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present condition. It hath a splendour and glory too great for our present spiritual visive facluty; as the direct, immediate sight of the sun darkens our sight, and doth not relieve or strengthen it at all. Wherefore, we have no way to take into our minds any true spiritual apprehensions of the nature of immediate vision, or what it is to see the glory of Christ in heaven, but by that view which we have by faith in this life of the same glory. Whatever otherwise falls into our minds, is but conjecture and imagination; such as are the contemplations of most about heavenly things.
I have seen and read somewhat of the writings of learned men, concerning the state of future glory; some of them are filled with excellent notions of truth, and elegancy of speech, whereby they cannot but much affect the minds of them who duly consider what they say. But I know not well whence it comes to pass, many complain, that in reading of such discourses they are like a man who 'behold his natural face in a glass, and immediately forgets what manner of man he was ;' as one of old complained to the same purpose upon his perusal of Plato's contemplations about the immortality of the soul. The things spoken do not abide nor incorporate with our minds. They please and refresh for a little while, like a shower of rain in a dry season, that soaketh not unto the roots of things; the power of them doth not enter into us. Is it not all from hence, that their notions of future things are not educed out of the experience which we have of the beginnings of them in this world; without which, they can make no permanent abode in our minds, nor continue any influence upon our affections? Yea, , the soul is disturbed, not edified, in all contemplations of future glory, when things are proposed unto it, whereof in this life it hath neither foretaste, sense, experience, nor evidence. No man ought to look for any thing in heaven, but what one way or other he hath some experience of in this life. If men were fully persuaded hereof, they would be, it may be, more in the exercise of faith and love about heavenly things, than for the most part they are. sent they know not what they enjoy, and they look for they know not what.
Hence is it, that men utterly strangers unto all experience of the beginning of glory in themselves as an effect of
with them in the days of his flesh, that they sa ctures, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Fathe At of that and truth ;' John i. 14. And we may inquiy
that which glory of Christ, which they so saw, and ! ave; because obtained a prospect of it? For 1. It oselves; nor do his outward condition, as we behold arst-fruits in their of the kings and potentates of tb one, and not otherself of no reputation, but bein hrist by faith here in walked in the condition of sed conceptions of our cular grandeur of his pret inmediate vision, as shall tion of that glory of his admiration of it, and desires no court, nor house all things) had of Was it with rest he was made,
For this present beholding of the glory of
en our present edification is principally conthe glory of neither f
almas de lite and power of faith are most eminently acted. ‘his vi
Aad from this exercise of faith, doth love unto Christ prinmor
all, if not solely, arise and spring. If therefore we desie w bare faith in its vigour, or love in its power, giving
rest, complacency, and satisfaction, unto our own souls, we ar
elsewhere they will not be found. Herein would I live;
are to seek for them in the diligent discharge of this duty; herein would I die; hereon would I dwell in my thoughts and affections, to the withering and consumption of all the painted beauties of this world, unto the crucifying all
here below, until they become unto me a dead and deformed thing, no way meet for affectionate embraces. For these, and the like reasons, I shall first inquire into
beholding of the glory of Christ in this world by faith; and therein endeavour to lead the souls of them that believe, into the more retired walks of faith, love, and holy meditation, 'whereby the king is held in his galleries ;' Cant. vii. 5.
But because there is no benefit in, nor advantage by, the contemplation of this sacred truth, but what consists in an improvement of the practice of the duty declared in it, namely, the constant beholding of the glory of Christ by faith; I shall, for the promotion of it, premise some few advantages which we may have thereby.
1. We shall hereby be made fit and meet for heaven. Every man is not so, who desires it, and hopes for it. For some are not only unworthy of it, and excluded from it, by
reason of sin; but they are unmeet for it, and incapable of any advantage by it. All men indeed think themselves fit enough for glory (what should hinder them ?) if they could attain it; but it is because they know not what it is. Men zhall not be clothed with glory, as it were, whether they will or no.
It is to be received in that exercise of the faculties of their souls which such persons have no ability for. Music hath no pleasure in it, unto them that cannot hear; nor the most beautiful colours unto them that cannot see. It would be no benefit unto a fish to take him from the bottom of the ocean, filled with cold and darkness, and to place him under the beams of the sun.
For he is no way meet to receive any refreshment thereby. Heaven itself would not be more advantageous unto persons not renewed by the Spirit of grace in this life.
Hence the apostle gives 'thanks unto the Father, who hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light;' Col. i. 12. Indeed, the beginning here, and the fulness of glory hereafter, are communicated unto believers by an almighty act of the will and grace of God. But yet he hath ordained ways and means whereby they may be made meet receptive subjects of the glory so to be communicated unto them. That this way and means is by the beholding of the glory of Christ by faith, shall be fully declared in our progress. This therefore should excite us unto this duty; for all our present glory consists in our preparation for future glory.
2. No man can by faith take a real view of this glory, but virtue will proceed from it in a transforming power, to
change him into the same image;' 2 Cor. iii. 18. How this is done, and how we become like unto Christ, by beholding his glory, shall be fully declared in our progress.
3. The constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, will give rest, satisfaction, and complacency unto the souls of them who are exercised therein. Our minds are apt to be filled with a multitude of perplexed thoughts; fears, cares, dangers, distresses, passions, and lusts, do make various impressions on the minds of men, filling them with disorder, darkness, and confusion. But where the soul is fixed in its thoughts and contemplations on this glorious object, it will be brought into, and kept in, a holy, serene, spiritual frame. For 'to be spiritually minded is life and peace. And this it doth, by taking off our hearts, from all undue regard unto all things below, in comparison of the great worth, beauty, and glory, of what we are conversant withal. See Phil. iii. 7--11. A defect herein makes many of us strangers unto a heavenly life; and to live beneath the spiritual refreshments and satisfactions that the gospel doth tender unto us.
4. The sight of the glory of Christ, is the spring and cause of our everlasting blessedness. We shall be ever with the Lord ;' 1 Thess. iv. 17. Or, .be with Christ, which is best of all;' Phil. i. 23. For there shall we 'behold his glory;' John xvii. 24. and by seeing him as he is, we shall be made like him ;' 1 John iii. 2. which is our everlasting blessedness.
The enjoyment of God by sight, is commonly called, the beatifical vision; and it is the sole fountain of all the actings of our souls in the state of blessedness, which the old philosophers knew nothing of; neither do we know distinctly what they are, or what is this sight of God. Howbeit, this we know, that God in his immense essence is invisible unto our corporeal eyes, and will be so to eternity; as also incomprehensible unto our minds. For nothing can perfectly comprehend that which is infinite, but what is itself infinite. Wherefore, the blessed and blessing sight which we shall have of God, will be always in the face of Jesus Christ.' Therein will that manifestation of the glory of God in his infinite perfections, and all their blessed operations, so shine into our souls, as shall immediately fill us with peace, rest, and glory.
These things we here admire, but cannot comprehend. We know not well what we say, when we speak of them : yet is there in true believers a foresight, and foretaste of this glorious condition. There enters sometimes, by the word and Spirit into their hearts, such a sense of the uncreated glory of God, shining forth in Christ, as affects and satiates their souls with ineffable joy. Hence ariseth that . peace of God, which is above all understanding, keeping our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ;' Phil. iv. 7. • Christ,' in believers, 'the hope of glory,' gives them to taste of the first-fruits of it; yea, sometimes to bathe their souls in the fountain of life, and to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand. Where any are utterly unacquainted
with these things, they are carnal, yea blind, and see nothing afar off. These enjoyments indeed are rare, and for the most part of short continuance. Rara hora, brevis mora.' But it is from our own sloth and darkness that we do not enjoy more visits of this grace; and that the dawnings of glory do not more shine on our souls. Such things as these may excite us to diligence in the duty proposed unto us.
And I shall inquire, 1. What is that glory of Christ, which we do, or may behold by faith? 2. How we do behold it. 3. Wherein our doing so differs from immediate vision in heaven. And in the whole we shall endeavour an answer unto the inquiry made unto the spouse, by the daughters of Jerusalem. Cant. v. 9. What is thy beloved more than another beloved, thou fairest among women ? What is thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge us ?'
The glory of the person of Christ, as the only representative of
God unto the Church.
The glory of Christ, is the glory of the person of Christ. So he calls it tìv dó£av TÌv čunv, John xvii. 24. That glory which is mine, which belongeth to me, unto my person.
The person of Christ may be considered two ways : 1. Absolutely in itself. 2. In the susception and discharge of his office, with what ensued thereon. His glory on these distinct accounts, is distinct and different; but all equally his own. How in both respects we may behold it by faith is that which we inquire into.
The first thing wherein we may behold the glory of the person of Christ, God and man, which was given him of his Father, consists in the representation of the nature of God, and of the divine person of the Father, unto the church in him; ' For we behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;' 2 Cor. iv. 6. Otherwise we know it not, we see it not, we see nothing of it; that is, in the way of seeing and knowing God, declared in the Scripture, as our duty and