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must that be, where all who are admitted into it shall shine as the brightness of the firmament ; 27 and of which it is said that the glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof; and the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it; and there shall be no night there.28 May our hearts be set upon this heavenly inheritance of the children God! What can the world present to our view to be compared with it? How abominable do the pleasures of sin appear to be, when they are put in competition with it, and become the means whereby the children of men are robbed of this heavenly joy. Let us remember that here we have no continuing city, and seek one to come, the city which hath foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God.29 The Apostle exhorts believers in Jesus, If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. And he places before them the animating prospect, When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.30 Of how much happiness do many of the children of God deprive themselves, by not realising eternal things. If the love of God be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us, it is our
27 Dan. xii. 3. 28 Rev. xxi. 23. 29 Heb. xi. 10. 30 Coloss. iii. 1,2,4.
high privilege to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.31 The Apostle says of himself and his believing brethren, Our conversation is in heaven ; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ : who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.34 Let us make the things which are not seen and are eternal more the object of our earnest regard, instead of looking so anxiously as we are disposed to do, at the things which are seen and are temporal. The more we look forward to the glories of the invisible world with an humble hope of sharing in them through Christ, the more happy shall we be. The changes and uncertainties of this present evil world will cause us less disquietude. We shall live above its hopes and fears, knowing for ourselves that we have in heaven a better and an enduring substance, 33 a treasure of inestimable value, the possession and enjoyment of which God hath prepared for them that wait for Him ; 34 and of which His believing people shall never be deprived. May this blessedness be our eternal portion, for Christ's sake.
31 Rom. v.5,2. 32 Philip.iii. 20, 21, 33 Heb. x. 34. 34 Isa. Ixiv. 4.
SIXTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
THE SIGN OF THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN
Matthew xxiv. 30, 31.
AND THEN SHALL APPEAR THE SIGN OF THE SON OF MAN IN HEAVEN; AND THEN SHALL ALL THE TRIBES OF THE EARTH MOURN, AND THEY SHALL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN, WITH POWER AND GREAT GLORY. AND HE SHALL SEND HIS ANGELS WITH A GREAT SOUND OF A TRUMPET, AND THEY SHALL GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT FROM THE FOUR WINDS, FROM ONE END OF HEAVEN TO THE OTHER.
In the beginning of the chapter from which these words are taken, an account is given of a prophecy delivered by our Lord Jesus Christ respecting the destruction of the temple at Jerusalem ; in consequence of which His disciples
asked Him, Tell us when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? The disciples of Christ seem to have supposed that the temple, being a house erected for the worship of the true God, would last as long as the world itself; and therefore connected the one with the other. Our Saviour answered the question in the way that it was proposed : first informing them of of the sign of His coming to overturn the Jewish polity, and destroy the temple; and then proceeding to mention the signs of His second coming; and of the end of the world. To this latter part of the subject, the Gospel appointed for this day seems to refer.
Our blessed Lord had forewarned His disciples that when the time of the destruction of the Jewish nation should draw near, many false Christs would arise; men would set up themselves as some great ones, and give out themselves to be the long-expected Messiah: which accordingly came to pass. It seems as if impostors of a similar description would arise previous to the second coming of Christ. The impostures of Popery and Mahometanism have long subsisted, and deceived the greater part of the civilised world. But when the appointed time for the conversion and restoration of the Jews shall draw nigh, it is likely that false Christs and false prophets will again arise among
them, and endeavour to prevent their nation from believing in Jesus of Nazareth ; and that considerable success will attend their efforts. Trouble, and distress, and perplexity will be the result of the unwearied exertions of the enemies of Christ and His gospel. Some of these false Christs will lead their followers into the deserts, and revolt openly against their rulers. Others will act more in secret, and privately stir up the people to take part with them.
In reference to these pretenders, our Saviour exhorted His disciples, in the Gospel for this day, Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there ; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Perhaps, the showing great signs and wonders may mean only that they will pretend to do these things ; that they will act in a very plausible manner; and also will in reality strike terror into the minds of many, as the latter word. intimates. And their plausibility on the one hand, and the dread of themselves which they will excite on the other, will lead many to follow their pernicious ways :35 and even some who were supposed to be the most cautious,
35 2 Peter ii. 2.