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"which no man can number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues will stand before the throne and the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palms in their hands." O what a glorious, splendid, shining company will there be !
6. Yet further, these multitudes gathered together will have their spirits in perfect harmony, they shall all speak one language, as the whole earth did before the confusion at Babel; there will be an agreement of minds, wills, affections, consciences, and conversation; no clashing, no discord, they shall be fully united, cemented, and perfectly joined together, and all according to one rule and canon; they all engage together in one celestial song, the heavenly choir of angels stand round about the throne, echoing to an innumerable company of believing glorified Jews and Gentiles, saying, "Amen: blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving be unto our God for ever and ever, Amen," Rev. vii. 10-12. It is worth observing, that upon Antichrist's ruin, "a great voice of much people in heaven was heard, saying, Hallelujah,” Rev. xix. 1; " and again they said Hallelujah," ver. 3; then again, the four and twenty elders, and four beasts, still employ the same tune, Hallelujah; and still upon a new summons they add always Hallelujah, this was the Hosanna Rabba, as the Jews call it, or a Hallelujatica victoria, as the old Britons called their victory over the Saxons. All but faint emblems of that great solemnity, in which the multitude of glorified souls are with one heart and voice unanimously adoring their Redeemer, acquiescing in his righteous sentence, not one dissenting, they neither contradict one another, nor oppose the will of God: there is not a jarring string in this music: whatever dissensions or lan
* Dan. vii. 10. Rev. vii. 9.
guages may be here, they all speak the same things there. Yea, though they did not understand one another's dialect in this world, yet they shall all speak the language of Canaan; whether it be Hebrew, as some conceive, who knows? but it will be intelligible by all that then meet together. The scripture saith, "they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion," Isa. lii. 8. Now if ever that text shall be fulfilled, that as two eyes look both on one object, so the eyes of all saints shall be towards the Lord: there will be a sweet agreement in principles, practice, professions, and affections, as the primitive Christians who were "of one heart and of one soul," Acts iv. 32; then shall"we all come to the unity of the faith," Eph. iv. 13.
7. These congregated saints shall be admitted into one place and state of glory; that is, "before the throne of God, and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them," Rev. vii. 15. These bright stars shall make a glorious constellation in the heavenly firmament: though possibly one star may differ from another star in glory, yet they shall all be irradiated with the Sun of Righteousness: though these vessels of grace be of various quantity, yet they shall all be full in that vast ocean; not the weakest or feeblest shall be lost or left behind, "the feeble among them shall be as David, and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them," Zech. xii. 8. Not a grace or duty; not a mite given in charity shall be lost. Tears shall be found bottled, and a cup of cold water shall be rewarded; there is room enough in heaven for all the saints, "In my Father's house," saith Christ, "are many mansions," John xiv. 2; many for number, large for extension. The city
is four square, having twelve gates, filled from all quarters of the world; "the gates of it continually open," never shut.* O the stupendous vastness of that upper region! Earth is but a speck or point, compared to it; though the text in Revelations speak but of twelve thousand furlongs, which, according to some, make but fifteen hundred miles, what is that to heaven? If the city of the great King be meant there by the New Jerusalem, as some think, doubtless it is exceedingly spacious, if indeed it be a place which can be circumscribed: but where the King is, there is the court; as the angels do always behold the face of God, and therefore are still in heaven, though employed about saints on earth;† so it may possibly be with the saints after the resurrection. Who knows whether the purified earth may not be one place of their celestial happiness? yet some think it will be wicked men's hell, and place of torments. But be that as it may, we are sure there is room enough for all the saints in heaven; and our Lord will have them all with him, not a hoof left behind as slighted, for he purchased all at a dear rate, and prayed for them when he was leaving the world. A summary of his present intercession, we have John xvii. particularly verse 24, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am." This will be a blessed congregation indeed, a spacious temple, a large paradise, not in corners, houses, or chapels, nor as in the present state where they are often persecuted, fined, and imprisoned; in that world they shall have liberty, yea, possibly every saint shall have his proper mansion, yet in full communion with God, and the rest of glorified spirits.
* Rev. xxi. 10, 12, 25.
+ Matt. xviii. 10. Heb. i. 14.
WHAT IS IMPLIED IN GATHERING THIS ASSEMBLY.
II. IT is further proposed, to give a more particular account of the assembling of the saints, and this I shall do in these seven particulars :
1. That all the saints in the several ages, places, and conditions, wherein they have lived, shall be gathered into one general assembly, may seem strange, but it is true; all the children of God that ever have lived for five thousand years and upwards, since man was placed on this earthly globe, all that ever have lived, do live, or shall live till the end of time, shall be assembled; such as have lived in far distant places, many thousand miles asunder, separated by vast tracts of ground, mountains, and seas, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America; such as have died many thousand years ago, and have been long singing the praises of God and enjoying his presence in the church triumphant, old testament saints, and new testament saints. The children of God in the church militant, yet fighting under the banner of Christ, shall meet with victors that have been long crowned: persons of all conditions, ages, sexes, qualities, rich and poor, old and young; such as never saw each other's face in this world, no, nor ever heard of each other, yet then they shall meet together, Luke xiii. 29, "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." It is said, Acts ii. 5, "There were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven." But what were they compared with those who shall come out of all countries of the world; O
what a vast number of souls shall be congregated! such as never appeared together in this lower region. When there shall be a general collection of the human race far beyond what appeared in the theatres, or amphitheatres of the ancient Romans, or armies of Mahometans; "multitudes, multitudes here," as Joel speaks, "in the valley of decision."*
2. That all this congregation shall then be perfectly holy. So it may be truly said of this assembly, as the murmuring princes said of Israel, "All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them;"† there is not one feeble person among them, no infant of days, but they are grown up to be strong, have become giants in grace; they stand in no need of ordinances; ministerial gifts, and the exercise thereof are "only for perfecting of the saints," Eph. iv. 12. But now they are above them, being perfected; that city "hath no need of the sun, or of the moon to shine in it." As soon as ever the breath departs out of the body of a child of God, he shakes off all sin, and puts on a new garment of perfect holiness; he takes his leave of the body of death and earth together. Not one speck of pollution to be seen upon all this great multitude. Souls take their leave of sin, as they are taking their leave of this world. O what a glorious sight will that be of pure white saints! surely a lovely sight; there will be no pride, passion, or impatience, nor any thing to vex themselves or others. The dregs are left behind, and refined quintescence floats upwards. Consecrated souls are now elevated to the highest pitch, and purified from loathsome and defiling corruptions. O what a blessed day will that be! 3. That all troubles and temptations in this lower world shall then cease. Neither the devil nor wicked * Joel iii. 14. Rev. xxi. 23.
+ Numb. xvi. 3.