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XLII. 4thly, Christ has announced in Scripture certain signs of the times; and given notice of certain remarkable changes in the Church, which are either more remotely or more immediately, to precede his last coming. Such are, 1. The exhibition of Antichrist in his rise, progress, and destruction. 2. The happy restoration of the nation of Israel. 3. A conversion of nations and kindreds perhaps more extensive and signal than any that has hitherto been seen. 4. The holy and glorious condition of the whole Church on earth. But these and other such signs, we must not now stop to illustrate particularly.
XLIII. Let us proceed to the IMPROVEMENT. And, in the first place, the consideration of this article is useful to awaken men from their security, and to generate in their minds a salutary dread ; that, trembling at the thought of so splendid and awful a day, they may turn with the whole heart unto God. Hear, and ponder these truths, ye secure sinners who have been hitherto asleep in your crimes, and caring only for the body, have emulated the profane manners of those Israelites, of whom we read in the book of Amos. The day will certainly come at last, in which your laughter shall be turned into mourning. Hear, ye profane mockers. Hear, ye carnal men, who refer these concerns to a distant season. Hear, ye unrighteous oppressors of the faithful. Hear, ye unprincipled hypocrites." Hear, ye slanderers of the brethren. Hear, ye unjust stewards. Hear, all ye, whoever you are, that have
* Chap. vi.
· James v. 1-5.
hitherto been disobedient to the Gospel.: Hear, in fine, all
who have not made it your care to regulate your life according to the will of God. The day will at length come, in which you shall be obliged to render an account to God of all that
have done, and spoken, and thought. The Judge will be omniscient, the judgment exact, the condemnation terrible, the execution prompt. Be alarmed, therefore, be greatly afraid, tremble for fear.
xliv. But as this day of judgment is dreadful to the ungodly, so to the godly it is no less desirable, and most devoutly to be wished. Here oppressed innocence sometimes languishes under the calumny of the wicked, but there it shall be brought forth into light. There they shall see the wicked that once lived in luxury, now delivered up to a just destruction, and shall rejoice in the judgments of the Lord;b but to them it will be a day of consummate felicity. The mouth of their accusers shall be stopped. The Judge is their Friend, and Advocate, and Bridegroom ; who was himself unjustly condemned in their stead, that they might never be justly condemned. Their sentence will be at once gracious and glorious in the highest degree. COME, , let no fear, no consciousness of
you; draw near with boldness :-YE BLESSED OF MY FATHER, ye dear children of God, given to me by the Father, redeemed with my blood, and long ago enriched and adorned with numerous gifts of the Divine beneficence.--INHERIT THE KINGDOM PREPARED FOR YOU FROM THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD:
your sins, deter
· Mic. vii. 9, 10.
2 Thes. i. 8. Heb. ii. 2, 3. • Ps. lviii. 10, 11. Rev. xvi. 5, 6, 7. c Rom. viii. 33, 34.
Rise from that low state of servitude to glorious liberty; and as the partners of my kingdom, not merely enjoy its blessings, but sit together with me on the throne, encircled with a crown of never-fading glory. Let the world see what solid joy I have prepared for you; let them see, and pine away because they have lost it. Possess now that full and perfect happiness competent to human nature, which your enemies have so often exerted themselves to prevent, and your own expectation of which was once shaken within you by the incursions of so many doubts. See with what solicitude I have preserved it for you, in spite of your unbelief and of your weakness. Now let all your tears be wiped away, let all your sorrows be forgotten. -ENTER YE INTO THE JOY OF YOUR LORD, a joy never again to be impaired by any mixture of grief. O delightful sentence, the mere anticipation of which by faith, produces “joy unspeakable.”d
XLV. The prospect of this day ought, in fine, to excite us to an assiduous cultivation of piety, and a careful attention to every part of our conduct. “ The day of " the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in the " 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. Seeing then that all these things shall “ be dissolved, What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for " and hasting unto the coming of the day of God !”e 0 were it continually present to our minds, that an account of all our actions must one day be rendered to God, with what solicitude should we guard against sin!
di Pet. i. 8.
e 2 Pet. iii. 10, 11, 12.
With what diligence should we perform that which we shall at last wish we had done! With what conscientious care should we daily adjust our accounts, lest that day surprise us unprepared! “ Watch therefore, for “ye know neither the day, nor the hour, wherein the “Son of man cometh.”
Mat. xxv. 13.
ON THE HOLY GHOST.
1. THE HOLY SPIRIT of God is the Author of all human wisdom,a and in particular, of that spiritual and saving knowledge, which makes us Christians ; since we stand indebted to him both for the Scriptures, from which we know all things, and for the opening of the
eyes of the mind, by which we know them. It would, therefore, be more than impious not rightly to know, and not devoutly to recognise the Spirit himself. He cannot be seen, however, but in his own light; he cannot be known or acknowledged, but by his own kind and gracious agency. It seems proper, then, to begin our present Dissertation with the same prayer with which Cyprian (or whoever is the Author of that Discourse) commences his Discourse on the Holy Spirit.
“ Come, Holy Spirit, and descend from heaven upon us, who are looking up for thy benign influence. Sanctify the temple of our body, and consecrate it