HAPPINESS AND GLORY OF HEAVEN.
HEAVEN! It is called the paradise of God -- a paradise, to show how quiet, harmless, sweet, and beautiful heaven shall be to them that possess it.
|The street of the city was pure gold.| All the visions were rich, but this the richest, that the floor of the house should be covered with gold. The floor and street are walking-places, and how rich will our steps be then! Alas, here we sometimes step into the mire, and then again stumble upon blocks and stones. Here we sometimes fall into the holes, and have our heel often catched in a snare; but there will be none of these. Gold! gold! all will be gold, and golden perfections, when we come into the holy place.
If a sight of sin and the love of God will make such work in that soul where yet there is unbelief, blindness, mistrust, and forgetfulness; what will a sight of sin do in that soul which is swallowed up of love, which is sinless and temptationless, which hath all faculties of soul and body strained by love and grace to the highest pin of perfection that is possible to be in glory enjoyed and possessed?
O the wisdom and goodness of God, that he at the day of judgment should so cast about the worst of our things, even those that naturally tend to sink us and damn us, for our great advantage. All things shall work together for good, indeed, to them that love God. Those sins that brought a curse upon the whole world, that spilt the heart-blood of our dearest Saviour, and that laid his tender soul under the flaming wrath of God, shall, by his wisdom and love, tend to the exaltation of his grace, and the inflaming of our affections to him for ever and ever.
These visions, that the saved in heaven shall have of the love of Christ, will far transcend our utmost knowledge here; even as far as the light of the sun at noon goes beyond the light of a blinking candle at midnight.
As there are great saints and small ones in the church on earth, so there are angels of divers degrees in heaven; some greater than some; but the smallest saint, when he gets to heaven, shall have an angel's dignity, an angel's place.
What goodly mansions He for them provides,
Though here they meet rough winds and swelling tides; How brave a calm they will enjoy at last,
Who to the Lord and to his ways hold fast.
EMPLOYMENTS OF HEAVEN.
This love of Christ, if I may so say, will keep the saints in an employ, even when they are in heaven; though not an employ, that is laborsome, tiresome, burdensome, yet an employ that is dutiful, delightful, and profitable; for although the work and worship of saints in heaven is not particularly revealed as yet, and so it doth not yet appear what we shall be, yet in the general we may say, there will be that for them to do that has not yet by them been done; and by that work which they shall do there, their delight will be unto them. Nor will this at all derogate from their glory. The angels now wait upon God, and serve him; the Son of God is now a minister, and waiteth upon his service in heaven. Some saints have been employed about service for God after they have been in heaven; and why we should be idle spectators when we come thither, I see not reason to believe. It may be said, They there rest from their labors. True, but not from their delights. All things then that once were burdensome, whether in suffering or service, shall be done away, and that which is delightful and pleasurable shall remain.
Now, just as the gates were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold, the city shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold, and in them walked many men with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps to sing praises withal. There were also of them that had wings; and they answered one another without intermission, saying, |Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.| And after that they shut up the gates; which when I had seen, I wished myself among them.
|Strive to enter in.| |Enter in| -- into heaven, that is the meaning, where the saved are and shall be -- into heaven, that place, that glorious place where God and Christ and angels are, and the souls of just men made perfect. |Enter in:| that thing included though not expressed in the words, is called in another place the |mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven.| And therefore the words signify unto us that there is a state most glorious, and that when this world is ended; and that this place and state is likewise to be enjoyed by a generation of men forever. Besides, this word |enter in| signifies that salvation to the full is to be enjoyed only there, and that there only is eternal safety; all other places and conditions are hazardous, full of snares, imperfections, temptations, and afflictions. But there all is well; there is no devil to tempt, no desperately wicked heart to deliver us up, no deceitful lust to entangle, nor any enchanting world to bewitch us; there all shall be well to all eternity. Further, all the parts of and circumstances that attend salvation, are only there to be enjoyed: there only is immortality and eternal life; there is the glory and fulness of joy and the everlasting pleasures; there is God and Christ to be enjoyed by open vision; and more, there are the angels and the saints; there is no death nor sickness, no sorrow nor sighing for ever; there is no pain, nor persecution, nor darkness to eclipse our glory. O this mount Zion! O this heavenly Jerusalem!
SOUL AND BODY GLORIFIED IN HEAVEN.
|When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass that saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.|
So when this comes to pass, then we shall be saved, then will salvation in all the parts of it meet together in our glory, then we shall be every way saved: saved in God's decree, saved in Christ's undertakings, saved by faith, saved in perseverance, saved in soul, and in body and soul together, in the heavens; saved perfectly, everlastingly, gloriously.
I would discourse a little of the state of our body and soul in heaven, when we shall enjoy this blessed state of salvation.
1. Of the soul. It will then be filled in all the faculties of it with as much his and glory as ever it can hold.
The understanding will then be perfect in knowledge. |Now we know in part| -- we know God, Chrit, heaven, and glory, but in part; |butswhen that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.| Then shall we have perfect and everlasting visions of God, and that blessed One his Son Jesus Christ; a good thought of whom doth sometimes so fill us, while in this world, that it causeth joy unspeakable and full of glory.
Then shall our will and affections be ever in a burning flame of love to God and his Son Jesus Christ. Our love here hath ups and downs; but there it shall be always perfect with that perfection which is not possible in this world to be enjoyed.
Then will, our conscience have that peace and joy, that neither tongue or pen of men or angels can express.
Then will our memory be so enlarged as to retain all things that happened to us in this world; so that with unspeakable aptness we shall call to mind all God's providences, all Satan's malice, all our weaknesses, all the rage of men, and how God made all work together for his glory and our good, to the everlasting ravishing of our hearts.
2. For our body, it shall be raised in power, in incorruption, a spiritual body and glorious.
It is compared to the brightness of the firmament, and to the shining of the stars for ever and ever. It is compared to the shining of the sun. It is said that then our vile body shall be like the glorious body of Jesus Christ. Their state is then to be equally glorious with angels.
And now when body and soul are thus united, who can imagine what glory they both possess? They will now be both in capacity without jarring to serve the Lord; with shouting, thanksgivings, and with a crown of everlasting joy upon their head.
In this world there cannot he the harmony and oneness of body and soul that there will he in heaven. Here the body sometimes sins against the soul, and the soul again vexes and perplexes the body with dreadful apprehensions of the wrath and judgment of God. While we are in this world, the body oft hangs this way, and the soul quite the contrary; but there in heaven they shall have such perfect union as never to jar more. The glory of the body shall so suit with the glory of the soul, and both so perfectly suit with the heavenly state, that it passeth words and thoughts.
Oh sinner, what sayest thou? How dost thou like being saved? Doth not thy mouth water? Doth not thy heart twitter at being saved? Why, come then. |The Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.|
CHRIST THE GLORY OF HEAVEN.
|For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.| Mark, though now there shall be no need of temple, sun, or moon, yet Christ the Lamb, or the man who was offered in sacrifice for our redemption, shall be of use and benefit; |for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.| Wherefore, all that we who are the saved shall enjoy of glory and sweetness in another world, though we shall not enjoy it from God through Christ by and in the ordinances, yet we shall enjoy it through Christ the Lamb without them; for |the Lamb is the light of it.|
By this word Lamb he would have us understand, that when we are in glory, the blood, death, and bloody conquest that the man Christ did get over our infernal enemies, will be of eternal use to us; because that benefit of Christ shall not only for ever be the foundation of our eternal felicity, but the burden of our song of glory in all our raptures among the angels. It will he the blood, the blood, the redeeming blood of the Lamb. |Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.| It is he in whom will be found the seven eyes, the seven Spirits of God; in whose light we shall see the heights and depths of those springs and everlasting fountains and depths of glory for ever. And indeed the conceit of the contrary is foolish. Is not Christ the head, and we the members? And do not the members receive their whole light, guidance, and wisdom from it? Is not he also the price, the ground, and bottom of our happiness, both in this world and that which is to come? And is it possible it should be forgotten, or that by it our joy, light, and heaven should not be made the sweeter to all eternity? Our soul is now bound up in him as in a bundle of life; and when we come thither he is still the Christ, our life; and it is by our being where he is that we shall behold his glory and our glory, because he is glorified: |For the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.| As he said, |Ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man taketh from you.|
THE GLORY OF SALVATION.
What a surprise will it be to them that now have come to God by Christ, to see themselves in heaven indeed, saved indeed, and possessed of everlasting life indeed. For alas, what is faith to possession? -- faith that is mixed with many tears, that is opposed with many assaults, and that seems sometimes to be quite extinguished -- I say, what is that to a seeing myself in heaven? Hence it is said that |he shall then come to be admired in them that now believe;| then they shall admire that it was their lot to believe when they were in the world. They shall also admire to think, to see, and behold what believing has brought them to; while the rest, for refusing to come to God by Christ, drink their tears mixed with burning brimstone.
What a joy will it be to the truly godly to think now that they are come to God by Christ. It was their mercy to begin to come; it was their happiness that they continued coming; but it is their glory that they are come, that they are come to God by Christ.
To God! why, he is all in all; all that is good, essentially good, and eternally good. To God, the infinite ocean of good. Oh that I could imagine, Oh that I could think, that I might write more effectually to thee of the happy estate of them that come to God by Christ.
What gladness shall possess our heart,
When we shall see these things;
What light and life in every part
Rise like eternal springs!
O, blessed face; O, holy grace,
When shall we see this day?
Lord, fetch us to this goodly place,
We humbly to thee pray.
Thus when in heavenly harmony
These blessed saints appear,
Adorned with grace and majesty,
What gladness will be there!
Thus shall we see, thus shall we be,
O, would the day were come:
Lord Jesus, take us up to thee,
To this desired home.
Angels we also shall behold,
When we on high ascend,
Each shining like to men of gold,
And on the Lord attend.
These goodly creatures, full of grace,
Shall stand about the throne,
Each one with lightning in his face,
And shall to us be known.
There cherubim, with one accord,
Continually do cry,
|Ah, holy, holy, holy Lord,
And heavenly majesty!|
These will us in their arms embrace,
And welcome us to rest,
And joy to see us clad with grace
And of the heavens possest.