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One thing implied in the reward, or happiness held up to the righteous, and in which it will greatly consist, is their being freed from the body of sin, and perfectly conformed, according to their measure, to the holy character of God. To see God, the Mediator, and be made like him, is the object of the Christian's hope, and his strongest desire.
(6 Behold," saith the apostle, “ Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but. we know, that when he shall appcar, we shall be like: him." This conformity to Christ, or being made like him, he speaks of, as the greatest joy and happiness, they could aspire after. Nor is there any inconsistence, in considering perfect holiness, or de. liverance from all sin, to be held up as a reward, and an animatir-z encouragement, to those who love holiness, and really desire to increase in it, for its own sake. We are authorized so to consider it, by Christ himself. He has expressly promised it, as a reward, to tlıcse who are righteous to those who hunger and thirst, or have any direct desire for it. “ Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled :" that is, filled with righteousness, or made perfectly holy, according to their measure, and their desire. Nothing held up as a personal reward, would be considered as desirable, or as a happiness, by the real Christian, unless it were of a holy nature, and implied deliverance from sin : there can be no real, substantial happiness only in proportion as there is conformity to God. Of this, every Christian is, in some measure, sensible, and with Paul, desires above all things, to be delivered from this body of death..
Again : The reward of the righteous will greatly consist in their being approved of a holy God. At the great decisive day, “God,” saith the apostle,“ will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels of the heart : and then shall every man," that is, every one who is faithful, "haye
praise of God." They will have the same testimony, which is given of Enoch in the context-a testimony, that they have pleased Cod. Well-done, good and faithful servant, will be their plaudit; and to those who love God, the divine approbation will of itself be an heaven.
Another thing, in which the reward or happiness of the saints will consist, will be their seeing the happiness of others, seeing all holy beings completely happy in heaven. In this life, so far as saints are influenced by a gospel temper, they are ever desiring, seeking, and rejoicing in the happiness of others : they rejoice with them that rejoice, and weep with them that weep. The good of others is their good. And herein the righteous are, in part, rewarded in this life ; for in the exercise of benevolence, there is a sublime happiness. Those who possess it, always have matter for praise. Christ saith, “ There is no man who hath left house, or brethren, or lands, &c. foi" my sake and the gospel, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, houses, brethren, lands, &c. in the world to come, eternal life.” That is, whoso, ever, from a selfish, contracted temper, becomes of a benevolent, gospel temper, shall find himself rewarded, by the enjoyment of an hundred fold more hap-. piness in this life. And this he hath promised also, that the meek shall inherit, or te rewarded with the earth. They do not actually possess the earth, or the property of all their neighbors; but they enjoy it. To see others enjoy grace, adds to their happi
How desirable an object then must it be, and how greatly must it add to their joy and happiness, to see all the friends of God, all holy beings, assembled in heaven, united in one society, and each one enjoying a happiness, which will increase without bounds, and continue without end? This will be a part of that heaven, with which the saints will be rewarded.
Another thing implied in the reward of the saints, and in which it will principally consist, is their being
permitted to join the heavenly hosts, in offering up divine worship and adoration, in singing praise to God and the Lamb, and spending an eternity, in exploring the wonders of redeeming love, and studying the word and works of God, in which new and pleasing wonders will continually and for ever open to view. Christians, even here in this state, consider it an unspeakable privilege and happiness, that they may worship and praise God in the congregation of saints; and it is their burden and sorrow that they can worship him with no more fervor and purity ; that their services are polluted with such coldness and imperfection; and they often cast an eye, as it were, to the church of the first born in Zion above, and consider it as no small part of the reward, to which they have respect, that they shall ere long be permitted to join their number, and be enabled to love, praise, and worship God with them in perfection for ever.
In a word, the happiness of heaven, the fulness of the reward which is reserved for the saints, and to which they have respect, is to enjoy a holy God, and be permitted for ever to rejoice in his holy kingdom. This must render a creature perfectly happy; and it is the supreme desire of God's children. Their lana
“ Were I in heaven without my God,
'Twould be no joy to me,
I long for none but thee." This is what God gives in the covenant of grace. He engages to the believer, to give himself ; which is to give all possible good. The saints enjoy God in part, by the manifestations he gives in his word, and by his spirit, even in this life. They hare the carnest of the inheritance, the substance of things hoped for ; but it is at the end of the race, that they are to receive the prize, the full recompense of reward. Then it is, that the crown of glory will be bestowed,
and they enter upon that state of indescribable and inconceivable bliss, which will consist in knowing, loving, and enjoying God for ever.
A few of the most comprehensive things implied in the happiness, the heaven, with which the saints will be rewarded, have been mentioned. Many other things might be added ; as deliverance from pain, sickness, surrow, and all natural evil, though these are not so directly desired, or respected by the Christian. The principal thing in the reward, and more immediate object of desire, is to see, know, and enjoy God, and the blessedness of his holy kingdom, which implics, however, deliverance from all evils. The
III. Thing proposed, is to shew what is implied in having respect to this reward.
It is said of Moses, that he esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt, having respect unto the recompense of the reward. Much is implied in having respect to this reward, as Moses had, so as to be influenced by it.
1. It implies a knowledge of it ; a full belief, or persuasion, that there is a reward for the righteous ; that God not only is, but that he is a rewarder of those, who diligently seek him.
2. It implies that the nature of the rewarel is seen and loved. Unless we have some true knowledge of the nature of the reward, or prize held up before us, how shall we love, or approve of it? And if we have no love for it if it appear unpleasant and undesirable in its nature, how shall it operate as a motive to diligence and exertion ? It implies therefore, a disposition to rejoice in the glory of God, and the happiness of his holy kingdom.
3. To have respect to the recompense of reward, reserved for the saints, so as to be influenced by it, to
holy activity, implies, not only a knowledge and love of it, but that our love and desire of it are greatthat we place it highest in our estimation, and make other things subservient to it. Thus it was, that Moses had respect to the recompense of reward.He saw and believed, that there is a reward for the righteous, a holy reward, a heavenly inheritance, which consists in the beatific vision and enjoyment of God. To this, he had respect. In view of this, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God. In view of this, he chose the reproach of Christ, in preference to the treasures of Egypt, and went out, not fearing the wrath of the king : for he endured as secing him who is invisible. Thus it was with all the godly patriarchs of old. They looked to the things, which are unseen and eternal, placed their affections on things above, and not on things on the earth. They saw the promises, respecting the reward of the righteous, afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and were supported by them, under the most trying scenes, and animated in “ the work of faith, the labor of love, and the patience of hope."
Having briefly shown the certainty, and the nature of the reward of the righteous, and some things implied in having respect to it : we proceed,
IV. To show, that the reward bestowed, implies nothing inconsistent with the doctrine of grace:Though the righteous will be rewarded, and are asşured in the word of God, that their reward in heaven will be in proportion to their diligence and holy activity here, yet, to prevent misapprehension, it is necessary to remark, that it will be a gracious reward. If God's rewarding the righteous, implied the notion of personal merit, or desert, it would be inconsistent with the doctrine of grace. Were Christians, were the saints now in heaven, to be treated