Page images

with all thofe brave and generous Souls, who by their glorious Examples have recommended themfelves to the World; when we fhall be familiar Friends with Angels and Arch-Angels, and all the Courtiers of Heaven fhall call us Brethren, and bid us Welcome to their Mafters Foy, and we fhall be received into their glorious Society with all the tender endearments and Careffes of thofe Heavenly Lovers, what a mighty Addition to our Happinefs will this be !

There are indeed fome other additions to the Happiness of Heaven; fuch as the Glory and Magnificence of the Place, which is the Highest Heaven, or the upper and purer Tracts of the Ether, which our Saviour calls Paradife, Luke xxiii. 43. and S. Paul the Third Heaven, 2 Cor. xii. 2. both which in the phrafe of that Age befpeak it to be a place of unspeakable Glory; for fo the Jews do commonly call this bleffed Seat, the Third or Angel-bearing Region of Heaven, by which they denote it to be the Palace of the King of the whole World, where his most glorious Courtiers do refide,; and they alfo call it Paradife, in allufion to the Earthly Paradife of Eden, becaufe as that was the Garden of this lower World, fo this is of the whole Creation. And though we have no exact defcription of this place in Scripture, and that perhaps because no humane Language can defcribe it; yet fince God hath chofen it for the Everlasting Theatre of Blifs and Happiness, we may thence reasonably conclude that he hath most exquisitely furnished it with all accommodations requifite to a most happy and blissful Life.


Befides which alfo there is the everlasting Duration of it, which is another great Acceffion to its Happiness. That fuch is the Nature of its Enjoyments, as that they do not, like all other Pleasures, spend and waste in the Fruition; that though it will be always feeding our Faculties with new Delights, yet it will never be exhaufted, but be always equally, because infinitely, diftant from a Period. So that its Happiness confifting of an infinite Variety of Pleasure extended to an infinite Duration, it will be impoffible for thofe that enjoy it to be either cloy'd with the repetition of it, or tormented with the fear of losing it.

But thefe Two laft I only mention, because they do not fo properly belong to our prefent Argument; which is only to explain the Nature of Heaven fo far as is neceffary to the right understanding of the Nature of thofe Means by which it is to be attained.

Now from what hath been faid concerning this great' End of the Chriftian Life, thefe Two things are to be inferr'd concerning the Nature of it.

I. That the main of Heaven confifts not fo much in any outward Poffeffion, as an inward State and Temper. For though Heaven be doubtless a moft glorious Place, and all its bleffed Inhabitants do poffefs and hold it by an everlasting Tenure, yet 'tis a great mistake to imagine that the main happiness of Heaven confifts in living for ever in a glorious Place, which feparated from all the rest of Heaven would be but a poor and hungry kind of Happiness. For Life is no otherwife a Happiness, than as it is the Principle of all our pleasant


[ocr errors]

pleasant and grateful Berceptions; and if we could live for ever without perceiving, it would be the fame thing to us, as if we were nothing but a Company of everlasting Stones and Trees; and what great matter would it fignifie to live for ever in a glorions Place, unless we could be for ever affected by it with a delightful fenfe and perception, which is impoffible; becaufe all delightful fenfe (as hath already been proved) arifes out of the vigorous exercife of our Faculties about fuch Objects as are fuitable to them; but what can there be in the most glorious Place so fuitable to a Rational Mind and Will, as to keep them for ever vigorously employed and exercifed about it? It may indeed for a while employ the Mind in an eager Contemplation of its new and furprizing Beauties; but how foon would the Mind dif-relish it, were it to be its only entertainment for Eternity? And as for the Will, what would a fine Place fignifie to it, if it were not replenished with such Objects as are fuitable to its own Options? And indeed there is nothing that can everlastingly gratifie a Rational Mind and Will, but what has in it fuch an Infinity of Truth as is everlastingly Knowable, and fuch an infinity of Goodness as is everlastingly Defirable, or, which is the fame thing, nothing but what hath Truth enough in it for the one to be vigorously contemplating for ever, and nothing but what hath Goodness enough in it for the other to be as vigorously loving, adoring, and imitating for ever. And fuch an Infinitude of Truth and Goodness is no where to be found but in God. But God, as well as the Place, and Duration of Heaven, being an Object that is external to us, neither is,


[ocr errors]

nor can be a Happiness to us unless we alt upon him, and freely exercife our Faculties about him; unless we know him, and Love him, c. So that that which Felicitates all, is our own Internal Act; tis by this that we enjoy Heaven, and perceive all the Pleasures of it. 'Tis not by being in Heaven that men are conftituted Happy, but by vigorously exerting their Faculties upon the Heavenly Objects. For without this, to be in Heaven or out of it would be indifferent to us. The Happiness of Hea ven therefore confifts in a State of Heavenly Alti


; in being so attempered and connaturaliz'd to the Objects of Heaven, as to be always acting upon, and chearfully employing our Faculties about them. For as there is no Pleasure in Acting coldly upon fuitable Objects, fo there is Pain and Trouble in acting vigorously upon unfuitable ones. And there fore to make Heaven it felf a Happiness to us, 'tis neceffary not only that we fhould act vigorously upon the Objects of it, but that we should fo act from a fuitableness of Temper to them. That we fhould contemplate God,fubmit to his Will,adore and imitate his Perfections from a God-like Temper and Difpofition. For otherwife thefe Acts will be Penances instead of Pleafures to us; and the more intenfely we exert them, the more painful they will be. And if we were in Heaven, all that Heavenly Exercife in which the Happinefs of it confifts, would be but a Torment and Vexation to us, unlefs we had a Heavenly Temper. For as the Parts of Matter can never reft, but do move about in a perpetual Whirl-pool, till they hit into a place or Taterfice that is of the fame Form and Figure with them; fo there is nothing can reft in Heaven but

[ocr errors]

D 2


what is Heavenly. All that is otherwise rebounds and flies off of its own accord, and can never ac quiefce there, till 'tis of the fame Form, and Temper, and Difpofition with it. From hence therefore it's evident, that the Happiness of a Man in Heaven confifts not fo much in the outward Glo ry of the Place, as in the inward State of his own Mind, which from a fuitableness of Temper to the Heavenly Objects doth always freely employ and exercise its Faculties about them..

II. That the Heavenly State is nothing elfe but the Perfection of all Heavenly Vertue. For it hath been already proved, That Heaven confifts in a clear and intimate Knowledge, and a free and uncontested Choice of God, and of thofe Bleffed Beings that refemble him; and thefe Two comprehend all Heavenly Virtue. So that the difference between the ftate of Grace and Glory is not in Kind, but in Degree. For Grace is the Seed of Glory, and Glory is the Maturity of Grace. 'Tis Knowledge exalted above all Error and Prejudice, above all Difficulty or Obfcurity of Apprehenfion; 'tis Love ftrained from all repugnancies of Flesh and Spirit, and refined into a pure Celestial flame; 'tis Obedience to,and Imitation of God, perfectly feparated from all finful Defects, and freed from the Clog of counter-ftriving Principles; 'tis Adoration of and Dependency upon him, without the leaft degree of Indifpofition or Defpondency; in a word, 'tis a free and uncontrolled Motion of all the Heavenly Virtues together, in which they are every one moft vigorously exerted, without the leaft Check or Impediment. This therefore being the State of Heaven, as is evident from what hath been difcourfed,

« PreviousContinue »