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gives us, when he prays for his people in those memorable words, engraven, as I hope, upon many of our hearts; Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me*. And he elsewhere promises it, as the great reward he would bestow upon his people; If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there also shall my servant bet. And, agreeable to this, the apostle Paul represents it, as the transporting view in which he considered the happiness of the future world; I desire, says he, to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better, incomparably beyond any of the enjoyments of the present world, which can come into competition with it. But for this part of the happiness of angels, and of the spirits of just men made perfect, it is also evident, that you, Sinners, can have no relish.
The sight of Christ will afford holy souls a transporting delight, because they will regard it as the glory of their Redeemer and their friend, and as a pledge and security of their own glory. But what foundation can you, Sinners, find for such a joyful sympathy with Christ, and such a comfortable conclusion with regard to yourselves? Such is the wretched degeneracy of your nature, that though Christ be indeed The chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely§, being The brightness of his Father's glory and the express image of his Person, possessed of every divine perfection and excellence; yet you now slight and neglect him, and discern in him No form nor comeliness, for which he is to be desired ¶: And were you unregenerate in heaven, the same principle would prevail. Now where there is no love to a person, there can be no delight in his converse, nor any pleasure in his happiness. Nay, the contrariety of your nature to his, would rather occasion aversion and terYou could not but know, that the blessed Jesus Is holy and undefiled, and separate from sinners**; that he abhors all moral evil to such a degree, that he laid aside all the glory and entertainments of heaven, that he might destroy the interest of sin in this world of ours, and might Purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works++: And when you should recollect at the same time that sinfulness that continued to reign in your hearts, and made you To every good work reprobate II, you could not but know, that you must be hateful to him; and therefore could not but fear, lest his almighty power should be
*John xvii. 24. Isa. liii. 2.
+ John xii. 26.
Phil. i. 23.
§ Cant. v. 10, 16. Heb. i. 3.
Tit. i. 16.
exercised for your punishment and destruction: And thus your terror must rise, in proportion to the sensible evidence you had of his dignity and authority. In a word, you would stand like guilty rebels in the presence-chamber of their injured and displeased Sovereign: His throne and his sceptre; his robe and his crown; his courtiers and his guards, though in themselves splendid and magnificent objects, only serve to terrify and amaze them, while they display the grandeur and power of their
4. Another very considerable branch of the celestial happiness will be "the society of angels and glorified saints;" but for this likewise an unregenerate sinner must be unfit.
You know, that when the apostle speaks of our alliance to the heavenly world, he represents it as a social state; where excellent spirits dwell together, and converse with each other with mutual esteem and endearment: Ye are come, says he, unto the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to the spirits of just men made perfect*: It is Sitting down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with all the patriarchs and prophets, all the apostles and martyrs, in the kingdom of heavent: And perhaps you think, you shall want nothing more to complete your happiness, than to be admitted to a place among them. But reflect a little more attentively upon the circumstances of things, and I am persuaded you will form a different jndgment.
There is no reason to doubt, but that at your first entrance into the regions of glory, you would be agreeably struck with the view of those inhabitants. As for those beauties of their character, which consist in love to God, and in zeal for his honour and interest, it is certain, that you would be insensible of them, and pay but little regard to them: But the humanity and benevolence of their temper would, no doubt, render them agreeable to you; and so much the more, as self-love might lead you to expect some personal advantage by it. And it is more than possible, that you would be much prejudiced in their favour, by those resplendent and attractive forms in which they appear; forms, no doubt, far more beautiful and engaging, than which the children of men ever saw upon earth. both these accounts it might be natural enough for you, at first, to address them with an air of respect, as persons that you could
be glad to be upon good terms with, and in whose friendship you could desire a share.
But how do you think, that any such proposal of friendship would be received by an angel, or a glorified saint? No doubt, if there were any prospect of converting you, or any hope you might be brought to a devout and holy temper, they would immediately become preachers of righteousness to you; and endeavour by the most rational, the most pathetic, and the most insinuating address, to awaken and charm you to a sense of religion, and so to form you to a capacity for happiness. But they would know, that according to the eternal constitution of God, there could be no room to entertain such an hope; but that being Filthy, you must be filthy still*: And therefore, as they would know you to be incorrigible, their love to God, and their concern to be approved and accepted by him, would prevent their forming any intimate friendship with persons, whose natures were so contrary to him, and on whom he looked with such irreconcileable abhorrence. And besides this, their own personal sanctity of character would give them an aversion to such corrupt and degenerate creatures: So that how much soever they might pity your condition, they would turn away from you as objects whose presence and converse were not to be endured.
And do not you easily apprehend, that such a refusal on their part would be both shameful, and very provoking to you? For which way could you bear it, to be thus rejected and dishonoured by the most excellent part of creation; by those whom perhaps you once intimately knew, and with whom you conversed upon equal terms; nay, by many, who were once much your inferiors, and whom perhaps, in the pride of your hearts, you would not condescend to regard? The natural effect of this must surely be, that you would soon be proportionably displeased and enraged with the refusal, as you were at first charmed at their appearance: And when you saw that transporting pleasure which they took in the affection and friendship of each other, and the joy which the divine favour poured into their souls, while you, in the very same place, were excluded from these rich entertainments, your hearts would soon burn with envy and indignation; and as much as you before admired them, you upon this would come to hate them. And perhaps that hatred would put you upon some attempt to interrupt, or even, if it were possible, to destroy that happiness, which you
*Rev. xxii. 11.
were not allowed to share. But then, when you saw them continually under the divine protection, and Compassed with his favour, as with a shield*, so that your malice could not reach them, all the keenness and rancour of your spirit would recoil upon itself; you would fly from their presence, as insupportable; and would be glad to retire to some meaner apartment, or to hide yourselves in the shades of darkness; so that you might but get rid of the sight of so many dazzling objects, whose lustre, instead of cheering your vitiated eye, would pain and overpower it.
But if you should not be transported to this diabolical excess; if it were possible for you to behold the glorified saints, and to live among them, without these envious and tormenting passions; yet surely you would want a relish for the most entertaining part of their conversation. Had you indeed a good natural genius, which to be sure many unconverted sinners have, it might be very agreeable to hear them discoursing of the wonders of nature; and that curiosity, which is, in some measure, incident even to persons of the meanest capacities, would make it pleasant to hear them recount the important history relating to the revolutions of the angelic world, which we on this earth are entirely strangers to, or at least have been very little acquainted with them. But surely, the most delightful topics of conversation, which heaven itself can furnish out, must be those which are religious and divine; the infinite perfections of the ever-blessed God; the personal glories and incomparable love of his condescending, but exalted son; and the sanctifying operations of the blessed Spirit on the soul, transforming it into the divine image, and making it meet for eternal glory. Yea, even when the blessed Spirits aboye are handling philosophical or historical subjects, they still consider them with a regard to God, as his perfections are displayed, and illustrated in the works of his hands, and in the conduct of his providence. And here their pleasure flows, not merely from a set of rational ideas, which arise in their own minds, or are suggested to them by others; but from the exercise of those devout affections upon the blessed God, which are correspondent to these several subjects of discourse.
And can you, Sirs, who are Alienated from the divine lifet, and accustomed to live in a continual neglect and forgetfulness of the great parent of universal nature, can you relish such subjects as these? You would, no doubt, be discontented, and
uneasy in such a scene: The heavenly oratory of this holy society, would have no charms for you; but you would be longing for some of those vain and worthless companions, which you were so fond of here upon earth, to hear a merry story, or a song, or to join with them in the pleasures of a debauch. 5. Another considerable branch of the happiness of heaven arises "from the assured prospect of the everlasting continuance of this felicity;" but, if an unregenerate soul could find any entertainment at all in heaven, he certainly could have no ground for such an expectation of its continuance.
When the children of God on earth think of the happiness of heaven, the eternity of it makes a very deep impression on their hearts, and even swallows up their souls with ardent desire, and unutterable joy: It raises their esteem, and animates their hope, while they reflect on that Exceeding and eternal weight of glory*, that House not made with hands, eternal in the heavenst, and that Inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and which fadeth not away.And no doubt, but the blessed in heaven regard it in the same view, and all the pleasures they enjoy are vastly increased by the prospect of their endless dura tion; so that by the anticipation of an eternity still to come, they do, as it were, every moment enjoy an infinite satisfaction. But as for you, Sinners, while you are so ill attempered to the happiness of heaven, the prospect of an eternal abode there, would not, on the principles I have laid down above, be a prospect of eternal happiness, but rather, on the whole, of eternal uneasiness to you.
But suffer me a little to discourse upon another supposition; and let me now, for argument sake, wave what I have been so long insisting upon, and suppose that you could so far command the turbulent passions of your own heart, and so unite, as it were, the whole powers of your soul, to attend to the beauty of place, the harmony of music, and whatever else may be supposed capable of regaling the senses or the imagination; as upon the whole to find heaven a pleasing and delightful abode, and to wish, that though some of its entertainments were above your taste and capacity, yet, you might be allowed an eternal enjoyment of the rest: Could there be any room for you. to expect a perpetual abode in these blissful seats? No, Sinners, you would not be able so much as to hope it. The good itself is so great, and perpetual enjoyment, even in any degree, has
* 2 Cor. iv. 17.
+ 2 Cor. v. 1.
#1 Pet. i. 4.