EXPLAINED AND DEFENDED,
SERIES OF SERMONS;
TIMOTHY DWIGHT, S. T. D. LL. D.
LATE PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.
THE LIFE OF THE AUTHOR.
IN FOUR VOLUMES.
HARPER AND BROTHERS, PUBLISHERS.
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DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT, ss.
BE it remembered, that on the fifth day of January, in the forty second year of the Independence of the United States of America, Timothy Dwight, and William T. Dwight, both of said District; Administrators of the Rev. Timothy Dwight, now deceased, and late of the said District, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as Administrators as aforesaid, and Proprietors, in the words following, to wit:
Theology; explained and defended, in a Series of Sermons; by Timothy Dwight, T. D., LL. D. late President of Yale college. With a Memoir of the Life the Author,. in five Volumes. Vol 4.’’
In conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, " An Act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the authors arid proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned."
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me.
Clerk of the District of Connecticut.
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THE REMOTER CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.—THE HAPPINESS OF
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REVELATION XXI. I—3.—And I saw a new heaven and a new earth for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. And I John saw the holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven, prepared as a bride, adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of Heaven, saying; Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall lie his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.
IN the preceding discourse, derived from these words, I proposed to consider,
I. The Residence;
11. The Character;
III. The Employments; and,
IV. The Enjoyments; of the Redeemed.
The two first of these I examined in that discourse. The two last I shall now make the subject of consideration.
Heaven is exhibited in the Scriptures as the world of joy, and praise. The account, here given, is both rational and sublime. Still, if I mistake not, it is often made the foundation of views concerning Heaven, which are erroneous, and unhappy. Unless I am deceived, it is a very common opinion, that to receive enjoyment, and to praise the Author of it, constitute chiefly, if not wholly, the state of existence allotted to the Righteous in the future world. This opinion I suppose, indeed, to exist indefinitely and loosely; and without any known decision of the mind, either that such will be the fact, or that such is its own opinion. Yet I suspect, that, if many persons, and those not of inferior understanding, were to be asked in what the happiness of Heaven consists; the two particulars above mentioned would make up their answer. This I suspect, because I find these objects mentioned alone, almost always, when Heaven becomes the theme of discourse.
To praise God for the perfections of his nature is unquestionably an universal, and eternal duty, as well as a delightful employment, of Intelligent creatures. Far be it from me to undervalue the importance, or the excellence, of this duty. To receive enjoyment, also, is unquestionably one great end, for which Intelligent creatures are made; and an end, clearly worthy of their Maker. But the model in which this enjoyment is attained, and the means of
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its accomplishment, are considerations of peculiar moment both to the views which we form of the celestial happiness, and to the nature of the happiness itself.
The State of existence in Heaven is not exhibited in the Scriptures as a mere state of recipiency, if I may be allowed the term; or of mere quiescent enjoyment. Glorified spirits are not, as I believe, mere vessels, into which happiness is poured by the Divine Hand; and do not merely enjoy what is thus communicated. On the contrary, they are the most active of all beings in the Creation of God; the most laborious; and the most unremitting in their exertions. Out of this activity their happiness, in a great measure, springs.
Christ has taught us, that it is more blessed to give, than to receive; that is, to communicate good to others, than to receive it from their hands. This great principle I have endeavoured to illustrate, variously, in several of these discourses ; particularly in those on the End, for which man was created; on the Foundation of virtue; and on the Influence of Virtue upon Personal happiness. In these discourses it was, I flatter myself, clearly proved, that to do good is to possess a higher, and happier, state of being, than that of merely receiving. If, then, the state of the blessed is a state of mere recipiency; it is plainly, and wonderfully, inferior to such a state, as we can see with certainty aught easily exist: for nothing is more clear, than that a world might be created, and filled with inhabitants, whose employment it would be to do good.
Again ; Angels are the present inhabitants of Heaven. Of all beings they are the most active: as I have endeavoured to show, when discoursing concerning their character. The present state of Heaven, therefore, is a state of the most active and unwearied exertion, It cannot be believed, that, when this glorious world is so far changed, as with propriety to be styled a new Heaven, its inhabitants will be sunk from a higher to an inconceivably lower state of being.
If the observations, which have been already made, are allowed to be just; it must be clearly perceived, that the enjoyments of the Righteous will arise, to such a degree, out of their employments; and that these objects will be so necessarily, so frequently, and so extensively blended together; as to render a distinct consideration of them both difficult and useless. I shall, therefore, blend my observations concerning them under the following heads:
I. It will be one Employment of the Righteous in the future world to study the Works, and learn the Character of God.
It will not be denied, that this is the proper employment of the Intellect possessed by rational beings; the purpose, for which it was created. The end, here proposed, is the knowledge of God.
The means, by which it is accomplished, are the study of his works. These, whether material or immaterial, all existed, originally, in
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the Uncreated Mind ; and are all, merely, various means of displaying infinite power, wisdom, and goodness.
Matter, however insignificant it may seem as a collection of atoms, assumes a very different character, when endued with its peculiar powers arranged in an immense system, and operating to great and glorious purposes. In this view, it becomes capable of exhibiting the greatness and glory of JEHOVAH in a manner, exceedingly sublime and wonderful. Accordingly, the Divine writers, particularly the Psalmist, often make the objects, constituting this part of the Creation, the themes of their wonder and praise.
In the material kingdom, particularly, we see beauty displayed in millions of forms, and varieties; and novelty in every transition from object to object. Grandeur also, and sublimity, engross the imagination in the mountain and the ocean, the tempest and the volcano, the sun, the moon, and the host of heaven. When we lift up our thoughts, by the aid of astronomy, to the solar system, and contemplate the Sun as a vast central world, encircled by a host of other worlds, with their innumerable inhabitants ; when we consider the universe as filled with suns, surrounded by similar worlds; still more, if we regard all these as arranged into one vast harmonious system, suspended from the throne of God, and, amid all their apparent wanderings and mazes, moving for ever with perfect order around the heaven of heavens ; we can want no proofs, that the material creation is sufficiently magnificent to become a most useful object of investigation to any created mind, however capacious, however dignified, however sublime, may be its powers of conception.
But the material creation is capable of becoming a still more interesting object of contemplation. It is a vast storehouse of means, all fitted, all operating, to the production of the best ends. In this world we daily see it the means of life, comfort, and usefulness; of instruction and learning ; of admiration, gratitude, and praise ; to ourselves. In other worlds it is, probably in a far higher degree, the means of excellence, and enjoyment, to their respective inhabitants; such as are capable of enlarging any mind with both physical and moral science, in a manner which ages of ages will not enable us to comprehend. Above all, when we remember that God is the grandeur which every where spreads; the sublimity which rises; the beauty which glows; the life which animates; the wisdom which astonishes; an the goodness which provides, sustains, and rejoices; we shall see this field of contemplation, and intelligence, not only exalted, immense, and endlessly improving, but literally divine.
The world of minds is, however, a far more august and glorious field of such contemplation. Minds are as much superior to matter, as thought and volition are superior to extenuation and solidity: and are the end for which matter was formed. The material creation is a sumptuous palace. Minds are its inhabitants without
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which the mansion, with all its furniture, would be empty; solitary, and useless.
In the world of minds, all the sources of admiration, and enjoyment, are found in still higher degrees. They are endlessly diversified in thought, purpose, and action ; and hence furnish to the eye novelty, presented to its view in an eternal succession. Minds are, also, intensely and divinely beautiful. Virtue, the beauty of time mind, derives this peculiar character from the gentle, serene, and sweet affections; and is of all attributes incomparably the most delightful. In a single mind, it is capable of diversities, incomprehensible by us. What then must be its varieties in the whole Intelligent Creation ! All these, it must be remembered, are varieties of beauty only; as light in all its different colours is still the same glorious element.
At the same time, minds are the noblest specimens of created greatness. This is especially seen in magnanimous affections, elevated sentiments, sublime conceptions, and the exalted actions to which they give birth. Even in the present world we are not absolute strangers to these illustrious objects. Heaven is the native Country of all that is beautiful and magnificent. Virtue here exists in every beautiful, every noble, form. Whatever is trifling, little, and low, is here precluded for ever. Here are seen, and studied, the beauty of the Cherub, the dignity of the Seraph, and the greatness of the Archangel. Here, also, the Messiah presents, in a manner capable of being understood by sanctified minds, the excellence and glory of Jehovah ; the effulgence of the Sun of Righteousness; reflected, softened, and brought down to the comprehension of a limited understanding. All these objects, it is to be remembered, are seen in Heaven by minds, invested with new powers of discernment; and with an equally new, as well as intense, delight in the contemplation of the objects themselves.
The Providence of God will become a still more glorious field of knowledge to the Righteous in the future world.
The providence of God is the End, for which the Creation exists. Creation is merely a collection of means ; immensely magnificent indeed; an astonishing display, of contrivance; a sublime proof of almighty agency; but by itself inexplicable, and useless. In providence, worlds do not barely exist; but operate to desirable purposes, and become the means of created wisdom, virtue, and happiness. In providence, minds do not barely possess being ; but understand, design, act, love, and enjoy. Here the reasons are found, why such beings have existed in such places, times, and circumstances; and were endued with such powers and faculties. Here, also, is seems the government of God, exerted over them; and the wisdom and goodness, employed in his various dispensations. Providence, therefore, is the fairest and best display of Infinite perfection.
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In this world we are children, standing on the bank of a mighty river. Casting our eyes upward, and downward, along time channel, we discern various windings of its current ; and perceive, that it is now visible, now obscure, and now entirely hidden from our view. But being far removed from the fountains whence it springs, and from the ocean into which it is emptied, we are unable to form any conceptions of the beauty, usefulness, or grandeur, of its progress. Lost in perplexity and ignorance, we gaze, wonder, and despond. In this situation a messenger from heaven comes to our relief, with authentic information of its nature, its course, and its end ; conducts us backward to the fountains, and leads us forward to the ocean.
This river is the earthly system of providence: the Bible is the celestial messenger and Heaven is the ocean in which all preceding dispensations find their end.
In that glorious world, no Revelation will be needed to illumine the thoughts of its inhabitants concerning the Divine administrations. While they were here below ; they thought as children, they spake as children, and they reasoned as children; but now they have become men; and have left behind them all their childish imperfections. Once they knew in part; now they know even as they also are known. Possessed of superior vision, the eye will, here, with a direct and undeceiving survey, trace from the beginning the glorious dispensations of its Creator towards the various inhabitants of his boundless empire; will see them rise from little fountains ; and, enlarging by continual additions, become mighty rivers. In all their progress, they will see good, both moral and natural, produced without intermission, and increasing without end: while the glory of the Uncreated Mind, dawning on the original darkness with a beautiful lustre, shines perpetually more and more unto the perfect day.
Here God will be seen as he is. Here, also he will, in a sense, be all that is seen. In his presence created glory will fade, and be forgotten.
In Heaven the mysteries of the present world will be finished. Every being and event will appear to have been known, and chosen, from the beginning, and to have been a proper part of a perfect system. It will be seen, that nothing was defective, and nothing superfluous ; that sparrows fell to the ground, and that the hairs of our heads were numbered, according to the dictates of Infinite Wisdom. In a word, reasons of sufficient importance will be disclosed, why every thing was as it has actually been ; and why the universe was not formed of different materials, or conducted in a different manner.
In the Intelligent Kingdom, particularly, will these delightful things be eminently visible. The knowledge, virtues, and actions, of Saints, and Angels, will be the fairest images, the brightest copies, of supreme perfection ; a resemblance, which, through age,
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succeeding age, will become more beautiful, more lovely, more divine. With the improvement of their excellence will his providence towards them exactly correspond ; and, as their character becomes more exalted, his dispensations will assume a continually increasing splendour. The character of a great and wise Prince is most effectually learned from the wisdom of his laws; the arrangement of his officers and their employments; the magnificence of his court; the mildness and equity of his government; and the high honour, voluntarily rendered to him by all his subjects. Thus the character of JEHOVAH will be seen in the glory of his residence ; the dignity and virtue of those who surround his throne ; the wisdom of their destination, offices, and employments ; their reverence for his perfections; their devotion to his service; the rewards, which they receive from his hand ; and, particularly, in the characteristical nature of his government, by which all things will improve, refine, and brighten, for ever.
This knowledge of the Righteous, in heaven, will be extensively acquired by contemplation. For this employment they will be most happily fitted by the superior vigour of their minds; by the vastness of the field opened to their view; by the delightful nature of the objects, which it contains; and by the endless opportunities, furnished for it in the progress of duration.
What they will acquire from this source, their mutual communications will mightily enlarge. The different generations of the Righteous will unfold to each other those providential dispensations of God to his Church, of which they have severally been witnesses their own difficulties, and temptations; their faith, and hope; their perseverance, and triumph ; together with all the manifestations of mercy, which they received in the present world. Into these things, angels, also, will desire to look: for they will discern by means of the Church the manifold wisdom of God. From them will men, in their turn, learn with transport the dispensations of God in the Heavenly world throughout all its past ages. In this manner will the eye behold the events of all preceding periods, brought together from every part of the universe, concentered in some luminous point, and formed into an image, intense, exact, and beautiful, beyond imagination.
Christ is the light of Heaven, as well as of the present world. He has taught us, that he will feed his followers, and lead them to living fountains of waters. He will furnish them with that knowledge, which is the true food of the mind; and, to slake their thirst for improvement, will lead them to the fountains of Eternal wisdom, from which they shall drink for ever. The perfections and pleasure, of the Uncreated Mind, he will eternally unfold; and direct them, throughout all the ages of Heaven, in the paths of truth, virtue, and enjoyment. The Instructer will be their Saviour. The disciples will be those, whom he has redeemed from perdition with
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his own precious blood. Think what must be the instructions of such a Teacher ; what the improvement of such disciples!
It ought to be added, that in Heaven, Testimony will completely assume its proper character. Safe from error and incapable of deceit, perfectly exact and completely adequate, it will command assent equally with demonstration. Distrust, the wall of partition between Intelligent beings, will be finally broken down ; and Confidence, unmingled and unalloyed, will resume its place. What a history will this testimony unfold! It will be the history of virtuous minds ; of angels ; of the REDEEMER ; of JEHOVAH ; of his boundless wisdom and beneficence ; of their virtue amid salvation.
2. Another Employment of the Righteous will be TO GLORIFY GOD. Under the preceding head it has been observed, that in the natural and moral creation, and in the system of providence, God will, in a sense, be all that will be known ; and that the intelligence, virtue, and enjoyment, of the Heavenly world, will be an immense, and endlessly varied, display of Divine perfection. It was also observed, that God will be seen as he is.
With these views of his character, the Heavenly inhabitants will render to him supreme and unmingled reverence. He will appear in his proper character infinitely great and majestic, but devested of all those terrors, and which he has so often manifested himself in the present world. He will no longer have his way in the whirlwind, and in the storm; nor be surrounded by a flame of devouring fire. These were manifestations made to sinners ; and will never be repeated in the Heavenly world. That fear of the Lord, which is wisdom ; that fear of the Lord, which is a fountain of life; will rise spontaneously, and delightfully, in every mind, when it fixes its eye on the greatness, and purity, of JEHOVAH ; at once infinitely awful and lovely while the fear, which bringeth into bondage, will by perfect love be cast out for ever. This reverence is a delightful, and exalted, emotion ; an ennobling exercise of piety ; and the proper regard of a virtuous creature toward the majesty, and purity, of his Creator.
They will also render to God, supreme Admiration.
In all the works of creation and providence, it will be their everlasting employment to trace, with a scrutinizing eye, the manifestations of Divine wisdom. This attribute they will find exhibited in the endless multitude of beings, and events ; their attributes, and their operations; the fitness of each to its place, and purpose ; their perfection, as parts of a mighty whole; the symmetry, with which they are arranged ; the skill, with which they are directed; the greatness and glory of the end, to which all are destined; and the perfection of the manner, in which it is accomplished. The field of study is immense; the investigation will be eternal; and at every step, their admiration will rise higher, and higher, without end.
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Another exercise of these happy beings towards their Creator will be Supreme Love.
Their benevolence towards God will be supreme, as being the Sum of all existence ; compared with which the creatures, whom he has made, are nothing. To his glory, and the prosperity of his designs, their good-will will occupy all the heart, and all the soul, and all the strength, and all the understanding. They will regard him with unlimited complacency, as the Being, in whom exists, and operates, and shines, whatever consummate virtue can approve and love. They will render to him intense, and unmingled, gratitude, as the source of boundless good to a boundless multitude of beings: good, felt by each, in his own bosom, with astonishment and rapture.
Equally entire will be the Confidence, exercised by the celestial inhabitants towards the Author of their blessings.
The truth of God will there be seen to be as the great mountains; and his word for ever settled in Heaven. The soul will rest on the faithfulness of its Maker as the Rock of ages, and on the mercy of its Redeemer, as the corner-stone laid in Zion; the sure foundation tried and precious. The Object will be perfect; the confidence will be entire.
In a former discourse concerning the Nature of Evangelical Faith, or Confidence, I have remarked, that there seems not to be, in the nature of things, any science, properly so called, of the character of spirits, beside that, which is possessed by the Infinite Mind. It is the prerogative of Omniscience to look directly upon the hearts of spiritual beings, and to see the nature of their thoughts, as they exist. Created minds learn the character of each other by experience. When they uniformly speak truth ; they are believed to be characteristically sincere. When they uniformly exhibit faithfulness ; they become characteristically objects of confidence. In the same manner they learn the character of the Creator.
The mysteries, which in this world have perplexed their views concerning the dispensations and character of God, will then be finished by a complete disclosure of their nature, tendencies, and ends. It will there be clearly discerned, that in every case God proposed, and accomplished, that, which was fittest to be done; that, which, in the possession of clear, unprejudiced, unerring views, their own minds pronounce to be worthy of the Universal Ruler. Thus conviction will preclude every doubt, every fear, concerning his future dispensations. The perfection of the past will be admitted without a question, as complete evidence of the perfection of the future. The soul, therefore, will cheerfully yield itself with implicit confidence to the guidance and conduct of its Creator throughout the never-ending progress of duration.
To the strength, and growth of this emotion, (than which none is more delightful, more excellent, or more improving) the daily
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administration of the Heavenly system of providence will mightily contribute. The emanations of forgiving, redeeming, and sanctifying love, and the smiles of infinite complacency, will, on the one hand , warm their hearts with a gratitude ; and on the other, invigorate, and enrapture, a confidence ; forbidden by no law, confined by no bounds, and capable of no excess.
From all these views, and emotions, in the minds of the heavenly inhabitants, will flow their everlasting Praise.
The praise of the mind, as every one will easily see, who reads with attention the various songs, contained in the Scriptures, is formed by the combination, and exercise, of the attributes, which I have mentioned. Of this the praise of the lips is only the expression. To the Omniscient, it is obvious, no external worship can be necessary. The eye, which looks into the mind with an intuitive view, sees in the union of just thoughts, and virtuous affections, particularly in the combined efforts of piety to glorify its Author, an altar erected, and an oblation made, of the purest incense, and the sweetest of all perfumes. This offering is, however, perceptible to no other being. The ends, for which external religious services are enjoined, are to make powerful impressions on the mind of the worshipper; and to awaken powerful sympathy, and increase devotion, in many minds, by participation. For these ends, it is presumed, it exists in every world, where religious worship exists ; and will unquestionably hold a distinguished place in Heaven. There, the Scriptures teach us, united praise will be offered unto God throughout the ages of eternity. This was the peculiar worship of Paradise. It is the peculiar worship of heaven.
With immediate reference to this religious employment, the followers of Christ are said to be made by him Priests unto God. Every glorified spirit will there be a divinely commissioned Minister of Religion; whose proper business it will be to offer this pure and fragrant oblation for ever. The glorious character of God; a forgiving, redeeming, and sanctifying God; his wonderful works of creation, and the astonishing dispensations of his eternal providence, will intensely occupy, and delightfully engross, the minds of these happy beings. In the celebration of these, the first of all themes, will the souls, and voices, and harps, of the Heavenly inhabitants, unite with harmony and transport. The four Living Ones, the four and twenty Elders, the innumerable company of angels, and the great multitude, which no man can number, of all nations, kindreds, and tongues, will mutually kindle with devotion and ecstasy, while they resound the everlasting song: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come! Amen. Blessing, and Glory, and Honour, and Power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the Throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever!
From the same views and affections will spring the active service, which the Redeemed will render to God in the future world.
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Heaven is styled the Temple of God; (Rev. vii. 15) to denote the character of its inhabitants as being all virtuous, and their employments as being all sacred. In this Temple, it is said, they serve God religiously day and night; to denote, that, however they may be employed, their minds are in a perpetual state of devotion, Wherever they are, piety is their predominating character. Still, the Scriptures plainly appear to teach us, that their employments are not merely those, which are involved in the word worship.
The Redeemed are made Kings, as wel1 as Priests, unto God; and will reign with him for ever and ever.
In the sentence of approbation, pronounced upon them immediately after death, it is declared, that they shall be Rulers over many things, as well as, that they shall enter into the joy of their Lord. They have overcome, and according to the profuse of Christ, will sit with him in his Throne, even as he overcame, and is set down with his Father in his Throne. Whatever difference of opinion may exist concerning the exact meaning of these declarations, there will, I presume, be no doubt concerning their general import. That they indicate high dignity of character, station, and employment, will not, I think, admit of a dispute.
In the Universe, the immense Kingdom of JEHOVAH, order, in the perfect sense, extends from the Infinite Ruler through all the gradations of virtuous beings, down to the humblest of its inhabitants. In such an Empire, the services, necessary to this order, and the accomplishment of the purposes for which it is established, are of necessity endless in their multitude, and sufficiently comprehensive to furnish his own part to every virtuous being. For this part each individual was formed, and destined; and both his faculties, and attainments, were directed by the Divine prescience so, as to qualify him to act, in it, in a better manner than any other being. Thus no individual will be useless, forgotten, or unemployed. Every one will labour in his own place, and will perform the duties of that place, in the happiest manner.
The system fills immensity, and endures through eternity. The plans, persons, faculties, attributes, and employments, are fitted by supreme wisdom to the extent of the system. Ample room, therefore, is here furnished for the operations of every virtuous being; a boundless scope for every endowment, acquisition, and effort.
In this vast Kingdom, the Redeemed will fill the honourable stations, indicated by the passages quoted above, and by the character delineated in the preceding discourse ; and will be designated to employments of superlative honour and glory. They are sons, and Kings, and Priests, to God the Father. They are Brethren of Christ, and joint-heirs with him to the Heavenly inheritance. Angels are their fellow-servants, and of their Brethren. They will, therefore be united with Angels in the magnificent employments which
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I have attributed to them in the second discourse concerninmg these illustrious beings.
Of tine happy agents, who are thus employed, it is to be observed, that many, who are now last, a and humblest, in the mediatorial Kingdom, will then be exalted to stations of peculiar distinction: those angels who kept not their first estate, will become the last, and lowest, of all Intelligent creatures. The meek and humble virtues will then rise to their own proper estimation; and, while they shine with their inherent lustre and beauty, will be seen, and acknowledged, as copies pro-eminently lovely, of the meek and lowly Redeemer.
In the exercise of these offices there will be no emulation, jealousy, nor hatred. The system will be planned by God Himself; and acknowledged with reverence and delight as his perfect work. In it, wisdom will be displayed, and goodness operate, without limits. The single employment will be to do good, and glorify its Author.
3. Another Employment of the Redeemed will be to befriend each other.
Heaven is the world of friendship; of friendship unmingled, ardent, and entire. The disinterested hove of the Gospel dwells here in every bosom. Selfishness, since the ejection of the fallen Angels from these delightful regions, has been here unknown and unheard of, except in the melancholy tidings, which have reached the happy inhabitants, of its deplorable effects on our apostate world. Here, every individual in the strictest sense fulfils the second great command of the Moral Law; and literally loves his neighbour as himself. No private, separate interest, is even proposed. A common good is announced by the voice of God; so great, as to comprise all individual happiness ; so arranged, as to furnish every one his proper portion, the part which he is to fulfil, and the means by which he is to act in it with absolute efficacy and so noble, as to fix every eye, engross every heart, and summon every effort. It is a good, involving not only all that can be acquired, but all that can be wished, all that can exist. This great truth is, also, admitted with perfect confidence by every celestial mind. Every individual completely realizes the import, and the truth, of that glorious declaration of Christ, the foundation of all pure and lasting good, whether personal or social: It is more blessed to give than to receive. Under its influence, all the hearts and hands, all the mighty faculties and unwearied efforts, of the Heavenly inhabitants, are completely occupied in doing good. To what a mass must this good arise, where the work is carried on by saints and angels, in the great field of Heaven, throughout the endless ages of duration!
As there are here no separate interests, and no selfish affections; there can of course be no jealousy, hatred, nor contention. Every individual will feel, that his own place and portion are contrived
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by the wisdom which cannot err, and the love which cannot injure; that they are necessary and desirable parts of a perfect system of good ; that no other being could so well fill the station which he occupies ; and that he could not so well fill any other station. In a word, he will see, that, had the whole arrangement of providence been left to his own choice, he should have chosen exactly what God has chosen for him. All his wishes therefore, all his views, will be satisfied.
Thus, wherever the mind roves through the immense regions of Heaven, it will find among all its innumerable millions, not an enemy, not a stranger, not an indifferent heart ; not a reserved bosom. Disguise, here, and even concealment, will be unknown. The soul will have no interests to conceal, no thoughts to disguise. A window will be opened in every breast; and show to every passing eye the rich and beautiful furniture within.
In this world of depravity, where the man who knew it better than any other, speaking with the voice of inspiration, could say and say with obvious propriety, A faithful man who can find? A few friends, nay, even one, is regarded as aim invaluable treasure. In that world, all will be friends; and the soul will, like the happy regions in which it dwells, contain ample room for the admission of all.
At the same time, this friendship will endure for ever. No degeneracy will awaken alarm and distrust; no alienation chill the heart; no treachery pierce the soul with anguish. No parent will mourn over an apostate child.; and no child over a profligate parent. No brothers, nor sisters, will be wrung with agony by the defection, and corruption, of those, who, inexpressibly endeared to them in this world by the tender ties of nature, and the superior attachments of the Gospel, have here walked with them side by side in the path of life, and have at length become their happy companions in the world of Glory. Husbands and wives, also, here mutually and singularly beloved, will there be united, not indeed in their former earthly relation, but in a friendship far more delightful, and, wafted onward by the stream of ages without a sigh, without a fear, will become, in each other’s eyes, more and more excellent, amiable, and endeared, for ever. That the Redeemed, who have been known to each other in the present world, will be mutually known in Heaven, I have shown in a former discourse. That this knowledge will prove the means of mutual happiness, cannot be doubted. At the same time it is to be remembered, that their characters, universally excellent, their stations, universally honorable, and their employments, universally useful, will be endlessly diversified; so as to present to every eye, worth, beauty, and glory, in forms always peculiar, and with loveliness always new.
Of the several ingredients which constitute this happiness of the Redeemed, and which have been mentioned in these discourses.
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it is to be universally observed, that they will be continually progressive towards higher and higher perfection. Concerning Him, whose name is called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of the everlasting age, and the Prince of peace, it is dechared, that of the increase of his Government, and of His peace, there shall be no end. The word government, here denotes the administration itself, and the displays which it involves of the greatness, wisdom, and goodness, of the Ruler. Peace often denotes in the Scriptures prosperity ; and here intends the whole happiness of his subjects. Their residence, their bodies, their minds, their knowledge, their virtue, their stations, their employments, and their enjoyments, will form a system of glory, and of good, refining, brightening, and ascending for even. Their possessions will be rapturous, their prospects will be ecstatic.
To the eye of man, the sun appears a pure light; a mass of unmingled glory. Were we to ascend with a continual flight towards this luminary, and could, like the eagle, gaze directly on its lustre; we should in our progress behold its greatness continually enlarge, and its splendour become every moment more intense. As we rose through the heavens, we should see a little orb changing, gradually, into a great world; and, as we advanced nearer and nearer, should behold it expanding every way, until all that was before us became an universe of excessive and immeasurable glory. Thus the Heavenly inhabitant will, at the commencement of his happy existence, see the Divine system filled with magnificence and splendour, and arrayed in glory and beauty; and, as he advances onward through the successive periods of duration, will behold all things more and more luminous, transporting, and sunlike, for ever.