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himself, that the seventy were, without exception, to be saved, though it is possible, and even likely; our Lord may have addressed himself to them in a way which was generally applicable, as he addressed the twelve as disciples, though one of them was a traitor. The mere gift of miracles, however noble, was not necessarily connected with any spiritual and everlasting good; for these are the words of Christ: "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." The special love of God, a personal interest in Christ, and the ordinary converting and sanctifying influences of the Spirit, were certainly, in all cases, of much more importance than extraordinary and miraculous gifts, however numerous and astonishing; therefore, our Lord said to the seventy, "Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven."
Waiving now all further reference to the seventy, and to every other part of the passage, we shall expatiate a little, in conclusion, on this last verse, in a way directly applicable at the present moment, and with an earnest desire that the joyful and awakening truths which it embodies may be brought home to your judgment and feelings by the Spirit of the living God.
The expression, having their "names written in heaven," is in allusion to the custom of enrolling the names of those who are admitted freemen of any city, the register of which citizenship is preserved with care. Among the Jews, this also served to show the genealogy and place of birth. "The Lord shall count, when he writeth up the people, that this man was born there."* Now, the people of God may be considered as having their names written in heaven, in respect both of the eternal purpose according to the election of grace, and of their actual introduction into the kingdom of God when they are converted in time. The first idea, namely, that of their enrolment in the divine purpose, is chiefly intended in Rev. xvii. 8, where it is said that they shall wonder after the beast, "whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world." And the second idea, or accession to the Church by actual con
* Ps. lxxxvii. 6.
version, is chiefly intended in Eph. ii. 19, where it is said, of those who are reconciled, and who have access, through Christ, by one Spirit, unto the Father, that they "are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." The following additional passages, in which God's people are represented as enrolled, or written down, and which refer, some more plainly to the one idea, and some to the other, though they may all include both, throw still further light on the subject. Isa. iv. 3: "He that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem." Dan. xii. 1: "At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book." Phil. iv. 3: " My fellow-labourers, whose names are in the book of life." Rev. xiii. 8: "All that dwell upon the earth shall worship him," that is, the beast, "whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." And Rev. xx. 12: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God: and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were found written in the books, according to their works.”
Such, then, being the nature and blessed consequences this enrolment, surely every wise man should be anxiously desirous to know if his name be written in heaven. But is such knowledge attainable? It is attainable by believers. It is true that they have no access to the book of the divine decrees, so as to be able to obtain a direct sight of their names there. But, there is another ascertainable point, from which their registration there may certainly be inferred; and to this point their inquiring attention should be turned. You may know, my friends, that the Lord intended to save you, if he has actually saved you. If you have been convinced of sin, and led to the Saviour; if you have been renewed in the spirit of your mind, and created again in Christ Jesus unto good works; if you are born from above, and have a heavenly nature; if you are pressing into the kingdom of God, and seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; if you are looking habitually to heaven, and chiefly concerned to prepare for heaven; if you have set your affections on things above, and are giving all diligence to make your calling and election sure; in a word, if your treasure, and your heart, and your conversation are in hea
ven, then you may certainly conclude that your names are written in heaven.
But give ear, all ye of whom, notwithstanding all your infirmities, this may be truly said, while we repeatedly urge on your consideration the blessed fact that you have far greater cause for joy in your names being written in heaven than you possibly can have in anything else. Be your advantages in other respects as numerous, and as great, as they may, here is an advantage which outweighs them all and be your other causes of joy what they may, here is a cause of joy in which all others should be, as it were, lost and swallowed up.
Are you possessed of a sufficiency, or even of wealth, of this world's goods? Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that you are rich, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Earthly riches call for your gratitude, as placing you above want, and putting it in your power to do good; but what are they in comparison of spiritual and eternal riches-" the unsearchable riches of Christ ?" All things are yours, for ye are Christ's: therefore rejoice in this, Are you learned in human knowledge? Such knowledge is far better than ignorance, and may bring some pleasure and advantage along with it. Notwithstanding, rejoice not in this, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. In human wisdom there is often much sorrow, and there never can be safety and peace: rejoice, therefore, rather because you have the wisdom which is from above, and because the Holy Scriptures have made you wise to salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus. They who are thus wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever. Are you honoured, and highly esteemed, by your fellow-creatures? This is so far well: notwithstanding, rejoice not in this, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven; for, while earthly honour is transitory and vain, the honour that cometh from God is substantial and permanent, and he says to each of you, "Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee." Are you invested with worldly power? Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven; "for he that is slow to wrath is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city:" and you have power to tread on serpents and scorpions, in the spiritual sense, being strong in the
Lord, and in the power of his might. Therefore, rejoice in putting forth this power, remembering the words of your Lord, "To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Have you kind and pious friends? Be thankful to God and to them: notwithstanding, in this rejoice not, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. "He that loveth father or mother more than me," saith Christ, "is not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me." Endearing as such connexions may be, ought you not to be still more joyful, when you think that you have God for your Father, and Jesus for your friend-a friend that sticketh closer than a brother? Indeed, no connexion with any human being whatever, however exalted, or excellent, not even the being nearly related to Christ himself according to the flesh, could compare, in importance, with the being savingly interested in him. When " a certain woman lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked," he replied, "Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Are you in bodily health? It is a great blessing: but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven-rather rejoice because you have undergone a spiritual cure, and by Christ's stripes have been healed. It is well that your bodies, but it is far better that your souls, prosper and are in health. Rejoice in this, and say, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits; who forgiveth all thine iniquities, and healeth all thy diseases; who redeemeth thy life from destruction, who crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies." Your temporal life is continued, and this is a great blessing, for, truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun. Rather rejoice, however, rejoice still more, because you are quickened to spiritual life. Valuable as your temporal life is, your spiritual life is still more so, for, you cannot live here always, but when death shall send you away, your spiritual life secures your entrance on life everlasting. Your life being hid with Christ in God, when he who is your life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Are you blessed with civil immunities in this land of freemen? More joyful may you be because of your emancipation from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God, and
your having come to mount Zion, and the heavenly Jerusalem. Are you favoured with distinguished outward religious privileges? Happy are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear, those things which many prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear, but were not so favoured. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not; but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven. Rather rejoice because these privileges have been accompanied to you with the special grace of God, to render them effectual. Many have abused and are abusing the very same external privileges, while you have improved and are improving them, to your souls' good and your Saviour's glory. With what humility, and yet with what joy, does it become you to reflect on this! "Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto you, but your Father who is in heaven." Give him the praise, and rejoice in his salvation: and “may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing." You see, then, that you have greater cause for rejoicing because your names are written in heaven, than you can possibly have in any other advantages, however numerous and great they may be.
But this is not all, for it may with truth be said, not only that this is the greatest among all your causes of joy, but that this affords you a sufficient cause of joy in opposition to the greatest disadvantages and sorrows. Are you poor? Rejoice, notwithstanding of your poverty, because your names are written in heaven. “Hearken, my beloved brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?"-"Though the fig tree shall not blossom, yet rejoice in the Lord, and joy in the God of your salvation." Are you exposed to trouble because of your religion? Rejoice notwithstanding :"Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for Christ's sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven." Are you sickly and weakly? Rejoice notwithstanding, for your souls are recovering, and you are going to the place where the inhabitants shall never say, I am sick, because the people that dwell therein are forgiven their iniquity. Are you friendless? Rejoice notwithstanding, because your names are written in heaven. You have an Almighty friend, and there is no creature to divide with him your affection. Should you be necessarily