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seizing on him; and opening his eyes, raising his head to give attention, being asked the reason of it, answered, * That when I understand what you are discoursing of, I may die.' Such was his delight in knowledge, that a little of it made his agony insensible.
But here are many imperfections that lessen this intellectual pleasure, which shall cease in heaven. Here the acquisition of knowledge is often with the expence of health; the flower of the spirits, necessary for natural operations, is wasted by intense thoughts. How often are the learned sickly? As the flint when it is struck, gives not a spark without consuming itself; so knowledge is obtained by studies that waste our faint sensitive faculties. But then our knowledge shall be a free emanation from the spring of truth, without our labour and pains. Here we learn by circuit, and discern by comparing things ; ignorant darkness is dispelled by a gradual succession of light : but then perfect knowledge shall be infused in a moment. Here, after all our labour and toil, how little knowledge do we gain? Every question is a labyrinth, out of which the nimblest and most searching minds cannot extricate themselves. How many specious errors impose upon our understandings? We look on things by false lights, through deceiving spectacles : but then our knowledge shall be certain and complete. There is no forbidden tree in the celestial paradise, as no inordinate affection. But suppose that all things in the compass of the world were known, yet still there would be emptiness and anguish in the mind : for the most comprehensive knowledge of things that are insufficient to make us happy, cannot afford true satisfaction. But then we shall see God in all his excellencies, the supreme object and end, the only felicity of the soul. How will the sight of his glorious perfections in the first moment quench our extreme thirst, and fill us with joy and admiration! It is not as the naked conception of treasures, that only makes rich in ideas, but that divine sight gives a real interest in him. The angels are so ravished with the beauties and wonders of his face, that they never divert a moment from the contemplation of it.
The pure love of the saints to God, is fully satisfied in the
* Ut cum istud quicquid est de quo disputatis percepero, moriar, Pal. Max.
possession and enjoyment of him, and consequently the greatest delight and complacency is shed abroad in their hearts. Love considered as an affection of friendship, is always attended with two desires ; to be assured of reciprocal love, and to enjoy the conversation of the person beloved, the testimony of his esteemn and goodwill. This kind of * affection seems to be inconsistent with that infinite distance that is between God and the creature. But though it is disproportionable to the divine majesty, it is proportionable to his goodness. Accordingly our Saviour promises, “ He that loves me, shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself unto him :” and to confirm our belief of this astonishing condescension, repeats it, “If a man love me, my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him." In the present state, the signs of God's special favour are exhibited to his friends. Now he bestows on them the honour of being his sons, the graces and comforts of his Spirit, the precious earnests of his love, " and seal of their redemption.” But in emineney of degrees, the emanation of his love, and the effects of his beneficence, are incomparably more glorious in heaven. Here the saints are adopted, there crowned: there he opens all the bright treasures of his wisdom, the riches of his goodness, the beauties of his holiness, the glories of his power, and by the intimate application of his presence makes his love most sensible to them. Infinite goodness excites and draws forth all the powers of the soul, and fills the utmost capacity and expansion of the spirit: from hence perpetual pleasure and satisfaction spring. O the pure delights between God and glorified souls! God looks on them with an engaged eye, as his own by many dear titles, and is ravished with the reflex of his own excellencies shining in them. “As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride” (it is the language of the divine love) “ so their God rejoices over them. The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy: he will rest in his love; he will rejoice over thee with singing." He is infinitely delighted in the communication of his goodness to them. And what a blessed rest do they find in the complete fruition of his goodness ? All their desires quietly expire in his bosom. What triumphs of joy follow ? Can we frame a fuller conception of happiness, than to be perfectly loved by the best and most blessed being, and perfectly to love him, and to partake of the richest emanations of his “ Loving-kindness, that is far more valuable and desirable than life itself?" How precious and joyful will the presence of Christ be to the
It was his prayer on earth, “Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." When the saints are received into the everlasting kingdom, the first object that draws their admiring regards, is Christ on the throne. Inestimable felicity! whether we consider him as the Son of God, in whose conspicuous countenance all the glory of his Father shines; or as the Saviour of men,
and the head of the elect, upon a double account: partly, that “ he that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his blood,” after suffering all indignities and cruelties for our sake, has received the reward of his meritorious sufferings, the triumph of his victory, being “glorified with the Father with the glory he had before the world was :" and partly, because every member shall be conformed to him in glory. The sight of the face of Moses when radiant, had no transforming efficacy, for the light of it was not in him as its spring, but by derivation. But the Son of God is light essentially, and the sight of his glory will transform us into his likeness. And how dear and joyful is the presence of the saints to Christ ?
" He then sees of the travail of his soul, the fruit of his sharp sufferings and bleeding love, and is satisfied.” How delightful is it to him to see all his spiritual progeny safely brought to heaven, and made partakers of his glory and joy in the everlasting kingdom? For according to the extent of the object, and dearness of the affection, joy rises. He will then present them to his Father with infinite complacency; “Behold, here am I, and the children whom thou hast given me."
The dearest affections of Christ and the saints in heaven, are mutual and reflexive. In the sacred song, the expressions of love, desire, and joy, borrowed from the espousals of Solomon and his beloved wife, are, as it were, characters in the bark, to be understood in a spiritual sense, of the mystical marriage of Christ and the church. What endearing intercourse is there between the most perfect lover, and his spouse inspired with the same pure flame? Here amiable perfections attract his eye and heart: “ Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee," Cant. 7. His propriety in the church is his invaluable treasure : “ My vineyard which is mine, is ever before me.” He repeats the word “ Mine,” in the sweetest and most tender manner. And the church, with the same harmonious affections, speaks of Christ. She contemplates in a soft ecstacy in ever-satisfying beauty. “My beloved is the chiefest of ten thousand, he is altogether lovely,” Cant. 10. 6. She breaks forth in triumph, “My beloved is mine, and I am his," Cant. 6. By all their expressions of joyful love and union, we may asceud in our thoughts, what are the joys of heaven, where the communion of Christ and the church is entire and uninterrupted for ever. If faith and love of our unseen Saviour produce “a joy unspeakable and glorious,” as if believers were wrapped up to paradise, or paradise descended into them, what will the sight and fruition of him? There is as great a difference in degreess between the joy that flows from the assurance and application of faith, and the joy from vision and full possession, as between the impression of joy the forerunner of Christ felt, when he sprang in the womb at the coming of our Saviour; and his ravishing joy, when he saw Christ, and pointed him out to his disciples, “Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world.”
3. The supreme joy of the saints is for the felicity and glory of God himself. For as the hoły soul feels no more powerful motive to love God, than because he is most worthy of it, as he is God, a being of infinite excellencies, and therefore to be loved above the dearest persons and things, even itself; so the highest joy it partakes of is from this consideration, that God is infinitely blessed and glorious. For in this the supreme. desire of love is accomplished, that the most beloved object is perfectly honoured and pleased. In heaven the love of the saints to God is in its highest perfection, and they see his glory in the most perfect manner, which causes a transcendent joy to them. And this is one reason why the saints, though shining with unequal degrees of glory, are equally content. For their most ardent love being set on God, that he is pleased to glorify himself by such various communications of his goodness, is full satisfaction to their desires. Besides, in those different degrees of glory, every one is so content with his own, * that there is no possible desire of being but what he is.
The communion of the angels and saints in heaven affords the purest plea
Love unites them. The allays of love cease there. As love is enlarged in its object and degrees, such is the delight that results from it, The joy of heaven is without defect or end. The productive causes of it are always equal. The face of God always shines there, and the contemplation of it is fixed. The constant enjoyment of God in heaven does not Jessen the delight of the saints. The reasons why the fruition of sensible things without change is tedious. All those causes of dissatisfaction cease in heaveq. The saints have as lively a perception of their bappiness for ever as in the beginning of it,
IN heaven “ the innumerable company of angels, and the general assembly of the church of the first-born,” as they receive happiness from the sight of God, so they communicate the purest pleasure to one another. An unfeigned ardent affection unites that pure society. Our love is now kindled, either from a relation in nature, or a civil account, or some visible excellencies that render a person worthy of our choice and friendship : but in heaven the reasons are greater, and the degrees of love incomparably more fervent. All carnal alliances and respects cease in that supernatural state. The apostle tells us, “If I have known Christ after the flesh, I know him so no more." By the resurrection and ascension of Christ he was transported into another world, and had communion with him as a heavenly king, without
Sic itaq; habebit donum aliud alio mious, ut hic quoq; donum habeat, ne velit amplius, Aug.