Page images

(3.) We shall then likewise have a certain knowledge of God, free from all doubts concerning him. There may be a certainty in faith; but not that high degree of evidence and assurance which is in fight. It is spoken by

, way of abating the certainty of faith, when it is called the evidence of things not seen; nay, many times the faith of good men is mixed with a great deal of fear and doubt of the contrary : But, in the state of glory, we fhall not be liable to any of these doubtings and jealousies, which do so frequently possess the best of men in this world, Then we shall know, as also we are known, as the Apostle expresseth it, 1 Cor. xiii. 12.

As God now knows us, so shall we then know him, as to the truth and certainty of our knowledge.

Now, such an immediate, and clear, and certain knowledge of God as hath been described, doth necessarily suppose a very great elevation of our understandings, above what this fate of mortality can bear. We cannot now have a clear and immediate light of God, because the weakness and imperfection of our present state will not admit of it. In this life, our understandings are easily overborne by the luftre and excellency of an object. Hence it was, that God said to Moses, when he fo earDeftly desired to see his face, Thou canst not see my face, and live, Exod. xxxii. 20. So transcendent and glorious a fight would quite overwhelm and overcome our faculties; as the light of the sun, if we look ftedfastly and directly upon it, will dazzle and blind the strongelt eye. The light of so glorious a being as God is, of so much excellency, and happiness, and perfe&tion, as concenter in him, would fill us with joy and wonder, too great for frail mortality to bear ; but, in the state of glory, the eye of the foul, thar is our understanding faculty, fhall be enlarged unto that capacity, and purified to that clearness, and elevated to that strength, as to be able to receive and bear so much of the lustre and glory of the divine nature and perfection, as is consistent with the finiteness of a human understanding, and suitable to the perfection of a glorified foul; and our understandings ihall then be raised and advanced to such a strength, that they shall be so far from being oppressed and burdened with


the presence of God, and from finking under the weight of his glory, that they shall be infinitely ravished and delighted with it.

2. To see God as he is, does imply our perfect enjoyment of him.

We shall not only perfectly know him, but we shall take infinite pleasure in him, in beholding his glory, in praising and admiring his goodness, in doing his will with all imaginable readiness and chearfulness. I do not pretend to describe to you the particularities of that itate, and all the blessed comforts and enjoyments of it ; it doth not yet appear what we Mall be. God hath not told us, and none but he, who is the author and fountain of this happiness, can discover it to us.

Let it suffice us, that God hath assured us of it, and hath prepared it for us; and it can be no mean thing which the infinite wifdom, and goodness, and power of God hath designed for the final reward of those who love him, and of those whom he loves. If we know thus much of it, that it is certain beyond all doubt, and văst beyond all imagination, we have nothing more to wish, but that God would fit us for it, and, as soon as he pleaseth, bring us to the enjoyment of it.

III. We will consider the fitness of this metaphor, to express to us the happiness of our future state. And that the scripture doth very much delight to set forth to us the blessedness of heaven, by this metaphor of seeing, is evident from the frequent use of it in fcrip. ture, Matth. v. 8. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

i Cor. xiii. 12. "We mall see him face to face. Heb. xii. 14. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord. And, here, in the text, We Shall see him as he is. And, indeed, God is pleased, in scripture, to make sensible descriptions of the happiness and misery of another world, and, by way of accommodation to our understandings, and condescension to the weakness and imperfections of this state, to set forth heaven and hell to us by such things as are sensible; and that not only to help our understandings to a more easy conception of things, but likewise to move and rouze our affections, which, while we are in the body, and immersed in sense, are commonly most powerfully wrought upon, by sensible representations of things.


And therefore hell is described to us by such things as affect the sense of feeling, because that is capable of the greatest and sharpest pain, and the enjoyments of heaven,

; by the sense of light, because that is the noblest of all our fenses; and the primary and proper object of it is most delightful, and of the most spiritual nature of any corporeal thing.

1. Sight is the noblest and most excellent of all our senses : and therefore the frame of the eye is the most cu. rious of all other parts of the body, and the dearest to us, and that which we preserve with the greatest tenderness, When the Apostle would set forth the mighty affection which the Galatians bore to him, he says, they would bave plucked oựt their very eyes for him. It is the most comprehensive sense, hath the largest sphere, takes in the most objects, and discerns them at the greatest difance. It can, in a moment, pass from earth to heaven, and survey innumerable objects. It is the most pure, and spiritual, and quickest in its operations, and approacheth nearest to the nature of a spiritual faculty. Of all our senses, it carries the greateft evidence and certainty along with it, and the reports of it are the most certain and unquestionable. Hence we use to say, that one eye-witness is more than ten ear-witnesses. When Job would express to us the most perfect knowledge of God, he does it by fight; Job xlii. 5. I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear ; but now my eyes see thee; that is, he had a more perfect and clear discovery of God and his perfections than ever he had before. And, to mention but one thing more, it is that fenfe which is more apt to work upon our affections.

Segniùs irritant animos demissa per aures,
Quàm quæ funt oculis commiffa fidelibus

“ The things which we hear reported, are not so apt " to move our pity, or anger, or love, as the things which “ we fee with our eyes.” So that in all these respects, of the dignity and excellency, the largeness and comprehensiveness, the spirituality aod quickness, the evidence VOL. VIII.



[ocr errors]

and certainty of this sense, and the power it hath to raise our affections, it is the fitteft to represent to us the noblet employment and operation of our souls in the state of glory.

2. The primary and proper object of this sense, is the most delightful, and of the most spiritual nature of any corporeal thing, and that is light. The light of the eye rejoiceth the heart, Prov. xv. 30. Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eye to behold the sun, Ecclef. xi. 7. It is the purest and most fpiritual of all corporeal things, and therefore God chuseth to represent himself by it: God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

And thus I have done with the second thing I propounded to speak to, namely, that thus much in general we cer: tainly know of the happiness of our future ftate, that it shall consist in the light of God. I should now proceed to the third thing, namely, wherein our likeness to God fhall confift: But this I shall refer to another opportunity,



Of the happiness of good men, in the future


1 Jorn ii. 2. It doth not yet appear what we mall be : but we know,

that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ; for we shall see him as he is,

[ocr errors]

The second sermon on this text..


N these words are four things worthy of our consideration.

First, The present obscurity of our future state, as to the particular circumstances of that happiness which good u en fhall enjoy in another world; it doth not yet appear what we shall be.

Secondly, Secondly, What we know of it in general; that it shall consist in the perfect knowledge and enjoyment of God; both which are comprehended in that expression, We shall Jee him as he is.

Thirdly, Wherein our likeness and conformity to God fhall confitt, This we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him.

Fourthly; The necessary connexion between our likeness and conformity to God, and our fight and enjoyment of him. The two first of these. I have spoken to. I shall now proceed to the

Third, namely, Wherein our likeness and conformity to God shall consist, We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him : In these two things, in the immortality of our nature, and in the purity of our souls.

I. In the immortality of our nature. In this mortal ftate, we are not capable of that happiness which consists in the vision of God, that is, in the perfect knowledge and perpetual enjoyment of him. The imperfection of our Itate, and the weakness of our faculties, cannot bear the sight of fo glorious and resplendent an object, as the divine nature and perfections are: We cannot see God and live. The frailty of our mortal condition is unequal to sustain fo great a weight of glory; to be sure it is incapable of eternal felicity: Nothing but an immortal nature can be happy for ever. And therefore the scripture tells us, that when our bodies shall be raised, the quality and condition of them shall be quite altered, and that our blefsed Saviour shall, by his almighty power, make a mighty change in them from what they were in this mortal state : Phil. iii. 20, 21. Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Chrift; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things to himself. And the Apostle tells us more particularly wherein this change doth confitt, 1 Cor. xv. 42. It is fown in corrup

tion, it is raised in incorruption; it is forun in dishonour, sit is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is fown a natural body, it is raised a spi. - ritual body. These corruptible, and vile, and weak, and


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »