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is a time to come, of re-union with those with whom our happiest days were spent; whose joys and sorrows once were ours; and from whom, after we shall have landed on the peaceful shore where they dwell, no revolutions of nature shall ever be able to part us more !-Such is the society of the blessed above. Of such are the multitude composed who stand before the throne. Let us now observe,
II. That this is not only a blessed but a numerous society. It is called a multitude, a great multitude, a great multitude which no man could number. These expressions convey the most enlarged views of the kingdom of glory. Dismay not yourselves with the apprehension of heaven being a confined and almost inaccessible region, into which it is barely possible for a small handful to gain admission, after making their escape from the general wreck of the human race. In my Father's house, said our Saviour, there are many mansions. That city of the living God, towards which you profess to bend your course, is prepared for the reception of citizens innumerable. It already abounds with inhabitants; and more and more shall be added to it, until the end of time. Whatever difficulties there are in the way which leads to it, they have been often surmounted. The path, though narrow, is neither impassable, nor untrodden. Though the gate stands not so wide as that which opens into hell, yet through the narrow gate multitudes have entered, and been crowned.
It is much to be lamented, that, among all denominations of Christians, the uncharitable spirit has prevailed, of unwarrantably circumscribing the terms of divine grace within a narrow circle of their own drawing. The one half of the Christian world has often doomed the other, without mercy, to eternal perdition. Without the pale of that church to which each sect belongs, they seem to hold it impossible for salvation to be attained. But is this the genuine spirit of the Gospel ? Can a Christian believe the effects of the sufferings of Christ to be no greater than these? For this did the Son of God descend from the highest heavens, and pour out his soul unto the death, that only a few, who adopt the same modes of expression, and join in the same forms of worship with us, might be brought to the kingdom of heaven ? Is this all the deliverance he has wrought upon the earth ? He was with child; he was in pain ; and shall he not see of the travail of his soul,
and be satisfied ? Surely, the Scripture has given us full ground to conclude, that the trophies of our Redeemer's
shall correspond to the greatness of his power. The Captain of our salvation shall bring many sons with himself to glory. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see his seed; He shall justify many. Men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed. For our farther encouragement, let us observe,
III. That the heavenly society is represented in the text, as gathered out of all the varieties of the human race. This is intimated by the remarkable expressions, of a multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues; as if designed on purpose to correct our narrow notions of the extent and power of divine grace. They whom distant seas and regions now divide, whose languages and manners are at present strange to one another, shall then mingle in the same assembly. No situation is so remote, and no station so unfavourable, as to preclude access to the heavenly felicity. A road is opened by the Divine Spirit to those blissful habitations, from all corners of the earth, and from all conditions of human life; from the peopled city, and from the solitary desert; from the cottages of the poor, and from the palaces of kings; from the dwellings of ignorance and simplicity, and from the regions of science and improvement. They shall come, says our blessed Lord himself, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south, and sit down in the kingdom of God. *
Such discoveries serve both to enlarge our conceptions of the extent of divine goodness, and to remove those fears which are ready to arise from particular situations in life. Were you permitted to draw aside the veil, and to view that diversified assembly of the blessed who surround the throne, you would behold among them numbers who have overcome the same difficulties which encounter you, and which you dread as insuperable. You would behold there the uninstructed, with whom an upright intention supplied the place of knowledge; the feeble, whom divine grace had strengthened ; and the misled, whom it had brought back into the right path. You would behold the young who had surmounted the allurements of youthful pleasure, and the old who had borne the distress of age with undecayed constancy; many whom want could not tempt to dishonesty ; many whom riches did not seduce into pride or impiety; many who, in the most difficult and ensnaring circumstances, in the midst of camps and armies, and corrupted courts, had preserved unsullied integrity. In a word, from all kindreds and people; that is, from all ranks of life, and all tribes of men, even from among publicans and sinners, you would behold those whom divine assistance had conducted to future glory.And is not the same assistance, in its full extent, offered also to us? Encompassed, while we run the Christian race, with this cloud of witnesses, who have finished their course with success; animated, while we fight the good fight, with the shouts of those who have overcome and are crowned, shall despair enervate or deject our minds ? From the happy multitude above, there issues a voice, which ought to sound perpetually in the ear of faith. Be ye faithful unto the death; and
* Luke, xiii. 29.
ye ceive the crown of life: Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might: Be followers of us, who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises. Consider,
IV. The description given in the text of the happiness and glory of the heavenly society. They were beheld by the Apostle stand