|First Sermon on 2 Thessalonians Chapter Two
by Thomas Manton
Sermons 1-3 together in Word format PDF format
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our
gathering together unto him, that you be not soon shaken in mind, or be
troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, that the day
of Christ is at hand." 2 Thess. 2:1,2.
The former chapter was spent in a consolation against troubles, this in a
caution against error, or to rectify their judgments concerning the time of
Christ's second coming. In these two first verses, we have the manner of
proposal, ver. 1; the matter proposed, ver. 2.
1. The manner of proposal is very emotionally stirring, by way of a solemn
charge and call upon God as a witness.
2. The matter. An error had crept in among the Thessalonians concerning the
speedy and immediate coming of Christ to judgment, while they were yet alive;
which error the devil set on foot to subvert their faith and expose the whole
Christian doctrine to contempt.
First, The manner or calling on God as a witness falleth first under our
consideration, in which two things are mentioned:
1. The coming of Christ.
2. Their gathering together unto him. Calls for heavenly witnesses are charges
by those things which have great reverence and respect with us, as most likely
to prevail. Now the two things are mentioned:
[1.] As weighty: 2 Tim. 4:1, 'I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus
Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, at his appearance and his
[2.] This was the article mistaken and perverted as to one circumstance, the
time; but the thing is taken for granted as an unquestionable truth, and the
support of all their hopes: 2 Thes. 1:10, 'When he shall come to be glorified in
his saints, and admired in all them that believe.'
[3.] This was a famous Christian doctrine with which the apostles usually began,
in planting religion in any place: 1 Thes. 5:1-3, 'But of the times and the
seasons ye have no reason that I write unto you, for ye yourselves know
perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,' &c.
[4.] It was of precious account with them: 2 Tim. 4:8, 'Henceforth is laid up
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge shall give
me at that day, and not to me only, but unto them also that love his appearing.'
So that the call for Christ to witness implieth both the certainty of their
belief, and also their dear account of this article of faith; and therefore the
sense is: As you do assuredly expect him, and love, and look, and long for this
day, that it may go well with you, and Christ appear to your glory, so be not
Doct. 1. That the coming of Christ to the judgment is a truth well known, firmly
believed, and earnestly desired by all true Christians.
Doct. 2. That when Christ shall come, all the saints shall be gathered together
Doct. 1. That the coming of Christ to the judgment is a truth well known, firmly
believed, and earnestly desired by all the saints.
1. That it is well known, the apostle produceth the testimony of Enoch: Jude 14,
'Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints.' David often mentioneth
it as a thing delighted in by believers; therefore, in a poetical, or rather
prophetical strain, he calleth upon the heavens, earth, sea, and fields to
rejoice 'before the Lord, for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth; he
shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth,' Ps.
96:13; and again, Ps. 98:9, he calleth upon the creatures to rejoice 'before the
Lord, for he cometh to judge the earth; with righteousness shall he judge the
world, and the people with equity;' passages which relate, not only to the
kingdom of the Messiah, as it is exercised now in the world, but also to his
final act of judging, till which time they are not fully verified. Solomon
bindeth the whole duty of man upon him by this consideration: Eccles. 12:13, 14,
'Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep his
commandments, for this is the whole duty of man;' for God shall bring every work
into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be
evil. And the apostles, when they went abroad to proselytise the world, usually
began with this point.
2. That this is firmly believed by all true Christians. This must needs be so,
because it is the grand inducement to all piety and godliness, and none ever
disbelieved it but those the interest of whose lusts engaged them to question
it: 2 Peter 3:3-5, 'Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days
scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his
coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from
the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of,' &c.
Willingly ignorant; their self-interest puts them upon it, rather than their
conscience, because this doctrine filleth them with unquiet thoughts, that they
cannot so securely follow their sinful practices till they blot out the fear of
it, or banish the thoughts of it out of their hearts. But all that obey the
teachings of grace (take it for objective or subjective grace), they firmly
believe it: Titus 2:11-13, 'For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath
appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we
should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for
that blessed hope, and the glorious appearance of the great God, and our Saviour
Jesus Christ.' The sound belief of it is not so much encountered with the doubts
of the mind, as the inclinations of their perverse hearts. Now, the seeming
reasons of partial men are not to be heard, especially as delivered in a
scoffing, malicious way; and on the other side, godliness and mortification
standeth upon such evident reason as man's unquestionable duty, that it needeth
not to be maintained by a lie and manifest falsehood. Certainly, they that deny
it do not so much reason against this article of our Christian faith as scoff at
it; and it is to be imputed to the malignity of their tempers, rather than the
acuteness or sharpness of their reason that they do not believe it. Many things
which they urge are a manifest token of the contrary; as the calamities of the
good: 2 Thes. 1:4, 5, 'So that we glory in you for your faith and patience in
all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is a manifest
token of the righteous judgment of God.' The perversion of justice: Eccles.
3:16, 17, 'And moreover, I saw under the Sun the place of judgment, that
wickedness was there, and the place of righteousness, that iniquity was there; I
said in my heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked; for there is a
time there for every purpose and for every work. Things must be reviewed and
judged over again. A state-engine to serve order and government. Doth the
benefit of mankind need a lie to promote it? Doth carnal interest govern the
world, or virtue? If mere carnal interest, what a confusion would there be of
all things? Then men might commit all villainy, take away men's lives and goods
when it is their interest, or they could do it safely and secretly, without
infringement of their interest; servants poison their masters, if they could do
it without discovery, and there were no sin in it; men prey upon others, if it
be in the power of their hands; and 'catch he that catch can,' without impunity,
would be the truest wisdom. Clear it is, virtue cannot be supported without the
thoughts of a world to come; and it is unreasonable to imagine that God would
make a world which cannot be governed without falsehood and deceit.
3. That it is earnestly desired by all true Christians. That is of chief respect
here; for the apostle implores them by all that is dear and sacred in their most
holy faith; and upon this I will mainly spend the first part of this discourse.
I shall prove it by these two choice pieces of scripture, which describe the
communion of the church with Christ, or the dispensations of Christ to the
church; the one concerneth God's internal, the other his external government
the Canticles and Revelations. The book of Canticles is ended with this desire,
aspiration, and wish: Cant. 8:14,'Make haste my beloved, and be like a young
hart or roe upon the mountains of spices.' The bride's last and great suit to
the bridegroom is 'make haste,' as to his coming in glory to judge the world;
not that Christ is slack, but the church's affections are strong. They that go
a-whoring after the world neither desire his coming, nor love his appearing; but
the spouse would have all things hastened that he might return. He cannot come
soon enough to set the world to rights and complete their happiness; it is that
only that will perfect their consolation, and therefore would have the blessed
and longed-for meeting hastened. In the other book, of the Revelations, see how
it is closed: Rev. 22:20, Christ saith, 'Surely I come quickly;' and the church,
like a quick echo, saith 'Even so, come, Lord Jesus; come quickly. It taketh the
word out of Christ's mouth, and presently improveth the promise into a prayer,
and so Christ's voice and the church's voice are unisons. The acclamation of the
saints answereth to his proclamation. Christ saith, 'I come,' as desiring to
meet with us. The church answereth, 'Even so, come,' as desiring his fellowship
and company. When once faith apprehendeth the glorious coming of our Lord Jesus
to judgment, love presently desireth it, as the most comfortable thing which we
can ask of him; that is the farewell suit of the church to Christ. If he will
grant this, all complaints, and sorrow, and sighing will be no more.
Now I shall give you reasons why this is desired by all true Christians.
1. In respect of him who is to come: his person, that we may see him who is our
great Lord and Saviour. All that believed anything of Christ desired to see him;
those that lived before his coming in the flesh: John 8:56, 'Your father Abraham
rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad;' and the same affection
possesseth us that live after his coming in the flesh. We know him by hearsay,
we have heard much of him; he wooeth us by a proxy, as Eliezer, Abraham's
servant, did Rebekah. Now, Christians desire to see him of whom they have heard,
and whom they loved, and in whom they have believed: 1 Peter 1:8, 'Whom having
not seen, ye love, and in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, ye
rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory.' They do not see Christ, but
they have a taste of his goodness: 1 Peter 2:3, 'If so be ye have tasted that
the Lord is gracious.' They have felt his comforts and live by his life; all
that is lacking is but physical vision, that they may see him face to face;
therefore they long for his coming.
The excellency of Christ their Head shall then be fully revealed; therefore it
is comfortable to his saints to think of his second coming. It is called, 'the
revelation of Christ,' 1 Peter 1:13. Christ is now under a veil, retired within
the curtain of the heavens. The wicked often ask, Where is now your God? And our
own unbelieving hearts are apt to question the glory of his person and the truth
of his promises, when his most faithful servants are under disgrace. Christ is a
glorious king, but little of his glory is seen in the world; therefore they
desire that he may appear in glory and royalty; we pray that his kingdom may
2. The persons desiring; there is somewhat in them to move them to it.
[1.] The Spirit of Christ: Rev. 22:17, 'The Spirit in the bride saith, Come;'
the Holy Ghost breedeth this desire in the church. Nature saith, It is good to
be here; but this is a disposition above nature. The flesh saith, Depart; but
the Spirit saith, Come. The great work of the Spirit is to bring us and Christ
together; he cometh from the Father and the Son to bring us to the Father by the
Son; his business is to marry us to Christ; the promise being passed, the spouse
longeth to see her beloved. It is the Spirit kindleth a desire in us of his
second coming, when the marriage that is now contracted shall be consummated;
when the queen shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework, and
shall enter into the palace with him, there to abide for ever. Well, then,
though guilty sinners would have Christ stay away still, and if it might go by
voices, the carnal world would never give their voice this way, 'Even so, come,
Lord Jesus, come quickly;' no, they are of the devils' mind, 'Why art thou come
to torment us before the time?' Mat. 8:29. Thieves and malefactors, if they
might have the liberty to choose, they would never look nor long for the day of
court-session; but the Spirit in the bride is another thing, it giveth us other
inclinations: the sooner Christ cometh the better; they can never be soon enough
taken up to him, nor he come to them.
[2.] There are graces planted in us, faith, hope, and love, to move us earnestly
to desire his coming.
(1.) Faith believeth Christ will be as good as his word: 'I will come again; if
it were not so, I would have told you,' John 14:2. And if Christ saith in a way
of promise, 'I come,' the church saith, 'Amen,' in a way of faith, 'even so,
come.' If Christ had gone away in discontent, and with a threat in his mouth, Ye
shall never see my face more, we should altogether despair of seeing him again;
but he parted in love, and left a promise with us, which upholdeth the hearts of
believers during his absence. Would Christ deceive us, and flatter us into a
fools' paradise? What need that? He can strike us dead in an instant if we do
not please him, and we have hitherto found him true in all things, and will he
fail us at last?
(2.) Hope, which is faith's handmaid; it looketh for that which we do believe,
it is the immediate effect of the new creature: 1 Peter 1:3, 'Begotten to a
lively hope;' as soon as grace is infused, it discovereth itself by its tendency
to its end and rest; it came from heaven, and carrieth the soul thither.
(3.) Love is an affection of union; it desireth to be with the party loved:
Phil. 1:23, 'I desire to depart, and to be with Christ;' therefore its voice is,
'Come, come.' He hath communion with us in our houses of clay; therefore we
desire presence with him in his palace of glory. His voice now is very sweet
when he saith, 'Come unto me, ye that are weary and heavy laden,' but much more
will it be so when he saith, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit a kingdom
prepared for you before the foundations of the world were laid.' Reconciliation
with God is comfortable, but what will fruition be!
[3.] Look upon a Christian's privileges; believers then find the fruit of their
interest in him, and have their reward adjudged to them: Rev. 22:12, 'Behold, I
come quickly, and my reward is with me.' Christ doth not come empty-handed: it
is but maintenance we have from him now, but then wages; earnest now, but then
the full sum; it is our pay-day, yea, rather, it is our crowning-day: 2 Tim.
4:8, 'Henceforth is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which God the
righteous Judge will give me in that day;' I Peter 5:4, 'When the chief Shepherd
shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory, which fadeth not away.' Those
that have been faithful and diligent in their duty shall not need to seek
another paymaster; that which Christ giveth us in hand is worth all the pains
that we lay out in his service; grace and inward peace: but then we shall have
glory and honour; he will honour us in the sight of those that have opposed,
contradicted, and despised us: our comfort is hidden, but our glory is sensible,
and visible, and public before all the world.
Object. But how can true Christians earnestly desire it, when so many tremble at
the thought of it, for lack of assurance of God's love?
Ans. We suppose a Christian in a right frame, and one that doth prepare for his
1. The lowliest saint hath some inclination this way. It was one of the points
of the apostolical catechism: Heb. 6:2, 'The doctrine of resurrection from the
dead, and of eternal judgment:' and the apostolical catechism was for the
initiating or entering of Christians into the faith and profession of the
gospel: when they laid the foundation, this was one truth which was never
omitted, the coming of Christ to judgment. Now faith is a believing, not with
the mind only, but the heart; they were to be affected with what they did
believe sapida scientia (a relishing knowledge) was the qualification and
not with trembling only, for that would deter them from Christianity; but with
rejoicing of hope, which did invite them to the practice of it: Heb. 3:6, 'Whose
house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm unto the
end;' and indeed what other affection can become the thought of Christ's rewards
which he will bring with him?
2. Sometimes there may be a drowsiness and indisposition in the children of God
when their lamps are not kept burning: Luke 12:37, 'Blessed are those servants
whom, when the Lord cometh, he shall find watching;' but the wise virgins
slumbered as well as the foolish; and so for a season they may be unprepared for
his coming by carelessness or remission of their watchfulness and neglect of
preparation, yet the spirit and inclination this way beginneth with the new
birth. A wife desireth her husband's coming home after a long journey, but it
may be all things are not ready and in so good order: all good Christians desire
the coming of Christ, but sometimes they are not so exact and accurate in their
walkings, and therefore their affections are not so lively; security breedeth
deadness, and God is willing to rouse us up by sharp afflictions.
3. The church doth really and heartily desire Christ's coming, though they
tremble at some circumstances of his coming: there is a degree of bondage that
hindereth much of our confidence and boldness: I John 4:17, 18, 'Herein is our
love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as
he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love
casteth out fear, because fear hath torment; he that feareth is not made perfect
in love.' While we are imperfect there may be some fears how it shall go with us
in the judgment. The day of judgment may be considered in esse rei, or in esse
cognito, the success of the day itself, that we may stand before Christ in the
judgment, or in our apprehension of it, that we may think of it with boldness,
confidence, and desire. All sincere persons shall speed well in the judgment;
but while we are thus weak and imperfect, we have little confidence of our
sincerity. Certainly the more holy we are, the more we are emboldened against
judgment to come; therefore we must every day get a conscience soundly
established against the fears of hell and damnation.
4. To be of such a temper as not at all to value, and prize, and delight in it,
quencheth all sense of godliness and religion. Surely they are not touched with
any fear of God who wish it would never come, who would be glad in their heart
to hear such news; they have the spirit of the devil in them who count his
coming their burden and torment; they cannot say the Lord's Prayer without a
fear to be heard, and pray, 'Thy kingdom come,' when they desire it may never
be; the thought of it casts a damp on their carnal rejoicing; and he that is
afraid lest his prayers prove true, can never pray heartily; no, not with a
Use. To press us to keep up a firm belief and an earnest desire of Christ's
coming; this will make you heavenly-minded: Phil. 3:20, 21, 'For our
conversation is in heaven, where we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus
Christ.' It will engage you to fidelity in your duty; for every one of us must
give an account of himself to God: 1 John 2:28, 'And now, little children, abide
in him, that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed
before him at his coming.' To watchfulness as well as faithfulness: Luke 21:36,
'Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape
all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.'
Yea, to diligence, that you may make clear your title and interest: Heb. 9:28,
'And to them that look for him shall he appear the second time, without sin unto
salvation;' 2 Peter 3:14, 'Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for these
things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot and
blameless.' Oh, therefore, let this be a precious truth to you, which you would
not forego for all the world; if others tremble at the mention of it, still
carry it so that it may be your comfort and solace. In short, believe it
strongly, think of it frequently, prepare for it diligently, make good use of it
fruitfully, to all holy conversation and godliness, yea, to get oil not into
your lamps only, but vessels, grace in your hearts, as well as profess
yourselves to be Christians.
Doct. 2. That when Christ shall come, all the saints shall be gathered together
For evidencing this, let me clear to you, that at the day of judgment there
shall be: 1. A congregation. 2. A segregation. 3. An aggregation.
They are all intended, but principally the last.
1. A congregation: Mat. 25:32, 'Before him shall be gathered all nations;' and
not only all nations, but all persons: 2 Cor. 5:10, 'We must all (collectively)
appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one (distributively) may
receive according to the things done in his body,' &c. All that have lived from
the beginning of the world unto that day shall, without exception of any one
single person, from the least unto the greatest, appear before the tribunal of
Christ; no age, no sex, or nation, or dignity, or greatness, can excuse us. In
the world some are too high to be questioned, others too low to be taken notice
of, but there all are brought forth to undergo their trial; there is no escaping
or avoiding this day of appearance: Adam will there meet with all his
descendents at once. Take all the distinctions of mankind, infants, and grown
persons; I mean infants who die before they are in an ordinary way capable of
the doctrine of life (the scriptures are written for grown persons, the case of
infants is more obscure), those of them who are born within the church, God is
their God: Gen. 17:7, 'I will establish my covenant between me and thee, and thy
seed after thee, in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be a God
unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.' Good and bad is the next distinction,
both sorts come to receive their sentence; only the one come to the judgment of
condemnation, the other to the judgment of absolution: John 5:28, 29, 'Those
that have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those that have done evil,
to the resurrection of condemnation;' Acts 24:15, 'There shall be a resurrection
of the dead; both of the just and unjust.' The next distinction is men of all
callings, apostles, ministers, private Christians. Apostles: Paul expected to
be judged: 1 Cor. 4:4, 'I know nothing of myself, yet am I not thereby
justified, but he that judgeth me is the Lord;' he speaketh with respect to the
execution of the apostolical office. Ordinary ministers: Heb. 13:17, 'They watch
for your souls, as those that must give an account.' If souls miscarry through
their negligence, they are answerable to God for it. Ordinary Christians: Rom.
14:12, 'Every one must give an account of himself' to God.' Men of all
conditions, poor or rich, weak or powerful, high and low: Rev. 20:12, 'I saw the
dead, small and great, stand before God;' I mean those that are so distinguished
now; these distinctions do not outlive time, there all stand on the same level;
the haughty men of the world shall then be afraid, and 'call upon the mountains
to cover them from the wrath of him that sitteth upon the throne,' Rev. 6:16.
The poor are not forgotten; they are God's creatures, and must undergo his
judgment. Thus shall all people that live scattered up and down in the world,
how much soever they differ from one another in rites, tongues, customs of
living, be brought together in one place.
2. There is a segregation: Mat. 25:32, 33, 'He shall separate the one from the
other, as a shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the
sheep on his right hand, and the goats on his left.' There may be now a
confusion and mixture of the godly and the wicked, as sheep and goats feed in
the same pasture; and they may be all raised together according to the places
where they lived and died; but then a perfect separation: good and bad are first
gathered together, but the good are drawn into a company by themselves, but no
pure company, till the great Shepherd will 'judge between cattle and cattle,'
Ezek. 34:17; 'He will gather his saints together, Ps. 50:5; Ps. 1:5, The ungodly
shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the
righteous.' So Mat. 13:49, 'At the end of the world the angels shall come, and
sever the wicked from among the just.'
3. An aggregation: believers are gathered together to him for several ends:
[1.] To make up the number of Christ's train and attendants to wait on him: Jude
14, en muriasin agiaiV 'with his holy ten thousands;' Zech. 14:5,'And the Lord
my God shall come, and all the saints with him;' I Thes. 4:17, 'The dead in
Christ shall rise first, and we which are alive shall be caught up together in
the clouds with them, to meet the Lord in the air.'
[2.] That after judgment we may be solemnly presented to God each and every one.
We were given to Christ to be preserved unto the glory we were designed for:
John 17:6, 'I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of
the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me;' not by way of alienation,
but oppignoration, recompense, and charge. Christ is to give an account: John
6:40, 'And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the
Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at
the last day.' The form of presentation is, Heb. 2:13, 'Behold I and the
children which God hath given me.'
[3.] That in one troop we may be brought into his heavenly kingdom: John 14:3,
'And if I go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to
myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.' The whole flock shall then
follow the great Shepherd of the sheep into the everlasting fold.
Use 1. Believe this gathering together to him. We are joined to the church of
God's elect now by faith only: Heb. 12:22,23, 'Ye are come to the general
assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven,' &c.
PanhguriV is a meeting made up of many different persons gathered together from
several countries into one body and one place; as the meeting of all sorts of
persons from all the corners of Greece to see the Olympic Games was called the
panhguriV (festal gathering); people of all countries came to behold their
agwneV (contests); so the mystical state of the church of the gospel is a
general assembly, because it is not confined to one nation, but extended to
believers of all nations and ages; they are drawn into a body, or heavenly
society, into one fold, under one Shepherd; but they never meet in an actual
assembly until the last day, which is the great congregation or rendezvous of
the saints, so that for now it is a matter of faith.
2. See you be of the number. When some are admitted, others are thrust out: Luke
13:28, 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham,
and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and ye
yourselves thrust out;' the wicked shall not stand in this congregation. Oh, it
is a blessed and a comfortable thing when we are made members of the mystical
body of Christ, and have hopes that we shall be in the number of those that
shall meet together in the great assembly and congregation of the righteous;
that we are trained up in the church of Christ, which is the seminary of heaven;
that we are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the
3. Let us make good use of it many ways.
[1.] To comfort us against the paucity of serious walkers and real Christians.
Alas! now they are but like two or three berries upon the top of the uppermost
bough; here one, and there another; in some places thinner, in others thicker,
as God hath service for them; in appearance, mikron poimnion, 'a little flock,'
Luke 12:32. But take all together, they are a general assembly, that are
'redeemed out of every kindred, tongue, and nation,' Rev. 5:9; yea, Rev. 7:9, 'a
great multitude, which none can number, of all kindreds, tongues, peoples, and
nations.' As few as we are, and as despised as the interest of the godly is, we
shall not want company in heaven; we see few going to heaven, but when we are
gathered together we shall see that our everlasting companions are many.
[2.] To comfort us against the distance of Christian friends. We are often
separated from the society of good Christians whom we love dearly, but we shall
be gathered together in one congregation. The saints are now scattered by
Providence; they live in various countries, towns, houses, have little comfort
of one another. They live where they may be most useful; as stars do not shine
in a cluster, but are dispersed throughout the heaven; and as they are the light
of the earth, so they are the salt of the earth, which is sprinkled here and
there, not laid in a heap; sometimes by violence of men, persecution, and
banishment; sometimes by death, which parts friends, perfectus est quem putas
mortuum (that is finished which is lopped off by death), like people in a wreck,
got to shore before us. Now what a comfort is it to be united to all God's
people, which have been, are, or shall be, to the end of the world, and to meet
in one assembly: Mat. 24:31, 'They shall gather together the elect from the four
winds, from one end of heaven to another.' The saints shall be gathered from all
quarters of the earth; though they live in several places, several times, many
we never saw in the flesh, Christ will assemble them all, bring them in unto one
[3.] To comfort them under the degenerated and collapsed state of Christianity.
(1.) The mixture of the wicked; the good and bad are here mixed, they live
together in the same kingdoms, cities, societies, visible church, family, bed
(perhaps), but then a perfect separation: Zech. 14:21, 'There shall no more be
the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts;' Rev. 21:27, 'Nothing that
defileth shall enter there:' such a difference shall there be between the state
of God's church in this world, and the world to come: here tares are mingled
with wheat, good fish with bad in the drag-net; it is hard by discipline to keep
the sound from the infected. (2.) Discord; the saints are divided in affection,
but then perfect harmony; they are all gathered together to Christ, and have no
signs and badges of distinction to herd apart. (3.) It is universal with all the
saints. (4.) Perpetual, never to part more.