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but love shall reign in heaven: there the saints love God perfectly, and love one another with an invariable affection. There they have one heart, and one mind; and therefore how are they pleased with the happiness of one another, in the happiness every one enjoys ? And they are all sharers in the happiness of every one.
How doth this make that communion and converse to be more sweet!
And consider, they are all united in that most joyful work of worshipping, of glorifying, and praising God; and they are always inflaming one anothers affections to God. We read that the seraphims cried one to another, and said, “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isa. 6.3. They cried one to another, as if they would inflame each "others breast; and that which is our work here is our happiness there : they are always joyfully united in the praises of the Lord, who is the King of saints: they are always singing glory to God that sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever. Now where there is such loveliness in every one, where there is such an entire affection, and where they are all united in so blessed a work; O what a state of joy is there! This is the state of heaven.
Do but consider what the scripture speaks of this state, and it is impossible that any one that believes and hopes for this blessedness, but he should immediately despise the earth, and all those temptations that would hinder him from obtaining. It is ineredible that any one should hope for this, and not immediately renounce these vain and sensual perishing pleasures. O let us be purifying ourselves, and refining ourselves, that we may be made meet for heaven: this should be the end of your hearing, and it is the end of my preaching to you.
In short, heaven is that kingdom and that state where love is the law, and where it rules. So you shall find the apostle tells us, 1 Cor. 13. 8. “Charity never fails ; whether there be pròphecies they shall fail; whether there be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away, &c.” Faith and hope shall give way to vision and enjoyment, which is in its perfection above. We read of the love of Jonathan to David, a rare and almost unparalleled instance, considering the great distance between them; the one being a prince and an heir to a crown, and the other but of mean extraction. I Sam. 18. 1. In heaven the law of love is obeyed in its perfection : thou shalt love thy. neighbour as thyself; it is not obeyed so here; but in heaven there is a complete obedience; they have a love so complete and absolute to one another, that they unspeakably love the happiness of one another. If you should say to me now, but the scrip ture tells us, there are degrees of glory in heaven, and doth not that cause some suspicion and jealousy between them? Is there nothing of discord there? Where some excel others in glory as the stars of the greatest magnitude excel those that are lesser in glory. I answer all the saints in heaven are complete according to their capacities : indeed some are more enlightened and more enlarged in their enjoyment of God; but they are all complete, they are all kings, and they all reign with God, they are all heirs of God; what can be said more of them? Consider further with yourselves; the wills of all the blessed are in perfect conformity and submission to God's will. Now it is the will of God, and an effect of his wisdom, that there should be different degrees of glory; and that order which God hath established is most equal and amiable in their eye. He that hath the lowest degree of glory, he is as well satisfied as he that hath the highest ; because it is according to the will of God: in that variety, and in those several degrees of glory, the order and wisdom of God appears. I will express this to you by a similitude, that you may all understand it. As in an instrument of music there are several. strings of different sizes and sounds, some strings have a highe: and sharper sound, others a lower and graver note; from which variety all the harmony doth result. Now if the strings of this instrument were capable of making their choice, every one would be in that place where it is set, because all the music and harmony ariseth from this distinction and variety; so every saint in heaven hath that degree of glory that infinite wisdom hath appointed l; and therefore he would choose it because it is according to the divine will and wisdom, and because in all that variety there is harmony, and beauty, and sweetness. So that this is not prejudicial to that holy and perfect love that reigns in heaven, for all is love, and all is joy and peace there. Now this is one part of the joy of heaven ; the “apostle" speaks of it, Heb. 12. 22. “But ye are come to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, and to an innumerable company of angels, and to the gene
tal assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven, &c.”
The chief happiness of this rest lies in the enjoyment of God. The joy of
heaven is exceeding great, because it is correspondent to the majesty and greatness of God; and proportionable to the love he bears to his people, and to the infinite price of the blood of Christ. Christ is enjoyed in heaven, and God, on whom the saints' love is entirely fixed, and there God most fully communicates himself to them, and immediately.
I shall now proceed to speak of the most substantial part of the joys of heaven, and that is our enjoyment of God himself: all other things divines express by the accessions and additional joys of heaven; but the substantial and essential joy therefore is in God himself.
Before I speak of this, there are three considerations which I shall lay down to raise your thoughts ; that though it is impossible that we should fully understand that joy before we come thither, yet these may help us by degrees to ascend to a higher apprehension of it.
1. The glory, blessedness, and rest of heaven, is 'that which shall be answerable and correspondent to the majesty, greatness, and magnificence of God, who is the preparer and giver of it: gifts are usually proportioned to the state and degree of those that give them. You read in the book of Esther concerning the Persian monarch; he designed an entertainment for all his princes and servants, and the powers of Persia and Media, and the nobles, and the princes of the provinces being before him when he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, even an hundred days; Esth. l.
4. 5. “And when these days were ended, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small for seven days, in the court of the garden of the king's palace.” You read there how pompous and great this entertainment was for all his subjects: there were vessels of gold of different forms and figures ; for it is said, "they gave them drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being divers one from angther) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of a king.” Thus you see what splendour and magnificence there was in this entertainment. Now consider with yourselves when the king of heaven will prepare a glory and a blessedness, whereby he will show the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the honour of his excellent majesty: 0 who is able to understand it while we are here below! The angels above cannot comprehend it. It is observable, that this is attributed to God's immediate making and preparing, Matt. 25. 34. “ Then shall the king say to them on his right hand, come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” It was prepared by God before the foundation of the world was laid. Now those things which are immediately made by God have the clearest signatures and marks of his excellent perfection; there is the most glorious refulgence of his attributes shining in those things. It is observable, that those things which God hath made by his command are not so excellent as those things which he hath made by his hand: he spake the word, and gave his command concerning other creatures, and they were made, Gen. 1. 20. “ And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly; the moving creatures that have life, and fowls that may fly above the earth, in the open firmament of heaven. And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth after his kind, and it was so. And God said, let us make man in our own image and likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowls of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth.” Whereas God spake the word, and other creatures were made by his command: he made man by his own hand, as the most excellent piece of this lower world. So heaven and the glory of it is made by God's own hand, it was made by God himself, as the expression of his power, greatness, majesty, and goodness.
2. The next general consideration is this; the glory of God is that which will bear a proportion to that love of God which he hath to his people. It shall be a noble expression of that love, and suitable to it. Now to make you a little to understand the force of this : God hath a general love to his creatures, and a special love to his children, to those who are his friends and favourites.
(1.) There is a general love that God bears to mankind in this lower world, as they have the title of his creatures : that love hath declared itself in making this world so pleasant an habitation for man as he is in his natural state. Now pray consider with yourselves; God hath made a thousand things in this world, which are not absolutely necessary for the support of our lives, but for the refreshment, and comfort, and pleasure of them; and this is from his general love to mankind. How many stars are there that adorn the firmament in the night? which are a most pleasant spectacle, but are not so absolutely necessary for lights. And how many things are there which are for pleasure and delight, which are not necessary for the support of life.
(2.) God hath a peculiar love to his children, and that love he hath designed to glorify in heaven : therefore you shall find, Eph. 1. 6. the great work of redemption, both as to the accomplishment of it, and the actual bestowing the fruits thereof upon us; the great end of it is said to be to the praise of the glory of the grace of God; the glory of his love ; that love which warmed his breast from eternity with thoughts of compassion towards man; this love he will glorify in heaven ; and he hath prepared such glory and joy for them, that they shall know he will love them like a God in an infinite and inconceivable manner. Do but a little ascend in your thoughts thus; “Hath God made a beautiful world, so full of comforts and refreshment; hath he made this, and given it to rebellious contumacious sinners, those that live in open defiance of his laws and government? What then hath he prepared for those that love and serve him, in the kingdom above?'
3. Consider what that glory and blessedness must be which bears a proportion to the infinite price of the blood of the Son of God, which was shed not only to be a ransom to free you from hell, but as a price to obtain heaven for you: the saints obtain heaven not only by pardon and by gift, but with respect to the