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who will make a splendid show, next to the infinite God, and our glorious Redeemer. If Augustine judged it a fine sight, and worth wishing for, to see Rome flourishing, to hear Paul preaching, and to behold Christ in the flesh ;* much more will it be a transporting sight to behold our glorified Redeemer surrounded with myriads of blessed souls. This will be a delectable vision indeed.
2. Saints that have enjoyed sweet communion together in this world, shall enjoy sweeter and perpetual communion above; they that have kept days of fasting and prayer, days of thanksgiving and conference, that have sat under the same preaching, have sung psalms together, have sat down together at the holy supper, and feasted upon the fruits of Christ's meritorious sacrifice, shall now drink this wine new with him, in his Father's kingdom. O what communication of experience, of what they met in their passage through this wilderness into their celestial Canaan. How will they echo to each other and say, "We sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”+ It was sweet then, it is sweeter now: O the peculiar goodness of distinguishing grace! Why did God choose us rather than others to be objects of his transcendent love! We were fed with manna in the wilderness, now we are come into the land of promise, we have royal dainties, and drink abundantly of these rivers of pleasures, and bathe our souls in this boundless sea of satisfying delights ; then they will individually sing with a louder note than ever, “Come, and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.”I. I
* Romam in Alore, Paulum in ore, Christum in corpore. † Song ii. 3.
# Psal. lxvi. 16. 2 E
was with my dear Lord in such a secret place, now I I declare his goodness in the heights of Zion.
3. Saints that parted sorrowfully with their relations by death, now meet them again to part no more. Death brought a cloud over our natural and christian friends. They disappeared, and we saw them no more; but now we are met again in a better place than in our houses, or temples made with hands. We once took mutual delight in each other, but that was only a shadow, a faint resemblance of what we now enjoy; the husband and wife “ were heirs together of the grace of life,”* now they are possessors together of the fulness of that grace in glory. We prayed, wept, discoursed together; we loved each other in the flesh, but now our spark is become a flame; we love at another rate. · The godly child will say, this is my tenderhearted mother, my prudent, pious father, that shed many a tear for me. The parent will say, this, my child cost me many times a sad heart, many a bitter groan, he is the son of my vows, then the child of my hopes, now the child of my joys; his miscarriages cost me dear, his happiness raises my spirits ; he caused me to make many an errand to the throne of grace, he now elevates my spirit into an ecstacy of joy. My prayers are fully heard, my happiness is completed in the enjoyment of God with my dear relations.
4. Souls fully refined from the dregs of passion and corruption, will then without such alloys enjoy each other. Alas, we cannot discourse together here, but some piece of vanity interposeth itself: our discourses are oft impertinent, sometimes unsavory, sometimes giving and often taking offence. Alas, what discords, distances, and dissensions are there among Christians; even Paul and Barnabas may part in ill humour. Alas,
* 1 Pet. iii. 7.
what animosities and heart burnings are to be found here in this lower world even among the saints! That we may heavily sigh and say, how comes it to pass that such angry, diabolical passions should rise in heavenly hearts ?*
But now those flames are quenched, now they all unite in harmonious melody, singing the song of Moses, and of the Lamb; now they are perfect, “ of good comfort, of one mind, they live in peace, and the God of love and peace is with them,” † and they are with God; they shall never quarrel more. O the delectable melody of this palm-bearing company! far beyond the music of the spheres; not one jarring string in all that blessed concert; they hàve left behind them all their cudgels at the entrance of this temple of peace; their hearts are centred in God; Luther and Calvin are here perfectly agreed, never to contend more.
5. Saints shall be perfectly freed from converse with vile persons in this polluted world. Here the righteous and wicked are mixed; it is impossible to avoid some civil converse with carnal neighbours, for “then must we needs go out of the world;"I even notorious blasphemers, idolaters, covetous, who fret and vex the hearts of believers. But in heaven there are none such, no unclean thing enters there; the pious soul shall never be vexed with unruly company more.
There is a day when the saints and none but saints shall be
gathered together. There shall “ be no more the Canaanite,” or hypocrite,“ in the house of the Lord of hosts."|| Not a profane Esau, or a scoffing Ishmael in that household of God, among all those innumerable saints. These have left the mad world on earth sinning, or in hell suffering for ever.
* Tantæne animis cælestibus iræ. + 2 Cor. xiii. ll. # 1 Cor. v. 10.
ll Zech. xiv. 21.
6. Godly ministers and their gracious converts shall meet together with joy. O what reciprocal joy, and transcendent satisfaction will they experience in each other, “ when both he that soweth and he that reapeth shall rejoice together.”* O, saith the glorified saint, yonder is my spiritual father, under whose ministry I have many a time sat with trembling, alarmed by convictions piercing my conscience, when the law hath thundered wrath against me.
The same hand hath closed the wound and applied the plaister of a gospel-promise to my bleeding scul. Many melting, heartsearching truths have these ears heard from his mouth that have come warm to my heart. Blessed be God that ever I saw his face or heard his voice: the minister will be surprised with a transport of joy when he shall see his spiritual children, begotten in the bonds of the gospel, over whom he hath wept many a tear, travailed with cares and fears, and for whom he hath put up many affectionate prayers. Now he shall see, and say his labour was not in vain in the Lord; of these he will say, “what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing ? are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming ; for ye are our glory and joy, 1 Thess. ii. 19, 20.
7. Christians that have been scattered by persecution, shall now quietly meet and part no more. How will they with comfort reflect on the solemn assemblies sorrowfully broken up by officers and unruly bailiffs, their names taken, their persons dragged before magistrates, their houses rifled, and themselves hurried to prison; now those days are over and gone, no danger of conventicles or unlawful assemblies in that upper region, they shall worship God on a hill, in the mountain of the height of Israel: they shall no more be prosecuted by murdering or scattering acts, these shall
* John iv. 36.
now be out of date, they shall no more hear the voice of the oppressor ; there were many such days as those in the apostles' times, great persecutions against the church, so “ that they were all scattered abroad"* through foreign regions. But now the storms are blown over, the clouds scattered, and the glorified saints shall never be disturbed by the sons of violence any more. They shall recount those past troubles with songs of praise.
8. The saints of God that have been confined to prisons, shall be set at liberty and enjoy sweet content together. The Lord made their very prisons sweet by mutual communion, but heaven will be sweeter. The imprisoned bird never sings so sweetly in the cage as at liberty. O blessed enlargement! Now they are delivered, with the rest of the creation, “into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” They walk abroad at liberty at another rate than ever before. How will they with joy and triumph recount their wandering about in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth ?f Sometimes thrust into dark and filthy dungeons, with felons, and malefactors, yea, condemned, tortured, and executed, but now they have obtained a better resurrection. ( happy deliverance ! These shall have their proper mansions in their Father's house, and the celestial palace will resound sweet echoes of their triumphant praises, they shall not now, with Paul and Silas, sing in the stocks, but above where they shall be advanced together.[
9. The saints that have providentially parted one from another upon any occasion, shall meet again and part no more.
When Paul was to be bound at Jerusalem, and the disciples understood it, they were distressed and lamented ; but Paul said, " what mean ye * Acts viï. l. † Rom. viii. 21. Heb. xi. 38. I Acts xvi. 24, 25.