Page images




IF ADAM had not fallen, man perhaps had enjoyed a happy immortality in an earthly Paradise; or been translated, like Enoch and Elijah, without death to heaven. But now, this world is a world of wo. On one side of the churchyard-gate stands SIN; and haunts our lives with those vultures of the mind disdainful Anger, Misfortune with her baleful train, skulking Shame, ghostly Fear, pining Love, Jealousy gnawing his own breast, wan Envy, faded Care, bitter Scorn, Sorrow with her piercing dart, hard Unkindness with her altered eye, moping Melancholy, grim-visaged comfortless Despair, grinning Infamy, keen-wasting Remorse, moody Madness, and the funeral cry of screaming Horror; these are the painful family of Sin. On the other side of the churchyard-gate stands DEATH; and sends forth his grisly troop to fetch us to his drear domains-ghastly spasm, qualms of heart-sick agony, convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, cholic pangs, pining atrophy, wide-wasting pestilence, dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums; this fires the veins, that rives the joints; this strains the labouring sinew, that gnaws deeper into the vitals; one of his train famishes us by pinching Poverty, another brushes us by the hand of rough Mischance; one burns the body from the soul by a fever, and another drieth it away by slowconsuming age. All tells, that man was made to mourn. In this life, the social man mourns over the pains of

another ; the unsocial man repines over his own woes. Now, all must wade through the bitter waters of death, to arrive at the Haven of Rest.

But, What are these, which are arrayed in white robes? Those, who were arrayed in white robes, were the saints in glory, seen by Saint John the Divine, in his Apocalyptic Vision. Revelation declares, in one place, I knew a man, whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth; such an one caught up to the third heaven, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. In another place, That neither the eye, nor the ear, nor the heart of man, hath seen, or heard, or conceived the things, that God hath laid up for them that love him. Revelation, indeed, is full of assurances, that a Heaven of Happiness exists for the saints. Yet few inquire, what is the nature, and degree, of that felicity, which is the consequence of the death of the second Adam. As the subject is both pleasing and useful, it is proposed now to treat, in their order, with due reverence, and relying upon scriptural inferences, of the Residence, the Character, the Employments, and the Enjoyments, of Saints in Heaven.

I. The Residence. Heaven ought to be considered as a state, rather than a place. Yet, in whatever part of the Universe it may be, all revealed allusions to it are immensely grand, and gloriously majestic. It is called the Celestial Eden; the Canaan of the Skies; a City whose builder and whose maker is God; conceived by the allknowing Mind, and fashioned by the all-doing Hand. There reign the eternal Jehovah, disarmed of all his terrors; and the exalted Saviour, in his own glorified body; surrounded by the worshipping hierarchy; the commanding attitude of the Archangels, the serene brows of the Seraphs, and the beauteous locks of the Cherubs ;' and by the innumerable saints, clothed in the white robes of innocence, with harps of praises, and palms of victory in their hands, and crowns of glory upon their heads; and with countenances glowing with youth and immortality. Heaven is the birthplace of all that is magnificent, and

amiable; the everlasting residence of truth, righteousness, and felicity.

But no words can convey so adequate an idea of its sublimity, and splendour, and purity, as the inspired emblematic Vision of Saint John. The venerable John was carried away in the spirit by an Angel, to an exceedingly high mountain, and was shown that great city, the holy New Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God. As it was pendent in the air, it glowed as a bride adorned for her husband. To show its guardian security, it had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. To denote the free access of all true believers, of whatever climate, or language; on the East were three gates, on the North three gates, on the South three gates, and on the West three gates. To declare the sure ground of acceptable faith, the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. Its immense capaciousness intimated, that none who are worthy should be excluded. The city lay four square, and the length was as long as the breadth, twelve thousand furlongs; that is, fifteen hundred miles on each side. In its cubical perfection, the length and the breadth and height of it were equal. To denote its magnificent garniture, and endurable stability, the building of the wall of it was of jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The basis of the city was represented by the most scarce, and princely ornaments of earthly ambition; the first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an ame.. thyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And John saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb, were the temple of it. And the city had no

need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb was the light thereof. The gates of it were not shut at all by day; for there should be no night there. And there should in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they who are written in the Lamb's book of life. And the angel showed John a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the Throne of God, and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the Tree of Life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there should be no more curse; but the Throne of God, and of the Lamb, should be in it; and his servants should serve him, and they should see his face, and his name should be in their foreheads. Blessed are they, that do his commandments, that they may have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

II. The Character. The saints were once children of disobedience, but are now loyal. They were once lost, but are now found. They are all brethren, being of one Father, one Saviour, one church, one blood. They are just men made perfect; perfect, not as the Infinite Mind, incapable of accession, but re-impressed with the image of God, and made like unto the angels of heaven. Their bodies, no more obtuse and sluggish, but spiritual like the mind, are not liable to error, or decay, or weariness. Being no longer clogged and impeded by gross materials, they are become pure, and alert, and glorious; all intellect, and all heart. Knowledge has lit up new energies in their souls, and love new affections in their breasts; and as once they knew only in part, now they know even as they are known. Not only is the mind adequate to form vast conceptions, and to enjoy most exquisitely; but the will is rectified, as well as the judgment; and the affections, confined to worthy objects, no longer occasion any struggle between inclination and duty. Virtue being the beauty of their minds, and all

[ocr errors]

their infirmities and inconveniences being left behind, and being freed from any unlawful desires, they are incomparably glorious in the light and love of the presence of God.

III. The Employments. The saints will not exist in a state of mere passive recipiency; but, like the angels, will be full of activity, the true rest of the soul. The ultimate end, and delightful duty, for which intelligent man was made, were to worship God, and to receive enjoyment. As, in our Father's house are many mansions, and in the firmament one star differeth from another star in glory; so, in heaven will be diversified gradations of offices and occupations; all honourable and useful; but allotted according to the different moral and religious attainments and capacities of the saints. Yet each one will be fixed where he himself would have chosen to be; each situation being contrived and adjusted by Wisdom which cannot mistake, and Love which cannot be partial; so as to form one vast, perfect system of perpetually advancing good.

1. One employment of the saints will be, to contemplate the works, and character of God. The august and elevated study of the World of Matter, and the World of Mind, with Jesus Christ and holy angels for teachers, will be a glorious recreation to the intellect; which will then know, more than it can now imagine. The saints will learn from the angels the events of heaven, the rebellion of the devils, once the highest, now the lowest of created intelligences; and the events of earth, the tremendous fall in the garden, and the devoted agony on the mount. They will see God as he is, wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working; and looking back through the immense and complicated scheme of Providence, they will see all things fitted for their final ends; nothing defective, nothing superfluous; but all necessary, kind, and wise. Then will they learn the history of all the ages of the church, and the particular afflictions, and temptations, the faith, and hope, and perseverance, and victory of the righteous. Then will all the mysterious circumstances of life be disclosed, and it will appear that

« PreviousContinue »