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man is more of an ultimate end than the angels. The angels were made for man, and not man for the angels. For we may know the end of God in making any crea. ture or thing, by the use which he makes of it. How, ever, they are a necessary part of this most beautiful, happy and glorious society and kingdom, and are in a very honourable station, in serving Christ and his church.
The happiness of the redeemed in heaven will not consist in rest and indolence, in opposition to activity, but the contrary; in activity, and incessant, unwearying labour and service, from which they will not cease or rest. They will join in worshipping and praising the UNDIVIDED THREE, God, and the Lamb, and the Ho. ly Ghost ; and the Redeemer will find business and employment for them continually ; though we cannot now tell particularly, what it will be. Perhaps there will be public teachers, who will assist others in their specula. tions, and in exciting their love and pious affections. Some will have greater abilities than others, and more existence and holiness, and will be able to assist and instruct them who have less. The apostle Paul says, there will be a difference between them, as one star differs from another. * They will converse together with the greatest pleasure ; sometimes in larger, and sometimes in smaller companies; and at other times only two together. And doubtless sometimes they will have high enjoyment in conversing with Deity, and with Christ, hy themselves alone, in retirement, by meditation and devotion. But with respect to these particulars, we are in the dark, and unable to determine with certainty. It is enough for us to know, at present, that every thing will be ordered, and take place in the best manner, for the brightest display of the divine perfections, and the greatest happiness of the members of this kingdom ; and that each one will be constantly active, in that business which shall be most proper for him ; in which he shall take the greatest pleasure, and shall be most for the general good. " Therefore, are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night, in his temple.”+
1 Cor. xv. 41, 42. † Res, vii. 15.
There will be a perfect, uninterrupted harmony and agreement, in this society and kingdom. They will be united, not only in affection, but in sentiment. They will be perfectly joined together in the saine mind, and in the same juclgment. Every one will be full of light, according to his capacity and advantages to know; and not one will make any mistake, or judge wrong, concerning any matter or thing, throughout endless ages ; for this would be morally wrong or sinful. None of them will be omniscient, and some may know more than others. But they will pass no judgment about things, of which they have no evidence, and concerning which they have no knowledge, except it be, that they do not know, and, therefore, cannot determine. There will, therefore, be no dispute and jar in heaven; but every one will be all attention, and all ear, to learn what he does not yet know; and suspend his judgment in every matter, till he has light to decide it perfectly right.
And there will be nothing to offend them, or give them the least uneasiness, or one disagreeable painful idea, thought or sensation, to eternity ; but every object will excite, or be the occasion of, the most pleasing sen. sations, and every thought will be attended with extatic delight. All, through which they have passed in this world, the scene of sorrow, pain and sin, will not be forgotten ; but their reflection upon it, while it is all in the clearest view, will be the occasion of their greatest enjoyment and happiness. The wicked, in a state of suffering and punishment, will not be out of their sight ; but will be seen by all the inhabitants of heaven. "They shall be tormented with fire and brimstone, in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:. And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up forever and ever."* But this will give them no pain, or one uneasy thought or sensation ; but it will be the occasion of their joy and praise.
Not that the misery of any, in itself considered, and for its own sake, will give them pleasure ; but they will have such a constant sense of the justice, propriety, and necessity of their punishment, to answer the best end,
28 Rey, xiv. 10, 114 + Rey, ayi. 56, 7.
for the glory of God, and the general good : That they will, in the full view of this, sing and say,
" Thou art righteous, O Lord, which art, and wast, and shall be, because thou hast judged thus ; for they are worthy. Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”* And this will be the occasion of exciting and maintaining, in a higher degree, than oti erwise could be, a sense of the happiness of the redeemed; and of the sovereign, distinguishing goodness of God in their salvation : and of their indebtedness to sovereign divine grace ; which will raise their gratitude to the highest key: And will keep in constant view, the excellence, worthiness, power and grace of the Redeemer. This is the representation the scripture gives. The inhabitants of heaven, rejoice and praise God, in full view of the punishment of the wicked.
“ After these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Hallelujah, salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God : For true and righteous are his judgments ; for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Hallelujah : And her smoke rose up forever and ever.
And the four and twenty elders, and the four beasts, fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen ; Hallelujah.”+
And reason teaches not only why the punishment of the wicked will be the occasion of the greater joy and happiness of the redeemed, agreeable to this representation of scripture ; but that it must be so, in order to the perfect happiness of the inhabitants of heaven. For if this were not on the whole, all things considered, agree. able to them, it must be matter of uneasiness, and the occasion of constant grief and pain ; which would render heaven, in a great measure, an unhappy place. It is impossible that the wicked should be punished unless God were pleased with it: Therefore, so far as the inhabitants of heaven will be like God, and be pleased with that which is pleasing to him, this punishment will be the occasion of joy and happiness to them. • Rey. xvi. 5, 6, 7.
† Rev. xix. 1, 2, 3, 4.
And while they are in the full enjoyment of all this happiness in heaven, they will have the greatest assurance that it shall have no end, but continue forever. Without this, their happiness would not be complete at
For whatever happy circumstances they were in at present, and however happy they miglit be, the thought that they were liable to lose it, and having no assurance that it should never cease, would be a great alloy to their present enjoyment, and be inconsistent with their complete happiness. Therefore, the certainty that they shall exist without end in this state, is, a necessary ingredient in their felicity, in order to their having fulness of joy at present, as well as pleasures forevermore.
From the nature of the human mind, and the circumstances in which the redeemed will be in heaven, it is reasonable to suppose, that they will increase, and make continual progress, in knowledge, holiness, and happiness, without
end ; and they will make advances in these with greater celerity, the longer they exist. The greatest and chief objects of knowledge are infinite : This, therefore, is a foundation for progress in knowledge, without end ; and however swift the advances be, the subjects to which they attend can never be exhausted. However much they may know, at any supposed time, they will be so far from knowing all that may be known ; that the advances in knowledge, which they have then made, will be little, compared with what may take place; and will put them under advantages, to make yet swifter advances in knowledge, for time to come. The mind is capable of enlarging its ideas and knowledge, by attention and exercise, when objects present, and invite to new discoveries; and so far as we can conceive, must enlarge and grow in strength and capacity, in these circumstances; and every degree of increase of knowledge will prepare the mind to make yet greater and more swift advances in knowledge, to which no bounds can be set, so as to put a stop to the progress.
And in proportion to the increase of their knowledge, will their love and holiness increase, and consequently their enjoyment and happiness.
The Deity, who is the infinite fountain and source of existence, is almighty, infinitely wise and good, can
open new scenes successively, by which the blessed shall know more and more of him, and grow in degrees of holiness and happiness ; and however fast they increase, in progress and advances in knowledge, holi- . ness, and happiness, they will forever be infinitely below the Deity, and fall infinitely short of infinite existence, holiness, and felicity.
This view may serve, in some measure, to give us an idea of the greatness of the felicity of the redeemed and of the advancing grandeur and glory of the eternal kingdom of Christ, which far exceeds the utmost stretch of our thoughts and imagination.
And this is agreeable to the scripture, if it be not ex. pressly or implicitly asserted there.
The following words of the Redeemer may be considered as expressing, or at least implying this. “ I am come, that they might have life, and that they might have it more abun
These words have been understood to ex. press the greater happiness which the redeemed shall have by Christ, than that which they could have had by the first Adam, had he not sinned. They may be understood to express more, even the abounding, and end. less increase of eternal life. They shall have it multiplied and abounding with increase forever. It is said of the redeemed in heaven, “ The Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.”+ Which may import not only the fulness of happiness, and the care of Christ to supply them constantly; but the progress that shall be made, in new discoveries of divine truth and grace, and in enjoyment and happiness. They shall be led from one fountain of living water to another, and new ones shall be constantly opening, for their greater refresh, ment and pleasure.
In heaven they will contemplate and search out the works of God, and marvellous things without number, which to us, in this world, are unsearchable. I These great and marvellous works of God, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working, will be then ex, plored and sought out, with the greatest attention and pleasure. They will search into, and see the divine • John X. 10.
| Rev. vii. 17. Job iv. 9.
Psal. cxi. 2. Isai. xxvül. 29.