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world. Because it is the knowledge of one who is glorious, and friendly to the creature's happiness, and in the knowledge of whom the creature's happiness consists.
What are the peculiar ways of divine manifestation in the heavenly world, we are not informed, so as to speak particularly on the subject; but that this knowledge will be like a perennial fountain to the saints in the upper world, there is no reason to doubt.
Confidence in God; a confidence in his wisdom, in his rectitude, in his power, and in his goodness, must be possessed, or there can be no true happiness. But in what way shall a poor sinner have confidence in his Creator, who is an absolute sovereign, and whose holiness flames like fire, except in virtue of the atonement of Jesus Christ? A sinner can no more have a holy confidence in the power, and care, and kindness, and faithfulness of God, than he can create a world, independent of our Lord's mediation. Now this confidence is begun upon earth. With reference to all those that are born again, this confidence in God, as it lies at the foundation of all real felicity, will never be annihilated. Contemplate the spirits of the just made perfect in heaven, and you cannot conceive of them as existing for one moment, and being happy, without having the most cordial and most delightful confidence in God. To think of them as happy, you must conceive of them as confiding in himin his power, wisdom, rectitude, and goodness, as their own eternal all. Now the Lord Jesus Christ is the great medium of all intercourse with the Deity. He in some way or other introduces his people to such a degree of confidence and joy, aš is beyond our powers of comprehension. This may be considered as an eternal fountain of felicity to them. Beholding the glory of God, and having such views of his excellencies, as we in the present state can only perceive very imperfectly; and having every moment a confidence in him as the blessed inheritance of their immortal powers; they must be superlatively happy in the idea.
No happiness can be enjoyed by a sinner, nor by any rational creature, without love to God. As a rational creature, while it possesses the exercise of its reason, cannot but be conscious of its dependent state; so there can be no true peace, nor any solid pleasure, possessed by a rational creature, except so far as there is a friendly disposition towards God; except so far as the divine character is approved, as well as known.
Now, my brethren, Jesus Christ by his mediation reveals God to us in his gospel; and in his death on the cross, he reveals the glory of God to us, in part, in the present world. By these means, and the divine Spirit influencing the heart, by attending the truth and bringing it home to the conscience, a new turn is given to the dispositions of the mind, so as to make God the supreme object of our regard. This love to God will be always found imperfect in the present state; but, in the heavenly world it shall be completely perfect.
Contemplate the departed spirit of a saint in the heavenly world; that love which he had to God in the present state has not deserted him; but it is increased, it is refined and purged from all its imperfections. This love to God, therefore, being
increased by brighter displays of the divine glory, and by richer manifestions of divine grace, in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, will be like a fountain, ever running and ever flourishing to render them happy.
This love, my brethren, is love to God's infinite excellence, and love to God as infinitely beautiful. We now have but little love to God for the sake of his excellencies; but hereafter it shall be perfect; as God's love is infinitely perfect, and manifested to be so to us. We know not the particular ways in which the divine love is manifested in the upper world; but we know that it must be manifested; that it must be experienced and felt; or else there could not be perfect felicity. We might mention various other particulars, but I would add only one more, which is this:
A rational creature's happiness must greatly consist in a friendly intercourse with the fountain of its being, and the object of its worship. That real peace, and all that true spiritual pleasure, which Christians enjoy of a religious kind, while upon earth, greatly consist in a spiritual intercourse with God. My fellow sinners, whether you know it or not, there are very refined pleasures to be enjoyed in religion. There are delights that are sometimes rapturous. But whence do they arise? Not from a high opinion of our own moral excellency, or of our religious worthiness; but from a display of God's greatness, glory, and excellency in Jesus Christ, and from the holy actings of our souls upon God, as thus displayed.
Now, my brethren, collect all these things together, God's manifestation of himself, in his great
ness and glory, in his dominion and majesty, in his mercy and grace, in his faithfulness and all-sufficiency to our souls; and the reciprocal operations of our own hearts towards him, in prostrating our very souls at his feet, as base, depraved, and damnable creatures; depending on his revealed mercy, in the Lord Jesus Christ, as all-sufficient to save the vilest of men ; exercising love to him, as thus displayed ; casting ourselves upon his care and giving up ourselves to his disposal;when God thus manifests himself to our souls, and when our souls are thus exercised towards God, this is what the Bible calls communion with God; and this is an anticipation of celestial felicity. There are sublime delights to be enjoyed in this exercise, and if we knew more of real godliness, if we lived nearer to God, we should have more of these refined pleasures than we now have.
This kind of exercise, my brethren, except so far as consciousness of depravity makes a difference, will be perpetuated in heaven. The particular way and manner in which the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb in the midst of the throne, will open to us these sources of eternal delight, we know not; but in the very nature of the case, there must be holy manifestations of God to the saints, and the saints with all the powers of their souls exerted upon God, will constitute perpetual intercourse betwixt them; and this shall be an everlasting source of sublime delight.
Now, my brethren, if what has been observed, be at all to the purpose intended; if it, in the least, enters into the nature of real religion; or if it, in the least, enters into the nature of the heavenly
felicity; it is natural, it is necessary and unavoidable to conclude, that a great part of the people who call themselves christians, have no real religion ; and that a great part of those who say they hope to go to heaven when they die, could not be happy if they were there. If what has now been said be a fact (and you will read your Bibles and think for yourselves: take nothing on the ipse dixit of any preacher) if, I say, such things enter into real godliness, it is plain that a great part of those who call themselves Christians, have never known any thing of what real godliness means. Examine yourselves my friends. There are some among you, it is highly probable, of that character ; and know what godliness is, or else it will be vain for you to expect happiness in another world. What taste have you for those sublime delights? What! you go to heaven, who thrust from you every thought about God, as much as you can! What! you go to heaven, who never found any pleasure in meditating on the ways and providence of God; who never dreamt, perhaps, that you must have hearts fixed upon God to render it heaven.
Oh, that God may awaken your consciences, and manifest his kindness to your souls; by dissipating the darkness which is natural to your understandings, and by removing that hardness which is natural to your hearts! That there is felicity awaiting the children of God, is plain from the whole current of divine revelation; but that there are few who will eventually enjoy that felicity, is equally plain from the same divine authority.
This passage upon which we have been discoursing, I find, was frequently mentioned by our de.