« PreviousContinue »
other senses to receive impressions from him, according unto their capacity. As the bodies of wicked men shall be restored unto them to increase and complete their misery in their sufferings; so shall the bodies of the just be restored unto them, to heighten and consummate their blessedness.
3. These things are preparatory unto glory. The complete communication of it, is by the infusion of a new heavenly light into the mind, enabling us to see the Lord Christ as he is. The soul shall not be brought into the immediate presence of Christ without a new power to behold him, and the immediate representation of his glory. Faith now doth cease as unto the manner of its operation in this life, whilst we are absent from Christ. This light of glory succeeds into its room, fitted for that state and all the ends of it, as faith is for that which is present. And,
They shall There is no
as unto de
4. In the first operation of this light of glory, believers shall so behold the glory of Christ, and the glory of God in him, as that therewith, and thereby, they shall be immediately and universally changed into his likeness. be as he is, when they shall see him as he is. growth in glory, as unto parts; there may be grees. Additions may be outwardly made unto what is at first received as by the resurrection of the body; but the internal light of glory, and its transforming efficacy is capable of no degrees; though new revelations may be made unto it, unto eternity. For the infinite fountain of life, and light, and goodness, can never be fathomed, much less exhausted. And what God spake on the entrance of sin, by the way of contempt and reproach, Behold the man is become like one of us,' upbraiding him with what he had foolishly designed; on the accomplishment of the work of his grace, he says in love and infinite goodness, 'Man is become like one of us,' in the perfect restoration of our image in him. This is the first effect of the light of glory.
Faith also in beholding the glory of Christ in this life, is accompanied with a transforming efficacy, as the apostle expressly declares, 2 Cor. iii. 18. It is the principle from whence, and the instrumental cause whereby, all spiritual change is wrought in us in this life; but the work of it is imperfect; first, because it is gradual, and then because it is partial.
1. As unto the manner of its operation, it is gradual, and doth not at once transform us into the image of Christ. Yea, the degrees of its progress therein, are unto us for the most part imperceptible. It requires much spiritual wisdom and observation to obtain an experience of them in our own souls. The inward man is renewed day by day,' whilst we behold these invisible things; 2 Cor. iv. 16-18. But how? Even as the outward man decays by age, which is by insensible degrees and alterations. Such is the transformation which we have by faith in its present view of the glory of Christ. And according to our experience of its efficacy herein, is our evidence of its truth and reality in the beholding of him. No man can have the least ground of assurance that he hath seen Christ and his glory by faith, without some effects of it in changing him into his likeness. For as on the touch of his garment by the woman in the gospel, virtue went out from him to heal her infirmity; so upon this view of faith, an influence of transforming power will proceed from Christ unto the soul.
2. As unto the event it is but partial. It doth not bring this work unto perfection. The change wrought by it is indeed great and glorious; or, as the apostle speaks, it is ⚫ from glory to glory,' in a progress of glorious grace: but absolute perfection is reserved for vision. As unto divine worship, perfection was not by the law. It did many things preparatory unto the revelation of the will of God concerning it; but it made nothing perfect:' so absolute perfection in holiness, and the restoration of the image of God, is not by the gospel, is not by faith; however it gives us many preparatory degrees unto it, as the apostle fully declares, Phil. iii. 10-14.
Secondly, Vision is beatifical, as it is commonly called, and that not amiss. It gives perfect rest and blessedness unto them in whom it is. This may be a little opened in the ensuing observations.
1. There are continual operations of God in Christ, in the souls of them that are glorified, and communications from him unto them. For all creatures must eternally live, even in heaven, in dependance on him who is the eternal fountain of being, life, goodness, and blessedness unto all. As we cannot subsist one moment in our beings, lives, souls,
bodies, the inward or outward man, without the continual actings of divine power in us, and towards us; so in the glorified state our all shall depend eternally on divine power and goodness, communicating themselves unto us, for all the ends of our blessed subsistence in heaven.
2. What is the way and manner of these communications, we cannot comprehend. We cannot indeed fully understand the nature and way of his spiritual communications unto us in this life. We know these things by their signs, their outward means, and principally by the effects they produce in the real change of our natures. But in themselves we see but little of them. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but we know not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit;' John iii. 8. All God's real operations in heaven and earth are incomprehensible, as being acts of infinite power, and we cannot search them out unto perfection.
3. All communications from the Divine Being and infinite fulness in heaven unto glorified saints, are in and through Christ Jesus, who shall for ever be the medium of communication between God and the church, even in glory. All things being gathered into one head in him, even things in heaven, and things in earth; that head being in immediate dependance on God, this order shall never be dissolved, Eph. i. 10, 11. 1 Cor. iii. 23. And on these communications from God through Christ depends entirely our continuance in a state of blessedness and glory. We shall no more be self-subsistent in glory, than we are in nature or grace.
4. The way on our part whereby we shall receive these communications from God by Christ, which are the eternal springs of life, peace, joy, and blessedness, is this vision, the sight whereof we speak. For as it is expressly assigned thereunto in the Scripture; so whereas it contains the perfect operation of our minds and souls in a perfect state, on the most perfect object, it is the only means of our blessedness. And this is the true cause whence there neither is, nor can be, any satiety or weariness in heaven, in the eternal contemplation of the same glory. For not only the object of our sight is absolutely infinite, which can never be
searched into the bottom; yea, is perpetually new unto a finite understanding; so our subjective blessedness consisting in continual fresh communications from the infinite fulness of the divine nature, derived unto us through vision, is always new, and always will be so to eternity. Herein shall all the saints of God drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand, be satisfied with his likeness, and refresh themselves in the eternal springs of life, light, and joy, for evermore.
This effect that view which we have by faith of the glory of Christ in this world, doth not produce. It is sanctifying, not glorifying. The best of saints are far from a perfect or glorified state in this life. And that not only on the account of the outward evils, which in their persons they are exposed unto; but also of the weakness and imperfection of their inward state in grace. Yet we may observe some things unto the honour of faith in them who have received it. As,
1. In its due exercise on Christ, it will give unto the souls of believers some previous participation of future glory, working in them dispositions unto, and preparation for, the enjoyment of it.
2. There is no glory, no peace, no joy, no satisfaction in this world, to be compared with what we receive by that weak and imperfect view which we have of the glory of Christ by faith. Yea, all the joys of the world are a thing of nought in comparison of what we so receive.
3. It is sufficient to give us such a perception, such a foretaste of future blessedness in the enjoyment of Christ, as may continually stir us up to breathe and pant after it. But it is not beatifical.
Other differences of an alike nature between our beholding of the glory of Christ in this life by faith, and that vision of it, which is reserved for heaven, might be insisted on; but I shall proceed no farther. There is nothing farther for us to do herein but that now and always we shut all our meditations concerning it, with the deepest selfabasement, out of a sense of our unworthiness and insufficiency to comprehend those things, admiration of that excellent glory which we cannot comprehend, and vehement longings for that season when we shall see him as he is, be ever with him, and know him, even as we are known.