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present, Sum qui sum, lam that I am, and, Go and tell Pharaoh, that he whose name is I am, hath sent thee, yet in the original it is plain, and plain in the Chaldean paraphrase, that that name is delivered in the future, Ero qui ero, I shall be that I shall be, and, Go and tell Pharaoh, that he whose name is I shall be, hath sent thee. God calls upon man, even in the consideration of the name of God, to consider his future state: for if we consider God in the present, to-day, now, God hath had as long a forenoon as he shall have an afternoon; God hath been God as many millions of millions of generations already, as he shall be hereafter; but if we consider man in the present, to-day, now, how short a forenoon hath any man had; if sixty, if eighty years, yet few and evil have his days been. Nay, if we take man collectively, entirely, altogether, all mankind, how short a forenoon hath man had! It is not yet six thousand years since man had his first being. But if we consider him in his afternoon, in his future state, in his life after death, if every minute of his six thousand years were multiplied by so many millions of ages, all would amount to nothing, merely nothing, in respect of that eternity which he is to dwell in. We can express man's afternoon, his future perpetuity, his everlastingness, but one way, but it is a fair way, a noble way, this: that how late a beginning soever God gave man, man shall no more see an end, no more die, than God himself that gave him life. Therefore says the apostle here, We, we that consider God according to his promise, expect future things, look for more at God's hand hereafter than we have received heretofore; for his mercies are new every morning, and his later mercies are his largest mercies. How many, how great nations perish, without ever hearing the name of Christ; but God wrapped me up in his covenant, and derived me from Christian parents; I sucked Christian blood in my mother's womb, and Christian milk at my nurse's breast. The first sound that I heard in the world was the voice of Christians, and the first character that I was taught to know was the cross of Christ Jesus. How many children that are born so, born within the covenant, born of Christian parents, do yet die before they be baptized, though they were born heirs to baptism! But God hath afforded me the seal of that sacrament. And then, how many that are baptized, and so eased in original sin, do yet proceed to actual sins, and are surprised by death before they receive the seal of their reconciliation to Christ in the sacrament of his body and his blood; but God hath afforded me the seal of that sacrament too. What sins soever God forgave me this morning, yet since the best (and I am none of them) fall seven times a day, God forgives me seven more sins to-morrow than he did to-day, and seven in this arithmetic is infinite. God's temporal, God's spiritual blessings, are inexhaustible. What have we that we have not received? But what have we received in respect of that which is laid up for us? and therefore expectamus, we determine ourselves in God so, as that we look for nothing but from him; but not so as that we hope for no more from him than we have had, for that were to determine God, to circumscribe God, to make God finite: therefore we bless God for our possession, but yet we expect a larger reversion. And the day intended in this text shall make that reversion our possession, which is the day of judgment.
Therefore in the verse immediately before the text, the apostle accompanies this expectantes with another word; it is expectantes et properantes, looking for, and hasting to, the coming of the day of God. We must have such an expectation of that day as may imply and testify a love to it, a desire of it, a longing for it. When these things begin to come to pass (says Christ, speaking of the signs preceding the last day), then look up and lift your heads, for your redemption draweth near". All our dejections of spirit should receive an exaltation in that one consolation, that that day draweth near. Seu velimus, seu nolimus^, whether we will or no, that day will come: but, says that father in that short prayer of his, the Lord hath given thee an entire petition for accelerating and hasting that day of the Lord. When he bids thee say, Thy kingdom come, he means that thou shouldst mean the kingdom of glory at the judgment, as well as the kingdom of grace in the church. Christ says, If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am you may be also ". Now, beloved, hath Christ done one half of this for us, and would not we have him do the other half too? Is he gone to prepare the place, and would we not have him come to fetch us to it? Certainly Christ speaks that in favour, he intends it for a favour, when he says, Behold I come quickly m. It is one favour that he will come, and seconded with another, that he will make speed to save us, that he will make haste to help us. And, to establish us in that assurance, he adds in that place, Behold I come quickly, and my reward is with me; if the coming do not, if the speed do not, yet let the reward work in you a desire of that day. The last words that Christ speaks in the Bible (and amongst us last words make deepest impressions) are, Surely I come quickly49; and the last answer that is made in our behalfs, there is, Amen, even so come, Lord Jesus. There is scarce any amongst us but does expect this coming ; they that fear it expect it, but that crown that the apostle speaks of is laid up for them that love the appearing of the Lord50; not only expect it but love it; and no man can do so that hath not a confidence in his cause. Adventum judicis non diligitiX, No prisoner longs for the sessions, no client longs for the day of hearing, nisi qui in causa sua se sciat habere justifies meritum, except he know his cause to be good, and assure himself that he shall stand upright in judgment. But can we have that assurance? Assuredly we may. He that hath seen the marks of election in both editions, in the Scripture first, and then in his conscience; he that does not flatter and abuse his own soul, nor tempt and presume upon God; he that in a sober and rectified conscience finds himself truly incorporated in Christ, truly interested in his merits, may be sure, that if the day of judgment came now, now he should be able to stand upright in judgment. And therefore let schoolboys look after holidays, and worldly men after rent days, and travellers after fair days, and chapmen after market days: nevertheless we, we that have laid hold upon God, and laid hold upon him by the right handle, according to his promises, expectamus, we look for this day of the Lord; and properamus, we are glad it is so near, and we desire the further hasting of it.
But then, beloved, the day of our death is the eve of this day of the Lord; the day of our death is the Saturday of this Sunday; the next day after my death is the day of judgment; for, between these, these eyes shall see no more days. And then are we bound, nay, may we lawfully wish and desire the day of our death, as we have said, we are bound to do the day of judgment? The souls of the martyrs under the altar in heaven cry unto God there, Usque quo, Domine, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood62? That which those martyrs solicit there is the day of judgment; and though that which they ask was not presently granted, but the day of judgment put off for a time, yet God was not displeased with their solicitation; for, for all that, he gave them then their white robes, testimony enough of their innocency. If we could wish our own death as innocently, as harmlessly, as they did the day of judgment; if no ill circumstances in us did vitiate our desire of death; if there were no dead flies in this ointment53 (as Solomon speaks); if we had not, at least, a collateral respect (if not a direct and principal) to our own ease, from the incumbrances, and grievances, and annoyances of this world, certainly we might safely desire, piously wish, religiously pray, for our own death. But it is hard, very hard, to divest those circumstances that infect it; for if I pretend to desire death merely for the fruition of the glory of the sight of God, I must remember that my Saviour desired that glory, and yet stayed his time for it. If I pretend to desire death, that I might see no more sin, hear no more blasphemies from others, it may be I may do more good to others, than I shall take harm by others, if I live. If I would die that I might be at an end of temptations in myself, yet I might lose some of that glory which I shall have in heaven, by resisting another year's temptation, if I died now. To end this consideration, as this looking for the day of the Lord (which is the word of our text) implies a joy and a gladness of it when it shall come (whether we consider that as the day itself, the day of judgment, or the eve of the day, the day of our death), so doth this looking for it imply a patient attending of i2 Rev. vi. 10. « Ecoles. x. 1.
so 2 Tim. iv. 8. 51 Gregory.