« PoprzedniaDalej »
most magnificent throne in the universe ? Do
your souls now thirst for God, as much as ever your bodies thirsted for water? Do you give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness? Are you pleased that God is holy; and do you long to be more like him ? Are you more delighted at any proof of your growing in grace, than in the greatest worldly acquisition ?
By such questions as these, if you deal faithfully with yourselves, you may easily discover whether you shall be admitted into heaven, and whether you could be happy there : and according as your conscience determines this important question, will be your reception of the following part of this discourse. If you are indeed the pure in heart ; if you are born again, and so are children of God and heirs of the kingdom; you will be delighted to hear about the glorious sights you shall be admitted to by and by, when this vail of flesh shall be rent in twain, and all heaven be thrown open to your view, But if the eyes of your understanding were never truly enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation; if you are to this hour in all the darkness and blindness of your natural state; though I had the tongue of an angel, and an angel's experience too, and were to talk to you till night of the joys and glories of the invisible world, it would be no more to you than an old wife's fable it would be not merely unentertaining, but disgusting: you would be tired of hearing so much about what you never expect--and I was going to say, what you never desire, to see ;-but I will not say that; for though you do not desire it now, you may desire it some time or other.-God Almighty grant it may be before it is too late!
I will, then, go on, as the subject leads; and let those rejoice in it that can. . ::." For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”—The query is,
II. What shall we see?
You must not expect that I shall clearly describe what we can but very imperfectly discern: “ It doth not yet appear what we shall be,” (1 John iii. 2 :) “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, what God hath prepared for them that love him,' (1 Cor. ji. 9.) It is like a white stone, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it.” (Rev. ii. 17.) We must get to heaven before we can say what we shall see there. Trances will not do; the Apostle was caught up into the third heaven, and heard and saw what yet he could not communicate, We are sometimes over-curious in this matter, and want to see more than is proper for us; as Moses: "I beseech thee, show me thy glory.” (Exod. xxxiii. 18.) If God had granted his inconsiderate desire, Moses 'would have sunk under it: “ Thou canst not see my face and live." There was such a resplendent glory discovered upon Christ, on the mount of transfiguration, that the disciples were struck with amazement to the ground, and hardly knew where they were, nor what they did. And it was generally so when God discovered himself in visions to the prophets and patriarchs; they fell on their faces, they could not bear the glory, or, as Daniel expresses it, " There
fore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me.” (x. 8.) O what a change must pass upon both body and mind, before we can stand under such an exceeding weight of glory! Here, our sight is weak; we cannot so much as look at the sun in its full splendour, but we are presently dazzled and blinded: but then, our faculties shall be so strengthened, that we shall be able to look at objects so inconceivably bright and glorious, that, in comparison of them, our meridian sun is no more than a glow
In this, as well as in other respects, is that true which the Apostle says: “ It is sown in weakness, it shall be raised in power.” (1 Cor. xv. 43.)
But to the question.—What shall we see? 1. Heaven.
I do not mean heaven as comprehending the whole state of blessedness-that may never come all at once under the eye of the most favoured saint; but taking it for the place which God hath provided for the residence and entertainment of his people, that place is one of the glorious sights which shall be presented to the eyes of glorified saints. Sometimes it is called " the heaven of heavens;" sometimes, " the third heaven,” “ the highest heaven," “ the city of God,” his “ dwelling-place,” " the habitation of his holiness and glory,” “ a palace,” “ a paradise," "a kingdom.” Every thing that is valuable and magnificent is called in to set forth the beauty and glory of the new Jerusalem.
66 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones; and the twelve gates were twelve pearls ; and the street of
the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass : and the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to lighten it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” (Rev. xxi. 19, 21, 23.)-Can imagination conceive of any thing grander or more glorious ? How highly entertaining must it be to walk about mount Zion, telling the towers thereof, marking her bulwarks, and considering her palaces! to view the several mansions, and observe them all splendid, yet differing in degrees of splendour according to the dif, ferent rank of the inhabitants ;--for we learn from the Apostle, “there is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory; so also is the resurrection of the dead." (1 Cor. xv. 41.) We know how we are affected at the sight of a fine house, especially if it be one of the royal palaces : how we admire the loftiness of the rooms, the richness of the furniture, the extensiveness and variety of the views! We look, and look again, with increasing wonder and delight, and hardly know how to take off our eyes from the rich and enchanting prospect. And yet this is but a very faint resemblance of the pleasure, the transport, we shall feel at our first entrance into hea ven; and especially when we come to see that place, and that dignity and blessedness, which are designed for ourselves. • What! (we cry with as. tonishment ;) 'this mansion prepared for me! this crown prepared for me! this kingdom prepared for me!--amazing !--and yet, when I look round, I see this honour have all the saints. Praise ye the Lord !'
This reminds me of the next sight that presents itself:
2. We shall see the general assembly and church of the first-born, and the spirits of the just made perfect.
And perhaps the first circumstance that will strike us, is their number. Here we see Christ's flock is a little flock: the ways of Zion mourn, because they are few; only here and there a traveller; one of a city, and two of a tribe: and many a gloomy thought have we had on the occasion, as if, because our churches below are so thin, therefore the church above cannot be very full. But when we come to see " ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands”-yea, a multitude greater than any man can number-we are ready to wonder whence they all came, and how even heaven itself can hold them.
Then, their universal purity. Here, thin as our churches are, and in spite of all our caution, there are none without their spots; and some, indeed, great and glaring ; so that we have frequent calls to mourn over, not merely the declensions, but the apostacy, of some unworthy members, who, after the most solenın professions of love and zeal, turn back, and walk no more with Jesus. But, О what a glorious church will that be, which we shall be joined to above! where, though numerous beyond all computation, there shall not be a “ spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing;" all,“ meek and lowly in heart;" all, “ holy in all manner of conversation." Intemperance, and outrageous passion, the sad, and, alas ! the common, stain of professors here, are things which shall not be so much as