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Lord Jesus they obtain it by purchase; he purchased it for them ; “ the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Rom. 6. 23. Our Saviour left heaven, and endured a life of sorrow here in the world, and submitted to suffering and dying, that we might obtain heaven.
Now would he who is a just esteemer of things, give such an inestimable price for that which is not answerable to it? O certainly this is the highest step that we can ascend to here; heaven is such a glory, as is worthy of all that which Christ the eternal Son of God, and Lord of life did and suffered: therefore when we have spoken and thought according to the utmost ex. tent of our minds, how short do we fall of that excellent and inconceivable glory! These are the directions I give you to raise your thoughts to consider how great this glory must be. Now ! come to that which the scripture tells us is the heaven of heavens, and that is the enjoyment of God and Christ.
First, I will speak a little concerning the enjoyment of Christ's presence: now there may be a double consideration of it.
(1.) As Christ is the eternal Son of God, and possesseth the divine nature, with all the divine excellencies, and so he and the Father are one: and in what I shall speak concerning the enjoyment of God, the enjoyment of Christ, as the eternal Son of God, is included; the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, being the same in substantial and essential glory : so the enjoyment of one is the enjoyment of every one of them : and indeed it is the sa cred Trinity that is the fountain of our happiness, and of that glory that we enjoy in heaven. But 2dly, There is the consideration of the second person in the sacred and blessed Trinity, as united to the human nature ; so as the glory of the Son of God shines through the human nature, and is communicated to all the blessed spirits above; and in this particular consideration I shall first speak of it. Now this is that which is both the desire of Christ, and is the most ardent desire of every holy soul, to be with Christ, and enjoy his presence. You shall see it is the prayer of Christ ; " Father I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me.” John 17. 24. They are words so full of love and joy, that Christ should pray to his Father, that they should be with him, and see his glory, that may both please and astonish us; that it should not content Christ to be glorified alone, nor glorified with his angels, but that his poor servants, who here are humbled and loaded with afflictions, who have been in a mortal dying state, that they should be raised to his kingdom, and see his glory; it is an argument of the purest and dearest love that is conceivable. And as our Saviour here declares the most pure and ardent love to his people, so all those who are members of Christ have an ardent desire to be with him, and behold his glory; so you shall find the apostle Paul. “For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to be with Christ, which is far better." Phil. 1. 23. The apostle represents himself to be in suspense, being now drawn by two loadstones; the presence of Christ above, that drew him to heaven; and the good of the church below, that drew hin and pressed him to stay on earth: I would fain be with Christ, yet I am willing to stay here for the furtherance of your salvation. Certainly every holy soul, though not in the same degree as Paul, has a desire to be with Christ, as Paul had ; and that desire is a supreme overruling affection in his soul to be with Christ, to see his glory; and accordingly the joy of the soul is enlarged when it comes personally to be with Christ; for this is a rule, according to the degree of our love, is the strength of our desire ; and according to the strength of our desire is the joy of fruition : this is a rule that runs through the affections; desire results from love, and takes its fire and heat from it; and joy is raised and intended according to the degree of our desire, when we come to possess the desired object. O my brethren, what joy overflows all the saints above! who are continually beholding the glory of Christ, and see the Deity shining forth in his human nature, see him advanced above all principalities and powers : and that which gives that sweetness of joy to them, is this; they shall see him thus glorified that died for them, and purchased salvation for them. This certainly is that which will render the beholding of Christ's glory infinitely pleasing to us; it was he that did accomplish it by his own sufferings; he did and suffered what justice required; he secured the honour of divine justice, that he might exalt the riches of divine mercy in our salvation.
Therefore I say, consider what infinite pleasure comes to an holy grateful soul, to see his Saviour thus raised, honoured, reverenced, and magnified, by all the powers in heaven : to think it is the Lord of life that gave his life for me that I see
thus advanced! And besides this, the sight of the glory of Christ hath a transforming power upon all the saints, they are made like him; so that in seeing this glory, they are glorified with him: for you must know that our Saviour not only was the meritorious cause of our glory, but also he is the pattern and the efficient cause of it: so that by seeing him in glory we shall be made like him, we shall be transformed into his glorious image. It is an observable expression which our Saviour hath, when he speaks to those servants that had improved their talents for the honour of their master; Matt. 25. 23. “ well done good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee a ruler over many things, enter thou into the joy of thy lord;" thou shalt partake of the same joy thy master doth. This is that which makes the saints unspeakably happy above ; they shall be with Christ, they shall be satisfied with his glory, and in their conformity to it: for all the saints shall be conformed to the human nature of Christ glorified, as to their pattern and their great exemplar : “ who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself." Phil. 3. 21. And our souls in heaven shall be conformed to his glorious soul.
(2.) That which is the highest glory of heaven, is the enjoyment of God himself. Now for the opening of this to you, we are to consider first that rule I gave you before, that according to our love and our desire, such will be our joy in possessing the desired good. Now every saint hath a desire towards God, and a love to him ; which I shall briefly open to you under these two considerations : Ist. That their love and desire is entirely fixed upon God himself; so that all other things without him cannot make them happy. The love of the saints to God is entire to him, as the fountain of that felicity which alone can make them blessed. You shall find this in David, Psal. 27. 4. “ one thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple :" where you see that he fixed his desire upon God, as the sole object of his happiness : for indeed true happiness is neither absque Deo, nor extra Deum ; it is neither without God, nor out of God; it is in God himself: there is absolute perfection, where God is enjoyed, who is the spring of happiness. If you could abstract in your thoughts all the inferior glories of heaven without God, you would leave heaven without itself. It is only God's presence which makes heaven. The saints' affections are entirely set on God; they do not only desire God as the proper object of their happiness, but they desire him with the strength of their affections; that is, the full enjoyment of God alone can satisfy them. They infinitely desire him. Therefore you shall find the psalınist, when he speaks concerning the ardency of his affections to God, he says, Psal. 42. 1. “ as the hart panteth after the waterbrooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God: my soul thirsteth for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?" These expressions set forth to us in a most lively manner, the ardency of his desire to enjoy God; his appearing before God, that is meant of the lower enjoyment of God in his ordinances : he was a banished person, and could not enjoy God in his tabernacle, the place of public worship. Now observe, this love and desire of the saints towards God is infinitely increased in heaven; therefore according to the love and desire we have towards God, so must be the joy that flows from his presence.
God doth most fully communicate himself to the saints in heaven. 1. By revealing all his amiable excellencies to their minds. Therefore it is said, Matt. 5. “ blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” They shall see him with an intellectual eye; their understandings shall see all his glorious perfections, as much as they can receive of him; and only he that sees God, understands what a happiness it is to see him. It may be, several of you that hear me, while I am speaking to you of seeing the Lord, can no' more relish it, than if
you should put a cold piece of earth into your mouths; but he that is a saint indeed, hath some glimmerings of it, and some foretaste of it. To have a clear view of those divine excellencies which are the happiness of God himself, which are his natural blessedness; to see bis beauty, the beauty of his holiness, and the glory of his power, and all his other attributes opened to you in the most enlarged manner; if our souls were but enlightened, and sanctified, and raised, this would be very sweet to us : the very hopes of it would be a heaven to us. Thus the scripture doth represent to us what hcaven is : “ without holiness no man shall see God.” Seeing God is the possession of his excellencies, by being brought to see and enjoy him. “ Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence there is fulness of joy, at thy righthand there are pleasures for evermore.” Psal. 16. 11. God was from eternity a heaven to himself, infinitely glorious 'and joyful in himself: certainly then his presence must be a heaven to the blessed spirits. He that hath the revenues of a king, may easily discharge the expences of a small family. If God hath that in finite excess of happiness to make himself happy, he can easily make those happy that desire it. 2dly. This shall be accompanied with the most fervent love of him. Every soul in heaven is inflamed with the highest degree of love to God, and therefore infinitely pleased in the glory of God. Now from the sight of that glory, and that love that he showeth in giving that sight, that love we have to him is fed, and consequently our joy must always be in its spring-tide there, because we have the continual presence of God himself. “ As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.” Psal. 17. 15. When my soul is perfected with righteousness and holiness, I shall see thy face and be satisfied. Whether you understand it of the likeness of God shining in our glorified Saviour or no, there will be satisfaction flowing from the discovery and enjoyment of God's perfection in heaven. The wise man tells us, “the desire accomplished is sweet to the soul.” Prov. 13. 19. It is the triumph of the soul. Whenever a man hath a strong desire accomplished, it is the greatest pleasure to him. Do but consider then, what a paradise there is above, where all the desires are fully satisfied in God's presence. Do but seriously lay this to heart, whether is it possible to conceive any thing that is more joyful, than for the soul to have the most beloved, the most desired, and the most supreme good in its possession. Thus it is with the glorified saints above in heaven,
I shall not trouble you with a curious dispute, whether or no we shall see the essence of God in heaven; for such a discourse would be above your capacities and apprehensions. The scripture doth principally insist upon this, when it reveals heaven to us : we shall be blessed in the presence of God, we shall be happy in the fruition of him : therefore it is said, Rom. 8. 17. “ we are the children of God, and if children then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,” And in the prophecy of