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A FU ERAL DISCOURSE. Matthew, xiii, 43. — Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. The hand of death has touched us sore ; the cry of death has been heard in your chambers. We too feel the hand of death upon us ; the sentence is in ourselves : yet all feel a principle within that is proof against the stroke ; it only opens the door to liberate that immortal principle. True, many may shrink when the door opens — linger — nay, be forced to depart ; but, by the grace of God, the inhabitant within may long for its opening. See the importance of human life, the only basis of human usefulness ; for there is no work in the grave whither we are hastening. Oh ! redeem the time ; work while it is day. Our friend has been early removed, but he was found in the midst of his usefulness, doing the will of God. Reminded, then, are we, not of the brevity only, but the importance of life. Eternity takes its complexion from time — it is as we make it. Our departed friend is now reaping what he sowed. The text and context lead, by a parable, to the connexion of time and eternity. It is thus explained by Jesus himself : " He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man : the field is the world : the good seed are the children of the kingdom : but the tares are the children of the wicked one : the
OBSCURITY A D GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. 63
enemy that sowed them is the devil : the harvest is the end of the world ; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity ; and shall cast them into a furnace of fire : there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." In drawing some farther improvement from our subject let us consider, I. The present obscurity of the righteous. II. Their future manifestation. I. The present obscurity. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father ; implying that they are now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. God knows that eternity is long enough to shine in ; at present, therefore, he allows us to remain in comparative obscurity. I need not dwell on the character, the " righteous ;" you are often informed of it. Do ye not know that the righteous, and they only, shall inherit the kingdom of God ? Yes, you do know, by our ministry, that, unless washed and sanctified, you cannot be saved. Oh ! that you felt as much as you know. The righteous ! There are many such here to-night. The causes of the present obscurity are many. 1. The character of the world in which they live. They are not at home here, but strangers and foreigners — born of heaven. The character is so glorious that the world has not the power to discern and estimate it. Hence Christians are disregarded; though they are the salt of the
earth, the leaven which preserves the world, yet the world knows it not, and despises them. " ow are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but Ave know that when he shall appear we shall be like him." A Christian is an enigma to a man of the world.
64 OBSCURITY A D GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. (Southey undertaking to write the life of Wesley.) Hence they burn them. They are under a cloud now : not always so ! — (Blind man and colours.) 2. The station they generally occupy in the world. If all were men of eminence, the world might be struck. If kings had dipped their sceptres in righteousness, and the nobles # # * But where are we to look ? " ot many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called." See Jesus standing like himself with the healed around him and the dead rising, while he exclaims, " The poor have the Gospel preached to them." It is their peculiar heritage ; it is laid at the foot of the throne as well as the threshold of the cottage, but the poor form the largest portion of the church : so they remain under a cloud, known only to their poor neighbours. They shine, but in corners, not on eminences. Look into our congregations. The poor hear us gladly. The poor encircle the Lord's table ! the poor rejoice. " I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord." Poverty, then, incrusts the diamond, and the lapidary has not yet cleared it. Learning would not shine with the poor ; they follow him who drew his breath in a stable. 3. The infirmities to which they are subject ; for example, of the mind. They cannot make their experience charming to a fine ear, yet they may have the anointing of the Holy Ghost. " Once I was blind, now I see :" more than the infidels can say. Obscurity will be the consequence. Also bodily infirmities. — Lazarus. — Many precious saints
send out their fragrance in the desert, &c. 4. The humility with which they are clothed. Modesty may become criminal ; yet perhaps not real modesty. But it is one thing to be drawn out of a corner by the praise or driven out by the fear of man. They mind neither ; but, like Jesus, their voice is not heard in the streets ; they are "clothed with humility." Do not, then, strive to shine; this is not the shining place. Angels, in their visits to earth, always appear in the form of men — Satan as an angel of light. So with the children of both. II. The future manifestation of the righteous*
OBSCURITY A D GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. 65 The text announces their glory. When ? " Then shall the Son of man send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and them that do iniquity ;" then shall he clear the church. Then also, in the morning of the resurrection, shall the righteous shine forth ; yea, then shall they shine in their full glory, whatever other glory they may have previously. Three things to be remarked here. 1. The place of their manifestation — "in the kingdom of their Father." We are not here dazzled with description; Jesus has softened it : the kingdom of our Father — Father waiting to take us home. While looking down, even now, he says, " This is my beloved Son, and I will spare him as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." What language ! His j excels as well as his children. True, this, in comparison with the former, is a coarse metaphor, but this we do not mind. He is now polishing ! we are in the crucible to be fitted for the Crucified's crown. At the last day he makes up his jewels, not gathers them, but sets them in his crown — he will deck it. The last mile is travelled over
happily when home is in prospect. Stephen — going home under a shower of stones — beheld the Son of God standing to receive him. Courage ! Endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. (Our ship tossed — but " There all the ship's company meet, Who sailed with the Saviour beneath." Yea, they shall enter under full sail — not like a shipwreck. May the entrance be abundant, swelling on the tide.) We are soldiers now, and are to keep our armour bright, and be always ready for the conflict : but then we shall unbuckle and put on the fine robe, renouncing the sword for the palm and the helmet for the crown of glory. Then let death come ! Dr. Rowland Taylor at Hadley, in Suffolk, a martyr of blessed memory, exelaimed, " ever better, soon at home ! only two stiles more to ascend, and then I shall reach my Father's house ;" he saw it through the smoke of the fire ! " I have," said Bede, " done my work, and am going home, and such a home !" " The best of all is," said I
66 OBSCURITY A D GLORY OF THE RIGHTEOUS. Benson, " I shall find my Father in his kingdom." Saints are now separated. * * # We warm towards Hottentots, &c, when converted; we long to see them. " The whole family in heaven and earth are our brethren." Many are escaping. (Allude to the deceased.) Who feels not that heaven has a portion of each of our families ? o gulf exists between heaven and earth — it is between heaven and hell ; they cannot come to us, but we can go to them. There shall be Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God ; all the glory and wisdom of all ages, and the Lamb. They also shall be kings:
" How can it be, my heavenly king, That thou shouldst us to glory bring, Make slaves the partners of thy throne, Decked with a never-fading crown 1 ?" 2. Its splendour. Mark the figure — sun bursting from the clouds. The righteous do not now diminish its splendour abstractedly. Though not so perfect as in heaven, yet all the elements exist. See the clouds breaking at the bed of the dying saint. He does not sink like the sun into the ocean ; the rays penetrate the clouds like morning breaking upon the heavens ; they are tinged with glory while he is seen struggling through like the sun. Then I retire — the brightness dazzles me ; the veil drops, but the sun has risen into the heavenly galaxy ! Every veil shall then be removed ; the world shall then know both him and them. John, who had often seen him as the man of sorrows, once saw him as you shall then behold him : " His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow ; and his eyes were as a flame of fire ; and his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace ; and his voice as the sound of many waters. And he had in his right hand seven stars ; and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword : and his countenance was as the sun shining in his strength." Then the world shall be there ; and shall know them. ero and Domitian shall meet with those whose blood they shed. But I will not go to the pillows of infamy ; yet all shall be there ! then they shall see them on the right hand owned by Jesus ! There shall be a pub-
lie manifestation. I know which place I would rather have, the cruel tyrant's or that of the saint tortured by him. Then shall we discern between the righteous and the wicked ; no matter how splendid sinners are here, rich and poor shall be alike there. ow the eros " call on rocks and mountains to fall on them, and hide them from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb." But the saints will mount above the fire with bodies like Christ's ;
no infirmity, or tear, or sigh shall pollute heaven's atmosphere : no note of sorrow to disturb the celestial harmony ! 3. The perpetuity of their manifestation ; it shall be " as the sun:" the very emblem of perpetuity — not diminished by age, but the same now as when it lighted Adam and oah — not in the least shorn of its beams. Yet, unlike the sun, the redeemed spirit shall enlarge, lengthen his beams, and travel the path of eternity with increase of splendour forever. It rises above the figure : the sun shall be put out — never so the sons of glory. Jehovah shall be the glory in the midst of them forever and ever. Application. — Why should any of you set in darkness ! The loss of a soul ! Will it be my soul ? Tell me, my God ! Or that man's ? God forbid ! Why should they die when thou hast died ? * * * *
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