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On the New Jerusalem.
REVELATION xxi. 2, 3.
I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
THERE is something wonderfully striking in this passage of sacred Scripture. The heart of that person must be cold and insensible to a great degree, who is not incited, at the repetition of it, earnestly to inquire"Who was that beloved servant of God that was "favoured with these glorious visions? and what can "the meaning be of this splendid exhibition? In "what sense can it now be asserted, that Jerusalem "cometh down from heaven; that the tabernacle of "God is with men; and that he dwells with them?"
It is the design of the following discourse, to gratify this laudable curiosity: and, a full explication of these words of the holy apostle will naturally lead to several VOL. II. 43
useful practical observations. Then only has knowledge its due effect, when it prompts to virtuous actions. If we know the great things of the Gospel, we should deem ourselves happy only while we do them.
The person who speaks is the beloved disciple, John. It had long before been intimated to him, that "he should tarry till his Master came:" that is, till Jesus came in terrible vengeance to destroy the city of Jerusalem, and to disperse the nation of the Jews. Agreeably to this prediction of his Lord, he survived all the rest of the apostles; he lived to see his brethren, the inhabitants of Judea, sustaining the punishment which had been denounced against them, for crucifying the Lord of life, and impiously wishing that the guilt of his blood might fall on them and their children; he saw their country desolated, their capital city laid in ruins, and their temple reduced to ashes. But, as a compensation for this melancholy spectacle, he was favoured with many extraordinary revelations from heaven; with glorious prospects of the Redeemer's kingdom. The earthly Jerusalem had fallen; but instead of this, he saw the new Jerusalem, the holy eity coming down from God.
It is scarcely necessary to observe, that in the language of sacred Scripture, under the term Jerusalem, is frequently comprehended the whole Jewish Church. That city contained all that is necessary to constitute a true Church: the assemblies of the saints; the worship of the one living and true God, according to his own appointment; the regular administration of the divine word and ordinances; and the presence of the great object of their adoration residing in his holy
temple. For the same reasons, by the new Jerusalem, St. John means the Church of God under the dispensation of the Gospel: this is enriched with many excellencies, endowed with many privileges unknown to his ancient people who lived under the economy of Moses. They had indeed the doctrine of salvation, but it was wrapped up in types and figures; to our view it is clearly unfolded, and the veil is entirely taken away from the face of Moses: their ordinances were mingled with many burdensome rites and ceremonies; we have a pure and simple worship in spirit and in truth: their law was confined to one people; the general assembly of Christians is composed of all nations and languages: God was present among them in the cloud of glory that rested over the mercy-seat; he dwells among us by the wonderful communications of his Holy Spirit.
From all these considerations, the Christian Church may well be denominated the holy city. God, in an especial manner, has placed his name there. Many are the glorious epithets by which it is designated in the sacred volume: it is the new Jerusalem; the city of God; the mother of us all: it is the beloved spouse of the Lamb; it is the elect generation; the royal priesthood; the holy nation; the peculiar people: it is the Church which Christ hath purchased with his own blood; for which he delivered himself to the death of the cross, that he might sanctify it, and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that it might be holy and unblemished. It is holy from its peculiar relation to God; as it is composed of persons who are to be separated from the profane conversation of a wicked
provement of the doctrines which have been here advanced.
1st. Since the Christian Church is a holy city, an incorporated society, invested with many glorious privileges, prescribing a peculiar mode of admission, having its own officers, and existing under the government of wholesome laws; let us take care to be initiated into this dignified society according to the positive appointment of our Lord, who is made the Head over all things for his Church; to whom all authority in heaven and earth has been committed. We are not only permitted to enjoy the exalted privileges which belong to the new Jerusalem; but we are earnestly invited, we are solemnly commanded to become members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven; in other words, to be no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God. In our situa tion, it is not necessary to inquire, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above. Or, who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead: for the word of God is nigh us. All the immunities of his peculiar people are freely offered to us. The Christian Church is not, like Jerusalem of old, confined to one particular place; but it is catholic or universal, as well as holy: it is composed of all nations and languages: the Gospel of salvation has been preached the blessed privileges of this spiritual society are graciously offered to us Gentiles who were far off, as well as to God's ancient people who were nigh.
But, it is probable, that most of us have been admitted by baptism into this highly favoured com
munity, and we have obligated ourselves to maintain a suitable deportment. Let it then be,
2dly. Observed, that we ought to be sensible of the advantages of our situation, and to be extremely careful never to forfeit them. Man, in his native condition, is said in Scripture to be a child of wrath: he has nothing before him but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation. But, when he is taken out of a wicked world, and admitted into the holy city, he is invested by the mere grace of God with many inestimable rights. He has a right founded on the divine promise, to the remission of his sins, to the supernatural aid of the Holy Spirit, to the peculiar favour of the Almighty in this life, and to the enjoy ment of everlasting happiness and glory in a future state. Such is the distinguished situation of the saints and servants of God under the dispensation of the Gospel: they belong to a glorious community: they have come unto mount Sion, the city of the living God; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to an innumerable company of angels; and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; and to God the Judge of all. And shall we ever voluntarily banish ourselves from this blessed society? After having renounced the pomps and vanities of a wicked world, shall we ever be desirous to be again involved in its cares and in its crimes? If we be extremely jealous of the rights which relate merely to our temporal welfare, how inexcusable will be the absurdity of neglecting and finally forfeiting those in which is intimately concerned the salvation of our immortal souls?
3dly. As citizens of the new Jerusalem, we are indispensably obligated to yield a peaceful obedience