"Eternal Glorification"

Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:30

    And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30

    And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And he gave them right standing with himself, and he promised them his glory. Romans 8:30

Such is the last in the regular sequence of truths which, in the unfolding of this verse, we have been contemplating. It would appear that there are two links in this marvellous chain, the purpose of God, and its final consummation; both so remote and invisible as to bring the mind to a calm, unquestioning belief in certain doctrines of God's Word which may more properly belong to the "deep things of God." But while the two extremes of this chain of truths must for the present be left invisibly locked in God's hand, we have endeavored to convince the perplexed and inquiring reader that there are certain intermediate and visible links upon which, if he lay hold, he shall be saved, though all the rest remains wrapped in the profoundest mystery- like its Divine Author, dwelling in lone and unapproachable grandeur. It is not essential to our salvation, that we lift the veil of that awful mystery, and penetrate the depths of a past predestination, and a future glory; but it is essential to our salvation that we are called of God, and that by God we are justified. We may arrive at heaven without fathoming the awful profound of the one extreme, and with but twilight views of the magnificence spreading over all the other; but we cannot get to heaven without the Spirit's grace, and Christ's righteousness. Grasp in faith, and receive into your heart, these two central and essential truths, and they will by and by lift you into a sunnier region, where all the rest will stand forth, clear and transparent, bathed in the noontide splendor of heaven's own glory.
Before we show in what the future glorification of the saints will consist, and trace the influence of this truth upon the present life, it may be proper to speak of the certainty of the fact, that he who justifies his people will also assuredly glorify them. Final and eternal glorification is the grand end and consummation of all God's purposes of love towards his Church; and we may therefore expect that this truth should be revealed in his word with a distinctness and clearness commensurate with its importance and greatness. Nor will this expectation be disappointed- for around no single fact of the Bible does there gather a larger accumulation of demonstrative evidence than that of the certain glorification of all who are "accepted in the Beloved."
We find some clear revealings of this truth in the Old Testament writings. To a comparatively obscure saint of God, yet honored to be the parent of one of Israel's mightiest prophets- the mother of Samuel- a striking view of the saint's future exaltation was given: "He raises up the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory." See how this same truth beamed in upon the troubled mind of Asaph, diffusing over his perplexed and perturbed spirit, the luster and serenity of a sunlight calmness: "If You shall guide me with your counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory." "Afterwards- when life's storms are over, and its perils are passed, and its voyage is closed, and its work is finished- after having done and suffered your holy will here on earth- you will receive me to glory." Passing by other unfoldings of the future glory of the saints in the Old Testament, let us glance at a few proofs found in the writings of the New Testament. The apostle, referring to his own experience, says, "I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory." Thus clear is it, that the salvation secured to us by Christ is inseparable from future glory; so that he who is saved now, evidencing the truth of his salvation by his holy life, is saved forever- "Salvation in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." We find, too, that future glory is connected with present calling. "That they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." Oh, what a high calling, then, is ours! Called to be saints now- and called to glory hereafter. Glory is also secured by our justification. "For if when we were enemies; we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." But the inferential evidence of the certain glorification of the saints is not less conclusive. Their union with the Lord Jesus secures it. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory." Christ dwelling in us is our heaven below, and to dwell with Christ will be our heaven above. And thus our vital union to Christ, secures our eternal glorification with Christ. If Christ is emphatically our life, then we must be where our life is. This, too, was his prayer. "Father, I will that they also, whom you have given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory." And what are the various tracings of the Spirit's work but the foreshadowings of the coming glory in the soul? "The Lord will give grace and glory." The two are inseparable. They are indeed essential parts of each other. Grace is the germ of glory, glory is the full-blown flower of grace. Grace is the first degree of glory- glory is the highest degree of grace. And what are the saints of God but the precious vessels of mercy afore prepared unto glory? Purified from all alloy, refined from all imperfection, those vessels of silver and gold are arranged, each in its appointed place, in the Father's house, filled to overflowing with its glory. The essential relation of grace and glory is one of the most animating and consolatory truths upon which the Christian mind can repose. Musing in mournful recollection of the loved ones who have gently broken from our embrace and disappeared within the parted veil, does the painful doubt at times cross the mind as to their safety? Do you wonder, as you yearn for a surer evidence, whether Christ was with them in the shadowy valley, and whether they are now with Christ in the regions of light and glory beyond it? See here the evidence. Did you discern the faintest dawn of heavenly light in the soul? Did you observe the tenderest buddings of grace in the heart? Did you mark any of the first fruits of the Spirit as exhibited in the life? Was it a hand that tremblingly touched the border, an eye that dimly beheld the cross, a heart that mourned, and wept, and loved at the Savior's feet? Then, sorrow not- they are safe in glory! The least measure of grace, the smallest degree of faith, will have brought them there. O yes! all whom God justifies, he glorifies. Once invested with the righteousness of Christ, they are robed for the wedding, and at the marriage-supper of the Lamb they shall most assuredly appear.
And now, what are some of the elements of the future and eternal glory of the saints? On this subject there has been much vain speculation; but there need not be, since the outline of heaven's happiness and employments is so distinctly drawn in the Word of God. To this outline let us briefly refer.
The expansion and perfection of the intellectual faculties will result in a consequent enlargement and perfection of knowledge. This is no inferior element of the future happiness of the redeemed. All that is gracious and sanctifying in the soul of the believer has its basis in a certain degree of spiritual knowledge. The mind is the medium through which the first communications of the Spirit are received. A knowledge of ourselves has led to a knowledge of Christ; and a knowledge of Christ has laid the foundation of all the joy, and peace, and hope, the soul has experienced. And as our spiritual knowledge increases- the mind becoming more and more informed in Divine truth- there is a corresponding and proportioned increase of the blessing which an experimental acquaintance with the truth yields. Now, if this be so here, what must it be in the glorified state? Think we not that it will greatly augment the happiness and deepen the glory of the saints in heaven, that in their enlarged mental capacity, in the fullest development of their intellectual powers, they shall be enabled to take a wider range of thought? That they shall compass a greater knowledge of God, and see infinitely more of the glory, and drink infinitely deeper of the love, of Christ, than the most exalted angel in heaven? What, if in the present school of God- often the school of deep trial- as we advance from truth to truth, knowing more of Jesus, and increasing in the knowledge of God, we grow more holy and more happy; our peace flowing like a river, and our righteousness as the waves of the sea; our confidence in God strengthening, and our affections entwining more fondly and closely around the Savior- What, we ask, will be the glory deepening around us when all the present obstructions and impediments to our advancement in spiritual knowledge are removed, and our intellectual faculties, then unclouded and unfettered, expand their long-folded wings, and sweep an infinite circle of knowledge- knowing even as we are known? If our progress in spiritual knowledge is an accession to our happiness here, what hereafter will be the happiness rushing into our glorified souls through the medium of an enlarged mind, vast as its range of thought, and pure and transparent as the atmosphere in which it floats? Do not deem it, then, O expectant of heaven, an inferior element of the glory that awaits you, that your intellectual enjoyment, perfect in its nature, shall ever be augmenting in its degree. "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father."
But a still higher element will be, the perfect holiness of the glorified. The very utterance of the thought seems to awaken music in the soul. Seeing Christ as he is, and knowing him as we are known, we also shall be like him. Perfected in holiness! Oh, what a conception! what a thought! No more elements of evil working like leaven in the soul. No more traces and fetters of corruption. No more evil heart of unbelief, perpetually departing from God. No more desperate depravity. No more sin warring within, and no more temptation assailing from without. All is perfect holiness now! The outline of the Divine image is complete, for the believer has awakened in the finished likeness of his Lord. The spirit of the just man is made perfect. Oh, is there not enough in this anticipation to make us long to be there? What now shades your spirit, and embitters your joy, and suffuses your eyes with tears, and inflicts the keenest pang? Not adversity, nor sickness, nor changed affection, nor blighted hopes, nor the shaded landscape of life, nor the hollow falling of the earth as the grave closes from your view the heart's fond treasure. Oh, no, not these! It is the
sin that dwells in us! Extirpate all sin, and you have erased all sorrow. Complete the grace, and you have perfected the glory. You then have chased all sadness from the heart, and have dried all tears from the eye. That glory will be the glory of unsullied purity. Nothing of sin remains but its recollection; and that recollection but heightens our conception of the preciousness of the blood that shall have effaced every stain, and of the greatness and sovereignty of that grace which shall have brought us there. "Let the saints be joyful in glory," for their battle with sin is over. "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God." The absence of all evil will be another feature of the coming glory. Take the long catalogue of ills we suffer here- the cares that corrode, the anxieties that agitate, the sorrows that depress, the bereavements that wound, the diseases that waste, the temptations that assail- in a word, whatever pains a sensitive mind, or wounds a confiding spirit; the rudeness of some, the coldness of others, the unfaithfulness and heartlessness of yet more; and as you trace the sad list, think of glory as the place where not one shall enter. All, all are entirely and eternally absent. "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 farmer things are passed away."
The presence of all good will take the place of the absence of all evil. And in the foreground of this picture of glory we place the full, unclouded vision of Jesus. Oh, this is the Sun that will bathe all other objects in its beams. We see him now through faith's telescope, and how lovely does he appear! Distant and dim as is the vision, yet so overpowering is its brightness as for a moment to eclipse every other object. How near he is brought to us, and how close we feel to him! Encircled and absorbed by his presence, all other beings seem an intrusion, and all other joys an impertinence. Reposing upon his bosom, how sweetly sounds his voice, and how winning his language, "Oh, my dove, you are in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice; for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely." These are happy moments. But oh, how transient and how brief their stay! Some earthly vapor floats athwart our glass, and the bright and blissful vision is gone- veiled in clouds, it has disappeared from our view! But not lost is that vision. Not withdrawn is that Object. As stars that hide themselves awhile, then appear again in brighter, richer luster, so will return each view we have had of Christ. The eye that has once caught a view of the Savior shall never lose sight of him forever. Long and dreary nights may intervene; the vision may tarry as though it would never come again, yet those nights shall pass away, and that vision shall return and "we shall see him as he is." And oh, if the distant and fitful glimpses of the glorified Christ are now so ravishing, what will the ecstatic and overpowering effect of the full unclouded vision be, when we shall see him face to face!
With this unveiled sight of the glorified Redeemer, will be associated the certain reunion and perfected communion of all the glorified saints. We are far from placing this feature of glory in an obscure corner of our picture of heavenly happiness. A source of so much pure and hallowed enjoyment now, surely will not be lacking, nor be less limited hereafter. It is a high enjoyment of earth- that of sanctified relationships and sacred friendships. The communion of renewed intellect, the union of genial minds, and the fellowship of fond and sympathizing hearts, God sometimes kindly vouchsafes, to smooth and brighten our rough and darksome path to the grave. And yet even were this all lacking, Jesus were enough to illumine the gloom, and people the solitude of the desert we traverse. But death interposes and sunders these precious ties. And are they sundered forever? Oh, no! We shall meet again all from whom in faith and hope we parted- whom we loved in Jesus- and who in Jesus have fallen asleep. "For we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved even as they." Heartbreaking as was the separation, it was not final, nor will it be long. The time-piece we wear reminds us at each second that the period of our reunion is nearing. Yes! we shall meet them again in closer, fonder, purer friendship. They wait and watch our coming. Think not that they forget us: that cannot be. Thinking of us, they love us still. The affection they cherished for us here, death did not chill; they bore that affection with them from the earthly to the heavenly home, and now, purified and expanded, it glows and clings with an intensity unknown, unfelt before. Heavenly thought is immortal. Holy love never dies. Meeting, we shall know them again; and knowing, we shall rush into their warm embrace, and sever from them never! "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him." Oh, what a soothing, sanctifying thought- what a heaven-attracting hope is this! Applied to the holy dead, how touching and how true the beautiful sentiments of the poet, himself now mingling with the beings of the spirit-land:
"Is it not sweet to think hereafter,
When the spirit leaves this sphere,
Love, with deathless wings, shall waft her
To those she long has mourned for here?
"Hearts from which 'twas death to sever;
Eyes, this world can never restore;
There, as warm, as bright as ever,
Shall meet us, and be lost no more!
"When wearily we wander, asking
Of earth and heaven, where are they,
Beneath whose smile we once lay basking,
Blest, and thinking bliss would stay?
"Hope still lifts her radiant finger,
Pointing to the eternal home,
Upon whose portal still they linger,
Looking back for us to come.
"Alas, alas! does hope deceive us
Shall friendship, love, shall all those ties
That bind a moment, and then leave us,
Be found again where nothing dies?
"Oh, if no other hope were given,
To keep our hearts from wrong or stain,
Who would not seek to reach a heaven,
Where all we love shall live again?"

We cannot consent to dismiss this contemplation of the coming glory, without an allusion to the Scripture teaching in reference to what has been termed the degrees of glory. It is but little that is said upon the subject, yet that little is interesting and instructive; and we should remember that no truth of God's mind, however obscurely revealed, ought to be overlooked. The Apostle thus figuratively advances the idea, "One star differs from another star in glory." But in what will this disproportion of glory consist? We cannot adopt the idea of some, that it will be according to the difference of gift; that the scale of heavenly happiness will be the measure of mental endowment; that Newton, the great philosopher, for example, with his gigantic intellect and vast resources, will necessarily be more richly replenished with glory than another of more limited acquirements and less mental capacity. This would resolve the happiness of the heavenly world mainly into the purely intellectual rather than the purely spiritual, of which we believe it to consist. If there are degrees of glory- and we see no reason to question the fact- we believe that those degrees will be graduated, not by the strength or capacity of the intellect, but according to the measure and standard of holiness which the believer attained in this life. If, as we have shown, glory is the perfection of grace, then it follows, that proportioned to the degree of grace here, will be the degree of glory hereafter. It must be borne in mind that God is not merely an intellectual, he is also a spiritual Being. As an intellectual Being, the unfallen angels, creatures of mightier intellect than we, must be supposed to form the most lofty conceptions of his greatness and grandeur. But will it be supposed that an angel's mind can form such a conception of the Divine glory, as the recovered, renewed, and sanctified soul of fallen man? Will not that mind that has been brought into closer contact, and union, and sympathy with the will, the heart, and the perfections of God, know more of God, drink in deeper views of the glory of God, than the mind of the angel who in his study of redemption could but bend over the Mercy Seat, his wings encircled, desiring to look within its awful mysteries? If the great and grand perfection of God be his holiness, then the more clearly I approximate to that holiness, the more deeply must I partake of the glory of God, and the higher must be my degree of glory. It is acquaintance with, and conformity to, God's moral, and not his intellectual being, that will constitute the highest source of our happiness in heaven. That our enlarged intellectual capacity will be a vast inlet to expanded views of God, we do not dispute; but it will be the conformity of our moral nature to his that will constitute and augment our perceptions of glory.
If it is not thus, that the spiritual and not the mental will form the standard of our happiness in the glorified state, how is it that the astronomer whose mind had been overwhelmed with the wisdom and grandeur of God in creation, could descend from his observatory with an oath upon his lips? Yet such is known to have been the fact. Imagine that mind suddenly transported to heaven, and placed in the immediate and glorified presence of that God whose works of nature it had been contemplating, and yet whose holy name it had profaned- if the argument be true that the amount of glory will be proportioned to the mental capacity of the glorified, then it follows that that 'undevout astronomer' would be more capable, even with an unrenewed intellect, of understanding and knowing God than the unlettered Christian, whose intellect was of the most dwarfish capacity, but who yet spiritually knew God and Jesus Christ whom he had sent. Were we asked to pass through the Church of God, and from its various communions select the individual whom we should regard as the richest heir of glory, whose degree of happiness would, perhaps, transcend that of the glorified philosopher, we should, it may be, find him the inmate of some obscure hut, dwelling amid lonely poverty, sickness, and neglect; and yet holding communion with God, so filial, so endearing, and so close, as to present to our eye his soul's uplifted and soaring pinions, "as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold." We would go to him whose heart thus breathing after holiness, whose spirit thus imbibing more and more of the mind of Christ, who in this lowly and suffering school was learning more deeply of God, and what God is, and who thus was gathering around him the beams of that glory whose unclouded visions were so soon to burst upon his view- and we would unhesitatingly point to him as the man whose degree of glory will be transcendently great- grace enriching and encircling him with more glory than gift. Do you, my reader, desire to be a star of the first magnitude and luster in heaven? then aim after a high degree of grace on earth. "There is not," says the Savior, "a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John." The nearer your present walk with God, the nearer will be your future proximity to God. The closer your resemblance to Christ, the deeper your holiness, the more spiritual and heavenly-minded you become on earth, be assured of this, the higher and the more resplendent will be your glory in heaven. As the ungodly man is treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath, and is growing more and more fit for hell- so the godly man is laying up glory against the day of glory, and is growing more and more fit for heaven. We need not speculate and surmise about the future. Let the child of God be careful as to his degrees towards fitness for glory, and he may calmly and safely leave his degrees of glory to the period when that glory shall be revealed.
But we must not overlook, in this outline of the coming glory, the glorified body of the saints. The first resurrection will give back this 'vile body' so changed that it shall be "fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body." We have two examples of what this "glorious body" of our Lord is. The first was at his transfiguration, when the "fashion of his countenance was altered, and his face did shine as the sun, and his clothing was white as the light." The second was when he appeared to John, in Patmos, arrayed in such glory that the apostle says, "When I saw him I fell at his feet as dead." Fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body will be the glorified bodies of the saints. No deformity, no wrinkle, no defect whatever, shall mar its beauty. "It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." "We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
What, in conclusion, ought to be the practical influence of this animating subject? Should it not, in the first place, urge us with all diligence to "make our calling and election sure?" With all affectionate earnestness, we would exhort the reader to seek to be assured of his standing in Christ. Are you called? Are you justified? Do you know that God loves you? Has the great change taken place? Have you, in a word, passed from death unto life? Do not postpone these questions to a dying bed. Answer them now.
And is not the anticipation of the coming glory most sanctifying? Ought it not to have so powerful an influence upon our minds as to lessen the value of the things that are seen and temporal, and enhance the value of those things which are unseen and eternal? We are at present in a state of children under tutors and governors. But before long we shall attain our full age, and shall, be put in possession of our inheritance. And because we are children, we are apt to think as children, and speak as children, and act as children- magnifying things that are really small, while diminishing those that are really great. Oh, how little, lowly, and despicable will, by and by, appear the things that now awaken so much thought, and create so much interest! Present sorrows and joys, hopes and disappointments, gains and losses- will all have passed away, leaving not a ripple upon the ocean they once agitated, nor a footprint upon the sands they once traversed. "Men forget what they were in their youth, or at best only partially remember it; it is hard even for those whose memories are strongest and liveliest to put themselves exactly into the same position in which they stood as boys; they can scarcely fancy that there was once a time when they cared so much for pleasures and troubles which now seem so trifling. And it may be, that if we rise hereafter to angels' stature; if wisdom be ours such as we dream not of; if being counted worthy to know God as he is, the poorness of all created pleasures shall be revealed to us, flashing upon our uncreated spirits like light- it may be that we shall then feel it as hard to fancy how we could have cared for what we now deem most important; how twenty years, more or less, taken from this span of our earthly life; how being parted for a few years, more or less, from those dear friends with whom we are now united forever- how this could have seemed of any importance to beings born for immortality. It is quite reasonable to suppose that the interests of manhood will hereafter appear to us just as insignificant, I ought rather to say ten thousand times more so, than the interests of our boyish years seem to us now." (Arnold). Why, then, allow our white garments to trail upon the earth? If glory is before us, and so near, why so slow in our advance to meet it? Why so little of its present possession in our souls? Why do we allow the "bright and Morning Star" to sink so often below the horizon of our faith? Why, my soul, so slow to arrive at heaven, with heaven so full in view? Oh, to press our pillow at night, composed to slumber with this sweet reflection "Lord, if I open my eyes no more upon the rising sun, I shall open them upon that risen sun that never sets- awaking in your likeness." Oh, to be looking for, and hastening unto, the coming of the Lord, that blessed hope, that glorious epiphany of the church, which shall complete, perfect, and consummate the glorification of the saints.
How should the prospect of certain glory stimulate us to individual exertion for Christ! What a motive to labor! With a whole eternity of rest, how little should we think of present toil and fatigue for the Savior! Shall we, then, be indolent in our Master's cause? Shall we, in selfishness, wrap our graces as a mantle around us, and indolently bury our talents in the earth? Shall we withhold our property from the Lord, complaining that the calls of Christian benevolence are so many, the demands so pressing, and the objects so numerous? Oh, no! It cannot, it must not be. Let us live for Christ- labor for Christ- suffer for Christ- and, if needs be, die for Christ- since we shall, before long and forever, be glorified with Christ. And who can paint that glory? "So much as moments are exceeded by eternity, and the sighing of a man by the joys of an angel, and a salutary frown by the light of God's countenance, a few frowns by the infinite and eternal hallelujahs, so much are the sorrows of the godly to be undervalued in respect of what is deposited for them in the treasures of eternity. Their sorrows can die; but so cannot their joys. And if the blessed martyrs and confessors were asked concerning their past sufferings and their present rest, and the joys of their certain expectation, you should hear them glory in nothing but in the mercies of God, and in the cross of the Lord Jesus. Every chain is a ray of light, and every prison is a palace, and every loss is the purchase of a kingdom, and every affront in the cause of God is an eternal honor, and every day of sorrow is a thousand years of comfort, multiplied with a never-ceasing numeration- days without nights, joys without sorrow, sanctity without sin, charity without stain, possession without fear, society without envyings, communication of joys without lessening; and they shall dwell in a blessed country, where an enemy never entered, and from where a friend never went away. " (Jeremy Taylor)