ON THE LAST SENTENCE OF THE GOOD
Consider first, that the great assizes of the last day shall be concluded by a definitive sentence, by which the just, after a glorious rehearsal of all their good works, shall be called up to a kingdom where sorrows never enter and joys never end; and the wicked shall be condemned to the dismal dungeons of everlasting fire. But first give ear, O my soul, to that sweet and amiable invitation, (which thou hopest shall be one day thine,) by which our dear Lord shall call his servants, his friends, and his children into the glorious mansions of eternal bliss. ‘Come ye blessed of my father,’ shall he say, ‘possess the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,’ Matt. xxv. 34. O happy invitation! O happy, thrice happy they that shall be found worthy to partake of this joyful sentence! What unspeakable satisfaction and delight, what torrents of joy and pleasure shall flow into their souls at the hearing of it? But oh! what envy, what rage shall possess the souls of the reprobate when they shall hear this invitation and shall see several of their own acquaintance going to take possession of that eternal kingdom which they might also have so easily purchased, but by their folly and stupidity have blindly exchanged for the flames of hell?
Consider 2ndly, and weigh well at thy leisure the words of this happy sentence: ‘Come,’ says the judge, ‘ye blessed of my father,’ &c. Come, (O sweet invitation!) from the vale of tears to the blissful regions of never-ending joys. Come from a tedious banishment to your true heavenly country; from your mortal pilgrimage in the midst of crosses, labours, conflicts, and dangers, to your blessed home in the fair and lovely mansions of rest and peace, in the eternal Sion where you shall meet with all that your hearts desire to complete your happiness; where you shall be for ever inebriated by the plenty of my house, and drink for ever at the fountain of life. ‘Arise, my beloved, the winter is now past, the floods and storms are all over, arise and come. Come, enter into the joy of your Lord, the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning;’ an universal good, a blessing including all blessings, and extended to endless ages. O my soul, learn thou to despise all other happiness in hopes of having a share one day in this blessed sentence.
Consider 3rdly, that what is most to be admired and loved in this heavenly sentence is, that it brings our souls to an eternal union with God himself, our only true and sovereign good. This come, this sweet word of salvation, draws us to our God, unites us to him, receives us into the very bosom of his goodness, and in a manner transforms us into him. And nothing less could ever truly satisfy our souls! O happy blessing indeed, to be thus ‘blessed of the father’ by an eternal union with himself. O happy kingdom, in which we shall eternally live and reign with the ever-living God! ‘I rejoiced,’ said the royal prophet, Ps. cxxi., ‘at the things that were said to me: We shall go into the house of the Lord.’ But, O my soul, how much more oughtest thou to rejoice at the happy prospect of thy being one day called, not only into the house of the Lord, but even to an union with the Lord himself.
Conclude to spare no pains to secure to thyself this happy sentence by a diligence in all good works, more especially works of mercy and charity, which according to the gospel are particularly calculated to ensure to us the sentence of the elect.