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angels of God in heaven*, and enjoy such pure and spiritual delights, as are suited to such holy and excellent creatures.
It is true, that in the book of Revelations, stately palaces and shining habits; delicious fruit and harmonious music, are all mentioned, as contributing to the happiness of those, who have the honour to inhabit the New Jerusalem. But then the stile of that obscure and prophetical book naturally leads us, to consider these merely as figurative phrases, which are made use of to express the happiness that divine wisdom and love has prepared for the righteous, in a manner accommodated to the weakness of our conceptions: Or at least, if in any of these respects provision be made for the entertainment of a glorified body, whatever its methods of sensation and perception may be, all will be temperate and regular: And after all, this is even there represented, but as the least considerable part of our happiness, the height of which is made to consist in the most elevated strains of devotion, and in an entire and everlasting devotedness to the service of God and of the Lamb.
Let us therefore immediately proceed to settle the point in question, by a more particular survey of the several branches of the celestial felicity, as represented to us in the word of God: And from thence it will undeniably appear, that were an unregenerate soul in the same place with the blessed, and surrounded with the same external circumstances, the temper of his mind would not by any means allow him to participate of their happiness. For it is plain, the scripture represents the happiness of heaven, as consisting,-in the perfection of our minds in knowledge and holiness ;-in the sight and service of the ever-blessed God,-in beholding the glory of our exalted Redeemer ;--and enjoying the society of glorious angels and perfect saints,—throughout an endless eternity.-Now, Sinners, it is impossible, you should enter into any such delights as these, while you continue in an unregenerate state.
1. One very considerable part of the happiness of heaven consists, in that perfection of knowledge and holiness, to which the blessed shall be there exalted;" in which the unregenerate soul can have no pleasure.
Thus we are told, that The spirits of just men shall there be made perfect+; for Nothing that defiles, as every degree of moral imperfection does, shall enter into the New Jerusalem. An Old Testament saint conceived of future happi
*Mat. xxii. 30.
+ Heb. xii. 23,
Rev. xxi. 27.
ness, as consisting in being Satisfied with the likeness of God*: A character that is manifestly most agreeable to the view of it, which the beloved disciple gives us, where he says, that When Christ shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he ist; which must certainly refer to the glories of the mind, which are of infinitely greater importance, than the highest imaginable beauty and ornament, that can be put upon the corporeal part of our nature in its most illustrious state.
Now from this perfection of holiness, which shall then be wrought in the soul, there will naturally arise an unspeakable complacency and joy, something resembling that, which the blessed God himself possesses in the survey of the infinite and unspotted rectitude of his own most holy nature. And in proportion to the degree, in which the eyes of our understandings are enlightened to discern wherein true excellency consists, will the soul be delighted in the consciousness of such considerable degrees of it in itself.
But surely it will be superfluous for me to undertake to demonstrate, that an unregenerate soul can have no part in this divine pleasure, which implies the complete renewal of the mind as its very foundation. For to imagine that he might, would be supposing him regenerate, and unregenerate at the same time. As Mr. Baxter very well expresses it, "The happiness of heaven is holiness; and to talk of being happy without it, is as apparent nonsense, as to talk of being well without health, or being saved without salvation.
I would only add on this head, That the highest improvement of our intellectual faculties could not make us happy, without such a change in the affections and the will, as I have before described under the former general head. For the more clear and distinct the knowledge of true excellence and perfection is, the greater would be your anguish and horror to see and feel yourselves entirely destitute of it; and it is exceeding probable, that spirits of the most elevated genius have the keenest sensation of that infamy and misery, which is inseparable from the prevalence of sinful dispositions in such minds as these.
2. Another very considerable branch of the celestial happiness, is that which arises "from the contemplation and enjoyment of the ever-blessed God;" but of this likewise an unregenerate sinner is incapable.
As our own reason assures us, that God is the greatest and
+1 John iii. 2.
*Psal. xvii. 15.
best of beings, and the most deserving object of our enquiries and regards, one would think it would naturally lead us to imagine, that the perfection and happiness of the human soul consists in the knowledge and enjoyment of him; and that when it arrives at the seat of complete felicity, it must intimately know him, and converse with him. And in this view, I have sometimes been surprised, that men of such distinguished abilities, as some of the heathen poets and philosophers appear to have been, should have had no greater regard to the Supreme Being in the descriptions which they give us of the future happiness. That sort of friendship for them, which an acquaintance with their writings must give to a person of any relish for the beauties of composition, makes one almost unwilling to expose the low and despicable ideas, which they often give of the state of their greatest heroes in the regions of immortality.But the word of God speaks a very different language. Our Lord represents the rewards to be bestowed on the Pure in heart, by telling us, that they shall see, i. e. contemplate and enjoy God*: And virtuous souls, who Overcome the temptations with which they are here surrounded, shall be made as pillars in the house of their God, and shall go no more out+: And it is elsewhere said, that His servants shall serve him, and shall see his face ‡. And David's views under a darker dispensation rose to such a degree of refinement, as to say, As for me, I shall behold thy face in righteousness §; which he mentions as a felicity infinitely superior to all the delights of the most prosperous sinner.
But now, Sinners, it is utterly impossible, that while you continue in an unregenerate state, you should behold the face of God with pleasure. The unutterable delight, which the blessed inhabitants of heaven find in it, arises, not merely from the abstract ideas of his essential perfections, but from a sense of his favour and love to them. It is this that gives a relish to the whole survey, and rejoices the heart of all the saints, both in heaven and on earth. He is a God of awful majesty and irresistible power, of infinite wisdom and unspotted holiness, of unerring justice, invariable fidelity, and inexhaustible goodness; and This God is our God, he will be our guide and our portion for And were it not for this view, let a creature think of God with ever so much spirit and propriety, he must think of him, and be troubled; yea, he must be filled with unutterable horror and confusion, as the devil is, at the thought of an in
*Mat. v. S.
Rev. iii. 19.
Rev. xxii. 3, 4.
finitely perfect being, in whom he has no interest, from whom he has nothing friendly to expect; and if nothing friendly, then every thing dreadful.
Now it is certain, Sinners, that while you continue in an unregenerate state, under the influence of that Carnal mind, which is enmity against God*, and full of unconquerable rebellion against his law, there can be no foundation for a friendship between him and your souls; nor for any persuasion, or any apprehension, of your interest in his favour and love. Friendship, you know, supposes something of a similitude of nature and sentiment; for, as God himself argues, how Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Now I have before observed to you at large, that God, being Of purer eyes than to behold evil‡, must necessarily Hate all the workers of iniquity; the foolish therefore shall not stand in his sight§, or shall not be admitted to such a situation: Nor would they indeed be able to endure -Let conscience judge, what satisfaction you could find in the presence of a God, that you knew scorned and hated you, even while he suffered you to continue among the crowd of his children and servants. The more lively ideas you had of the beauty and perfection of the divine nature, the more you must loath yourselves, for being so unlike him, and so abominable to him: And what pleasure do you think consistent with such self-contempt and abhorrence? Or rather, would not the wretched degeneracy of your nature lead you another way; and a kind of unconquerable self-love, joined even with this consciousness of deformity and vileness, lead you to hate God himself? It is described as the fatal effect of prevailing wickedness in the heart, My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me||. And thus would it probably work in you, and produce in your wretched breasts a mortal hatred against him, and an envious rage at the thought of his perfect happiness: A state of mind, of all others that can be imagined, the most odious, and the most tormenting. How, Sirs, could your hearts, possessed with these diabolical passions, bear to see the beams of his glory surrounding you on every side? How could you bear to hear the songs and adorations, that were continually addressed to his throne; and to observe the humble attendance of all the hosts of heaven about it, who perpetually reckon it their honour and happiness to be employed in obedience to his commands? Such a sight of the glory and felicity of your divine enemy would make you, so far as your limited nature was capable of it, miserable even in
Zech. xi. 8,
Rom. viii. 7. + Amos iii. 3.
Hab. i. 13. § Psal. v. 5.
proportion to the degree in which he is happy. This was, no doubt, the torment of the devils, as soon as they had harboured a thought of hostility against God; and the remembrance of that glory in which they once saw him, and which they know he still invariably possesses, is surely an everlasting vexation to them; and it would be so to you, if you were within the sight of it.
But further, the blessed in heaven find their everlasting entertainment"in the service of God." They rest not day and night, saying, holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty*; i. e. they are continually employed, either in the immediate acts of devotion, or in other services, in which they still maintain a devotional temper, and are breathing out their souls in holy affections, while their active powers are employed in the execution of his commands. But as I have already shewn you, that while in an unregenerate state you could have no sense of his favour to you; it is very apparent, that you could have no sentiments of gratitude and love towards him. So that while angels and glorified saints were breathing out their souls in the most delightful and rapturous praises, you must keep a sullen kind of silence: Or, if it were possible that your harps and voices should sound as melodiously as theirs, it would be all ceremony and shew; the music of the heart would be wanting; and you would look on all the external forms of service, but as a tedious task, and count it your misfortune that the customs of the place obliged you to attend them. You may the more easily apprehend and believe this, when you consider what little relish you now have for those solemnities of divine worship, in which sincere christians have the most lively foretastes of heaven. You know in your own consciences, that short and interrupted as our public services are, they are the burden of your lives. You know, that you say, in your hearts at least, When will the sabbath be past, and the new moon be gone+? Judge then, how insupportable it would be to you, to spend an everlasting sabbath thus. I question not, but to your wretched spirits, annihilation would appear vastly preferable to an eternal existence so employed.
3. Another very considerable branch of the happiness of heaven, is that which arises from the sight of the glory of an exalted Redeemer;" but for this likewise no unconverted sinner can have any relish.
This is a view of the future happiness, which our Lord