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"power of his Christ; for the accuser and teœpter 41 is cast down, and will never lift up his head to m hurt and afflict us any nlore!"
1. The happiness of the righteous in a suture state, will consist not only in a complete deliverance from every thing that is troublefome and uneasy, but in the sull possession of the greatest good of which their nature is capable. (
And this is what is chiefly meant by eternal life in the text; for that can mean nothing less than lise in its greatest persection. We then truly live, when we draw our sirst breath inJhe air of heaven; when we open our eyes on the beauties 'and glory of the unseen world, and enter on the works and joys of the heavenly state. That indeed is the true birth-day of a faint: so that this expression denotes the affluence of all that can render our state completely happy.
I might here observe to you, that the bodies of the faints at the resurrection, will be made more persect than they were in this world. Our present earthly bodies are perpetually tending to corruption; and, how admirable foever their structure may be, they are at best but houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust. But then, they shall be raised incorruptible and glorious bodies, and be purisied to that degree, as to partake of the immortality of the foul. "The dead," the apostle tells us, " shall be raised incorruptible; "for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and "this mortal must put 011 immortality and then shall be brought to pass the faying that is written, ** Death is swallowed up in victory (i)."
The happiness of this blessed state, however, will chiefly consist in the persect and heavenly lise of the foul; for, then, all its powers will be enlarged, and its desires fatissied.
The understanding will be enlightened with new discoveries of usesul and noble truths; with a more
[!) I Cor. Xt.
clea^ certain, and sull apprehension of many thing-. concerning which we now doubt, or know but link What a poor, short-sighted creature is man, ifltk: world! Even those who, by much labour and stem, have attained to the knowledge of more than others; yet, how sew are the things they know, in comparisc with those of which they are ignorant? But whe the! saints arrive at the mansions of glory, those scales will drop from their eyes, and a glorious scheme r: Divine truth be presented to them. Then shall ther know God himself, the AU in All, the persection c; excellence and of love. Here, it is but a small portion of himself, that he hath revealed to the sons ci men. What is his name, and what is his Son's name, who can tell? But, then, they shall know Him, even as they also are known; for they shail fe Him as he is. Not that they will be able to comprehend the Divine nature: No, that is not possible fe the most persect sinite being. But they will £et such discoveries of his glorious persections, of his incomparable excellencies, as insinitely transcend our present conceptions. "Now," fays the apostle, " we "see through a glass darkly, but then sace ro face(s).* And what an insinite pleasure must the conremplation of such an alL-glorious object afford ro fuch raised and elevated minds, which by every new Hicovery are still enlarged to discover more, and have still new light pouring in upon their ravished foulst— But surther, they will also have a sar more comprehensive and delightsul knowledge of the works os God, than we can possibly attain to, in this state c: darkness and impersection. Here, many. things appear to us crooked, which-we know fror how to raaie straight. The steps of God are often in- the deep; his counsels are unsearchable, and his wavs past sirming out. But, in the realms of light, the fa/ntswill fee into those dark muzes- of providence, vrhidt it
0} I Cor. xiii. ia;.
much perplex the minds of good men: Wherefore the wicked prosper, and the workers of iniquity flourish apaee; why the righteous are fo much afflicted, and waters of a sull cup wrung out to them. Here, we fee, as it were, but one end of the chain of providence; there, we shall view it from beginning to end, and behold all the links admirably joined and fastened together : And then, the whole scheme being viewed at once, all the seeming blemishes will disappear; and not only the justice and holiness, but the'wisdom and goodness-of the Divine government, will appear unexceptionable. The great mystery of our redemption, that mysterious wisdom of God, will alfo be then unfolded to the faints, and employ their never-ceasing admiration and praise. In a word, they will then be able to reconcile all the fancied contradictions in the conduct of providence, and in the glorious scheme of our redemption by a crucisied Saviour; nay, they will see and admire the whole^ as all-persect, harmonious, and beautisul. Now, we fee by faith; but faith will then cease, and be persected in vision. We now see God by a reflection of his persections, from his works; but the veil will be then drawn aside, and we shall see him face to face. Glorious day! when those shadows shall fly away, and the Sun of righteousness irradiate our fouls with his divine light and splendour.
The happiness of this lise. of the faints in glory, will alfo consist in the persect conformity of theit wills to the nature and will of God. For this is the happy and necessary result of their immediate vision of Him. Accordingly, when the apostle John gives us that summary account of what we now know, concerning the- glory and happiness of this suture state, he conjoins these two branches of it: "We "know," fays he, " that when he shall appear^ we "shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as he is («)•"
(*; I John ui. z.
With what dissiculty is it, that even the most serious Christians, while in this valley of tears, get their wills brought to a compliance' with the will oT God? What aversion to their duty are they often doomed to feel? But there, like the angels in heaven, they will be all resignation -and compliance with his will.
And as they will be thus persectly conformed to the jvill of God, fo they will be exercised in the most vigorous act s of Divine love. Love, is that grace which, the apostle tells us, will abide, when prophecies fail, when tongues cease, and when knowledge vanishes away (t). It is an, immortal grace, that lives beyond time, and will live and flourish while eternity lasts. The faints above, as they know the ever-blessed God, and contemplate his glory by immediate vision; fo, they love him with the most pure and ardent affection. There, persect knowledge kindles persect love. And, indeed, it is impossible that they can behold fo much beauty and goodness, such vast unmeasurable glory, without loving them. It is the great complaint of the pious here on earth, that their love is languid and faint. I appeal to your own experience: When you attempt to love him, and to raise your affections to things above, what sinsul damps and coldness hang heavy on your minds? What allurements offer to entice you from your duty? Even when you get nearest to your God and Redeemer, still you sind reafon to complain os your distance, and to utter the pfalmist's passionate wish; " When shall I come, and "appear before God?" But, in the church triumphant, there will be no such complaints; for that love, which is here but as a smoking flax, will be there a bright and active flame. Nor will it vent itself, as it often does here, in mournsul desires after an absent God, but in most fatisfying complacency in his eternal presence and love. To render the faints unspeakably happy, every thing in heaven will conspire;
(*) 1 Cor. siii. 8,
the glories of the place, the society of angels and sellow faints, the serenity of their own pure and immaculate fouls; but, above all, the enjoyment of their glorious God and gracious Redeemer. For, as they know that they love him, and seel this love to be the warmest affection of their hearts; fo, they know that he alfo loves them. Nay, every moment they taste of his love, and live upon it with inconceiveable delight. And, O, what an unknown fatisfaction must arise in the mind from the sull assurance of the love of God! What tongue can express, what heart conceive, the facred pleasure that sills every foul in heaven, under the immediate and lively senfations of this Divine love! Is communion with God on earth: fo exquisitely delightsul, that a gracious foul would not exchange one minute of it for all the most luxurious pleasures of the fons of men? Is it fo delightsul, at. this humble distance, to taste of the stream? How inconceiveable then must be the happiness of dwelling at the fountain head, and drinking of those rivers of pleasure, that flow at God's right hand for evermore!
Another thing that will render the lise of the righteous in heaven unspeakably happy, is, their exercise and employment. In the scriptures, they are represented, as resting not day nor night; as praising and singing Hallelujahs to Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb; faying, " Worthy art. "thou, O Lord, to receive glory, and honour, and "power; for thou hast created all things, and for "thy pleasure they are and were created: To "Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins "in his own blood, and hath made us kings and "priests unto God and his Father; to Him be "glory and dominion, for ever and ever." [Their exercise, in a word, is one continued triumph over sin and Satan, and a constant celebration of the praises of redeeming love: And, O,. what harmonious melody will this make, when every foul is silled with love, and every tongue refounds the praises of their