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low regards to the temporal privilege of conversing with him on earth. The spiritual relation is more near and permanent than the strictest band of nature. The saints have all relation to the same heavenly Father, and to Jesus Christ the Prince of peace, and head of that happy fraternity. The principal motives of love here, are the inherent excellencies of a person. Wisdom, holiness, goodness, fidelity are mighty attractives, and produce a more worthy affection, a more intimate confederacy of souls, than propinquity in nature, or any carnal respects. Virtue is amiable in an old person, though wrinkled and deformed : vice is hateful in a young person, though beautiful. There are clearer eyes than those of Aesh, a purer light than what is sensible, a diviner beauty than what is corporeal, and a nobler love than what is sensual. David declares that “all his delight was in the excellent.” But there are allays of this spiritual love here. For,
1. There are relics of frailty in the best men on earth, some blemishes that render them less amiable when discovered. Here their graces are mixed with infirmities, and but ascending to glory. Accordingly our love to them must be regular, and serene, not clouded with error, mistaking defects for amiable qualities. But in heaven, the image of God is complete by the union of all the glorious virtues requisite to its perfection. Every saint there exactly agrees with the first exemplar, a divine beauty shines in them ever durable, a beauty that darts no contagious fire, that is inviolable and can suffer no injury. The apostle tells us, “ The church shall be glorious in holiness, without spot or wrinkle," or any thing that may cast an aspect of deformity upon it.
2. In the present state the least part of the saints' worth is visible. As the earth is fruitful in plants and flowers, but its riches are in mines of precious metals, and the veins of marble hidden in its bosom. True grace appears in sensible actions, “ but its glory is within." * The sincerity of aims, the purity of affections, the impresses of the Spirit on the heart, the interior beauties of holiness, are only seen by God. Besides, such is the humility of eminent saints, that the more they abound in spiritual treasures, the less they show. As the heavenly bodies when in nearest conjunction with the sun, and fullest of light, make the least appearance to our sight. But all their ecellencies shall then be in view, “ The glory of God shall be revealed in them.” And how attractive is the divine likeness to a holy eye? How will it ravish the saints to behold an immortal loveliness shining in one another ? Their love is reciprocal, proportionable to the cause of it. An equal, constant flame is preserved by pure materials. Every one is perfectly amiable, and perfectly enamoured with all. How happy is that state of love ? The psalmist breaks out in a rapture, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Love is the beauty and strength of societies, the pleasure of life. How excellent is the joy of the blessed, when the prayer of Christ shall be accomplished, that they all may be one; " as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.” God is absolutely one in his glorious nature and will, and therefore unalterably happy: and their inviolable union of love is a ray of the essential unity between the sacred persons. There are no divisions of heart and tongues, as in this Babel ; but the most perfect and sweetest concord, an eternal agreement in tempers and inclinations. There are no envious comparisons ; for love that affectively transforms one into another, causes the glory of every saint to redound to the joy of all. Every one takes his share in the felicity of all, and adds to it. Such is the power of that celestial fire wherein they all burn, that it melts and mixes souls in such an entire union, that by complacence, and an intimate joy, the blessedness of all is, as it were, proper to every one; as if every one were placed in the hearts of all, and all in the heart of every one.
* O si animum boni viri liceret inspicere, ex magnifico placidoq; folgentem! nonne veluti yuminis occursu obstupefacti essemus ? Senec.
If in the church of the firstborn christians in the earthly Jerusalem, the band of charity was so strict, that it is said, the “ Multitude of believers were of one heart, and one soul;" how much more intimate and inseparable is the union of the saints in Jerusalem above, where every one loves another as himself? It is recorded of Alexander, that entering with Hephestion his favourite into the pavilion of the mother of Darius, then his prisoner, she bowed to the favourite, as having a greater appearance of majesty, thinking him to be Alexander
: but advised of her error, she humbly begged his pardon. To whom the generous king replied, * You did not err, mother, this is also Alexander. Such was their affection, that whoever was taken of them, the other' was taken in him; the less ascending in the greater, without degrading the greater in the less. This is a copy of the holy love of the blessed; but with the same difference, as between the description of a star with a coal, and its beauty in its proper aspect. And where all is love, all is delight. The act itself is its own reward. As that benign and pleasant affection is enlarged with respect to the object, and its degrees, such is the complacence and delight that results from it. In that blessed society there is a constant receiving and returning of love and joy. And that double exercise of the saints, in the perfect circle of love, is like the pleasant labour of the bees, who all the day are flying to the gardens, and returning to their hives, and all their art is in extracting the purest spirits from fragrant flowers, and making sweet honey. O how do they rejoice and triumph in the happiness of one another? With what an unimaginable tenderness do they embrace? What reciprocations of endearments are between them? O their ravishing conversation, and sweet intercourse! for their presence together in heaven is not a silent show. In the transfiguration, Moses and Elias talked with Christ: we may understand a little of it, by the sensible complacence that is among sincere friends here. In pure amity there is a threefold union : a union of resemblance, that is the principle of it; likeness causes love : a union of affection, that is its essence ; it is said of Jonathani, that incomparable friend, “his soul was knit with the soul of David, and he loved him as his own soul :” the union of conversation, that is requisite to the satisfaction of love. What an entertainment of lore and joy is there in the presence and discourses of dear friends! their mutual aspects, like a chain composed of spirits luminos and active, draw and fasten their souls to one another : the felicity of love consists in their conversation. Now in heaven whatever is pleasant in friendship is in perfection; and whatever is distasteful by men's folly and weakness is abolished. With what excellent discourses do they entertain one another? If David felt such inward pleasure from the sense of God's favours, that he could not restrain the expression of it, but invites the saints, “ Come and hear, all ye that fear the Lord, and I will tell you what he has done for my soul:" certainly in heaven, the blessed with overflowing affections recount the divine benefits; the admirable methods, whereby the life of grace was begun, preserved and carried on in the midst of temptations; the continual succession of mercies in the time of their hopes, and the consummation of all in the time of their enjoyment. How joyfully do they concur in their thanksgivings to God for the goodness of creation; in making them reasonable creatures, capable to know, love and enjoy him, when they might have been of the lowest order in the whole spheres of beings; for his compassionate care and providence over them in this world, but especially for his sovereign and singular mercy in electing them to be vessels of honour; for his powerful grace, in rescuing them from the cruel and ignominious bondage of sin ; for his most free love, that justified them from all their guilt by the death of his only Son, and glorified them with himself. They are never weary in this delightful exercise, but continually bless him for his “Mercy that endures for ever.” We may judge by the saints here, when they are in a fit disposition to praise God, what fervours they feel in their united praises of him in heaven. The psalmist in an ecstacy calls to all the parts of the world to join with him : “The Lord reigns, let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad; let the sea roar, let the fields be joyful and all that dwell therein.” He desires that nature should be elevated above itself, that the dead parts be inspired with life, the insensible feel motions of joy, and those that want a voice break forth in praises, to adorn the divine triumph. With what life and alacrity will the saints in their blessed communion celebrate the object of their love and praises? The seraphims about the throne “cried to one another,” to express their zeal and joy, in celebrating his eternal purity and power, and the glory of his goodness. O the unspeakable pleasure of this concert! when every soul is harmonious, and contributes his part to the full music of heaven. 0 could we hear but some echo of those songs wherewith the heaven of heavens resounds, some remains of those voices wherewith the saints above “triumph in the praises,” in the solemn adoration of the King of spirits, how would it inflame our desires to be joined with them? “ Blesssed are those that are in thy house, they always praise thee.”
III. The fulness of joy in heaven is everlasting, without defect, and without end.
1. It is undecaying, the productive causes are conservative of it, being always equal. Those are the beatific object, and the continual fruition of it. Whilst we are here below, the Sun of Righteousness, as to our perception and sense, has ascensions and declinations, accesses and recesses. And our earth is not so purified, but some vapours arise that intercept his cheerful refreshing light. From hence there are alternate successions of spiritual comforts and sorrows, of doubts and filial confidence in the saints. It is a rare favour of heaven, when a humble believer in his whole course is so circumspect, as not to provoke God to appear displeased against him: when a christian (as those tutelar angels spoken of in the gospel) always behold the face of his heavenly Father, and converses with him with a holy liberty. And what a torment the “ hiding of God's face” is to a deserted soul, only they know who feel it. External troubles are many times attended with more consolations to the Spirit, than afflictions to sense; but to love God with a transcendent affection, and to fear he is our enemy, no punishment exceeds, or is equal to it. As his loving-kindness in their esteem is better than life, so his displeasure is worse than death. How do they wrestle with God by prayers and tears, and offer, as it were, a holy violence to the King of heaven, to recover their first serenity of mind, the lost peace of heart? How passionately do they cry out with Job in the book of his patience, “O that I was as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me; when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness; as I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle !" Job 29. 2, 3. And sometimes God delays the revealing himself even to his dearest children; not that he does not see their necessities, and hear their prayers, or is so hard that till their extremities he is not moved with compassion, but for wise and holy reasons : either “that they may not return to folly,” if by any presumptuous sin they forfeited their peace; or if they have been careful to please him, yet he may deprive them of spiritual comforts for a time, to keep thein humble, and that with an obedient resignation to his sovereign pleasure they may wait for his reviving presence. And then joy returns greater than before : for thus God usually ren