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with the same enmity increased immensely in its exercise, should they meet them in hell, dandle them upon the knee; hug them to the bosom; and imprint kisses of tender affection upon their lips? Enmity may cause damage to those towards whom it is manifested; but it most distresses those who indulge it. Think then of the misery of that society in which no good member can be found, nor any good thing; at the head of which devils are, and whose whole employment shall be wickedness, in every possible way of practising it, attended too with remorse of conscience through interminable ages! Is it not a great thing to be saved from going down into such a dark and hopeless pit, where evils are endless, and continually multiplying?
Though we have been looking across the gulph, to see what is the wretched condition of those who have received their sentence of condemnation, we are not to forget, that sin produces the same effects in the present world, differing only in degree, that it produces in the eternal world. When it is said, that the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt; no regard is had to their place, or circumstances, but to their state of mind. We must add therefore that salvation is deliverance, in part, from evils in this life, which are the natural fruit of sin. If wickedness causes in us such disquietude and confusion, as to render the agitation of the sea in a tempest, a suitable similitude, we are now in a condition of perishing necessity, and have begun to experience those torments which will be eternal, unless by the grace of God they are brought, in some measure, to an end on this side of the grave.
We have not taken into the account any evils, but such as proceed from sin, as its natural, and necessary effects. Though these evils are enormous, and overwhelming, yet since the wicked are spoken of as to be punished with an everlasting destruction, we may suppose there will be a positive punishment, dreadful in its nature, which God will himself inflict upon them. The wrath of God abides upon the unbelieving, and impenitent sinner. God, whose favor is life, and whose loving kindness is better than life, is angry with the wicked every day, and he is, and must be,
to them, a consuming fire. How inexpressibly, and to us, at present, how inconceivably, dreadful, must it be to have him for an enemy, who can, and whose justice requires that he should, destroy, both the souls and the bodies, of his enemies, with an everlasting destruction; and how great must that salvation be, by means of which, the wall of separation made up of sins, is broken down, and the sinner reconciled, is brought nigh to God, so as to view him, and to find him, his father and his best friend!
To be saved from the woes of another and an eternal world, and to be delivered from those evils which are here consequent upon sin, may be considered as a part, but by no means, the whole of salvation. Nothing more positive and interesting, is said in the scriptures, respecting the torments of the wicked in another world, and their sufferings in this, than what we find respecting the happiness of the righteous, after death, and their enjoyments on this side of the grave. Present circumstances make our conceptions so gross, that no language in which heavenly things might be literally described, would be intelligible to St. Paul tells us that he was caught up to the third heaven; which he calls paradise; that is, he says he knew a man who was thus translated; and that man must have been himself, but, instead of giving an account, as he would have done of things which he had witnessed in this world, he only informs us, that he heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. He was doubly barred from making any communication. The law or prohibition of God, was in his way, and he found no language in use among men, into which he could translate the language which he had heard used in the paradise above.
Those heathen writers, who have displayed all the beau-` ty of style, and all the ingenuity of unassisted reason, in representing the condition of departed spirits, have, in their exhibition of hell, given us nothing essentially different from a picture of a common prison of correction; and in their exhibition of heaven, nothing essentially different from a picture of a place favorable to sensual gratification. How much more satisfactory is that negative account which St. Paul gives us of heaven, quoting it in substance, from
Isaiah, Eye hath not seen; nor ear heard; neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him! Not only does the sum total of good which God has in store for his children, far exceed whatever was or could be, realized in this world, but the inheritance of the saints in light, is an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled and that fadeth not away. It must therefore be something with which the common inlets of nature can never make us acquainted.
From what we know of heaven, however imperfect our knowledge, we may see, in some measure, how important it is to have an establishment there; how much they gain by dying, who die in the Lord. The body which the saints have in this world is the common body of humanity; and the best that they can say of it is, to call it the earthly house of this tabernacle; and their heart is so defiled with sin, that the more they are acquainted with themselves, the more inclined will they be to think, and pronounce themselves, the chief of sinners. A thorough change therefore is necessary, and will in due time be effected, for flesh and blood, cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither can corruption inherit incorruption.
To the glorified body of Christ, as it appeared upon the mount of transfiguration, it is probable, that the bodies of his people, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality, will bear a strong resemblance. Free from the weakness of infancy, and the infirmities of age; and the pains of sickness, they will be clothed in beauty, surpassing immeasurably, that of our first parents before the fall.
The intellectual powers will likewise assume new vigor; the mind will expand with knowledge; and the heart with holiness. The vision will not then be dim, as through a glass, but clear, as when we see face to face.
All who have been sensible of the burdens of a mortal body, must consider a body immortal as a great blessing; and all who have felt like David when he said, Innumerable evils have compassed me about; mine iniquities have taken hold upon me; must consider an entire renovation of the soul, as necessarily connected with happiness,
The advantage gained by those who are received into heaven, in regard to the state of society, is an important circumstance connected with their condition. While Da
vid was here he had occasion to cry out, Wo is me that I sojourn in Mesech; that I dwell in the tents of Kedar! Whether David did actually ever sojourn among the wild and savage Arabs or not, he lived in a world lying in wickedness, and was much molested by wicked men. In the description which we have of the New Jerusalem, or heaven, in the Revelation of St. John, it is said, And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. John the Baptist inculcated the same sentiment, when speaking of Christ whose forerunner he himself was, he said among other things, Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. We are every where taught to expect a separation between the righteous and the wicked, which will be complete, and final, as the gold and dross which have been united in one mass, are separated by the powerful operation of the heat of the furnace. It is a glorious rest which the weary will enjoy in that world, where the wicked cease from troubling. How totally unutterable must be the blissful feelings of those to whom the following apostolic address is applicable in its most extensive and literal sense, Bnt ye are come unto Mount Zion; and unto the city of the living God; the heavenly Jerusalem; and to an innumerable company of angels; to the general assembly, and church of the first born which are written in heaven; and to God the Judge of all; and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New covenant; and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
In a world of such consummate holiness as heaven, we might conclude, had we no information upon the subject, that holiness must constitute the whole employment, for nothing else would comport with the propensities of those beings who make up the society. God, who is love, sheds abroad his love, as the sun does his beams. Angels, those
ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, are filled with love to God, and to the godly; and the spirits of just men made perfect, being altogether freed from the curse of the apostacy, and having no longer any occasion to eat their bread in the sweat of their face, have nothing to do but to serve God, directly, with faculties adapted in the best manner to the purpose. Accordingly, they rest not, day and night; but keeping in view the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with the mystery of their distinction, and of their union, they cry, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which, was, and is, and is to come; and their new, and glad, and gladdening song, is, Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood; and hath made us kings, and priests, unto God, and the Father; to him be glory, and dominion, forever, and ever, Amen!
Heavenly happiness is salvation finished; if that may be said to be finished, which is always increasing. Since however salvation is begun in the present world, we ought not to overlook those joys which they have in the present world, who are the subjects of it.
He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life. Faith is the substance of things hoped for; and the evidence of things not seen. The enjoyment which prophets and apostles had, and which ever attends the people of God, when they put their trust in him, no earthly consideration can balance. Where there is submission of mind, the indulgences of providence are received with gratitude; and the frowns of providence serve to excite sober, and comfortable considerations; so that though there is a difference in conditions, no one is complained of, for each one brings its own good with it. But one thing is needful. Possessed of this, we might sit quietly in the stocks, and sing a song of praise at midnight; and destitute of this, we might find ourselves uneasy on a throne, and be as dissatisfied with a crown, and a scepter, as we should be with the rattles of a child. Alterations might be made in our outward circumstances, as often as fashion would make them in our clothes, without any beneficial result; while an alteration in the views of the mind, and in the feelings of the heart, such as is by grace effected, when the rebel is turned into a