« ForrigeFortsæt »
house, and so indescribable the delights promised to the righteous, that even the pen of inspiration declines to communicate particulars; as a new language suitable to a new order of beings, would be necessary to make them understood.
But a pious reader of the Scriptures requires no addition to his faith. The very nature of the revelation is a confirmation of its truth. Without this key, indeed, the whole would be unintelligible. Great security rests upon the mind from the very indistinctness of the revelation. Is there not both sublimity and confidence in the only passage which it is necessary to adduce? "It is written, eye hath not seen,
nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for those that love him." But obscure as the words appear to the natural man, the man of the Gospel has a clearer prospect; for the apostle adds, "God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God'." Spiritual matter requires spiritual language, and thus the servant of Christ is encouraged to go on through every stage of divine knowledge, till he happily arrives, through grace, at a due apprehension of divine things; differing as much from worldly views and his former conversation, as life from death, or time from eternity. The obscurity which surrounds the throne of God
1 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10.
breaks away before the eye of faith, and the majesty of God's kingdom is revealed in all its grandeur.
To penetrate into the arrangement of heavenly things, and particularly into the secrets of the angelical world, and of those servants of God that do his pleasure, however sweet in contemplation, of itself, perhaps, would be an unprofitable speculation, as we cannot be acquainted with the manner or nature of the intercourse between angels and men in the world which we now inhabit. The use and application of angels in many of the most important incidents of Scripture, are circumstances well known and well believed. They were sent on extraordinary commissions, and fulfilled the will of the Almighty. Thus far we cannot be mistaken. That there were evil angels, who had fallen from their first estate, is also a Scripture truth; and that these have permission of an extraordinary nature cannot be denied. Our conformity to the angels in heaven, and our abhorrence of the wicked one and his wicked host, from whom we pray to be delivered, become the origin of doctrines, deep doctrines they may be, but abounding in Christian utility. Get thee behind me, Satan! is as powerful to us, as it was once to the apostle. And when we die, if we die in the Lord, we shall come to an innumerable company of angels. Ought it not then to be our endeavour to attain the heavenly disposition of these messengers of the High God, that we may be received
as acceptable guests into their society of delight hereafter? When Jesus stood on Mount Olivet ready to ascend to the Father, angels were his companions. Under the same blessed dispensation may they not be ours? It is neither my duty nor my pleasure to pry into the unrevealed secrets of futurity; it is sufficient to be satisfied that angels, whether good or evil angels, are instruments in the hands of the Almighty, and in every other respect let his will be ours.
We cannot, however, leave these deep subjects of contemplation without turning our eye inward to make inquiry at our bosom's throne, whether heaven and heavenly things are the happy residents there? We may all answer that plain question. Whether satisfactory or not, is known only to him whose eye penetrates the heart. I am persuaded that a pure meditation on heaven and heavenly things, must operate in the most beneficial manner even on the plainest, and I may add, least informed understanding. The subject is no way complicated. Life and death, happiness and misery, bear their own meaning; and, Choice turns the scale. One gleam of celestial love will work its own way to glory. It diffuses over the mind an indescribable composure, terminating in an holy joy. Have we never sat down to contemplate heaven, and found ourselves at once, as it were, in heaven? Has not sober contemplation in many cases wrought its own benefit? Have we never experienced
in an evening walk, or in the solitude of twilight, an overflowing of thought on sacred subjects? If we have not, oh! what we have lost! I do not mean to promote an enthusiastic rapture which creates an unnatural elevation of mind, and in the end loses the very effect it would produce; but that calm and temperate sense of pure religion which circulates in every vein, gives an equal and an healthy impulse to every limb, and makes the man, if the expression be not too bold, a living image of his Maker.
There is a transaction in the life of the blessed Jesus which brings the celestial change almost visibly before our eyes; I mean, at his transfiguration with Moses and Elias on Mount Tabor. "The fashion of his countenance was changed, and his face did shine as the sun."
This is a representation of the Lord in a state of glory; at the same time, a certain change, accompanied also with glory, was visible in the appearances of Moses and Elias. "The glory of Christ, says an eminently pious expositor, was a symbol of his exaltation to be judge of the earth, and the glory of Moses and Elias was an emblem of the rewards given to the righteous '." The three disciples were indeed favoured by being present, not at the vision, but at the real and glorious appearance of their beloved Master; and the great doctrine of a resurrection, the subject of the conversation to which they were ad
1 Bishop Porteus on the Transfiguration.
mitted, with Moses and Elias standing in their presence, must have struck their minds in a manner never to be forgotten; cheering them in every future trouble, and leading them to realms of higher glory, where they would behold Christ upon his throne, and themselves gladly ministering before him to all eternity.
Does not this, in more than poetic song, "bring all heaven before our eyes?" We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. And if we have here a representation of that change, a glorified body exhi bited to us, does it not cheer our drooping spirits both for our departed friends and for our decaying selves, to contemplate the change that the Saviour of man is preparing for the righteous?
But what is outward change? The change within is the heaven which we seek. We must be born into another and an unknown world; unknown indeed to those who seek it not. But the Christian must not tremble at the threshold; the assured Christian cannot tremble, if led by the good shepherd's hand, who has given his life for the sheep. "He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus '."
Let thy heavenly consolations, O Lord, fortify my mind against sinful pleasures and the distractions of worldly affairs; let the discoveries of the light of thy
1 Rev. xxii. 20.