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ON THE COMING OF CHRIST TO JUDGMENT, AND OF THE REWARD BOTH OF THE FAITHFUL AND UNFAITHFUL OLORD Jesus Christ, the Son of the everliving God, by whom all things were made, are ruled and governed; as of thy love for our redemption thou didst not disdain to be our Mediator, and to take upon thee our nature in the womb of a virgin, purely and without sin, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, that both thou mightest in thine own person wonderfully beautify and exalt our nature, and work the same in us also, first abolishing the guiltiness of sin by remission, then sin itself by death, and last of all death by raising up again these our bodies, that they may be “like unto thine own glorious (and immortal) body, according to the power wherewith thou art able to subject all things unto thee;” as, I say, of thy love for our redemption thou becamest man, and that most poor and afflicted upon earth, by the space of thirty-three years at the least, in most humility; and paidest the price of our ransom by thy most bitter death and passion, (for the which I most heartily give thanks to thee ;) so, of the same thy love towards us, in thy good time thou wilt “come again in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory,” “with flaming fire,” “with thousands of saints,” “with angels of thy power,” “with a mighty cry, shout of an archangel,” and “blast of a trump,” suddenly “as the lightning which shineth from the east,” etc. when men think least, “even as a thief in the night” when men be asleep.
Thou wilt so come, I say, thus suddenly “in the twinkling of an eye,” all men that ever have been, be, and shall be, with women and children, appearing before thy tribunal judgment-seat, to render an account of all things which they have thought, spoken, and done against thy law, openly and before all angels, saints, and devils; and so to receive the just reward of thy vengeance, if that they have not repented and “obeyed the gospel;” and so to “depart from thee to the devil and his angels,” and all the wicked which ever have been, be, or shall be, into hell-fire, which is unquenchable and of pains intolerable, easeless, endless, hopeless, even from the face of thy glorious and mighty power.
But, if they have “repented and believed thy gospel,” if they be found watching with their lamps, and oil in their hands, if they be found ready apparelled with the “wedding-garment” of innocency; if they have not hardened their hearts, and “hoarded up their treasure of thy vengeance in the day of wrath to be revealed,” but have used the time of grace, “the acceptable time, the time of salvation,” (that is, the time of this life, in the which thou “stretchest out thy hand” and spreadest thine arms, calling and crying unto us to “come unto thee which art meek in heart and lowly, for thou wilt case all that labor and are heavy laden;”) if they have visited the sick and prisoners, comforted the comfortless, fed the hungry, clothed the naked, lodged the harborless; if they have not “loaden their hearts with gluttony and surfeiting, and carefulness of this life;” if they have not “digged and hid their talent in the ground,” doing no good therewith, but have been faithful to occupy thy gifts to thy glory, and here washen their garments in thy blood by hearty repenting them; then shall thy angels gather them together, not as the wicked which shall be collected as fagots and “cast into the fire,” but as the good “wheat that is gathered into thy barn.” Then shall they “be caught up to meet thee in the clouds,” then shall their “corruptible body put on incorruption,” then shall they be endued with immortality and glory, then shall they be with thee and “go whither thou goest,” then shall they hear, “Come, blessed of my Father, possess the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning,” etc. Then shall they be set on seats of majesty, “judging the whole world;” then “shall they reign with thee for ever;” then “shall God be all in all” with them and to them. Then shall they enter and inherit “heavenly Jerusalem” and the glorious restful land of Canaan, where is always day and never night, where is no manner of weeping, tears, infirmity, hunger, cold, sickness, envy, malice, nor sin; but always joy without sorrow, mirth without measure, pleasure without pain, heavenly harmony, most pleasant melody, saying and singing, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts,” etc. Summa, “the eye hath not seen, the ear hath not heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man,” that they shall then inherit and most surely enjoy; although here they be tormented, prisoned, burned, solicited of Satan, tempted of the flesh, and entangled with the world; wherethrough they are enforced to cry, “Thy kingdom come: come, Lord Jesu,” etc. “How amiable are thy tabernacles!” “Like as the hart desireth the water-brooks,” etc. “Now let thy servant depart in peace:” “I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ.” “We mourn in ourselves, waiting for the deliverance of our bodies,” etc.
O gracious Lord, when shall I find such mercy with thee, that I may repent, believe, hope, and look for this gear, with the full fruition of these heavenly joys which thou hast prepared for all them that fear thee; and so rest with thee for evermore?