« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
world again, he was not able to express, and which SERM. is not possible for man to utter.
CLXXXIV. So that in discoursing of the state of the blessed, we must content ourselves with what the scripture hath declared in general concerning it, that it is a state of perfect freedom from all those infirmities and imperfections, those evils and miseries, those sins and temptations to which we are liable in this world; a state of unspeakable and endless joy and happiness in the blessed light and presence of God, and in the happy society of “ an innumerable company “ of angels,” and of so the spirits of just men made “ perfect.”
So St. John describes the felicities and glories of that state, as they were represented to him in a vision, Rev. xxi. 2, 3, 4. “And I John saw the “ holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God « out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her • husband. And I heard a great voice out of hea- . “ ven, saying, behold, the tabernacle of God is " with men, and he will dwell with them, and they « shall be his people, and God himself shall be with " them, and be their God. And God shall wipe “ away all tears from their eyes : and there shall be “ no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither « shall there be any 'more pain ; for the former so things are passed away ;" that is, all those evils which we saw and suffered in this world, will for, ever vanish and disappear. And ver 23. “ 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 is the light thereof." And which is the greatest privilege and felicity of all, no sin fhall be there ; ver. 27. “ And there
SERM.“ shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth,”
and consequently no misery and curse shall be there: chap. xxii, 3, 4. « And there shall be no more
curfe ; but the throne of God, and of the lamb $c shall be in it, and his servants shall serve him,
and they shall see his face.” In which last words, our employment and our happiness are expressed ; but what in particular these shall be, and wherein they shall consist, it is impossible for us now to describe ; it is sufficient to know in general, that our employment shall be our unspeakable pleasure, and every way suitable to the glory and happiness of that state, and as much above the noblest and most delightful employment of this world, as the perfection of our bodies, and the powers of our souls shall then be above what they were in this world.
In a word, our happiness shall be such as is worthy of the great king of the world to bestow upon his faithful servants, and infinitely beyond the just reward of their best services; it is “ to see God, and “ to be ever with him, in whose presence is fulness “ of joy, and at whose right-hand are pleasures foş çc evermore."
of the happiness of good men, in the
1 JOH N iii. 2. It doth not yet appear what we hall be; but we know,
that when he ball appear, we shall be like him ; for we mall see him as he is.
T HE great design of this epistle is to per- SERM.
1 suade men to purity and holiness of life, clxxxv, without which we can lay no claim to the pro- The fort mises and privileges of the gospel Christians are sermon on
.. this text. called “ the children of GOD;” and this is a great privilege indeed, a mighty argument of God's love and favour to us, to own us for his children. “Be“ hold what manner of love the FATHER has “ beitowed upon us, that we should be called the “ fons of God." This is the happiness of our present condition : “ now we are the sons of GOD; " and if fons, then heirs ;” this gives a title to a future inheritance. « And it does not yet appear « what we shall be ;” the circumstances of our future happiness and glory are not perfectly revealed to us, only thus much in general is discovered to us, that we shall be very happy, because we shall be adınitted to the immediate sight and enjoyment of God; and we cannot see him and enjoy him, unless we bę like him; and to be like God, is to be happy. “ We know that when he shall appear, ta'y pavepwSin that is, when it shall appear. It doth not yet
SERM. “ appear what we shall be, but when it shall ap
“ pear,” that is, when qur future happiness shall be om Pea
revealed to us : it is not yet particularly discovered to us, buț thus much in general we know of it beforehand, that we shall be like God, for we shall “ see him as he is.” In which words there are these four things worthy of our consideration.
First, the present obscurity of our future state, as to the particularcircumstances of that happiness which good men shall enjoy in another world ; " it doth • not yet appear what we shall be.”
Secondly, that thus much we certainly know of it 'in general, that it shall consist in the fight and enjoyment of God; " we know that when it shall " appear, we shall see him as he is.”
Thirdly, wherein our likeness to God shall confist: “ we shall be like him.”
Fourthly, the necessary connexion between our likeness to God, and our sight and enjoyment of him : 66 we shall be like him, for we shall see him " as he is;" that is, because '“ we shall see him as “ he is,” therefore it is certain « we shall be like 6 him ;" for unless we be like God, we are not ca. pable of seeing and enjoying him.
First, the present obscurity of our future state, as to the particular circumstances of that happiness 'which good men shall enjoy in another world: “ it “ doth not yet appear what we Thall be.” The fcripture tells us, that it is “ a glory yet to be re
vealed :” that there shall be such a state of happiness for good men in another world, though it was in a great nieasure obscure to the world before, both to Jews and Gentiles, yet it is now clearly repealed to us by “ the appearance of JESUS
sc CHRIST, who hath brought life and immorta-SERM, $s lity to light by the gospel.” But the particular circumstances of this happiness are still hid from us; and as it is a needless, so it would be a faulty curiosity in us to pry and enquire into them. It is enough that we certainly know there is such a state; the knowledge of this in general is enough to quicken our diligence, and excite our endeavours for the obtaining and securing of it: it is enough to mortify all evil affections in us, and to baffle all temptations to sin, to know that it will rob us of so great a felicity, as God hath promised to us; it is enough to support and comfort us under all the miseries and afflictions of this present time, to be fully assured that after a few days of sorrow and trouble are over, we shall be unspeakably and eternally happy. A firm persuasion of this, is argument enough to our obedience, and a sufficient support to our faith and patience, and we need enquire no farther. Thus much God hath revealed to us for our comfort and encouragement, the rest he hath conceal'd from us; and it would be a bold intrusion into his secrets, to pry and search any farther; and if we should, it would be to no purpose. For in things which depend upon divine revelation it is impossible for us to know any more, than God is pleased to reveal to us. In matters of pure revelation, we cannot go beyond the word of the LORD; “ the things of God knoweth no man, but the “ Spirit of God” or he to whom the Spirit of God shall reveal them, If one should come from a strange country, never known and discover'd before, and should only tell us in general, that it was a most pleasant and delightful place, and the inhabi