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steal: and where their treasure is, there their hearts are also. They view the world and all it contains in relation to eternity, and employ all they possess to promote the glory of God and the interests of his kingdom; which gives them present enjoyment, and secures a future and eternal reward.
6. It appears from what has been said, that an habitual view of eternity has a happy and powerful tendency to guard christians against an undue conformity to the customs and manners of the world. There are many things highly esteemed among the men of the world which are an abomination in the sight of God; and would appear so to all men, if they viewed them in the light of eternity. All the customs and manners of the world are designed to gratify the heart, and stupify the conscience, and put future and eternal objects out of sight. And to guard against the spirit and tendency of such customs and manners, a realizing and habitual view of eternity is the most effectual method christians can take. While they keep eternity in view, they will not consider the customs and manners of the world as innocent, or mere venial evils, but carefully and conscientiously avoid them. They will not conform to the world in wasting their time in idle recreations and fashionable amusements. Nor will they waste their property in any of the fashionable modes of prodigality and dissipation. Nor will they pervert the design, or violate the sanctity of the Lord's day, by spending it as an unholy and common day. Nor will they neglect the duties of the closet, of the family, or the sanctuary. Though the men of the world approve, and practice, and highly esteem these things, yet they appear to christians, in the light of eternity, as very criminal and displeasing to God. So long, therefore, as christians keep their eyes and their hearts fixed upon the invisible objects of the invisible world, they hate, condemn and avoid every mode of living, acting and thinking, which tends to obstruct them in duty, or alienate their affections from God, however much it may be esteemed and applauded by the unwise, unholy and ungodly. Moses lived as seeing him who is invisible, and the apostles looked not on things seen and temporal, but on things unseen and eternal. They lived by faith, and not by sight; and by this non-conformity to the world, they condemned the world, promoted the religion they professed, and secured their own future and eternal blessedness.
7. If christians live habitually in the view of eternity, then their future prospects are continually brightening. The more steadily and joyfully they carry their thoughts into eternity, and contemplate the holiness and felicity of the heavenly world, the more their views are enlarged, their holy affections excited
and strengthened, and their highest hopes confirmed. As their temporal prospects diminish, their eternal hopes are enlarged. As they approach nearer and nearer to the end of time, and to the verge of eternity, they feel less and less attached to the world they are leaving, and more and more attached to the world whither they are tending. This we find was the case of the ancient saints and primitive christians. Their path was like the rising sun, which shines brighter and brighter to the perfect day. David died in hope and peace. Simeon died in hope and peace. The primitive christians were willing to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. Paul triumphed in the nearest prospect of death and eternity. We cannot conceive of any thing better suited to remove the sting of death and the terrors of the grave, than an habitual and familiar view of that blessed eternity into which they are about to enter, and in which they hope to dwell for ever. Sincere, growing christians see good reasons to go on their way rejoicing in the hope of the glory and enjoyment of God.
8. We learn from what has been said, that the hopes and prospects of sinners are constantly fading and vanishing. They are all built upon things seen and temporal. The fashion of this world is constantly passing away, and consequently all the hopes founded upon it are fading and passing away with it. But if the objects and enjoyments of the world should not be removed from sinners so long as they live, yet death will put an everlasting period to them. All their worldly sources of happiness are leaving them, and lessening in value every year and every day, and the moment they go into eternity they will be for ever out of their sight, but not out of their mind. They will be a source of painful and eternal reflection. They will see and feel that they have disappointed all their hopes, and shut them out of the kingdom of heaven. They will find themselves without the least source of comfort or ground of hope. This is the melancholy and growing prospect of darkness, which keeps them all their life in bondage through fear of death and a miserable eternity. They may be told that they are safe; but they cannot think so, if they will only look into eternity; which has destroyed the hopes of thousands of thoughtless sinners in a dying hour. But, if they should have “no bands in their death," they will be the more disappointed and the more wretched when they open their eyes in eternity.
This subject now appeals to all, whether they are, or are not, christians. You have seen how christians live habitually in the view of eternity. Be so good to yourselves as to compare your views with theirs. Have you had a realizing view of eternity? Have you had a deep and permanent view of eter
nity? Have you had a joyful view of eternity? Have your views of eternity become more and more habitual and impressive, and have they produced an increasing practical influence upon your hearts and lives? These are plain, and intelligible, and interesting queries to all.
But they are especially so to the aged, who stand so near to eternity, and to the bereaved, who have lately been called to look into eternity, where the object or objects of their love, veneration, or respect, are gone, and where they must soon follow them. Nor is the duty of looking into eternity, and preparing for it, uninteresting to the young. They have immortal souls, which are inseparably connected with eternity, in which they must take up their everlasting residence. Who among the aged, the young, or the afflicted, live in an habitual and joyful view of eternity, and are waiting for their appointed change? You are safe and happy. But those who put far away the evil day, and dread to look into eternity, are now unhappy; and unless they embrace the hope set before them in the gospel, must perish.
SERMON X X XVIII.
SAINTS WITH CHRIST IN HEAVEN.
FEBRUARY 25, 1827. DEATH OF MRS. MARY METCALF.
FATHER, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where
I am. — JOAN, xvii. 24.
As Christ knew the precise time when he should leave the world, so he made a wise preparation for that great and solemn event. The evening before his crucifixion he celebrated the Passover, and instituted the memorials of his own death. He washed and wiped his disciples' feet, for an example of mutual love and condescension to all his followers in time to come. He entered into a free and familiar conversation with his disciples, in which he forewarned them of their dangers, inculcated their duty, and suggested the best sources of consolation. He then lifted up his eyes to heaven, and addressed his Father in a very solemn, affectionate and appropriate prayer for all his present and future friends, which he closed with this comprehensive petition: “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am.” By those whom his Father had given him, he meant all those who were chosen from eternity to be heirs of salvation. These persons the Father had promised to give him as the proper reward for his incarnation, sufferings, and death on the cross, to make atonement for the sins of the world, and open the way for the free and consistent exercise of pardoning mercy to all returning, penitent, believing sinners. Upon this ground he could with propriety address his Father in the language of the text : " Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me be with me,” &c. He makes a claim of his promised reward, and in a manner which strongly expresses his ardent desire of having what he claims, both as an expression of his Father's love to him, and of his love to the elect." Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me : for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” The text in this connection suggests a proper subject for our present meditation. It is this:
That Christ desires to have all the heirs of salvation to be with him where he is. I shall consider,
I. Where he is.
II. When he desires that the heirs of salvation should be with him.
III. Why he desires to have them where he is.
I. We are to consider where Christ is. Though this may seem to be a point which needs no illustration or proof, yet it is really worthy of particular consideration, because there is a diversity of opinions about the place where Christ now is, and always will be. The information which he has given us, ought to remove all ground of doubt or conjecture upon this point
. He says himself, “ No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.” And again he says, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will
, but the will of him that sent me.” He uniformly made such declarations as these concerning the place from whence he came, which the Jews understood to mean the place where God has fixed his own throne, surrounded by all holy beings. And he as plainly declared that he should return to heaven, as that he came down from thence. This declaration his disciples saw verified with their own eyes.
For after he had risen from the dead and repeatedly appeared to them, “ he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven." There is therefore no room to doubt whether heaven be not the place where Christ now is. But we are told that he will return again to this world. This the angels told the spectators of his ascension to heaven.
6 While they looked steadfastly toward heaven, as he went up, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." And the apostle tells us, “ The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” But though it appears that Christ was in heaven before