Revelations vii. 9, 13—18.
After this I beheld, and lo, a great rmdtitude, which no man
coidd number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peojile, and
tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed
with white robes, and palms in their hands. —And one of the
ciders ansivered, saying unto me, What are these iphich are
arrayed in white robes ? and whence came they ? And I said
unto him, Sir, thou hiowest. And he said to me, These are
they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed
their robes, and made them tvhite in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him
day and night in his temple : and he that sitteth on the throne
shall dtvell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither
thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any
heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall
feed them, and shall lead them unto living fount fiins of waters:
and God shall wipe aivay all tears from their eyes.
Heaven, aud the occupations of those who have
passed the boundaries of our sight, and entered upon
its glorious scenes, are objects in the highest degree
interesting to the contemplative mind. Thither have
gone the Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles and Martyrs,
whose instructions we value, and whose memories
we revere. There rest, we trust, the spirits of the
Christian friends, whom we shall see here no more.
Thither ascended the Great Benefactor, whose merits
and favour are our choicest treasure. And there we
expect, when this vain world shall vanish, to find
the consummation of our faith and hopes, our virtue
and joy. On these accounts, the region and em-
ployments of the blest will generally excite in the
serious a lively curiosity. If it be chastened with a
sense of the feebleness of our powers, and a sub-
mission to the wisdom of God, this curiosity is
laudable ; and when we think of the worthy cha-
racters who are gone from this state, can hardly be
As the festival of All Saints, which recalls our at-
tention to the labours and rewards of the departed
servants of the Most High, coincides, to-day, with
the Sabbath, we may, with peculiar propriety, make
it the object of the present discourse. Upon this
sublime subject, I know no better guide for your
meditations, than that vision of the Church trium-
phant of which the text is a conspicuous part. It
will furnish us with as just ideas of the situation and
blessedness of the Saints, as our finite and encum-
bered minds can receive, and will lead to reflections
adapted to the season, and to the circumstances of
many of my hearers.
And, in the first place, it is pleasing to observe,
that the Saints are *' a great multitude of all nations,
and kindreds, and people, and tongues." Every
benevolent mind, which has any concern for the wel-
fare of mankind, any gratitude to their Redeemer,
and any just conception of the glory that shall be
revealed, must be ardently desirous that the par-
takers of the heavenly gift should not be few in
number. The good man puts up no prayer more
earnest and sincere, than * that it may please God to
have mercy upon all men.' To know how many
shall have mansions in the Father's house, is not how-
ever permitted us. We are taught by the reply
which Christ once made to the inquiry, that it is not
our present business. The way is clearly defined, in
which we may secure to ourselves the happiness of
being of the number : and to rejoice our philanthropy,
and delight us with the triumphs of our Lord, we are
assured that His redemption shall not be an un-
fruitful work, but that, through it, there shall be
many sons brought into glory. In their high state
of bliss, the Saints want not the refined pleasure of
having many to enjoy with them their delightful
existence. The worthy of every past age are col-
lected into their ' goodly company.' The faithful of
every future generation shall swell their numbers and
their joy. For St. John, in his vision, *' beheld, and,
lo, a great multitude which no man could number,
of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,
stood before the throne, and before the Lamb." And
a greater than John, even the Lamb Himself, has as-
sured us that *' they shall come from the east, and
from the west, and from the north, and from the
south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God^."
In unfolding the scenes of heavenly vision, the
sacred writers are obliged, by the poverty of human
language, and the confined state of our minds, to
borrow analogies from this visible world, and repre-
sent things which surpass our comprehension, by
those things with which we are familiarly acquainted.
Hence, the introduction of the sublime and interest-
ing scenery, which charms our minds, as we pass
from the number of the Saints to the description,
which the Evangelist has given us, of their condition.
They stand "before the throne," and ** before the
Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their
hands." White is the emblem of innocence. Spot-
less purity enters into the very idea of it. And, by
* Luke xiii. 29.
association, the spirits that are arrayed in perfect
righteousness, and celestial glory, are beautifully
imagined to be clothed with garments of white. Of
such lustrous perfection our nature is destitute. Its
best robes are sullied and torn. Unfit they would
be for man to wear in the pure presence, and august
court of the Most High. But the ransomed of the
Lord are clothed in His righteousness. They *' hav^
washed their robes, and made them white in the
blood of the Lamb." Their spirits are made perfect.
They have exchanged a nature feeble in its best ser^
vices, and defiled with many frailties and sins, for a
nature which vice cannot approach, nor infirmity dis-
grace; which, like its Author, is glorious in holiness,
and divinely happy in the consciousness of its glory.
With their improved being, the honours of trium-
phant virtue are also theirs. In this world, the faith-
ful servants of God have often arduous and perilous
conflicts. Some have *' resisted unto blood, striving
against sin^" and have sealed the value of a good
conscience, by sacrificing their lives in defence of
the truth. Many have struggled hard with tempta-
tion, with adversity, with the injustice, perverseness^
and ingratitude of an evil world. But sorrows break
down the hearts of others. All encounter dismaying
foes in the king of terrors, and his numerous emis-
saries. But their reward is with the Lord. When
the conflict ends, and their course is finished, they
reap the fruit of their toil. They are acknowledged
victorious, and rejoice in the recompense of their
fidelity, in the presence of the celestial world. They
now share the triumphs of their Master. The token,
long consecrated to victory, is given them for ever.
While they walk " in white robes," they hav-e
*' palms in their hands."
*> Heb. xii. *.
What a view does this description afford us, of the
condition of the Saints in their exaltation. Ye, who
have tasted the pleasures which spring from the con-
sciousness of virtue, and know the vexations of a
frail nature, imagine the bliss of their complacence in
being divested of every moral debiUty, and clad in a
pure and immutable righteousness. Ye, who have
known the conflicts of virtue in the day of trial, and
can estimate by your fears the precious value of
safety, judge ye, with what rapture they felicitate
themselves and each other, on their escape from
death, and the contagion of this world, the triumphs
of their integrity, and their security from any future
hazard of their reward. They are happy, in the
review of the dangers they have past. They rejoice
in the robes with which they are clothed, and in the
palms, which they have in their hands. For the
former qualifies them for the presence and service
of the King of heaven, and the latter are the emblems
of their eternal victory over temptation and affliction,
persecution and death.
This leads us to a more particular notice of the
situation and employment, to which the faithful, who
have quitted this earthly residence, are advanced.
And here, what a flood of glory, from the station they
occupy, overwhelms the astonished mind. They are
** before the throne of God, and serve Him day and
night in His temple : and He that sitteth on the
throne shall dwell among them." To give us an im-
pressive idea of their admission to His loftiest abode,
and of the ease and freedom with which they sustain
His glorious presence, they are represented as living
before His throne. It is that throne, from which He
observes the conduct of all creatures; yet are they not
dismayed, but filled with love. It is that throne, on
which He lightens with His arm, and thunders with His
voice, and displays the terribleness of His judgments.
But the terror of these attributes is softened to them
by the intervention of " the Lamb which is in the
midst of the throne," and, amidst the awful gran-
deur of the scene, they peacefully admire and adore.
To teach us the purity, and holiness of the region
and occupations, to which they are exalted. His
temple is named as the place, in which they con-
stantly serve Him. It is that temple, in which His
immediate presence rests for ever, and where ' the
angels and archangels, and all the company of hea-
ven,' render Him their homage, and receive His
commands. In what part of the wide unknown,
this resort of the blessed lies, it is unnecessary for
us to know. We are much more instructed by the
assurance, that " He that sitteth on the throne shall
dwell among them." Wherever He abides, there is
a throne; His presence makes a temple. As an
affectionate father, God is among His Saints, direct-
ing their affairs, supplying their wants, receiving
their homage, and repaying it with His smiles.
They live in the light of His countenance. Inti-
mately, and unceasingly they contemplate His ado-
rable perfections. They find a heaven in the con-
sciousness of His favour ; and the work of a heaven,
in serving Him day and night.
To form an accurate sentiment of the happiness,
which must arise from the vision and fruition of the
Deity, is not in the power of our carnal minds. Our
endeavours to follow the spirits of the just into their
blessedness, in the bosom of God, are vain as the
attempt to pursue the flight of the eagle towards
the luminary of day. With ease we may trace his
remote approaches to the lofty orb, but he is soon
lost in the distance between the sun and us, or
hidden in the vast effulgence of its beams. Some
faint ideas of the nature of their joy, we may, how-
ever collect from what passes m our own bosoms.
The' contemplation of moral excellence, even m a
finite being, excites a pure and exquisite pleasure
in the virtuous mind. We love the man with a most
oenerous affection, in whom are the amiable virtues
unmixed with guile : and while we muse, admiring
his worth, our own hearts glow with the spirit of his
goodness. The pleasure is greater, the nearer our
knowledge of his character. Our delight is un-
bounded, if he is our friend. How great, then
must be the felicity of contemplating with unvailed
eyes, the wisdom, and beauty, and goodness of die
Source of all perfection, with the assurance of His
love towards us, as His selected friends.
Again. Though now we see Him not, the hope
that'' His providence is extended over us, is life's
choicest consolation. He is our final reliance. Our
hearts find perfect satisfaction, no where but in Him.
Wealth, fame, and pleasure fill not man's desires.
On the eminences to which they raise Him, he feels
a void, and is restless. But the knowledge of God,
and consciousness of His favour, is a satisfactory
bliss. This, even here on earth, gives peace and
content to the virtuous inhabitant of life's humblest
vale How great then must be their gladness ; what
can be wanting to render their satisfaction complete,
who live under His immediate protection and smile,
receive His actual approbation and have Him for
their portion for ever ! If, at this wide distance from
Him, the pious mind is soothed and sublimed by its
humble devotion to the invisible God ; and by its
remote communion with Him, catches, like the coun-
tenance of Moses, a gleam of His glory : what must
be the composure and dignity of bosoms, how must
they be changed into His glory, who dwell m the
radiance of His perfections, and worship Him face
to face !
It must not escape observation, that there is no-
thing to interrupt, or terminate this happiness of the
beatified servants of the Most High. They have no
care of providing food for a perishable body, nor
occasion to labour with perplexity and anguish for
an unsatisfactory wealth. o weight of affliction
causes their spirits to faint ; no restless desires, nor
impetuous passions disturb their tranquillity ; no
concern for the future restrains them from the enjoy-
ment of present bliss. The tears which were here
caused to flow by death's cruel ravages, or unme-
rited wrong, by stern adversity, or keen repentance,
are wiped tenderly from every eye by the hand of
God. The occasion of these griefs has no more
operation. Once landed on the celestial Ararat, the
terrors and the dangers of the flood are over. The
scenes of sorrow and anguish, darkness and dismay,
give place to brighter prospects, and enlivening
sunshine. And an eternal bow about the throne
assures them, that the bitterness of death is past,
and God in covenant with them for their perpetual
Such is the blessedness of those happy spirits,
who have departed this life, in the true faith and
fear; so great is their reward in heaven. The
utmost stretch of our conceptions will not reach
their felicity. They are ** before the throne of
But in this glorious condition, and exalted station,
how are the spirits of the blest employed ? o toil
makes repose necessary, no feebleness requires it,
and, therefore, no part of their existence is lost in
sleep. ight and day they serve their Maker in
His temple. In doing His will, in celebrating His
greatness, in admiring His works, in imitating His
love, in joining with the angelic hosts to offer per-
petual praises to their common Lord, they spend
their existence. They have no fatiguing duty, nor
unwelcome business. They are disencumbered of
wants and cares. " The Lamb which is in the midst
of the throne," is perpetually leading them to the
unsatiating pleasures of His Father's house, to foun-
tains of life, and light, and of every elevated plea-
sure. To receive perpetually the smiles of the
Highest, is their daily business ; and their chief oc-
cupation, to praise His name.
To this glorious company, my brethren, those
departed friends have assuredly gone, whose Chris-
tian excellencies we remember with delight. How
great, then, that happiness, upon which they en-
tered, when we bemoaned their departure with our
tears ! What disreg*ard of their interest and plea-
sure, to wish them back to this vain, and fluctuating
scene ! Let us, rather, learn to adore the goodness of
the Being, who provided a way of bringing the ob-
jects of our love, to such a state of exaltation and
bliss. We are wont to esteem those who esteem our
friends, and feel grateful to those who merely wish
them prosperity. How, then, are the bonds of our
obligation to the Most High strengthened, what in-
cense of gratitude should perpetually rise to Him
from our hearts, whose goodness hath brought them,
when their allotment here was ended, into the de-
lightful inheritance of the children of God ! There
cannot, methinks, be a more sacred claim upon our
love, or more powerful incitement to our obedi-
Again. With this august body of Saints, we, my
brethren, though we sojourn on earth, are closely
connected. Li the mystical body of our Lord, we
have a communion with them. Their Head is ours.
Their objects and their pleasures are those which
we pursue. The seal of their redemption is that
in which we trust ; the subject which swells their
celestial Hallelujahs, we celebrate in the sacramental
supper. And the Being, by whom they are brought
into glory, ascended also, we trust, to prepare a
place for us. " ow therefore," says the Apostle,
** ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow
citizens with the Saints, and of the household of
God^" In this high connection, beloved, let us
walk with becoming dignity, purity, and circum-
spection. Let us listen to the remonstrances against
vice ; let us obey the incitements to every religious
and social duty ; let us indulge the noble and im-
portant resolutions, which will afise in the bosom
of every ingenuous person, who sincerely considers
himself as related, by his Christian privileges, " to
the general assembly and Church of the first born,
— and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to
Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, — and to
God the Judge of all'*."
Which leads me to remark, lastly, that the glo-
rious rewards, which the Saints possess, may also
be won by our fidelity. " In our Father's house
are many mansions ^" And is there any interest,
which it so much behoves us to secure, as this ? For
what that this earth can profi'er, and our most suc-
cessful exertions obtain, shall we relinquish such
inestimable and eternal bliss ? Let us, rather, " give
diligence to make our calling and election sure ^"
Are we beset with temptations ? Does the Most
High seem to frown on us in sore chastisement ? Is
the " spirit willing, but the flesh weak ^ ?" Be not
<= Eph. ii. 19. <* Heb. xii. 23, 24. « Johnxiv. 2.
f 2 Pet. J. 10. ^ Matt. xxvi. 41.
dismayed. In like manner were the Saints tried,
who have conquered and are crowned. Let us take
their lives for our ensamples, and in the uniform
use of the means of grace, with eyes fixed on the
hopes of glory, pursue the path in which they jour-
neyed, ** who through faith and patience inherit the
promises ^"
^-Heb. vi, U^

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