3. Beloved, our Saviour Jesus Christ finished the great work of making us what we are, by his ascension into heaven. If he had not risen up on high and led captivity captive, his death would have been insufficient. He “died for our sins,” but he “rose again for our justification.” The resurrection of our Saviour, in his majesty, when he burst the bonds of death, was to us the assurance that God had accepted his sacrifice; and his ascension up on high, was but as a type and a figure of the real and actual ascension of all his saints, when he shall come in the clouds of judgment, and shall call all his people to him. Mark the man-God, as he goes upward towards heaven; behold his triumphal march through the skies, whilst stars sing his praises, and planets dance in solemn order; behold him traverse the unknown fields of ether till he arrives at the throne of God in the seventh heaven, Then hear him say to his Father, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do; behold me and the children thou hast given me; I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course; I have done all; I have accomplished every type; I have finished every part of the covenant; there is not one iota I have left unfulfilled, or one tittle that is left out; all is done.” And hark, how they sing before the throne of God when thus he speaks: “Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Thus have I briefly spoken upon the dear Redeemer’s doings. Poor lips cannot speak better; faint heart will not rise up to the height of this great argument. Oh! that these lips had language eloquent and lofty, that they might speak more of the wondrous doings of our Redeemer!
“ Crown him! crown him!
Crowns become the Saviour’s brow.”
II. Now, secondly, THE SAINT’S HONORS: “and hast made us unto our God kings and priests.” The most honorable of all monarchs have ever been esteemed to be those who had a right not only to royal, but to sacerdotal supremacy—those kings who could wear at one time the crown of loyalty, and at another the mitre of the priesthood, who could both use the censer and hold the sceptre—who could offer intercession for the people, and then govern the nations. Those who are kings and priests are great indeed; and here you behold the saint honored, not with one title, or one office, but with two. He is made not a king merely, but a king and a priest; not a priest merely, but a priest and a king. The saint has two offices conferred upon him at once, he is made a priestly monarch, and a regal priest.
I shall take, first of all, the royal office of the saints. They are KINGS. They are not merely to be kings in heaven, but they are also kings on earth; for if my text does not say so, the Bible declares it in another passage: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood.” We are kings even now. I want you to understand that, before I explain the idea. Every saint of the living God, not merely has the prospect of being a king in heaven, but positively, in the sight of God, he is a king now; and he must say, with regard to his brethren and himself, “And hast made us,” even now, “unto our God kings and priests; and we shall reign upon the earth.” A Christian is a king. He is not simply like a king, but he is a king, actually and truly. However, I shall try and show you how he is like a king.
Remember his royal ancestry. What a fuss some people make about their grand fathers and grandmothers, and distant ancestors. I remember seeing in Trinity College, the pedigree of some great lord that went back just as far as Adam, and Adam was there digging the ground—the first man. It was traced all the way up. Of course I did not believe it. I have heard of some pedigrees that go back further. I leave that to your own common sense, to believe it or not. A pedigree in which shall be found dukes, marquises, and kings, and princes. Oh! what would some give for such a pedigree? I believe, however, that it is not what our ancestors were, but what we are, that will make us shine before God; that it is not so much in knowing that we have royal or priestly blood in our veins, as knowing that we are an honor to our race—that we are walking in the ways of the Lord, and reflecting credit upon the church, and upon the grace that makes us honorable. But since some men will glory in their descent, I will glory that the saints have the proudest ancestry in all the world. Talk of Caesars, or of Alexanders, or tell me even of our own good Queen: I say that I am of as high descent as her majesty, or the proudest monarch in the world. I am descended from the King of kings. The saint may well speak of his ancestry—he may exult in it, he may glory in it—for he is the son of God, positively and actually. His mother, the Church, is the Bride of Jesus; he is a twice-born child of heaven: one of the blood royal of the universe. The poorest woman or man on earth, loving Christ, is of a royal line. Give a man the grace of God in his heart, and his ancestry is noble. I can turn back the roll of my pedigree, and I can tell you that it is so ancient, that it has no beginning; it is more ancient than all the rolls of mighty men put together; for, from all eternity my Father existed: and, therefore, I have indeed a right royal and ancient ancestry.
And then, again, the saints, like monarchs, have a splendid retinue. Kings and monarchs cannot travel without a deal of state. In olden times, they had far more magnificence than they have now; but even in these days we see much of it when royalty is abroad. There must be a peculiar kind of horse, and a splendid chariot, and outriders; with all the etceteras of gorgeous pomp. Ay! and the kings of God, whom Jesus Christ has made kings and priests unto their God, have also a royal retinue. “Oh!” say you, “but I see some of them in rags; they are walking through the earth alone, sometimes without a helper or a friend.” Ah! but there is a fault in your eyes. If you had eyes to see, you would perceive a body-guard of angels always attending every one of the blood-bought family. You remember Elijah’s servant could not see anything around Elijah, till his master opened his eyes; then he could see that there were horses and chariots round about Elijah. Lo! there are horses and chariots about me. And thou, saint of the Lord: where’er thou art, there are horses and chariots. In that bed-chamber, where I was born, angels stood to announce my birth on high. In seas of trouble, when wave after wave seems to go over me, angels are there to lift up my head; when I come to die, when sorrowing friends shall, weeping, carry me to the grave, angels shall stand by my bier; and, when put into the grave, some mighty angel shall stand and guard my dust, and contend for its possession with the devil. Why should I fear? I have a company of angels about me; and whenever I walk abroad, the glorious cherubim march in front. Men see them not, but I see them; for “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” We have a royal retinue: we are kings, not merely by ancestry, but by our retinue.
Now, notice the insignia and regalia of the saints. Kings and princes have certain things that are theirs by perspective right. For instance, Her Majesty has her Buckingham Palace, and her other palaces, her crown royal, her sceptre, and so on. But, has a saint a palace? Yes. I have a palace! and its walls are not made of marble, but of gold; its borders are carbuncles and precious gems; its windows are of agates; its stones are laid with fair colours; around it there is a profusion of every costly thing; rubies sparkle here and there; yea, pearls are but common stones within it. Some call it a mansion; but I have a right to call it a palace too, for I am a king. It is a mansion when I look at God, it is a palace when I look at men; because it is the habitation of a prince. Mark where this palace is. I am not a prince of Inde—I have no inheritance in any far-off hand that men dream of—I have no El Dorado, or Home of Prester John; but yet I have a substantial palace. Yonder, on the hills of heaven it stands; I know not its position among the other mansions of heaven, but there it stands; and “I know that if the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
Have Christians a crown too? O yes; but they do not wear it every day. They have a crown, but their coronation day is not yet arrived. They have been anointed monarchs, they have some of the authority and dignity of monarchs; but they are not crowned monarchs yet. But the crown is made. God will not have to order heaven’s goldsmiths to fashion it in after-time; it is made already hanging up in glory. God bath “laid up for me a crown of righteousness.” Oh, saint, if thou didst just open some secret door in heaven, and go into the treasure chamber, thou wouldst see it filled with crowns. When Cortes entered the palace of Montezuma, he found a secret chamber bricked up, and he thought the wealth of all the world was there, so many different things were there stowed away. Could you enter God’s secret treasure-house, what wealth would you see!” ” Are there so many monarchs,” you would say, “so many crowns, so many princes?” Yes, and some bright angel would say, “Mark you that crown? It is yours;” and if you were to look within, you would read, “Made for a sinner saved by grace, whose name was—;” and then you would hardly believe your eyes, as you saw your own name engraved upon it. You are indeed a king before God; for you have a crown laid up in heaven. What ever other insignia belong to monarchs, saints shall have. They shall have robes of whiteness; they shall have harps of glory; they shall have all things that become their regal state; so that we are indeed monarchs, you see; not mock-monarchs, clothed in purple garments of derision, and scoffed at with “Hail, king of the Jews;” but we are real monarchs. “He hath made us kings and priests unto our God.”
There is another thought here. Kings are considered the most honorable amongst men. They are always looked up to and respected. If you should say, “a monarch is here!” a crowd would give way. I should not command much respect if I were to attempt to move about in a crowd; but if any one should shout, “here is the Queen!” every one would step aside and make room for her. A monarch generally commands respect. Ah! beloved, we think that worldly princes are the most honorable of the earth; but if you were to ask God, he would reply, “my saints, in whom I delight, these are the honorable ones.” Tell me not of tinsel and gewgaw; tell me not of gold and silver; tell me not of diamonds and pearls; tell me not of ancestry and rank; preach to me not of pomp and power; but oh! tell me that a man is a saint of the Lord, for then he is an honorable man. God respects him, angels respect him, and the universe one day shall respect him, when Christ shall come to call him to his account, and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” You may despise a child of God now, sinner; you may laugh at him; you may say he is a hypocrite; you may call him a saint, a methodist, a cant, and everything you like; but know that those titles will not mar his dignity—he is the honorable of the earth, and God estimates him as such.