This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Matthew v. 8. They shall see God. Christians, did we more frequently think, and speak, and meditate, on heaven ; did we more habitually live in the believing prospect of the inheritance of the saints in light ; our graces would not be so languishing, nor our consolations so feeble. He. whose conversation is in heaven, will have a lofty and elevated mind, that will spurn the low and sordid pleasures of sense; will have a shield against the temptations that would seduce him from duty; and a refreshing spring of consolation amidst the multiplied sorrows of life. He who feels himself the heir of immortal joy, can never forget his obligations to that God who has provided a Redeemer from hell, and to that Saviour who purchased heaven for him. We need not be apprehensive of fatigue or repetition in meditating on this subject. The views of heaven are so diversified, the images under which it is exhibited are so various, the representation of its occupations is so magnificent in the word of God, that we shall ever find new circumstances to affect
102 SERMO LXXXI. our imaginations and our hearts. After being warmed by one view of that better world, we have only to change our position, and new prospects will present themselves, that are calculated to make us ho-
lier and happier. In our text, this felicity is represented by a single trait ; but how affecting and impressive is this trait ! how much does it include ! " They shall see God." So many other passages of scripture describe the future glory in a similar manner, that we are authorized to consider this beatific vision as the chief source of happiness in the redeemed. To understand its nature, attend to the following remarks : 1. God is a pure spirit, and invisible. It cannot then be with our bodily eyes that we shall see him. However exalted may be the resurrection-body, with whatever celestial qualities it may be endowed, yet God cannot be the object of our corporeal senses. It is indeed probable that God will give to the redeemed some brilliant manifestation of his presence. Such visible and brilliant representations were afforded, even upon earth, on Sinai, at the tabernacle, and the temple. It is probable, and strongly intimated in scripture, that the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all blessings are conveyed to the saints on earth, and who is u the brightness of the Fathers glory, and the express image of his person,'* will be the medium whereby God will manifest himself in a visible glory to the saints in heaven. But this is not the vision which is spoken of in the text : " They shall see God" his nature, and the lustre of the divine perfections; not with the bodily eye, but with the mind, the eye of the soul.
MISCELLA EOUS, 103 2. " They shall see him." This word expresses not the laborious and gradual deductions of reason-
ing, nor the notices of faith realizing an absent object; but the immediate intuition of what is plainly offered to our view. The glory of God will then so clearly be presented to the redeemed, and their minds so enlarged, that they will comprehend at one glance (not all that is in God, for finite can never comprehend infinite ; but) as much as the Lord is pleased to display to them. Thus they may be said, in a degree, " to know even as they are known;" since the blessed God comprehends all things af once, by one simple act of knowing ; not that the state of glory shall exclude all reasoning, any more than our present state does all intuition. As the knowledge of the saints never is infinite, their reasonings may be pleasant and useful ; but as God shall continually afford a clear discovery of himself, so shall the chief exercise and felicity of the glorified soul consist in admitting and entertaining those free beams of voluntary light by a joyful intuition : for it is this mode of knowing which most accords with the term sight, or beholding. To realize more sensibly the felicity resulting from this source, trace the liberated spirit of the believer to the courts of heaven : it enters the presence-chamber of the King of kings, and is instantly surrounded by the encircling beams of divine glory. God is no longer seen « through a glass darkly," by reflection from his creatures, through an obscuring medium, but the direct beams of his glory ; of the glory which he both enjoys and affords, which forms his own felicity, and which emanates from him to his saints, encompass the happy spirit. This
104 SERMO LXXXI. glory, which renders happy the Being of beings, surely will beatify a worm.
Child of God ! there is not one of the divine perfections which, by its lustre, will not cheer thee, when, in heaven, thou shalt see God. Wilt thou behold his self-existence ? With what reverential awe wilt thou view the everlasting / AM ! who being, and necessarily being, of himself, is the cause of causes, the source of all the springs of nature, the fountain of universal life, the stay and support of all the creation in heaven and on earth : then thou Avilt acknowledge that he is properly designated, All in all. Wilt thou contemplate his wisdom ? How grateful to look into the very source of truth, and, in God's light, to see light ! to see the wisdom which made and governed the world, not merely in its effects, but in itself; to read the records of eternity ; to see the darkness which now often covers the procedures of Providence, dissipated ; and to behold the profoundest wisdom in every act that related to the universe, to this world, to the church, and to thyself! If Paul was filled with so much rapture at the contemplation of the wisdom of God, when he was upon earth, and was constrained to cry out, " O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God ! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out !" What was his language when, in heaven, a perfect model of the divine counsels was presented to open view ? How delightful to contemplate his power, that essential and self-originated might, which stretched out the heavens, established the earth, and sustained all things ! which rolled the mighty wheels of providence through all the successions of time ! which showed its " exceeding greatness in redemption and
MISCELLA EOUS. I OS the new creation of man ! With what ecsiasy wilt
thou then join the song of heaven: " Allelujah, for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth !" Wilt thou contemplate his love t What joy, to see this attribute in its plenitude and perfection, without a veil, unattended by a frown ! to feel the full force of that expression, " God is love !" to look into that heart where the thoughts of love were lodged from eternity ! to see what clothed a Deity with human flesh ! what led the Son of God to the cross ; and why thou didst not perish in thy sins ! why God bore with thee, notwithstanding thy many unkind repulses of a merciful Saviour ! why he at last touched and renewed thy heart. Heaven, which shall give thee the feeling, can alone give thee a proper conception of the joy thou wilt feel from this view of love — of love as extensive as thou canst bear or wish to see ! Wilt thou contemplate his holiness? Already thou " givest thanks at the remembrance of his holiness ;" thou criest, " Who is a God like unto thee, glorious in holiness ?" Already every glimpse of this perfection is lovely to thee ; thou rejoicest when thou findest it in an ordinance, or meetest it in a Sabbath. With what transport then, when thou contemplatest the infinite holiness of God, and findest thyself formed, into its image, wilt thou join the happy spirits, and cry, " Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty ?" Review in like manner the other divine attributes, and you will perceive that they are all calculated to give the noblest joy. Especially will it have this effect, since it will be a united and entire glory, which you will behold. We have some glimpses of this glory upon earth ; but here we view it in dispersed rays : from the feebleness of our powers we must consider ntlribute after vol. in. M
101) SERMO jLXXXI. attribute ; but there they shall beam upon us in their full and combined lustre. It is an eternal glory. Many objects which delight us on earth are torn from us, or we from them ; and to the enjoyment which they afforded us, succeed tears for their loss. But there the source of pleasure A is as stable as the divine Being; subject neither to decay in itself, nor to injury from external causes. And as the glory cannot fade, so neither can the believer become weary of viewing it. The sun would sooner be weary of shining, than a soul, in which the love of God is perfected, be weary of beholding him " Thy God shall be thy glory, and the Lord thine everlasting light." It is an appropriating vision of this glory. The redeemed look upon it, not as unconcerned spectators, but as persons interested in it. To it they have a real right. It is theirs by the gift of the Father, by the purchase of the Son, by the sealing of the Spirit, and the first fruits of it which he shed in their hearts ; by their faith's acceptance of the offer of it made in the gospel, by their forerunner's possession of it in their name. While therefore, the accursed view with agony this glory which they have lost, the redeemed cry, " God our own God, shall bless us. This God is our God forever and ever." It is an assimilating vision. " We shall be like him. for we shall see him as he is." " As for me I will behold thy face in righteousness ; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness." This divine glory shall not only be revealed to us, but also in us. The likeness of God shall be transfused and wrought in
our souls. This is the great work which is begun in regeneration; but, alas ! the remains of corruption within us show how imperfect it still is. It is cherish-
MISCELLA EOUS. 107 ed even by the feeble views we have of God upon earth ; a sight of God's purity making us more pure, a view of his love melting us into love. " We all, with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord." But the likeness will be perfect only in heaven, where we shall be holy as God is holy. This vision is satisfying. The soul then rests in God. Its vast and enlarged faculties are perfectly filled, for it has the perfect enjoyment of the most perfect good. Solacing itself in these ineffable joys, it can desire no change. Unlike the sullen rest of despair after frustrated hopes, it is the free, rational, chosen rest of the soul that ever cries, " Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee !" " Heaven and earth have not a single object that can tempt me from thee." It is the active, vigorous rest of a soul that is exercised in, and satisfied by heavenly fruitions and sensations ; not that of a soul incapable of these joys, or bound up in stupifying sloth. Such is the condition of the saints when " Heaven lifts its everlasting portals high, And bids the pure in heart behold their God." 1. How excellent and dignified is the soul of man, which is capable of such felicity. Though now wrapt in flesh, and grovelling on the earth, yet so eminent
are its powers and faculties, that it may attain this high perfection : the foundations of so glorious a state are laid in its very nature. It is capable, no' only of surveying the creation of God, but of ascending to the Being of beings, of contemplating the divine excellences, of beholding the bright and glo-
108 SERMO LXXXI. rious face of the blessed God himself, till it have looked itself into his likeness, and have his image imj:>ressed upon it. Cultivate then a generous disdain for that servitude to sin and Satan, to which so many subject themselves. Look with heroic scorn upon those objects that would make thee forget thy sublime destination. Consider, my brother, that many myriads of spirits, of no higher original excellence than thine own, are now in the presence of the Eternal, viewing the divine glory, contemplating the perfections of Jehovah, beholding with rapture the unveiled face of God. This state thou also mayest attain; the Sovereign Lord of all things calls thee to it; his goodness invites thee, his authority enjoins thee, to seek it. Oh ! remember that thou must render an account to thy Judge, not only for all the spiritual privileges thou enjoyest, but for all that he made thee capable of, and that thou mightest have attained. Deform not then thine own soul. Quench not in everlasting darkness that spark which, if cherished, may blaze with seraphs and the glorified immortals throughout eternity. 2. If such be the nature of the future blessedness, then a change of heart is requisite to enable us to enjoy it. If the Christian heaven were like a Mahometan paradise, the unconverted might there enjoy felicity : but since it consists in the vision of God, since its delights arc holy, it is evident that those
who are destitute of love to God and of holiness, could find no satisfaction, even if they were placed in the midst of the shining host of angels. There would there be found no objects suited to the tnste and dispositions of their souls. By the very nature of things, then, as well as by the express and reiterated declarations of God, we know that except we
MISCELLA EOUS. 109 be converted, except we be born of water and the Spirit," we cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Undeceive yourselves then, ye who, while ye never seek communion with the Lord upon earth, expect to be happy at death. Either God must lay aside his nature, and change the happiness of heaven, or the temper of your spirits must be changed to render you blessed. Except then you abandon your hopes of heaven, seek his regenerating grace. 3. What gratitude do we not owe to that God who has provided such a felicity for his children ! We are sinners ; we deserve hell j and not only do the accents of pardon sound in our ears, but a state of inconceivable glory is offered to us. Shame to the cold and insensible heart that can be unaffected by this consideration ; that can be unmoved by this rich provision of our Father for worms, for rebels ! Cry then with the Psalmist, " Who are we, O Lord God, and what is our house, that thou hast brought us hitherto ! But this was yet a small thing in thy sight, O Lord God ! for thou hast also spoken of the prosperity of thy servants for a great while to come,*' even throughout the ages of eternity. " Blessed then be thy holy name for ever and ever." " Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus*
Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away." " Blessed also be our risen Saviour, who loved us, and gave himself for us." 4. What a source of consolation under the afflictions of life ! These afflictions must be endured by all the children of men ; and while we pass through this world, its griefs and disappointments must be
110 SERMO LXXXI. felt. But how light do they all appear when we live in the faith of eternal joys ? Then sickness and poverty, pain and reproach, are borne without a murmur or a sigh : since we know they will so speedily terminate, and lead us to a world whence calamity will for ever be excluded. Then we can part with our pious friends, knowing that they have gone before us to behold God, and that we shall soon be engaged in the same rapturous employment with them. Then, instead of recoiling with horror from the tomb, we can view death as the gate of heaven, as the path which conducts to immortality. Instead of having the soul reluctantly torn from the body, it will go forth with its own consent, allured by these high delights. It will go, as the redeemed of the Lord, with everlasting joy upon its head; knowing whither it goes, to a state worthy its desires and choice, and where it is best for it to be. It will joyfully surrender and resign itself, rather putting off this earthly tabernacle, than having it rent or torn away. 5. Finally, this subject calls us to mourn for the folly of the children of men. For what toys and vanities do they barter away glory, honour, and immortality ! What is the whole world, what are ten
thousand such worlds, in comparison with perfect and full felicity throughout eternity ! Oh ! then, thoughtless mortals, at last awake. Act not so inconsistently with the character of rational, immortal beings. Every thing that can excite hope or fear, calls you to prepare for eternity. If you lose these joys, if you are found unqualified for this felicity, you shall also see God ; but God terrible in his indignation to the finally impenitent. God, who might have been votirsin covenant, but who then will reject you.
MISCELLA EOUS. Ill and bid you depart from his blissful presence. In the horrors of eternal darkness thou shalt meditate on what thou mightest have been, and wilt weep that thy heart cannot break and thy being for ever end, when thou rememberest what thou art.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.