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him of his possessions. But in the heavenly world, there is no dark hour; there is nothing that can encourage such mischievous. designs; nor are any of the sons of violence, or the malicious powers of darkness suffered to have an abode or refuge in that country. No surprize nor fear belongs to the inhabitants of those regions. Happy souls, who spend all their life in the light of the countenance of God, and are for ever secure from the plots and mischievous devices of the wicked?
While we dwell here below amongst the changing seasons of light and darkness, what daily care is taken to shut the doors of our dwellings against the men of mischief? What solicitude in a time of war to keep the gates of our towns and cities well secured against all invasion of enemies? Cantic. iii. 8. Every man with his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. But in that blessed world there is no need of such defences; no such guardian cares to secure the inhabitants. The gates of that city shall not be shut by day, and there is no night there. There shines perpetual day-light, and the gates are ever open to receive new-comers from our world, or for the conveyance of orders and messages to and fro from the throne, through all the dominions of God and the Lamb. Blessed are the inhabitants of that country, where there are no dangers arising from any of the wicked powers of darkness, nor any dark minute to favour their plots of mischief.
6. "The time of night and darkness is the time of the concealment of secret sins." Shameful iniquities are then practised amongst men, because the darkness is a cover to them. The eye of the adulterer watches for the twilight, saying, no eye shall see me. Job xxiv. 15. In the black and dark night he hopes for concealment as well as the thief and the murderer, and they that are drunken, are drunken in the night; 1 Thess. v. 7." The hours of darkness are a temptation to these iniquities, and the shadows of the evening are a veil to cover them from the sight of men: They find a screen behind the curtains of the night, and a refuge in thick darkness. But in the heavenly world, there is no temptation to such iniquities, no defilement can gain an entrance there, nor could it find any veil or covering." The regions of light, and peace, and holy love, are never violated with such scenes of villany and guilt. No secret sins can be committed there, nor can they hope for any screen to defend them from the eye of God and the Lamb, whose eyes are like a flame of fire. The light of God shines round every creature in that country, and there is not a saint or angel there, that desires a covering from the sight of God, nor would accept of a veil or screen to interpose between him and the lovely glories of divine holiness and grace. To behold God, and to live under
the blessings of his eye is their everlasting and chosen joy. O that our world were more like it!
7. When the night returns upon us here on earth, the pleasures of sight vanish and are lost. Knowledge is shut out at one entrance in a great degree, and one of our senses is withheld from the spreading beauties and glories of this lower creation, almost as though we were deprived of it, and were grown blind for a season.
It is true the God of nature has appointed the moon and stars to relieve the darkness at some seasons, that when the sun is with-drawn, half the world at those hours may not be in confusion: And by the inventions of men, we are furnished with lamps and candles to relieve our darkness within doors: But if we stir abroad in the black and dark night, instead of the various and delightful scenes of the creation of God, in the skies and the fields we are presented with an universal blank of nature, and one of the great entertainments and satisfactions of this life is quite taken away from us. But in heaven, the glories of that world are for ever in view: The beauteous scenes and prospects of the bills of paradise are never hidden: We shall there continually behold a rich variety of things which eye hath not seen on earth, which ear hath not heard, and which the heart of man hath not conceived; 1 Cor. ii. 9. Say, ye souls in paradise, ye inhabitants of that glorious world, is there any loss of pleasure by your absence from those works of God which are visible here on earth, while you are for ever entertained with those brighter works of God in the upper world? While every corner of that country is enlightened by the glory of God himself, and while the Son of God with all his beams of grace shines for ever upon it?
8. It is another unpleasing circumstance of the night season, that it is the coldest part of time. When the sun is sunk below the earth and its beams are hidden from us, its kind and vital heat as well as its light, are removed from one side of the globe; and this gives a sensible uneasiness in the hours of midnight to those who are not well provided with warm accommodations. And I might add also, it is too often night with us in a spiritual sense, while we dwell here on earth: Our hearts are cold as well as dark: How seldom do we feel that fervency of spirit in religious duties which God requires? How cool is our love to the greatest and the best of beings? How languid and indifferent are our affections to the Son of God, the chiefest of ten thousand and altogether lovely? And how much doth the devotion of our souls want its proper ardour and vivacity.
But, when the soul is arrived at heaven, we shall be all® warm and fervent in our divine and delightful work. As there shall be nothing painful to the senses in that blessed climate, so
there shall not be one cold heart there, nor so much as one lukewarm worshipper; for we shall live under the immediate rays of God, who formed the light, and under the kindest influences of Jesus, the Sun of righteousness. We shall be made like his angels, who are most active spirits and his ministers, who are flames of fire; Ps. civ. 4. Nor shall any dulness or indifferency hang upon our sanctified powers and passions: They shall be all warin and vigorous in their exercise, amidst the holy enjoyments of that country.
In the ninth and last place, as night is the season appointed for sleep, so it becomes a constant periodical emblem of death, as it returns every evening. Sleep and midnight, as I have shewn before, are no seasons of labour or activity, nor of delight in the visible things of this world: It is a dark and stupid scene, wherein we behold nothing with truth, though we are sometimes deceived and deluded by dreaming visions and vanities: Night and the slumbers of it are a sort of shorter death and burial, interposed between the several daily scenes and transactions of human life. But in heaven, as there is no sleeping, there is no dying, nor is there any thing there that looks like: death. Sleep, the image or emblem of death, is for ever banished from that world. All is vital activity there: Every power is immortal, and every thing that dwells there is for ever alive. There can be no death, nor the image of it, where the ever-living God dwells, and shines with his kindest beams: His... presence maintains perpetual vitality in every soul, and keeps the new creature in its youth and vigour for ever. The saints shall never have reason to mourn over their withering graces, languid virtues or dying comforts; nor shall they ever complain of drowsy faculties or inactive powers, where God and the Lamb are for ever present in the midst of them. Shall I invite your thoughts to dwell a little upon this subject?
[Here this discourse may be divided.]
Shall we make a more particular enquiry, whence it comes to pass that there is no night nor darkness in the heavenly city? We are told a little before the words of my text, that the glory of God enlightens it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. There is no need of the sun by day, or of the moon by night; there is no need of any such change of seasons as day and night in the upper regions, nor any such alternate enlighteners of a dark" world, as God has placed in our firmament, or in this visible sky. The inheritance of the saints, in light, is sufficienly irradiated by God himself, who at his first call made the light spring up out of darkness over a wide chaos of confusion, before the sun and moon appeared; and the beams of divine light, grace and glory are communicated from God, the original fountain of it,
by the Lamb to all the inhabitants of the heavenly country. It was by Jesus his Son that God made the light at first, and by him he conveys it to all the happy worlds.
There is no doubt of this in the present heaven of saints departed from flesh, who are ascended to the spirits of the just made perfect. It is one of their privileges that they go to dwell, not only where they see the face of God, but where they behold the glory of Christ, and converse with Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant; Heb. xii. 23, 24. and are "for ever with the Lord who redeemed them." 2 Cor. v. 8. Since his mediatorial kingdom and offices are not yet finished in the present heaven of separate souls, we may depend on this blessedness to be communicated through Christ the Lamb of God, and all the spiritual enjoyments and felicities, which are represented under the metaphor of light, are conveyed to them through Jesus the Mediator.
The sun in the natural world, is a bright emblem of divinity, or the godhead; for it is the spring of all light and heat and life to the creation. It is by the influences of the sun that herbs, plants and animals are produced in their proper seasons, and in all their various beauties, and they are all refreshed and supported by it. Now if we should suppose this vast globe of fire, which we call the sun, to be inclosed in a huge hollow sphere of chrystal, which should attemper its rays like a transparent veil, and give milder and gentler influences to the burning beams of it, and yet transmit every desirable and useful portion of light or heat, this would be a happy emblem of the man Christ Jesus, in whom dwells all the fulness of the godhead bodily; Col. ii. 9. It is the Lamb of God, who in a mild and gracious manner, conveys the blessings originally derived from God, his Father, to all the saints. We partake of them in our measures in this lower world, among his churches here on earth; but it is with a nobler influence, and in in a more sublime degree, the blessings of paradise are diffused through all the mansions of glory, by this illustrious medium of conveyance, Jesus the Son of God; and there can be no night nor coldness, death nor darkness in this happy state of separate souls.
When the bodies of the saints shall be raised again, and reunited to their proper spirits, when they shall ascend to the place of their final heaven, and supreme happiness, we know not what manner of bodies they shall be, what sort of senses they shall be furnished with, nor how many powers of conversing with the corporeal world shall be bestowed upon them. Whether they shall have such organs of sensation as eyes and ears, and stand in need of such light as we derive from the sun or moon, is not absolutely certain. The scripture tells us, it shall not be a body
of flesh and blood: These are not materials refined enough for the heavenly state; that which is corruptible cannot inherit incorruption; 1 Cor. xv. 50. But this we may be assured of, that whatsoever inlets of knowledge, whatever avenues of pleasure, whatever delightful sensations are necessary to make the inhabitants of that world happy, they shall be all united in that spiritual body, which God will prepare for the new-raised saints. If eyes and ears shall belong to that glorified body, these sensitive powers shall be nobly enlarged and made more delightfully sus ceptive of richer shares of knowledge and joy.
Or what if we shall have that body furnished with such unknown mediums or organs of sensation, as shall make light and Bound such as we here partake of, unnecessary to us? These organs shall certainly be such as shall transcend all the advantages that we receive, in this present state, from sounds or sunbeams. There shall be no disconsolate darkness, nor any tiresome silence there. There shall be no night to interrupt the business, or the pleasures of that everlasting day. Or what if the whole body shall be endued all over with the senses of seeing and hearing? What if these sort of sensations shall be diffused throughout all that immortal body, as feeling is diffused through all our present mortal flesh? What if God himself shall, in a more illustrious manner, irradiate all the powers of the body and spirit, and communicate the light of knowledge, holiness and joy in a superior manner to what we can now conceive or imagine? This is certain, that darkness in every sense, with all the inconveniences and unhappy consequences of it, is and must be for ever banished from the heavenly state. There is no night there.
When our Lord Jesus Christ shall have given up his mediatorial kingdom to the Father, and have presented all his saints spotless and without blemish before his throne, it is hard for us mortals in the present state to say, how far he shall be the everlasting medium of the communication of divine blessings to the happy inhabitants on high. Yet when we consider that the saints and angels and the whole happy creation are gathered together in him, as their head, it is certain they shall all be accounted in some sense his members; and it is highly probable he as their head, shall be for ever active in communicating and diffusing the unknown blessings of that world, amongst all the inhabitants of it, who are gathered and united in him.
I come in the last place to make a few remarks upon the foregoing discourse, and in order to render them more effectual for our spiritual advantage, I shall consider the words of my text, there shall be no night there, in their metaphorical or spiri
The Greek word avanpahaiew, used in Eph. i. 10. favours this meaning, and perhaps Col. i. 20, includes the same thing.