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Isaiah it is said, that God shall be our glory. And the prophet Jeremiah, Lam. 3. 24. saith, which is principally accomplished in heaven, “ the Lord is my portion, saith my soul, therefore will I hope in him.” Now for us who are here in this lower world, we have but narrow conceptions concerning the enjoyment of God: but the more the soul understands God, the more it knows what happiness there is in the enjoyment of him. I would have you observe, that the more any man understands what this world is, the less he enjoys it; for the more he discovers the vanity of it, the more he understands how foolish and deceitful this world is in its promises of happiness. Therefore Solomon, who had an inquiring mind, and power and riches answerable to his mind, after he had made a diligent search into all the honours, riches, and pleasures of this world, the result is, “ all is vanity and vexation of spirit :" he had a sickly distaste of all the pleasures and delight he had enjoyed in this world. But now the more the soul understands of God, the more it enjoys of God : for it finds the divine perfections to be so immense, as to be above all that it can express, nay above all it could conceive or distinctly desire. So that the more God is understood, the more he is enjoyed, esteemed, and delighted in: and therefore in heaven itself, where God is understood and loved in perfection, there he is enjoyed in perfection. And there is great difference between the soul's enjoyment of God in heaven, and on earth; those that are on earth enjoy not God so fully, clearly, and satisfactorily, because their enjoyment of God is mediately; either 1st, by creatures as secondary causes of comforts, as all things that in the order of nature are comfortable to us, they are but like cisterns that convey something to us from God our fountain : or else 2dly, he is enjoyed in his ordinances, in those sacred appointments wherein he hath promised to reveal and communicate himself, his grace and comforts to them. But now in heaven God's excellencies and perfections are communicated to the creature in a more immediate manner. When we taste any comfort in the creature, it all comes from God; that comfort we have in the creature is limited, but it is God that makes it comfortable, and communicates comfort to us by the creatures. God is the author of all that good we receive by them. It comes to us from him. That comfort which comes from God in the creature, is like liquor put into a bottle, that takes off from its génerousness and richness : so all the comforts that come from God through the creature, there is a diminution of them as they pass through the creature. But when we come to enjoy the immediate excellencies of God, his goodness, power, and holiness, and the like; this will be our heaven; there is nothing that shall eclipse or allay that comfort. That which comes from the presence of God immediately, is all pure and unmixed joy, replenishing and satisfying.
In heaven we shall enjoy God's immediate excellencies by knowledge and love. There we shall understand his eternity, omnipotence, immensity, his infinite holiness, and all other perfections, so far as we are capable of understanding them. And there is one consideration the scripture adds to what I am speaking; we shall not only enjoy the perfections of God immediately, so as no creature shall interpose between God and us, nor these ordinances, which are lower administrations; but we shall enjoy God without the interposition of our Almighty Mediator. , 1 Cor. 15. 28. it is said concerning Christ our Mediator, “ when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son himself also be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” I will open this briefly to you: in our present state we have no communion with God, but through Jesus Christ the Mediator, reconciling God to us, and making us acceptable to God. All the spiritual benefits we receive, they are conveyed to us through Jesus Christ our Mediator; for the holy and righteous nature of God can have no converse immediately with an unholy creature. The best saints in the world are unholy in part; and there can be no converse with God, but through Christ our Mediator. Now observe, the Lord Jesus Christ hath a supreme empire delivered him by commission from his Father; and this he is to manage till the adverse powers are entirely subdued, till the powers of earth and hell are all broken and vanquished. This is to be done by Christ as Godman. But when after the last day Christ shall by that supreme act of judgment cast the devils and all the wicked into hell for ever, and shall enter into heaven with his saints, then ends the government of Christ. That I may a little open this to you by a similitude or illustration that you will all understand : it is as if a king had a great part of his kingdom revolted from him, and those revolted subjects rising up in rebellion against him, and he hath a design to recover them by his mercy and clemency, and those that would not be prevailed with, should be instances of his just severity: He puts his own son into commission, to invite those that are capable of mercy, to accept of pardon, and to subdue those that are rebellious, and obstinately resist his power and authority, and gives his son full empire for the accomplishment of this design. Now when he hath by the offers of mercy and pardon won some, and reduced them to their duty and obedience, and broken and subdued the rebellious party that continued in their opposition against him, he delivers up his commission to his father. Thus when our Lord Jesus, who received a commission from his Father to make overtures of mercy and pardon to those revolted creatures that were proper objects of it, and would thankfully accept of that grace that is rendered to them; and also to subdue and vanquish the rebellious, and break their power that obstinately and finally oppose and resist him ; when he hath accomplished this, there is no further work for Christ as Mediator, to reconcile and appease God in heaven : for then God the Father, Son, and Spirit will glorify the saints immediately; so that there will be no interposition between a displeased God and sinners. For as the first creation of all things was from infinite power, wisdom and goodness of the blessed and glorious Trinity: so in heaven the felicity of the glorified saints is from the same blessed Trinity: for there is a concurrence of all the persons of the Holy Trinity in the happiness of heaven : the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are equally the fountain of that eternal blessedness the saints enjoy in their glorified state. O consider how happy the creature must be when it receives all from God's blessed treasury: when all that the creature can possibly receive, shall come from God immediately. And this is that which will cause that joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. If I would speak never so long on this subject all my thoughts and expressions would fall infinitely short of it. It is our happiness that we are incapable of understanding it: so that our incapacity turns to our advantage: it is infinitely above all we can ask or think, even this rest that we shall enjoy above with God.
It is an eternal rest. For God's love is unchangeable to them, and so is
theirs to him.
iii. ANOTHER excellency of this rest is this; as it is a holy and a joyful rest, so it shall be an eternal rest. Eternity is an inseparable attribute of true and perfect blessedness. Now in heaven there is such a glory and blessedness, as will not only satisfy all our desires, but will exclude all our fears. There shall never be any danger of losing it; nay, there shall never be any fear of losing it. Now for the opening of this to you, there are only three things I shall touch upon : First, To prove to you, that it will be an eternal rest. Do but consider, the love of God that is the cause of it, it is unchangeable. The love of God is unchangeably set upon his people. Thus saith the psalmist, “ thy mercies, O Lord, are from everlasting to everlasting, upon them that fear thee.” Consider the wisdom of God; it is impossible that he should change his love towards those that he hath chosen and consecrated to his service, and to be of his society, and in his presence for ever. It is impossible that he should change his love, because he did from eternity foresee what could fall out. There can be no cause why he should change his affection ; for God is not man, that he should lie;
1 or as the son of man, that he should repent. If one man love another, there may be something in the person that may cause his friend to withdraw his affection ; but God saw man in the state of weakness and frailty; and if his love endured us in this present life, it will continue for ever; for his love is unchangeable and everlasting. 2dly. Consider this rest is everlasting, because there is no change shall ever be in those that are glorified. The saints shall persevere eternally in their love to God. In this world the affections of holy men to God are like the needle in the compass, though it tremble and point sometimes to the east or west, yet when it settles, it turns directly to its VOL. III.
beloved pole, that is, the north. So it is with the saints; God is their pole and centre, their desires, and their whole souls tend to him. They have some variation, some slips and falls from God, which may cause bim to withdraw from them, and leave them under a cloud of sorrow: but in heaven holy souls are directly, fully, and constantly fixed upon God, without the least cooling or intermission of their affections, God is their exceeding joy, and that for ever. He is the everlasting object of their love and praise; so that there can be no cloud there: for God's love is unchangeable to them, and their love is unchangeable to him; and therefore it is impossible they should ever be turned from God; for the light of his countenance directs and governs all their minds and hearts. For consider here below; do you think any one that is thirsty will leave a clear flowing spring for puddle water ? So it is impossible that holy souls in heaven should ever turn their affections from God. If God's love be unchangeable to them, and their love unchangeable to him, what can change their blessedness? If there were any power superior to God, that could put an end to their happiness, then they might fear; but all their enemies are cast into hell, and they have no less than the infallible promise of Christ to secure them : “ because I live, ye shall live also,” saith our blessed Saviour : if God lives and is eternally happy, we shall be happy for ever. They are in an everlasting covenant with him, and shall be in eternal communion with him. So that the rest in heaven is an immortal rest. There shall never be any diminution of their glory, no interruption of their joy, nor no end of it: “at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” To conclude all, we are poor short-sighted creatures; we do understand things by our senses, and are most affected with those things which do touch them.
Do but consider with yourselves, whatsoever is pleasant to you in the order of nature, whatsoever it is that may gratify your sensual faculties, if it were possible for you to take in all those pleasures the world hath, and strain them all into a cup, and drink them up at one draught, they are not all comparable to the least degree of that joy and glory that is above for one moment. If you could live the whole circle of time, from the first rise of the world to the end of it, and enjoy all the pleasures that all others have enjoyed in all successions of ages, they are