Page images
PDF
EPUB

perfect, will make no inconsiderable part of our happiness in heaven. Our fellow labourers here are to be our co-heirs and fellow-citizens in that glorious kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Even while we live here, we in some sense have our conversation in heaven. But as soon as we come to mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable companyof angels,' we shall then have the full relish and enjoyment of that celestial conversation. Then those benevolent beings, who during our warfare below, looked down with attention on our trials, perhaps frequently lent us a friendly hand, though unseen, in our dangerous encounters with our baptismal enemies, who, after our lapses, made a jubilee upon our rising and repenting, will pay us a kind and joyful welcome on our safe arrival among them.

What delight must it not give to a generous and benevolent nature, to find itself in such company, and among such friends! to perceive in itself a due relish for their conversation, and an understanding capable of bearing a part in it!

Among this glorious company there is none who does not contribute largely to the satisfaction and entertainment of the rest. There is no weak reasoning, nor biassed judging; no tedious searching after knowledge; no ill-natured ridicule; no trilling, nor impertinence; no pride, nor jealousy, nor envy. The powers of their understandings being greatly improved and enlarged, and their sentiments and affections refined, produce a conversation truly significant and noble. Their faculties are prodigiously capacious, and yet filled with the knowledge of great and wonderful things. Their fancies, full of beautiful and lofty images, furnish their discourses with a dress infinitely entertaining and sublime. Each, happy in himself, and filled with such love to all the rest, as none but the tongue of angels can utter, imparts joy and wonder at every word. What imagination can conceive the ardours of a friendship excited by beauty and excellence like theirs ! or the mutual returns of love from generosity so exalted! or the glorious rebounds of entertainment from understandings so perfect, so full; so fruitful of sentiments great, good, and heavenly, like the minds in which they are formed!

[ocr errors]

Farther, the contemplation of God's works makes a delightful article in our eternal happiness. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. How manifold are his works! in wisdom hath he made them all.' As a good mind is naturally led to meditate on the works of God in this life, where we see so short a way, and know so little; we may presume, that, when our senses and faculties shall be enlarged, and the universe opened to our range of observation, we shall then make surprising discoveries, and delight to lose ourselves in the contemplation of infinite wonders.

In this world we are confined to one corner, as it were, of the creation; and our narrow senses afford us but a scanty prospect into the rest. We see a few of the next stars, or neighbouring worlds, that lie round us, and those so very imperfectly, that they appear but like so many scattered sparks of fire. What fills the boundless residue of infinite space, we know not. But we may be sure, that there also infinite wisdom, goodness, and power, have been employed, and are there obeyed and praised. If it is extremely agreeable to travel from one country to another on the surface of this world, what would it be to visit and

survey the curiosities of other worlds, to outstrip the light, on the swift wings of contemplation, in the search of nature! The objects of wonder, the beauty, the magnificence, even here, in a place of trial, are not to be expressed; but how much greater must they be in a state intended for reward, in the more immediate residence of God!

What infinite entertainment must it afford to look into the causes of things; to see on what the foundations of the earth are laid;' to enter into the springs of the sea, and the treasures of the snow and hail;' to see what it is, that gives the thunder its resistless force, and its loud voice; to see what it is, that moves and guides the heavenly bodies; to sing with the morning stars, and shout with the sons of God' for joy at the creation of new worlds; to 'take the harp, with those that have overcome the beast;' and to sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,' saying, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints!

If such are the works of God, what must he be himself! If there is such delight in the contemplation of them, what must there be in the blessed vision of him, when we shall

behold his glorious face,' and see as we are seen !' If the enjoyment of the creature is so great, what must be that of the Creator! If light and beauty are so transporting when only reflected from the works of creation, what must they be in direct perception from the fountain itself!

What unspeakable pleasure is there in living and conversing with a friend who hath done us some great favour ! How is this heightened, if he suffered much in doing it! How does our love increase, if he risked his life to save ours! What then must the presence, the smiles, the enjoyment of him be, who made us, who suffered in our nature to save us from eternal death, who hath taken such infinite care to sustain us in all our trials, to defend us in all our dangers; who, in short, has forgiven us such a world of sin, who has crowned us at the last with mercy and loving-kindness, and admitted us into his gracious presence,' where 'there is fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore!' If *the earth is full of his goodness;' if his eyes run to and fro through the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them, whose heart is perfect towards him; if he withholdeth no good thing from them that love him;' if he openeth his hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing,' even here, where sin is mixed with our best services; how shall we conceive those demonstrations of his goodness, whereof we are to taste in heaven, after sin hath ceased to interpose between his gracious countenance and our souls! Then shall we see, as we are seen,' the Father of mercies, the Saviour of souls, the God of all comfort. Then shall we reflect, with gratitude, with love, with delight, exceeding all expression, on the infinite wonders of his goodness, his patience, his tenderness, his pity, towards us. Then shall we cry out, 'Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge, and also of the goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering of God,' who hath brought us out of the mire and clay' of our sins; who hath ‘set our feet upon the rock’of his promises, and ordered our goings ;' and who at the last hath spoken peace to our souls, and blessed us with the sight of his glorious face for evermore.

Nothing can give as large a share of excellence and perfection to what it makes as it hath itself; but God's works, being the finite operations of an infinite hand, sink below their Maker to an infinite degree. When he represents himself to us, in holy Scripture, as 'making his chambers in the clouds, and spreading darkness under his feet; as bowing the heavens when be comes down; as making the mountains smoke at his touch, and the earth tremble at his presence; making the clouds his chariots, and flying upon the wings of the wind; as decking himself with light as with a garment, making the heaven his throne, and the earth his footstool;' we are to know, that he speaks in condescension to our weakness, and gives us such notions of his greatness, as we can comprehend. Yet all this, than which we can at present conceive nothing more sublime, is but a dim shadow, and a faint resemblance, either of his own majesty, or the splendour of his court.

How shall the soul of man enter into such a presence ! How shall its faculties bear such an ocean of light, or its strength stand one look from infinite majesty! The answer is easy; those looks, which would dissolve or annihilate our present sinful nature, will then impart celestial strength, and eternal life; will, as it were, infuse new being, and refresh the immortal principle. In what an ecstasy of love and gratitude shall the soul be then wrapt up! To what a loud song of thanksgiving shall it tune all its powers ! When it goes forth from the presence, how shall it make the celestial courts resound the praises of its Benefactor! With what a voice will it augment the universal hallelujah of angels! As the language of men fails us in our attempt to express the excellence and happiness of angels; so the language of angels, sublime and expressive as it is, can only, like that of children, stammer the praises of the one infinitely great and good. His greatness outstrips all imagination; and his goodness leaves all gratitude and love far behind. While the eye of the soul is turned on heaven, this world seems to dwindle into nothing; but, when that eye is turned on God, heaven itself, with all its created glories of thrones, principalities, dominions, powers, fades away, and looks too small or dim to share its attention.

Amidst all this rapture of happiness and glory, it will

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

be no small addition, to reflect on its narrow escape from the jaws of eternal death, and the everlasting safety and salvation in which it is placed. Having 'washed its robes, and made them white, in the blood of the Lamb, it shall stand before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple. And he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell with it. It shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on it, nor any heat: for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed it, and shall lead it unto living fountains of water; and God shall wipe away all tears from its eyes.'

And hast thou, O thou soul of man! passed through the dangerous trials, the vexations and uncertainties, of a mortal life? Hast thou escaped the horrible regions of fire and darkness ? Art thou placed in eternal rest, and peace, and pleasure ? Art thou intrusted with a kingdom, and adorned with a crown? Instead of thy former infirmity, art thou now invested with power? For thy humility and meekness under contempt, art thou now, in the sight of heaven, clothed with honour and glory? Does that God, for whom thy heart hath so long pined and panted, with unutterable love now smile upon thee? Does he speak peace to thee? Does he call thee his child? Does he say unto thee, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord ?' And is this to be thy condition to all eternity? Is the mutual love between God and thee to increase for ever, and so at once to enlarge and ensure thy bliss, that, after a series of ages, impossible to be numbered, thy happiness shall seem to be only in its infancy? Thou hast made a wise purchase of this reversion, although thou hast laid out on it all the mortifications, and fears, and sufferings, to which a life of piety and purity is often exposed here below.

Such is the state of happiness promised to the souls of true Christians in another life, revealed to us in holy Scripture, and traced by undeniable arguments from thence, and from our own nature. This, however, is to be understood as a weak and faint representation of our future happiness, the wonderful circumstances and degrees of which ‘no eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.' There are still pleasures and wonders

« PreviousContinue »