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can turn up their eyes with triumph to meet their coming Judge, before whom the guilty world melts away; and while the hearts of others are failing them through fear, can take up the divine hymn of the Prophet Isaiah,* “ Lo! this is our God, we have “ waited for Him, and He will Save us! This is the “ Lord, we have waited for Him; we will be glad “ and rejoice in his Salvation!” “ Wet have fought “ a good fight, we have finished our course, we have “ kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for us “ crowns of righteousness, which the Lord our ~ Righteous Judge shall give unto all those who “ loved and longed for his appearance.” “Greats “ and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; “ just and true are thy ways, thou King of Saints.” Hallelujah! Amen!
N. B. My next and last Sermon from this Text of St. Paul, (1 Thess. Ch. iv. on which Seven Sermons have been printed above) will be on a joyous Subject; the last verse of the copious text given me by St. Paul; namely, the best description I can give of the Bliss and Happiness of Heaven, and “ of being forever with the Lord.”
• Chap. xxv. Ver. 9. This was the text of the Sermon preached at New-York, on Christmas Day, 1755, of which the above description of the chief circumstance of the last judgment is an abstract.
+ 2 Tim Ch. iv. Ver. 7. | Rev. Ch. xv. Ver. 3.
1 THESS. Chap. IV. Ver. 16, 17.
The Dead in Christ, shall rise first. Then we which are alive and
remain, shall be caught with them, in the Clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall be forever with the Lord!
FROM this luminous Text, this will be the Seventh and last Sermon, which I have preached; in which we have been led by the blessed St. Paul, through astonishing scenes, whereon the human Mind cannot dwell, without the most alarming Impressions of the deepest Interest and Concern. We have trod the Mansions of Death, and passed the dark Precincts of his Domain—the Grave. We have heard the loud Clangor of the Trump of God, summoning the Dead to awake from their long, long, iron slumbers, and be gathered together, in a general Resurrection to Judgment. We have seen the World in flames, burning and dissolving beneath our feet. Turning our meditations from the Earth to the Heavens; we have been saluted with the trium.
phant Hymns of the Archangel, and his whole Host of Angels and glorified Powers-singing—“Salva" tion to him that ascends the throne. Lo! He that “ was dead. is alive-He that was crucified liveth “ forever and ever! He returneth with power and “ great Glory, to triumph over his enemies! The " Sun of Righteousness that set with Redness and “ Blood, rose again with Light and with Splendour! “ The Grave could not detain his Body, nor the “ Place of departed Spirits his Soul; both delivered “ up their Prey! Death and the Grave and Hell, were " subdued before him, and dragged, vanquished, at “ his Chariot-Wheels; and now he brings the Dead " in Christ with him, to place them at his right “ hand in judgment, and confirm the sentence of St. “ Matthew, St. Paul, and the other holy Evangelists " and Apostles, Go ye, and be forever with the Lord! " Enter ye into the Joys. of Heaven!”
These Joys are now to be our ravishing Theme! But although we may feel the Consolations to be derived from the Prospects and Hopes of inheriting them; yet how shall we paint or describe that which 6 *Eye hath not seen, nor Ear heard, nor hath it en. “ tered into the heart of man, (to conceive, namely, 7 " the things which God hath prepared for them that “ love him; but God hath revealed them unto us by - his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, “ the deep things of God.” Some description of them may, however, be given, from the experience of what gives genuine pleasure or pain to us in this
* 1 Cor. Ch. ii. Ver. 9, 10. Isaiah, Ch. iv. Ver. 4.
world; and especially from some passages of the in. spired Writer in sacred Scripture, who were favour. ed with certain visions, or short glimpses of the beatific Bliss and Glory!
Thus Stephen,* “a man full of Faith and power " and of the holy Ghost, (for his comfort and sup. “ port in the moments of death) looking up sted. “ fastly into Heaven, saw the glory of God, and Jesus “ standing on the right hand of God, and cried out“ Behold I see the Heavens opened, and the Son of “ Man standing on the right hand of God and they " stopped their ears,” &c. St. Peter also, “havingt been on the House-top to pray, became very hungry and would have eaten; but while they made ready, he fell into a Trance, and saw Heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as if it had been a great Sheet, &c.—and he heard a voice from Heaven," rebuking him, for his want of Charity towards the Gentiles, and his calling any thing common or un. clean, which God had cleansed.
St. Paul, likewise, I says—Although, “ It is not “ expedient for me to glory-I will come to Visions " and Revelations of the Lord I knew a Man in “ Christ, above fourteen years ago (whether in the “ body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I “ cannot tell: God knoweth) such an one was caught “ up to the third Heaven. And I knew such a man; “ how he was caught up into Paradise, and heard “ Unspeakable || Words which it is not lawful for a
* Acts, Ch. vii. Ver. 56. + Ch. x. Ver. 10. 2 Cor. Ch. xii. Ver. 1-7.
|| The explanation of this Passage of holy writ, concerning St. Paul's Vision is diflicult, in some of its parts. It is called a Rapture, a carry. ing away of the Spirit--a Vision, a Sensibility or Perception; a strong Inpression of something acting on the Mind, without any Participation of the Body, or sensibility of any thing done, suffered or enjoyed by it; and thus, says St. Paul, “whether in the Body, or out of the Body, he could not tell—but that he heard unspeakable Words, which it was not lawful for a man to utter, or which in his embodied state, he could not be able to utter. The place to which he was rapt is called the third Heaven, and by the Jews, the Angelic Heaven, or habitation of the blessed Angels, and of the Majesty of God; than which none higher, unless it be the Heaven of Heavens, is spoken of.
« Man to utter. Of such an one will I glory-yet “ of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities: “ for, though I would desire to glory, I shall not be “a Fool, for I will say the truth: but now I forbear « lest any Man should think of me, above that which “ he seeth me to be, or that he beareth of me; and “ lest I should be exalted above measure, through " the abundance of the Revelations,” given me. But from this Vision or Trance of St. Paul, or indeed any other Visions or Dreams, spoken of in the Old or New Testaments (as of Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, Stephen already mentioned, St. Peter, St. John in the Revelation, to whom the Heavens were opened, and Glimpses of the celestial Glory given they were but short Glinipses, and yield little aid in describing these Joys of Heaven, which the Eyes of men, (as said before) in common have not seen, nor the Ear heard, and which it entereth not into the heart to conceive.
The Apostle has said many things, generally, concerning the happiness of Heaven, as far as human Language can go; as, for example (2 Cor. Ch. iv. Ver. 17, 18.) he describes it, [in comparison with all we have seen, or can see in this world, ] as "a