A FORTNIGHT ago, when I was only able to creep to the front of this platform, I spoke to you concerning the future of our mortal bodies. "We know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." On the next Sabbath day we went a step further, and we did not preach so much about the resurrection of the body as upon the hope of glory for our entire nature, our text being, "Christ in you, the hope of glory." Thus we have passed through the outer court, and have trodden the hallowed floor of the Holy Place, and now we are the more prepared to enter within the veil, and to gaze a while upon the glory which awaits us. We shall say a little-- and oh, how little it will be-- upon that glory of which we have so sure a prospect, that glory which is prepared for us in Christ Jesus, and of which he is the hope! I pray that our eyes may be strengthened that we may see the heavenly light, and that our ears may be opened to hear sweet voices from the better land. As for me, I cannot say that I will speak of the glory, but I will try to stammer about it; for the best language to which a man can reach concerning glory must be a mere stammering. Paul did but see a little of it for a short time, and he confessed that he heard things that it was not able for a man to utter; and I doubt not that he felt utterly nonplussed as to describing what he had seen. Though a great master of language, yet for once he was overpowered; the grandeur of his theme made him silent. As for us, what can we do, where even Paul breaks down? Pray, dear friends, that the spirit of glory may rest upon you, that he may open your eyes to see as much as can at present be seen of the heritage of the saints. We are told that "eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Yet the eye has seen wonderful things. There are sunrises and sunsets, Alpine glories and ocean marvels which, once seen, cling to our memories throughout life; yet even when nature is at her best she cannot give us an idea of the supernatural glory which God has prepared for his people. The ear has heard sweet harmonies. Have we not enjoyed music which has thrilled us? Have we not listened to speech which has seemed to make our hearts dance within us? And yet no melody of harp nor charm of oratory can ever take us to a conception of the glory which God hath laid up for them that love him.
As for the heart of man, what strange things have entered it! Men have exhibited fair fictions, woven in the loom of fancy, which have made the eyes to sparkle with their beauty and brightness; imagination has revelled and rioted in its own fantastic creations, roaming among islands of silver and mountains of gold, or swimming in seas of wine and rivers of milk; but imagination has never been able to open the gate of pearl which shuts in the city of our God. No, it hath not yet entered the heart of man. Yet the text goes on to say, "but he hath revealed it unto us by his Spirit." So that heaven is not an utterly unknown region, not altogether an inner brightness shut in with walls of impenetrable darkness. God hath revealed joys which he has prepared for his beloved; but mark you, even though they be revealed of the Spirit, yet it is no common unveiling, and the reason that it is made known at all is ascribed to the fact that, "the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." So we see that the glory which awaits the saints is ranked among the deep things of God, and he that would speak thereof after the manner of the oracles of God must have much heavenly teaching. It is easy to chatter according to human fancy, but if we would follow the sure teaching of the Word of God we shall have need to be taught of the Holy Spirit, without whose anointing the deep things of God must be hidden from us. Pray that we may be under that teaching while we dwell upon this theme.
There are three questions which we will answer this morning. The first is, what is the destiny of the saints?-- "Eternal glory," says the text. Secondly, wherein doth this glory consist? I said we would answer the questions, but this is not to be answered this side of the pearl-gate. Thirdly, what should be the influence of this prospect upon our hearts? What manner of people ought we to be whose destiny is eternal glory? How should we live who are to live forever in the glory of the Most High?
I. First, WHAT THEN IS THE DESTINY OF THE SAINTS?
Our text tells us that God has "called us unto his eternal glory." "Glory!" Does not the very word astound you? "Glory!" Surely that belongs to God alone! Yet the scripture says "glory," and glory it must mean, for it never exaggerates. Think of glory for us who have deserved eternal shame! Glory for us poor creatures who are often ashamed of ourselves! Yes, I look at my book again, and it actually says "glory"-- nothing less than glory. Therefore so must it be.
Now, since this seems so amazing and astonishing a thing, I would so speak with you that not a relic of incredulity may remain in your hearts concerning it. I would ask you to follow me while we look through the Bible, not quoting every passage which speaks of glory, but mentioning a few of the leading ones.
This glory has been promised. What said David? In the seventy-third Psalm and twenty-fourth verse we meet with these remarkable words: "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel and afterward receive me to glory." In the original Hebrew there is a trace of David's recollection of Enoch's being translated; and, though the royal Psalmist did not expect to be caught away without dying, yet he did expect that after he had followed the guidance of the Lord here below the great Father would stoop and take up his child to be with himself forever; He expected to be received into glory. Even in those dim days, when as yet the light of the gospel was but in its dawn, this prophet and king was able to say, "Thou shalt afterward receive me to glory." Did he not mean the same thing when in the eighty-fourth Psalm, verse eleven, he said, "The Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly?" Not only no good thing under the name of grace will God withhold from the upright, but no good thing under the head of glory. No good of heaven shall be kept from the saints; no reserve is even set upon the throne of the great King, for our Lord Jesus has graciously promised, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." "No good thing," not even amongst the infinitely good things of heaven, will God withhold from "them that walk uprightly." If David had this persuasion, much more may we walk in the light of the gospel. Since our Lord Jesus hath suffered and entered into his glory, and we know that we shall be with him where he is, we are confident that our rest shall be glorious.
Brethren, it is to this glory that we have been called. The people of God having been predestinated, have been called with an effectual calling-- called so that they have obeyed the call, and have run after him who has drawn them. Now, our text says that he has "called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus." We are called to repentance, we are called to faith, we are called to holiness, we are called to perseverance, and all this that we may afterwards attain unto glory. We have another scripture of like import in I Thessalonians ii. 12:-" Who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory." We are called unto his kingdom according to our Lord's word, "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." We are called to be kings, called to wear a crown of life that fadeth not away, called to reign with Christ in his glory. If the Lord had not meant us to have the glory he would not have called us unto it, for his calling is no mockery. He would not by his Spirit have fetched us out from the world and separated us unto himself if he had not intended to keep us from falling and preserve us eternally. Believer, you are called to glory; do not question the certainty of that to which God has called you.
And we are not only called to it, brethren, but glory is especially joined with justification. Let me quote Romans viii. 30:-- "Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified." These various mercies are threaded together like pearls upon a string. There is no breaking the thread, no separating the precious things. They are put in their order by God himself, and they are kept there by his eternal and irreversible decree. If you are justified by the righteousness of Christ, you shall be glorified through Christ Jesus, for thus hath God purposed, and so must it be. Do you not remember how salvation itself is linked with glory? Paul, in 2 Timothy ii. 10, speaks of "the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." The two things are riveted together, and cannot be separated.
The saved ones must partake of the glory of God, and for this are they being prepared every day. Paul, in the ninth of Romans, where he speaks about the predestinating will of God, says in the. twenty-third verse: "The vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." This is the process which commenced in regeneration, and is going on in us every day in the work of sanctification. We cannot be glorified so long as sin remains in us; we must first be pardoned, renewed, and sanctified, and then we are fitted to be glorified. By communion with our Lord Jesus we are made like unto him, as saith the apostle in 2 Corinthians iii. 18:- "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." It is very wonderful how by the wisdom of God everything is made to work this way. Look at the blessed text in 2 Corinthians iv. 17, where Paul says, "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" where he represents that all that we can suffer, whether of body or of spirit, is producing for us such a mass of glory that he is quite unable to describe it, and he uses hyperbolical language in saying, "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Oh, blessed men, whose very losses are their gains, whose sorrows produce their joys, whose griefs are lost in heaven! Well may we be content to suffer, if so it be, that "all things are working together for our good" and are helping to pile up the excess of our future glory.
Thus, then, it seems that we who are called to glory are being prepared for it. Is it not also a sweet thought that our present fellowship with Christ is the guarantee of it? In Romans viii. 17, it is said, "If so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together." Going to prison with Christ will bring us into the palace with Christ; smarting with Christ will bring us into reigning with Christ; being ridiculed, and slandered, and despised for Christ's sake will bring us to be sharers of his honor, and glory, and immortality. Who would not be with Christ in his humiliation if this be the guarantee that all be with him in his glory? Remember those dear words of the Lord Jesus, "Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me." Let us shoulder the cross, for it leads to the crown. "No cross, no crown:" but he that has shared the battle shall partake in the victory.
I have not yet done, for there is a text in Hebrews ii. 10, which is well worthy of our consideration: we are to be brought to glory. It is said of our Lord that it "became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." See, beloved, we are called to glory, we are being prepared for it, and we shall be brought to it. We might despair of ever getting into the glory land if we had not One to bring us there, for the pilgrim's road is rough and beset with many foes; but there is a "Captain of our salvation," a greater than Bunyan's Greatheart, who is conducting the pilgrim band through all the treacherous way, and he will bring the "many sons" where?-- "unto glory." Nowhere short of that shall be their ultimatum. Glory, glory shall surely follow upon grace; for Christ the Lord, who has come into his glory, has entered into covenant engagements that he will bring all the "many sons" to be with him.
This glory will be for our entire manhood, for our body as well as for our soul. You know that text in the famous resurrection chapter, in I Cor. xv. 43, Paul speaks of the body as being, "sown in dishonor," but he adds, "it is raised in glory;" and then, in Philippians iii. 21, he says of our divine Lord at his coming, "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." What a wonderful change that will be for this frail, feeble, suffering body! In some respects it is not vile, for it is a wonderful product of divine skill, and power, and goodness; but inasmuch as it hampers our spiritual nature by its appetites and infirmities, it may be called a "vile body." It is an unhandy body for a spirit: it fits a soul well enough, but a spirit wants something more ethereal, less earthbound, more full of life than this poor flesh and blood and bone can ever be. Well, the body is to be changed. What alteration will it undergo? It will be rendered perfect. The body of a child will be fully developed, and the dwarf will attain to full stature. The blind shall not be sightless in heaven, neither shall the lame be halt, nor shall the palsied tremble. The deaf shall hear, and the dumb shall sing God's praises. We shall carry none of our deficiencies or infirmities to heaven. As good Mr. Ready-to-Halt did not carry his crutches there, neither shall any of us need a staff to lean upon. There we shall not know an aching brow, or a weak knee, or a failing eye. "The inhabitant shall no more say, I am sick."
And it shall be an impassive body, a body that will be incapable of any kind of suffering: no palpitating heart, no sinking spirit, no aching limbs, no lethargic soul shall worry us there. No, we shall be perfectly delivered from every evil of that kind. Moreover, it shall be an immortal body. Our risen bodies shall not be capable of decay, much less of death. There are no graves in glory. Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for their bodies shall rise never to know death and corruption a second time. No smell or taint of corruption shall remain upon those whom Jesus shall call from the tomb. The risen body shall be greatly increased in power: it is "sown in weakness," says the Scripture, but it is "raised in power." I suppose there will be a wonderful agility about our renovated frame: probably it will be able to move as swiftly as the lightning flash, for so do angels pass from place to place, and we shall in this, as in many things else, be as the angels of God. Anyhow, it will be a "glorious body," and it will be "raised in glory," so that the whole of our manhood shall participate of that wonderful depth of bliss which is summed up in the word-- "glory." Thus I think I have set before you much of what the Word of God saith upon this matter.
II. Secondly, may the Holy Spirit help me while I try very hesitatingly and stammeringly to answer the inquiry, WHEREIN DOTH THIS DESTINY CONSIST?
Do you know how much I expect to do? It will be but little. You remember what the Lord did for Moses when the man of God prayed-- "I beseech thee show me thy glory!" All that the Lord himself did for Moses was to say, "Thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen." How little, then, can we hope to speak of this glory! Its back parts are too bright for us: as for the face of that glory, it shall not be seen by any of us here below, though by-and-by we shall behold it. I suppose if one who had been in glory could come straight down from heaven, and occupy a platform, he would end that his discoveries could not be communicated because of the insufficiency of language to express such a weight of meaning.
The saints' destiny is glory. What is glory, brethren? What is it, I mean, among the sons of men? It is generally understood to be fame, a great repute, the sound of trumpets, the noise of applause, the sweets of approbation among the crowd and in high places. The Queen of Sheba came from afar to see the glory of Solomon. What was that glory, brethren? It was the glory of a rare wisdom excelling all others; it was the glory of immense riches expended upon all manner of magnificence and splendor. As for this last glory the Lord says of it that a lily of the field had more of it than Solomon; at least "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Yet that is what men mean by glory-- rank, position, power, conquest-- things that make the ears of men to tingle when they hear of them-- things extraordinary and rare. All this is but a dim shadow of what God means by glory; yet out of the shadow we may obtain a little inkling of what the substance must be. God's people shall be wise, and even famous, for they shall "shine as the stars for ever and ever." God's people shall be rich; the very streets of their abode are paved with gold exceeding rich and rare. God's people shall be singularly honored; there shall be a glory about them unrivaled, for they shall be known as a peculiar people, a royal priesthood, a race of beings lifted up to reveal their Maker's character beyond all the rest of his works.
I reckon that glory to a saint means, first of all, purified character. The brightest glory that really can come to any one is the glory of character. Thus God's glory among men is his goodness, his mercy, his justice, his truth. But shall such poor creatures as we are to have perfect characters? Yes, we can be perfectly holy. "As he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation." God's Holy Spirit leaves in us no trace of sin: when walking in the Spirit, no temptation can touch us, no relics of our past and fallen state. Oh, is not this to be blessed? "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." I was going to say it is all the glory I want-- the glory of being perfect in character, never sinning, never judging unjustly, never thinking a vain thought, never wandering away from the perfect law of God. "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." We are glorious because the devil himself is not able to detect a fault in us, and those eyes of God, which burn like fire and read the inmost secrets of the soul, is not able to detect anything blameworthy in us. Such is the character of the saints that they are meet to consort with Christ himself, fit company for that thrice Holy Being before whom angels veil their faces. This is glory!
I understand by "glory" our perfected manhood. When God made Adam he was a far superior being to any of us. Man's place in creation was very remarkable. The Psalmist says, "For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; the fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas." No king among men in these days could rival Adam in the garden of Eden: he was indeed monarch of all that he surveyed, and from the lordly lion down to the tiniest insect, all living creatures paid him willing homage. Can we ever rise to this last honor? Brethren, listen, "It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when Christ shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." Is there any limit to the growth of the mind of a man? Can we tell what he may reach? We read of Solomon that God gave him largeness of heart as the sand of the sea: God will give to his people glory that will include in it more largeness of heart than Solomon ever knew. Then shall we know even as we are known by God. Now we see, but it is "through a glass darkly," but then we shall see "face to face." You have met with men of great intellect and you have looked up to them: but assuredly the smallest babe in Christ when he shall reach heaven shall have a greater intellect than the most profound philosopher who has ever astounded mankind by his discoveries. We shall not always be as we are to-day, contracted and hampered because of our little knowledge, and our slender faculties, and our dull perceptions. Our ignorance and prejudice shall vanish. What a man will become we can scarcely tell when he is remade in the image of God, and made like unto our divine Lord who is "the first-born among many brethren." Here we are but in embryo: our minds are but the seeds, or the bulbs, out of which shall come the flower and glory of a nobler manhood. Your body is to be developed into something infinitely brighter and better than the bodies of men here below: and as for the soul, we cannot guess to what an elevation it shall be raised in Christ Jesus. There is room for the largest expectation here, as we conjecture what will be the full accomplishment of the vast intent of eternal love, an intent which has involved the sacrifice of the only-begotten Son of God. That can be no mean design which has been carried on at the expense of the best that heaven itself possessed.
Further, by "glory" and coming to glory I think we must understand complete victory. Dwelling in the age of the Romans, men said to themselves, as they read the Scriptures, "What does the apostle mean by I glory?"' and they could scarcely help connecting it with conquest, and the return of the warrior in triumph. Men called it glory in those days when valiant warriors returned from fields of blood with captives and spoil. Then did the heroes ride through the streets of Rome, enjoying a triumph voted them by the senate. Then for the while the men of war were covered with glory, and all the city was glorious because of them. As Christians, we hate the word "glory" when it is linked with wholesale murder, and girt in garments rolled in blood; but yet there is a kind of fighting to which you and I are called, for we are soldiers of the cross; and if we fight valiantly under our great Captain, and rout every sin, and are found faithful even unto death, then we shall enter glory, and receive the honor which belongs to men who have fought a good fight, and have kept the faith. It will be no small glory to obtain the crown of life which fadeth not away. Is not this a full glory if we only place these three things together, a purified character, a perfected nature, and a complete victory?
An invaluable ingredient in true glory is divine approval. "Glory" among men means approbation: it is a man's glory when he is honored of his Queen, and she hangs a medal on his breast, or when his name is mentioned in the high court of Parliament, and he is ennobled for what he has done. If men speak of our actions with approval, it is called fame and glory. Oh, but one drop of the approbation of God has more glory in it than a sea full of human praise; and the Lord will reward his own with this holy favor. He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," and Christ before the universe will say, "Come, ye blessed of my Father." Oh, what glory that will be!
They were despised and rejected of men, they "wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; destitute, afflicted, tormented;" but now God approves them, and they are among the peers of heaven, made noble by the approbation of the Judge of all. This is glory with an emphasis-- substantial glory. One approving glance from the eye of Jesus, one accepting word from the mouth of the Father, will be glory enough for any one of us, and this we shall have if we follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth.
Not all children of God will have the glory of reflecting the glory of God. When any of God's unfallen creatures shall wish to see the greatness of God's goodness, and mercy, and love, they that dwell in heaven will point out a glorified saint. Whenever any spirit from far-off regions desires to know what is meant by faithfulness and grace, some angel will reply, "Go and talk with those who have been redeemed from among men." I believe that you and I will spend much of eternity in making known to principalities and powers the unsearchable riches of the grace of God. We shall be mirrors reflecting God; and in us shall his glory be revealed. There may be myriads of races of pure and holy beings of whom we have never heard as yet, and these may come to the New Jerusalem as to the great metropolis of Jehovah's universe, and when they come there they will gaze upon the saints as the highest instances of divine grace, wisdom, power, and love. It will be their highest pleasure to hear how eternal mercy dealt with us unworthy ones. How we shall delight to rehearse to them the fact of the Father's eternal purpose, the story of the incarnate God-- the God that loved and died, and the love of the blessed Spirit who sought us in the days of our sin, and brought us to the cross foot, renewing us in the spirit of our minds, and making us to be sons of God. Oh, brothers and sisters, this shall be our glory, that God shall shine through us to the astonishment of all.
Yet I think glory includes somewhat more than this. In certain cases a man's glory lies in his relationships. If any of the royal family should come to your houses you would receive them with respect; yes, and even as they went along the street they would be spied out, and passers-by would say, "That is the prince," and they would honor the son of our good Queen. But royal descent is a poor business compared with being allied to the King of kings. Many angels are exceeding bright, but they are only servants to wait upon the sons. I believe that there will be a kind of awe from angels at the sight of men; when they see upon us our glory they will rejoice to know our near relation to their Lord, and to fulfil their own destiny as ministering spirits appointed to minister to the heirs of salvation. No pride will be possible to the perfected, but we shall realize the exalted position to which by our new birth and the divine adoption we have been raised. "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God." Sons of God! Sons of the Lord God Almighty! Oh what glory this will be!
Then there will be connected with this the fact that we shall be connected with Jesus in everything. For do not you see, brethren, it was because of our fall that Christ came here to save men; when he wrought out a perfect righteousness, it was all for us; when he died, it was all for us; and when he rose again, it was all for us? And what is more, we lived in Christ, we died in him, we were buried in him and rose in him, and we shall ascend into heaven to reign with him. All our glory is by Christ Jesus and in all the glory of Christ Jesus we have a share. We are members of his body; we are one with him. I say, the creatures that God has made, when they shall come to worship in the New Jerusalem will stand and gaze at glorified men, and with bated breath will say one to another, "These are the beings whose natures assumed the Son of God! These are the chosen creatures whom the Prince of heaven bought with his own blood." They will stand astonished at the divine glory which will be manifested in beings emancipated from sin and hell and made heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Will not even angels be surprised and awed as they look on the church and say to one another, "This is the bride, the Lamb's wife!" They will marvel how the Lord of glory should come to this poor earth to seek a spouse and that he should enter into eternal union with such a people. Glory, glory dwelleth in Immanuel's land! Now we are getting near to the centre of it. I feel inclined, like Moses, to put off my shoes from off my feet, for the place whereon we stand is holy ground, now that we are getting to see poor bushes like ourselves aglow with the indwelling God, and changed from glory unto glory.
And yet this is not all, for there in heaven we shall dwell in the immediate presence of God. We shall dwell with him in nearest and dearest fellowship! All the felicity of the Most High will be our felicity. The blessedness of the triune Jehovah shall be our blessedness for ever and ever. Did you notice that our text says, "He hath called us unto his glory?" This outshines everything: the glory which the saints will have is the same glory which God possesses, and such as he alone can bestow. Listen to this text:-- "Whom he justified, them he also glorified." He glorifies them! I know what it is to glorify God, and so do you; but when we poor creatures glorify God it is in a poor way, for we cannot add anything to him. But what must it be for God himself to glorify a man! The glory which you are to have for ever, my dear believing brother, is a glory which God himself will put upon you. Peter, as a Hebrew, perhaps uses a Hebraism when he says "his glory:" it may be that he means the best of glory that can be, even as the Jews were wont to say- "The trees of God," when they meant the greatest trees, or "the mountains of God," when they intended the highest mountains; so by the "glory of God" Peter may mean the richest, fullest glory that can be. In the original the word "glory" has about it the idea of "weight," at which the apostle Paul hints when he speaks of a "weight of glory." This is the only glory that has weight in it, all else is light as a feather. Take all the glories of this world and they are outweighed by the small dust of the balance. Place them here in the hollow of my hand, all of them: a child may blow them away as thistledown. God's glory has weight; it is solid, true, real, and he that gets it possesses no mere name, or dream, or tinsel, but he has that which will abide the rust of ages and the fire of judgment.
The glory of God! How shall I describe it! I must set before you a strange Scriptural picture. Mordecai must be made glorious for his fidelity to his king, and singular is the honor which his monarch ordains for him. This was the royal order. Let the royal apparel be brought which the king useth to wear, and the horse that the king rideth upon, and the crown royal which is set upon his head: and let this apparel and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king's most noble princes, that they may array the man withal whom the king delighteth to honor, and bring him on horseback through the streets of the city, and proclaim before him, "Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delighteth to honor." Can you not imagine the surprise of the Jew when robe and ring were put upon him, and when he found himself placed upon the king's horse. This may serve as a figure of that which will happen to us: we shall be glorified with the glory of God. The best robe, the best of heaven's array, shall be appointed unto us, and we shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The glory which God has in reserve for his chosen will never come to an end: it will stay with us, and we shall stay with it, for ever. It will always be glory, too; its brightness will never become dim; we shall never be tired of it, or sated with it. After ten thousand thousand millions of years in heaven our happiness shall be as fresh as when it first began. Those are no fading laurels which surround immortal brows. Eternal glory knows no diminution. Can you imagine a man being born at the same time that Adam was created and living all these thousands of years as a king like Solomon, having all he could desire? His would seem to be a glorious life. But if at the end of seven thousand years that man must needs die, what has it profited him? His glory is all over now, its fires have died out in ashes. But you and I, when we once enter glory, shall receive what we can neither lose nor leave. Eternity! Eternity! This is the sweetness of all our future bliss.
Yet bear with me, I have left out a word again: the text has it, "Unto his eternal glory." Ay, but that is the gem of the ring. Highest of all our glory will be the enjoyment of God himself. He will be our exceeding joy: this bliss will swallow up every other, the blessedness of God. "The Lord is my portion," saith my soul. "Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee." Our God shall be our glory. Rejoice, ye saintly ones! 'Take your harps down from the willows, any of you who are mourning, and if you never sang before, yet sing this morning-- "God has called us unto his eternal glory," and this is to be our portion world without end.
III. I can only find time for a few words upon the concluding head, which is-- WHAT INFLUENCE SHOULD ALL THIS HAVE UPON OUR HEARTS?
I think, first, it ought to excite desire in many here present that they might attain unto glory by Christ Jesus. Satan, when he took our blessed Lord to the top of an exceeding high mountain, tempted him to worship him by offering him the kingdoms of the world and all the glories thereof. But Jesus turned the offer of glorifying self back to the true author of all glory, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." Will you not fall down and worship the Lord Jesus when he can lead you to the Father in his kingdom and all the glory thereof, and all this, not in pretence, but in reality? If there was any force in the temptation to worship Satan for the sake of the glory of this world, how much more reason is there for urging you to worship the Son of God that you may obtain his salvation with eternal glory! I pray the Holy Ghost to drop a hot desire into many a poor sinner's breast this morning that he may cry, "If this glory of the worship of God is to be had, I will have it, and I will have it in God's way, for I will believe in Jesus, I will repent, I will come to God, and so obtain his promise."
Secondly, this ought to move us to the feeling of fear. If there be such a glory as this, let us tremble lest by any means we should come short of it. Oh, my dear hearers, especially you that are my fellow members, brother church officers, and workers associated with me, what a dreadful thing it will be if any one of us should come short of this glory! Oh, if there were no hell, it would be hell enough to miss of heaven! What if there were no pit that is bottomless, nor worm undying, nor fire unquenchable, it would be boundless misery to have a shadow of a fear of not reaching to God's eternal glory? Let us therefore pass the time of our sojourning here in fear, and let us watch unto prayer and strive to enter in at the strait gate. God grant we may be found of him at last to praise and honor!
If we are right, how this ought to move us to gratitude. Think of this, we are to enjoy "his eternal glory!" What a contrast to our deserts! Shame and everlasting contempt are our righteous due apart from Christ. If we were to receive according to our merits, we should be driven from his presence and from the glory of his power. Verily, "he hath not dealt with us after our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities;" for, after all our transgressions, he has still reserved us for glory, and glory for us. What love and zeal should burn in our bosoms because of this!
Last of all, it should move us to a dauntless courage. If this glory is to be had, do we not feel like the heroes in Bunyan's picture? Before the dreamer there stood a fair palace, and he saw persons walking upon the top of it, clad in light, and singing. Around the door stood armed men to keep back those who would enter. Then a brave man came up to one who had a writer's inkhorn by his side, and said, "Set down my name;" and straightway the warrior drew his sword, and fought with all his might, until he had cut his way to the door, and then he entered, and they within were heard to sing--
"Come in, come in, Eternal glory thou shalt win."
Will you not draw your swords this morning, and fight against sin, till you have overcome it? Do you not desire to win Christ, and to be found in him? Oh, let us now begin to feel a passion for eternal glory, and then in the strength of the Spirit, and in the name of Jesus, let us press forward till we reach it. Even on earth we may taste enough of this glory to fill us with delight. The glory which I have described to you dawns on earth, though it only comes to us as noontide in heaven: the glory of sanctified character, the glory of victory over sin, the glory of relationship to God, the glory of union with Christ-- these are all to be tasted in a measure here below. These glories send their beams down even to these valleys and lowlands. Oh, to enjoy them to-day and thus to have earnests and foretastes of glory. If we have them, let us go singing on until we reach the place where God's eternal glory shall surround us. Amen.
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