We are fond of contracting acquaintances with great and
famous men, and sometimes lament the death of some before we were born, and
our distance from others while we live. What pleasure would it afford me,
had I known the first worthies of the world! To have had an hour's company
and conversation with the first man, the father of us all; to have been
acquainted with the divine Enoch, who was wafted deathless to glory; with
Noah, the preacher of righteousness; with Abraham the Father of the
Faithful; with Moses, the man of God; with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of one and
the same promise; with the deeply afflicted, and highly advanced Joseph;
with Elijah and Elisha; with Samuel, David, and Solomon; in a word, with all
the prophets, apostles, evangelists, and martyrs, and all the New Testament
worthies down to the present times. I say, to have been acquainted with all
these great men, what secret pleasure would it afford! What instruction from
their conversation, and what joy to behold so many sparkling graces in each
of them! But this is what can never happen; yet there is one thought that
abundantly supplies the loss. That all those who are united in the living
Head shall meet together in the state of eternal glory!
There shall I see Adam, not in that shameful
anguish he sustained when driven out of the terrestrial paradise—but with a
fullness of joy proper to one entered into the heavenly paradise for
eternity! There shall I see Enoch walking in very deed with God, and
enjoying eternally and uninterruptedly, that communion he delighted in
below. There shall I see Noah, not preaching to an inattentive world.
but praising in concert with all those who in the ark of covenant were saved
from the flood of wrath that swept away the wicked! There shall I see
Abraham, not traveling to the mountains of Moriah to offer up his
son—but dwelling in the mount of God to offer up his song, his sacrifice of
praise, possessed of greater glory, and more noble blessings, than even his
strongest faith ever could expect!
There shall I see Isaac and Jacob, not
sojourning in a strange land—but dwelling in Immanuel's land, without any
more removing to and fro! There shall I see Joseph, not in that
anguish of spirit he was in when sold for a slave—but in a nobler condition
than when governor over Egypt! There shall I see Moses, not
struggling with a rebellious Israel in an howling wilderness—but triumphing
with the true Israel, in whom iniquity is not beheld, and entered on the
possession of the heavenly Canaan for eternity!
There shall I see, also, Samuel the reformer,
David the upright, and Solomon the wise; along with all the
prophets and apostles, the evangelists and martyrs,
shining with additional luster, and inconceivable glory! Yes, not one of all
the saints of God, though the names of thousands of them were never heard of
in the world—but I shall be acquainted with, and know everything about them,
that can set forth the glory of God, and the praises of redeeming love! I
shall know who and what they were in the world, whence they came, and what
they suffered for his name's sake!
Had I been acquainted with them in their imperfect
earthly state, either corruption in them might have restrained my regard
toward them; or corruption in me might have deadened my affection for them.
But my acquaintance with them shall be when both they and I have put off all
corruption—and are spotless as the angels of light!
How is it, then that I have concluded all the worthies of
the old world as gone from me forever, when, in a little while, I shall come
into their company, into their assembly—to depart no more? Further, what
will sweeten all, is, that my acquaintance with them shall be in and through
Christ—in whom all his saints are one! And my delight in them will spring
from their resemblance to Christ, and rise according to the degree of that.
Then, like so many stars, they shall reflect the glory of the Sun of
Righteousness—and he who reflects most glory shall be the brightest star.
Besides, as the Lamb is the light of the holy city—so he shall be the
fullness of the higher house—replenishing all the inhabitants, who shall
have Christ in them, once "the hope of glory" but then the harvest of
glory—and with them as such shall I be acquainted. Hence shall Christ be to
everyone all in all, even in their delight in, and acquaintance with, one
another; because, loving him who begets, supremely and eternally—they cannot
but love those who are begotten after the same divine likeness.
What a friendly office, then, (though to the greater part
of humanity, unwelcome,) does death, in the hand of Christ perform to his
chosen ones—in convening the saints together from remotest corners,
scattered kingdoms, and distant ages—and, with a smiling countenance,
ushering them, not only into the presence of one another—but into the
presence of their common Redeemer!
On the other hand, how miserable must the wicked be,
whose acquaintance with the great, of which they are now so proud—at the
hour of death shall cease forever! For beings in torment can be no
entertaining company to one other but, by being once companions in sin,
shall mutually increase their horror, and heighten their anguish forever!