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of the builders ; but now it is, and for ever will be, the light or luminary of that city; and that, like 'unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone clear as crystal, ver. ll. : Who can conceive the happiness of the saints, in the presence-chamber of the great King, where he sits in his chair of state, making his glory eminently to appear in the man Christ? His gracious presence makes a mighty change upon the saints in this world ; his glorious prosence in heaven then must needs screw up their graces, to their perfection, and elevate their capacities. The saints do experience, that the presence of God now with them in his grace, can make a little heaven of a sort of hell; how great then must the glory of heaven be, by his presence there in his glory! If a candle, in some sort, beautifies a cottage or prison, how will the shining sun beautify a palace or paradise! The gracious présence of God made a wilderness lightsome to Moses, the valley of the shadow of death to David, a fiery furnace to the three children : What a ravishing beauty shall then arise from the sun of rightcousness, shining in his meridian brightness, on the street of the city laid with pure goid? The glorious presence of God in heaven, will put a glory on the saints themselves. The pleasant garden hath no beauty, when the darkness of the night sits down on it; but the shining sun puts a glory on the blackest mountains ; so these who are now as bottles in the smoke, when set in the glorious presence of God, will be glorious both in soul and body.
2dly, The saints in heaven shall have the full enjoy. ment of God and of the Lamb. This is it that perfectly satisfies the rational creature ; and here is the saints everlasting rest. This will make up all their wants, and fill the desires of their souls, which, after all here obtained, still cry, Give, give, not without some anxiety ; because, though they do enjoy God, yet they do not enjoy him fully. As to the way and manner of this enjoyment, our Lord tells us, John xvii. 3. “ This is life eternal, that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” Now, there are two ways, how a desirable object is known most perfectly and satisfyingly; the one is by sight, the other by experience: sight satisfies
the understanding, and experience satisfies the will. Accordingly one may say, that the saints enjoy God, and the Lamb, in heaven. (1.) By an intuitive knowledge. (2.) By an experimental knowledge, both of them perfect, i mean, in respect of the capacity of the creature ; for, otherwise, a creature's perfect knowledge of an infinite Being is impossible. The saints below, enjoy God, in that knowledge they have of him by report, from his holy word, which they believe : they see him likewise, darkly, in the glass of ordinances, which do as it were, represent the bridegroom's picture, or shadow, while he is absent; they have also some experimental knowledge of him, they taste that God is good, and that the Lord is gracious. But the saints above shall not need a good report of the King, they shall see himself; therefore faith ceaseth ; they will behold his own face ; therefore ordinances are 'no more ; there is no need of a glass ; they shall drink, and drink abundantly of that whereof they have tasted; and so hope ceaseth, for they are at the utmost bounds of their desires.
1. The saints in heaven shall enjoy God and the Lamb, by sight; and that in a most perfect manner, ! Cor. xii. 12. « For now we see through a glass, darka ly; but then face to face.” Here our sight is but mediate, as by a glass ; in which we see not things them. selves, but the images of things : but there we shall have an immediate view of God and the Lamb. Here our knowledge is but obscure ; there it shall be clear, without the least mixture of darkness. The Lord doth how converse with his saints, through the lattices of ordinances ; but then shall they be in the presenceChamber with him. There is a veil now on the glorious face, as to us ; but when we come to the upper house, that veil, through which some rays of beauty are now darted, will be found entirely taken off; and then shall glorious excellencies and perfections, not seen in him by mortals, be clearly discovered, for we shall see his face, Rev. xxii. 4. The phrase seems to be borrowed from the honour put on some in the courts of monarchs, to be attendants on the king's person. We read, Jer. lili. 25. of seven men of them that were (Heb. Seers of the king's face, is er as we read it near the king's person. O unspeakable glory! the great King keeps his court in heaven; and the saints shall all be his courtiers, ever near the King's person, seeing his face : “ The throne of God, and of the Lamb, shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him, and they shall see his face, Rev. xxit. 3, 4.
(1.) They shall see Jesus Christ with their bodily eyes, since he will never lay aside the human nature. They will always behold that glorious blessed body, which is personally united to the divine nature, and exalted far above principalities and powers, and every name that is named. There we will see, with our eyes, that very body which was born of Mary at Bethlehem, and crucified at Jerusalem betwixt two thieves ; that blessed head that was crowned with thorns; the face that was spit upon ; the hands and feet that were nailed to the cross; all shining with inconceivable glory. The glory of the man Christ, will attract the eyes of all the saints; and he will be for ever admired in all them that believe, 2 Thes. i. 10. Were each star in the heavens, shining as the sun in its meridian brightness, and the light of the sun so increased, as the stars in that case, should bear the same proportion to the sun, in point of light, that they do now ; it might possibly be some faint resemblance of the glory of the man Christ, in comparison with that of the saints ; for though the saints shall shine forth as the sun; yet not they, but it the Lamb, shall be the light of the city. The wise men fell down, and worshipped him, when they saw him a young child, with Mary his mother, in the house. But O! what a ravishing sight will it be, to see him, in his kingdom, on his throne, at the Father's right hand ! The Word was made flesh (John i. 14.) and the glory of God shall shine through that flesh, and the joys of hea. ven spring out from it, unto the saints, who shall see and enjoy God, in Christ. For since the union betwixt Christ and the saints, is never dissolved, but they continue his members for ever; and the members cannot draw their life, but from their Head ; seeing that which is independent on the head, as to vital influence, is no member: therefore Jesus Christ will remain the everlasting bond of union betwixt God and the saints ; from
whence their eternal life shall spring, John xvii. 2, 3, 22, 23. “ Thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, &c. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one : I in them, and thou in me; that they may be made perfect in one." Wherefore, the immediate enjoyment of God in heaven, is to be understood in respect of the laying aside of word and sacraments, and such external means as ve enjoy God by, in this world ; but not as if the saints should then cast off their dependence on their Head, for vital influences : nay, “ The Lamb, which in the midst of the throne, shall feed them ; and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters," Rev. vii. 17. .
Now, when we shall behold him, who died for us, that we might live for evermore, whose matchless love made him swim the red sea of God's wrath, to make a path in the midst of it for us, by which we might pass safely to Canaan's Land : then we will see what a glorious one he was, who suffered all this for us; what entertainment he had in the upper house ; what hallelujahs of angels could not hinder him to hear the groans of a perishing multitude on earth, and to come down for their help; and what a glory he laid aside for us. Then will we be more able to comprehend, with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and heighth; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, Eph. iii. 19. When the saints shall remember, that the waters of wrath he was plunged into, are the wells of salvation, from whence they draw all their joy; that they have got the cup of salvation, in exchange of the cup of wrath his Father gave him to drink, which his sinless human nature shivered at : how will their hearts leap within them, burn with seraphic love, like coals of juniper, and the arch of heaven ring with their songs of salvation? The Jews, celebrating the feast of tabernacles (which was the most joyful of all their feasts, and lasted seven days) went once every day about the altar, singing hosanna, with their myrtle, palm, and willow branches in their hand (the two former, signs of victory, the last of chastity), in the mean time bending their boughs towards the altar. When
the saints are presented as a chaste virgin to Christ, and as conquerors, have got their palms in their hands, how joyfully will they compass the altar evermore ; and sing. their hosannas, or rather their hallelujahs, about it (bending their palms towards it), acknowledging them. selves to owe all unto the Lamb that was slain, and redeemed them with his blood! And to this agrees what John saw, Rey. vii. 9. 10. “A great multitude-stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God, which sit teth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb." · (2.) They shall see God, Matth. v. 8. They will be happy in seeing the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, (not with their bodily eyes, in respect of which God is invisible, 1 Tim. i. 17.) but with the eyes of their understandings being blest with the most perfect, full, and clear knowledge of God and divine things, which the creature is capable of. This is called, the beatific vision, and is the perfection of the understanding, the utmost term thereof. It is but an obscure delineation of the glory of God, that mortals can have on earth ; a sight, as it were, of his back part, Exod. xxxiii. 23. But there they will see his face, Rer. xxii. 4. They shall see him in the fulness of his glory, and behold him fixedly ; whereas it is but a passe ing view they can have of him here, Exod. xxxiv. 6. There is a vast difference betwixt the sight of a king in bis night-clothes, quickly passing by lis, and a fixed leisure view of him sitting on his throne, in his royal robes, his crown on his head, and his sceptre in his hand : Such a difference will there be, between the greatest manifestation of God that ever a saint had on earth, and the display of his glory that shall be seen in heaven. There the saints shall eternally, without interruption, feed their eyes upon him, and be ever viewing his glorious perfections. And as their bodily eyes shall be strengthened and fitted, to behold the glorious majesty of the man Christ ; as eagles gaze on the sun, without being blinded thereby : so their minds shall have such an elevation, as will fit them to sce God in his glory. Their capacities shall be enlarged, according to the neasure in which he shall be pleased to