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perfected with the vision of God, and the affections cleave inseparably to him ; which is blessedness.
The very essential faculties of our souls in that way and manner of working, which by their union with our bodies they are confined unto, are not able to comprehend and abide constantly in the contemplation of this glory. So that, though our sight of it here be dim and imperfect, and the proposal of it obscure; yet from the weakness of our minds, we are forced sometimes to turn aside from what we do discern, as we do our bodily eyes from the beams of the sun, when it shines in its brightness. But in this perfect state they are able to behold and delight in this glory constantly, with eternal satisfaction.
• But as for me,' saith David, “I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness;' Psal. xvii. 15. It is Christ alone, who is the likeness and image of God. When we awake in the other world, with our minds purified and rectified, the beholding of him shall be always satisfying unto us. There will be then no satiety, no weariness, no indispositions; but the mind being made perfect in all its faculties, powers, and operations, with respect unto its utmost end, which is the enjoyment of God, is satisfied in the beholding of him for evermore. And where there is perfect satisfaction without satiety, there is blessedness for ever. So the Holy Spirit affirms of the four living creatures in the Revelation; · They rest not day nor night, saying, holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty;' chap. iv. 8. They are continually exercised in the admiration and praises of God in Christ, without weariness or interruption. Herein shall we be made like unto angels.
2. As our minds in their essential powers and faculties shall be enabled to comprehend and acquiesce in this glory of Christ, so the means or instrument of the beholding of it, is much more excellent than faith, and in its kind absolutely perfect, as hath in part been before declared. This is vision or sight. Here we walk by faith, there by sight. And this sight is not an external aid, like a glass helping the weakness of the visive faculty to see things afar off; but it is an internal power, or an act of the internal power of our minds, wherewith they are endowed in a glorified state. Hereby we shall be able to see him face to face, to see him as he is,' in a direct comprehension of his glory; for this sight or visive power shall be given us for this very end, namely, to enable us so to do. Hereunto the whole glory of Christ is clear, perspicuous, and evident, which will give us eternal acquiescency therein. Hence shall our sight of the glory of Christ be invariable, and always the same.
2. The Lord Christ will never in any one instance, on any occasion, so much as one moment, withdraw himself from us, or eclipse the proposal and manifestation of himself unto our sight. This he doth sometimes in this life, and it is needful for us that so he should do. "We shall be ever with the Lord,'1 Thess.iv. 17. without end, without interruption. This is the centre of good and evil, as to the future different states of men. They shall be for ever. Eternity makes them absolutely good on the one hand, and absolutely evil on the other. To be in hell under the wrath of God, is in itself the greatest penal evil; but to be there for ever, without the intermission of misery, or determination of time, is that which renders it the greatest evil unto them who shall be in that condition. So is eternity the life of future blessed
We shall be ever with the Lord, without limitation of time, without interruption of enjoyment.
There are no vicissitudes in the heavenly state. The new Jerusalem bath no temple in it; 'for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof;' Rev. xxi. 24. There is no need of instituted means of worship, nor of ordinances of divine service; for we shall need neither increase of ace, nor excitations unto its exercise : the .constant, immediate, uninterrupted enjoyment of God and the Lamb, supplieth all. And it hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God doth enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The light of the sun is excellent; howbeit, it hath its seasons : after it hath shone in its brightest lustre, it gives place to the night and darkness. So is the light of the moon of great use in the night; but it hath its seasons also. Such is the light we have of the glory of God and the Lamb in this world. Sometimes it is as the light of the sun, which under the gospel is sevenfold, as the light of seven days in one, in comparison of the law; Isa. xxx. 26. sometimes as the light of the moon, which giveth relief in the night of temptations
and trials. But it is not constant; we are under a vicissitude of light and darkness, views of Christ, and a loss of him. But in heaven the perpetual presence of Christ with his saints, makes it always one noon of light and glory.
3. This vision is not in the least liable unto any weakenings from internal defects, nor any assaults from temptations, as is the sight of faith in this life. No doubts or fears, no disturbing darts or injections, shall there have any place. There shall no habit, no quality, no inclination, or disposition remain in our souls, but what shall eternally lead us unto the contemplation of the glory of Christ, with delight and complacency. Nor will there be any defect in the gracious powers of our souls, as unto a perpetual exercise of them; and as unto all other opposing enemies, we shall be in a perpetual triumph over them; 1 Cor. xv. 55–57. The mouth of iniquity shall be stopped for ever, and the voice of the self-avenger shall be heard no more.
Wherefore, the vision which we shall have in heaven of the glory of Christ, is serene, always the same, always new and indeficient, wherein nothing can disturb the mind in the most perfect operations of a blessed life. And when all the faculties of the soul can without any internal weakness or external hinderances exercise their most perfect operations on the most perfect object; therein lies all the blessedness which our nature is capable of.
Wherefore, whenever in this life we attain any comfortable refreshing view of the glory of Christ, by the exercise of faith on the revelation of it, with a sense of our interest therein, we cannot but long after, and desire to come unto, this more perfect, abiding, invariable aspect of it.
Other differences between our beholding the glory of Christ by faith in
this world, and by sight in heaven. Among the many other differences which might be insisted on (although the greatest of them are unto us at present absolutely incomprehensible, and so not to be inquired into), I shall name two only, and so put a close to this discourse.
1. In the view which we have here of the glory of Christ by faith, we gather things as it were one by one, in several parts and parcels out of the Scripture; and comparing them together in our minds, they become the object of our present sight, which is our spiritual comprehension of the things themselves. We have no proposal of the glory of Christ unto us by vision or illustrious appearance of his person, as Isaiah had of old, chap. vi. 1-4. or as John had in the Revelation, chap. i. 13-16. We need it not; it would be of no advantage unto us. For as unto the assurance of our faith, we have a word of prophecy more useful unto us, than a voice from heaven ; 2 Pet. i. 17-19. And of those who received such visions, though of eminent use unto the church; yet as unto themselves, one of them cried out, Wo is me, I am undone;' and the other fell as dead at his feet.' We are not able in this life to bear such glorious representations of him, unto our edification.
And as we have no such external proposals of his glory unto us in visions, so neither have we any new revelations of him, by immediate inspiration. We can see nothing of it, know nothing of it, but what is proposed unto us in the Scripture, and that as it is proposed. Nor doth the Scripture itself, in any one place, make an entire proposal of the glory of Christ, with all that belongs unto it; nor is it capable of so doing ; nor can there be any such representation of it, unto our capacity on this side heaven. If all the light of the heavenly luminaries had been contracted into one, it would have been destructive, not useful, to our sight; but being by divine wisdom distributed into sun, moon, and stars, each giving out his own proportion, it is suited to declare the glory of God, and to enlighten the world. So if the whole revelation of the glory of Christ, and all that belongs unto it, had been committed into one series and contexture of words, it would have overwhelmed our minds, rather than enlightened us. Wherefore, God hath distributed the light of it through the whole firmament of the books of the Old and New Testament, whence it communicates itself, by various parts and degrees, unto the proper use of the church. In one place we have a description of his person, and the glory of it; sometimes in words plain and proper, and sometimes in great variety of allegories, conveying a heavenly sense of things unto the minds of them that do believe; in others, of his love and condescension in his office, and his glory therein. His humiliation, exaltation, and power, are in like manner in sundry places represented unto us. And as one star differeth from another in glory, so it was one way, whereby God represented the glory of Christ, in types and shadows under the Old Testament, and another wherein it is declared in the New. Illustrious testimonies unto all these things are planted up and down in the Scripture, which we may collect as choice flowers in the paradise of God, for the object of our faith and sight thereby.
So the spouse in the Canticles considered every part of the person and grace of Christ distinctly by itself, and from them all, concludes that he is altogether lovely;' chap. v. 10—16. So ought we to do in our study of the Scripture, to find out the revelation of the glory of Christ, which is made therein, as did the prophets of old, as unto what they themselves received by immediate inspiration. They searched diligently what the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory which should ensue;' 1 Pet. i. 11, 12. But this seeing of Christ by parts in the revelation of him, is one cause why we see him here but in part.
Some suppose that by chopping and painting, and gilding, they can make an image of Christ that shall perfectly represent him to their senses and carnal affections from head to foot. But they feed on ashes,' and have a lie in their right hand. Jesus Christ is evidently crucified before our eyes in the Scripture; Gal. iii. 1. So also is he evidently