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Jesus;' ver. 6. Yet will not Satan so give over. He will endeavour by all ways and means to trouble, discompose, and darken the mind even of them that believe, so as that they shall not be able to retain clear and distinct views of this glory. And this he doth two ways.
1. With some he employs all his engines, useth all his methods of serpentine subtilty, and casts in his fiery darts, so to disquiet, discompose, and deject them, as that they can retain no comfortable views of Christ or his glory. Hence arise fears, doubts, disputes, uncertainties, with various disconsolations. Hereon they cannot apprehend the love of Christ, nor be sensible of any interest they have therein, or any refreshing persuasions that they are accepted with him. If such things sometimes shine and beam into their minds, yet they quickly vanish and disappear. Fears that they are rejected and cast off by him, that he will not receive them here nor hereafter, do come in their place; hence are they filled with anxieties and despondencies, under which it is impossible they should have any clear view of his glory.
I know that ignorance, atheism, and obstinate security in sensual sins, do combine to despise all these things. But it is no new thing in the world, that men outwardly professing Christian religion, when they find gain in that godliness, should speak evil of the things which they know not, and corrupt themselves in what they know naturally, as brute beasts.
2. With others he deals after another manner. By various means he seduceth them into a careless security, wherein they promise peace unto themselves without any diligent search into these things. Hereon they live in a general presumption that they shall be saved by Christ, although they know not how. This makes the apostle so earnest in pressing the duty of self-examination on all Christians, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?' The rule of self-judging prescribed by him, is whether Christ be in us or no; and in us he cannot be, unless he be received by that faith wherewith we behold his glory. For by faith we
receive him, and by faith he dwelleth in our hearts; John i. 12. Eph. iii. 17.
This is the principal way of his prevailing in the world. Multitudes by his seduction live in great security under the utmost neglect of these things. Security is granted to be an evil destructive of the souls of men; but then it is supposed to consist only in impenitency for great and open sins; but to be neglective of endeavouring an experience of the power and grace of the gospel in our own souls, under a profession of religion, is no less destructive and pernicious, than impenitency in any course of sin.
These and the like obstructions unto faith in its operations being added unto its own imperfections, are another cause whence our view of the glory of Christ in this world is weak and unsteady; so that for the most part it doth but transiently affect our minds, and not so fully transform them into his likeness, as otherwise it would.
It is now time to consider, that sight which we shall have of the glory of Christ in heaven, in comparison of that which we have here below. Now this is equal, stable, always the same, without interruption or diversion. And this is evident, both in the causes or means of it, as also in our perfect deliverance from every thing that might be a hinderance in it, or an obstruction unto it.
1. We may consider the state of our minds in glory. The faculties of our souls shall then be made perfect; Heb. xii. The spirits of just men made perfect.' 1. Freed from all the clogs of the flesh, and all its influence upon them, and restraint of their powers in their operations. 2. Perfectly purified from all principles of instability and variety; of all inclinations unto things sensual and carnal, and all contrivances of self-preservation or advancement, being wholly transformed into the image of God, in spirituality and holiness. And to take in the state of our bodies after the resurrection; even they also, in all their powers and senses, shall be made entirely subservient unto the most spiritual actings of our minds in their highest elevation by the light of glory. Hereby shall we be enabled and fitted eternally to abide in the contemplation of the glory of Christ, with joy and satisfaction. The understanding shall be always
perfected with the vision of God, and the affections cleave inseparably to him; which is blessedness.
The very essential faculties of our souls in that way and manner of working, which by their union with our bodies they are confined unto, are not able to comprehend and abide constantly in the contemplation of this glory. So that, though our sight of it here be dim and imperfect, and the proposal of it obscure; yet from the weakness of our minds, we are forced sometimes to turn aside from what we do discern, as we do our bodily eyes from the beams of the sun, when it shines in its brightness. But in this perfect state they are able to behold and delight in this glory constantly, with eternal satisfaction.
'But as for me,' saith David, 'I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake, with thy likeness;' Psal. xvii. 15. It is Christ alone, who is the likeness and image of God. When we awake in the other world, with our minds purified and rectified, the beholding of him shall be always satisfying unto us. There will be then no satiety, no weariness, no indispositions; but the mind being made perfect in all its faculties, powers, and operations, with respect unto its utmost end, which is the enjoyment of God, is satisfied in the beholding of him for evermore. And where there is perfect satisfaction without satiety, there is blessedness for ever. So the Holy Spirit affirms of the four living creatures in the Revelation; They rest not day nor night, saying, holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty;' chap. iv. 8. They are continually exercised in the admiration and praises of God in Christ, without weariness or interruption. Herein shall we be made like unto angels.
2. As our minds in their essential powers and faculties shall be enabled to comprehend and acquiesce in this glory of Christ, so the means or instrument of the beholding of it, is much more excellent than faith, and in its kind absolutely perfect, as hath in part been before declared. This is vision or sight. Here we walk by faith, there by sight. And this sight is not an external aid, like a glass helping the weakness of the visive faculty to see things afar off; but it is an internal power, or an act of the internal power of our minds, wherewith they are endowed in a glorified state. Hereby we shall be able to see him face to face, to see him as
he is,' in a direct comprehension of his glory; for this sight or visive power shall be given us for this very end, namely, to enable us so to do. Hereunto the whole glory of Christ is clear, perspicuous, and evident, which will give us eternal acquiescency therein. Hence shall our sight of the glory of Christ be invariable, and always the same.
2. The Lord Christ will never in any one instance, on any occasion, so much as one moment, withdraw himself from us, or eclipse the proposal and manifestation of himself unto our sight. This he doth sometimes in this life, and it is needful for us that so he should do. We shall be ever with the Lord,' 1 Thess. iv. 17. without end, without interruption. This is the centre of good and evil, as to the future different states of men. They shall be for ever. Eternity makes them absolutely good on the one hand, and absolutely evil on the other. To be in hell under the wrath of God, is in itself the greatest penal evil; but to be there for ever, without the intermission of misery, or determination of time, is that which renders it the greatest evil unto them who shall be in that condition. So is eternity the life of future blessedness. We shall be ever with the Lord, without limitation of time, without interruption of enjoyment.
There are no vicissitudes in the heavenly state. The new Jerusalem hath no temple in it; 'for the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb are the temple thereof;' Rev. xxi. 24. There is no need of instituted means of worship, nor of ordinances of divine service; for we shall need neither increase of ace, nor excitations unto its exercise: the constant, immediate, uninterrupted enjoyment of God and the Lamb, supplieth all. And it hath no need of the sun, nor of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God doth enlighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. The light of the sun is excellent; howbeit, it hath its seasons: after it hath shone in its brightest lustre, it gives place to the night and darkness. So is the light of the moon of great use in the night; but it hath its seasons also. Such is the light we have of the glory of God and the Lamb in this world. Sometimes it is as the light of the sun, which under the gospel is sevenfold, as the light of seven days in one, in comparison of the law; Isa. xxx. 26. sometimes as the light of the moon, which giveth relief in the night of temptations
and trials. But it is not constant; we are under a vicissitude of light and darkness, views of Christ, and a loss of him. But in heaven the perpetual presence of Christ with his saints, makes it always one noon of light and glory.
3. This vision is not in the least liable unto any weakenings from internal defects, nor any assaults from temptations, as is the sight of faith in this life. No doubts or fears, no disturbing darts or injections, shall there have any place. There shall no habit, no quality, no inclination, or disposition remain in our souls, but what shall eternally lead us unto the contemplation of the glory of Christ, with delight and complacency. Nor will there be any defect in the gracious powers of our souls, as unto a perpetual exercise of them; and as unto all other opposing enemies, we shall be in a perpetual triumph over them; 1 Cor. xv. 55-57. The mouth of iniquity shall be stopped for ever, and the voice of the self-avenger shall be heard no more.
Wherefore, the vision which we shall have in heaven of the glory of Christ, is serene, always the same, always new and indeficient, wherein nothing can disturb the mind in the most perfect operations of a blessed life. And when all the faculties of the soul can without any internal weakness or external hinderances exercise their most perfect operations on the most perfect object; therein lies all the blessedness which our nature is capable of.
Wherefore, whenever in this life we attain any comfortable refreshing view of the glory of Christ, by the exercise of faith on the revelation of it, with a sense of our interest therein, we cannot but long after, and desire to come unto, this more perfect, abiding, invariable aspect of it.