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repeat to you what Christ himself has declared ; “ And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also :” and you will not wonder that I mention these words with such rapture. “ Till he come,” we '
must show forth his death by these outward signs, and refresh our memories, and our hearts with the bread and wine which he has appointed.« Till he come,
we must be content with hearing from him by his messengers, receiving now and then some proofs of his regard by his Spirit, and sometimes beholding his face, through a glass, darkly. « Till he come,
we must expect to share in his sufferings, and to taste of that cup of which he drank so deeply. We are not to think it strange, concerning the fiery trial, as though some strange thing had happened to us; nor to wonder if we endure great afflictions, and if one trouble follow another in quick and doleful succession. In short, “ till he come,” we must continue working and waiting, sometimes lifted up, and sometimes cast down; and comfort ourselves, and one another, with looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing, of the great God and our Saviour. And when he comes, O! my fellow Christians, when he comes, all our troubles will be ended. He will give us beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. When he comes, he will change these vile bodies, and fashion them like his own glorious body; so that they shall be no more subject to death, decay or disorder. We shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed us, and
lead us to living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes. When he comes, all those dear friends of ours, which have slept in Jesus, will God bring with him ; and we, which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them, in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
A MEDITATION ON
PSALM CXVI. 16.
O Lord, I am thy servant; truly I am thy servant,
and the son of thine hand-maid: thou hast loosed
“ Thou hast made me free, and I am impatient to be bound again. Thou hast broken the bonds of sin; now, Lord, bind me with the cords of love. Thou hast delivered me from the tyranny of Satan, make me as one of thy hired servants. I owe my liberty, my life, and all that I have, or hope, to thy generous rescue: and now, O my gracious, my divine Friend and Redeemer, I lay myself and my all at thy feet.”
Right, my fellow Christians; it is the very language that was expected from you. The Lord Jesus Christ will force no man into his service: It is an unspeakable favour that he will accept those who are disposed to offer themselves. When he had, by a most surprising method, effected our deliverance from the power of sin and Satan, he did not, with the stern authority of a conqueror, say, “ Now I have saved your lives at the expence of my own, I insist upon it, that you take my yoke upon you, and do whatsoever I think fit to command." No; with a generosity peculiar to himself, as soon as he had set
" O Lord,
you at liberty, and you could not but own, that you were free indeed, he sent me to you with this gracious proposal ; “ Choose you this day, whom you will serve.” And who can conceive the satisfaction he felt, when he just now saw you eagerly coming into his presence, and heard one crying, truly I am thy servant ;” and another, “ O Lord, truly I am thy servant.” Suppose now, then, [in this little interval, before the indentures are signed and sealed, that are publicly to bind you to Christ's service for ever,] that I were in a few words to remind you of what Christ will expect from his servants, and what his servants may expect from him.
He expects, then, that you renounce all other masters. No man can serve God and mammon; or God and
any sin whatever. Indeed, in subordination to God, we may serve our fellow creatures: as chile dren may obey their parents ; subjects their prince; and servants, their master. In many things, God and men may be served at the same time. But where a divine precept directs one way, and any human power, or corrupt inclination, would lead us another, we must immediately, and invariably, disclaim all that would usurp the rights of the Almighty. For it is written, “ Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God; and him only shalt thou serve.” If, therefore, there have been any sin, that has formerly reigned in your heart or life, and resisted the authority of Christ, you must instantly and heartily depose and renounce it.
Yes, gracious Lord ; most cheerfully do I agree to this. Other Lords, besides thee, have had dominion over me; but henceforth I will make menVOL. I.
tion of thy name only. If sin, or Satan, or the world, should lay their commands upon me, and insist upon my compliance as formerly, I will tell them, that I have changed masters, and am no longer their ser. vant; but that I have devoted myself to the service of God.”
Again, Christ expects that his servants should obey him out of choice and sincere affection. Thus David speaks of himself: “Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.” He meant not a slavish fear, that is forced up merely to avoid punishment; but an ingenuous, filial, godly principle, in which reverence and love are united. It is excellent. ly described in the words of Isaiah: “ All the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the Lord, to serve him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be his servants; every one that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant ; even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer !” “ Yes, gracious Lord, most cheerfully do I agree to this also. I would rather be bound than not. My heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked ; and therefore I care not what bonds thou layest upon me. I was glad when I heard that thou wouldst condescend to make any proposals; and when I knew what they were, I was impatient to subscribe them.”
Once more, Christ expects, that if any man serve him, he should follow him. This is evident ; for his servants we are, whom we obey; and the very employment implies our being bound to do what we are bidden, without any exception. The good centurion has well expressed our duties, when he thus speaks of