Though every child in the family of heaven has real
fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ; yet there are
happy times and pleasant moments, when a divine fellowship is carried on
between the soul and God. A carnal world ridicules the idea; and no wonder,
for the "natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God, because
they are foolishness to him."
Will not every Christian confess, that communion with God
is sometimes sensibly enjoyed; and that the enjoyment of it is—a little
heaven, glory in the bud, and a foretaste of their future felicity? Nor is
this the effect of fancy, or an heated imagination; it proceeds from a
nobler cause, even the sovereign kindness of the Father of mercies. Have not
the souls of his people, (Oh that I could say—my own!) been sometimes so
refreshed with more than ordinary out-lettings of his love, that they have
longed for the eternal uninterrupted vision and enjoyment of himself? And
when heaven has opened before them to let them look in, and see the glories
of the better country, how have they trampled on the pleasures, and
triumphed over the troubles of the present life!
At three remarkable seasons God is pleased to hold
communion with his people. First, before affliction, to prepare them
for it; as with Jacob in that memorable night when his angry brother was
marching against him; and with Paul, who was bid to be of good cheer, for as
he had testified at Jerusalem, so he should at Rome.
Secondly, in the time of affliction, to support
them under it; as when Moses was mourning and going heavily under Israel's
grievous idolatry, then God spoke face to face with him, as a man speaks
unto his friend; and he made his goodness to pass before him. Likewise,
Stephen's face, from heart-felt joy, shone like an angel's, amidst his foes,
and near his death.
And, thirdly, after some afflictive dispensations,
and mournful providences. So the apostles, after they had been apprehended,
examined, and severely threatened, are filled in an eminent manner with the
Holy Spirit, while the place of their abode, as a symbol of the divine
presence, is remarkably shaken.
Though all his saints are fed from God's bounty—yet
sometimes they are allowed to sit in his presence, and feast with the King.
And such a banquet makes the barren desert like the garden of God. It is
only in the strength of heavenly meals, bestowed by Jesus, that I travel to
the mount of God. Now, these manifestations and communications do not
entitle me to bliss—but are themselves a part of my bliss; therefore I must
not build upon them—but seek my standing in the righteousness of the Son of
God. Even as a servant's being allowed to eat at the master's table will not
prove him to be a son; yet the son abiding in the family of election and
house of God, is always entitled to be fed, and is sometimes admitted to his
Father's own table.
If, then, Heaven is pleased, according to his divine
sovereignty, to display his glory at times, in a more than ordinary
effulgence, why should it be called enthusiasm and delusion? For my part—let
me live and die in such delusion! But if thus the life of the least saint be
like the life of an angel, in comparison of the happiest worldlings; and if
the life of one saint so excel another's in walking near God, (for it is
thus that in the 'sky of grace' one star differs from another star in
glory;) and if the life of a saint sometimes, for a few moments, in
comparison of his ordinary attainments, be like the life of a seraph; what
must eternal, uninterrupted, full, and free communion be—in the highest
heavens, where the new bottles will be able to hold the new wine of
paradise; and where the soul, capacitated in every power, shall be
replenished with all the fullness of God?
Expire, you intervening years—that I may join the adorers
around the throne, and commence communion with the Highest in the holy
place—for the endless ages of eternity!