Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

priests. This seems to be alluded to, Rev. iii, 5. “He that over. “ cometh-the saints shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will

not blot out his name out of the book of life.” So the faints'ihall not be kings only, but priests withal; for they are a Royal Priesthood, 1 Pet ii.9. They will be priests upon their thrones. They are judicially found defcended from the great High-Priest of their profeilion, begotten of him by his Spirit, of the incorruptible feed of the word, and without blemish: fo the trial being over, they are admitted to be priests in the temple above, that they may dwell in the house of the Lord for ever. There is nothing upon earth more glorious than a kingdom, nothing more venerable than the priesthood: and both meet "together in the glorified state of the faints. The general assembly of the first-born, (Heb. xii. 23.) whose is the priesthood and the doubl. portion, appearing in their white robes of glory, will be a reverend and glorious company. That day will thew them to be the persons, whom the Lord has chosen out of all the tribes of the earth, to be near unto him, and to enter into his temple, even into his holy place. Their priesthood, begun on earth, shall be brought to its perfection, while they ihall be employed in offering the sacrifice of praise to God and the Lamb, for ever and ever. They got not their portion, in the earth, with the rest of the tribes: but the Lord himself was their portion, and will be their double portion, through the ages of eternity.

Fourthly, They were wont to wear white raiment, in a time of triumph; to the which also there seems to be an allusion, Rev. iii. 5. “ He that overcometh, the fame Thall be clothed in white raiment " And what is heaven but an everlasting triumph! None get thither, but such as fight, and overcome too. Though Canaan was given to the Ifraelites, an inheritance : they behoved to conquer it, ere they could be poffeffors of it. The faints, in this world, are in the field of battle; ofren in red garments, garments rolled in blood : but the day approacheth, in which they shall stand before the throne, and before the Lamb, Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, (Rev, vii:9.) having obtained a compleat victory over all their enemies. The palm was used as a sign of victory; because that tree, oppressed with weights, yieldeth not, but rather shooteth upwards. And palm-trees were carved on the doors of the most holy place, (1 Kings vi. 32.) which was a special type of heaven; for heaven is the place, which the saints are received into, as conquerors.

Behold the joy and peace of the saints in their white robes. The joys arising from the view of past dangers, and of riches and honours gained at the very door of death, do moitosensibly touch one's heart; and this will be an ingredient in the everlasting happiness of the saints, which could have had no place, in the heaven of innocent Adam, and his finless offspring, fupposing him to have stood. Surely the glorified faints will not forget the entertainment they met with in the world a it will be for the glory

of God to remember it, and also for the heightening of their joy. The Sicilian king, by birth the son of a potter,

act: 1

[ocr errors]

Рp

song of the heavenly holy, when Christ was born: but thrice happy they, who hall join their voices with theirs, in phe choir of saints and angels in heaven, when he shall be glorified in all, who fhall be about him there. Then thall we'be brought acquainted with the bleffed fpirits, who never sinned. How bright will these morning-stars shine in the holy place! they were ministring.fpirits to the heirs of Calvation, loved them for their Lord and Master's fake; encamped round about them, to preserve them from danger; how joyfully will they welcome them to their everlasting habitations; and rejoice to see them come at length to their kingdom, as the tutor doth in the prosperity of his pupils! The faints shall be no more afraid of them, as sometime they were wont to be: they shall then have put' off mortality, and infirmides of the flesh, and be themselves, as the an. gels of God, fit to entertain communion and fellowship with these thining ones. And both being brought under one lread, the Lord Jesus Christ; they shall join in the praises of God, and of the Lamb, saying, with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was sain, &c. Rev. v. 11, 12. Whether the angels thall (as some think) assume airy bodies, that they may be seen by the badily eyes of the saints, and be in nearer capacity to converse with them, I know not: but as they want not ways of converse amongst themselves, we have reason to think, that conversation, betwixt thein and the saints, shall not be for ever block-'

ed up:

Lastly, They shall have society with the Lord himself in heaven, glorious communion with God and Christ, which is the perfection of happiness. I chuse to speak of communion with God, and the man Christ together; because as we derive our grace from the Lamb, so we will derive our glory from him too; the man Christ being (if I may be allowed the expreilion) the centre of the divine glory in heaven, from whence it is diffused unto all the saints. This seems to be taught us by these fcriptures, which express heaven's happiness by being with Christ, Luke xxiii. 43. This day shalt thou be with me in paradise, John xxvii. 24. Father I will that these also, whom thou hast given me, be with me. (And remarkable to this purpose is what follows, that they may behold ray glary.) r' Thes.iv.17. So shall we ever be with the Lord, to wit, the Lord Christ, whom we fall meet in the air. This also seems to be the import of these scriptures, wherein God and the Lamb, the flain Saviour, are jointly spoken of, in the point of the happiness of the saints in heaven, Rev. vii. 17. “ For the Lamb which is in the midst

of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living foun66 tains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes,” Chap.xxi. 3. “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will “ dwell with them,” to wit, as in a tabernacle, (so the word fignifies) that is, in the flesh of Christ, (compare John i. 54. and ver. 22.) ". The Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple of it." Here lies the chief happiness of the saints in heaven, that without which they could never be happy, though lodged in that glorious

place,

place, and blessed with the society of angels there. What I will venture to say of it, thall be comprised in three things.

ift, The faints in heaven fhall have the glorious presence of God, and of the Lamb: God himfelf shall be with them, Rev. xxi. 3. And they shall ever be with the Lord. God is every where present, in respect of his effence; the saints inilitant have his special gracious presence: but in heaven they have his glorious presence. There they are brought near to the throne of the great King, and stand before him, where he lhews his inconceivable glory. There they have the tabernacle of God, on which the cloud of glory rests, the all glorious human nature of Christ, wherein the fulness of the Godhead dwells, not vailed as in the days of his humiliation, but shining through that blessed flesh, (that all the faints may behold his glory) and making that body more glorious than a thousand suns: so that the city has no need of the sun, nor of the moon, but th: glory of God doth lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof, (properly, the candle thereof) Rev. xxi. 23. i. e. The Lamb is the luminary, or luminous body, which gives light to the city; as the sun and moon now give light to the world, or as a candle lightens a dark room: and the light proceeding from that glorious luminary, for the city is the glory of God. Sometime that candle burnt very dim, it was hid under a bushel, in the time of his humiliation; but that, now and then, it darted out fome rays of this light, which dazzled the eyes of the spectators: but now it is set on high, in the city of God, where it shines, and shall shine for ever, in perfection of glory. It was fometimes laid afide, as a stone disallowed of the builders: but now it is, and for ever will be, the light or luminary of that city; and that, like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper fone clear as crystal, ver. 11.

Who can conceive the happiness of the saints, in the presence. chamber of the great King, where he fits in his chair offtate, making his glor; eminently to appear in the man Chrift? His gracious prefence makes a mighty change upon the faints in this world : his glo. rious presence in heaven then inult needs screw up their graces to their perfection, and elevate their capacities. The saints do experience, tk at the presence of God now with them in his grace, can make a little heaven of a fort of hell: how great then most the glory of heaven be, by his presence there in his glory! If a candle, in fonie fort, beauti. fies a 'cottage or prison, how will the thining fun beautify a palace or paradise! The gracious presence of God made a wilderness lightsom to Moses, the valley of the shadow of death to David, a fiery furnace to the three children: what a ravishing beauty thall then arife from the fun of righteousness, shining in his meridian brightness oa the street of the city laid with pure gold? This glorious presence of God in heaven will put a glory on the faints themselves. The pleasant garden hath no beauty, when the darkness of the night sits down on it; but the thining fun puts a glory on the blackest mountains: so these

Qq

who 3.

who are now as bottles in the smeak, when set in the glorious prefence of God, will be glorious both in foul and body.

2dly, The saints in heaven shall have the full enjoyment of God and of the Lamb. This is it that perfectly satisfies the rational creature; and here is the saints everlasting rest. This will make up all their wants, and fill the delires of their souls, which after all here obtained, still cry, Give give, not without some anxiety; because though they do enjoy God, yet they do not enjoy him fully. As to the way and manner of this enjoyment, our Lord tells us, John xvii.

« This is “ life eternal, that they may know thee the only true God, and 66

Jesus Christ whom thou hast fent.” Now there are two ways, how a desirable object is known most perfectly and satisfyingly; the one'is by sight, the other by experience : sight satisfies the understanding, and experience fatisfies the will. Accordingly'one may fay, that the saints enjoy God and the Lamb in heaven, (1.) By an intuitive knowledge. (2.) By an experimental knowledge, both of them perfect, I mean, in respect of the capacity of the creature; for otherwise a creature's perfect knowledge of an infinite Being is impossible. The faints below enjoy God, in that knowledge they have of him by report, from his his holy word which they believe; they see him likewise darkly in the glass of ordinances, which do, as it were, represent the bridegroom's picture, or shadow, while he is abfent: they have allofome experimental knowledge of him, they taste that God is good, and that the Lord is gracious. But the faints above thall not need a good report of the King, they thall see himself; therefore faith ceaseth: they will behold his own face; therefore ordinances are no inoré; there is no need of a gláss: they shall drink, and drink abundantly of that whereof they have tafted, and so hope ceaseth, for they are at the utmost bounds of their desires.

1. The faints in heaven fall enjoy God and the Lamb, by fight, and that in a must perfect manner, i Cor. xiii. 12. For now we fee through a glass darkly; but then face to face. Here our sight is but mediate, as by a glass, in which we see not things themselves, but the images of things: but there we shall have an immediate view of God and the Lamb. Here our knowledge is but obscure; there it shall be clear without the least mixture of darkness. The Lord doth now converse with his saints, through the lattesses of ordinances: but then shall they be in the presence-chamber with hiin. There is a vail now on the glorious face, as to us: but when we come to the upper house, that vail, through which fome rays of beauty are now darted, will be found entirely taken off; and then thall glorious excellencies and perfections, not seen in him by mortals, be clearly discovered, for we shall see his face, Rev. xxii. 4. The phrase seems to be borrowed from the honour put on some in the courts of monarchs, to be attendants on the king's perfor. We read, Jer. liii. 25. of seven men of them that were (Heb. Seers of the king's face, i.e. as we read it) near the king's Person. O unspeakable glory! the great King keeps his court in hea.

yen;

xxii. 3.4.

ven; and the saints shall all be his courtiers, ever near the King's person, seeing his face. The throne of God and of the Lamb mall be in it, and his fervants fall ferve him, and they shall see his face, Rev.

(1.) They shall see Jesus Christ with their bodily eyes, since he will never lay aside the human nature. They will always behold that glorious blessed body, which is perfonally united to the divine nature, and exalted far above principalities and powers, and every name that is named. There we will fee, with our eyes, that very body, which was born of Mary at Bethlehem, and crucified at Jerusalem betwixt two thieves; that blessed head that was crowned with thorns; the face that was fpit upon; the hands and feet that were nailed to the cross; all shining with unconceivable glory. The glory of the man Christ will attract the eyes of all the saints, and he will be for ever admired in all them that believe, 2 Theffi. 10. Were each ftar, ia the heavens, shining as the sun in its meridian brightness, and the light of the sun so increased, as the stars, in that case, Thould bear the same proportion to the sun, in point of light, that they do now; it might possibly be fonie faint resemblance of the glory of the man Christ, in comparison with that of the saints; for though the saints shall shine forth as the sun. yet not they, but the Lamb Thall be the light of the city. The wise men fell down, and worshipped him, when they saw him a young chill, with Mary his mother, in the house. But O! what a ravishing sight will it be to see him in his kingdom on his throne, at the Father's right hand! The Word was made flesh, (John i. 14.) and the glory of God fhall shine through that flesh, and the joys of heaven {pring out from it, unto the saints, who shall see and enjoy God. in Chrilt. For since the union betwixt Christ and the faints is never dissolved but they continue his members for ever ; and the members cannot draw their life, but from their Head; seeing that which is dependent on the head, as to the vital influence, is no member: therefore Jesus Christ will remain the everlasting bond of union betwixt God and the saints; from whence their eternal life shall spring, John xvii.2, 3.“Thou hast given hiin power over all flesh, that he should give "eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eter"nal, that they might know thee the only true God, &c. Ver 22,

23. And the glory which thou gavelt me, I have given them, that

they may be one, even as we are one : I in them, and thou in me, " that they may be made perfect in one." Wherefore the immediate enjoyment of God in heaven is to be understood, in respect of the laying aside of word and facraments, and such external means, as we enjoy God by in this world; but not, as if the saints thould then cast off their dependence on their Head for vital influences: nay, “ the " Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, thall feed them, and fhall " lead them unto living fountains of waters," Rev. vii. 17.

Now when we shall behold him, who died for us, that we might live for evermore, whose matchless love Dade him fivim through the

292

Ped

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »