« PreviousContinue »
fowls, all the silver and gold, all beings and perfections, as well as mere man, are as much the Christian's as the money in his pocket, the clothes he wears, or the house he dwells in, or the victuals he eats; yea, more properly his, more advantageously, more his than if he commanded all these things mentioned to be just in all respects as he pleased, at any time, by virtue of the union with Christ; because Christ, who certainly doth here possess all things, is entirely his, so that he possesses it all, more than a wife the property of the best and dearest of husbands, more than the hand possesses what the head doth. All the universe is his, only he has not the trouble of managing it; but Christ, to whom it is no trouble to manage it, manages it for him a thousand times as much to his adyantage as he could himself, if he had the managing of all the atoms in the universe. Every thing is managed by Christ so as to be most to the advantage of the Christian. Every particle of air, or every ray of the sun, so that he in the other world, when he comes to see it, shall sit and enjoy all this vast inheritance with surprising, amazing joy. And how is it possible for a man to possess any thing more than so as shall be most to his advantage? And then besides this, the Christian shall have every thing managed just according to his will; for his will shall so be left in the will of God, that he had rather have it according to God's will than any way in the world. And who would desire to possess all things more than to have all things managed just according to his will ? And then besides, he himself shall so use them as to be most to his own advantage in his thoughts, and meditations, &c. Now, how is it possible for any one to possess any thing more than to have it managed as much as possible according to his will, as much as possible for his own advantage, and for himself to use it as much as possible according to his advantage? But it is certain that so far shall the true Christian possess all things: it is not a probable scheme, but absolutely certain; for we know that all things will be managed so as shall be most agreeable to his will: that cannot be denied, nor that it shall be most to his advantage, and that he himself shall use it most to his own advantage. This is the kingdom Christ so often promised: they shall be kings with a witness at ibis rate: this is the sitting in Christ's throne, and inheriting all things promised to the victors in the Revelation, and the like in many other places.
ii. Saints. Is it not a very improper thing that saints in some respects should be advanced above angels, seeing angels are of more excellent natural parts? I answer, No more improper than it is for the queen in some respects to be advanced above the nobles and barons of far nobler natural powers.
5. Heaven. There is no more reason why it should be a damp to the happiness of some in heaven that others are happier, than that their happiness should be damped by a bare possibility of greater happiness, supposing them to be all equal; for if they were all equal, and all full of happiness, yet every one would know that greater happiness is possible, absolutely, and possible for them if God had but enlarged their capacity. And why should not they who are actuated by pure reason desire it, as much as if it were actually enjoyed by some beings? for barely that it is enjoyed by other beings cannot possibly cause those that are actuated by pure reason, and whose desires in every respect are agreeable to reason to desire it, any more than if it was only possible to be enjoyed, and were never actually enjoyed by any. But instead of the superiority of some above others in happiness, being a damp on the happiness of those that are inferior, there is undoubted reason why it should be an additiou to their happiness, and why it would rather be a detraction from their happiness if it were otherwise ; for most certainly there is a pure, ardent, and inconceivably vehement, mutual love between the glorified saints, and this love is in proportion to the perfection and amiableness of the object loved. Therefore, seeing their love to them is proportional to their amiableness, it must necessarily cause delight when they see their happiness proportional to their amiableness, and so to their love to them ; it will not damp any to see them loved more than themselves, for they shall have as much love as they desire, and as great manifestations of love as they can bear, and they themselves will love those that are superior in holiness as much as others, and will delight to see others love them as much as themselves. We are very apt to conceive that those that are more holy and more happy than others in heaven will be elated and lifted up above them; whereas their being superior in boliness implies their being superior in humility, or having the greatest humility; for humility is a part of holiness that is capable of degrees in the perfect state of heaven as well as other graces; not that the holiest shall think more meanly of themselves than the least holy, for they shall all be perfectly humble, and perfectly free from pride, and none shall think more highly of themselves than they ought to think, but yet as they see further into the divine perfections than others, so they shall penetrate further into the vast and infinite distance there is between them and God, and their delight of annihilating themselves that God may be all, shall be greater. And besides those that are highest in boliness, and so necessarily highest in happiness, (for holiness and happiness are all one in heaven,) instead of any thing like despising those that are less holy and happy, will love those that are inferior to them more than they would do if they had not so much holiness and happiness more than if they were but equal with them, and more than those do that are equal with them. This is certain ; for the foundation of the saints' love to each other will be their love to the image of God which they see in them. Now most certainly, the holier a man is, the more he loves the same degree of the image; so that the holiest in heaven will love that image of God they see in the least holy more than those do that are less holy; and that which makes it beyond any doubt that this superior happiness will be no damp to them, is this, that their superior happiness consists in their great humility, and in their greater love to them, and to God, and Christ, whom the saints look upon as themselves. These things may be said of this, beside what may be said about every one being completely satisfied and full of happiness, having as much as he is capable of enjoying or desiring; and also what may be said about their entire resignation ; for God's will is become so much their own, that the fulfilling of his will, let it be what it may, fills them with inconceivable satisfaction.
 Heaven. That the glorified spirits shall grow in holiness and happiness in eternity, I argue from this foundation, that their number of ideas shall increase to eternity. How great soever the number of their ideas when they are first glorified, it is but limited; and it is evident the time will come when they shall have lived in glory so long that the parts of duration, each equal to a million million ages, that they have lived, will be more in number than their ideas were at first. Now we cannot suppose that they will ever entirely forget every thing that has passed in heaven, and in the universe for a whole million million of ages. It is undoubted that they never will have forgot what passed in their life upon earth, the sins they have been saved from, their regeneration, the circumstances which did heighten their mercies, their good works which follow them, their death, &c.
They will without doubt retain innumerable multitudes of ideas of what passed in the first seventy years; so also they shall retain to eternity their ideas of what was done in the ages of the world, with relation to the church of God, and God's wondrous providence with respect to the world of men; and can we then think that a whole million million ages of those great and most glorious things that pass in heaven shall ever be erased out of their minds ? But if they retain but one idea for one such vast period, their ideas shall be millions of times more in number than when they first entered into heaven, as is evident, because by supposition the number of such ages will be millions of times more in number; therefore, their knowledge will increase to eternity; and if their knowledge, their holiness, for as they increase in the knowledge of God, and of the works of God, the more they will see of his excellency, and the more they see of his excellency, cæteris paribus, the more will they love him, and the more they love God, the more delight
and happiness will they have in him. See Note on Ps. lxxxix. 1, 2. It will be objected that at this rate we might prove that the damned increase in perfection. I answer, No; for, though it is true that they shall increase in knowledge, they will increase in odiousness in the same proportion.  Heaven.
Addition to 2d Corol. of 108. What beauteous and fragrant flowers will these be, reflecting all the sweetness of the Son of God! how will Christ delight to walk in the garden among those beds of spices, to feed in the garden, and to gather lilies!
 Heaven. The saints in heaven will doubtless eternally exercise themselves in contemplation. They will not want employ this way; not in exercising their thoughts and study upon intricacies and seeming repugnance to unfold them and discover another further and further that way, as it is here, but by viewing in their minds one thing after another, as they will naturally be led, and sweetly drawn by love and delight, and with such intenseness as the natural bent of their hearts will cause.
Their sight shall reach further and further, and new things shall plainly present to their minds, without the mixture of any error. It is error always from whence intricacy proceeds, and seeming repugnartce, and not from ignorance. The object of their thoughts shall be the glory of God, which they shall contemplate in the creation in general, in the wonderful make of it ; particularly of the highest heavens, and in the wonders of God's providence. It shall most clearly and delightfully be manifested in the church of saints and angels, which they shall discover more and more by their conversation, assisting one another to discoveries in other things, and most of all mediate ways in the man Christ Jesus. They shall employ themselves in singing God's praise, or expressing their thoughts to God and Christ, and also to one another, and in going from one part of heaven and of the universe to another, to behold the glories of God shining in the various parts of it.
 Heaven. In the future world the saints' love, one to another, will be such, that it will be a very delightful consideration to them, that Christ Jesus dearly loves the other saints, and it will fill them with joy to see him manifesting his love to them. They again shall see the other saints rejoicing that Christ loves and delights in them.
Singing is amiable, because of the proportion that is perceived in it: singing in divine worship is beautiful and useful, because it expresses and promotes the harmonious exercise of the mind. There will doubtless in the future world be that wbich, as it will be an expression of an immensely 'greater and more excellent harmony of the mind, so will be a far more lively expression of this harmony, and shall itself be vastly more harmonious, yea,
than our air, or ear, by any modulation is capable of, which expressions, and the harmony thereof, shall be sensible, and shall in a far more lively manner strike our perception than sound.
 Heaven. How ravishing are the proportions of the reflexions of rays of light, and the proportion of the vibrations of the air! and without doubt God can contrive matter so that there shall be other sort of proportions that may be quite of a different kind, and may raise another sort of pleasure in the sense, and in a manner to us now inconceivable, that shall be vastly more ravishing and exquisite. And in all probability the abode of the saints after the resurrection will be so contrived by God that there shall be external beauties and harmonies altogether of another kind from what we perceive here, and probably those beauties will appear chiefly in the bodies the man Christ Jesus, and of the saints. Our animal spirits will also be capable of immensely more fine and exquisite proportions in their motions, than now they are, being so gross; but how much more ravishing will the exquisite spiritual proportions be that shall be seen in minds, in their acts between one spiritual act and another, between one disposition and another, and between one mind and another, and between all their minds and Christ Jesus, and particularly between the man Christ Jesus and the Deity, and among the persons of the Trinity, the supreme harmony of all! And it is out of doubt with me that there will be immediate intellectual views of minds, one of another, and of the Supreme mind, more immediate, clear, and sensible than our views of bodily things with bodily eyes. In this world we behold spiritual beauties only mediately by the intervention of our senses, in perceiving those external actions which are the effects of spiritual proportion. Hereby the ravishingness of the beauty is much obscured, and our sense of it flattened and deadened; but when we behold the beauties of mind more immediately than now we do the colours of the rainbow, how ravishing will it be ! All that there wants in order to such an intellectual view, is that a clear and sensible apprehension of what is in mind should be raised in our own mind constantly according to such and such laws; for it is no other way that we perceive with our bodily eyes, or perceive by any of our senses.
Then also our capacities will be exceedingly enlarged, and we shall be able to apprehend, and to take in more extended and compounded proportions. We see that the narrower the capacity the more simple must the beauty be to please : thus, in proportion of sounds, the birds and brute creatures are most delighted with simple music, and in the proportion confined to a few notes; so little children are not able to perceive the sweetness of very complex tunes where respect is to be had to the proportion of a great many notes together, in order to perceive the sweetness of