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into the fiery gulf; and then you will be irrecoverably lost, forever, May the God of mercy and power make you sensible of your danger, and induce you to flee from the wrath to come, to the refuge revealed in his word.
MATTHEW Xxv. 46. Last CLAUSE.
"But the righteous into life eternal.”
We have considered the misery to which the wicked shall be doomed at the judgment day. This was a dreadful subject. A more pleasing one now claims our attention-the happiness on which the righteous shall in that day enter.
The righteous having, in the general judgment, been separated from the wicked; and openly acknowledged and acquitted, shall receive the joyful sentence, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Having received this blessed sentence, they will be present to hear the dreadful sentence, which shall immediately after be pronounced upon the wicked; and will, we have reason to believe, be eye witnesses of the execution of this sentence. They will see the wicked go away into everlasting punishment, and will approve of their doom; and to this approbation we are most probably to refer, what the apostle saith, 1 Cor. vi. 2, 3. "Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? Know ye not that we shall judge angels?"
The wicked having gone away into everlasting punishment, and the smoke of their torment having begun to ascend up forever and ever-the righteous shall follow their Redeemer, from the place of judgment, into the glorious
kingdom just given to them; and which had been prepared for them from the foundation of the world, where they shall enjoy eternal life.
All the happiness of heaven is in our text included in this expression, "life eternal."
We shall endeavour, in the ensuing discourse, to describe the happiness of heaven.
But in comparison of the reality, it is but little we can say on this subject. For "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." 1 Cor. ii. 9. "Now we see through a glass darkly." 1 Cor. xiii. 12. "It doth not yet appear what we shall be." 1 John iii. 2. And the glory of heaven is "a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Cor. iv. 17.
Besides if it were not expressly taught, that the glory, prepared for the saints in heaven, is exceedingly great, beyond the description or conception of mortals in their present state, we must conclude it to be so from the considerations of, by whom, and by what means, and for whom, and for what purposes it was prepared. It was prepared by the Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate and co-. equal Son of God. It is a purchased possession, the price of which was his own blood. It was prepared for his favourites, whom he loved before the foundation of the world, with a love stronger than death, and whom he delighteth to honour. And it was prepared for the purpose of manifesting his own mediatorial glory and the glory of his Father. From all these considerations we must conclude, that the happiness of heaven exceeds any thing which in our present state we can express or conceive.
But notwithstanding all the descriptions we can give of the happiness of heaven must be very faint indeed compared with the reality; yet from the word of God we may know something of it, and enough to ravish our souls, and convince us that all terrestrial glory and happiness are as nothing in comparison.
We proceed to attempt a description of the happiness of heaven.
1. The eternal life which awaits the righteous, includes an entire freedom from sin. This is proved by the two following passages. Eph. v. 27. "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle,
or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." And, Rev. xxi. 27. "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie." That this freedom from sin will be an unspeakably great happiness, the righteous even now know. For sin is now one of their greatest troubles; and one of their greatest desires is, to be delivered from it. They now often groan on account of the strength of their indwelling corruptions, which when they would do good, frequently cause evil to be present with them. It was sin that caused Paul to complain, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" But in heaven sin shall no more vex the righteous. Their souls shall be perfectly purified from every corruption. No more shall they stray from the path of God's commandments. No more shall sinful or idle words issue from their lips; and no more shall sinful thoughts or desires occupy their souls.
And as they shall be freed from sin in themselves, so also shall they be freed from the grief they now experience from beholding the sins of others. This is now the cause of no small grief to the people of God. "Lot," we are told was in Sodom, "vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." 2 Pet. ii. 7,8. And David said, Ps. cxix. 53, 136, 158, "Horror hath taken hold upon me, because of the wicked that forsake thy law. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word."These are the feelings, in a greater or less degree, of every true child of God. They grieve on account of the iniquities which they see practised around them. But in heaven, sinners shall not stand in the congregation of the righteous." Ps. i. 5. There all the inhabitants shall be perfectly freed from sin; and the holy souls of the righteous shall no more be vexed with beholding it in those with whom they associate.
2. The righteous shall also in heaven be freed from all temptation to sin. Satan cannot enter there with his temptations; neither can wicked men enter there to entice them to sin; and none of those inward corruptions
which now prove such a fruitful source of temptation shall there exist. The righteous will therefore have nothing to tempt them in heaven. Temptations are now a fruitful source of misery, as christians well know. Deliverance from them will therefore be a great happiness.
3. In that eternal life which awaits the saints in heaven is included an entire freedom from all misery or the penal consequences of sin. Death entered into the world by sin. All misery is the consequence of sin. When therefore the saints not only have all their sins pardoned, but also are entirely delivered from sin, a deliverance from all misery will naturally follow. And the Scriptures inform us, "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any Rev. vii. 16." And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." Rev. xxi. 4. "And there shall be no more curse." Rev. xxii. 3. From the numerous evils to which the saints are now subjected, they shall then be entirely delivered. The tongue of calumny will no more assail their character. They will suffer no more from poverty or oppression. No more will painful and loathsome diseases attack their bodies. No more will they be called to endure the heart-rending pangs of parting with dear friends. No more will they have to contend with the king of terrors, or be in bondage and tremble through fear of his approach. And no more will they be distressed with those gloomy doubts and fears concerning the safety of their state; or feel those painful anxieties about what is to become of them at last, which many now experience. In heaven the former things are all passed away. All misery of every kind, whether of body or mind shall be entirely excluded that happy place.
"Pains and groans and griefs and fears,
But heaven is not a place of mere negative happiness. The saints shall not only there be freed from all sin and temptation and misery; but shall be positively, and perfectly holy and happy. Hence we observe,
4. Perfection in holiness will make a part of the happiness of heaven. "Ye are come, (saith Paul, Heb. xii 22, 23,) to the spirits of just men made perfect." "I shall be satisfied (saith the Psalmist, Ps. xvii. 15.) when I awake with thy likeness." "When he shall appear (saith 1 John iii. 2.) we shall be like him." The saints will then be perfectly conformed to the image of God. A perfectly filial temper will dwell in their hearts. They will be perfectly conformed to the will of God, and will always choose, with readiness and delight, that which is pleasing to him; and with delight and alacrity will ever render obedience to his will. The saints, being thus perfectly holy, must be happy and glorious. Holiness is necessary to happiness, and the holy must be happy. And they must be glorious too; for holiness is the highest ornament of a rational creature.
5. The residence of the saints will be most glorious. They shall inhabit "a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." Heb. xi. 10. All the ancient great cities of our world, have, one after another, been overturned, or have sunk into ruins by the decays of time; but the heavenly city hath immoveable foundations, and shall never be overturned or decay. For stability, beauty, and glory, it is worthy its builder, who is God. A description of this city we have, Rev. xxi. 10, &c. where the most splendid images with which we are acquainted are used to set forth its glory. "And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem-having the glory of God and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as chrystal. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof-and-there shall be no night there." Such is the description given us of heaven. Most of this