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goodness shall be my own and theirs; my glory and felicity shall be mine and theirs; and theirs also shall be mine as well as theirs. The knowledge, the goodness, the glory, of all the heavenly society, shall be mine, according to my capacity; grace is the seed of such a state, which maketh us all one in Christ, (neither Barbarian nor Scythian, circumcision nor uncircumcision, bond nor free,) by giving us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love both our neighbors and ourselves, for Christ, and Christ in all: well might Paul say, all things are yours. But it is here but as in the seed; the perfect union and communion is hereafter. Earth and heaven must be distinguished; we must not extend our hopes or pretensions here beyond the capacity of our natures. As perfect holiness and knowledge, so perfect unity and concord, is proper to heaven, and is not here to be expected. The papal pretensions, of an impossible union in one governor of all the earth, is the means to hinder that union which is possible. But the state of perfection is the state of perfect union and communion. Hasten then upwards, O my soul, with the ferventest desires, and breathe after that state with the strongest hopes; where thou shalt not be rich, and see thy neighbors poor about thee, nor be poor, while they are rich; nor be well while they are sick, or sick while they are well ; but their riches, their health, their joy, will be all thine, and thine will be all theirs, as the common light; and none will have the less for the participation of the rest ; yea, communion will be part of every one's felicity; it constituteth the very being of the city of God. This celestial communion of saints in one holy church, above what is here to be attained, is now an article of our belief; but believing will soon end in seeing and enjoying
V. The constitutive reasons from the heavenly life or practice.
Sect. 1. Secing and loving will be the heavenly life; but yet it seemeth that, besides these, there will be executive powers, and therefore, some answerable practice. There are good works in heaven, and far more and better than on earth. For, 1. there will be more vital activity, and, therefore, more exercise for it; for the power is for action. 2. There will be more love to God and one another; and love is active. 3. There will be more likeness to God and our
Redeemer, who is communicative, and doth good, as he is good. 4. Our union with Christ, who will be everlastingly beneficent, as well as benevolent, will make us in our places also beneficent. 5. Our communion in the city of God will prove that we shall all bear our part as the members of the body, in contributing to the welfare of the whole, and in the common returns to God.
Sect. 2. But what are the heavenly works we must perfectly know when we come thither? In general we know; 1. That they will be the works of love to God and to his creatures; that is, such as love inclineth us to exercise. 2. And they will be works of obedience to God; that is, such as we shall do to please his will, and because he willeth them to be our duty. 3. They will be useful works to oth
4. They will be pleasant to ourselves, and part of our felicity. 5. And they will carry all to God, our end.
Sect. 3. And somewhat of them is particularly described in the Holy Scriptures: as, 1. We shall in concord with the holy society, or choir, give thanks and praise to God and our Redeemer. (Rev. xix. 5 : 1 Pet. iv. 11; Rev. vii. 4, and iv. 7, 11, and v. 13, and vii. 12, and xix. 1; Phil. iv. 20.) Whether there be any voice, or only such spiritual activity and exultation as to man, in flesh, is not to be clearly understood, is not fit for us here to presume to determine : it will be somewhat more high and excellent than our vocal praise and singing is; and of which this beareth some analogical resemblance or signification. As all passions earnestly desire vent and exercise, so specially do our holy affections of love, joy, and admiration of God Almighty. And there is in us a desire of communion with many in such affections and expressions : methinks when we are singing or speaking God's praise in the great assemblies, with joyful and fervent souls, I have the liveliest foretaste of heaven on earth: and I could almost wish that our voices were loud enough to reach through all the world, and unto heaven itself: nor could I ever be offended (as many are) at the organs, and other convenient music, soberly and seasonably used, which excite and help to tune my soul in so holy a work, in which no true assistance is to be despised. No work more comforteth me in my greatest sufferings, none scemeth more congruous and pleasant to me while I wait for death, than
psalms, and words of praise to God; nor is there any exercise in which I had rather end my life: and should I not then willingly go to the heavenly choir, where God is praised with perfect love, and joy, and harmony? Had I more of a praising frame of soul, it would make me long more for that life of praise. For I never find myself more willing to be there than when I most joyfully speak or sing God's praise. Though the dead praise not God in the grave, and dust doth not give him thanks; yet living souls in heaven do it joyfully, while their fleshly clothing turns to dust.
Lord, tune my soul to thy praises now, that sweet experience may make me long to be where I shall do it better! I see where any excellent music is, nature maketh men flock to it; and they that are but hearers, yet join by a concurrent fancy and delight : surely, if I had once heard the heavenly choir, I should echo to their holy songs, though I could not imitate them; and I should think it the truest blessedness to be there, and bear my part. My God, the voice of thy comforting Spirit, speaking thy love effectually to my soul, would make such holy music in me, that would incline me to the celestial concert; and without it all these thoughts and words will be in vain. It is the inward melody of thy Spirit and my conscience, that must tune me to desire the heavenly melody. O speak thy love first to my heart, and then I shall joyfully speak it to my brethren, and shall ambitiously seek that communion of them that praise thee better than sinful, groaning mortals can: and though my sins here make a loathed jar and discord in my songs, I hope my groans for those sins, and their effects, will make no discord : sighs and tears have had the honor to be accepted by thee, who despisest not a contrite soul: but if thy Spirit will sing and speak within me, and help me against the discordant murmurs of my unbelieving heart, and pained flesh, I shall offer thee that which is more suitable to thy love and grace. I confess, Lord, that daily tears and sighs are not unsuitable to the eyes and voice of so great a sinner, who is under thy correcting rod! What better could I expect when I grieved thy Spirit, than that it should prove my grief? Yea, this is far better than the genuine effects of sin. But this is not it that is meetest to be offered to the God of love: he that offereth praise doth glorify thee: and is not VOL. II.
this the spiritual sacrifice accepted through Christ, for which we were made priests to God. (1 Pet. ii. 5.) I refuse not, Lord, to lie in tears and groans when thou requirest it; and do not thou refuse those tears and groans; but o give me better, that I may have better of thine own to offer thee: and by this prepare me for the far better, which I shall find with Christ : and that which is best to us thy creatures will be accepted as best by thee, who art glorified and pleased in the perfection of thy works.
Sect. 4. It is, at least, very probable that God maketh glorified spirits his agents and ministers of much of his beneficence to the creatures that are below them. For, 1. We see that where he endueth any creature with the noblest endowments, he maketh most use of that creature to the benefit of others : we shall in heaven be most furnished to do good; and that furniture will not be unused. 2. And Christ tells us that we shall be like, or equal to, the angels; which though it mean not simply and in all things, yet it meaneth more than to be above carnal generation ; for it speaketh of a similitude of nature and state as the reason of the other. And that the angels are God's ministers for the good of his chosen in this world, and administrators of much of the affairs on earth, is past all doubt. 3. The Apostle telleth us that the saints shall judge the world and angels: and judging in Scripture is oft put for ruling. It is therefore probable, at least, that the devils, and the damned, shall be put under the saints, and that, with the angels, they shall be employed in some ministerial oversight of the inhabitants and affairs of the promised new earth. 4. And when even the more noble superior bodies, even the stars, are of so great use and influx to inferior bodies, it is like that accordingly superior spirits will be of use to the inhabitants of the world below them.
Sect. 5. But I think it not meet to venture here upon uncertain conjectures beyond the revelation of God's word, and therefore shall add no more, but conclude that God knoweth what use to make of us hereafter as well as here, and that if there were no more for us to do in heaven, but with perfect knowledge, love, and joy, to hold communion with God and all the heavenly society, it were enough to attract a sensible and considerate soul to servent desires to be at home with God.
Sect. 6. And here I must not over-pass my rejection of the injurious opinion of too many philosophers and divines, who exclude all sense and affection from heaven, and acknowledge nothing there but intellect and will : and this is because they find sense and affection in the brutes; and they think that the souls of brutes are but some quality, or perishing temperament of matter; and, therefore, that sense and affection is in us no better.
Sect. 7. But, 1. What felicity can we conceive of without any affection of delight or joy : certainly bare volition now without these doth seem to be no felicity to us; nor knowledge neither, if there were no delight in knowing.
Sect. 8. 2. Yea, I leave it to men's experience to judge, whether there be now any such thing in us as proper willing, which is not also some internal sense of, and affection to, the good which we will : if it be complacency or the pleasedness of the will, this signifies some pleasure ; and love, in the first act, is nothing else but such an appetite: if it be desire, it hath in it a pleasedness in the thing desired, as in esse cognito, as it is thought on by us; and what is love without all sense and affection?
Sect. 9. 3. Why doth the Scripture ascribe love and joy to God and angels if there were not some reason for it? Doubtless there is great difference between the heavenly love and joy, and ours here in the body: and so there is also between their knowledge and ours, and their will and ours : but it is not that theirs is less or lower than ours, but somewhat more excellent, which ours giveth us some analogical, or imperfect, formal notion of.
Sect. 10. 4. And what though brutes have sense and affection, doth it therefore follow that we have none now? or that we shall have none hereafter? Brutes have life: and must we therefore have no life hereafter, because it is a thing that is common to brutes ? Rather, as now we have all that the brutes have, and more, so shall we then have life, and sense, and affection of a nobler sort than brutes, and more. Is not God the living God ? Shall we say that he liveth not because brutes live? or rather, that they live a sensitive lise, and man a sensitive and intellectual, because God is essential, transcendent, infinite life, that makes them live.