The Christian's Charter
Showing the Privileges of a Believer
by Thomas Watson
"All things are yours!"
1 Corinthians 3:21
Chapter 8. The Third Royal Privilege of a Believer
is—that he shall "be with Christ in glory." Phil. 1:23, "I desire
to be depart," or loosen anchor—and to be with Christ! This is a privilege
of the first magnitude! Surely we can be no losers, by being with Christ. A
graft or scion, though it is taken out of the tree, it does not perish—but
is set into a better stock. Thus it is with a Christian, while he is here,
(even after conversion) there is much of the wild olive still in him; now
when this scion, by death is cut off, he does not perish—but is set into a
more noble stock—he is with Christ, which is far better. Well might the
apostle say, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by
far!" Is not a state of perfection better than a state of imperfection?
Our graces are our best jewels—but they are imperfect,
and do not give out their full luster; grace is but in its infancy here on
earth, it will not be of full growth until we are with Christ. The
best Christian in this life—is but a child in grace. Here on earth,
we have but some imperfect buddings of grace; when we are with Christ, our
graces shall be fully ripe and matured. In this life we are said to receive
but "the first fruits of the Spirit." We must not expect a full crop until
we are with Christ! Grace while we are here in this world, is mingled with
corruption. It is like gold in the ore; or as the pillar of cloud, it
has its dark side as well as its light side. Our faith is
mingled with unbelief; our humility is stained with pride! The
flame of grace is not so pure, but it has some smoky vapors. Our life of
grace is said to be hidden. It is hidden indeed, under much corruption, as
the sun is hidden under a cloud; or as the corn is hidden under chaff; or as
a pearl may be hidden in the mire. Though grace cannot be lost—yet it
may be hidden. David so clouded his graces by sin, that others could
hardly see the cloth of gold under the filthy garments. Is it
not far better to be with Christ? our graces then shall shine forth in their
perfection! This is a glorious privilege, we shall be with Christ.
It is a blessed thing to be with Christ while we are here
on earth. "I am ever with you." What is it, which the pious soul desires in
this life? Is it not to have the sweet presence of Christ! He cares for
nothing, but what has something of Christ in it. He loves duties only as
they carry him to Christ. Why is prayer so sweet—but because the soul has
private conference with Christ! Why is the Word precious—but because it is a
means to convey Christ to him! He comes down to us upon the wings of the
Spirit; and we go up to him upon the wings of faith! An ordinance without
Christ—is but feeding upon the dish—instead of the meat. Why does the wife
love the letter—but because it brings news of her husband! Here on
earth, we enjoy Christ by letters, and that is sweet; but what will it be to
enjoy his presence in glory! Here is that which may amaze us—we shall be
with Christ! Christ is all that is desirable! Nay, he is more than we
can desire! A man that is thirsty, he desires only a little water to quench
his thirst; but bring him to the lake—and here he has more than he can
desire. In Christ there is not only a fullness of sufficiency—but a
fullness of abundance; it overflows all the banks! A Christian that
is most energized by faith, has neither a head to devise, nor a heart
to desire—all that which is in Christ! Only when we come to heaven,
will God enlarge the vessel of our desire, and will fill us as Christ did
the waterpots with wine—"up to the brim." Now this privilege of being
with Christ, has six privileges growing out of it.
1. The First Privilege of being with Christ—VISION.
Job 19:26. "In my flesh shall I see God"; the sight of
Jesus Christ will be the most sublime and ravishing object to a glorified
saint. When Christ was upon earth, his beauty was hidden. "He has no form or
loveliness;" the light of the divine nature was hidden in the dark lantern
of the human; it was hidden under reproaches, sufferings; yet even at that
time there was enough of beauty in Christ to delight the heart of God. "My
Elect in whom my soul delights." His veil was then upon his face; but what
will it be when the veil shall be taken off, and he shall appear in all his
embroidery! It is heaven enough—to see Christ. "Whom have I in heaven but
you!" Angels and archangels do not make heaven. Christ is the most
sparkling diamond in the ring of glory!
2. The Second Privilege of being with Christ—UNION.
We shall enter into a marriage union with Christ. We shall so
behold him, as to be made one with him. What nearer than union? what
sweeter? Union is the spring of joy, the ground of privilege; by virtue of
this blessed union with Christ, all those rare beauties with which the human
nature of the Lord Jesus is bespangled, shall be ours. Let us compare two
scriptures: John 17:24, "Father, I will that they also whom you have given
me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory." That is, the
glory of the human nature. But this is not all, verse 22, "The glory that
you have given me, I have given them." Christ has not his glory only for
himself—but for us; we shall shine by his beams. Here on earth, Christ puts
his graces upon his spouse, and in heaven he will put his glory
No wonder then the king's daughter is "all glorious
within," and "her clothing of wrought gold." How glorious will the spouse
be, when she has Christ's jewels upon her! Judge not of the saints by what
they are—but by what they shall be. "It does not yet appear
what we shall be," 1 John 3:1. Why, what shall we be? "We shall be like
him." The spouse of Christ shall not only be made one with Christ—but she
shall be made like Christ; in other marriages, the spouse changes her
condition—but here she changes her complexion! Not that the saints in glory
shall receive of Christ's essence, they shall have as much glory as the
human nature is capable of; though Christ conveys his image—yet not
his essence. The sun shining upon a glass leaves a print of its
beauty there; and it is hard to distinguish between the glass and the
sunbeam: but the glass is not the beam, the sun conveys only its likeness,
not its essence.
3. The Third Privilege of being with Christ—NOBILITY.
This consists in two things.
1. The saints shall sit with Jesus Christ when he judges
the world. "Know you not, that the saints shall judge the world?"
The saints shall sit with Christ in judicature, as the justices of peace
with the judge. The saints are Christ's assessors; they shall be with him
upon the bench, applauding his righteous sentence. O what a glorious
tribunal will that be! Here on earth, the world judges the saints—but there
the saints shall judge the world.
2. They shall sit nearer the throne than the angels.
The angels are noble and sublime spirits—but by virtue of our
marriage union, we shall be ennobled with greater honor than the angels! The
angels are Christ's friends—but not his spouse! This honor
have all his saints. As the saints' robes in glory shall be brighter than
the angels: theirs being only the righteousness of creatures—but these
having upon them the righteousness of God, so their dignity shall be
greater. Here on earth, we are prisoners at bar—but there favorites at
court! The saints shall sit down in glory above the angels.
4. The Fourth Privilege of being with Christ—JOY.
This joy of the saints proceeds from union; when our union with
Christ is perfect, then our joy shall be full. Rev. 21:4, "And God shall
wipe away all tears, and there shall be no more sorrow."
1. There shall be no WEEPING. Jesus Christ has
provided a handkerchief to wipe off the tears of the saints. Here on earth,
the spouse is in sable, it being a time of absence from her husband. But in
heaven, Christ will take away the spouse's mourning; he will take off all
her black and bloody apparel, and will clothe her in white robes, Rev. 7:13.
White, as it is an emblem of the saints' purity, so it is a
type of their joy. Heaven would not be heaven—if there were weeping
there. Hell indeed is called a place of weeping; those who would not shed a
tear for their sins while they lived, shall have weeping enough; but we
never read of weeping in heaven. Christ will take down our harps from the
willows; there he will call for his heralds and trumpeters. The angels,
those blessed choristers, shall sing the divine anthems of praise, and the
saints shall join in that heavenly concert. If it were possible that any
tears could be shed when we are with Christ, they should be the tears of
joy, as sometimes we have seen a man weep for excessive joy! Christ will
turn all our water there, into wine.
2. There shall be no SORROW. One smile from
Christ's face will make us forget all the afflictions of our earthly life.
Sorrow is a cloud gathered in the heart, upon the apprehension of
some evil: and weeping is the cloud of grief dropping into rain. But
in heaven the sun of righteousness shall shine so bright, that there shall
not be the least interposition of any cloud. There shall be no sorrow there,
nor anything to breed it. There shall be no sin to humble. Heaven is such a
pure soil, that the viper of sin will not breed there. There shall be no
enemy to molest. When Israel had conquered Canaan—yet they could not get rid
of all the Canaanites, they would live among them; "But the
Canaanites would dwell in that land!" But when we are with Christ, we shall
never more be troubled with Canaanites. "In that day, there shall be no more
the Canaanite in the house of the Lord." God will keep the heavenly paradise
with a flaming sword, that none shall come near to hurt: "Upon all that
glory shall be a defense." There shall be nothing to breed sorrow in heaven.
There are two things that usually raise the clouds of sorrow, and both shall
be removed when we are with Christ.
1. The frowns of great men. How ambitious are men of
the King's smile? but alas, that quickly sets in a cloud, and then their
comforts are in the wane, they are sad! But when we are with Christ, we
shall have a perpetual smile from God! The saints shall never be out of
favor, Jesus Christ is the great favorite at court; and as long as God
smiles upon Christ, so long he will smile upon the saints, they having on
Christ's beauty; and being part of Christ.
2. The loss of dear friends. Friends imparts secrets;
friendship is the marriage of affections, it makes two become one spirit.
David and Jonathan took sweet counsel together, their heart was knit in one.
Now here is the grief—when this precious knot must be untied. But be of good
cheer, if your friend is one of the elect, after you have parted with your
sins—you shall meet with him and never part. If your friend is wicked,
though he were your friend on earth, you will cease to be his friend in
heaven. The pious wife will not complain she has lost her wicked husband;
nor the pious parent, that he has lost his wicked child. All relations are
infinitely made up in Christ, as the whole constellation in the sun, that
great lamp of heaven. When a man comes to the lake, he does not
complain that he lacks his cistern of water. Though you sucked
comfort from your relations; yet when you come to the ocean, and are with
Christ, you shall never complain that you have left your cistern behind!
There will be nothing to breed sorrow in heaven; there
shall be joy—and nothing but joy. Heaven is set out by that phrase, "Enter
into the joy of your Lord." Here on earth, joy enters into us; there
we enter into joy. The joys we have here on earth, are from heaven;
those joys are in heaven! The joys that we shall have with Christ,
are without measure and without mixture. "In your presence is fullness
of joy," Psalm 16:11.
1. The HEART shall be filled with joy. Nothing
but Christ can replenish the heart with joy: the understanding, will, and
affections, are such a triangle, that none can fill but the Trinity. As
Christ's beauty shall amaze the eye, so his love shall ravish the heart of a
glorified saint! Must it not needs be joy to be with Christ? What joy, when
a Christian shall pass the great gulf between heaven and hell! What joy when
Christ shall take a believer into the wine cellar, and kiss him with the
kisses of his lips! What joy when the match shall be at once made up, and
solemnized between Christ and the soul! These are the more noble and entire
2. All the SENSES shall be filled with joy—and at once!
The eye shall be filled. What joy shall it be, to see that
orient brightness in the face of Christ! There you may see the lily
and the rose mixed, white and ruddy, Cant. 5:10. The ear shall
be filled. What joy to the spouse—to hear Christ's voice! The voice of God
was dreadful to Adam, after he had listened to the serpent's voice. "I heard
your voice in the garden—and was afraid," Gen. 3:10. But how sweet will the
bridegroom's voice be! What joy to hear him say, "My love, my dove, my
undefiled one!" What joy to hear the music of angels, even the heavenly
multitude praising God? If the eloquence of Origin, and the golden mouth of
Chrysostom, did so affect and charm the ears of their auditors, O then what
will it be to hear the glorious tongues of saints and angels, as so many
divine trumpets sounding forth the excellencies of God, and singing
hallelujahs to the lamb!
The smell shall be filled. What joy to smell that
fragrance and perfume which comes from Christ! All his garments smell of
myrrh, aloes, and cassia. The sweet breath of his Spirit blowing upon the
soul, shall give forth its scent as the wine of Lebanon. The taste
shall be filled. Christ will bring his spouse into the banqueting-house, and
she shall be inebriated with his love! O what joy to be drinking in this
heavenly nectar! This is the water of life! This is the wine on the lees
well refined. The touch shall be filled—the saints shall be ever in
the embraces of Christ; "Behold my hands and my feet; handle me, and see
me," Luke 24:39. That will be our work in heaven; we shall be forever
handling the Lord of life! Thus all the senses shall be filled with joy.
Well might the apostle say, to be with Christ is better by far! If Christ's
sufferings are full of joy, what then are his embraces! If the
dew of Hermon hill is so sweet—the first-fruits of Christ's
love; what will the full crop be!
In short, there will be nothing in heaven but what shall
add infinitely to the joy of the saints. The very torments of the damned
shall create matter of joy and triumph. I may allude to that of the
Psalmist, "The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance." "And
again they shouted: Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and
ever!" Revelation 19:3. The Elect shall rejoice upon a double account— to
see God's justice magnificently exalted, and to see themselves miraculously
delivered. There shall be no unpleasant object represented; nothing but joy.
Such will that joy be, when we are with Christ, that it is not possible to
now even imagine! "He was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible
things, things that man is not permitted to tell." 2 Cor. 12:4. We read
that Joseph gave his brethren money and provisions for the way; but the full
sacks were kept until they came to their father's house. Just so, God gives
us something by the way; some of the hidden manna; some taste of his
heavenly joy in this life—but the full sacks of blessing are kept for
heaven! O what joy to be with Christ! Surely if there were such joy and
triumph at Solomon's coronation, that all the earth rang with the sound of
it, what joy will be on the saints' coronation-day, when they shall be
eternally united to Jesus Christ!
5. The Fifth Privilege of being with Christ—REST.
A Christian in this life is like quicksilver, which has a principle of
motion in itself—but not of rest. We are never quiet—but are like the ship
upon the waves. As long as we have sin—we will not have rest. A child of God
is full of motion and disquiet; "I have no rest in my bones by reason of my
sin," Psalm 38:3. While there are wicked men in the world, never look for
rest. If a man is poor, he is thrust away by the rich. If he be rich, he is
envied by the poor. Sometimes losses disquiet, sometimes law-suits vex. The
saints in this life are in a pilgrim condition; the apostles had no certain
dwelling place, 1 Cor. 4:11. We are here on earth, in a perpetual hurry, in
a constant fluctuation. Our life is like the tide, sometimes ebbing,
Here on earth, is no rest—and the reason is, because we
are out of center; everything is in motion until it comes at the center;
Christ is the center of the soul. The needle of the compass trembles—until
it turns to the North pole. Noah's dove found no rest for the sole of her
foot—until she came at the ark. This ark was a type of Christ. When we come
to heaven, the kingdom which cannot be shaken, we shall have rest, Heb. 4:9.
"There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." Heaven in scripture
is compared to a granary, Matt. 3:12, an emblem of rest. Wheat, while it
stands on the ground, is shaken to and fro with the wind—but when it is laid
up in the granary it is at rest. The elect are spiritual wheat, who while
they are in the field of this world, are never quiet—the wind of persecution
shakes this wheat, and everyone who passes by, will be plucking these sacred
ears of corn. But when the wheat is in the heavenly garner, it is at rest.
There remains a rest for the people of God. Not but that there shall be
motion in heaven, (for spirits cannot be idle) but it shall be without
lethargy and weariness. It shall be a labor full of ease; a motion full of
rest. When a believer is in heaven, he has his rest. The lower earthly
region is windy and tempestuous. When we are once gotten into the upper
region of glory, there are no winds or noxious vapors—but a serene calmness;
this is to be with Christ.
6. The Sixth Privilege of being with Christ—SECURITY.
It is possible that a man may have a few minutes of rest; but he is
not secure, he knows not how soon eclipses and changes may come. He is still
in fear, and fear makes a man a slave, though he knows it not. There is
torment in fear, 1 John 4:18. He who has great possessions thinks thus: "How
soon may I fall from this pinnacle of honor? how soon may the plunderer
come?" Nay, a believer who has durable riches—may still be wavering
and doubting concerning his condition.
1. He sometimes questions whether he is in the state of
grace or not; and thus he thinks with himself; "Perhaps I believe; I have
something that glitters, perhaps it is but a counterfeit pearl. Perhaps my
faith is presumption, my love to Christ is but self-love." And after the
Spirit of God has wrought the heart to some sound persuasion, he is soon
shaken again; as a ship that lies at anchor, though it is safe—yet it is
shaken and tossed upon the water; and these fears leave impressions of
sadness upon the heart.
2. But secondly, he fears that though he is in the state
of grace—yet he may fall into some scandalous sin, and so grieve the Spirit
of God, sadden the hearts of the righteous, wound his own conscience, harden
sinners, discourage new beginners, put a song into the mouth of the profane,
and at last God hide his face in a cloud. A child of God after a sad
declension, having by his sin put black spots in the face of religion,
though I deny not but he has a title to the promise; yet be may be in such a
condition, that he cannot for the present apply any promise—he may go
weeping to his grave.
These sad fears, like black vapors, are still arising out
of a gracious heart. But when once a believer is with Christ, there is full
security of heart; he is not only out of danger—but out of fear. Take it
thus; a man that is upon the top of a mast, he may sit safe for the
present—but not secure. Perhaps the pirates may shoot at the ship, and take
it; perhaps the winds may arise suddenly, and the ship may sink in the
storm. But a man who is upon a rock, he stands impregnable; his heart is
secure. A Christian in this life is like a man upon the top of a mast;
sometimes the pirates come aboard, namely, cruel persecutors, and they shoot
at his ship, and often, though the passenger (the precious soul) escapes—yet
they sink the ship; sometimes the winds of temptation blow; those northern
winds; and now the Christian questions whether God loves him, or whether his
name is enrolled in the book of life. And though being in Christ, there is
no danger—yet his heart hesitates and trembles. But when he is with
Christ, off from the top of the mast, and is planted upon the rock—his heart
is fully secure; and you shall hear him say thus, now I am sure I have
passed the gulf, I am now passing from death unto life, and none shall pluck
me out of my Savior's arms!
Chapter 9. The Fourth Royal Privilege—the blessed inheritance.
Let worldlings place their happiness in this life; a
believer's happiness is in the future—the golden world is yet to
come. I pass to the next privilege, which is the blessed inheritance. Col.
1:12, "Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of
the inheritance of the saints in light." This world is but a tenement, which
we may be soon turned out of; heaven is an inheritance, and a glorious one.
Heaven cannot be hyperbolized. If the skirts and suburbs of the palace,
namely, the stars and planets are so glorious, that our eyes cannot behold
the dazzling luster of them; what glory then is there in the celestial
Of this blessed place we have a figurative description in
Rev. 21. John was carried away in the Spirit, and had a vision of heaven,
verse 2. "And I saw no temple therein;" while we dwell upon earth, there is
need for a temple, we shall not be above ordinances until we are above sin;
but in heaven, God will be our meeting place—instead of a temple, "he shall
be all in all."
Verse 25, "there shall be no night there." No city is to
be found, not the most glorious metropolis under heaven, where it is always
day: for though some regions which lie immediately under the pole, have
light for several months together; yet when the sun withdraws from the
horizon, they have as long a night as before they had a day. But says the
text, "There shall be no night there." In hell it is all night—but in heaven
the day will be ever lengthening. Now this blessed inheritance which the
saints shall possess, has eight properties, or rather privileges worth our
1. Sublimeness. It is set out by a great and
high mountain, Rev. 21:10. It is placed above the airy and starry heaven,
says Musculus. It is the empyrean heaven which Paul calls the third
heaven. For the situation of it; it is far above all heavens, where
Christ himself is. This is the royal palace where saints shall dwell. The
men of this world are high in power and in pride—and if they could build
their nests among the stars, the elect shall shortly be above them; they
shall take their flight as high as Christ: here is a preferment worth
2. Magnificence. It is set out by gems and
precious stones, the richest jewels. If the streets are of gold—what is the
furniture and decorations! What is the cabinet of jewels! No wonder that
"the violent take it by force!" Mat. 11:12. I rather wonder, why others are
not more earnest for this inheritance. What are all the rarities of the
world, compared to this! The coasts of pearl, the islands of spices, the
rocks of diamonds! What a rich place must that needs be, where God will lay
out his cost—where infinite wisdom contrives, and infinite bounty
Fulgentius, beholding the pomp and splendor of the Roman
senate-house, cried out, "If the earthly senate-house is so glorious—O how
beautiful is the celestial Jerusalem!" In this blessed inheritance there is
nothing but glory. There is the king of glory; there are the
vessels of glory; there are the thrones of glory; there is the
weight of glory; there are the crowns of glory; there is the
kingdom of glory; there is the brightness of glory! This is a
purchase worth getting! What will not men adventure for a kingdom!
3. Purity. Heaven is set forth under the
metaphor of "pure gold, and transparent glass," Rev. 21:11. The apostle
calls it "an undefiled inheritance." Heaven is a pure place; it is compared
to the sapphire, 21:19. The sapphire is a precious stone of a bright sky
color, and it has a virtue in it, says Pliny, to preserve chasteness and
purity. Thus heaven is represented by the sapphire; it is a place where only
the refined pure spirits enter. Heaven is compared to the emerald, verse 19,
which (as writers say) has a precious virtue to expel poison. Heaven is such
a pure soil, that as no fever of lust, so no venom of malice shall be there.
There shall not enter into it anything "which defiles," Rev. 21:27. It is a
kingdom wherein "dwells righteousness," 2 Pet. 3:13.
In this lower earthly region, there is little
righteousness; "They set up wickedness by a law," Psalm 94:20. The wicked
devours his neighbor, "who is more righteous than he," Hab. 1:13. The just
man is oppressed because he is just. One says, there is more justice to be
found in hell—than upon earth. For in hell no innocent person is oppressed;
but here on earth, righteousness is the thing that is persecuted. A man
can hardly tread two steps—but either into sin or into suffering. In
this world, the sinner need not fear any punitive vindictive act of justice;
rather he who reproves sin may fear. Holiness is the mark which the Devil
shoots at! But heaven is a kingdom wherein dwells righteousness; there is
the judge of the world, "who puts on righteousness as a breastplate; who
4. Peaceableness. The word Peace, comprehends
all blessings. Peace is the glory of a kingdom: this white lily is
the best flower of a prince's crown. How happy was the reign of Pompilius—when
it was so peaceful, that the bees made their hives in the soldiers helmets!
But where shall we find an uninterrupted peace upon earth? Either there are
divisions at home, or wars abroad, the beating of the drums, the roaring of
the cannons, the sounding of the trumpets. Solomon's kingdom was peaceable a
while—but how soon had he an alarm given him! 1 Kings 11:14, "The Lord
stirred up an adversary against him." How soon do the clouds of blood
drop after a little sunshine of peace!
But the heavenly inheritance to come is peaceable. There
is the "Prince of Peace"; there the saints enter into peace. The harp, in
ancient times, was made the emblem of peace; in heaven there shall be the
"voice of harpers harping." The saints in this life wear "garments rolled in
blood"; but in a state of glory, they are said to wear "white robes," which
shall not be stained with the blood of war any more! In heaven
righteousness and peace shall kiss each other.
5. Amplitude. The inheritance is sufficiently
spacious for all the saints. The garner is wide enough to receive all those
infinite grains of wheat which shall be laid in it. Though there are
innumerable companies of saints and angels in heaven—yet there is infinitely
room enough to receive them: "In my Father's house are many mansions." Some
are of opinion that every believer shall have a particular mansion in
glory. "Every saint shall have his kingdom," says Jansenius. We know
our Savior told his apostles that they would sit upon twelve thrones.
Certainly the saints shall not be straitened for room. The world of glory
is wide enough for the most sublime spirits to expatiate in!
6. Safety. It is an inheritance which the
saints cannot be defrauded of; it is in safe hands. God keeps the
inheritance for them, 1 Pet. 1:4, and keeps them for the inheritance, 1 Pet.
1:5, so that there can be no defalcation, nothing can hinder the saints from
7. Light. It is called an inheritance "in
light." If every star were a sun, it could never shadow out the bright
luster of this celestial paradise. Light is a glorious creature; without
light, what would all the world be—but a dark prison? What beauty is there
in the sun when it is masked with a cloud? Light does actuate the colors,
and makes every flower appear in its fresh beauty. Heaven is a bright body,
all over embroidered with light. It is not like the starry heaven—here and
there bespangled with stars—but other parts of it like chequer-work
interwoven with darkness. Here Christ as a continual sun, shall give light
to the whole heaven. "The Lamb shall be the light thereof!" Indeed all other
light, in comparison of this, is but like the twilight, or rather the
midnight. Here alone are the shining rays of beauty, which every
glorified eye shall be enabled both to behold and to possess! This light
shall have no night to eclipse or extinguish it; when once the Sun of
Righteousness has risen upon the soul, it shall never set any more. This is
a high privilege of the glory of heaven—that it is an inheritance in light.
When the scripture would set forth the blessedness of God himself; it makes
it consist in this, "He dwells in light."
8. Permanency. It is an incorruptible
inheritance. It runs parallel with eternity. Eternity is a circle
which has neither beginning nor end. Eternity is a sea which has
neither bottom nor banks! This is the glory of the celestial paradise—it
abides forever! If we could by our arithmetic reckon up more millions of
ages than there have been minutes since the creation, after all this time
(which were a short eternity) the inheritance of the saints shall be as far
from ending as it was at the beginning. "This world is fading away,
along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will
live forever." 1 John 2:17. Everything is fading away! It is good to
look upon the world as the heathens did upon pleasure; they looked upon the
back parts of pleasure, and saw it going away from them and leaving a sting.
The world is fading away—but heaven never fades, therefore heaven's
eminency is its permanency.
With evil things, (such as pain and misery,) length of
time makes them worse; but good things, (as joy and pleasure,) length of
time makes them better! Heaven's eminency is its permanency. Things are
prized and valued by the time we have in them. Lands or houses which
are owned—are esteemed far better than leases, which soon
expire. The saints do not lease heaven; it is not their landlord's
house—but their Father's house!
This house never falls to decay; it is a mansion-house,
John 14:2. There is nothing excellent (says Nazianzene) that is not
perpetual. The comforts of the world are wavering and uncertain, like a
fading garland; therefore they are shadowed out by the tabernacle,
which was transient. But heaven is set out by the temple, which was
fixed and permanent. It was made of strong materials, built with stone,
covered with cedar, over-laid with gold. Eternity is the highest link
of the saint's happiness! The believer shall be forever bathing in the
pure and pleasant fountain of bliss! The lamp of glory shall be ever
burning, never wasting. As there is no intermission in the joys of heaven,
so no expiration. When once God has set his plants in the celestial
paradise, he will never more pluck them up! He will never transplant them;
never will Christ lose any member of this body; you may sooner separate
light from the sun, than a glorified saint from Jesus Christ. O eternity,
eternity! what a spring of delight will that be—which shall have no autumn!
What a day will that be—which shall have no night! Methinks I see the
morning-star appear, it is break of day already!
Concerning the glory of this blessed inheritance, let me
super-add these four things.
1. The glory of heaven is ponderous and weighty.
It is called "a weight of glory," 2 Cor. 4:17. God must make us able to bear
it. This weight of glory should make sufferings light: this weight should
make us throw away the weights of sin—though they be golden
weights! Who would for the indulging of a lust, forfeit so glorious an
inheritance! Lay the whole world in scales with it—it is lighter than
2. The glory of heaven is infinitely satisfying.
There is neither lack, nor excess. This can be said properly of
nothing but heaven. You who court the world for honor and preferment,
remember what the creature says concerning satisfaction, "It is not in me!"
Heaven alone, is commensurate to the vast desires of the soul. Here the
Christian cries out in a divine ecstasy, "I have enough, my Savior, I have
enough!" "You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal
pleasures at your right hand!" Psalm 16:11. "You feed them from the
abundance of your own house, letting them drink from your rivers of
delight!" Psalm 36:8. Not drops—but rivers! These only can quench the
thirst. Every day in heaven, shall be a feast! There is no lack at this
feast! There shall excellency shine in its perfection.
This present world is but a jail, the body is the fetter
with which the soul is bound. If there is anything in a jail to delight—what
is the eternal palace and the throne! If we meet with any comfort in Mount
Horeb, what is in Mount Zion! All the world is like a picture
of a landscape; you may see orchards and gardens curiously drawn in the
landscape—but you cannot enter into them. But you may enter into this
heavenly paradise, 2 Pet. 1:11, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto
you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom," etc. Here is
3. Though an innumerable company of saints and angels
have a part in this inheritance, there is never the less for you.
Another man's beholding the sun, does not make me to have the lesser
light: thus will it be in glory. Usually here on earth, all the inheritance
is divided among the several heirs—some are put off with smaller portions.
In heaven all the saints are heirs; the youngest believer is an heir, and
God has land enough to give to all his heirs. All the angels and archangels
have their portion paid out; yet a believer shall never have the less. Is
not Christ the heir of all things? Heb. 1:2, and the saints co-heirs? Romans
8:17. They share with Christ in the same glory. It is true, one vessel may
hold more than another—but every vessel shall be full.
4. The souls of the elect shall enter upon possession
immediately after death! 2 Cor. 5:8, "We are willing rather to be
absent from the body—and to be present with the Lord." There is an
immediate transition and passage from death—to glory, "the soul returns to
God who gave it." Christ's resurrection was before his ascension; but the
saints' ascension is before their resurrection. The body may be compared to
the bubble in the water, the soul to the wind that fills it; you see the
bubble rises higher and higher, at last it breaks into the open air; so the
body is but like a bubble, which rises from infancy to youth, from youth to
age, higher and higher; at last this bubble breaks, and dissolves into dust,
and the spirit ascends into the open air—it returns unto God who gave it.
Be of good comfort, we shall not wait long for our
inheritance. It is but winking—and we shall see God. O the glory of this
paradise! When we are turned out of all, let us think of this inheritance
which is to come; faith itself is not able to reach it! It is more than we
can hope for—or even imagine! I may say of this celestial paradise, as once
the children of Dan said of Laish, Judges 18:9, 10. "We have seen the land,
and behold it is very good; a place where there is no lack of anything."
Faith being sent out as a spy to search the land of promise,
returns this answer, "There is no lack of anything." There can be no lack
where Christ is, who is "all in all," Col. 3:11.
In heaven there is health without sickness, plenty
without famine, riches without poverty, life without death. There is
unspotted purity, unstained honor, unparalleled beauty. There is the tree of
life in the midst of paradise; there is the river which waters the garden;
there is the vine flourishing, and the pomegranates budding, Cant. 6:11.
There is the banqueting house, where are all those delicacies and rarities,
with which God himself is delighted. While we are sitting at that table,
Christ's "spikenard will send forth its fragrance," Cant. 1:12. There is the
bed of love, there are the curtains of Solomon, there are the mountains of
spices, and the streams from Lebanon! There are the cherubim, not to keep us
out—but to welcome us into paradise! There shall the saints be adorned, as a
bride with gems of glory! There will God give us abundantly, "infinitely
more than we would ever dare to ask or hope for!" Eph. 3:20. Is not this
enough? What more could we ask for!
Haman's aspiring heart could have asked not only the
king's royal robe, and the ring from his hand—but the crown
from his head too. A man can ask for million of worlds—but in heaven God
will give us more than we can ask; nay, more than we can ever imagine! We
could imagine—what if all the dust of the earth were turned to silver; what
if every stone were a wedge of gold; what if every flower were a ruby; what
if every blade of grass were a pearl; what if every sand in the sea were a
diamond! Yet all this is nothing—compared to the glory of heaven! It is as
impossible for any man in his deepest thoughts, to comprehend glory, as it
would be for him to measure the heavens with a ruler; or drain the great
ocean with a thimble. O incomparable place!
Methinks our souls should be big with longing for this
blessed inheritance! All this that I have told you of heaven, may make you
say as Monica, Augustine's mother, "What am I doing here? Why is my soul
held with the earthen fetter of this flesh?" Cleombrotus having read Plato's
piece of the immortality of the soul, being ravished with desire of those
golden delights in the other world, killed himself. Though we must not
break prison—until God opens it—yet how should we long for delivery from
this earthly jail! How should we be inflamed with desire to taste of those
rare and sweet delicacies, which are above at God's right hand! O what
madness is it for men to spin out their time, and tire out their
strength--in pursuing the vanities of this
world! This is to imitate Dionysius, who busied himself
in catching flies!
Surely, were we "carried away in the Spirit," I mean,
elevated by the power of faith—to the contemplation of this royal and
stately palace of glory—I know not whether we should more wonder at the
luster of heaven, or at the dullness of such as mind earthly things. The
world adored—though is but a painted pageant or shadow! It is reported of
Caesar, that traveling through a certain city, as he passed along, he saw
the women, for the most part, playing with monkeys and parrots; at which
sight he said, "What! have they no children to play with!" So I say, when I
see men toying with these earthly and beggarly vanities, "What! are
there not more glorious and sublime things to mind!"
That which our Savior said to the woman of Samaria, "If
you knew the gift of God, and who it is that says to you, Give me to drink,
you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water!" The
same may I say, did men know these eternal mansions, and what it were to be
digging in these rich mines of glory. Would God give them a vision of heaven
a while, as he did Peter, who saw "heaven opened," Acts 10:11, how would
they fall into a trance, (being amazed and filled with joy!) and being a
little recovered out of it, how importunately would they beg of God, that
they might be adopted into this stately inheritance!
But why do I expatiate? these things are unspeakable and
full of glory. Had I as many tongues as hairs on my head, I could never
sufficiently set forth the beauty and resplendency of this blissful
inheritance! Such was the curious art of Apelles in drawing of pictures,
that if another had taken up the pencil to touch up the painting, he would
have spoiled all Apelles' work. Such is the excellency of this celestial
paradise, that if the angels should take up their pencil to delineate it in
its colors, they would but stain and eclipse the glory of it. I have given
you only the dark shadow the picture, and that but crudely and imperfectly!
Such is the beauty and bliss of this inheritance, that as Chrysostom says,
"if it were possible that all the sufferings of the saints could be laid
upon one man—it would not compare with his being in heaven for one hour!"
Some of the learned are of opinion, that we shall know
our friends in heaven. This seem very probable to me—for surely our
knowledge there shall not be eclipsed or diminished, but
increased. And that which Anselm asserts—that we shall have a knowledge
of the patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, all that were before us, and
shall be after us, our predecessors and successors, to me seems very
rational. For society without acquaintance is not comfortable,
and methinks the scripture does hint this much. If Peter and James, having
but a glimpse of glory, (when our Lord was transfigured on the mount), were
able to know Moses and Elijah, whom they had never seen before; how much
more shall we, being infinitely irradiated and enlightened with the Sun of
Righteousness, know all the saints, though we were never acquainted with
them before! This will be very comfortable. Certainly there will be nothing
lacking—which may complete the saints' happiness!
Now that this glorious inheritance is the saints'
privilege, I shall evince by two arguments.
1. It is so—in respect of the many OBLIGATIONS which lie
upon God for performing this. As,
1. In regard of his promise, Titus 1:2, "In hope
of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, has promised." God's promise is
better than any man's bond.
2. In regard of his oath. "He who is truth has
sworn." Heb. 6:17.
3. In regard to the price that is paid for
it—Christ's blood. Heaven is not only a promised possession—but a
purchased possession, Eph. 1:14.
4. In regard of Christ's prayer for it: "Father, I
will that they also whom you have given me, be with me where I am." Now God
can deny Christ nothing, being his only favorite. "I know you always hear
me," John 11:42.
5. In regard of Christ's ascension. He is gone
before us to take possession of heaven for us. He is now making preparations
for our coming; John 14:2, "I go before to prepare a place for you."
We read that our Lord sent two of his disciples to prepare "a large upper
room for the Passover," Mark 14:15. Just so has Jesus Christ gone before—to
prepare a large upper room in heaven for the saints.
6. In regard of the dwelling of the Spirit in the
hearts of the godly, giving them an assurance of heaven; and stirring up in
them passionate desires after this glorious inheritance. Hence it is, we
read of the pledge of the Spirit, 2 Cor. 1:22, and the
first-fruits of the Spirit, Romans 8:23, and the seal of the
Spirit, Eph. 1:13. God does not still his children with rattles.
Heaven is already begun in a believer, so that the inheritance is certain.
You see how many obligations lie upon God, and to speak with reverence, it
stands not only upon God's mercy—but upon his faithfulness to
make all this good to us!
2. The second argument is in respect of the UNION which
the saints have with Jesus Christ. They are members of Christ, therefore
they must have a part in this blessed inheritance. The member must be where
the head is. Indeed the Arminians tell us that a justified person may fall
finally from grace, and so his union with Christ may be dissolved, and the
inheritance lost. But how absurd is this doctrine! Is Christ divided? can he
lose a member of his body? then his body is not perfect; for how can that
body be perfect which lacks a limb? If Christ might lose one member
from his body—he might lose all! And so he would be a head without a
body. But be assured, the union with Christ cannot be broken, John 17:12,
and the inheritance cannot be lost. What was said of Christ's natural body,
is as true of the mystical body: "a bone of it shall not be broken." See how
every bone and limb of Christ's natural body was raised up out of the grave,
and carried into heaven. Just so, shall every member of his mystical body,
joined to him by the eternal Spirit, be carried up into glory. Fear not, O
you saints, neither sin nor Satan can dissolve your union with Christ, nor
hinder you from going to that blessed place where your Head is.
Question. Here it will be asked, "Who shall ascend
into the hill of the Lord?" Psalm 24:3. Who shall be a citizen of this new
Jerusalem which is above?
Answer. The new creature: this you read of, 2 Cor. 5:17.
This new creature does prepare us for the new Jerusalem. This is the divine
and curious artifice of the Holy Spirit in our hearts, forming Christ in us.
The same Holy Spirit who overshadowed the Virgin Mary, and formed the human
nature of Christ in her womb—does work and produce this new creature. O
blessed man and woman—in whom this new creature is formed! I may say to you,
as the angel to Mary, "That which is conceived in you, is of the Holy
Spirit!" Of all God's creatures, the new creature is the best.
Let me ask—are you a new creature? are you a branch cut
off from the wild olive tree of nature, and ingrafted into a new stock, the
tree of life? Has God defaced and dismantled the old man in
you? Does some limb drop off every day? Have you a new heart? Until
then you are not fit for the new heaven! Are you new all over? Do you
have a new eye to discern the things that differ? Do you have a new
appetite? Does the pulse of your soul beat after Christ? It is
only the new creature, who shall be the heir of the New Jerusalem.
When you were sailing to hell, (for we have both wind and
tide to carry us there), have the north and south winds awaked? Has the gale
of the Spirit blown upon you, and turned your course? Are you now sailing to
a new port? Has the seal of the Scripture stamped a new and heavenly print
upon you? Then I am speaking all this while to you; this blessed inheritance
is entailed upon you!
But if you are an old unrepenting sinner, expect that
heaven should be kept, as paradise, with a flaming sword—that you may
not enter! Be assured, God will never put the new wine of glory, into
an old musty bottle. Heaven is not like Noah's ark, which received both
clean and unclean animals into it! Nor is heaven like Pharoah's
court, where the vermin came! This inheritance does not receive all
comers. It is only the wheat, which goes into Christ's garner; what has the
chaff to do there! This inheritance is only for "those who are sanctified,"
Acts 20:32. Is your heart consecrated ground? We read that in the
time of Ezra, after the return of the people from the captivity, some who
were ambitious for the priesthood, sought the writings of the
genealogies—but they were not found among the numbers of the priests,
"therefore they were put aside as polluted, from the priesthood." So whoever
they are, who think to have a part in this blessed place, if their names be
not found; that is, if they are not enrolled among the new creatures, they
shall be put away from this inheritance, as polluted!
Chapter 10. The Fifth Royal Privilege—our KNOWLEDGE shall be clear.
Knowledge is a beautiful thing; such was Adam's ambition
to know more, that by tasting the tree of knowledge, he lost the tree
of life. In heaven our knowledge shall be full and clear. Many things
we have now but in the notion, which then we shall see perfectly; now, "we
know but in part." The best Christian has a veil on his eye, as the Jews
have upon their heart; hereafter the veil shall be taken off. Here on earth,
we see through a glass darkly—in a riddle, mystery; then, we shall see face
to face; that is, clearly.
There are five mysteries which God will clear up to us
when we are in heaven.
1. The great mystery of the TRINITY. This we
know but in part. Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, where one makes
three, and three make but one: this is bad arithmetic—but good divinity. We
have but dark conceptions of it: it is a mystery so deep, that we may soon
wade beyond our depth.
Augustine being to write his books of the Trinity, was
taught modesty by a child, who was attempting to empty the sea into a little
spoon; to whom Augustine said, that he labored in vain; for his little spoon
would not contain the sea. To whom the child answered, "my little spoon will
sooner hold this vast ocean, than your shallow brain can contain the depth
of the Trinity!" How little a portion is known of God! If Job asked the
question, "who can understand the thunder?" We may much more ask, "who can
understand the Trinity?" But in heaven we shall see God as he is, that is,
Question. But shall every saint enjoy God so perfectly,
that he shall have the same knowledge that God has?
Answer. We shall have a full knowledge of God—but not
know him fully—yet we shall take in so much of God as our human nature is
capable of; it will be a bright and glorious knowledge. Here on earth, we
know him but by his power, wisdom, mercy—we see but his back-parts; there we
shall see him face to face.
2. The mystery of the INCARNATION. Christ
assuming our human nature, and marrying it to the divine. Therefore called
God-man, God with us. A mystery which the angels in heaven adore. God said,
"The man has become as one of us," Gen. 3:22—but now we may say, God himself
is become as one of us! There was nothing within the sphere of natural
causes to produce it. The incarnation of Christ is a golden chain made up of
several links of miracles. For instance, that the Creator of heaven should
become a creature; that eternity should be born; that he whom the heaven of
heavens cannot contain, should be enclosed in the womb; that he who thunders
in the clouds, should cry in the cradle; that he who rules the stars, should
suck the breasts; that he who upholds all things by the word of his power,
should himself be upheld; that a virgin should conceive; that Christ should
be made of a woman, and of that woman which himself made; that the creature
should give a being to the Creator; that the star should give light to the
sun; that the branch should bear the vine; that the mother should be younger
than the child she bore; and the child in the womb bigger than the mother;
that he who is a Spirit, should be made flesh; that Christ should be without
father, and without mother—yet have both; without mother in the God-head,
without father in the manhood; that Christ being incarnate, should have two
natures, (the divine and human), and yet but one person; that the divine
nature should not be infused into the human, nor the human mixed with the
divine—yet assumed into the person of the Son of God; the human nature not
God—yet one with God. Here is, I say, a chain of miracles.
I acknowledge the mercy of the incarnation was great, we
having now both affinity and consanguinity with Jesus Christ: Christ's
incarnation is the saint's inauguration.
The love of Christ in the incarnation was great; for
herein he did set a pattern without a parallel. In clothing himself with our
flesh, which is but walking ashes, he has sewed, as it were,
sackcloth to cloth of gold—the humanity to the Deity.
But though the incarnation is so rich a blessing—yet it is hard to say which
is the greater, the mercy or the mystery. It is a sacred depth—how does it
transcend reason, and even puzzle faith! We know but in part, we see this
only in a glass darkly—but in heaven our knowledge shall be cleared up, we
shall fully understand this divine riddle!
3. The mystery of SCRIPTURE. The hard knots of
scripture shall be untied, and dark prophecies fulfilled. There is a
sacred depth in scripture which we must adore: some places of scripture are
hard in the sense, others dark in the phrase, and cannot well be translated
in regard of ambiguity; one Hebrew word having such various, and sometimes
contrary significations, that it is very difficult to know which is the
genuine sense. As it is with a traveler who is not skilled in his way, when
he comes to a turning where the way parts, he is at a standstill, and knows
not which of the ways to take; such difficulties and labyrinths are there in
scripture. It is true, all things purely necessary to salvation, are clear
in the word of God; but there are some sacred depths that we cannot fathom,
and this may make us long after heaven, when our light shall be clear.
Just so for prophecies, some are very abstruse and
profound; divines may shoot their arrows—but it is hard to say how near they
may come to the mark: it is dubious whether in such a particular age and
century of the church, such a prophecy was fulfilled. The Jews have a saying
when they meet with a hard scripture they don't understand, "Elijah will
come and interpret these things to us." We do not expect Elijah; but when we
are in heaven, we shall understand prophecies; our knowledge shall be clear.
4. The great mystery of PROVIDENCE shall be cleared up.
Providence is the queen of the world; it is the hand which turns all the
wheels in the universe! Chrysostom calls it "the pilot which steers the ship
of the creation." Providences are often dark; God sometimes writes in
short-hand. The characters of providence are so various and strange, and our
eyes are so dim, that we know not what to make of providence. Hence we are
ready to censure that which we do not understand. We think that things are
very eccentric and disorderly; God's providence is some times secret—but
always wise. The dispensations of providence are often sad, "Judgment
beginning at the house of God," and the "just man perishing in his
righteousness," Eccles. 7:15; that is, while he is pursuing a righteous
cause. Though his way be pious, it is not always prosperous. On the other
side, "those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them go
free of harm," Mal. 3:15.
Though now our candle is in a dark lantern, and the
people of God cannot tell what God is a doing—yet when they are in heaven
they shall see the reason of these transactions: they shall see that every
providence served for the fulfilling of God's promise, namely, "That all
things shall work together for good," Romans 8:28. In a watch the wheels
seem to move contrary one to another—but all carry on the motion of the
watch, all serve to make the watch work properly. Just so, the wheels of
providence seem to move contrary—but all shall carry on the good of the
elect; all the lines shall meet at last in the center of the promise. In
heaven, as we shall see mercy and justice, so we shall see promises
and providences kissing each other. Our light shall be clear.
When a man is at the bottom of a hill, he cannot see very
far; but when he is on the top, he may see many miles distant. Here on
earth, the saints of God are in the valley of tears, they are at the bottom
of the hill, and cannot tell what God is a doing. But when they come to
heaven, and shall be on the top of the mount, they shall see all the
glorious transactions of God's providence; never a providence but they shall
see either a wonder or a mercy enrapt up in it. A painter
first makes a crude draught in the picture—here an eye, there a hand; but
when he has painted it out in all its parts and lineaments, and laid them in
their colors—it is beautiful to behold. We who live in this age of the
church, see but a crude draught, as it were some dark pieces of God's
providence represented; and it is impossible that we should be able to
correctly judge of God's work, by pieces. But when we come to heaven, and
see the full body and portraiture of God's providence drawn out in its
lively colors, it will be a most glorious sight to behold! Providence shall
5. The mystery of HEARTS. We shall see a
heart-anatomy. "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every
hidden thing, whether good or evil." Ecclesiastes 12:14. We shall see the
designs and cabinet-counsels of men's hearts revealed; then the hypocrite's
mask shall fall off. Oh the black conclave that is in the heart of man! The
heart is deep: it may be compared to a river which has fair streams running
on the top—but when this river comes to be drained, there lies abundance of
vermin at the bottom. Thus it is with man's heart, there are fair streams
running on the top—a civil life, a religious profession; but at the day of
judgment, when God shall drain this river, and unveil hearts; then all the
vermin of ambition, lust, and covetousness shall appear—all shall come out!
Then we shall see whether Jehu's design was zeal for God, or the kingdom. We
shall see clearly whether Jezebel had more mind to keep a fast, or to get
Naboth's vineyard. Then we shall see whether Herod had more mind to worship
Christ, or to worry him. All the secrets of men's hearts shall be laid open!
Methinks it would be worth dying to see this sight. We shall then see who is
the Achan, who is the Judas. The women's paint falls off from
their faces when they come near the fire. Just so, before the scorching heat
of God's justice, the hypocrite's paint will drop off, and the hidden
motives of his heart will be visible! These mysteries will God reveal to
us—our knowledge shall be clear.
Love is the jewel with which Christ's bride is adorned. In one sense, love
is more excellent than faith; for love never ceases, 1 Cor. 13:8. The spouse
shall put off her jewel of faith, when she goes to heaven—but she shall
never put off her jewel of love. Her love shall be perfect.
Chapter 11. The Sixth Royal Privilege—our LOVE shall be perfect.
1. Our love to GOD shall be perfect. The
saint's love shall be joined with reverence; for a filial disposition
shall remain—but there shall be no servile fear in heaven. Horror and
trembling is proper to the damned in hell; though in heaven there shall be a
reverencing fear—yet a rejoicing fear: we shall see that in
God which will work such a delight that we cannot but love him! This love to
God shall be,
1. A FERVENT love. Our love to God in this
life, is rather a faint desire—but in heaven the smoke of desire
shall be blown up into a flame of love. We shall love God with an
intenseness of love, and thus the saints shall be like the seraphim who are
so called, from their burning. Here on earth, our love is lukewarm,
and sometimes frozen: a child of God weeps that he can love God no more. But
there is a time shortly coming, when our love to God shall be fervent, it
shall burn as hot as it can! The damned shall be in a flame of fire,
the elect in a flame of love!
2. A FIXED love. Alas, how soon is our love
taken off from God! Other objects presenting themselves, steal away our
love. "Your goodness is like a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goes
away": in the morning you shall see the grass covered with drops of dew, as
so many pearls—but before noon all is vanished; so it is with our love to
God. Perhaps at a sermon, when our affections are stirred, the heart melts
in love; and at a sacrament, when we see Christ's blood, as it were,
trickling down upon the cross, some love-drops fall from our heart; but
within a few days all is vanished, and we have lost our first love: this is
matter of humiliation while we live. But O you saints, comfort yourselves,
in heaven your love shall be fixed, as well as fervent; it shall never more
be taken off from God! Such beauty and excellency shall shine in God, that
as a divine magnet, it will be always drawing your eyes and heart after him.
2. Our love to the SAINTS shall be perfect.
Love is a sweet harmony, a tuning and chiming together of affections.
1. It is our duty to love the saints—though they are of
bad dispositions; sometimes their nature is so abrasive and unpolished, that
grace does not cast forth such a luster. It is like a gold ring on a leprous
hand, or a diamond set in iron. Yet if there is anything of Christ—it is our
duty to love it.
2. It is our duty to love the saints—though they in some
things differ from us. Yet if we see Christ's image or portraiture drawn
upon their hearts, we are to separate the precious from the vile. But alas,
how defective is this grace! how little love is there among God's people!
Herod and Pilate can agree: wicked men unite when saints divide. Contentions
were never more hot, love never more cold. Many there are whose music
consists all in discord; they pretend to love truth—but hate peace.
Divisions are Satan's powder-plot to blow up religion.
It would not be strange to hear the harlot say,
"Let the child be divided;" but to hear the mother say so, this is
sad! If pope, cardinal, Jesuit, all conspire against the church of God, it
would not be strange; but for one saint to persecute another—this is
strange! For a wolf to worry a lamb is usual—but for a lamb to worry a lamb
is unnatural. For Christ's lily to be among the thorns, is ordinary; but for
this lily to become a thorn, to tear and fetch blood—this is strange! How
will Christ take this at our hands! Would he not have his coat rent,
and will he have his body rent! O that I could speak here weeping!
Well, this will be a bright foil to set off heaven the
more—there is a time shortly coming when our love shall be perfect, there
shall be no difference of judgment in heaven; there the saints shall be all
of one mind. Though we fall out along the way—we shall all agree in the
journey's end. The cherubim, representing the angels, are set out "with
their faces looking one upon another"; in this life Christians turn their
backs one upon another—but in heaven they shall be like the cherubim with
their faces looking one upon another.
It is observed that the olive tree and the myrtle tree
have a wonderful sympathy, and if they grow near together, will mutually
embrace, and twist about each others roots and branches. Christians in this
life are like tearing brambles—but in heaven they shall be like the olive
and myrtle—and sweetly embrace one another! When once the blessed harp of
Christ's voice has sounded in the ears of the saints, the evil spirit shall
be quite driven away! When our strings shall be wound up to the highest
pitch of glory, you shall never more hear discord in the saints' music! In
heaven there shall be a perfect harmony!
Trajan's ashes after death were brought to Rome and honored, being set upon
the top of a famous pillar. So the ashes of the saints at the resurrection
shall be honored, and shine as silver dust! This is an article of our faith.
Now for the illustration of this, there are three things considerable: 1.
That there is such a thing as the resurrection. 2. That this is not yet
past. 3. That the same body that dies, shall rise again.
Chapter 12. The Seventh Royal Privilege—the resurrection of our bodies.
1. I shall prove the proposition that there is a
resurrection of the body. There are some of the Sadducees of
opinion that there is no resurrection; then "let us eat and drink, for
tomorrow we die," 1 Cor. 15:32. To what purpose are all our prayers and
tears? and indeed it were well for them who are in their lifetime as brute
beasts, if it might be with them as beasts after death. But there is a
resurrection of the body, as well as an ascension of the soul; which I shall
prove by two arguments.
1. Because Christ is risen, therefore we must rise.
The head being raised, the rest of the body shall not always lie in the
grave, for then it would be a head without a body. His rising is a pledge of
our resurrection, 1 Thess. 4:14.
2. In regard of justice and equity. The bodies
of the wicked have been weapons of unrighteousness, and have joined
with the soul in sin! Their eyes have been a casement to let in
vanity! Their hands have been full of bribes! Their feet have
been swift to shed blood! Therefore justice and equity require that they
should rise again, and their bodies be punished with their souls!
Again, the bodies of the saints have been members
of holiness! Their eyes have dropped down tears for sin! Their
hands have relieved the poor! Their tongues have been trumpets of
God's praise. Therefore justice and equity require that they should rise
again, that their bodies as well as their souls may be crowned!
There must be a resurrection, else how should
there be a remuneration? We are more sure to rise out of our
graves—than out of our beds! The bodies of the wicked are locked
up in the grave as in a prison, that they may not infest the church
of God; and at the day of judgment they shall be brought out of the prison
to trial. And the bodies of the saints are laid in the grave as in a bed
of perfume, where they mellow and ripen until the resurrection. Noah's
olive tree springing after the flood, the blossoming of Aaron's dry rod, the
flesh and sinews coming to Ezekiel's dry bones—what were these, but lively
emblems of the resurrection!
2. That this resurrection is not yet past.
Some hold that it is past, and make the resurrection to be nothing else but
regeneration, which is called a rising from sin, and a "being risen with
Christ"; and do affirm, that there is no other resurrection but this, and
that only the soul is with God in happiness, not the body. Of this
opinion were Hymeneus and Philetus, 2 Tim. 2:18. But the rising from sin
is called the first resurrection, Rev. 1:6, which implies that there is
a second resurrection; and that second I shall prove out of Dan. 12:2. "And
many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth, shall awake." He does not
say they are already awake—but they shall awake. And John 5:28, "The
hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
and shall come forth; those who have done good, unto the resurrection of
life; and those who have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Observe, Christ does not say, they have come forth of the grave already—but
they shall come forth.
Here a question may be moved, Whether the bodies of some
of the saints are not in heaven already? then it will seem that their
resurrection is not yet to come; as we read that Elijah was taken up to
heaven in a fiery chariot; and Enoch, Heb. 11:5, "was translated, that he
might not see death."
Answer. I know the question is controverted among
divines. Should it be granted that they are bodily in heaven, by an
extraordinary writ, or dispensation from God—this does not at all
disprove a general resurrection to come. But there are some reasons
do incline me to think that Enoch and Elijah are not yet bodily in heaven,
nor shall be until the resurrection of all flesh, when the rest of the
elect, like a precious crop, being fully ripe, shall be translated into
glory. The first is Heb. 11:13, where it is said, "these all died in
faith," where Enoch was included: now why we should restrain this word,
these, only to Abel, Noah, Abraham, and not also to Enoch, I see no
Question. But is it not said, he was translated, "that he
might not see death"; how can these two stand together, that Enoch died—yet
he did not see death?
Answer. These words, that he might not see death, I
conceive (with some other divines) the meaning is, that he might not see it
in that painful and horrid manner as others: his soul had an easy and joyful
passage out of his body; he died not after the common manner of men.
Seeing and feeling are often in scripture—the one is put for the
2. My second argument is, 1 John 3:2: "We know when he
shall appear, we shall be like him." We read in scripture but of two
appearings of Christ, his appearing in the flesh, and his appearing at the
day of judgment. Now his appearing in this text, must needs be meant of his
last appearing: and what then? "We shall be like him," that is, in our
bodies, Phil. 3:21. The spirits of just men being already made perfect, Heb.
12:23, whence I infer, Enoch is not yet ascended bodily into heaven, because
none of the bodies of the saints shall be fully made like Christ until his
3. Besides this, may be added the judgment of many of the
Fathers, who were pious and learned. It is not probable that Enoch and
Elijah should be taken up in their bodies into heaven, says Peter Martyr;
and he urges that saying of our Lord, "No man has ascended into heaven";
(that is, physically) "but the Son of man that descended from heaven." Of
this opinion also is the learned Doctor Fulk, who in his marginal notes upon
the 11th to the Hebrews, has this descant: "It appears not," says he, "that
Enoch now lives in the body, no more than Moses; but that he was translated
by God out of the world, and died not after the common manner of men." And
concerning Elijah, the same author has this passage: "It is evident that he
was taken up alive; but not that he continues alive." And again, "Because we
read expressly, that he was taken up into heaven, 2 Kings 2:1, it is
certain" (says he) "that his body was not carried into heaven." Christ being
the first that in perfect humanity ascended there, 1 Cor. 15:20, "Christ has
become the first fruits of those who sleep." He is called the first fruits,
not only because he was the most excellent, and sanctified the rest—but
because he was the first cluster which was gathered; the first that
went up in a physical manner into the place of the blessed: hence we see
that the resurrection is yet to come.
3. At the resurrection every soul shall have its own
body. The same body that dies, shall arise. Some hold that the
soul shall be clothed with a new body—but then it were improper to call it a
resurrection of the body, it should be rather a creation. It
was a custom in the African churches to say, I believe the resurrection of
this body. I confess, the doctrine of the resurrection is such, that it is
too deep for reason to wade: you must let faith swim. For
instance, suppose a man dying is cast into the sea, several fish come and
devour him, the substance of his body goes into these fishes, afterwards,
these fish are taken and eaten, and the substance of these fishes go into
several men. Now how this body, thus devoured, and as it were, crumbled into
a thousand fractions, should be raised the same individual body, is
infinitely above reason to imagine; we have scarcely faith
enough to believe it.
Question. How can this be?
Answer. To such I say as our blessed Savior, Matt. 22:19,
"You are in error—not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God."
1. You are in error—not knowing the scriptures.
The scripture tells us expressly that the same body that dies shall rise
again; Job 29:26, "In my flesh shall I see God," not in another
flesh. And verse 27, "My eyes shall behold him," not other eyes. So 1
Cor. 15:53, "This mortal shall put on immortality," not another mortal—but
this mortal, and, 2 Cor. 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment
seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the
things done while in the body, whether good or bad." Not in another body.
Death in scripture is called a sleep. It is far easier with God to
raise the body, than it is for us to awaken a man when he is asleep!
2. You are in error—not knowing the power of God.
That God, who created all things out of nothing—can he not reduce many
things to one thing? When the body is gone into a thousand substances,
cannot he make a compilation, and bring that body together again? The
chemist can, out of several metals mingled together—as gold, silver, and
tin—extract the one from the other, the silver from the gold, the tin from
the silver, and can reduce every metal to its own kind? And shall we not
much more believe that when our bodies are mingled and confounded with other
substances, the wise God is able to make a divine extraction, and reinvest
every soul with its own body!
Use 1. This is comfort to a child of God. As
Christ said to Martha, John 11:23, "Your brother shall rise again," so I say
to you, your body shall rise again. The body is sensible of joy as well as
the soul; and indeed, we shall not be perfect in glory until our bodies are
reunited to our souls. Therefore in scripture, the doctrine of the
resurrection is made matter of joy and triumph! Isaiah 26:19, "Yet we have
this assurance: Those who belong to God will live; their bodies will rise
again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy!" Death is
as it were the fall of the leaf—but our bodies shall flourish as a herb, in
the spring of the resurrection. That body which is mouldered to dust shall
Sometimes the saints sow the land with their bodies,
Psalm 142:7, and water it with their blood, Psalm 79:3. But these bodies,
whether imprisoned, beheaded, sawn asunder—shall arise and sit down with
Christ upon the throne! O consider what joy there will be at the reuniting
of the body and soul at the resurrection! As there will be a sad meeting of
the body and soul of the wicked, they shall be joined together as briars, to
scratch and tear one another; so, what unspeakable joy will there be at the
meeting together of the soul and body of the saints—how will they greet one
another (they two being the nearest acquaintance that ever were). What a
welcome will the soul give to the body! "O blessed body, you allowed
yourself to be martyred, and crucified, you were kept under control by
watchings, fastings, etc. When I prayed, you attended my prayers with hands
lifted up, and knees bowed down. You were willing to suffer with me,
and now you shall reign with me! Cheer up, my dear friend; you were
sown as seed in the dust of the earth with ignominy—but now are raised a
spiritual body. O my dear body, I will enter into you again as a heavenly
sparkle, and you shall clothe me again as a glorious vestment!"
Use. 2. It shows the great love and respect
God bears to the weakest believer; God will not glorify the bodies of his
dearest and most eminent saints, not the patriarchs or prophets, not the
body of Moses or Elijah, until you rise out of your grave. God is like a
master of a feast that stays until all his guests are come. Abraham, the
father of the faithful, must not sit down in heaven until all his children
are born, and the body of every saint perfectly mellow and ripe for the
3. If the bodies of the saints must arise—then consecrate
your bodies to the service of God! These bodies must be made one with
Christ's body. The Apostle makes this use of the doctrine of the
resurrection, 1 Cor. 6:14, "And God will raise our bodies from the dead by
his marvelous power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead." There is the
doctrine. "Don't you realize that your bodies are actually parts of
Christ? Should a man take his body, which belongs to Christ, and join it to
a prostitute? Never!" Verse 15; There is the use. It is enough for
wicked men to adulterate and defile their bodies. The drunkard
makes his body a tunnel for the wine and liquor to run through. The
epicure makes his body a living tomb to bury the good creatures of God.
The adulterer makes his body a slave to his lust. The body is called
a vessel in scripture; these vessels will be found musty at the
resurrection, fit only to hold that wine which you read of, Psalm 75:8, "In
the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red"; this is the wine
of God's wrath. It is enough for those bodies to be defiled, which shall be
joined to the devil! But you who are believers, that expect your bodies
shall be joined with Christ's body, oh cleanse these vessels! Take heed of
putting your bodies to any impure services. Present your bodies a living
sacrifice, Romans 12:1. Have a care to guard all the passages which sin
might come in at. Sometimes the devil comes in at the eye; therefore
Job made a covenant with his eyes. Sometimes sin goes out at the tongue;
therefore David set a watch before his lips. Surely those who have their
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, that is, the guilt of known
sin, will have a care to have their bodies washed with clean water.