But I said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
~ Jeremiah 3:19, Matthew 25:34
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 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? Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
~ Luke 11:20, Hebrews 12:28, James 2:5, Ephesians 1:5-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
~ 1 Peter 1:3-5, 2 Peter 1:11, Revelation 12:10
Thy kingdom come.
~ Luke 11:2f
Upon Luke 12:32, by James Renwick. Sermon 27.
Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
~ Luke 12:32
The words read may be divided into these four heads:
I. The people exhorted, the Lord’s own disciples, the little flock.
II. The exhortation itself, Fear not.
III. The ground of the exhortation, the Fathers promise to give them a kingdom.
IV. The motive moving him to do so, his own good pleasure. These I shall speak to, in the following observations.
Observe, 1. That the followers of Christ are very few. They are here called a little flock: And it is said, Matth. xx, 16. Many be called, but few are chosen. And vii. 14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
1. They are few in respect of the rest of the world, who are not following Christ; although when the general assembly of the saints shall all meet, they will be a glorious company, yet they will be but a small company, in comparison of these who shall be on his left hand. Christ hath but a very thin backing this day, and the devil hath a very great backing; many, yea great multitudes, are following and wondering after the beast. If the world were divided into thirty-six parts, the thirty-sixth part would not be found to be Christians; and again, divide that thirty sixth part, into four parts, ye should not find the fourth part thereof to be sincere Christians, and real fearers of God.
2. They are few and little in the world’s eyes, and in the world’s account: The church and people of God have always been, and now are, small and despised in the eyes of the world; yea Christ himself, in the days of his flesh, was despised of men, and was counted by the Jews to be little, base, and contemptible; and out of disdain, called the carpenter’s son, Isa. liii. 3. Matth. xiii 55. And this is one of the reproaches of the suffering remnant this day, That they are a poor, insignificant handful, a few and small party: but that ought to be no ground of discouragement, since Christ’s followers have ever been despised by the world,
3. They are small, and little in their own eyes, and low in their own sight, Psalm xxii. 6. But I am a worm, and no man. Doth the world then count you few and despised, and think nothing of you? Then, O, my friends! be humble and low in your own eyes, and think little of yourselves.;
Observe 2. That the Lord’s own people, his little flock, have no ground or reason to be afraid of any thing, Fear not, &c.
I shall therefore name a few things, which the Lord’s people should not fear, which yet they often fear. And,
1. They should not fear man, Luke xii. 4. Be not afraid of them that kill the body, &c. But alas! There hath been much of this slavish fear in Scotland, and it hath caused many ministers in this day, to quit and forsake the carrying of Christ’s standard, and hindred many people from following the same. But, O my friends, fear not man! Fear not the soldiers and dragoons, for the fear of them will bring you into a snare.
2. They should not fear reproach; and this is what they are often afraid of; but, О fear not the reproach of tongues.
3. They should not fear the want of provision for the natural life; yet this is what they are ready to fear. But, О fear not this! for, they that seek the Lord, fall not want any good thing, Psalm. xxxiv. 10. Did not the Lord feed his people, while in the wilderness, with manna from heaven, and water out of the flinty rock? a very strange and improbable way indeed. O therefore, fear not the want of this.
4. Sometimes the Lord’s people fear the want of spiritual food for their souls, the want of gospel ordinances: But they ought not to fear the want of this; for, before they want this, the Lord will give them it, and provide it for them in an extraordinary way and manner, Isa. xli. 17, 18. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys, &c. Although the Lord should see fit to remove from you the preached gospel, yea, and to suffer your enemies to take your bibles from you, yet be not discouraged; for he can make a portion of scripture, by bringing it to your mind, or a note of a sermon which ye have heard, more sweet and refreshing to your souls, than now they are.
5. Another thing which the Lord’s people ought not to fear, which yet they fear, is changes and revolutions, which fall out in the world, and in the place where they are: But they ought not to fear this, Psal. xlvi. 2. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. In Hag. ii. 7. there is a prophecy of Christ, the desire of all nations, his coming in the flesh; and it is said, that before he come, he will take all nations, that is, there would be great changes and revolutions. So when Christ comes back again to Scotland, there will be great changes and revolutions; at his coming he will overturn many, yea, so to speak, the very foundation of the land will be shaken: And we should be so far from being afraid at this, (because it will be before he come back to the land) that we should pray and long for it.
6. Another thing that they should not be afraid of, which yet they are, and that is death. O ye that are his little flock! fear not death: for, to the believing soul that is interested in Christ, death is unstung. O be not afraid of death! for it will put an end to all our toilings and wanderings, and to all our miseries and fightings. As one not unfitly says, Life is away to death, and death is away to life. O therefore, fear it not.
7. Another thing which they are ready to fear, but which they ought not to fear, is Hell. O ye that are his little flock, fear not this; for Christ died for you, to free you from the wrath to come; therefore ye should not fear any evil thing, feeing neither death nor life, nor things present, nor things to come, can separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ, Jesus our Lord, Rom. viii. 38, 39.
Observe 3. That the reason, why the little flock of Christ ought not to fear, is, because he hath promised to them a kingdom: For, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Rev. i. 6. And hath made us kings and priests ‘unto God and his Father.
And, O! who can describe or speak of this kingdom aright? For, as the apostle faith, i Cor. ii. 9, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither bath it entered into the heart of man to conceive the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Summon all the spirits of just men made perfect, they cannot tell you what it is; summon all the angels, these glorious and glorified spirits, they cannot describe it to you: However I shall give,
I. Some negative properties of this kingdom.
II. Some positive properties of it.
And, I. I shall give you some negative properties of this kingdom.
1. This kingdom is free of sin: O there is no sin there!
2. There is no care or anxiety there; do vexation for anything there; no wicked men to persecute, nor no devil to tempt there.”
3. There is no sorrow there because of sin, no sorrow because of trouble from the world, no sorrow there because of temptations from an ill heart and inward corruptions; For there is no sin, nor temptations to sin there..
4. There shall be nothing there, which may in the least, argue imperfection.
II, I shall give you some positive properties of this kingdom. And,
1. His people, the inhabitants of that kingdom, do enjoy the immediate presence of God. O! doth not that make it a glorious kingdom indeed, when they shall enjoy the presence of God immediately, without any cloud of desertion! O wonderful kingdom indeed.
2. It consists in the beatific vision of God. They shall not only get his presence, but shall see him as he is; they shall see him face to face. O! doth not this make it a glorious and wonderful kingdom. While his people are here, the best of them see him but darkly through the glass of ordinances, and that but at some times; but, О then! in that kingdom they shall see him face to face as he is.
3. It consists in a full persuasion of Christ’s love to his people, and the fulness of their love to him again. Many times, while they are here, they are jealous of his love to them, and of their love to him as imperfect; but there they shall get the full sense and persuasion of his love to them, without any doubting, and their love to him shall he complete.
4. It is a kingdom full of glory.
5. It is a kingdom of righteousness; it is all righteousness; There the saints shall be clothed with the fine white linen, which is the righteousness of Christ,
6. It is a kingdom of holiness; no unclean thing can enter within the gates of the new Jerusalem, Rev. xxi. 27. O! therefore, let us study holiness, and desire it more than happiness.
7. This kingdom is a triumphant kingdom: because the saints, who are the inhabitants thereof, are overcomers and they have palms in their hands, in token of their victory, of their full and complete victory over all their enemies, inward and outward, the devil, the world, and the flesh. O, they there sing a sweet song of triumph over all their enemies!
8. It is an eternal kingdom. O! this makes it glorious and wonderful; for there his people shall enjoy his presence immediately to all eternity: They shall see him face to face through all eternity! They shall have the full persuasion of his love to them, and their perfect love to him to all eternity! They shall be righteous and holy as he is holy to all eternity! They shall sing their song of triumph, and hold their palm in their hand, in token of triumph to all eternity. O then, doth not this make it a wonderful and glorious kingdom.
9. There is every thing in that kingdom that argues perfection: O! this makes it a glorious kingdom.
For Use then.
Seeing it is so, that this kingdom is so glorious a kingdom, O then, my friends labour to be inhabitants there; and if ye would be inhabitants there, lay hold upon Christ by faith, close with him, for he is the way to glory; For, without coming to him, there is no winning to glory.
Observe 4. That the motive moving God to give his people, the little flock, this glorious kingdom, is only his own good pleasure; it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. It is nothing in them that moves him to do it; nothing but his own good pleasure, Eph. i. 5, 6. Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
5. And this doctrine, that the salvation of the elect, is only out of free grace, serves to reprove three sorts of folk.
1. It reproves Papists, who hold, “That good works merit salvation at God’s hand, and make the doers of them acceptable in his sight, as if it could move him to save as them.” And if this be true, O what need was there for Christ’s dying! yea, if it were true, he died in vain; But in opposition to this false doctrine of theirs, let us remember, that we are accepted in the beloved, and for nothing in ourselves.
2. It reproves these who say, “That it was the foresight” of faith in his people, which moved God to give them the “kingdom,” Whereas, it was only the mere good pleasure of his will.
3. It reproves those who go about any ways to establish their own righteousness, thinking thereby to merit something from God. O let us believe this, that it is his own good pleasure, and nothing in us, which moves him to give us the kingdom; and that we are only accepted in the beloved. Being straitened for want of time, I can get no more preached: and being now to leave you, and not knowing but many of you may never have the opportunity to hear another sermon, nor I opportunity to preach to you; therefore I would warn you of some things. As,
1. God is coming to Scotland with great judgments, great desolations and strokes; his people have been this long time in the wilderness, and now they are coming to Jordan, and it will be very deep; yea, there will be many wiles in it. But, O pray, that it may not be broad; for, if it be as broad. as it will be deep, few, yea, very few, will win through to the other side.
2, The aspect and sight of the desolation that is coming on this land will be more terrible than the thing itself: The swellings of Jordan will be more terrible afar off, than near hand; Therefore fear not, nor faint.
3. His coming to Scotland will be suddenly, when left looked for and expected; he will come suddenly, and make a speedy riddance of all his enemies: He will soon make quit of them. He will overturn many, noblemen, many gentlemen, and many commons out of their habitations: and many fair houses shall he waste. The morning of that day, when he comes, will be more terrible, dark and gloomy, than the afternoon.
2dly, I would exhort you to some few things, in order to prepare you for the Lord’s coming, to meet with him in the way of his righteous judgments. And,
1. Labour for an interest in Christ: flee in to the city of refuge, where only shelter and safety is. O happy soul, that shall be found there when he comes! for there is more required, in order to a right preparation for his coming than straightness of judgment, though that be required also; therefore make an interest in him sure.
2. Shake off security, wherewith this generation is plagued. If I speak to you of wrath and approaching judgments, ye will confess and assent to the same. But, O! who among you is stirring up yourselves, and shaking off security; and preparing to meet with him. O there is something coming, that will awaken you more than any thing ye have met with these twenty years!
3. Shake yourselves free of hypocrisy, and labour for sincerity and singleness of heart, aiming at nothing but the glory of God. O self-seeking hath marred, and doth mar all the work! Therefore be sincere.
4. Labour for humility: humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that so, in due time, he may raise and lift you up. O! this is much wanting among his people this day, notwithstanding of all that he hath been inculcating to them, to be humble, both by his word and rod. O therefore be humble!
5. Upon every new declaration of the Lord’s anger against you and the land, search out and try what are the causes thereof and mourn for the same. O search out, what hath been the causes of the Lord’s anger against us this long time! and what is the cause of this, his present contending; and mourn and be humbled for the same.