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and pilgrims on the earth,” and “ desire a better country, that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city,”
These are they, for whom is prepared of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ a future abode of blessedness and glory: these are they, to whom that abode shall be given by our Lord Jesus Christ himself. And according as they shall have been more distinguished for their love of God, for their gratitude to their Saviour testified by acts of benevolence to their brethren, and for their elevation above earthly things, and their devout aspiration after the things of heaven, the more distinguished, we may conceive, will be their recompence; the brighter will be “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give them in that day;” and the nearer will be their approximation to the glory of the Redeemer's throne.
In short, they who shall have “drunk most deeply “of the cup” of Christ, and shall have been most thoroughly “baptized with his baptism,” or, in other words, they who shall have been most perfectly “conformed to the image of the Son of God," and shall have been thus best qualified to attain pre-eminence in his kingdom, are also they, for whom, after a course of love to God and man, and of affection for things above, the glory of
Heb. si. 13, 16.
sitting on his right hand and on his left” is prepared of his Father: a glory, which is prepared and will be bestowed, not in compliance with any partial favor, but in pursuance of that principle of divine wisdom and equity, which provides that the best things be “prepared ” for those who are best prepared to receive them; and which has been propounded by the Judge himself in his own impressive annunciation, “ He that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” 1
HAPPINESS PREPARED OF THE FATHER
FOR CHRIST'S DISCIPLES.
God for his own elect prepares a throne
Of glorious brightness : what the Sire prepares,
The Son bestows; so strict an union theirs, In nature, substance, will, and actions one. Would'st thou that throne of glory make thy own ?
Purge off each earthly passion, that impairs
Thy heavenly likeness; to salvation's heirs
The poor in spirit, and the rich in love,
The holy influence of the mystic Dove: Such best below his heavenly kingdom seek,
Such come most near Him in the realm above.
Rev. xxii. 11, 12.
PROPER EFFECT OF THE FOREGOING REFLECTIONS.
THE PROPER EFFECT of such reflections, as have been now occupying our minds, is that the disciple of Christ should be animated with a very fervent desire and longing to “ sit on the right hand or on the left” of his Master in his kingdom of glory ; and accordingly should strive to invest himself, through the power of the Spirit of Christ, with that
conformity to Christ's image,” which will qualify him for such a station of dignity; and to acquire those Christian graces of piety, charity, and spiritualmindedness, for the possessors of which it is prepared.
The desire and pre-eminence is inherent in our nature; but the indulgence of it is too frequently an introduction to a disregard of the laws of God, to injurious treatment of our brethren, to a neglect of our blessed Saviour's example, to an abandonment of the graces and virtues of the Christian life. .
Even where no positive disobedience to God's laws, and no positive injustice towards others, result from the indulgence of temporal ambition, its pursuits have a natural tendency to secularize the mind of its votary, to weigh and press it down to the things of earth, and to produce an indifference, a disinclination, a neglect, a contempt, for high and heavenly things.
Disappointment also and mortification are the frequent consequences of its efforts; whilst, after all, even where disappointment is avoided, and the object of pursuit is attained, how little satisfactory is the consequent enjoyment, how ill calculated to fill up the cravings of a reasonable soul, how transitory and perishable in its duration !
Nor is it without its accompaniment of painfui reflection to the mind of a considerate and generous competitor, that, whatever gratification prosperity may produce from the contemplation of his own success, very different feelings are the natural consequence of failure in those who have been defeated in the pursuit of the object, which he has succeeded in attaining.
But to the object of desire, which is held forth to the Christian disciple as the scope of his loftiest ambition, no such derogatory and depreciating considerations can be applied.
A desire to attain that object, as it is in full accordance with the will of our Creator, so does it iead, in its regular course, to an observance of his commandments, to active benevolence for our fellow-creatures, to a cultivation of all Christian graces, to an imitation of the example of Christ.
The inore perfect and earnest is our desire for such pre-eminence in Christ's kingdom, the more is the soul elevated above a desire for earthly things, and partakes more of the nature of those high and heavenly things, to which it is lifted up and aspires.
The object itself is in its nature most valuable, in its duration eternal; calculated to satisfy the most longing hunger and thirst of a creature, formed in the image, after the likeness, of his Creator, and gifted with immortality.
And although the very notion which we are considering supposes a superiority of reward in some, and of course an inferiority in others, and although therefore we may ourselves not be foremost in the competition, or may be sensible that others have failed in their efforts for the most distinguished prize: yet will a sense of such difference not be liable to produce the painful effects, which follow the variable success of worldly competitions ; for we may be sure that they, who earnestly strive after the highest stations, will not fail of obtaining a reward fully sufficient for their eventual satisfaction and delight : since of the “many mansions," which our blessed Lord has assured us that there " are in his Father's house," however some may be distinguished by circumstances of pre-eminence, there is none which will not secure for its possessor an abundance of joy. If a brighter crown await the martyred Apostle, who “ fought the good fight, and finished his course," amid distresses, afflictions, persecutions, “always bearing about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus,” and “ always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake;"1 still a
1 2 Cor. iy. 10, 12.