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blessed estate above, wherein their glorified souls have a full fruition of God?
There is a life of nature, when thou, my soul, dwellest in this body, and informest thine earthly burden. There is a life of grace, when the Spirit of God dwells in thee. There is a life of glory, when the body being united to thee, both shall be united to God: or when, in the mean time, being separated from thy companion, thou enjoyest God alone. This life of thine, therefore, as the other, hath its ages, hath its statures; for it entereth upon its birth, when thou passest out of thy body, and changest this earthly house for a heavenly. It enters into its full vigour, when, at the day of the common resurrection, thou resumest this thy companion, unlike to itself, like to thee, like to thy Saviour, immortal now, and glorious. In this life here may be degrees; there can be no imperfection. If some be like the sky, others like the stars, yet all shine. If some sit at their Saviour's right hand, others at his left, all are blessed. If some vessels hold more, all are full : none complaineth of want, none envieth him that hath more.
Whence is this eternal life, but from Him who only is eternal, who only is the Fountain of life, yea, Life itself? Who but the same God that gives our temporal life, giveth also that eternal The Father bestows it, the Son merits it, the Holy Ghost seals and applies it. Expect it only from him, O my soul, whose free election gave thee the first title to it, to be purchased by the blood of thy Saviour. For thou shalt not therefore be happy, because he saw that thou wouldst be good; but therefore art thou good, because he hath ordained thou shalt be happy. He hath ordained thee to life : he hath given thee a Saviour, to give this life unto thee; faith, whereby thou mightest attain to this Saviour; his word, by which thou mightest attain to this faith : what is there in this not his? And yet not his so simply, as that it is without thee; without thy merit indeed, not without thine act. Thou livest here, through his blessing, but by food; thou shalt live above through his mercy, but below, by thy faith apprehending the Author of thy life. And yet, as he will not save thee without thy faith, so thou canst never have faith without his gift. Look to him therefore, O my soul, as the beginner and finisher of thy salvation; and while thou magnifiest the Author, be ravished with the glory of the work, which far passeth both the tongue of angels and the heart of man. It can be no good thing that is not there. How can they want water, that have the spring? Where God is enjoyed, in whom only all things are good, what good can be wanting? And what perfection of bliss is there, where all goodness is met and united! “In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures for evermore.” Oh blessed reflection of glory! we see there, as we are seen ; in that we are seen, it is our glory; in that we see, it is God's glory; therefore doth he glorify us, that our glory should be his. How worthy art thou, O Lord, that through us thou shouldest look at thyself!
No marvel, then, if from this glory joy unspeakable proceeds, and from this joy the sweet songs of praise and thanksgiving. The Spirit bids us, when we are merry, sing: how much more, then, when we are merry without all mixture of sorrow, beyond all measure of our earthly affections, shall we sing joyful hallelujahs and hosannas to Him that dwelleth in the highest heavens! Our hearts shall be so full, that we cannot choose but sing, and we cannot but sing melodiously. There is no jar in this music, no end of this song. Oh blessed change of the saints ! they do nothing but weep below, and now nothing but sing above! We who sowed in tears, reap in joy : there was some comfort in those tears when they were at the worst, but there is no danger of complaint in this heavenly mirth. If we cannot sing here with angels, “On earth peace,” yet there we shall sing with them, “ Glory to God on high ;” and joining our voices to theirs, shall make up that celestial concert, which none can either hear, or bear part in, and not be happy.
And, indeed, what less happiness doth the very place promise, wherein this glory is exhibited; which is no other than the paradise of God? Here below we dwell, or rather, we wander, in a continued wilderness; there we shall rest in the true Eden: “I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse.". Kings are not used to dwell in cottages of clay, but in royal courts fit for their estate. How much more shall the King of heaven, who hath prepared for men such fair mansions on earth, make himself a habitation suitable to his majesty! Even earthly princes have dwelt in cedar and ivory; but the great city, holy Jerusalem, the palace of the Highest, hath her walls of jasper, her buildings of gold, her foundation of precious stones, her gates of pearl : “How glorious things are spoken of thee, O thou city of God!” We see but the pavement, and yet how goodly it is! The
believing centurion thought himself unworthy that Christ should come under his roof; yet wert thou, O Saviour, in thine humbled estate, in the form of a servant; how, then, shall I think myself worthy to come under this roof of thine, so shining and glorious ? Oh! if this clay of mine may come to this honour above, let it be trampled upon and despised on earth. But were the place less noble and majestical, company
which it affordeth hath enough to make the soul blessed. For, not the place giveth ornament to the guest, so much as the guest to the place. How loth are we to leave this earth, only for the society of some few friends in whom we delight, who yet are subject every day to mutual dislikes! What pleasures shall we then take in the enjoying of the saints, when there is nothing in them not amiable, nothing in us that may cool the fervour of our love! There shalt thou, my soul, thyself glorified, meet with thy dear parents and friends, alike glorious, never to be severed. There thou shalt see and converse with those ancient worthies of the former world, the blessed patriarchs and prophets, with the crowned martyrs and confessors, with the holy apostles, and the fathers of that primitive and this present church, shining each one according to the measure of his blessed labours. There shalt thou live familiarly in the sight of those angels, whom now thou receivest good from, but seest not. There, which is the head of all thy felicity, thine eyes shall see Him whom now thine heart longeth for, that Saviour of thine; in the only hope of whom now thou livest. Alas, how dimly, and afar off, dost thou now behold him! How imperfectly dost thou enjoy him, while every temptation bereaves thee, for the time, of his presence! “I songht him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but found him not.” His back is now towards thee many times, through thy sins, and therefore thou hardly discernest him. Other times, and often, thy back is turned unto him through negligence, that when thou mightest obscurely see him, thou dost not. Now thou shalt see him, and thine eyes
thus fixed shall not be removed. Yet neither could this glory make us happy, if, being thus absolute, it were not perpetual. To be happy, is not so sweet a state, as it is miserable to have been happy. Lest aught therefore should be wanting, behold, this felicity knoweth no end, feareth no intermission, and is as eternal, for the continuance, as he that had no beginning. Oh blessedness truly infinite! our earthly joys do scarce ever begin; but when they begin, their end bordereth upon their beginning: one hour seeth us ofttimes joyful and miserable: here alone is nothing but eternity. If, then, the divine prophet thought here one day in God's earthly house better than a thousand elsewhere, what shall I compare to thousands of millions of years in God's heavenly temple ! Yea, millions of years are not so much as a minute to eternity, and that other house not a cottage to this.
What doest thou here, then, O my soul? what doest thou here grovelling upon earth? where the best things are vanity, the rest no better than vexation. Look round about thee, and see whether thine eyes can meet with any thing but either sins or miseries.
Those few and short pleasures thou seest, and ever sorrowfully; and, in the mean