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"fulness of joy and pleasures for evermore;" "for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed you, and lead you unto living fountains of waters." (Rev. vii. 17.) Then the recollection of our past trials, instead of paining, shall afford us delight. As Moses from the top of Nebo, looking back on the dangers of that wilderness which he had traversed, was more gratefully affected by his present security; as the victorious general feels renewed satisfaction by recurring to the perils which he has endured; so shall our enjoyment be heightened by considering that our pilgrimage through this wilderness world, where we were encompassed by so many dangers, is for ever at an end; that our warfare is finally and gloriously accomplished. Like Noah in the ark, when it had fixed on Ararat, we shall look from our secure height over the passage of a troubled life; and the winds, the waves, the tempests being ceased, shall enjoy the everlasting calm of heaven.
5. Christians, if your natures were thus perfected, if you were thus delivered from sin and misery, you could not but be happy, yet this happiness would be incomplete if it were solitary; God therefore has graciously resolved, that, in this eternal life, you shall have the society of angels and glorified saints.
The angels delight in your happiness. When man was first created, these "morning stars sang together, and these sons of God shouted for joy." (Job Xxxviii. 7.) When the Saviour became incarnate for our salvation, a host of them appeared uttering praises and thanksgivings to God. (Luke ii. 13.) When a sinner repenteth, there is joy amongst them. (Luke xv. 10.) In the midst of the sorrows and temptations of our state, they minister to those that are heirs of salvation; with what warmth, then,
will they welcome us to their blissful society; with what transport will they lead us to the throne of God and the Lamb; with what joy will they relate the embassies of love which they discharged to us; the succours and deliverances which they unseen afforded to us, whilst under their protection we were training up for heaven!
We shall be united also to all the good men who have existed from the creation of the world. The scriptures clearly imply that we shall know all these saints in the kingdom of glory. Thus, you recollect that the apostle Paul consoles himself more than once with the prospect of meeting in heaven those who had been converted by his ministry on earth; that it is made a part of our privilege to sit down with Abraham, with Isaac and Jacob; that Lazarus immediately remembered the rich man; that Peter, in the transfiguration, knew Moses and Elias, notwithstanding they had died so long a period before him. My brethren, how unspeakably consoling is this anticipation; we shall be united in an immortal society with those with whom we have prayed, and suffered, and conversed, and gone to the house of God in company on earth; we shall be re-united to . the pious husband, or wife, or parent, or child, or friend, who have gone to the enjoyment of their Saviour, leaving us desolate and afflicted. And besides these former acquaintances, we shall meet with those whom the narrow span of our life does not permit us to see on earth. The patriarchs, the prophets, the apostles, the martyrs, the pious men who have animated us by their example or encouraged us by their writings, shall there be our friends. and companions. It was a wish of St. Augustine, that he could have lived in the time of Paul, and
beheld him delivering his defence before Felix: he has seen, what is more desirable, St. Paul shouting the praises of redeeming love before the throne of the Most High God; and we, too, my brethren, shall see him and all the holy men from whom we are separated by distance of time, if we, like them, are faithful to the death. We shall meet, too, all that are separated from us now by distance of place. Interposing seas and mountains divide the children of God from each other in this our earth; we hear of many faithful disciples of Christ in the old world and the new, whose labours and exertions in the cause of their Saviour make us bless God that he has not left himself without witness in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation; but, alas! we are prevented from associating with these followers of the Lamb, from being blest by their society. But, Christians, we shall meet them hereafter, and shall never be divided from them more. Oh! who can conceive how delightful will be that intercourse which we shall then enjoy with all the blessed spirits, and with all the church triumphant. No ignorance, no unkindly affection, no irregular passion, no blind zeal, no narrow and selfish views, no divisions in sentiment, no slanderous tongue, shall impair our bliss; but the most exalted wisdom, the most spotless purity and innocence, the most tender benignity and love, will be united in their highest perfection in every member of this heavenly society; throughout all of them there will be a complete harmony in judgment, in will, and in practice; all of them will be united in love to that God, in gratitude to that Saviour, whose throne they encircle; all of them will be so completely cemented in affection to each other, that the happiness of each particular one will
become a common felicity. Selfish and censorious world! what have you to compare with this ennobling and rapturous intercourse, where every mind thus shines with light, and every heart thus burns with love?
6. My brethren, this is a blissful society; but what is it to the vision and enjoyment of God and the Redeemer, with which believers shall be made happy in heaven. St. John assures us, that, hereafter, we shall be like God; for "we shall see him as he is." The Saviour also has promised to the pure in heart that "they shall see God;" and David expresses the same idea, when he exclaims, "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Do you ask, what is the precise nature of this vision of God, and of the enjoyment which thence results? We without hesitancy confess our ignorance; for clouds and darkness are round about thee, great God; we, shortsighted creatures, know but little of thy nature or thy essence; we are totally unable to comprehend the manner of that intimate communion with thee which shall be the portion of thy saints! But, my brethren, though we are unable to explain the particular mode of this enjoyment, yet we know that he who has formed an infinite diversity of animated beings, can communicate himself to them in an infinite variety of methods. We know that in heaven his immediate presence will make us more sensibly feel his love; that the emanations of his goodness will fill the utmost capacity of our souls; that thence will spring unfailing and unspeakable delight. We know that, surrounded by his glory, tasting perpetually of his mercy, all our desires will expire in his bosom, and triumphs of joy and of rapture will succeed.
And there too we shall be blest by the presence of our glorified Saviour. "I go," it was his consolatory address to his disciples, "I go to prepare a place for you; I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also." Father," it was his prevalent prayer in their behalf, "Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me." Yes! we shall see that glorified body, which he has taken into union with his divinity; that body, that eternal monument of redeeming love, which was once afflicted, and buffeted, and crowned with thorns, and crucified; but which now is raised to the highest dignity and glory: those arms, which were extended upon the cross for your salvation, shall be opened to embrace you; that heart which was pierced for your offences, shall glow with affection to you; he who wept over Jerusalem shall rejoice at your redemption. O what joy will you feel in beholding him, who hath loved you so much as to give his life for you, living and reigning for ever and ever! what joy, after having loved, and adored, and served him below, to receive from his hand a crown of unfading glory, to be admitted into an intercourse with him, to dwell in his embraces, to hear him declare the scenes of wo and distress through which he passed to pluck you from the eternal burnings, and to confer the bliss of heaven upon you! what joy, to follow him whithersoever he goeth, and to find in him a creator, a redeemer, a father, a tender friend! Blessed Jesus! this is the felicity which our souls desire. Enjoying thy presence and partaking of thy love, we cannot be unhappy; and separated from thee, we