salvation is gone forth. Christ is God's salvation and the only salvation for sinners. And when the Lord says my salvation is gone forth, it means Christ is clearly revealed; he is manifested to bestow his rich grace on his people. And when he came to one he said, "Go in peace;" to another, "Thy sins are forgiven thee;" and to another, "thy faith hath saved thee; thy faith hath made thee whole." And therefore it is said, the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared unto all men. And many there are and have been who have felt its rich and powerful effects. And the faith that Christ gives, not only purges the conscience from sin, but it gives us the victory over death, over hell and over the tyranny of Devils, - for God's grand design is to give us the knowledge of salvation; by the forgiveness of sins we shall know him, and the power of his resurrection.
In the next place, his salvation went forth to save his people from the guilt of their sin, to take that intolerable load away, and to supply his people with a troop of heavenly graces instead. "For sin," saith the Apostle, "shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace." And what was it but salvation by Christ Jesus that delivered them from the bondage of the law. But all the time that you find a conscience loaded with sin, you will find yourself at a distance from God. You cannot draw near with holy familiarity in prayer. You find a great bar, insomuch that you cannot find any access; and because you are conscious of your transgressions and offence, you will hang down your heads as the bulrush. "It is your iniquities," says Isaiah, "that hath separated between you and your God." But if the Holy Spirit is pleased to apply the atonement of Christ, which, in other words, is the salvation that God hath appointed to take away the sins of mankind, for as the sacrifice of Christ atoned for our sins, so an application of that atonement to the soul of a sinner, obliterates from his mind and conscience the guilt and bondage of sin; and where this is not the case, that soul will be cut off, which may clearly be seen by the Passover blood being sprinkled on the lintel and doorposts, when the destroying Angels cut off the first born in Egypt; for in every house where this blood was not sprinkled, there entered death; but where this blood appeared, there was safety; and there is no safety for sinners but by the blood of the Son of God.
And, says Paul to the Ephesians, "You that were strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world, even you who were sometimes afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ:" "for I have," said God, "blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and, as a cloud thy sins: return unto me, for I have redeemed thee:" this is as much as if the Lord had said, take courage my chosen, and return; let no obstruction hinder you; - let not sin, nor iniquity, nor the reflection of an ill-spent life; I will give you double for all your sins; I will give you a double portion of my spirit, and I will enable you to triumph over every evil; - for my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the people.
By arms the Lord means his power or divine strength; and hence, when Isaiah was lamenting the small number of believers, he cries out, "Who hath believed our report, and unto whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Is there any who into their conscience have received Christ, the power and the wisdom of God: and if so be there is any that have known this power, he shall grow up before them as a tender plant out of a dry ground; and in them the Lord will fulfil the good pleasure of his will with power. By this arm God maketh his gospel effectual to the saving of sinners: it means the effectual and the powerful work of his most Holy Spirit, in regenerating and carrying on the work of grace in believers. And this arm is first made manifest by his coming near to the sinner to judgment. When it pleased the Lord to make known his power and terrible majesty to me, in coming near to me to judgment, I felt I was a poor condemned criminal. I was in the first place judged of God by the law, and found, as the Apostle before observed, "By the law is the knowledge of sin." I was judged by mine own conscience; it accused me, and justified God in destroying me. And if I had not been thus judged, I could not have been justified; for judgment begins at the house of God. - And it is the condemned, the lost, the guilty, and the sensible sinner, that feels the need of a Saviour and it is not before we get into this perishing and condemned state, that we think Christ can be of any service to us, for they that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick; and it was this that made Peter cry out; he saw and felt his state, and therefore he came to a point at once; he knew there was no time to lose, for awful eternity presented itself, and a bright evidence of his salvation the Lord had not favoured him with: "therefore," says he, "save, Lord, or I perish:" and when, like Peter, I was saved from perishing, I saw more extensively the condemned state I was in by nature, because I felt and knew more of my Saviour's sufferings. And the Lord fulfilled the good pleasure of his will in me with power, for after he had judged and condemned me, and brought me in guilty, he wrought faith in my soul, and enabled me to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ: he purified my conscience, and I was brought into a justified state. And this is agreeable to the words of the Apostle, for, says he, "Whom he called them he justified;" and a man must be in a dead helpless state, he must be dead as to all hope in his own power and strength, before Christ can be of any use to him.
Nor can any one hear his voice until he is dead, for it is written, that the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. And this the Apostle Paul found to he true, for he tells us, "He was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." He died to all hope of salvation from the works of the law, and his trusting to his own righteousness, gave up the ghost, which before this he so much boasted of, and prided himself in; but now he was in a dead helpless state, and the law, which before had been his glory, and had given him occasion to boast, now proved his condemnation, and made him a very fit object for God's free mercy. Therefore it is necessary that we should be judged and be brought in guilty, and that we should die to all hope short of Christ Jesus; for if we are not, then God's salvation cannot be of any service to our souls. For the promise that God the father made to Christ was-thy dead men shall live. Together with my dead body shall they arise, says the Saviour; and if they are dead, then it follows that it is the dead that are to be quickened, and it is the infinite power or arm of God that quickeneth the dead, and a person must be dead to the law before he can be espoused to Christ; for so saith the apostle. "Wherefore my brethren," says Paul, "ye are also become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead;" "for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ." And in the next place, until we are condemned, we have no appetite for righteousness; for what is to make us hunger and thirst after righteousness, but the curses that we feel from the righteous law of God, and from an accusing conscience. And when a guilty condemned sinner finds both of these work hard against him, he will directly confess that sin is the occasion of his dreadful feelings. If I had not broken the righteous law of my Maker, says he, then it could not condemn me; if I had not sinned against God and my own soul, then my conscience could not so violently accuse me: but I have sinned - I have incurred the wrath of God - and punishment is my due reward.
But if you take away this judgment and condemnation, then there is no dead men; no hungering and thirsting after righteousness; no accusations from conscience, for that is seared; no curses from the law, for that is not yet revealed; but one that is under condemnation, whose heart is made honest, for he hears of the justice of God, he knows he hath offended it; if he hears of the holiness of God, he knows he is impure and defiled by sin; he is convinced of the spirituality of God's law, and he is sensible that he is carnal, sold under sin. And if such a passage as this should meet him - "Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the backs of fools," he takes it to himself. I am the man, I am the man, says he; in short, he takes all God's threatenings to himself, and expects sooner or later the fulfilment of them in his own soul; he feels the bitter gnawing of a guilty conscience. And tell me where is the man that can have the least enjoyment of this life, whose conscience is powerfully armed against him on the account of sin. When the power or arm of God is come near against him to judgment, it will bring him near unto death; he will appear as one on the brink of the grave, and he will curse the day he was born: and would to God, says he, I had been deprived of existence.
Now all the time that he is under these bitter sensations, he hath faith in the righteousness, holiness, and justice of God, and he hath faith in the holy commandments of God; he knows the law is spiritual, but he is carnal, sold under sin; and this makes him tremble; and can this be wondered at, that a poor finite worm of the earth should tremble at the terrible majesty of his Creator, when we are told by the apostle James that Devils believe and tremble. But what an advantage have sensible sinners over fallen Spirits, who have no righteousness or them provided, no mediator, no advocate, no surety, nor intercessor. They having once fallen are fallen for ever. But when the Holy Ghost teacheth a sinner, he not only gives light to see our fallen state, but he makes us hunger and thirst after righteousness, and makes us sensible that no other will do but the righteousness of the son of God; and he likewise puts it on when he hath given us faith to bring it in; and if you never knew what it was to be dead, you cannot be a partaker of that blessing God promised on Mount Zion, which is the Church, for it was there God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore; and if you were never dead, or, in other words, saw yourself in a dead lost condition, then it is evident you never had life, for it is these dead men that are to live.
Mine arms shall judge the people, yes, and all the Churches shall know that I am he that searcheth the reins and hearts; and it is by a powerful application of his most holy law that he searcheth the heart, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. "I will search Jerusalem with candles," says the Lord, "and punish the men who are settled on their lees;" and this is done by the Holy Ghost, who begins and carries on in the souls of his servants the whole work of grace and salvation, and is with the believer in all the different experiences that he hath to wade through. He is with us from first to last. It is his most blessed and holy power. called in my text the arms of the Lord, that makes us feel and see the spirituality of the righteous law of God, the justice, the holiness, and the majesty of our great Creator, that makes us hunger and thirst after the righteousness of Jesus Christ - gives faith to believe in him, and that makes us complete in him - and this our dear Redeemer promised, that "when he the Comforter is come, he shall take of the things that are mine and show them unto you." He makes us renounce all the righteousness of our own, all confidence in the flesh; we forget the things that are behind, and he enables us to reach forth unto those things that are before, so that we press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. And in whatsoever you are deficient in your faith, he will reveal even this unto you; and our blessed and invaluable Redeemer kindly invites us to come unto him, and buy of him all that is valuable, needful, and necessary for perishing sinners. "I counsel thee to buy of me Gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear, and anoint thine eyes with eye salve, that thou mayest see." He invites you by this text to partake of his choice blessings. By gold tried in the fire, he intends faith, to be rich in faith; by white raiment, he means his righteousness or spotless obedience; and by eye salve, nothing less is intended than his Holy Spirit; and this the Saviour counsels thee or invites thee to buy; but some may be ready to say, but what will purchase these things, and what is the price he will take. Then let me tell you, that every son or daughter of Adam, who got in possession of those things, were made willing to give up and part with their nearest and dearest worldly delights, and would let him have the first place in their esteem, heart, and affections. Now this is the price he demands, this is the exchange you must make - he will have no rival. Consider this and weigh matters well. Have you been enabled to give up all for Christ's sake? Hear what account Paul gives, and how he valued Christ above every object besides; says he, "what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ; yea doubtless and I do count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ." Doth your experience come up to this. It is the love of Christ, or a sense of his love to you and me, that enables us to love him in return. God's arm so effectually judged Paul, until Paul judged every thing beneath the sun to be no better than dung and dross for Christ's sake. And this is the case with many of you. But some who cannot see their way clear, who are still under this arm, may be ready to tell me they dread this way of judging; oh, say they, it is very bitter: it makes my soul grieve because of the roughness, unpleasantness, and oppositions I meet with, without and within. It is well called a path of tribulation; end I have not a greater enemy in Satan than have in ray own evil heart, and on account of those things I feel nothing but rebuke, chastisement, and sorrow.
If this is your case, attend to the words of the Saviour, and take some encouragement from that; "As many as I love I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent;" therefore let none of these things dishearten you, for it is a safe way, and a road that leads to everlasting and uninterrupted peace; and remember although you meet with some severity, yet it is your Saviour that judgeth you, for the Father hath committed all judgment unto the Son, and he is a judge that is merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness, and will take part with and stand at the right hand of the poor to save him from them who condemn his soul. And whenever he takes a sinners cause in hand he is sure to bring him through, for truth inviolable and power invincible is with him, whose name is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the ALMIGHTY. Therefore, can it be likely that a poor chastened Christ-depending sinner can utterly sink whilst he hath such a supporter as this is? And in the next place, observe the good-will he bears towards you, whilst he tries and teaches you, that all this chastening is for your profit, because you may not be condemned with the world. And there is another thing take with you, that before you can or will be justified by the righteousness of Christ, you must well understand the severity of God, and have faith in that as well as in his mercy, and there can he no justification without it.
With respect to God's mercy it is super-abounding; with respect to his truth, he is the true God, and no lie is in him; he is faithful to his promised mercy to the believer, and severity to the infidel. With respect to his righteousness, no unrighteous person, or one out of Christ, can stand before him; and as for the peace of God, it passeth all understanding. Now in Christ Jesus these all harmonize, for mercy and truth have met together in him, righteousness and peace have kissed each other, and this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased, spake the Lord out of heaven. And do you attend to what he says, or, in other words, "hear him." "Mine arm shall judge the people; the isles shall wait for me." We may reasonably suppose that the prophet Isaiah had well weighed those things in his mind. God had given him suitable understanding in the things he gave him to speak; and as he hath in several places mentioned of isles, he must well know that Gentile nations would be blessed with the righteousness and salvation of God, for, saith he, in the forty second chapter of this prophecy, when speaking of God the Father's promise to Christ I have put my spirit upon him; he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. "He shall not fail nor be discouraged till he have set judgment in the earth, and the isles shall wait for his law." And for my part, I never did hear nor read of any isle, wherein it is or ever hath been so completely fulfilled as in our island of Great Britain. Nor do I believe it ever was; and I make no doubt but it was known to the Jews in an early age, for Josephus in his writings makes mention of the Romans, Spain, and Britain. And from what we have heard and from what we know, we have every reason to conclude that the British Islands are chiefly intended, for it is well known that the everlasting Gospel of our Lord hath been known and preached for many years in England, Ireland, and Scotland. And when the prophet saith, "the isles shall wait for his law," he means the arm or power of God shall be made bare; and the time cometh when these ignorant Islanders shall be made wise to salvation, for I will have my servants out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue. But, say you, how is this done. Why, in the first place, the mind of man is persuaded, and it is nothing less than the power and operation of God that can do it. Arminians and Papists may and do boast of what they have done, and can do, in this matter, but you may depend on it, that it is the work of God only; for, saith God by Noah, God shall enlarge, that is (originally) persuade Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem. Now it is well known that of Shem came the Jews; and what advantage then had the Jew over the rest of mankind. Paul tells us much every way - but more particularly because that unto them was committed the oracles of God, and every believing Jew dwelled in the love of God, for so saith the psalmist, - "Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations;" and every offspring of Japheth, which are we Gentiles, that is enlarged or persuaded of God, dwelleth in God and God dwelleth in him, as did the believing Jews.
God must powerfully convince or persuade the mind that the religion of a crucified Saviour is the only religion with which he is well pleased; that his blood is the only atonement accepted for sin; his righteousness imputed the only covering for souls, so as to appear justified before him; and if he never doth so persuade you, and bestow it on you too, you will go out of this world in ignorance, and idolatry, and in possession of the curse of God.
In the next place the Lord saith, "I will put my law in their hearts;" and by the heart you must understand the conscience, which is by Paul called "Holding the mystery of faith in a pure conscience." And it is faith that purifieth the heart, and it is faith that purgeth the conscience from dead works; and if God hath been pleased to do this for any of you, then hear the result. � "You are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation;" and wherever this power of God comes, it will not lift that person up with pride and conceit of himself, but will humble him in his own eyes, and will exalt the Saviour of sinners; Christ will he all in all, and the recipient of this power will be nothing at all. And what is the power but a rich display of God's eternal unmerited grace, love, and mercy to a set of poor helpless perishing sinners, sending his Holy Spirit to quicken our sous, to subdue our sins, to guide us through our pilgrimage here in this world, and to fit us for a better; and wherever this power comes, the law here spoken of is sure to follow.
"The isles shall wait for his law;" but perhaps some may think that it is the law that God gave to the children of Israel, on Mount Horeb, by Moses, that is here meant. But strictly speaking it is not the law of Moses that is meant here, and which the isles were to wait for; for long before Christ came to finish our salvation on the cross, the writings of Moses were to be found in most parts of the Roman empire, who were masters of the greatest part of the then known world, which we may gather from James, Acts xv. 21. "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath day," which, in comparison to the Gospel, made but very few Proselytes amongst the Gentiles; therefore this is not the law that is here meant, but was another law that the isles were to wait for. A law shall proceed from me saith the Lord, and as soon as they hear of me they shall obey me; strangers shall submit themselves unto me; and if you go to the Apostle Paul, you will find he is able, as a good minister of the word, to harmonize this matter. When about to conclude his epistle to the Romans, he doth it in this dignified manner: "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world begun, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." Now here you find what is this grand mystery, which was kept secret for four thousand years, but now no longer a secret but made known to all nations, which revelation is the object of their faith, and by faith they agree with, delight in, and willingly obey the grand mystery of God's redemption by Christ Jesus. Now here you find in him the mystery is revealed, the secret is made manifest, and the scriptures of the prophets are fulfilled in the person of our Emanuel; he is the substance of every shadow, the truth of every type, which was darkly set forth under Jewish ceremonies and figures, but now is made known by the preaching of the gospel to all nations, for the obedience of faith. And this is the turning point with all men. He or she that believes this account, that God hath made known of Christ by his ministers, by his word, or by his spirit, shall he eternally saved - from sin, death, and hell; but whosoever that believeth not shall be damned. You may call it a Law, or a mystery, or a secret, or whatever you please, yet the sum and the substance of all is, Christ crucified; and wherever you believe this power is preached, or where this power attends the ministry, there you are to wait and watch with diligence, for faith comes by hearing. And when you hear the ministers of the gospel expound the word, speak out their experience, and confess what God hath done in and for them, you will meet with encouragement, which will enable you to wait and watch in hope. The Lord is pleased at first to use severity, to root out all confidence in the flesh, to cut off all occasion for boasting, or hope in a broken law, and that we may be brought to understand what is penned by the apostle, "Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but of his mercy he saves us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and you are encouraged to wait upon God, because he hath told us, he hath a set time to favour Zion: and when this power comes into the soul, such waiters and watchers shall not be ashamed; for if they are conscious that they stand in need of this power, they shall wait in hope and expectation; for, says truth, blessed are all they that wait for me. You have perhaps expected that it would be under this sermon or the other discourse, at this or the other means of God's appointment, and behold you have been disappointed, yet fear not, for the promise is, "at the end it shall speak and not lie, though it tarry long, yet wait for it," because it will surely come, and not tarry beyond God's appointed time; and blessed are all them that wait for me.
Now from what hath been said, this is the sum, it is the people of God that are to hearken, and his nation that is to hear. This law that is to, proceed from him is faith, called the law of the spirit of life. He will judge sinners, and bring them in guilty; and by the light they have received, they will acknowledge his judgment just; but then he promises the righteousness of Christ to all such, and an everlasting salvation. This is gone forth from the mouth of the Lord, it shall not return void, his own arm shall judge his people, he will not give them up to an unmerciful Judge. By Isles he means the Gentiles shall wait upon me, and on my arm or power shall they trust; and then comes in the words of my text.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old as a garment; and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall never be abolished;" which sheweth us how infinitely inferior all sublunary and terrestrial objects are, when put in competition with the salvation and righteousness of God by Christ Jesus. But you must understand when the Lord bids us to lift up our eyes to the heavens, that it is in order that we may learn some very instructive lessons thereby; for, as Paul saith, his eternal power and Godhead is clearly seen by the things he hath made, which creatures of his are intended to afford wholesome lessons to his children, for it is them who are to lift up their eyes to the heavens, as well as to hearken and to give ear. And the first thing I shall take notice of is God's covenant with Noah, and with every living creature to the end of time, which runs thus - "I do set my how in the clouds, and it shall come to pass when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud, and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant," &c. The prophet Jeremiah bids the relenting Israelites to lift up their eyes to heaven, and to consider this covenant, that God made with Noah - For we are told, that they, seeing nothing but famine, death, and captivity before their eyes, began to say that God had cast off the family he had chosen; but to oppose unbelief and to raise hope in their souls, God tells them by the Prophet; "if ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not he day and night ill their season, then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers;" therefore, by looking here we are to remember the promise that God made to David, saying, "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom;" and as sure as these witnesses in heaven, that the covenant with Noah of day and night, and of the waters no more to drown the earth, remains unbroken, so sure shall the promise to David be fulfilled, although the present calamity had for their sins overtaken them. Now the seed of David are the elect of God, for Christ is called David; and the elect of God are David's seed, which you may be satisfied of by that text in Isaiah, where the father tells our Lord, for our profit, saying, "I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thy offspring;" and this water and these floods, are nothing less than the spirit of life that is poured out to quicken dead sinners, which is to abide with them for ever, which is further confirmed by this same Prophet; "as for me," says the Lord, "this is my covenant with them; my spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth shalt not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seeds seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever." Therefore, by looking at the heavens you are to consider that God hath made this covenant of promise with Christ, and the elect, his seed in him; and you are to understand by Levites, the same is meant. In the first place, it is his ministering servants in the gospel; and in the next place the believer, who offers up spiritual sacrifices; which you may see by reading the sixty-first chapter of this prophecy. "And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and vine-dressers. But ye shall be named the priests of the Lord: men shall call you the ministers of our God." And you must understand that those strangers, aliens, plow-men, and vine-dressers, and Levites, are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and are in the Church, some ministers, some teachers and pastors, and some private believers; and his most Holy Spirit anoints and furnishes them, that they may be enabled to offer up spiritual sacrifice, - and what is the sacrifice that believers offer to God, say you, - why it is prayer, praise, and gratitude that flows from a heart inspired with the Holy Ghost. And we are to bring forth the covenant, as Jeremiah did, to establish our minds in God's covenant with Christ, and with believers in him.
"Therefore lift up your eyes to heaven." And another lesson you may learn is this; when you look on the sun, you behold the grand luminary of heaven, which cherishes the creation of God. It. lightens and enlivens mankind, it warms the earth, it brings forth, cherishes, and perfects all vegetation; and that indeed is a dungeon where its bright rays never come; and if you will profit by looking at this, turn your thoughts as the holy penman did on the sun of righteousness, who doth arise with healing in his wings; and this is no other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who throws a glorious light on the darkened understanding of man, and reflects his glorious rays on the benumbed conscience; who heals all our wounds which sin hath made, cherishes the drooping soul, and strengthens them that are weak. Behold in what ecstasy the Prophet breaks out, and calls to the Gentile church, when in faith he looked forward to the time of their glorious visitation. "Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee; for behold the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee; and the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising." Christ Jews is the church's sun - he is the light in the midst of her. But when you look on this bright and glorious luminary in the heavens, take care that your thoughts rest not there, as thousands have done, who have been professed worshipers of the sun, whilst totally ignorant of him who made the world and formed the sun. But you are to look for the precious fruits brought forth by the son of righteousness, flowing from a sense of his love to you, which is thankfulness, praise, and gratitude, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush. "Therefore lift up your eyes to heaven." And there is another wholesome lesson to be learnt, which is from that noble piece of God's workmanship, the Moon. Under the former dispensation, all things relating to the worship of God were, in one sense or the other, typical of Christ Jesus, our dear redeemer, whether it was the Passover feast, or ceremonial sacrifices; these were all spiritually fulfilled and realized in Christ, who is the bread and the life of the world; for all God's worshipers are spiritually to feed on him. Now the Jewish feasts were all regulated by the moon - so saith the scripture, "Blow up the trumpet in the new moon, in the time appointed, on our solemn feast day, for this is the statute for Israel, and a law of the God of Jacob." And the heavenly banqueting that some poor souls found at those feasts, made them prize the time of their return; but since the Lord Jesus Christ is come, who is the end of the law, the substance of every shadow, the truth of every type, all these things have ceased, they are done away, as the Lord by Hosea foretold it should, saying, "I will cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts." But, say you, hath God given the church, under the gospel dispensation, nothing in return for these which he hath taken away. Yes, blessed be God, he hath given us the same things in a more glorious and spiritual sense, for we have our mirth when we rejoice in Christ Jesus, when we rejoice in hope of the glory of God; our feast days are when by faith we eat his body and when by faith we drink his blood; and when we eat of the fruit from the tree of life - indeed our feasting days which begin here are never to be ended, for in heaven the lamb, in the midst of the throne, shall feed us, and lead us to fountains of living water, and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. And the same lamb that is to feed us there feeds us now; "for the Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me besides the still waters;'' and all the time we have his presence with us he maketh it our feast days, for he saith his children cannot fast whilst the bridegroom is with them. And blessed be God because we know it - we are to have a sun that is never to set, and a moon that is never to wane; and if you wish to reap any spiritual advantage, by looking at the heavens, I say consider these things.
And another lesson that you are to learn by looking at the heavens is this: you are to consider the stars, which serveth to teach you that the day of small things is compared in scripture to these luminous objects. When Peter is recommending the word of God, he saith, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;" "which," as Zacharias says, "is through the tender mercy of our God, where the day spring from on high hath visited us". When Balaam prophesied of the Saviour's coming, he saith, "There shall come a star out of Jacob, and a sceptre shall rise out of Israel," which our Lord acknowledges is his name - "I am the root and off-spring of David, the bright and morning star." When our Lord appeared and sent his gospel out into a benighted world, it was compared to the morning star, or the day dawn. And when convictions, by God's spirit, break in on the soul of man, this is called the same. It was by the means of a star that the wise men were guided to the very spot where our Lord was born; and ministers of God are called stars, and they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. Thus you may see that the Lord makes use of these things to teach and instruct us: and when he bids you to lift up your eyes to heaven, it is that you may see and behold these things and meditate thereon.
Take notice further, - The pattern of the ark of the covenant, which had the mercy seat, came from heaven; and Christ is the true ark of the covenant, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. It was the same with the ark wherein Noah was preserved; God gave him the pattern, and preserved him from that deluge of water when he drowned the unbelievers of the old world, which family represented the elect as preserved in the ark, Christ Jesus, from the deluge of God's eternal wrath.
But the greatest thing of all is this, and on this account we are to lift up our eyes to heaven. When Noah came out of the ark, God gave him a promise, and a token. He entered into covenant with Noah, and with the whole world, and for a token of that covenant, "Behold," says the Lord, "I have set my bow in the clouds." I promised I never would drown the world any more with water, and this bow, when you and your posterity behold it, shall remember that I have thus covenanted with you, and this is my token. But we must not stop here, when we see this; we must carry our thoughts further, for the bow which we behold is typical of another, and so is the covenant. When God the father entered into covenant with Christ and his seed, the elect through him, which covenant is called the covenant of grace, "this," says the father to the son, "is as the waters of Noah unto me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee." And this bow, of which that in the clouds is a type, was put oil the head of Christ: and hence it is, when we see something of a likeness or something drawn to represent him, we see a bow drawn around his head. The prophet Ezekiel tells us that, when he saw the Lord upon the throne, that as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about; and although there are many which have seen the bow which is in the clouds, yet there are few in comparison that see this bow around the head of Christ Jesus. God entered into this covenant with our Lord, and gave him this sign for our sakes, that we should not be destroyed nor drowned in ruin and perdition. "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me; it shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven;" which faithful witness is particularly spoken of the rainbow. And if you take notice of its beauty and colour, you may behold it complete with grandeur, setting forth the greatness, wisdom, and majesty of its Maker. When I look at the colour thereof, and behold the green, I consider it as an emblem of life; for life, in the scripture of truth, is set forth by that colour. If you read the book of Revelations, you will find that the power of the scorpions and locusts was restrained from touching the grass or any green thing: by which you must understand those men and women who have the life of God in their souls. When I see the yellow in the bow, I consider it an, emblem of faith, which I gather from the scriptures; when the Psalmist, in speaking of God's mercy and care of the church says, "and although ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold;" by silver is meant the purity and holiness of the spirit of God on the soul, and by yellow gold is particularly meant faith. In the next place, our Lord persuades the church of Laodicea to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that they might be rich; but this is not spoken of gold literally; but that faith is intended, you may see by Peter, who says, "that the trial of your faith being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire;" which was well understood by Job, "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold," says he. It is by faith we are saved, it is by faith we are to overcome, and it was by faith that Job was to over-come, and come forth into the happy liberty of the children of God. And thus by the yellow is meant faith. - And when I behold the red colour in the bow, I understand it to mean the conquest of Christ over sin, death, and hell. He was seen by Zachariah riding on a red horse; and the prophet Isaiah cries out when he saw the Lord, "who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah; wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the wine fat." In the first place he conquered our foes, and in the next place he conquered sinners; he spilt his precious blood in the conflict; by his death he conquered him that had the power of death, and us sinners he conquered by his grace; "he went forth," says John, "conquering and to conquer." "His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me; it shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven." The man after God's own heart considered these things, and wondered at the mercy of God to rebel man. "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon, and the stars which thou hast ordained," says David, "Lord what is man that thou art mindful of him;" what, Lord, canst thon see in man to move thee to provide for him in so gracious a manner. Why the truth is, we have it all for Christ's sake. Therefore, from what hath been advanced, you may partly understand the reason for which you are commanded to lift up your eves to heaven, - it is, that you may consider the work of God, behold the how in the clouds; the sun, moon, and stars in the firmament of heaven; view their beauty, order, greatness, and transcendent usefulness, - which discovered to the Psalmist the majesty of the Maker. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work; day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge;" and when you, like David, have well considered of the greatness, wisdom, and almighty power of God, in creating all these things, remember it is all for Christ's sake, and for the elect of God in him, and will remain in the same order and grandeur as we now behold it, till all the elect are saved by an application of their Redeemer's atonement and righteousness in time: then, like Sodom, it will be bereft of all God's people, which are the salt of the earth, and being so bereft, it will sink under the transgression of its own children; for as Sodom stood no longer than which righteous Lot remained in it, so will it be with this world and all the work of God in the lower heavens, as soon as. the graves have delivered up the bodies of the saints of the Lord: and those who are then alive, elected in Christ Jesus, are altogether taken off the earth, there will be a final overthrow, a complete dissolution, of all created things; and the destruction of the wicked, and the destruction of the world, the fabric God hath builded, will go forth from the mouth of the Almighty; "For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared: he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." And the Holy Spirit, by Peter, tells us, that the same word that made the world, now keeps it in store, reserved unto fire against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. "And the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burnt up." Therefore observe, the heavens that we are commanded to look at and meditate on, are to be dissolved; they are to pass away with a great noise; intimating that we are not to worship any of these created things, which are only intended for our good, to cheer us through this world of misery, which would be a dungeon indeed without these luminaries; for him who is to be the object of our faith, hope, adoration, and love, is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning or end; but as for the heavens and the work thereof, these are to pass away, and the earth is to be burnt up. The Apostles, without doubt, were instructed in the manner of the destruction of the world from the mouth of Christ Jesus, as they were particularly desirous to be instructed in these thing's; for when the Lord foretold the destruction of the temple, as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples said unto him, "tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world;" which afterwards they were led of the Holy Ghost to meditate on, and by whom we are told that fervent heat is to melt the elements above, and fire to devour the earth and the great deep. "The heavens shall vanish away like smoke and the earth wax old as a garment:" and by looking to the heavens we are to consider those things. And "seeing," saith Peter, "that all these things shall be dissolved, whet manner of persons ought ye to be, in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of God; whereon, the heavens being on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with event heat." The sun, moon, and stars will be in the common wreck of nature, when the heavens depart, as a scroll when it is rolled together, for it is the great day of his wrath, and who will be able to abide it? "But," saith Peter, "we, according to his promise, do look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." But many are of opinion that it will be the same heaven and earth that now is, only it will be renewed, and that by this text in Peter nothing else but a renewing is meant. This is the conclusion of the learned - it is a renewing. But our Lord says, "Behold, I make all things new; behold, I create a new heaven and a new earth, and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind." And John saith, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away." And this is the same as Paul understood it, "For," says he, "thou, Lord, in the beginning, hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands; they shall perish, but thou remaineth; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment, and as a vesture thou shalt fold them up, and they shall be changed:" and to change is to pass away.
"Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath; for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old as a garment." And by looking to the heavens, this is the lesson you are to learn and to consider, that the sun, moon, stars, and the grand firmament above, notwithstanding their beauty and order, are to pass away. It is to happen on a sudden, and in a most awful manner, and as unexpected as a thief in the night, when men are busy, and all their affections taken up in buying and selling, and marrying and giving in marriage, when men wilt be taken up with things of this life, and be altogether regardless of the life to come. And when these things really come to pass, then will the men of this world begin to call on the rocks to fall on them, and for the earth to cover them. The glorious beauty, brightness, and the enlivening rays of the sun is a faint representation of the son of righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the rainbow should remind us of the bow around the head of our Lord, as a token of the covenant made between God and Christ on our account.
In the next place, we are commanded to look on the earth beneath; and if you read the hundred and fourth psalm, you will by that find, that something is to be learnt by looking here. The Psalmist, by looking and meditating, found matter sufficient to excite gratitude and praise to God, for his wonderful mercy and providence towards all created beings. "O Lord," says he, "how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches." The Lord not only made those things, but by his wisdom he supports and supplieth their wants. The scripture informs us that when God finished his work of creation, "he saw every thing that it was very good; and that out of the ground he made to grow every tree that was pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life and the tree of knowledge, of good and evil:" And Solomon tells us, "That the Lord made every thing beautiful." When he gave the command, all appeared beautiful and in order, instead of that barrenness which we now witness; then appeared the greatest fertility and abundant plenty. But look at the earth now, and consider the great disparity from what it then was; will it not lead you to consider the cause of this great disparity and what hath destroyed the abundant beauty and order in which it was created; is it not sin? Yes, sin hath filled the world with confusion, and turned the world upside down; for that which sprung spontaneous out of the earth before sin entered into the world, is now hardly got by the sweat of the brow; by much care, labour, and fatigue. - And you may evidently see the effect of sin on the very productions of the earth; if there is no good seed sown, and the earth is left in an uncultivated state, you will soon behold it covered with briars and thorns, which is the badge of the curse. Look on the earth, and consider what sin hath done. See the confusion that sin hath thrown all nature into; insomuch that nothing is pure in his sight; behold he puts no trust in his servants and his angels he charged with folly. When this world was first created, it was free from the dominion of evil spirits: but can we say that of it now? no, we cannot, for, it is dreadfully infested with spirits impure. When these rebel angels fell, we are informed they were thrust down to hell. But now we may be assured by our Lord's parable of tares being sown among the wheat, that they now inhabit the earth. In opening the parable he said, "the enemy that sowed them is the Devil," by which it is plain, as well as by tile account of many who were commanded to come out of the mad Gadarene; and although they were thrust down to hell, yet by this it is plain they have got out again; but by what means or how they got out we know not; and the only account we have is what the learned Milton hath given us, but of this the Bible is silent, and in what the Bible hath no mouth, it is always best for us to have no ears; and although they have got out, yet it will not exempt them from everlasting punishment, for Saint Jude tells us, that "the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, God hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." And although it is lamentably true that their power in this world is great in men and against the church of Christ; yet you must understand that their power is restrained. Paul told the Ephesian church, that in times past they walked in the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; and what our Lord in one place calls the fowls of the air, in this place Paul calls the prince of the power of the air; and in the next place, he plainly tells us, what it is these evil workers effect in man. Among whom, also, we all had our conversation, in times past, in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature children of wrath, even as others. Now doth not this explain what our Lord asserted, that the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. And I believe the meaning of the seventeenth verse of the sixteenth chapter of the Revelations, where it is said, the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air, to be the time of the fulfilment, when they will again be cast down into the bottomless gulf of perdition; that the first six vials was an intimation of God's judgments on the inhabitants of the earth, and the seventh vial entirely confined to Devils; for it was poured out into the air, and the fowls of' the air are the very beings that our Lord tells us steal away the good seed sown; and, therefore, to our sorrow, and to the anguish of all mankind, they are in this world now; and ever since sin and Satan hath been in the world, there hath been nothing amongst the wicked but misery and confusion: the earth hath been filled with violence, such as incessant wars, murders, suicides, distress, and cruelties, insomuch that the earth is not pure in the sight of God. Therefore, if you compare it to what it once was, when God created it, to what it now is, you may then conceive what sin hath done; and this is one sad lesson you may learn by looking on the earth. And there is one thing you must not overlook.
After having considered all the evils at present in the earth, and the good things on it before the fall of man, you must understand that when it was in its original beauty and grandeur, that it was a type of a new earth that is yet to come, yes a type of a better that we are to enjoy, which is the earth that we read of that the meek are to inherit; for, as a proof of this, it cannot be said that the Saviour's meek ones inherit this present earth. For this pre-sent earth God hath given into the hands of the wicked: yea, the scripture says he hath set the world in their hearts; and since the elected people are in general a poor and an afflicted people, you may clearly perceive that it is a very small part of this world that falls to the lot of the children of God: and I may here make use of the Apostle's language, and say to you as Paul did to the Corinthians, "ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called;" no, sirs, it is in general the base, poor, and despised (but with few exceptions) that God hath chosen, and it is these noble and mighty people of the world that possess it; and perhaps there is scarce any amongst us all here present, that have a yard of this world which they can call their own. But God hath promised us a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness, and when this takes place then will two other scriptures be fulfilled.
The first is this, "That from henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean;" and for this reason, every one that enters on this new earth will be a circumcised creature, will be one that loves and is beloved of his God, will be washed in the blood of Christ, and will be sanctified by the Holy Spirit; and if this is never done for any of you, into this new world you can never come. And the next is this, - the Lord says, "and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts." And this Canaanite is no other but our indwelling foes, which will never enter there; these are all to be purged out; we are to leave this formidable troop in the grave; this mortal shall put on immortality. It is true that we grievously feel these indwelling corruptions here, but it is to remind us that there is to be another and a better country, a land flowing with milk and honey, which God hath promised to give to believers in Christ Jesus, and which promise he will surely fulfil. The land of temporal Canaan was a type of a heavenly Canaan; it was called the land of promise, because the Lord promised it to Abraham and to his seed after him, many years before they actually possessed it. Yet to Abraham he gave not so much as he could set his foot on; but, says the scripture, "He promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him," when as yet he had no child. But, say you, if Abraham did not receive the land that God promised to him, how could God fulfil his promise to his servant Abraham. Why you must understand that the Holy Ghost told Abraham, that by it was meant a better country, that is a heavenly country. The Lord is not willing that his children should set their affection on the things here below; he hath given them to the wicked as their portion; but the portion of the righteous is Christ and glory. And if he were to give, us an immense possession in this world, how great would be our loss if, when we leave it, we have not heaven for our souls. And as the Lord hath spoken with contempt against those who make up their happiness in this life, and with respect of those who trust in his word and promise of a better country, that is a heavenly one, then let God choose for you, and then it will and may be said of you, as Paul says of Abraham, you are looking for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God; but if you are for nothing but present enjoyments and worldly greatness, remember what our Lord tells you, to gain the world is to lose a soul But some may wonder at heaven been called land, and, say is there any land there; why, no, I should think that cannot be; yet heaven is often. set forth by land, notwithstanding the promised land was emblematical of some place better. And the prophet Isaiah, in summing up the privileges of the righteous, says, "He shall dwell on high; his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks; bread 'shall be given him; his water shall be sure; thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty; they shall behold the land, that is very far off;" and this. land is nothing less than heaven seen by faith; and sometimes the Lord is pleased to give them such delightful views of these heavenly things, that it quite ravishes their souls, and makes them long to be gone to a full enjoyment thereof, never more to be interrupted by self nor sin. And we are not only to have a glimpse by faith of the heavenly Canaan, but, he says, thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty, which means Christ, and is a view that many have been indulged with in this life since our Lord ascended into heaven. But when he was on earth in the days of his flesh, it is said the world saw no form nor comeliness in him that they might desire him; they considered him no other than the son of Joseph the carpenter, of humble birth, and thought lightly of his miracles and ministry; they spoke scornfully of him, and said, is not this the son of Joseph the carpenter, and is not this the carpenter's son; is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, and his sisters are not they all with us; whence then has this man all these things? And thus they saw no form nor comeliness in him; and thus the world treats his word, ministry, and gospel now. But when John saw him whilst an exile at Patmos, he saw him the perfection of majesty and beauty; he was clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle, his head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were as a flame of fire and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace, his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength: and when I saw him, says John, I fell at his feet as dead; and not only to John, but unto many of the saints he hath been pleased to reveal himself since, with all his glory, beauty, and majesty, which, according to the scripture, he promised to do. - "Thine eyes shall see the king in his beauty, they shall behold the land that is very far off."
We find the church above is called the new Jerusalem, or the heavenly Jerusalem, which is, says Paul, the mother of us all. But Jerusalem that now is, says he, is in bondage with all her children; they were left in bondage and misery when they crucified the Lord. Jerusalem, in the land of promise, was the place where the church militant or tribes appeared before the Lord; which was a type of the heavenly Jerusalem, or covenant of grace, where all the tribes of the earth meet to worship Jehovah: and this promised land was what Abraham sought for; he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. He did not receive the promise literally, but he died in the faith of it, for in faith he had seen it afar off; he desired a better country, that is a heavenly one, wherefore God is not ashamed to be called his God, for he had prepared for him a city; therefore we are directed to look on the earth, that we may understand thereby, that it is a type of a better world, and that on account of man's fall it is full naturally of weeds, briars, and thorns, and without the labour and fatigue of man upon it, it is totally unprofitable, and at the end of time will be burnt up or destroyed for ever, by fire from heaven; my text says it is to wax old as a garment. And we may consider ourselves to be living on the earth at that period of time, when we may evidently see that this is the case. Paul takes notice of this, and says, thou Lord hath laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of thine hands; they shall wax old as a garment, and as a vesture shall thou fold them up. And this terrible day of the Lord is at hand, when the earth will be totally worn out, as an old woman that hath left off child bearing waxeth old and dieth away, and the heaven as a vesture is to be folded up; and as a thief in the night that cometh to plunder and steal, so will the coming of the day of vengeance to the wicked. It is mentioned in several places in the scriptures, of the earth waxing old; and as we are the people upon whom the ends of the world is come, we must expect to see something of this fulfilled, for the word of the Lord standeth sure, his word cannot pass away nor fail; and some of us, that can look back from fifty to fifty-five years that are gone, can remember that in the beginning of our lifetime the fruit of the earth was more abundant, plentiful, and cheaper than it has been for several years last past; and in order to rectify this, man hath invented and schemed all manner of implements for agriculture, all which have hitherto failed, for we have seen no fruitful seasons - no superabounding crops - but in the general scanty seasons: and thus hath it been of late years. I was informed, at the beginning of this summer, (1811,) that this year was very favourable and likely to produce abundantly, but I have in this been disappointed also, for it is a year much the same as those passed on before it, which hath caused me to consider of those things, and I find by scripture as by observation, that the earth waxeth old as a garment; and as we have lived to see this time of the world common sense must tell us that it cannot produce in that abundant manner as when it was young; except the Lord goeth out of the ordinary way, and for some great design-miraculously calleth for the earth to bring forth abundantly, which sometimes probably may be the case; but in the ordinary course of nature it cannot be expected, for the text says the earth shall wax old as a garment; and the Psalmist, taking notice of the same, says, "Thou, Lord, hast laid the foundations of the earth; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old as a garment, and as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed; but thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." Thus the Psalmist compares the world, both heaven and earth, to a garment that is worn by man, which use and time destroys, it becomes unprofitable, and at last it perishes altogether. So it is with the world; it hath had its past period, which is the best; it hath its present, which is in a decaying state; and in its future period, it is compared by its Creator to be like a garment, which is to perish altogether, and then it is to be changed - or, in other words, another is to supply its place: for so says Omnipotence - " Behold I create new heavens and a new earth" ('wherein dwelleth righteousness'), says Peter, "and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind;" but "it shall," says God, "reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it, and it shall fall and not rise arise;" and good men in every age jointly agree in this, of the everlasting duration of the sacred Trinity, and of the depravity and certain dissolution of all created things. Doctor Watts, in his Hymn on the Trinity, sings thus:
"Thus Heaven shall raise his honours high,
And in the fullness of time they will, one after another, vanish away and disappear; and at last time itself will be lost in eternity. And John tells us, "that he that sat on the throne said, I make all things new: and he said unto me, write, for these words are true and faithful;" these things, saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; and if you wish to know who it was that spoke these words to John, then read the first chapter of his Gospel, and there you have it thus: "All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made; in him was life, and the life was the light of men;" " and," says Christ, "I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life;" and thus the Scriptures agree that Christ, as God, is the maker and creator of the heaven and earth that now is, and creator of the new heavens and the new earth that is yet to come, as well as the creator of the souls and bodies of men. "But be you glad, and rejoice for ever in that which I create, for behold I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy: and I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people, and the voice of weeping shall no more be heard in her, nor the voice of crying;" and whosoever overcometh the world, the flesh, and the devil, by the faith of Christ Jesus, is to inherit this new world; and there is no other way to overcome, let men say what they please, but by the faith of the Son of God. This world hath once been deluged by a flood of water: then all the wicked perished from off the face of the earth; then the waters prevailed, and laid all nature waste. But the Lord lath promised that the waters shall never: again prevail as they then did, and we believe it, and live in the faith of that promise, that is, believe his written word, and never expect it; but he hath assured us, that the next time he destroys it, it shall be by a deluge of fire from heaven; and as a proof that he is able to do this, witness the destruction of the five cities of the plain; he sent fire from heaven and destroyed them and their corrupted inhabitants, and it is now kept as it is until the appointed hour to be destroyed together with ungodly men. Attend to what the Scriptures say on this subject; they assure us of the certainty of the destruction of this world, and of Christ coming to judgment; they tell us, that in the last days there shall come scoffers, walking after their own lust, and saying, Where is the promise of his corning, as all things continue as they were since the creation? But of this they are willingly ignorant, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water, and in the water, whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth, which are now by the same word, are kept in store, reserved unto fire, against the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men. Now observe, that of this men are willingly ignorant; these scoffers will believe any thing but the truth; any one rather than God; but you that fear God, and believe his word, are to look on the earth beneath, and consider that it is reserved by the same word and power that created it unto an appointed day, and then it is to perish by fire, and all these scoffers that are found thereon at that day will inevitably perish with it, which will usher in the beginning of their everlasting torments "he that hath ears to hear let him hear, for God will be true to his word." But some may be ready to say, if this is the certain fate of the world, what then will become of the inhabitants thereof, as at the last day there are both good and bad to be found thereon? Will they all share the same fate? Hear me attentively, and I will show you, as far as I can warrantably go by Scripture, when this universal destruction takes place, there most certainly will be some good souls found among the sons and daughters of Adam, which may be seen by Lot being found in Sodom, who was delivered from that awful conflagration by the kind interference of heaven; and as that is a type of the last deluge by fire, just so there will be some righteous Lots found in this world on the last day; "for," says the Scripture, "when the Son of Man cometh, will he not find faith on the earth?" Yes - and where doth faith dwell but in the souls of men and women. In the first place we are told, that to those God-fearing souls there is to be a warning given, saying, "behold the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him;" and his time of warning will be at a time when they all slumber and sleep; that is, both professor and possessor of religion will be very inactive; the first with respect to their outward forms and acts of natural charity, and the latter with respect to their deadness and reluctance, and negligence in the means of grace heartlessness in prayer, in reading, and carelessness in watching the hand of God, and backwardness to glorify him before the world. They will be more apparently alive to the world and worldly concerns than they will be to God and his Christ; but the warning which will be given, attended with divine power, will so electrify them, that they will, from the persuasion they have, and the power they feel, go out to meet him. Perhaps this warning to put them on the alert will be by some one or other of Christ's servants in the ministry, unto whom our Lord will reveal it, and the manner of meeting the bridegroom is by repentance, by godly sorrow for sin, by confession and contrition, by supplication for pardoning mercy, which is called trimming their lamps; so that by the time the bridegroom cometh, his wife will have made herself ready; she will be anointed with fresh oil, have a fresh application of the atonement, and richly replenished with the graces of the spirit of God the Holy Ghost; and when the church militant is thus adorned as a chaste virgin for Christ, then will the Lord make his glorious appearance; his glory and majesty will shine from one end of our heaven even unto the other, and every eye shall see him. He shall come with a host of angels and sound of trumpets, which sound shall rise out of their graves all those who fell asleep in union with Christ Jesus, for the dead in Christ shall rise first, and those on earth in union with Christ shall be changed, for all shall not sleep in the grave, for there will be many like Enoch and Elijah, whom death shall not have their glut of; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed from mortal beings to immortal as soon as the dead in Christ are; it will be done suddenly, in a moment, as quick as a passing thought,. or the wink of the eve, and then' those who died in Christ Jesus, and those who have Christ in them, the hope of glory, will be caught up with angels and archangels in the clouds, and meet the Lord in the air, and so shall be for ever with the Lord.
In the scripture the Lord hath given us proofs of the bodies of men being glorified in heaven; for the Holy Ghost saith, by faith Enoch was translated, that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him. The meaning is, as I conceive, he was not found of those who sought to kill him, as Peter was not found on the morning that Herod sought to have brought him forth for execution; and it is plain that Enoch was persecuted for righteousness sake, for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. And if any of you can get this testimony of the Holy Spirit in your conscience, that you have pleased God, then depend on it you will be sure to feel the anger, malice, and spleen of devils and men, as sure as Enoch or Peter; but when these were sought for they were not to be found, for these wretches to pour their malice on. And Elijah, the man of God, was translated in like manner, from an unfeeling and corrupted race of miserable men, to a world of happiness, with Christ and glorified spirits, for he was taken up into heaven in the presence of Elisha. "For it came to pass, as they went on talking, there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." Now by this it appears that these two quickened ones had their bodies fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ, their mortal bodies were changed to immortality, for flesh and blood cannot inherit eternal life. Therefore the necessity of changing this vile body is a part of our creed, and when this is completed in all, the wheat gathered into the garner of happiness, then the world and wicked are to be burnt up with fire from heaven, everlasting and unquenchable. So saith the Saviour, But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all, even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. By which our Lord compares the end and destruction of this world to the destruction of Sodom; compares his taking away the righteous from the evil thereof, to his delivering Lot out of the burning of Sodom. And as it fell on the wicked inhabitants when at the height of their sin and iniquity, when they were unprepared, and because of their unbelief did not expect it, so will it be at the end of time, when the Lord will rain on the wicked snares, fire, and brimstone, and an horrible tempest, this shall be the portion of their cup; then shall the wicked be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God, by which you must understand both fallen spirits and reprobate mankind. Therefore when you are commanded to look on the earth, it is that you may think of those things, and, as Peter tells you, "seeing that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be, in all holy conversation and godliness, that you may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless." And when all these things are fulfilled, when the earth, the heavens, and all they contain, are burnt up, when God's wrath is poured out on the wicked, when the general assembly, the church, the first-born of God, hath taken an everlasting flight from this vain world, then cometh the new heaven, the new earth, the new creation of God, wherein is to dwell righteousness. In this new created world the saints of God are to live and reign with Christ a thousand years: it is then the meek of the Lord are to inherit the earth. John tells us, in Rev. xxi. that he was carried away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and that he was shewed that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God; he describes her glory, her light, her foundation, her walls, and her gates, and that the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb is the temple therein: that it had no need of the sun nor the moon, for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof; and that there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie, but only them which are written in the Lamb's book of life, which is the bride, the Lamb's wife. Now when the thousand years' reign with Christ our king is expired, then Satan is once more to be loosed out of his prison, which is no sooner done, but he will form a project to dethrone Christ and the saints; he will gather together the wicked to effect his diabolical purpose, whose number is as the sand of the sea: this vast host will surround this beloved city, the dwelling place of the saints. Led on by Satan, they will think to subdue all before them; but Omnipotence will interfere, and the fire of his wrath will be poured out of heaven on him and his numberless host, which will send them burning with the vengeance of God to the lake of fire, there to be tormented for ever and for ever: and this is not all, there is to come the judgment of the great day, when death and hell are to deliver up their dead, when every one that is found therein is to be judged according to their works, and whosoever is not found written in the Lamb's book of life is cast into the lake of fire, into the lowest hell - this is the second death. Then cometh the end, when Christ shall deliver up the kingdom to God the father; when he shall have put down all rule, all authority and power, for he must reign until he hath put all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy that is to be destroyed is death, and death and hell was cast into the lake of fire - this is the second death; - it is the death of death. And when our Lord hath destroyed his enemies, overcome and subdued their power, then it is that he delivers up the saints to God, even to the Father, that they may enjoy ultimate glory, and this last glory will swallow up the glory of the new heaven and the new earth; therefore "Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look on the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old as a garment." "They are," says Peter, "to be burnt up, to be consumed and destroyed as Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their wicked inhabitants;" therefore we are to look at these things, and not to be forgetful of them, but to bear them in mind, and to remember that this is not our rest; that it is polluted with sin, it is ensnaring, it is deceitful, it yields no solid comfort. It is the blessing of God only that is calculated to make us happy; and if we expect or hope for happiness short of his blessing, we shall deceive ourselves, and be deceived, therefore you must not be forgetful that the heavens will vanish away like smoke, and the earth wax old as a garment that is worn. Now cannot you see the safety of those that trust in Christ Jesus, the Son of God? He that dwells here dwells in safety, because he dwells in Christ, for Christ is the resting place of his people in all generations. "O Lord," says Moses, "thou hast been our dwelling-place in all generations, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God;" "and my people," says God, "shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting-places." And what do you suppose this peaceable habitation, this sure dwelling and quiet resting-place means? Why it means no less than God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost; the ever-blessed and glorious Trinity; for he that loveth dwelleth in God and God dwelleth in him: and the way that we abide or dwell in Christ is by faith, and we dwell in the Holy Ghost by an unctuous experience of his grace and help: and these are the safe resting places, where we shall be safe and quiet, when it will rain tire and brimstone on a polluted and sinful world, when it shall be as hail coming down on the forest; and whilst the people of God, even here enjoy a rest, the wicked are like the troubled sea, they cannot rest. "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," abide you in Christ Jesus; his name is a strong tower; the righteous run in and are safe; he is a shadow in the day time from the heat of persecution, a city of refuge from the avenger of blood; he shall be a hiding-place from the wind of error, and a covert from the tempest of ungodly men. As the river of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, "abide in me and I in you," says our Lord, "for if a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered, and men gather them;" they join the company of the wicked, they are cast into the fire and are burned; therefore if you are not in Christ you will be found among the tares, which will be gathered into bundles, and burned in the fire of hell: but if you are in Christ then you are not of this world; but because you are not of this world therefore ye shall he hated; but fear none of their hate, for it is better to be hated of men than to be hated of God, for all that are hated and cursed of God shall be burned with the world, and those who are blessed of God shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation. Then God's command unto you is this: "Hearken unto me, my people, and give ear unto me, O my nation: look on the work of my hand, and consider that it and the workers of iniquity are to be destroyed together." You shall be saved who trust in Christ, but the unbeliever that perishes goeth out of the world in sin and iniquity; they do not die unto sin here, nor die the death of the righteous at last, but are burnt up in the wrath of an offended God. "But my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished;" but some may say, what are we to understand by the salvation of God? To which I answer, there are three parts of salvation; and what may be termed the first part, was what our Lord completed on the cross, when our blessed Lord bowed his head and died; and then it was that mercy and truth met together, righteousness and peace kissed each other, in the death of Christ. God was faithful to his word; the soul that sinneth shall die. Our Lord died in our room and stead, and the word of God is not broken. God was faithful to his law; Christ in his life and death magnified the law, and made it honourable; in his death justice was satisfied. This is the way of our escape from eternal death, and the only way; this is the way we receive mercy, and the only way. God's mercy comes to us through Christ, and God's truth was established in his death. Peace came to us by his blood; "having made peace by the blood of his cross;" and by the righteousness he hath wrought out we are justified. And thus I can prove that from the death of Christ we receive mercy and truth, righteousness and peace. Therefore the Lord says to sinners sold under sin, "Return unto me, for I have redeemed thee;" for at his death he finished transgression, made an end of sin, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness; he satisfied justice, closed the gates of hell, opened the gates of heaven. Christ is the author of our salvation, the captain of our salvation, neither is there salvation in any other; and it was completed for us on the cross. But the second part is this, God hath promised to apply this salvation to every soul for whom Christ died; this was well under-stood and predicted by good old Zacharias, the father of John. "And thou, child," says he to his son, "shall be called the prophet of the Highest, for thou shalt go before his face to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins." Here we are told it is a gift, and the Holy Spirit is the giver; it is his work to apply salvation; it is his work to give the knowledge of salvation, or the knowledge of your being saved by a remission of your sins; it is his work to reveal Christ crucified to sinners, which is God's salvation; he gives us faith to believe in him, and it is this faith that purifies the heart or conscience. Faith in a crucified Saviour will remove your load of guilt, will remove the burden of your sin with which you before was grievously afflicted; it removes wrath and condemnation, for God hath promised to be wrath no more with them that believe; but if his children forsake his law, he will visit them with the rod. Hence comes crosses, losses, sickness, contrariness in providence, the Lord's walking frowardly towards us; yet he will not take away his mercy, nor remove his loving kindness for ever. The Holy Spirit reveals God's salvation, gives the sinner faith to believe it; and if you never receive this principle of faith into your souls, what will be the consequence? why, eternal destruction, for he that believeth not shall be damned. But if God hath enabled you to believe, then happy it is for you. "I will wait," says the prophet, "for the God of my salvation: God will hear me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness." And God's salvation waits for the people of his care minutely, hourly, daily, and until death, and therefore it is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God, and no other than Christ is the salvation of God, to the end of the world. But this salvation is far from the wicked; they will not believe on the Son of God; they willingly let slip this greatest of all his blessings; they wrong their own souls, and when death and eternity appear in view, then they find out their mistake; and if such howl on their beds and cry, yet they find no deliverer, they having rejected the salvation of God. But the salvation of God is near them that believe and fear him, and must be applied to the sinner as well as completed in Christ Jesus. And the third part of salvation is, for us to receive it at death; for although we have enjoyed the peace of God in our souls by an application of salvation, and we remember well the time when our sins were blotted out, and when Christ was revealed to us, yet we do and shall meet with many temptations by the way, some of which do overcome us insomuch, that at times we find ourselves at a distance from God; we find guilt contracted; conscience tells us that it is sin that separates between God and the soul, and that it is on this account he hath hid his face; we have in-dwelling corruptions, we feel carnal enmity, and in this sense and on this account we are not arrived to a state of perfection as some vainly think; no, but the best of men may be carried away one time or other by lusts and the temptation of the devil, which hath caused and will cause much trouble of soul: and it was no other than this that made Paul cry out, "I find then a law that when I would do good evil is present with me, for I delight in the law of God after the inward man; but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members: O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death." It is the old man of sin, the law in the members, which is the body of this death that we are to be saved from, and our bodies are to share in this third part of salvation: they are to be delivered from this plague, to be changed and to be fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ; our souls are eternally to be saved from all sin, they are to be made perfect; and when out of the body they are called the spirits of just men made perfect, and at death the souls of the saints bid an eternal farewell to all sin, sorrow, and sighing. And it was this that Peter alluded to where he says, " he hath begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Christ from the dead:" it was this hope that carried their affection to heaven, they "being kept by the power of God through faith to salvation," ready to be revealed at the last time, which is at the end of their race, and which salvation is to be revealed again at the end of the world, when they are to receive the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.
Then, in the first place, we are saved in Christ: secondly, we are saved in time: and thirdly, we are saved at death. When our Lord Jesus Christ died, he saved his church for ever, both body and soul, from all destruction in time and eternity: but this salvation is not yet completed, for when he comes again he is to save the body from the grave, which is what he hath long promised to do. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues, O grave, I will be thy destruction, repentance shall be hid from mine eyes, I will never repent of destroying thee, nor will I repent of my promise, but I will give them the Holy Ghost the Comforter, which shall be the earnest of their future inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of my glory." By this you see our Lord by his death paid for us the ransom price, and purchased the church with his own blood, therefore he calls us his purchased possession, for he will possess his people: but as there is but part done towards it, it is necessary that he should come again, that he may at his second coming restore the body to the soul, which was separated in death: for we evidently see that death reigneth over all, and the grave that receives the bodies of mankind: and many that we have known have died, and their sepulchres remain with us, and as we have seen it in our days, the same hath it been from the beginning, and so it will remain until Christ comes. And, as I observed before, there are but two bodies mentioned in scripture that have arrived in heaven, although it is said that Lazarus died and was buried, and was raised again by our Lord: yet you must understand he died again after this, and without doubt was buried, by which you must understand the grave is not yet destroyed, although our Lord says, "O, grave! I will be thy destruction." "But Christ will reign until he hath put down all enemies under his feet, and the last enemy that is to be destroyed is death:" and thus the salvation of the body is to be revealed in the last time, when Israel is to be saved, with a full as well as an everlasting salvation. And thus our salvation was, in the first place, completed on the cross; it is applied to us in time, we are saved from contracted guilt at death, and, I may add, we receive the salvation of our bodies at the end of the world, which salvation is from first to last the joint work of the ever-blessed and glorious Trinity. - In the first place, the Father saves by Christ, for, "I will," says the Father, "have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God (which is Christ.). I will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, nor by horses, nor by horsemen," but by Christ I will save them from the guilt, power, and pollution and eternal punishment of sin, and they shall obtain eternal life. In the second place, Christ saves by himself. "Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end." "Then look unto me and be ye saved," says Christ, "all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else." Independent of me there is none, for out of Christ God is a consuming fire, against all the race of mankind; for if you are not saved in the appointed way of God's mercy in Christ, then depend on it there is nothing to be found but anger, wrath, and heavy displeasure, or, in other words, a consuming fire. In the third place, the Holy Spirit saves by mercy, for so he tells us by the Apostle, saying, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but of his mercy he saves us, by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost." And we that are thus saved have experienced an application of Christ crucified to our souls: with the love of God, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, we may join the holy triumph, and individually sing, "Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song, he is also become my salvation, and therefore shall ye with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation." And as salvation is in God, you must draw this water out of the Father, out of the Son, and out of the Holy Ghost, which must be the wells here meant, which in another place is called a river. "There is," says the Psalmist, "a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God:" and similar to this our Lord told the woman of Samaria, "that whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life;" which is called an everlasting salvation, because when we receive it, we receive Father, Son, and Spirit with all grace; it begins with the life of God in the soul, and it is completed in eternity, where it is to last for ever and ever: and so says the text, "but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." And this may be relied on; it cannot be abolished, for nothing can abolish what hath abolished all evil, for Christ hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And Paul tells us of the gospel, that "therein is the righteousness of God revealed." And in another place he tells us, that "by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts;" and by which it is plain, that Abel obtained this righteousness. When Abel brought the Lamb in sacrifice, he looked at the promise that God had made to his father Adam; the eye of faith looked at the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world; the Holy Ghost bare witness to his soul of God's cordial acceptance, for God accepted the sacrifice because it was offered in faith, and God had respect unto Abel and to his offering: the Holy Spirit witnessed to his soul that he was a righteous man, because by faith he laid hold of the righteousness of God, and, like Paul, was found in him, not having his own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith. But that God gives righteousness to sinners by faith, is a doctrine which thousands stumble at, blaspheme, and condemn, supposing that something must be done by the sinner before they can be thought worthy to be made possessors of any good thing from God. Poor deluded creatures! they make God a debtor! that he only gives them what by good works they have merited! But if it should ever come to pass, that such should receive the life of God in their souls, and be enlightened by the Holy Ghost, they will be sure to know, as Isaiah did, that all their righteousness is as filthy rags, and will make mention of thy righteousness, O Lord, and of thine only. Our Lord, in his day, observes this of Abel, when he condemned the persecuting Jews: "Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of Hell?" A truly awful name and denunciation - serpents and vipers, signifying, that their works, religion, faith, and confidence, was the genial production of that old serpent the Devil, who had begotten in them such a spirit of enmity against God, that they were for annihilating every appearance of God, for ever blessed, out of the earth. "Behold," says our Lord, "I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar: verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation." And so it came to pass; the wrath of God fell on them to the uttermost; they were destroyed by famine, by pestilence, and by the sword. But what made Abel and Zachariah righteous? Why, they were two out of the many; as Paul, in the fifth to the Romans, and 19th verse, says, "By the obedience of one (Christ Jesus) shall many be made righteous." The righteousness of Christ was imputed to them, and they were murdered for being God's faithful servants. And in historical writings it is recorded of this Zachariah, that he was murdered for hiding his son, to keep him from the fury of these blood-thirsty Jews; and as they could not discover where it was his father had hid him, they spent their rage on the head of Zachariah, and slew him; and it is said, that as his blood flowed on the pavement, the good old dying priest put up this short prayer, "Lord, look upon it, and require it," (meaning his spilt blood;) which prayer was answered, and that by our Lord, "for," says he to the Jews, "that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zachariah, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar." By which we must suppose, that as our Lord pointedly charged them with the murder; they before heard the prayer of the priest, "Lord, look upon it, and require it;" and now they hear it answered, that his blood is required of them; and it was required, for his wrath fell heavy upon them, insomuch, that the cruelty exercised towards them by the Roman soldiers (for their hatred and cruelty to Christ Jesus, his spirit, and followers) was such as never was exercised towards any other nation or people. And Christ will require the blood of his servants at the hand of a blood-thirsty and persecuting world, whose blood for several ages was spilt by persecuting Roman pontiffs and their cruel agents; it was Christ they then hated, as they now do, because his righteousness is imputed to the sinner; and every one that believeth in Christ Jesus hath this righteousness on him, for he receives it by faith; and he believes the obedience of Christ is put to his account, and that God is well pleased with him for his righteousness sake, which is called his, because God gave it him, and he will never take it away again, for what is more free than a gift. We all lost our own righteousness in Adam, our federal head, for we were in league or confederacy with him; but if ever we receive the righteousness of Christ as a gift from God, this we can never loose, God will never take this from us, it cannot be abolished, it cannot be lost nor defiled, it is spotless and complete. The poor sinner may see great deformity, much perverseness, and abundant unworthiness in himself; but when he is favoured with a view of the righteousness and spotless obedience of Christ, this is perfect and complete, answering the demands of a righteous law; and when this is applied to his own soul, then, as the king's daughter, she is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold. Such are those whom God hath made righteous. And when this world is come to its end, and the awful vengeance of God begins to unfold itself to a sinful world, then it will be said, "He that is righteous, let him be righteous still." And when Christ appears in the character of a judge, on the clouds of heaven, he will condemn the wicked, and say, "Depart from me ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels." But he will justify the righteous, and say, "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Then the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal. Now this is the last part of the work of our Lord before this world is burnt up. And as the Lord's eye hath always been over his people since the foundation of our earth to the end, from Adam to the last elected soul, from our first birth to our second birth, and even to death; so he declares the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance, when this world is passed away and gone: then the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father: his salvation and his righteousness shall be for ever, throughout the countless ages of eternity; for we are to be saved with an everlasting salvation; it is never to be abolished, it is never to be antiquated; neither is there to be any thing like it; and on the account of it, the children of men are for ever blessed who receive it, even the righteousness of Christ freely imputed. Now the thing that remains, is to know whether you have got the gift of God, that is, righteousness by faith; because if you have not got it, notwithstanding your profession, you are but an unrighteous person, and if you keep in a profession for years, and go out of the world without it, what will all your profession benefit you; no righteousness of your own will ,do you any good; it is the righteousness of Christ that must be your breast-plate to defend you from the sword of God's injured justice, which, without it, will pierce through your soul and cut you asunder, and appoint you a place with hypocrites, where will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And the reason that there are so many who make shipwreck of their profession, is, because they never had this righteousness; they may hear others speak of it and show the necessity of it; and they may agree, and say the same; but seldom, if ever, trouble themselves to know if they have received it. And if under the ministry, or in reading, or by the conversation of the spiritual, they are laid open and exposed, they are again for sewing a new piece on their old garment of self-righteousness, and by a few extra good works, or the like, are for patching up a peace, which God's anger will destroy in a moment; but you who have received this righteousness, can well remember the deplorable state you were in before you received it, and remember the time, some, perhaps, the very spot, when and where Christ Jesus, God's wisdom, was made of God unto you wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; which act of his free mercy and goodness, as recorded in his word, and witnessed by the spirit of truth in the conscience of his people, pours contempt on all who treat it lightly, all who deny it, and go about to establish a righteousness of their own: of such are Atheists, Deists, Arminians, Socinians, and Arians, a whole troop of deceivers. But notwithstanding all their malice and hatred, and readiness to pervert, contemn, and alter the word of God, and propagate errors, yet, blessed be God, they have never been able to change his covenant, alter his decrees, nor rob him of one of his sheep; no, nor never shall, for eternal veracity declares in my text, "My SALVATION shall be for ever, and my RIGHTEOUSNESS shall never be abolished." Therefore observe, it is to his people he calls, his elected in Christ Jesus: "Hearken unto me ye that know by experience this righteousness, the people in whose heart comes law, (or gift of faith,) fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings," let them call themselves what they please; perfect men or men of extraordinary wisdom, if they know nothing of this righteousness, they will reproach and revile you; but fear you not, you bless God for the gift of his Son, and for a righteousness imputed to you, for you are warranted by scripture, as the poor Gadarene was, (whose case is typical of all men,) to tell what great things God hath done for you. Let them mock on, God declares, "the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool, but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation." "Then lift up your eves to the heavens and look upon the earth beneath, for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old as a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner; but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished." Now these are the lessons you are to learn, and is the only profitable way of looking at the heavens or the earth, which are one clay to be dissolved; and if God hath assured us the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their father, and they that turn many to righteousness, as the stars for ever and ever; then be assured that the righteousness of God shall never be abolished. May God bless these few hints, and I add no more.