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voice from Heaven, which said, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.” They have been delivered from the bondage of corruption, from the “mişeries of a sinful world.” They have only set out a little earlier upon their homeward journey, and soon we shall follow, provided we are found ready, when the summons comes, to render up our account with joy. Followers of Christ, you may be afflicted, for God dealeth with you as with sons, and what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But let the anticipation of this happy rest cheer you amid the trials by which it is the will of God to prove you-yet a little while and the soul shall quit its earthly tabernacle, and soar into the regions of eternal day—an ever living spirit of God. Perhaps at this moment the Bridegroom cometh -- prepare to meet him— there is joy among the blessed angels, says our Lord, even over one sinner that repenteth: but, 0! what extacy pervades the heavenly host, when the warfare is accomplished--when the race is over---when death is swallowed up in victory, and the justified sinner, no longer militant but triumphant, enters into the joy of his Lord !
NOT LOST, BUT GONE BEFORE.
SAY, why should Friendship weep for those
Who, safe arrived on Canaan's shore,
Released from all their hurtful foes,.
They are not lost, but gone before.
Their fainting spirits numbered o'er;
before. Dear is the spot where Christians sleep,
And sweet the strain which angels pour;
They are not lost, but gone before.
And hear the swelling waters roar,
To friends not lost, but gone before.
The word Righteousness expresses either a state or a character. It expresses a state of acceptance or justification. This is, by no means, an unusual sense of the word righteousness in the Old Testament. “I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not tarry.”—“My righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation.”“He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation; he hath covered me with the robes of righteousness.” This character is recognised also in the New Testament. "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth ;" and he is said to have been made “sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” It is in this righteousness alone that any mortal man can behold the presence of God. For we are all sinful dust and ashes; and therefore could not endure the brightness of his glory, did not a sinless Mediator interpose between him and us. If we look upon God out of Christ, we shall find him only a consuming fire; for what else can a just and holy God be to sinful creatures? It is in Christ only that we can behold him as reconciled, and walk with him in love, as dear children. And when that great day shall come, which shall burn as an oven, those only shall behold his face with comfort who shall “be found in Christ; not having their own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Thus the word righteousness, expresses a state of forgiveness and reconciliation; the condition of those who are in Christ Jesus, to whom there is no condemnation, but who have passed from death unto life.
But the word denotes also a character as well as a state. It signifies a holy disposition of soul. And this is absolutely necessary in order to behold the face of God. It is requisite as a qualification. A wicked man is incapable of deriving any comfort or delight from the divine presence. And therefore our Lord himself assigns to the pure
in heart the blessedness of seeing God, because they only are capable of such enjoyment. Thus also Saint Paul
“Without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” There must, in the very nature of the thing, be an agreement, a suitableness, between the disposition of a man's mind, and the object which is to afford him happiness. A man whose inclination leads him to festivity and riotous excess, will not often relish the severer pursuits of science; nor will the student delight in drunken carousals. In these things, however, there is no such absolute inconsistency, but that there might be found, in the same man, a taste which can adapt itself to pleasures and pursuits of different kinds. But there are other things which are absolutely incompatible,—which cannot exist together. A good man cannot delight in the company of profane persons, nor have a pleasure in hearing their curses and imprecations; nor can a wicked man find gratification in the solemn worship of God; much less is he capable of enjoying, heaven, where that worship is holy and spiritual in the highest degree. Whoever, therefore, purposes to see God, and would not be disappointed
in his hope, must purpose to behold his face in righteousness: both as a justified person, accepted in the Beloved, and accounted righteous for the merits of Christ; and also as a sanctified person, renewed in righteousness after the likeness of his Saviour, and thus made meet for the enjoyment of God.
I have used many words to explain the signification of the true righteousness, in order to shew you, as far as I am able, what must enter into the determination of him who would behold the face of God. And you will remember that its full meaning is comprised in two things, justification and sanctification: * in the former of which consists our title to life; in the latter, our fitness for it.
To every man who either doubts whether he can be ranked among the children of God, or has a good hope that he is such, I would say,
Make the matter certain, if doubtful; or, if not doubtful, confirm and increase your confidence and joy by growing in the knowledge and likeness of God. It is perfectly clear what is the happiness you were made for, what is that in which your final blessedness must consist. And if the
* The former of these two states is frequently, in religious writings, styled imputed righteousness, and the latter, imparted righteousness; and it is, perhaps, from confounding one with the other, and not reflecting that thongh distinct, they are still inseparable, so much controversial discussion has been maintained, on these points, by good men.--Ep.