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Nothing can give as large a share of excellence and perfection to what it makes as it hath itself; but God's works, being the finite operations of an infinite hand, sink below their Maker to an infinite degree. When he represents himself to us, in holy Scripture, as 'making his chambers in the clouds, and spreading darkness under his feet; as bowing the heavens when he comes down; as making the mountains smoke at his touch, and the earth tremble at his presence; making the clouds his chariots, and flying upon the wings of the wind; as decking himself with light as with a garment, making the heaven his throne, and the earth his footstool;' we are to know, that he speaks in condescension to our weakness, and gives us such notions of his greatness, as we can comprehend. Yet all this, than which we can at present conceive nothing more sublime, is but a dim shadow, and a faint resemblance, either of his own majesty, or the splendour of his court.

How shall the soul of man enter into such a presence! How shall its faculties bear such an ocean of light, or its strength stand one look from infinite majesty! The answer is easy; those looks, which would dissolve or annihilate our present sinful nature, will then impart celestial strength, and eternal life; will, as it were, infuse new being, and refresh the immortal principle. In what an ecstasy of love and gratitude shall the soul be then wrapt up! To what a loud song of thanksgiving shall it tune all its powers! When it goes forth from the presence, how shall it make the celestial courts resound the praises of its Benefactor! With what a voice will it augment the universal hallelujah of angels! As the language of men fails us in our attempt to express the excellence and happiness of angels; so the language of angels, sublime and expressive as it is, can only, like that of children, stammer the praises of the one infinitely great and good. His greatness outstrips all imagination; and his goodness leaves all gratitude and love far behind. While the eye of the soul is turned on heaven, this world seems to dwindle into nothing; but, when that eye is turned on God, heaven itself, with all its created glories of thrones, principalities, dominions, powers, fades away, and looks too small or dim to share its attention.

Amidst all this rapture of happiness and glory, it will

be no small addition, to reflect on its narrow escape from the jaws of eternal death, and the everlasting safety and salvation in which it is placed. Having 'washed its robes, and made them white, in the blood of the Lamb, it shall stand before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple. And he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell with it. It shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on it, nor any heat: for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed it, and shall lead it unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from its eyes.'

And hast thou, O thou soul of man! passed through the dangerous trials, the vexations and uncertainties, of a mortal life? Hast thou escaped the horrible regions of fire and darkness? Art thou placed in eternal rest, and peace, and pleasure? Art thou intrusted with a kingdom, and adorned with a crown? Instead of thy former infirmity, art thou now invested with power? For thy humility and meekness under contempt, art thou now, in the sight of heaven, clothed with honour and glory? Does that God, for whom thy heart hath so long pined and panted, with unutterable love now smile upon thee? Does he speak peace to thee? Does he call thee his child? Does he say unto thee, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord? And is this to be thy condition to all eternity? Is the mutual love between God and thee to increase for ever, and so at once to enlarge and ensure thy bliss, that, after a series of ages, impossible to be numbered, thy happiness shall seem to be only in its infancy? Thou hast made a wise purchase of this reversion, although thou hast laid out on it all the mortifications, and fears, and sufferings, to which a life of piety and purity is often exposed here below.

Such is the state of happiness promised to the souls of true Christians in another life, revealed to us in holy Scripture, and traced by undeniable arguments from thence, and from our own nature. This, however, is to be understood as a weak and faint representation of our future happiness, the wonderful circumstances and degrees of which no eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.' There are still pleasures and wonders

untold, which it would be as impossible or unlawful to pry into and describe, as those unutterable words which St. Paul heard when he was caught up into the third heavens.'

However, we conceive and know enough of the happiness to be enjoyed in Christ's kingdom, to make rational and thinking creatures fling away the toys and trifles of this life, and place their affections on things above. If reason is consulted, surely it will choose the greatest good; surely it will choose an infinite good, rather than an eternal evil. Surely, if we take the measure of our choice from the size of our desires, we shall rather give them objects that can fully satisfy, objects great and endless, like themselves, than meanly stint them to the scanty enjoyments of this life, to the poverty of this world's riches.

Now let no one vainly imagine, that this may be done when he dies; that it will then be time enough for him to remove his affections from things on earth, and place them on things above,' when he himself is about to remove. A close pursuit of this world, and the things of it, is utterly inconsistent with the possibility of obtaining the next. If we give up our desires to the possessions or pleasures of our present condition, we shall grow into such a habit of liking and loving them, that, before we go hence, we shall leave ourselves a relish for nothing else; so that we shall miserably hanker after them, and cling to them, even when necessity has laid its iron hand upon us, and is tearing us from them.

And, as for the delights of another life, it is utterly impossible to enjoy them, without training up our affections to an habitual desire of them. If we would enter into this glorious Canaan, we ought to send our affections thither before us, to view its riches, and taste its fruits; to take possession for us, and bring us a sample of its produce. How otherwise shall we know what kind of country it is, or whether it is a more desirable habitation than the wilderness we are in?

An appetite and taste must be acquired, before we can enjoy any thing. There is no enjoyment without love. What we do not love, we do not desire; and what we do not desire, it is impossible we should find any pleasure in. This is not only true, but it is also true, that the enjoyment



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of any object is always in an exact proportion to our love of it. Hence a small occasion of pleasure shall afford more satisfaction to some, than a greater; and for this reason, because they love it more.

Were a man who is wedded to this world, and passionately fond of the enjoyments peculiar to it, carried into heaven, he would find nothing there that he could enjoy. He would want affections to taste its pleasures, and senses to perceive its glories. He would find none of his old delights there; no provision for his intemperance; no object for his lewdness, his ambition, his pride, or his avarice. It would be a dull and insipid state to him, a formless void.

How could a wicked man, even if he were in heaven, enjoy the pleasures of contemplation, or entertain himself with the survey and knowledge of nature, who, in the former world, had not observation enough to trace the very being of a God?

How could he relish the pleasures of doing good there, who had spent his former life, and placed his pleasure, in doing evil?

How could he enjoy the fellowship of angels, who had passed a whole life in the company and conversation (if I may be allowed the expression) of worldlings or rakes, and hath now a relish for no other companions?

How could he frame his soul to divine love, and his voice to hymns and hallelujahs, who, during the greater part of his life, had made a jest of devotion, had derided the house of God, and despised his table?

How could he enjoy the blessed vision of God, or rather how could he bear the presence of him, whom he had so ungratefully and impiously offended through the whole course of his life? How could he endure the dreadful look of those eyes that pierce the soul, and see all its secrets; 'in whose sight the stars are not pure;' and that cannot look on iniquity?'


It is too manifest to need a farther proof, that heaven itself could afford no enjoyment to a worldly, to a sensual, or a wicked mind. Nay, it is highly probable, that the happy themselves will taste higher or lower degrees of enjoyment, even in heaven, according as they are possessed with greater or lower degrees of divine love. When Christ

shall entertain us in his Father's kingdom with fruit from 'the tree of life,' and 'the new wine,' we shall probably receive a measure of delight proportionable to the appetite we bring with us to `the celestial banquet. The soul must have the principle of happiness within itself, or else no occasions of joy from without, be they ever so great, will be able to make it happy.

From hence we may learn the absolute necessity of practising devotion and virtue, and of bending our hearts towards God and heaven, before we leave this world. Let us therefore, with a just contempt for the trifles of this life, the vanity of which we see and know, turn ourselves to the treasures, the delights and glories, of heaven, that are too great to be seen or conceived at present. Let us open our understandings to the great objects of faith, and give them allthe warmth and force of our affections. Let us either forsake the too eager pursuit of this world, and then heaven will of course enter and possess our thoughts; or let us consider seriously what heaven is, and how it is to be obtained; and it will drive out the love of this world, and set us at liberty. Let us fix our eyes, and our whole attention, on the great things that wait for us in the future life; and then we shall neither be immoderately pleased, nor intolerably grieved at whatsoever may happen to us here. The noble elevation of our thoughts will lift us above the power of fortune, above the temptations of sensual pleasures, and the assaults of temporal evils; will bring us, even while alive, near to the boundaries of God's glorious kingdom, and give us some foretaste of our happiness to come.

We deceive ourselves extremely, if we imagine, that eternal happiness, which is proposed to us in such high terms, is to be obtained by slight or feeble endeavours. It is neither a lukewarm devotion, nor a languid zeal; it is neither a cold, nor a forced, attendance on the house or table of God; it is not a life laid out on this world, and ended in a mixture of prayer and terror; it is not a divided service, paid half to God, and half to the devil; it is not a pursuit, in short, too faint and careless to obtain the smallest worldly possession, that will procure for us an eternal crown. No; our endeavours must bear some proportion to that we aim at. The labours by which eternal happiness is obtained are repre

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