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sion for this public declaration and manifestation of the goodness of God in the redemption of his people; to exhibit their true character, and to acknowledge and honour them as his, before angels and men; and to expose the wicked in their true character, with equal publicity, and to clothe them with ineffable shame and contempt; these seem to be some of the chief purposes for which the day of judgment is appointed.
It is added in the answer before us, that after the judgment, believers shall “ be made perfectly blessed, in the full enjoyment of God to all eternity.”
To be perfectly blessed is to be entirely and for ever exempt from all pain or uneasiness, and in full possession of all the happiness of which the soul is capable; and this, we are assured will be the happy lot of all who shall be acquitted in the final judgment. Not that we are to suppose that all glorified spirits will enjoy an equal degree of happiness. In the passage already cited, we are reminded that “one star differeth from another star in glory," and that “SO also is the resurrection of the dead." There will be different degrees of happiness among the saints, according to their different capacities, their attainments in grace, and their labours of love in the present life. But all will be satisfied. Cast a thousand vessels of different capacities into the ocean, all will be full, and equally full, yet no two will contain the same quantity. By this similitude, the future state of the blessed has been often illustrated.
Our Catechism instructs us that the happiness of glorified saints will arise from “the full enjoying of God to all eternity.” God alone is adequate to satisfy the desires, or to constitute the chief good, of an immortal soul. No finite, no created being, can fully comprehend God. Extend what is finite as far as imagination can reach, still there is an immeasurable distance between it and what is infinite. Hence it is plain, that all holy and happy beings may be enlarging their capacities for the enjoyment of God to all eternity, and yet find him the same inexhaustible fountain
that they did at first. Every glorified spirit will have such a perfect knowledge of him, as shall have no measure set to it, but what arises from the limited capacity of the creature; and this capacity may still .enlarge its limits, and still be filled.
We have reason to believe that an object of great delight to the bodily eyes of the redeemed in heaven, will be that glorious body which is united to the person of the Son of God. The glory of the man Christ Jesus, will be unspeakably superior to the glory of all the saints. They indeed will shine forth as the sun, but," the Lamb shall be the light” itself of the heavenly city. And on him shall every eye turn, with admiring and adoring rapture, beholding in him the Redeemer to whom they owe their all; and seeing in the nature which he wears, the indissoluble bond of union between God and them.
But the blissful sight of God in heaven, is something more than any external, visible glory, of what kind soever. The Scriptures assure us that his people “shall see God," and "see him as he is.” The saints in heaven will see, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: not with their bodily eyes, in respect to which God is invisible: but with the eyes of the understanding-being blessed with the most perfect, full and clear perceptions of him and of divine things, of which their powers are capable. Here they only “ see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.” Here it is only by glimpses, and short passing views, that they behold any of his glory; but there they shall eternally, and without interruption, delight their souls with unclouded visions of him: they shall for ever contemplate his infinite love, his unchangeable truth, and his wonderful works, with the utmost complacency and delight. They shall have a clear, distinct, and assured view, of the love which he bore to them from eternity; and will bear to them for ever more. The revelations of glory will be a complete commentary on the Bible. That blessed book will be far better and more extensively understood by the saints in heaven, than it ever was on earth.
As the word, so the works of God, will then be more perfectly known than they could be in this world. The saints' knowledge of the material creation, and of all sensitive beings, will then be brought to perfection, and it will be seen that “in wisdom he hath made them all." Believers will also then behold the chequered web of Divine Providence completely unravelled; and will see that there was a necessity for all the trials and afflictions of this mortal state. But the chief matter of their eternal admiration will be, the glorious work of redemption. They will for ever wonder and praise, and praise and wonder, while they contemplate the depths of wisdom and love, of goodness and holiness, of mercy and justice, of power and grace, which shine through the whole of that transcendently glorious device.
All the knowledge of the saints in heaven, will be accompanied with the highest and purest pleasure, with the utmost delight of their holy souls. God will fully and freely communicate himself to them; and the enjoyment of him will go as far as their most enlarged capacities can reach. He will admit them to a holy, unrestrained intercourse and familiarity with himself. In the language of Scripture, he will - walk in them.” His fulness shall ever stand open to them; there shall be no veil between him and them; but they shall behold him in immediate vision. From this free communication, and full participation of the Divine goodness in heaven, there will result to the saints who behold the face of God, a perfect likeness, according to their measure. Hence it is said, “We shall he like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Joy inconceivable will arise, not only from what is possessed, but from what shall be eternally in prospect. The saints will know that their blessedness is to be endless, strictly eternal. Nor will the enjoyment of God produce satiety. It will be fresh and new, through the round of wasteless ages. But we are lost and overwhelmed in the contemplation.
My dear youth, the blessedness of which I have been speaking is that to which I have been seeking to lead you, in all the instruction which I have endeavoured to communicate, and in all the exhortations I have addressed to you, in these lectures on your Catechism. Yes, the ultimate object of all has been to lead you to heaven; that God in Christ may be glorified in you, and that you may share with saints and seraphs, in all that unutterable and inconceivable bliss, to which your attention has just been directed. O that I could impress it on your minds! O that God by his Spirit would effectually impress it on your consciences and hearts, that this is a personal concern to every individual of you! This heavenly happiness is set before each of you, as an object for which you are to strive, and which you must obtain; or failing to obtain it, sink to all the horrors of the pit of eternal perdition. Is it not worthy of all attention, and of all effort, and of all earnestness in prayer for the aids of Almighty grace, to escape from hell and to rise to heaven! How manifest, and how dreadful, is the infatuating power of sin, that a rational creature should need much persuasion, and that all persuasion should so often be in vain, to avoid inconceivable and interminable misery, and to secure eternal and ever increasing felicity! O let it be the present resolution of every one of you, that you will, from this moment, strive to break away from all the spells of this moral fatuity; that you will no longer listen to the syren song of sinful pleasure; that you will not lose heaven by delaying for another hour to seek it, with all the energies of your souls. Forin the resolution in the strength of God, and may his grace crown your endeavours with success. Amen.