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Creator ; and in him we shall have all, and without him we know nothing, and have nothing at all.
Satan tempted Christ, by showing him the “ kingdoms and glory of the world," and promising them all to him if he would have worshipped him: but God will show me more than Satan could show, and give me more of that which is best, than Satan could give.
III. And that in heaven I shall better know Jesus Christ, and all the mystery of our redemption by him, will not be the least of my felicity ; for in him are hid all the treasures of wisdom : and to know the mystery of his eternal godhead, in the second person, and his created nature, and the union of these, and to see God's wonderful design and work of grace in him laid open to our clearest view, O what beautifying knowledge would this be! All dark texts concerning his person, his office, and his works, will then be expounded and fully understood. All those strange and difficult things which were the great exercise and honor of faith, will then be plain. Difficulties will no more be Satan's advantage to tempt us to unbelief, or doubting. The sight of the glory of my Lord will be my glory. (John xvii. 24.) If Paul had not then attained to perfection in the knowledge of Christ, and the power of his resurrection, but was pressing forward to reach that crown in the life to come, which he calleth “ the resurrection of the dead,” (Phil. iii. 9—12,) such as I must not expect here to attain it; but when that which is perfect is come, this imperfect knowledge of faith will be done away, as childish knowledge is in manhood : and the glass and riddle shall be laid aside, when we 6 shall see face to face, and shall know as we are known,” (1 Cor. xii. 10-12,) as to our sight and knowledge of Christ and his triumphant body : for I dare not apply that phrase to the sight and knowledge of the divine essence, nor yet deny it.
If now, though we see not Christ, yet, believing, we love him, and rejoice in him with unspeakable, glorying joy ; what love and joy will the everlasting sight of our blessed Head excite there in the souls of all the glorified !
IV. I shall better, oh! much better, know the heavenly Jerusalem, the triumphant church, the blessed angels, and glorified saints ; and as my love to them, so my knowledge of them, will not be the Vol. ll.
least part of my heavenly delight. As strangely as I now look upward to that world, because I cannot see it with these eyes, it shall be my well-known everlasting habitation. Oh! what a sight, what a joyful sight, will death show me by drawing aside the veil, or rather the Lord of Life, by turning death to my advantage! When I am there at home, I shall no more think with confusion, fear, or doubting, of that blessed place or state. My fears, which now come from the smallness of my faith, will end when faith is turned into vision. As I know the several rooms in my house, and houses in the street, and streets in the city, so shall I then know the many mansions which Christ hath said are in his Father's house. Words now give me so poor, imperfect a conception of the world and things which I never saw, as that sometimes I can scarcely tell whether the joy of my faith, or the trouble of my dark apprehensions, be the greater. But when I shall see the place and persons, the glory which I heard of, that will be the delightful satisfying and possessing kind of knowledge. If Nehemiah, and the godly Jews, made so great a matter of seeing the walls of Jerusalem repaired; and others, of the imperfect re-edifying of the temple, O what a joyful sight to me will the heavenly Jerusalem then be! The most glorious sight will be at the great marriage-day of the Lamb, when Christ shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that now believe : but the next to that will be the day of my particular deliverance, when I shall come to Christ, and see the saints admiring him in glory.
If I were of the opinion of those Greek fathers, who thought that stars were angels, or had intellectual souls, (matters unknown to us,) I should love them as my guardians, and take it to be yet more of my concernment to be advanced to the fuller knowledge of them. But seeing I know that angels love us, and by office do attend and keep us, and rejoice at our good, and at our repentance, and, which is far more, are more holy and excellent creatures than we are, it is therefore, my comfort to think that I shall better know them, and live in near and perpetual acquaintance and communion with them, a more sensible and sweet communion than we can have with them here. Devils are aëria), and near to this dark and sinful world, and oftener appear to men than angels. But the angels affect not
such descending appearances, till love and obedience to their Lord make it pleasing to them: and therefore we have but little knowledge, even of those that know, and love, and keep us. But when we come home to their nearest society and converse, to know them will be sweet and joyful knowledge : for they are more excellent creatures than the most glorious that are below the intellective nature. They are full of light, and full of love to God and man. Had God bid me pray to them, I would not hare refused it, but taken it for my honor ; but seeing he hath not, I will do that which he bid me, even love them, and rejoice in my relation to the innumerable company of them, in the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, (Heb. xii. 22,) and long to know and love them more ; expecting, ere long, to bear my part in the praises of God and of the Lamb, in the same choir where they are the precentors.
And that I shall know the spirits of the perfected just, and be of their communion, will be no small addition to my joy. How sweet hath one wise and holy, though weak and blemished, companion been to me here on earth! And how lovely have God's graces in such, though sullied, appeared to me. Oh! then, what a sight will it be when we shall see the millions of souls that shine in perfect wisdom and holiness with Christ. To see a garden that hath some beautiful flowers in it, is something: but if you saw whole fields and countries shining with them, it would be a glory, though fading, to the earth. A well-built city is a pleasanter sight than a single house, and a navy than a ship, and an army than one man. And if this poor, low world did all consist of wise, and just, and holy persons, O what an orderly, lovely world would it be! If one kingdom consisted (prince, magistrates, pastors, and people) all of such, what a blessed kingdom would that be. The plague of wicked men's deceits, and falsehoods, oppressions, and iniquities, may help to make us sensible of this. It would be a great temptation to us to be loth to die, and leave such a country, were it not that the more the beauty of goodness appeareth, the more the state of perfection is desired. It is pleasant to me to pray in hope, as Christ hath commanded me, that earth may be made liker unto heaven, which now is become so like to hell. But when I shall see the society perfected in number, in holiness, in glory, in heavenly employment, the joyful praises of Jehovah, the glory of God, and the Lamb shining on them, and God rejoicing over them as his delight, and myself partaking of the same, that will be the truly blessed day. And why doth my soul, imprisoned in flesh no more desire it?
V. I shall better understand all the word of God, the matter, and the method of it: though I shall not have that use for it as I have now in this life of faith, yet I shall see more of God's wisdom and his goodness, his love, mercy, and justice, appearing in it, than ever man on earth could do! As the creatures, so the Scriptures, are perfectly known only by perfect spirits. I shall then know how to solve all doubts, and reconcile all seeming contradictions, and to expound the hardest prophecies : that light will show me the admirable methods of those sacred words, where dark minds now suspect confusion! How evident and clear then will every thing appear to me? Like a small print when the light comes in, which I could not read in the glimmering twilight. How easily shall I then consute the cavils of all our present unbelievers ! and how joyfully shall I praise that God and Savior that gave his church so clear a light to guide them through this darksome world, and so sure a promise to support them till they came to life eternal! How joyfully shall I bless him that by that immortal seed did regenerate me to the hopes of glory, and that ruled me by so holy and just a law!
VI. In that world of light I shall better understand God's present and past works of providence, by which he ordereth the matters of this world : the wisdon and goodness of them is little understood in little parcels; it is the union and harmony of all the parts which showeth the beauty of them, when the single parcels seem deformed, or are not understood. And no one can see the whole together but God, and they that see it in the light of his celestial glory : it is a prospect of that end, by which we have here any true understanding of such parcels as we see. Then I shall know clearly why, or to what use, God prospered the wicked, and tried the righteous by so many afflictions: I shall know why he set up the ungodly, and put the humble under their feet; why he permitted so much ignorance, ungodliness, pride, lust, oppression, persecution, falsehood, deceit, and other sins in the world : I shall know why the faithful are so few; and why so
many kingdoms of the world are left in heathenisin, Mahometanism, and infidelity. The strange permissions which now so puzzle me, and are the matter of my astonishment, shall all be then as clear as day: I shall know why God disposed of me as he did through all my life; and why I suffered what I did; and how many great deliv
l erances I had, which I understood not here, and how they were accomplished. All our misinterpretations of God's works and permissions will be then rectified: and all our controversies about them, which Satan hath made so great advantage of, (by a pretended zeal for some truths of God,) will then be reconciled, and at an end : and all the works of Divine Providence, from the beginning of the world, will then appear a most delectable, beauteous frame.
VII. And among all these works, I shall especially know more the nature and excellency of God's mercies and gifts of love, which here we too unthankfully undervalued and made light of. The special works of love should be the matter of our most constant, sweet, and serious thoughts, and the fuel of our constant love and gratitude: the lively sense of love and mercy maketh lively Christians, abounding in love to God, and mercy to others : but the enemy of God and man most laboreth to obscure, diminish, and disgrace God's love and mercies to us, or to make us disrelish them, that they may be unfruitsul, as to their excellent ends and uses. Little do most Christians know how much they wrong God and themselves, and how much they lose by the diminutive, poor thoughts which they have of God's mercies : ingratitude is a grievous misery to the sinner, as gratitude is a very pleasant work. Many a thousand mercies we now receive, which we greatly undervalue. But when I come to the state and work of perfect gratitude, I shall have a more perfect knowledge of all the mercies which ever I received in my life, and which iny neighbors, and friends, and God's Church, and the world, did ever receive : for though the things be past, the use of it is not past. Mercies remembered must be the matter of our everlasting thanks : and we cannot be perfectly thankful for them, without a perfect knowledge of them: the worth of a Christ, and all his grace, the worth of the gospel, the worth of our church privileges, and all God's ordinances, the worth of our books and friends, and helps of our life and