« EdellinenJatka »
some of them underservedly, thar it is to be compared with, and greatly preferred above.
(1.) The first is the portion of the men of this world. This eternal life that we believe and hope for, is a great deal bigger, higher, and better than that. Lord, deliver me, says the Psalmist, from the men of the world, which have their portion in this-life. As for me, says he, I expect better things than this world can afford, Psal. xvii. 14, 15. The portion of the men of this world is such a prize, that the greatest part of the world run after it all their life long. What pain, what care, what thoughts are spent about these things ? And when they have got them, what have they got? How poor and empty are they? The believer's portion even in this life is a great deal better than that of the wicked. Better is that little the righteous man hath, than many revenues of the wicked; how much more must the prize of the high calling be? We would not, as it were, disgrace our prize so much as to compare it with the portion of the men of the world, and yet what a believer hath in time, is beyond what they have.
(2.) We compare this with the spiritual allowance of believers in this life. There is a gracious allowance of spiritual blessings given to believers in this life. We are to compare this with what remains, and to prefer our expectations to our possessions; there is something of the earnest of the inheritance given now, Eph. i. 14, 15. There is something of communion with Christ now that fills the heart with joy unspeakable, and full of glory, 1 Pet. i. 8. And what is that now to what remains ? There have been believers that have had heaven upon earth in this world, but when they came to enjoy heaven in heaven, they doubtless found a vast difference. At that day, says our Lord, ye shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you, John xiv. 20. You shall know it in a better manner, than now you can imagine ; all the enjoyments that God affords unto his people here, are all helps whereby believers may come to know and guess better what heaven is: they should not say, It is good to be here, because of these, but he is good that gives that good here, and there are better things prepared that we sh uld desire the more fervently; all spiritual enjoyments that are given in time are for the sharpen
ing the believers appetite, and raising their spirits in desire of heaven the more fervently.
(3.) We are to compare the prize of our calling, with the desire and longing of believers : our desires are larger than our possessions. There is never a believer but knows this in experience, that he can desire a great deal more than he can hold. The reward of eternal life goes beyond our desires. The Lord works in us, and does for us exceeding abundantly above all that ve ask or think, Eph. iii. 20. What use should a man make of this name of God? Think as much as you can, and ask as much as you can, and in the faith of that asking, and in the faith joined to that thinking, expect some blessing that is beyond both, beyond both our asking, and our thinking. This is a second consideration, whereby we come to know what the prize of the high calling of God is, that we are called to believe, by comparing it either with the poor portion of the men of this world, or the spiritual allowance of believers, or the extended desire of Christians.
3dly, The word of God speaks positively of it, and we are to learn something of it this way. But as positive as the Spirit of God is in speaking of it, we are still very short of being able to apprehend it, there is a great deal more spoken of heaven in the word, than any saint out of heaven can ever understand; may I so speak, we shall understand the Bible a great deal better when we come to heaven, especially that part of it that speaks of heaven; the blessing of eternal life, the greatness, the sweetness, the vastness of it, is best known by enjoying of it. Of the positive account that we have in the word, concerning the state of believers in eternal life, I would give you some hints from the word of God, in these six or seven things :
(1.) There is a glorious appearing and manifestation of Jesus Christ spoken of; from him grace begins, by him grace is carried on, with him glory begins, and continues for ever ; it is called the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, Tit. ii. 19. The appearance, I say, of Jesus Christ in his highest glory. All the appearances that Christ hath made, have been some way under a vail, and under some eclipse, therefore is it that he is so deVOL. III.
spised. In the first appearance that Christ made in the flesh, what a thick vail of infirmity was upon it? The word was made flesh, says the Holy Ghost, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth, John i. 14. Every one could not do so, He was made flesh, this is called an appearance of Christ. He hath brought life and immortality to light by this appearance of his, 2 Tim. i. 1. Christ makes an appearance unto his chosen, first in calling them, afterwards in visiting of them. When he first comes to call a poor creature, this appearance of Jesus Christ is under a vail; still it is Christ in the word, Christ under the vail of ordinances, Christ in the means; many times he is not known, when he does appear. Many poor sinners Christ hath appeared to in his working upon them, and he hath carried on his work a good while before they knew who it was that worked upon them; his appearing afterwards to his people in love-visits, is more sensible, but far short of this; I will manifest myself to him, John xiv. 21, 23. There are some appearances and manifestations of Christ unto the souls of his people, not wherein they see any thing with their bodily eyes, or hear any voice with their bodily ears; but in and under the form of prayer, the means of his appointment, there is a gracious display of all the glory that passes like a beam upon their souls, that they can say, This is the Lord, this is Christ, this is he I have waited for. The state of eternal life is incomparably beyond all this; there is a glorious appear. ance of Christ; the word speaks of it so, as if Christ had never appeared before; Col. iii. 4. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory, 1 John iii. 2. We know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
(2.) The word speaks of this blessed state, that is the hope of our calling, under the notion of a full vision of him, or of seeing him; he not only appears in his glory, but that glory is seen by his people; thence springs their happiness. Our Lord Christ kurt w best what heaven was ; it is best learning what it is by his speaking of it. See how he prays, John xvii. 24. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory which thou
man see me,
hast given me. Observe, Christ there plainly shews us, what is his great design in desiring to have all his people with him, and what way it is he intends to make them blessed, by beholding the glory the Father hath given him. Now when we are living in this body, and are compassed about with frailty without, and sin within, any singular appearance of his glory is disturbing and dreadful to us; may I speak such a word, and you understand it rightly, there is never a believer so comfortable, but Jesus Christ could render that person a very miserable creature, by a display of his glory; saints may desire more now than they are able to take in. I beseech thee show me thy glory, saith Moses; but, the Lord answers him; Thou canst not see my face, for there shall
and live. Exod. xxxiii. 18, 20. Observe, the vision that the Prophet Isaiah had, was a sight of Christ, and was a sight of his glory too, Isa. vi. 1, 5. commented upon by the Holy Ghost, John xi. 41. These things, said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Now, surely you would chink, that when there is a discovery made of the glory of Christ unto such a man as Isaiah, so long before, that there should be a very great contentment therewith. Why, Abraham saw Christ's day afar off, and was glad; Abraham's heart was cheered by believing Christ's day, and seeing his glory afar off. . But when this glory shone, if I may so speak, in those beams that mortal eyes were not able to receive, Isaiah saith, Wo is me, for I am undone --- for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Here is a sight not fit for a sinner to bear, the frailty, I say, of our flesh, with the remaining corruption that is in our natures, makes the full visions of the glory of Christ are very unfit for us, and we for them; but this is the state promised to us in the gospel, When he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall hiin as he is, 1 John iii. 2. What, have we never seen Christ, as he is, before ? No, ye only see him in the glass of the gospel; ye only see him under the vail, and in that shadow that is fitted for our present state. Hence it comes to pass, that it is said concerning believers in this day, That Christ shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe, 2 Thess. i. 10. (3.) In this state, there is full conformity to a secn Chriss.
Christ in his glory is fully seen by the glorified eye, and perfect conformity to him resulteth therefrom. For according to the measures of clearness with which we see Christ by faith, are the measures of our conformity to him now: 2 Cor. iii: 18. But we all with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Pray, observe the gradual progress of sanctification in a renewed man; it is carried on by the visions of Christ by faith now; the more clearly the eye of faith takes up Christ, the more strong and abiding impressions of likeness are upon the soul. But what perfect conformity to him is, we cannot yet conceive. If I may offer such a similitude, we are such dunghills, so dark, that when the Sun of righteousness shines upon us, there is but a little beam left, just enough to testify that the sun hath shone upon us; but the state of glory will render a believer, both in soul and body, like a crystal wall, that will reflect the image of the Sun of righteousness most purely and resplendently. The State of happiness and eternal life consists in being like Christ : We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; the conformity is carried on by that seeing: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness, Psal. xvii. 15.
(4.) There is a state of constant serving him spoken of, a state of unwearied delightful serving of Jesus Christ. Heaven would not be heaven to a heavenly mind, if there were no service to Christ in it. It is strange to see how the apostle values service to Christ on earth so highly, that he lays it in the balance with the enjoyment of Christ in heaven, and he cannot tell well which to chuse: I am in a strait betwixt two, (says he), having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better : Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh, is more needful for you. It is natural, I say, to a saint to love service. It is promised, that they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads.--His servants shall serve him, Rev. xxi. 3, 4. See also chap. iv. 10. Little we can do for Christ and his glory while we are here, and we should be deeply humbled that we can do so little. Christians, lay firm hold upon eternal life by strong faith. You shall bring more glory to Christ the first half-hour in heaven, than ever you did, if you lived