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'a rest for the soul.' Job says, it is 'a rest for the weary;' and Isaiah, speaking even of its commencement in this life, calls it,' a glorious rest.'
It was the curse inflicted on all mankind, upon the fall of our first parents, that they should 'eat bread in the sweat of their face, till they should return unto the ground.' All things,' says the preacher, ‘are full of labour; man cannot utter it.' But in Christ's kingdom the righteous shall find a glorious and eternal rest for their souls. No anxieties of mind, nor toils of body, shall follow us into that happy place of ease and repose. The weary shall no more stoop under his burden; nor he that was stunned with the bustle of this world, any more hear the clamour of the crowd, nor be tossed in an ocean of business, like a bubble amidst the froth of a whirlpool. His soul shall enjoy a perfect calm, undisturbed by passions or cares. In this profound silence, his will shall listen to his reason, and his reason to the soft whispers of nature, and the still voice of God.
In the next place, the condition of the happy is set forth in the holy Scriptures under the notion of peace.
Mark the perfect man,' says David in the thirty-seventh psalm ; ' and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace.' Isaiah
says in the fifty-seventh chapter, that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come, and that he shall enter into peace. The just and devout Simeon, to whom it had been revealed, that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ,' taking the child Jesus in his arms, cried out, ' Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.'
By our natural birth we are born to enmity with God, and though by religious birth in baptism, that enmity in our flesh is abolished, yet we are then enlisted into the service of God against a powerful combination of enemies ; namely, the world, the flesh, and the devil; whose continual assaults keep us actually in a state of war from thenceforward to the hour of our death. But then it is, that after having fought a good fight of faith, we enter into true peace; a peace which those enemies shall no longer be able to disturb. There shall be no evil principles to combat the good, nor inordinate passions to make war on each other or on our reason; no error to kindle vain disputes; no ambition, nor
avarice, to stir up strife and rage. Anger, and wrath, and clamour, and evil-speaking, with every malicious passion, every surly and jealous humour, that shuts our hearts against each other in this life, being then put far away from us, calm thoughts and benevolent dispositions, shall succeed into their place; and open our affections to all the infinite sweets of love and friendship from our fellow-creatures, and favour from God. With what a glow of tenderness must it warm a benevolent heart, to see the generous love that unites the ' spirits of good men made perfect;' to see those souls, who perhaps in this life contended bitterly about the trifles of this world, meeting like 'righteousness and peace, and kissing each other;' to see them strike hands, and unite hearts, for ever!
Again, the happiness of the next life is represented to ys in holy Scripture as a treasure. Our Saviour bids us • lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal.' He desired the rich young man to sell all he had ;' and told him, that he should have treasure in heaven.' Again he assures his disciples, that every one, who had forsaken houses or lands for his name's sake, should receive an hundred fold, and inherit everlasting life.'
The riches of this world generally cost us much more than they are worth; and even when we have obtained them, we have no certain hold of them; they make themselves wings, and fly away;' or although they should not, death soon removes us from them, and we cannot tell who shall gather them. The greater part of human understanding, and worldly wisdom, is laid out in making fortunes and raising families. How do the living magnify this kind of wisdom! How do the dead repent of it or deride it! How like a child the rich man falls, and scatters all his collection of baubles ! And how like children do those about him scramble for the trifles!
It is not so with the riches of heaven. They last for ever. There are no thieves, no moths, nor worms, no accidents nor deaths, to take them from us. Our spiritual house' with all its rich treasures and shining ornaments, 'is eternal in the heavens.' Its everlasting foundations are laid on the firm rock of God's promises ; its stately structure rises
among the beautiful buildings of the new Jerusalem ; its walls sparkle with jasper, and its floors shine with 'gold transparent like glass.
The riches of this world are poverty ; for he who has the most of them still wants more. In heaven only there is enough. The wealthiest monarch in this world must rob a beast, a bird, or a worm, to make himself gay; and after all is not as fine as the lily.' But those who are thought worthy to attend in the train of the Lamb, shall be clothed in garments whose whiteness and lustre not eternity itself can tarnish. The wealthiest of men can only feed on the earth, in common with brutes and worms. But those who shall be received into the new Jerusalem, shall drink out of that 'river of life that flows from the throne of God, whose waters are clear as crystal;' and shall eat the fruit of that tree of life, whose very leaves heal the nations.'
Again, the happiness of heaven is represented to us, under the notion of pleasure. We are told in the sixteenth psalm, that at the right hand of God, where the righteous are placed, are pleasures for evermore ;' and in the thirtysixth psalm, that his ' faithful people shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house, and shall be made to drink of the river of his pleasures.'
The pleasures of this life seldom satisfy; and when they do they surfeit. They enfeeble the body. They relax the very soul. Corruption and shame are mixed up with their nature. They begin in anxiety, and end in repentance. They were given us to answer certain ends in this present state; but we pursue them beyond those natural ends, to our own confusion and ruin. As soon as this life shall cease, then cease also all those pleasures that are peculiar to it; for in another life we shall be as the angels in heaven. As their happiness is of a purely spiritual and celestial nature, so shall ours be. It shall be such as seraphims can partake in; such as we can, without shame, enjoy in the sight of God. It shall in short, be such as the soul, renewed and strengthened in all its powers, and enlarged in its capacity, can injoy. One moment of such enjoyment would overpower and dissolve our nature, in its present infirmity. But when we shall have put on immortality,' the delights of heaven, instead of impairing, shall refresh the faculties that
are to enjoy them; for such is constantly the effect of intellectual pleasures even here. They never pall, they leave no satiety nor distaste behind them ; but whet the mind to farther desires, and feed the very soul itself, as it were with new life. But in heaven they will be as various, as boundless, as endless, as glorious, as the objects to be enjoyed.
Again, our future happiness is represented to us under the notion of power and dominion. We are told in the fortyninth psalm, that 'the upright shall have dominion over the wicked in the morning; that is, in the resurrection. 'I appoint unto you a kingdom,' says Christ to his disciples, in the twenty-second of St. Luke's Gospel. In the second of the epistle general of St. James, those who are rich in faith are said to be heirs of the kingdom, which God hath promised to them that love him.'
There is in man a natural desire of power which, degenerating into ambition in this life, amuses itself with such a shadow of power, as the little principalities and petty sovereignties of this world set before it.
But in the life to come the soul having the full use of all its faculties, and being able to govern itself, shall be exalted to a post of trust and power, equal to its high endow. ments. We find in the tenth of Daniel, that nations had their guardian angels to rule over them; and nothing can better agree with nature and reason than the supposition of such a guardianship. It is not likely that the blessed consume the whole length of eternity in continual hymns, and inactive contemplations. It is infinitely more likely, that they have certain stations assigned them, where in subordination to the King of kings, they bear mighty rule, and execute great things; where they combat the great dragon, and the powers of darkness; where whole nations and perhaps worlds, are committed to their care and protection; where, in gratitude to their infinite Benefactor, and out of love to their fellow-creatures, they rejoice to carry on the glorious schemes of Providence, to promote virtue, to suppress vice, to crowd the kingdom of their great master with happy beings like themselves. It is on account of that employment that they are called, in the epistle to the Hebrews, ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation. The unexpected reformation of parti
cular persons, and the unaccountable revolutions in kingdoms, are probably brought about by these invisible agents, who at one time promote the liberty and wealth of a virtuous people, and at another, pour out the phials of God's fury on a degenerate age, or a guilty nation.
Again, the happiness of our new state is recommended to us by the promise of honour and glory. "Glory, honour, and peace,' are promised to every one that worketh good. They that have the true wisdom, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars, for ever and ever,' says Daniel. Blessed is the man,' says St. James, that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.' St. Paul * reckoned, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed;' and he tells us in another place that, “when the veil shall be taken away, we shall all, with open face beholding as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, be changed into the same image,' still improving and rising from glory to glory. How does it dilate the heart, and exalt our thoughts, to look forward at that happy time, when we shall rise from the earth, like a bed of new-blown flowers, and laying by all our load of 'corruption, dishonour, weakness, and mortality,' shall clothe ourselves with incorruption, glory, power, and immortality ?' If as our Saviour tells us,' we shall be as angels in heaven,' then shall we resemble him, who in the tenth of Daniel, appeared with a body like beryl, with a face as the appearance of lightning,' with eyes as lamps of fire, with arms and feet in colour like polished brass, and with a voice when he spoke, like the voice of a multitude. Nay, the excellence and lustre of our persons shall be even greater than this; for this was only a visible clothing, put on to shadow the greater glories of his spiritual person. Yet, in comparison of this, the splendour of earthly thrones and crowns is tinsel, and their pomp pageantry. Could such a being be but for a moment placed in the same view with the most magnificent emperor in his trappings of state, it would eclipse all his splendour, and turn his finery to rags, to sackcloth and ashes.
Again, the conversation of angels, and good men made