« السابقةمتابعة »
still more rapturous are the joys resulting from the contemplation of the mysteries of redemption, and our interest in it. The exclamation of an Archimedes is cold, in comparison to the language of the assured believer : “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” What, then, will be our delight, when, looking at the wisdom, the power, the love, all the attributes of God in their source and in their operations, we can cry, This God is ours; these perfections are engaged for our felicity; he who forms, sustains, and blesses so many worlds, is our Friend!
5. Finally, this knowledge is unfading and eternal. Our understandings shall not for a moment be clouded; there shall be no “ follies of the wise;" the mind shall not be enfeebled by age, but ever vigorous, ever advancing.
(1.) Christians, this subject is calculated to animate and comfort you. "Vith such glorious prospects before you, will you
still cleave to the earth, love your dark prison, and not long for the world of light? Will you not often with joy anticipate that period when
you shall enter upon so exalted a state? The expectation of it should encourage you while you remain on earth, and give you the sweetest consolation. You now lament that you know so little of God and the Redeemer; you lament that such contentions are found among Christians: wait till the light of eternity shall burst upon your view, and then these contentions shall cease, the causes of ignorance shall be removed, and you “ shall know even as you are known."
(2.) This subject leads us to lament the doom of men of unsanctified genius and learning. They contemn weak but good men; but they are the true objects of compassion. How lamentable, that such endov
ments should be quenched in everlasting darkness, when they might have mingled with the knowledge of angels and glorified saints !
(3.) This subject should give us consolation on the death of pious friends. When they are removed from us, we cry, “ they are lost.” This is the hasty voice of nature, but faith corrects it; they are lost to this world, but not to the world of glory. Look not at the coffin, the worm, and the shroud, the cold ashes and mouldering bones; but at the triumphant and glorified spirits. They live, believers! Those intellectual powers which charmed you, still exist, freed from all imperfection; and you may again meet your friends, advanced in knowledge and perfect in bliss.
VISION OF GOD IN HEAVEN.
MATTHEW v. 8.
They shall see God.
Christians, did we more frequently think, and speak, and meditate, on heaven ; did we more habitually live in the believing prospect of the inheritance of the saints in light; our graces would not be so languishing, nor our consolations so feeble. He, whose conversation is in heaven, will have a lofty and elevated mind, that will spurn the low and sordid pleasures of sense; will have a shield against the temptations that would seduce him from duty; and a refreshing spring of consolation amidst the multiplied sorrows of life. He who feels himself the heir of immortal joy, can never forget his obligations to that God who has provided a Redeemer from hell, and to that Saviour who purchased heaven for him.
We need not be apprehensive of fatigue or repetition in meditating on this subject. The views of heaven are so diversified, the images under which it is exhibited are so various, the representation of its occupations is so magnificent in the word of God, that we shall ever find new circumstances to affect
our imaginations and our hearts. After being warmed by one view of that better world, we have only to change our position, and new prospects will present themselves, that are calculated to make us holier and happier.
In our text, this felicity is represented by a single trait; but how affecting and impressive is this trait! how much does it include! “ They shall see God."
66 So many other passages of scripture describe the future glory in a similar manner, that we are authorized to consider this beatific vision as the chief source of happiness in the redeemed.
To understand its nature, attend to the following remarks:
1. God is a pure spirit, and invisible. It cannot then be with our bodily eyes that we shall see him. However exalted may be the resurrection-body, with whatever celestial qualities it may be endowed, yet God cannot be the object of our corporeal senses. It is indeed probable that God will give to the redeemed some brilliant manifestation of his presence. Such visible and brilliant representations were afforded, even upon earth, on Sinai, at the tabernacle, and the temple. It is probable, and strongly intimated in scripture, that the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all blessings are conveyed to the saints on earth, and who is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person," will be the medium whereby God will manifest himself in a visible glory to the saints in heaven. But this is not the vision which is spoken of in the text :
They shall see God,” his nature, and the lustre of the divine perfections; not with the bodily eye, but with the mind, the eye of the soul.
They shall see him.” This word expresses not the laborious and gradual deductions of reasoning, nor the notices of faith realizing an absent object; but the immediate intuition of what is plainly offered to our view. The glory of God will then so clearly be presented to the redeemed, and their minds so enlarged, that they will comprehend at one glance (not all that is in God, for finite can never comprehend infinite; but) as much as the Lord is pleased to display to them. Thus they may be said, in a degree, “ to know even as they are known;" since the blessed God comprehends all things at once, by one simple act of knowing ; not that the state of glory shall exclude all reasoning, any more than our present state does all intuition. As the knowledge of the saints never is infinite, their reasonings may be pleasant and useful ; but as God shall continually afford a clear discovery of himself, so shall the chief exercise and felicity of the glorified soul consist in admitting and entertaining those free beams of voluntary light by a joyful intuition: for it is this mode of knowing which most accords with the term sight, or beholding.
To realize more sensibly the felicity resulting from this source, trace the liberated spirit of the believer to the courts of heaven: it enters the presence-chamber of the King of kings, and is instantly surrounded by the encircling beams of divine glory. God is no longer seen “ through a glass darkly," by reflection from his creatures, through an obscuring medium, but the direct beams of his glory; of the glory which he both enjoys and affords, which forms his own felicity, and which emanates from him to his saints, encompass the happy spirit. This