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before the face of Jesus, the Lord and Judge of the whole creation. They would fly to the common refuge of slaves, they shrink into the holes of the rocks, and call to the mountains to screen and protect them: And every bond-man, and every free-man, who have not known, nor loved God and Christ, are plunged into extremest distress; but the humble christian is serene and joyful, and lifts up his head, with courage and delight, in the midst of these scenes of astonishment and dismay.
"He is come, he is come, saith the saint, even that Lord Jesus whom I have seen, whom I have known and loved in the days of my mortal life, whom I have long waited for in the dust of death; he is come to reward all my labours, to wipe away all my sorrows, to finish my faith, and turn it into sight, to fulfil all my hopes and his own promises; he is come to deliver me for ever from all my enemies, and to bear me to the place which he has prepared for those that love him and long for his appearance.
"O blessed be the God of grace, who hath convinced me of the sins of my nature, and the sins of my life in the days of my flesh; who hath discovered to me the danger of a guilty and sinful state, hath shewn me the commission of mercy in the hands of his Son, hath pointed me to the Lamb of God, who was offered as a sacrifice to take away the sins of men, and hath inclined me to receive him in all his divine characters and offices, and to follow the Captain of my salvation through all the labours and dangers of life. I have trusted in him, I have loved him, I have endeavoured (though under many frailties) to honour and obey him, and I can now behold his face without terror: While the mighty men of the earth tremble with amazement, and call to the rocks and mountains to hide them from his face, I rejoice to see him in his robes of judgment, for he is come to pronounce me righteous in the face of men and angels, to declare me a good and faithful servant before the whole creation, to set the crown of victory on my head, to take me to heaven with him, that where he is I may be also to behold his glory; John xvii. 24. and to partake for ever of the blessings of his love." Amen.
DISCOURSE VII.-No Night in Heaven.
Rev. xxi. 25. For there shall be no night there.
LENGTH of night and over-spreading darkness in the winter-season, carries so many inconveniences with it that it is generally esteemed a most uncomfortable part of our time. Though night and day necessarily succeed each other all the year, by the wise appointment of God in the course of nature, by means of the revolution of the heavenly bodies, or rather of this earthly globe, yet the night-season is neither so delightful nor so useful a part of life as the duration of day-light. It is the voice of all nature as well as the word of Solomon, Light is sweet, and a pleasant thing to enjoy the sun-beams; Ecc. xi. 7. Light gives glory and beauty to every thing that is visible, and shews the face of nature in its most agreeable colours; but night, as it covers all the visible world with one dark and undistinguishing veil, is less pleasing to all the animal parts of the creation. Therefore as hell, and the place of punishment is called utter darkness in scripture, so heaven is represented as a mansion of glory, as the inheritance of the saints in light; Col. i. 12. And this light is constant, without interruption, and everlasting, or without end. So my text expresses it, there shall be no night there.
Let it be observed, that in the language of the holy writers, light is often ascribed to intellectual beings, and is used as a metaphor to imply knowledge and holiness and joy. Knowledge, as the beauty and excellency of the mind, holiness as the best regulation of the will, and joy as the harmony of our best affections in the possession of what we love: And in opposition to these, ignorance, iniquity, and sorrow, are represented by the metaphor of darkness. Then we are in darkness in a spiritual sense, when the understanding is beclouded or led into mistake, or when the will is perverted or turned away from God and holiness, or when the most uncomfortable affections prevail in the soul. I might cite particular texts of scripture to exemplify all this. And when it is said, there shall be no night in heaven, it may be very well applied in the spiritual sense; there shall be no errors or mistakes amongst the blessed, no such ignorance as to lead them astray, or to make them uneasy; the will shall never be turned aside from its pursuit of holiness and obedience to God: nor shall the affections ever be ruffled with any thing that may administer grief and pain. Clear and unerring knowledge, unspotted holiness, and everlasting joy shall be the por
tion of all the inhabitants of the upper world. These are more common subjects of discourse.
But I chuse rather at present to consider this word, NIGHT, in its literal sense, and shall endeavour to represent part of the blessedness of the heavenly state under this special description of it. There is no night there.
Now, in order to pursue this design, let us take a brief survey of the several evils or inconveniences, which attend the night, or the season of darkness here on earth, and shew how far the heavenly world is removed, and free from all manner of incon venience of this kind.
1. Though night be the season of sleep, for the relief of pature, and for our refreshment after the labours of the day, yet it is a certain sign of the weakness and weariness of nature, when it wants such refreshments, and such dark seasons of relief. But there is no night in heaven. "Say, O ye inbabitants of that vital world, are ye ever weary ? Do your natures know any such weakness? Or are your holy labours of such a kind, as to expose you to fatigue, or to tire your spirits ?" "The blessed above mount up towards God as on eagle's wings, they run at the command of God, and are not weary, they walk on the hills of paradise, and never faint," as the prophet Isaial expresses a vigorous and pleasurable state, chapter xl. 31.
There are no such animal bodies in heaven, whose patural springs of action can be exhausted or weakened by the business of the day: There is no flesh and blood there to complain of weariness, and to want rest, O blessed state, where our faculties shall be so happily suited to our work, that we shall never feel ourselves weary of it, nor fatigued by it. And as there is no weariness, so there is no sleeping there. Sleep was not made for the heavenly state. Can the spirits of the just ever sleep under the full blaze of divine glory, under the incessant communications of divine love, under the perpetual influences of the grace of God the Father, and of Jesus the Saviour, and amidst the inviting confluence of every spring of blessedness.
2. Another inconvenience of night, near a-kin to the former is, that business is interrupted by it, partly for want of light to perform it, as well as for want of strength and spirits to pursue it. This is constantly visible in the successions of labour and repose here on earth; and the darkness of the night is appointed to interrupt the course of labour, and the business of the day, that nature may be recruited. But the business of heaven is never interrupted; there is everlasting light, and everlasting strength. "Say, ye blessed spirits on high, who join in the services which are performed for God and the Lamb there; ye who unite all your powers in the worship and homage that is
paid to the Father and to the Son; ye that mingle in all the joyful conversation of that divine and holy assembly, say, is there found any useless hour there? do your devotions, your duties and your joys, ever suffer such an entire interruption of rest and silence, as the season of darkness on earth necessarily creates amongst the inhabitants of our world?"
The living creatures which are represented by John the apostle in Rev. iv, 6-8. whether they signify saints or angels, yet they were full of eyes that never slumber; they rest not day nor night, this is spoken in the language of mortals, to signify that they are never interrupted by any change of seasons or intervening darkness, in the honours they pay to God: They are described as ever saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. And the same sort of expression is used concerning the saints in heaven. Rev. vii. 14, 15, They who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; that is, they constantly serve or worship him in his holy temple in heaven. Perhaps the different orders and ranks of them in a continual succession, are ever doing some honours to God. As there is no night there, so there is no cessation of their services, their worship, and their holy exercies, in one form or another, throughout the duration of their being.
Our pleasures here on earth are short-lived: If they are intense, nature cannot bear them long, any more than constant business and labour: And if our labours and our pleasures should happily join, and mingle here on earth, which is not always the case, yet night compels us to break off the pleasing labour, and we must rest from the most delightful business. Happy is that region on high, where business and pleasure are for ever the same among all the inhabitants of it, and there is no pause, or entire cessation of the one or the other. "Tell me, ye warm and lively christians, when your hearts are sweetly and joyfully engaged in the worship of God in holy conversation, or in any pious services here on earth, how often you have been forced to break off these celestial entertainments by the returning night. But in the heavenly state there is everlasting active service with everlasting delight and satisfaction." In that blessed world there can be no idleness, no inactivity, no trifling intervals to pass away time, no vacant or empty spaces in eternal life. Who can be idle under the immediate eye of God? Who can trifle in the presence of Christ? Who can neglect the pleasurable work of heaven under the sweet influences of the
The word (wa, which is translated "beast," signifies only "animals," or living creatures," and does not carry with it so mean and so disagreeable an idea as the word "beasts" in English.
Deity, and under the smiles of his countenance, who approves ail their work and worship.
3. As in our present world the hours of night are inactive if we sleep, so they seem long and tedious when our eyes are wakeful, and sleep flies from us. Perhaps we hear the clock strike one hour after another, with wearisome longings for the next succeeding hour: We wish the dark season at an end, and we long for the approach of morning, we grow impatient for the dawning of the day. But in heaven, "ye spirits who have dwelt longest there, can ye remember one tiresome or tedious hour, through all the years of your residence in that country? Is there not eternal wakefulness among all the blessed? Can any of you ever indulge a slumber? Can you sleep in heaven? Can you want it or wish for it? No, for that world is all vital, and sprightly for ever." When we leave this flesh and blood, farewell to all the tedious measures of time, farewell tiresome darkness; our whole remaining duration is life and light, vital activity and vigour, attended with everlasting holiness and joy.
4. While we are here on earth the darkness of the night often exposes us to the danger of losing our way, of wandering into confusion, or falling into mischief. When the sun-beams have withdrawn their light, and midnight clouds over-spread the heaven, we cannot see our path before us, we cannot pursue our proper course, nor secure ourselves from stumbling. How many travellers have been betrayed by the thick shadows of the night into mistaken ways or pathless desarts, into endless mazes among thorns and briars, into bogs and pits and precipices, into sudden destruction and death? But there are no dangers of this kind in the heavenly world: All the regions of paradise are for ever illuminated by the glory of God: The light of his countenance shines upon every step that we shall take, and brightens all our way. We shall walk in the light of God, and under the blessed beams of the Sun of righteousness, and we are secured for ever against wandering, and against every danger of tripping or falling in our course. Our feet may stumble on the dark mountains here below; Jer. xiii. 16. but there is no stumblingblock on the hills of paradise, nor can we go astray from our God, or our duty. The paths of that country are all pleasure, and everliving day-light shines upon them without end. Happy beings, who dwell or travel there!
5. In the night we are exposed here on earth to the violence and plunder of wicked men, whether we are abroad or at home. There is scarce any safety now a-days to those who travel in the night, and even in our own habitations there is frequent fear and surprize. At that season the sons of mischief dig through houses in the dark which they had marked for themselves in the day-time: They lurk in corners to seize the innocent, and to rob