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Trinity, upon which the whole economy of the gospel depends. In assenting to this, saith bows the head and adores. But such is the pride of the carnal mind, that it disdains to stoop to divine revelation : and the seeming wise philosophers despised the primitive christians as captives of a blind belief. But this tout reproach was as unjust as many others wherewith they designed to disgrace Christianity; for the humility of faith does not extinguish or darken the light of reason, but revives and increases it. What is more suitable to uncorrupt reason, than to believe the revelation God affords of his own nature, who cannot deceive us: In the state above, where reason is rectified and enlarged, we shall understand that from eternity God was sole existing, but not solitary; that the Godhead is not confused in unity, nor divided in number; that there is a priority of order, yet no superiority among the sacred persons, but they are all equally possessed of the same divine excellencies, and the same divine empire, and are the object of the same adoration. Our Saviour tells his disciples," In that day ye shall know that I am in the Father,” that is, by unity of essence, and as naturally and necessarily God as the Father. This promise immediately refers to the time of pouring forth the Holy Ghost upon them after the resurrection of our Saviour, but shall be fully accomplished in heaven.
All things of a supernatural order shall be revealed. The great mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh,” the union of the high perfections of the divine nature with the innocent imperfections of the human nature, the contrivance of our redemption, wherein there is an harmonious concurrence and concord of the principle attributes of the Deity that seemed irre. concilable; that product of the divine wisdom that is so adored by the angels, that astonishes and saves us, shall be unfolded. The divine counsels in governing the world, the designs, the ways, the orders and operations of God's providence shall be conspicuous. In some dispensations of God, we discern the
in the top of his sceptre : the wisdom, the rectitude, the equity of his providence, is so visible in the defence of the innocent, and his justice and power in the punishment of the guilty, that it may convince the atheists who deny a providence, and cause all sincere believers to admire and reverence it. But there are other dispensations, the immediate reasons of which are so concealed in the bosom of God, that only the Lamb, with whose blood the elect to glory are written in the book of life, can reveal: why the light of the gospel was never visible to so many kingdoms; “ why many are called, and few chosen;" the unsearchable ways, and incomprehensible judgments of God, which St. Paul in an extasy admires, which it is not lawful to inquire into here, we shall then understand in such a manner, that light itself is not more clear. How often are the people of God here in miserable perplexities and say with the Prophet,“ Verily thou art a God
that hidest thyself, O God of Israel the Saviour !" It is true, a steadfast faith in the providence of God, that all that he does, and all that he permits and disposes is best, will quiet their passions, and change the tempestuous ocean into the pacific sea : but when they are admitted into the council of state above, and see the immediate reasons of his decrees, what a heavenly wonder, what an exquisite pleasure will fill their minds? When the original fountains of wisdom, as clear as deep, shall be opened, what sweet satisfaction will be shed abroad in their spirits? They will see the beauty of providence in disposing temporal evils in order to their eternal felicity: that as in a curious picture the darkest tinctures are so disposed, as to give light and grace to orient colors ; so all the afflictions of this state were but shadows or foils, to make their faith, and love, and patience more resplendent, and their reward more excellent. What our Saviour said to Peter, is applicable to the impenetrable dispensations of Providence to us in our mortal state : “What I do, thou knowest not now, but shall know hereafter.” Then the arcana imperii, the secrets of his counsels shall be unsealed, and we shall be able to expound the perplexing riddle, how “out of the eater came meat, and out of the strong came sweetness :” we shall understand that his over-ruling providence is most eminently glorified in extracting good out of evil; for we shall know as we are known.
The blessed effect of the vision of God in the saints. It is productivo and
conservative of his glorious likeness. It affects them with the most humble veneration of God's excellencies. It inflames them with the most ardent love of God, and of our Saviour.
I will consider the blessed effects of the vision of God in hea. ven upon the saints. Our Saviour tells us, “this is life eternal, to know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” The beginning and introduction of our felicity, is by a lively faith here, the consummation of it is by present sight in heaven.
1. From the vision of his glory there will be a resultance of his likeness impressed on us. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All the perfection and happiness of the saints is comprised in that promise. The sun, when the sky is clear and serene, forms its image on a cloud tempered to receive it, with that orient brightness, that the eye cannot distinguish between the copy and the original. Thus the uncreated sun by
powerful emanations transforms the soul into its likeness, in that divine degree of holiness and felicity, as gloriously resembles God. Moses by conversing with God in the mount, and seeing his back parts, returned to the Israelites with such a radiancy in his face, that they could not look on it without a veil. What an impression of glory is in the saints, who see his perfection in their infinite lustre? It is the privilege of christians in this life, above the church under the law; they behold in the gospel as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, and are changed into the same image, from glory to glory: they become more and more holy and heavenly, more purified and adorned with his virtues and graces. Now if the vision of Christ here in a glass, an eclipsing medium, be so influxive upon believers, what an illustrious and infallible efficacy has the immediate, clear, and permanent view of his glory upon the saints in heaven? That sight is productive and conservative of his image in its purity and persection forever.
2. The divine presence affects the saints with the most humble reverence and solemn veneration of God. This is an eternal respect due from the intellectual creature to the creator, upon the account of his infinite and incommunicable excellencies. He is distinguished not only from idols, but from creatures of the highest order, by his essential, supreme and singular name, I AM. Every kind of being, every spark of lite, every degree of perfection is from his efficiency, and depends entirely upon his supporting power. The most eminent qualities of the creatures are but in show and appearance, compared with the reality and stability of his glorious nature. In the scripture, wisdom, holiness, goodness, power, truth, immortality, are attributed to God, with the exclusion of all creatures from those prerogatives; they being his essential, infinite, and incomparable perfections. They are separable qualities in the creatures, like the gilding and enameling of baser metal; but in the Deity, they are like substantial massy gold.
There is a vast distance between cieated beings; but the distance between a fly, or a worm, and an angel, is nothing to the distance between an archangel and God, there being no comparison between finite and infinite. All creatures equally vanish, and disappear as nothing, compared to the glorious creator. As if one from the region of the stars should look down upon the earth, the mountains and hills with the valleys would appear one flat surface, an equal plain, the height and the lowness of the several parts being indiscernible at that immense distance.
Now in heaven the Divine Majesty is most visible, and most awful and adorable : the sublimest spirits cover their faces" before his glorious brightness. The Prophet Isaiah had a representation of heaven: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. About it
stood the Seraphims : each one had six wings ; with twain he covered his face, with twain he covered his feet, with twain he did fly. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." They highly honor him, by the reflection of his separate and peerless excellencies, his almighty power, his infinite supremacy, and eternal empire, in their concerts of praise.
3. In heaven the saints as perfectly love God, as they know him. This is the principal duty of angels and men to the blessed Creator, for his admirable perfections, and his excellent benefits. The evidence of it is so entire, that the reasonable mind cannot suspend its assent, for goodness and beauty, the fruit and the flower of amiable things, do so recommend them to the understanding and will, that they powerfully allure and engage the affections. Now these are in God in unspeakable degrees of eminence. The Prophet breaks out in a rapture, “How great is his goodness! how great is his beauty !”
It was a precept of the ceremonial law, that the firstlings of the flock, and the first and best fruits of the earth should be offered to God: not as if the first that opened the belly was more valuable in his account than the last, or the most early fruits in the spring more pleasing to him than the later in the autumn; but it was instructive, that our love, the “first-born of the soul, and the beginning of its strength,” should be consecrated to God.
The love of God is the essential character of a saint, that distinguishes him from the unregenerate. Indeed, it is strange that God, who is infinitely lovely, and infinitely liberal and beneficent, should not prevail on the hearts of all men; but if we consider the degeneracy of mankind, how their minds are depraved and deceived, and their affections are vitiated, the wonder will cease. Carpal men have not due conceptions of God, and will not attentively observe his amiable perfections. St. John tells us, He that loveth not, doth not know God. Knowledge is the leading principle in the operations of the soul: there must be a heavenly eye to discover the heavenly beauty, before there can be love of it. Now men are in ignorant darkness, and are defiled in flesh and spirit, and therefore cannot love God, who is glorious in holiness. Without resemblance, there can be no affectionate union, which is the essence of love. The contrariety of dispositions infers a contrariety of affections. The scripture expresses this in dreadful colors : “ The carnal mind is enmity against God : the friendship of this world is enmity with God :" that is, pride, and covetousness, and sensuality, which are the lusts of the carnal mind, and are terminated upon worldly things, are inconsistent with the love of God. The justice of God is terrible to the consciences, and his holiness odious to the affections of the unrenewed. Till by divine grace the understanding is enlightened and purified, to have right
apprehensions of God; till the will and affections are cleansed and changed; till there be a resemblance of God's holy nature, and a conformity to his holy laws, they are not capable of delightful adhering to him; which is the internal, essential property of love.
But those who are partakers of the divine nature, the holy and heavenly, “taste and see how good the Lord is " and according to the illustrations of the mind, such are the impressions upon the heart; the love of God in their breasts here is like smoking flax, but in heaven it is a triumphant flame. God is the first fair, the original of all amiable excellencies, in whom they shine in their unstained lustre and perfection. When he fully reveals himself, and displays the richest beams of his love and glory, how transporting and endearing is that sight? Our affections that are now scattered on many things, wherein some faint reflections of his goodness appear, shall then be united in one full current to him, “who is all in all.” In heaven, the immense treasures of his grace are revealed: that when man for his rebellious sin was justly expelled from Paradise, and under the sentence of eternal death, God should not only pardon, but prefer us to the dignity of his children, and prepare such a glory for us, and us for such a glory ; this will inspire the saints with such ardent affections, that will make them equal to the angels, those pure and everlasting flames of love to God.
In heaven we shall be with “ Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, who is seated at the right hand of God." And how admirable will he appear to the sense and soul of every glorified saint? For we shall see the king in his beauty. When our Saviour was upon the holy mount, and one vanishing beam of glory appeared in his transfiguration, Peter was so transported at the sight, that he forgot the world and hiinself: how ravishing then will the sight of him in his triumphant majesty be, when we shall be transfigured ourselves ? Now while believers are in the shadows of the earthly state, they love their unseen Saviour with such intense degrees of affection, as deface all the washy colors, all the vain loves of things in this world; but when they are admitted into his shining presence, and see him in the day of celestial glory, with what an extasy of affection will they be transported ?
We shall then feel the endearing obligations our Saviour has laid upon us, who ransomed us with so rich a price, and purchased for us such an unvaluable inheritance : for in proportion as we shall understand his greatness in himself, we shall his good. ness to us. The eternal Son of God descended from the heaven of heavens to our lowly earth; and, wbich is more, from the majesty wherein he there reigned, and was visible to the an. gels: he became man that he might die, to redeem us from the most woful captivity, from death, and the sting of death, sin, and