1 Corinthians xiii. 12. For noiv toe see through a glass darkly, but then face to face : now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. Oh ! how cheering and animating is it to the Christian to look above this world of ignorance, of sin, and of sorrow, to that kingdom of light, of holiness, and of joy, in which he hopes to dwell for ever. There he will find the perfection of the intellectual, the moral, and the social life. It is to the first of these that our thoughts are directed by the text. Come then, and let us meditate on that immortal state where our intellectual powers will appear worthy their high original, and the most pure and exalted happiness flow from the discovery and contemplation of the sublimest truths. In the preceding verse the apostle declares that our highest attainments in knowledge in this world, when compared with the light of the world to come, are only as the trifling and incorrect conceptions of childhood to the mature powers of the man whose

MISCELLA EOUS, 89 wind has been strengthened by reasoning, observation, and experience. ow, (he adds in the text) we see indistinctly and obscurely, as though we viewed distant objects only

by their reflections in a mirror ; but then " face to face," as we fixedly contemplate the countenance of a friend with whom we converse : "- ow we know" in part ;" we have but a slight acquaintance with God or his works ; but " then we shall know even as we are known :" our knowledge will in a degree resemble that which God has of us ; not derived merely from reasoning, deduction, or testimony, but from intuition ; not wavering and mingled with error, but free from all doubt and mistake. That we may be more deeply affected with the contemplation of this part of the future felicity, let us, I. Attend to some considerations which show the high attainments that we shall then make. II. Inquire what will be the principal objects of our knowledge. III. What will be its chief properties. I. There are many considerations which show how vast will be the attainments of the glorified spirit. 1. All causes of ignorance and error will then be entirely removed. The animal part of our nature is here a clog, an incumbrance, frequently checking us in our pursuit of truth. The feebleness, the languor, the decaj', the sicknesses of the body, often check our meditations, arrest the flights of the soul, and weigh it down to earth. But at death, the soul shakes off these fetters, and springs into liberty and light, and can range ''.rough the boundless fields of knowledge that are opened to it, unretarded by the frailties, the imperfections, or the exhaustion of its companion. And at the resurrection, the body that vol, in. 12

90 SERMO LXXX. it receives will be spiritual, calculated to assist it in all its exercises. It shall be like the glorified body of our Lord ; with senses that shall never, as in this world, deceive us ; that shall not, as here below, be confined within a narrow sphere of operation ; but shall in their action be enlarged in a degree proportioned to the expansion of the soul. Here below, not only the body of flesh, but still more the body of sin, darkens our understandings : " Because we are alienated from God, there is ignorance within us, and blindness in our minds." Here numberless prejudices, resulting from education, from the incidents of our lives, from the persons with whom we associate, from party or from interest, obstruct the admission of light into our souls. Here our passions destroy that tranquillity of mind necessary for the discovery of truth, disguise it from us, and lead us astray. Here the objects of sense divert our mind. The cares of this world, the necessity ot providing for our support, our temporal callings, our relations in life, engross our attention. But in heaven, sin, utterly abolished, will no longer becloud our minds ; prejudices will be eradicated, and all objects be viewed in their real character; the passions, refined, purified, and directed to their proper object, will only aid us in the pursuit of truth ; and the cares and pleasures of a world which we have left, and which even if they were present, would shrivel into nothing before the overpowering glories of heaven, can no longer affect us. 2. There our intellectual faculties will be greatly strengthened. We see that they are capable of continual progression. Trace the expansion of the feeble powers of a child, until this child becomes a

profound philosopher, unveiling the secrets of nature.

MISCELLA EOUS. 9 1 or unlocking the treasures of revelation. Yet has he still reached that point, has he approximated to that point where the utmost limits of the intellectual faculties are fixed ? Can we even in imagination set bounds to the improvement of the understanding, or conceive of a state in which we have learned so much that we can learn no more ? In heaven, " the spirits of just men are made perfect." There our capacities will be so enlarged, that, according to the image of the apostle, we shall look back upon the profoundest of our speculations on earth as we now do upon the notions of childhood. Our faculties shall ever be in vigorous exercise, never requiring to be relaxed, always penetrating and active ; our imaginations ever unclouded ; our memories never losing the knowledge we have acquired. 3. Much of our improvement depends upon the society with which we associate. " He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." Who then will be the companions and friends of the redeemed in the world of felicity? All the various orders of pure and holy intelligences who have lived for so many centuries, who have beheld so many displays of the divine perfections, and have so long " in God's light seen light." But besides the angelic host, thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, cherubim and seraphim, the spirits of the blest, shall associate with all the redeemed from among men ; with those who walked with God in patriarchal ages; with those who looked through the types of the ceremonial law to " the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world ;" and with those who, living in the splendour of gospel-day, rejoiced in the beams of the Sun of Right-

eousness. And can we associate with these : with Abraham and Moses, with Isaiah and Paid : with the

92 SfiftMOH LXXX. Christian philosophers who have laid their literary laurels at the foot of the cross; with the holy poets who have lighted in the souls of others the sacred fires which burned in their own hearts; with those who chose the word of God as their heritage, and searched deeply into the mysteries of grace ? Can we ever associate with them in that world where they are purified from every imperfection, and delivered from every error ; where they speak only on subjects worthy that heaven where they reside, and accordant with the sublimity and majesty of the objects which surround them ; where they delight to communicate those discoveries which wake their songs to praise, and animate their hearts to bless, that God who there unveils his presence : can we thus associate with them, without towering to a height of knowledge which cannot be imagined till we mingle with them ? 4. It is a still more ennobling thought, that there the redeemed shall be instructed by the All-wise God. " I saw no temple therein," in the ew Jerusalem ; " for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it ; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." (Rev. xxi. 22.) " The Father of lights, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift," who even while we are on earth " giveth wisdom liberally to them that ask," will there communicate to the redeemed the most sublime instructions, in modes not to be described by us in this land of distance and of darkness. There too the blessed Redeemer is

still the Instructer of that church which he has purchased with his blood. And that Holy Spirit, who was given us to " abide in us and be in us for ever."

MISCELLA EOUS. 93 as he was our enlightener upon earth, shall still enlighten and lead us into all truth in the world of glory. Add to this, 5. That the knowledge of the saved will be increasing throughout eternity. We know what advances have been made in human and in divine science by many of our race, notwithstanding the narrow limits of human life, and all the obstructions that are necessarily found while we are in this world. Trace then the progress of an exalted spirit in that world into which death can never enter, and where every thing within it and around it is calculated to pour new light upon it. Trace the progress of thi* deathless soul for millions of ages ; see its faculties continually dilating ; follow it till its powers become as far superior to those which Gabriel now has, as those of Gabriel are superior to the most illiterate believer upon earth ; behold it through eternity still rising higher and higher in excellence and perfection : and acknowledge, with adoring wonder, how ineffable is the grace of God ; how valuable the souf of man; how sublime the destination of the believer ! II. But what shall be the objects of our know ledge ? What shall engage the exalted minds of the redeemed throughout eternity ? In general, we may answer, God himself and his works. In God is to be found all that is lovely, and all that is august, all that is attractive, and all that is majes-

tic. The glorified saints shall know him in his nature. We shall understand the divine essence, not indeed fully, but according to the capacity of our highly exalted, though still finite nature ; we shall understand it in the manner which Paul here terms, " seeing him face to face, and knowing as we are known." Those

94 SERMO LXXX. unions and distinctions in the God head, those sublime and mysterious relations of the sacred Trinity, which we nc lieve without comprehending the manner of them, * ill be more clearly unveiled ; and though we may not even then be able thoroughly to comprehend them, (for " who," even in heaven, " by searching can fully find out God ? who can find out the Almighty to perfection ?") yet every shadow of contradiction* shall vanish; and, filled with reverence, we shall wonder and adore. We shall know God in our nature. We shall have a brighter display of the Redeemer's glory than the favoured disciples had on the mount of transfiguration; and our hearts will burn within us, while he instructs us in the mystery of the incarnation, and the union of two natures so widely different. We shall study the attributes of God ; his wisdom and his love, his power and his faithfulness, his holiness and grace, his eternity and all-sufficiency; these and his other boundless perfections we shall contemplate in themselves and in their operations ; we shall see their harmony, and shall find in them subjects for our eternal research and eternal praise. We shall know him irt his works of creation. If it be pleasant to us now to contemplate these works, how much more so shall it be when nature shall be

fully open to our view ! We shall behold " their immensity, their variety, inimitable structure, admi rable uses, and their subserviency, even in their minutest parts, to the regularity and order of the whole natural system, and the general good of the moral world." We shall perhaps see new worlds, and he filled with admiration and love, while we every where trace in them the wisdom, goodness, ami power of our Heavenly Father, the universal Lord.

MISCELLA EOUS. f! j *• Though we are very little acquainted, while we are on earth, with any of the planetary worlds besides that which we inhabit," says good Dr. Watts, " yet who knows how our acquaintance may be extended hereafter among the inhabitants of the various and distant globes? And what frequent and swift journeys we may take thither, when we are disencumbered of this load of flesh and blood, or when our bodies are raised again, active and swift as the sun-beams ? Sometimes we may entertain our holy curiosity there, and find millions of new discoveries of divine power and divine contrivance in those unknown regions ; and bring back from thence new lectures o; divine wisdom, or tidings of the affairs of those provinces to entertain our fellow-spirits, and to give new honours to God the Creator and Sovereign."* We shall become acquainted, too, with the intelligent creation. We now know but little of our fellow-spirits, of their numbers, their ranks, the occupations, the extent of their ministry to us or other worlds ; but when we shall have associated with them, and contemplated the spiritual and external creation, we shall join that celestial hymn of praise, " Thou art worthy to receive glory, and honour, and power ; for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

We shall there understand the works of Providence. The conduct of God to his church or to individuals is often incomprehensible to us; but then light will be shed upon all that is mysterious, and we shall perceive that which now appears intricate and evil, displaying unerring wisdom and paternal kindness. Here we behold but a few unconnected links of the * Happiness of Sep. Spirits.

96 SERMO LXXX. great chain of* events ; there we shall view it from beginning to end. And with what joy shall we make this review of the conduct of God to the universe in general ; to our world ; to the church ; to each particular believer ; and to ourselves ! With what delight and wonder shall we look back upon the events of our own lives, and see that " all things have wrought together for our good ;" that a gracious Providence was presiding over the minutest event that occurred to us ; that every temptation, and trial, and bereavement, as well as every blessing, flowed from covenant love ! With what delight shall we see saints of every age making the same review; and listen to the proofs of divine wisdom and goodness given us by patriarchs, by prophets, by apostles, by martyrs, by the early Christians, by the heroes of the Reformation, by the pious who were our contemporaries ! With what union of soul will we then fall before the throne, and cry, " Thou hast done all things well !" But there is another subject which we shall study with still greater delight, and of which our increasing knowledge will fill us with still more sacred transports. Christian, you know what is this subject ; it is

your joy and your triumph upon earth ; it will be your joyand yourtriumph in heaven: it is redemption through the blood of Jesus. Oh ! how lofty and how touching will be our speculations on this mystery of grace ! How shall we delight to lose ourselves, to be absorbed and swallowed up in that boundless love of the Saviour, which is unfathomable even by an angelic mind, or the enlarged powers of the glorified immortal ! With what inexpressible emotions shall we contemplate the God-man, and hear him tell of the everlasting covenant of redemption and the eter-

MISCELLA EOUS. 07 nal purposes oi' peace ; and speak of the woes which he endured when he bore the wrath of God due for our sins, and of his victories over our enemies! While we feel the happiness he purchased for us, and see the memorials of his sufferings in that glorified body which is the monument of redeeming love, with what rapture shall we join the heavenly host, in crying, " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing !" With what delight shall we ever meditate on this astonishing display of mercy, and exclaim, with admiration increasing in proportion to the increase of our knowledge, " Oh the height, the length, the depth, and the breadth of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge !" Finally, the word of God shall continue to occupy us even in heaven. There, in the presence of the objects of which it speaks, we shall discover in it new beauties, and find a solution for all its difficulties. Its prophecies, its doctrines, its promises, all its contents will be clearly isnderstood, and will afford matter of delightful converse among the blest.

Such are the objects which shall engage the contemplations of Christians in the future world. III. What will be its chief properties. 1. Our knowledge of them shall be immediate and intuitive. Instead of the labour, cares, processes of reasoning, that are here necessary, we shall have only to open our souls for the reception of that celestial light which will flow into them from God, the source of light. As in nature the beams of the rising sun immediately present to us those objects which before were hidden in darkness ; so in the light of eternity we shall look upon the unveiled face of vol. in. 13

98 * SERMO LXXX. truth, and pass with ease and rapidity from discovery to discovery. 2. Our knowledge shall be full and adequate, both in variety and degree, as far exceeding our present knowledge, as the full splendour of the meridian sun excels the first faint rays of light which are yet struggling with darkness. It shall be certain and infallible. Here, many mistakes are mingled with our knowledge, and in most things we can only rise to probable conjectures : there, every error shall cease, and the smallest doubt shall not remain. 3. Our knowledge shall be transforming. " Beholding the glory of God, we shall be changed into the same image from glory to glory." " Seeing him as he is, we shall be made like unto him." The displays of the divine perfections and works will not

merely amuse us, or serve as objects of barren speculation or surprise, but will make us more like the All-Perfect, will augment our holiness, and inspire us with devotion and love. one of the inhabitants of that world sin against the light, or " hold the truth in unrighteousness;" but each new discovery of the divine excellency affects anew all the faculties of their souls. 4. This knowledge is beatifying. Even here, intellectual pleasures as far excel those of sense, as the soul exceeds the body; and of all intellectual pleasures, those that relate to God are the most pure and exalted. There is little comparison between the feelings of the mere philosopher, who contents himself with the discovery of the secrets of nature, without observing the presiding Deity ; and of the Christian philosopher, who every where perceives the traces of the All-Wise and All-Merciful, and " looks through nature up to nature's God." And

MISCELLA EOUS. 99 still more rapturous are the joys resulting from the contemplation of the mysteries of redemption, and our interest in it The exclamation of an Archimedes is cold, in comparison to the language of the assured believer: "My beloved is mine, and I am his." What, then, will be our delight, when, looking at the wisdom, the power, the love, all the attributes of God in their source and in their operations, we can cry, 4 This God is ours ; these perfections are engaged for our felicity ; he who forms, sustains, and blesses so many worlds, is our Friend !' 5. Finally, this knowledge is unfading and eternal Our understandings shall not for a moment be clouded ; there shall be no « follies of the wise ;" the mind

shall not be enfeebled by age, but ever vigorous, ever advancing. (1.) Christians, this subject is calculated to animate and comfort you. With such glorious prospects before you, will you still cleave to the earth, love your dark prison, and not long for the world of light ? Will you not often with joy anticipate that period when you shall enter upon so exalted a state ? The expectation of it should encourage you while you remain on earth, and give you the sweetest consolation. You now lament that you know so little of God and the Redeemer; you lament that such contentions are found among Christians: wait till the light of eternity shall burst upon your view, and then these contentions shall cease, the causes of ignorance shall be removed, and you " shall know even as you are known," (2.) This subject leads us to lament the doom of men of unsanctified genius and learning. They contemn weak but good men ; but they are the true objects of compassion. How lamentable, that such endow

100 SERMO LXXX. ments should be quenched in everlasting darkness, when they might have mingled with the knowledge of angels and glorified saints ! (3.) This subject should give us consolation on the death of pious friends. When they are removed from us, we cry, " they are lost." This is the hasty voice of nature, but faith corrects it ; they are lost to this world, but not to the world of glory. Look not at the coffin, the worm, and the shroud, (he cold ashes and mouldering bones ; but at the triumphant and glorified spirits. They live, believers ! Those in-

tellectual powers which charmed you, still exists freed from all imperfection ; and you may again meet your friends, advanced in knowledge and perfect in bliss.

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