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ders with interest what he suspended only for trial. But the saints above are for ever enlightened with the vital splendour, and dear regards of his countenance, always enjoy his beamy smiles. A continual effusion of glory illustrates heaven and all its blessed inhabitants.
And their contemplation of God is fixed. If the object, though extraordinarily glorious, were transient, or the eye so weak that it could only see it but by glances, the height of joy would not be perpetual. But the mind is prepared with supernatural vigour, to see the brightness of Goil's face, and by the most attentive application always converses with that blessed object : so that the joy of heaven is never intermitted for a moment. They always see, and love, and rejoice, and praise him.
It is possible a carnal suspicion may arise in some, as if the uniform perpetual vision of the same glory might lose its perfect delightfulness. For those who seek for happiness in the vanity of the creatures, are always desirous of change, and have their judgments so corrupted, that while they languish with a secret desire after an unchangeable good, yet they conceive no good as desirable, that is not changed.
But to correct this gross error of fancy, let us a little inquire into the causes of dissatisfaction, that make the constant fruition of the same thing here to be tedious.
(1.) Sensible things are of such a limited goodness, that not any of them can supply all our present wants, so that it is necessary to leave one for another. And the most of them are remedies of our diseased appetites, and if not temperately used, are destructive evils. Eating and drinking are to extinguish hunger and thirst, but continued beyond just measure, become nauseous. Besides the insufficiency of their objects, the senses themselves cannot be satisfied all at once. The ear cannot attend to delightful sounds, and the eye be intent on beautiful colours at the same time. The satisfaction of one sense defeats another of enjoying its proper good; therefore the same object is not constantly pleasant, but the heart is distempered from as many causes, as there are desires unaccomplished. Add farther, all things under the sun afford only a superficial delight, and miserably deceive the expectations raised of them: and many times there is a mixture of some evil in them, that is more offensive than the good is delightful. The honey is attended with a sting, so that
often those very things we sigh after through vehement desire, when they are obtained, we sigh for grief. Now all these causes of dissatisfaction cease in heaven; * for there is an infinite variety in God, and whatever is truly desirable, is eminently enjoyed in him. And in his presence all the powers of the soul are drawn out in their most pleasant exercise, and always enjoy their entire happiness. The fruition of him exceeds our most raised hopes, as much as he is more glorious in himself than in any borrowed representations. God will be to us incomparably « above what we can ask or think." The compass of our thoughts, the depth of our desires are imperfect measures of his perfections. And as he is a pure good in himself, so he is prevalent over all evil. It is evident therefore, that nothing can allay the joys of saints, when they are in God's presence.
(2.) Novelty is not requisite to ingratiate every good, and make it perfectly delightful. † God is infinitely happy, to whom no good was ever new. It is indeed the sauce that gives a delicious taste to inferior things. For men relish only what is eminent; and the good things of this world are so truly mean, that they are fain to borrow a show of greatuess by comparison with a worse estate preceding. But an infinite good produces always the same pure equal complete joy, because it arises from its intrinsic perfection, that wants no foil to commend it. The psalmist breaks forth, “Whom have I in heaven but thee?” This is no vanishing rapture, but a constant joyful height of affection. God, the essential happiness of the saints, is always perfectly lovely and delightful to them.
(3.) The glorified saints in every period of their happy state, have as lively a perception of it as in the beginning. To make this evident, we must consider that the pleasure of novelty springs from a quick sense of the opposite terms, between our condition in the want of some desired good, and after our obtaining it. Now the mind is more intense on the advantage,
* Vitæ nos tædium tenet timor mortis, patat omne consilium, nec implere nos ulla fælicitas potest. Causa autem est, quod non pervenimus ad illud bonum immensin & insuperabile, ubi necesse est, consistat nobis voluntas nostra, quia ultra summum non est locus. Senec. Ep. 74.
* Ει η φυσις απλη είη, η αυτη πραξις ήδίση έςαι. Διο και Θεός αιει μίαν και ασλην χαί ρει ηδονην. Arist, Eth. ι. 7. c. ult.
and more strongly affected at first. One newly freed from the torments of a sharp disease, feels a greater pleasure than from a constant tenour of health. Those who are raised from a low state to eminent dignity, are transported with their first change, but in tract of time the remembrance of their mean condition is so weakened and spent, that it is like the shadow of a dream, and proportionably their joy is lessened. Honours, like perfumes, by custom, are less sensible to those that carry them. But the saints above always consider and feel the excellent difference between their suffering and triumphant state. They never lose that ravishing part of felicity, the vivid sense of past evils. Their reflections are always as strong on the misery from whence they were raised to the pitch of happiness, as in their first glorious translation. In what an ecstacy of wonder and pleasure will they be, from the fresh memory of what they were, and the joyful sense what they are ? “I was (says the admiring soul) poor, blind, and naked;" but O miraculous and happy alteration! I am full of light, enriched with the treasures of heaven, adorned with divine glory. I was under the tyrannous power of satan, “ but he is bruised under my feet.” I was sentenced to an everlasting separation from the presence of God, my only life and joy; but now am possessed of my supreme good. O how transporting is the comparison of these wide and contrary extremes ? How beautiful and pleasant is the day of eternity, after such a dark tempestuous night! How does the remembrance of such evils produce a more lively and feeling fruition of such happiness! how strangely and mightily does “Salvation with eternal glory affect the soul!” This gives a sprightly accent to their everlasting hallelujahs: this preserves an affectionate heat in their thanksgivings to their victorious deliverer. And thus their happiness is always the same, and always new. Their pleasure is continued in its perfection.
The number of possessors of heaven cannot lessen its felicity. The blessed
ness of the saints is without eod. In the first creation, the happiness of angels and meo was mutable. The bappiness in heaven as unchangeable as the love of God to the saints, and the love of the saints to him. The woful folly of men in refusing such a happiness. An excitation to seek this happiness. The original moving cause of conferring this happiness, is the mercy of God: the meritorious cause, is the obedience and passion of Christ. It is impossible for an innocent creature, much more for the fallen creature, to deserve any good thing from God. Our Saviour expiated the guilt of sin, and by the merits of bis obedience purchased the kingdom of heaven for believers.
THE number of possessors cannot lessen their felicity. The divine presence is an unwasted spring of pleasure, equally full and open to all, and abundantly sufficient to satisfy the immensity of their desires. Envy reigns in this world, because earthly things are so imperfect in their nature, and so peculiar in their possession, that they cannot suffice, nor be enjoyed by all. But in heaven none is touched with that base, low passion : for God contains all that is precious and desirable in the highest degrees of perfection, and all partake of his universal goodness, without intercepting one another. In the kingdom of heaven there is no cause for the elder brother to repine at the Father's bounty to the younger, nor for the younger to supplant the elder to obtain the birthright. “The heirs of God" are all raised to sovereign
“ ” glory; and every one enjoys him as entirely and fully as if solely his felicity. God is a good as indivisible as infinite, and not diminished by the most liberal communications of himself. We may illustrate this by comparing the price of our redemption, and the reward. The death of Christ is a universal benefit to all the saints, yet it is so applied to every believer for his perfect redemption, as if our Saviour in all his agonies and sufferings had no other in his eye and heart, às if all his prayers, his tears, his blood were offered up to his Father only for that person. The common respect of it the apostle declares in those admirable words, that signify such an excess of God's love to us ; ." He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?” But to imagine that the * propriety of every believer is thereby prejudiced, is not only false, but extremely injurious to the merit and dignity, and to the infinite love of Christ. Therefore the same apostle tells us, “ The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me;" as if he were the sole object of Christ's love, the end and reward of his sufferings. And this appropriating of it to himself, is no prejudice to the rights of all others. St. John describes himself by truly that glorious title, “the disciple whom sus loved.” Could he speak this of himself, without the injury and indignation of the other disciples ? Certainly he might. For if we consider that incomprehensible love of Christ, expressed to them all at his last supper, after Judas was gone forth ; “As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you ;" we may easily understand, that every one of them might justly believe that he was singularly beloved of Christ. They were all received in the heart, though (with John) they did not all lean on the breast of their divine master. Thus in heaven God is the universal treasure of all the saints, and the peculiar portion of every one, not engrossed by possessing, nor wasted by enjoying. † As by his essence he equally fills the whole world, and every part of it; and by his providence equally regards all and every particular creature : so in heaven he dispenses the riches of his love to all, that they cannot desire more, if every one of them were the sole heir of all their merits of his Son, and enjoyed him alone for ever.
The blessedness of the saints, as it is without diminution, so it is without end : it is complete and continual for ever. This makes heaven to be heaven; the security is as valuable as the
* Et totum se dedit universis, & totum singulis. Ac per hoc quicquid passione sua salvator præstitit, sicut totum ei debent universi, sic singuli; nisi quod prope hoc plus singuli quam universi, quod totum acceperunt sioguli, quantum universi. Salvian.
+ Si audiat multitudo silens, non inter se particulatim comminuunt sonos, tanquam cibos: sed omne quod sodat & omnibus totum est, & singulis totum. August, in Ep. ad. Volusan,