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And is it possible that we can banish the thoughts of this for one moment, or that we can think of it with cold and uuaffected bearts? The
Second thing that deserves the peculiar notice of be. lievers, is the gracious design of our Lord's appearance.
" He shall appear the second time unto salvation." Some may, perhaps, be at a loss to conceive wbat should remain to be done for the salvation of the saints, after their souls are admitted into beaven. But if we reflect a little, we shall be sensible, that even after the soul's admission into heaven, there are several things to be done by Christ for his people, which will increase their happiness, and render their salvation more perfect.--For,
1st, At his second coming, Christ will raise the dead bodies of his servants, which will, without doubt, be a considerable addition to their felicity. The souls of the saints are represented in Scripture as waiting and long. ing for the resurrection of their bodies. Hence their flesh is said to rest in hope ; and, therefore, when this hope is fulfilled at Christ's second appearance, we may justly conclude, that the joy of the soul shall be heightened and improved; especially when we consider the wonderful change which shall be wrought upon the body itself. When, in the morning of the resurrection, the trumpet shall sound, and the graves shall be opened; when that which was sown in weakness and dishonour, shall be raised in power and glory; when the formerly vile body shall not only be refined, but fashioned like unto the glorious body of the Redeemer, with what tri. umph and exultation shall that song be sung! “Death is swallowed up in victory."'-_~0 death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory ? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Cbrist.”
2dly In that day the Church, which is called the body of Christ, shall be complete; which must add to the happiness of every saint in particular. For the several members of that spiritual body being closely ted, not only to the head, but also to one another, each of them must necessarily partake of the happiness and glory of the whole. Must not every child of God be more joyful when the whole family is assembled in the immediate presence of their Father, and not one member is wanting? If there is joy in heaven at the conver. sion of one sinner, though afterwards he hath a waste and howling wilderness to pass through, and many a toilsome and dangerous step to take, ere be arrive at the end of his journey; how much greater joy shall there be in the heavenly Jerusalem, when the many sons of God are all brought home to glory?
3dly. Then also shall believers be solemnly acquitted by the Judge himself, and publicly acknowledged in the presence of an assembled world. “ They shall be mine," saith the Lord, “ in that day when I make up my jew. els.” Having washed them with his blood, and sanctified them by his Spirit, he will not be ashamed to call them brethren, but will confess them before his Father, and present them at his throne without spot and blemish. And
4thly, To complete the happiness of the saints, then shall there be the clearest discovery of all God's works, and the most full and open manifestation of bis glorious perfections. When all his great designs are accomplished and brought to their intended issue, then shall the wise order, and harmonious contexture, of divine Provi. dence be clearly discerned, the most intricate and perplexed dispensations shall be explained and vindicated; and it shall then appear, to the full conviction of the whole admiring family of God, that all things have wrought together for their spiritual improvement and eternal felicity. This shall be the day of solemn triumph, the grand jubilee, upon the finishing of all God's works from the creation of the world, upon which ensues the resignation of the Mediator's kingdom. For although Christ shall continue through eternity to be the head of his church, yet the present manner of his administration shall then cease. He shall then deliver up the kingdom to the Father, that God, or the undivided Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may be all in all. This fact is distinctly asserted (1 Cor. xv. 24–28.) “ Then cometh the end,” saith the Apostle, “when Christ shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith that all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto bim, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."
Thus you have heard how Christ's second coming shall complete the salvation of bis people, and increase that happiness at the resurrection which commenced at their new birth; and which, though greatly improved by the release of the soul from the earthly tabernacle, was not carried to its full perfection at death.—The manner of our Lord's appearance, when he comes upon this gra. eious design, is the
Third particular in the text, which comes now to be considered. “ He shall appear the second time, without
sin, unto salvation.” When in the fulness of time God sent forth his Son into this world, although he was absolutely pure and spotless in himself, yet then he 6 bare the sins of many;" and "he who knew no sin, was made sin for us." Appearing in the likeness of sinful flesh, he was numbered with transgressors, and treated as if he had been the worst of criminals: But by his sufferings and death, baving fully expiated the guilt of sin, he obtained a public and legal discharge, by being released from the prison of the grave, and “set at the right hand of God in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power, and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” When, therefore, he cometh again, he shall
appear “ without sin," without that guilt which was charged upon him, while he sustained the character of Surety, and stood in the place of sinful man.
He shall likewise appear without any of the effects of sin, such as pain, poverty, reproach, or infirmity of any kind. It shall not be such an appearance as his first was, when he made himself of no reputation, took upon him the form of a servant,” and submitted to all the indignities attending that mean condition. He will not come to be buffetted and scourged, and spit upon, and crowned with thorns. He will not come, O careless and ungrateful sinners ! to be despised and rejected in all his gracious offers. No; he shall come in the clouds, with great power and glory; he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels; be shall appear in all the splendour of Zion's King, arrayed with that glory which he had with the Father before the world was. Then shall the reproach of the cross be wiped off, and all his sufferings fully recompensed. In this humble state, he was attended by twelve poor and illiterate
men; but then shall be come with “ ten thousands of his saints, and all the holy angels with him.” He was introduced to his public ministry by the “ voice of one crying in the wilderness;" but then shall his approach be announced by the “ voice of the archangel and the trump of God." And he who on Mount Calvary was lifted up on the cross between two thieves, shall then ascend his “great white throne, high and lifted up;" from whence, with unerring wisdom, and almighty power, be shall separate the righteous from the wicked, ad. judging the one to everlasting life, and the other to endless misery.
Thus shall he appear, when he comes the second time, without sin, unto salvation." And ought not the prospect of this to have a mighty influence upon us in the mean time? “ Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him." How great will be the confusion of ungodly men, when they see that Jesus, whose grace they despised, coming to fix their everlasting state. The multitude that came determined to apprehend him in the days of his flesh, went backward, and fell to the ground, when, with an air of majesty, he only pronounced these few words, “ I am he.” And if the Lamb's voice was so terrible, how dreadful will he appear when he roareth as a liou? If his voice shook the earth when he published the law from Mount Sinai, how must it shake the bearts of his enemies, when he pronounceth the sentence of the law, and dooms to those punishments which the law hath awarded ?
But the prospect of this appearance is po less comfortable to believers, than it is terrible to the ungodly. Then shall his own people lift up their heads, and be