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have done and suffered for him, shall, in the end, serve to increase their enjoyment and happiness, and be richly rewarded by him.
He has desired and prayed that they all may be where he is, that they may behold his glory, and enjoy him to the best advantage and in the highest degree; and he will never rest till he has brought them to this. He will bring them to share in his own honors and happiness as fully as their enlarged capacities will admit. He will seat them at his own right hand; yea, they shall sit down with him on his throne, and reign jointly with him, as the queen shares in the dignity and honors of the prince her husband. They shall drink with him of the river of his pleasures, and enjoy all that he has, even the whole of his boundless riches and most extensive kingdom. He will bring forth all his hidden treasures for them, and open his heart to them in the fullest manner and without any reserve. He will make them perfectly like himself, and put his own beauty and glory upon them, and bring them to a high and perfect relish for his beauty, and put them in all respects, and every way, under the best advantage to love and enjoy him forever. This shall perfect this friendship, which will be increasing in unknown, inconceivable heights forever and ever.
Thus they shall be satisfied, perfectly satisfied, and inconceivably happy, when they shall awake in his likeness, and stand complete before him, the beloved of their souls, in whose presence is fulness of joy, and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore. Then it will be said concerning every one of the true friends of Christ, “ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Then shall Christ appear, in all his fulness and glory, as the head of his church, and, in the highest and most emphatical sense, say, “ I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse. Eat, o friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly." Then the angels will tune their notes higher than ever, and say, with a voice like the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thunderings, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to him, the glorious Friend and Bridegroom of the redeemed; for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready."
The friends of Christ now little think what they are coming to, and what will be the issue of these exercises they now have. They have already seen and enjoyed what others never have, for Christ, in his superlative glory and excellence, has been manifested unto them; but they shall see greater things than these. And the words which Christ spoke to one of his disciples when he was on earth are applicable to all of them : “ What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter." Beloved, now we are the sons of God, the friends of Christ, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.”
I. This subject, as it has been considered, affords great evidence of the truth and divinity of Christianity, and of all the great and leading doctrines, and at the same time shows how the Christian, though not learned, or of great natural capacity, is assured that it is a revelation from the only true God, and will give eternal life and happiness to all who cordially embrace it.
If the gospel is formed and suited to give those who embrace it the highest and most refined and noble enjoyment, which is the beginning of most complete and endless happiness, — if, so far as it has its proper and genuine influence on the hearts and lives of men, it spreads happiness through society, and forms all to a happy union, by which they promote, enjoy, and rejoice in the welfare of each other, and brings them into a friendship, which is in the nature of it perfect, having nothing undesirable, and nothing wanting to render it the most excellent, noble, and durable love and friendship that can be imagined, - then it must be divine, a revelation from Heaven, the production of Infinite Wisdom and Goodness. But that all this is true, has been made abundantly evident, by the very imperfect representation in the preceding discourses. And it is sufficiently supported by the Scripture , itself, by impartial reason, and by abundant experience.
This scheme of friendship and happiness for man never would have been thought of by any one of the human race, had it not been revealed from Heaven. Hence it is made certain that no other scheme of religion but that revealed in the Bible is true, or can make men happy by embracing it;
and that all other methods to obtain happiness, of which there are many devised by the wit and learning of the most sagacious among men, are mere delusions, and never will or can obtain it. For when the world by their wisdom knew not God, or the way to true happiness, it pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save and make completely and eternally happy all them who believe.
But the unbeliever will say, “I do not pretend to understand the Scriptures; but I am certain that my reason and experience dictate that there is no happiness in attending to the Bible, but very much the contrary. And the spread of Christianity in the world has been far from making mankind more happy than they were without it. It has been the occasion of unspeakable calamity. And even professing Christians, instead of being united by it in love and friendship, have been the greatest enemies to each other, and destroyed one another in the most cruel manner.”
ANSWER. That such have received no happiness by the attention they have paid to the Bible is not an argument of the least weight that it is not to be found there. Men may come to the Bible with a strong and prevailing disposition and taste of mind or heart which does not relish that in which true happiness consists, but is highly disgusted and displeased with it. With this vitiated taste, they relish and seek after happiness where it cannot be found, being wholly blind to these spiritual, noble objects and truths, in the knowledge and enjoyment of which there is the highest happiness. And such a wrong taste and disposition tends to bias their understanding and reason, so as to render it partial, and incline to speculative error. It is, therefore, to impartial reason that we appeal.
This blindness, which consists in a wrong taste and disposition of mind, the Scripture speaks of as common to all men in their natural state ; and when it so commonly takes place, it is a confirmation of the truth of the Scripture. “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
As to the effect which Christianity has had in the world, it is acknowledged that, where it has been perverted and abused, it has been the occasion of much evil. The best things are capable of abuse, and of being made the occasion of great misery. But this is no argument against their excellency, and tendency to the greatest good, when improved according to their nature. In order to be under advantages to determine this question we must study the Bible, and learn what are the doctrines and precepts contained in it. Every one who, with impartiality and a right or good taste, does this, sees what Christianity is, and knows that, in conformity to it, the greatest peace, love, and friendship, and the most pure and noble happiness, is to be enjoyed; though an abuse of it may be attended with the worst consequences.
This brings into view the other part of the inference we are considering, viz., that the true Christian has a constant evidence in his own mind that Christianity is from Heaven, and will give complete and eternal life and happiness to all who embrace it. They have found and tasted this happiness, consisting in Christian friendship to Christ and to all who appear to bear his image, and know that nothing is wanting in order to their complete felicity forever but to have this friendship perfected, and attended with every circumstance favorable to it. They are sure this scheme is from Heaven, and has a divine stamp upon it, as it is as much beyond man to form it as to create the world. They may not be able to produce all which is called the external evidence of the truth of Christianity, or to answer all the subtle cavils, and objections, and witty scoffs of infidels, but are able to say, with the primitive Christians, “ We know that the Son of God has come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true. This is the true God, and eternal life.”
And they are witnesses to the truth declared by their beloved Lord and Savior. “ This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” They have found the treasure hid in a field, the pearl of great price. They have found all they want to make them eternally happy; and cheerfully forsake and give up every thing else, and renounce all hopes or desires of any other happiness, for the sake of these.
II. How happy are the true friends of Christ! They have a degree of sweet enjoyment and happiness now, which strangers intermeddle not with, in love and union of heart to Christ and their fellow-saints. They taste the sweets of Christian .friendship, in comparison with which all other enjoyments are low, insipid, and worthless. They see such superlative, ravishing beauty and excellence in their most beloved friend, that they are become insensible and dead to all those objects which glitter in the eyes of the world and charm their hearts, by which they are hurried on in the pursuit of them with the greatest eagerness. They have a friend of such excellence and worth, that it will take an eternity to tell what he is and make a full display of his sufficiency and perfection. What though their portion in this world is mean, and their lot hard; it is ordered by their kind, wise friend for their best good. What though they may be overlooked, yea, despised, by men, and are counted the offscouring of all things; their names are enrolled in the most honorable place in heaven; they are engraven on the breast of Him who is at the head of the universe, who is their almighty and everlasting Friend, and will confess their names before the congregated universe. Their life is hid with Christ in God; and when Christ, their friend, who is their life, shall appear, then shall they also appear with him in glory. Though they are inconceivably unworthy, guilty, despicable, and ill deserving in themselves, yet their friend, to whom they are united, has dignity and worthiness enough to recommend to the highest honors and happiness. Because they love him, and have united themselves to him, as their friend and patron, the great Father of the universe loves them, and is disposed to bestow on them all imaginable favors and honors; and all the angels delight in them, and join to serve and honor them. By virtue of their union to, and interest in, this friend and patron, they are counted worthy of immensely higher honors and happiness than their most perfect and longest-continued holiness could have entitled them to. The low, guilty, and wretched state into which they are fallen by sin shall, on the whole, be no disadvantage to them, but in finitely to the contrary. All this evil shall be turned into the greatest good to them. From this infinite depth of guilt and woe, in which they are sunk infinitely below the reach of any finite arm, they shall be raised to the top of the creation, and be made the highest and happiest of all, next to the most blessed and glorious personage to whom they are united and bear the most near and honorable relation. With him they shall dwell forever, and be admitted to as great intimacy and familiarity as if he was their equal, and immensely more, even as great as they can possibly desire - shall constantly have all the tokens and expressions of his love they can wish for, and enjoy a dear and sweet friendship with him, without interruption, which shall exceed every thing of the kind beyond conception, and will grow more and more sweet and transporting through boundless duration, eternal ages. In that world of love, where all shall swim in this river, this boundless ocean of sacred pleasure and delight, they shall have the sweetest, the cream of all; as the first born, they shall inherit a double portion forever. But I must stop; the theme is boundless.