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made to the apostle John, for the support and encourage. ment of christians, and to excite them to faith, resolution, patience and perseverance in the service of Christ, and a faithful, constant adherence to the truths of the gospel, in the evil times which were to take place, and the opposition and sufferings to which they are exposed in this world, and the trials and temptations which await them here.
But with all the instruction we have on this subject, and the utmost attention to it, of which we are capable, our conceptions are dark and low, and fall unspeakably short of a full, comprehensive view of the truth. However, the following thoughts will be suggested, as agree able to the scripture.
FIRST. The righteous will go from the judgment into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, where they shall enjoy everlasting life, in a state of unspeakable happiness and glory.
Their bodies will be beautiful and glorious, like the body of the glorified Jesus, active and sprightly, without the least possible weariness or decay, by the greatest, uninterrupted activity ; every way suited to the employment of such a place and state, which shall in no degree confine or impede the mind in its exercises and enjoyment; but shall greatly assist and promote these : So that the soul will be invigorated by its union to such a body, and be more happy forever, than it could be in any other situation and circumstances whatever.
There is an external place and city, or kingdom, formed in the greatest beauty, convenience and glory, suited to be a dwelling for the incarnate Son of God, and the embodied spirits of the redeemed ; where every one will be perfectly accommodated and pleased, every circumstance being answerable to his desires, and suited to his employment, and to render him most happy. Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “ In my Father's house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you.”* Though this house and kingdomn were made, when the world was created, yet it may be capable of alterations and additions, to increase the convenience, beauty and glory of it. When Christ ascended
John xiy. Z.
to heaven, in his glorified body, it may be supposed, the place was, in a degree, fitted up, and better suited for the reception and residence of the Redeemer, in his glorified body. And after the day of judgment, there will probably be a still farther addition to the beauty and glory of this place, and new accommodations be formed, for the embodied church of the redeemed ; so that the place which was always glorious, will then exceed in glory.
The redeemed, thus situated, furnished and surrounded, with every thing convenient and desirable, there being nothing, nor any circumstance which will not be suited to give them pleasure, and furnish them in the best manner for their employment, will be perfectly holy. Every thought, and all their exercises and conduct, will be perfectly right, and with the greatest propriety. They will, by their holy ardent love, be united to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by a strong, most happy, and everlasting union. They will behold this God in a full blaze of light. In his light, they shall see light, and all moral darkness shall be excluded forever. God and the Lamb shall be the eternal, undiminishing light of that holy city. They shall see his glory, without a veil, and enjoy all his beauty and perfection, to the utmost of their capacity, with the greatest assurance, that this God is their God, and will be their friend forever. “ The Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of waters."* He will be the great and eternal medium of communications from the Deity, and discoveries of his love, perfection and glory: and of their access to God, and enjoyment of him. Their peculiar and close union, and conformity to him, will be the eternal source of a high degree of honour and happiness, which no other creatures can enjoy. They shall sit down with him on his throne, and share with him in all his honour and happiness, to the utmost of their capacity, And what happiness must they enjoy, who love God, and the Redeemer, with all their hearts, with the most strong and fervent love of benevolence and complacency, when thay see
• Rev. vii. 17.
how greatly he is glorified, and will be forever, by their redemption and salvation ! And what joy will they have in praising and giving glory to him ! And their infinite obligations to him, for redeeming them from sin and hell, and giving them eternal life, will be felt by them, and be the constant, eternal source of the sweetest, most happilying love of gratitude ; and in expressing it, they will have the highest pleasure and enjoyment.
They will be most happy in the society which they shall form, of which every individual will be a member. They will be perfectly united by the strongest, most sweet, and everlasting bond of love, and the happiest friendship, mutually enjoying and rejoicing in the happiness of each other ; each one knowing that every one in this great kingdom is perfectly beautiful and amiable, and a cordial friend to him. And there will doubtless be ways of expressing their love and friendship for each other, in a better and more agreeable way and manner, than we now know, and of which we can now have no conception ; by which they will mingle souls with the greatest freedom and intimacy, having no reserve or secret, which they cannot with pleasure impart to each other.
And those who have been intimate friends in this world, and mutual blessings to each other, will know one another in heaven; and what has passed between them in this life, will be the occasion of peculiar pleasure and joy in each other. This appears reasonable, and may be with certainty inferred from what the apostle Paul says to those, of whose conversion he had been the instrument. He addresses them thus, “ As you have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing
? Are not even ye, in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, at his coming ? For ye are our glory and joy."*
If there be such peculiar and high satisfaction and pleasure, in christian love and friendship, in this imper. fect state, how unspeakable must be the enjoyment and happiness, when those friends meet in heaven; having put off all their imperfection and sin, and become perfectly beautiful and excellent; formed every way for the highest and everlasting friendship, without any thing to keep them at a distance, or occasion any reserve ; but every thing suited to their enjoyment of each other, in the most exalted, refined friendship, in the greatest intimacy and union of hearts, expressing their sentiments and feelings, with the utmost freedom and ease, without any danger, or possibility of being misunderstood ! At the same time, their hearts glowing with love to Christ, in whose presence they are ; and who is the author and centre of all the love and friendship in heaven : And the more they love him, the stronger and more sensible is their union of hearts to each other, and the greater happiness they have in their mutual friendship.
* 2 Cor. i. 14. 1 Thess, ü. 10, 20.
The church of the redeemed is the body of Christ, of which he is the head : The fulness of him who filleth all in all. He is the former of this society and kingdom. And when completed by his hand, it will be as perfect, excellent and glorious, as infinite power, wisdom and goodness, united together, and exerted, will make it. There will be not one member too many, nor one wanting, in order to make it most complete and perfect. Every one will be fixed in his proper place, and be formed, in all respects, so as to render the whole the most perfect, beautiful, harmonious, and happy society possible.
The three persons in the godhead, form an infinitely high, holy and happy society, the original and perfect pattern of all true love, friendship and happiness. And the society of the redeemed, the church and kingdom of Christ, will be an eternal imitation and image of the infinitely high and perfect society of the Three One, the One in Thrce, and a most beautiful, happy and glorious emanation from him, who necessarily exists infinitely the most beautiful and happy society, without beginning, change or end, being entirely incomprehensible by creatures. This idea seems to be expressed by Christ, in his prayer to the Father, which will be completely answered in heaven. He prays for the elect in the following words. “ That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us. The glory which thou gavest me, I have given to them ; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one. I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it ; that the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.”* And the words of the apostle John, if considered in their full meaning, seem to express the same thing.
the same thing. “ If we love one anoth. er, God dweleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. God is love: And he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”+ Jesus Christ the Mediator, is the medium by which the society of the redeemed in heaven, will be united to the infinitely more excellent and perfect society, the eternal Trinity of persons, who dwell in the infinitely bigh and holy place, far beyond the reach or comprehension of creatures ; from whom the same benevolence and social love is shed down through the Mediator, on these redeemed ones, forming them into one most happy society, in union with the blessed Trinity, and so as to be a little image of the Deity, the Three in One, and One in Three.
The holy angels belong to this society and kingdom: But though their natural powers be great, and in this respect they may be superior to man, they will not be in so honourable a station as the redeemed, nor can they enjoy that peculiar happiness which the latter will have, in consequence of being redeemed, and sharing in redeeming love, and their near, honourable and happy union to Jesus Christ, by which they are the bride, the Lamb's wife. The angels are unspeakably more happy than they could have been, had there been no Redeemer, and no redemption of sinners. They are employed and happy in looking into these things, and knowing more of God by this mean, and seeing his manifold wisdom,
and wonderful goodness. They are happy in serving Christ, in carrying on the work of redemption, and in ministering to the redeemed, and serving them ; and will doubtless be so forever.
“ Are they not ALL ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them, who shall be heirs of salvation ? Hence it appears, that
John xvii. 21, 22, 23, 26. + 1 John. iv. 12, 16.