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of glory, as to be the object of any divine worship, from the meanest creature which is capable of the performance of it. Those who ascribe divine or religious honour unto the saints or angels, as is done in the church of Rome, do both' rob Christ of the principal flower of his imperial crown, and sacrilegiously attempt to adorn others with it, which they abhor.
[4.] The glory that God designed to accomplish in and by him, is now made evident unto all the holy ones that are about the throne. The great design of the wisdom and grace of God from eternity, was to declare and manifest all the holy glorious properties of his nature, in and by Jesus Christ. And this is that wherein he will acquiesce, with which he is well pleased. When this is fully accomplished, he will use no other way or means for the manifestation of his glory. Herein is the end and blessedness of all.
Wherefore the principal work of faith, whilst we are in this world, is to behold this glory of God, as so represented unto us in Christ. In the exercise of faith therein, is our conformity unto him carried on unto perfection; 2 Cor. iii. 18. And unto this end, or that we may do so, he powerfully communicates unto our minds a saving internal light, without which we can neither behold his glory, nor give glory unto him. “He who commanded light to shine out of darkness, shines into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of
Jesus Christ;' 2 Cor. iv. 6. The end, I say, why God communicates a spiritual supernatural light unto the minds of believers, is that they may be able to discern the manifestation and revelation of his glory in Christ; which is hid from the world; Eph. i. 17-19. Col, ii. 2. Howbeit, whilst we are here, we see it but : darkly as in a glass;' it is not evident unto us in its own lustre and beauty. Yea, the remainder of our darkness herein, is the cause of all our weakness, fears, and disconsolations. Want of a steady view of this glory of God, is that which exposeth us unto impressions from all our temptations. And the light of our minds therein, is that whereby we are changed and transformed into the likeness of Christ.
But in heaven this is conspicuously and gloriously manifest unto all the blessed ones that are before the throne of God. They do not behold it by faith in various degrees of light, as we do here below. They have not apprehensions of some impressions of divine glory on the person of Christ and the human nature therein, with the work which he did perform, which is the utmost of our attainment. But they behold openly and plainly the whole glory of God, all the characters of it, illustriously manifesting themselves in him, in what he is, in what he hath done, in what he doth. Divine wisdom, grace, goodness, love, power, do all shine forth in him unto the contemplation of all his saints in whom he is admired. And in the vision hereof consists no small part of our eternal blessedness. For what can be more satisfactory, more full of glory unto the souls of believers, than clearly to comprehend the mystery of the wisdom, grace, and love of God in Christ? This is that which the prophets, at a great distance, inquired diligently into; that which the angels bow down to look towards; that whose declaration is the life and glory of the gospel. To behold in one view the reality, the substance of all that was typified and represented by the beautiful fabric of the tabernacle and temple which succeeded in the room thereof; of all the utensils of them, and services performed in them; all that the promises of the Old Testament did contain, or the declarations of the New; as it is the most satisfactory, blessed, and glorious state, that by the present light of faith we can desire or long for, so it evidenced a glory in Christ of another kind and nature, than what any creature can be participant in. I shall therefore state it unto our consideration, with some few observations concerning it.
1st. Every believer seeth here in this life, an excellency, a glory.in the mystery of God in Christ. They do so in various degrees, unless it be in times of temptation, when any of them walk in darkness, and have no light. The view and prospect hereinto is far more clear, and accompanied with more evidence in some, than in others, according unto the various degrees of their faith and light. The spiritual sight of some is very weak, and their views of the glory of God in Christ are much obscured with inevidence, darkness, and instability. This, in many, is occasioned by the weakness of their natural ability, in more, by spiritual sloth and negligence, in that they have not habitually exercised their senses to discern good and evil,' as the apostle speaks, Heb. v. 14. Some want instruction, and some have their minds corrupted by false opinions. Howbeit, all true believers have the eyes of their understanding opened,' to discern, in some measure, the glory of God, as represented to them in the gospel. Unto others it is foolishness; or they think there is that darkness in it whereunto they cannot approach. But all the darkness is in themselves. This is the distinguishing property and character of saving faith ; it beholds the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;
it makes us to discern the manifestation of the glory of God in Christ, as declared in the gospel.
2dly. Our apprehension of this glory is the spring of all our obedience, consolation, and hope, in this world. Faith discovering this manifestation of the glory of God in Christ, engageth the soul unto universal obedience, as finding therein abundant reason for it, and encouragement unto it. Then is obedience truly evangelical, when it ariseth from this acting of faith, and is thereon accompanied with liberty and gratitude. And herein is laid all the foundation of our consolations for the present, and hope for the future. For the whole security of our present and future condition depends on the actings of God towards us, according as he hath manifested himself in Christ.
3dly. From the exercise of faith herein, doth divine love, love unto God, proceed; therein alone it is enlivened and inflamed. On these apprehensions doth a believing soul cry out, How great is his goodness ? how great is his beauty? God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, is the only object of divine love. Under that representation of him alone, can the soul cleave unto him with ardent love, constant delight, and intense affections. All other notions of love unto God in sinners, as we are all, are empty fancies. Wherefore,
4thly. All believers are, or should be, conversant in their minds about these things, with longings, expectations, and desires after nearer approaches unto them, and enjoyments of them. And if we are not so, we are earthly, carnal and unspiritual. Yea, the want of this frame, the neglect of this duty, is the sole cause why many professors are so carnal in their minds, and so worldly in their conversations. But this is the state of them who live in the due exercise of faith. This they pant and breath after; namely, that they may be delivered from all darkness, unstable thoughts, and imperfect apprehensions, of the glory of God in Christ. After these things do those who have received the ' first-fruits of the Spirit,' groan within themselves. This glory they would 'behold with open face,'not as at present in a glass,' but in its own beauty. What do we want? what would we be at? what do our souls desire ? is it not that we might have a more full, clear, stable, comprehension of the wisdom, love, grace, goodness, holiness, righteousness, and power of God, as declared and exalted in Christ unto our redemption and eternal salvation ? To see the glory of God in Christ, to understand his love unto him, and valuation of him, to comprebend his nearness unto God, all evidenced in his mediation, is that which he hath promised unto us, and which we are pressing after. See John xvii. 23, 24.
5thly. Heaven will satisfy all those desires and expectations. To have them fully satisfied, is heaven and eternal blessedness. This fills the souls of them who are already departed in the faith, with admiration, joy, and praises. See Rev. v. 9-11. Herein is the glory of Christ absolutely of another kind and nature, than that of any other creature whatever. And from hence it is, that our glory shall principally consist in beholding his glory, because the whole glory of God is manifested in him.
And by the way, we may see hence the vanity as well as the idolatry of them who would represent Christ in glory, as the object of our adoration in pictures and images. They fashion wood or stone into the likeness of a man. They adorn it with colours and flourishes of art, to set it forth unto the senses and fancies of superstitious persons, as having a resemblance of glory. And when they have done, they lavish gold out of the bag, as the prophet speaks, in various sorts of supposed ornaments; such as are so only to the vainest sort of mankind; and so propose it as an image or resemblance of Christ in glory. But what is there in it that hath the least respect thereunto, the least likeness of it? Nay, is it not the most effectual means that can be devised to divert the minds of men from true and real apprehensions of it? Doth it teach any thing of the subsistence of the human nature of Christ in the person of the Son of God? Nay, doth it not obliterate all thoughts of it? What is represented thereby of the union of it unto God, and the immediate communications of God unto it? Doth it declare the manifestation of all the glorious properties of the divine nature in him? One thing indeed they ascribe unto it that is proper unto Christ, namely, that it is to be adored and worshipped, whereby they add idolatry unto their folly; persons who know not what it is to live by faith, whose minds are never raised by spiritual heavenly contemplations, who have no design in religion but to gratify their inward superstition by their outward senses, may be pleased for a time, and ruined for ever, by these delusions. Those who have real faith in Christ, and love unto him, have a more glorious object for their exercise.
And we may hereby examine both our own notions of the state of glory, and our preparations for it, and whether we are in any measure' made meet for the inheritance of the saints of light.' More grounds of this trial will be afterward suggested, these laid down may not be passed by. Various are the thoughts of men about the future state, the things which are not seen, which are eternal. Some rise no higher, but unto hopes of escaping hell, or everlasting miseries, when they die. Yet the heathen had their Elysian fields, and Mahomet his sensual paradise. Others have apprehensions of I know not what glistering glory, that will please and satisfy them, they know not how, when they can be here no longer. But this state is quite of another nature, and the blessedness of it is spiritual and intellectual. Take an instance in one of the things before laid down. The glory of heaven, consists in the full manifestation of divine wisdom, goodness, grace, holiness, of all the properties of the nature of God in Christ. In the clear perception and constant contemplation hereof, consists no small part of eternal blessedness. What then are our present thoughts of these things? What joy, what satisfaction have we in the sight of them, which we have by faith through divine revelation? What is our desire to come unto the perfect comprehension of them ? How do we like this heaven ? What do we find in ourselves that will be eternally satisfied hereby? According as our desires are after them, such and no other are our desires of the true heaven, of the residence of