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NEXT to the immediate enjoyment of God, which is the summit of a gracious soul's felicity, it is no doubt an adventitious comfort to the children of God, that they shall meet with all the holy souls in heaven, of whom they have heard, and with whom they have enjoyed sweet communion in this lower world. What a transport of love was there in the case of the affectionate Jonathan and his beloved David, on their mutual embraces when they “ kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded !" 1 Sam. xx. 41. Who can read that passage without emotion! But 0, with what raptures of transcendent joy will those holy souls be filled, upon their meeting in heaven! Where briny tears shall be wiped from their weeping eyes, and sin and sorrow shall flee away! Such joy would swell their hearts and extinguish life, (as the father died for joy on his two sons coming off victors in the Olympic games) did not Almighty grace capacitate and strengthen them. When they told Jacob that Joseph was yet alive, “Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not," but when he saw the waggons sent to carry him, “ the spirit of Jacob revived."* O but what full demonstrations both of the certainty and exalted nature of the felicity of our pious friends, will there be in glory! No hesitation will remain whether it be so, no bitter ingredients to allay this joy. How will these pure streams mingle and recur with ecstasy to all eternity! The once tenderhearted mother will turn her desires into delight, and say, “What, my son ! and what, the son of my womb ! and what, the son ef my vows !"f Thou art welcome hither, now my tormenting anxieties are turned into triumphant songs. What • Gen. xlv. 26, 27.
+ Prov. xxxi. 2.
sweet solace will the godly husband and gracious wife find in each other! Once “ heirs together of the grace of life," * now full possessors of the life of glory. The pious christian friends that “walked to the house of God in company, and took sweet counsel together,” are now “ abundantly satisfied with the fatness of God's house, and drink of the rivers of pleasures ;"+ yea, bathe themselves in an ocean of delights. Surely it will be no small accession to their joy to meet their old friends, relations, and companions there, never to part more. If Archimedes was so transported with finding out a mathematical conclusion, that he cried out tüpnka, cúpnka, I have found it, I have found it, much more will the glorified saint be exceedingly elated, when after all his pains and fears, he can say, I have found my beloved, and all my christian friends before the throne ! O happy day, O transporting sight! To behold the Sun of Righteousness in all his glory, and those radiant stars glittering in that upper firmament; this indeed will surprise the soul with astonishment. The reading of the incomparable writings of eminent ministers, hath been often a great refreshment to studious and serious minds. Heinsius, the learned librarian of Leyden, professed, that when he had shut up himself among so many illustrious authors, he seemed to sit down there as in the very lap of eternity, and pitied rich worldlings who were strangers to his delights. But how elevated in the scale of being are the spirits of just men made perfect! What pleasure will they take in the graces and happiness of each other! If David could say of Jonathan, “very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women,” + O what love and delight will there be in heaven, the proper element of love, where souls will be filled with God, and delight in his image shining in all the saints !
It is certain, that all the real saints that have died since the world began, are taken up into heaven and enjoy God and each other; but whether the saints departed were previously participants of that glory which they have had since Christ's ascension into heaven, is doubted by some, indeed the contrary asserted,|
# 1 Pet. iii. 7. + Psalm lv. 14. xxxvi. 8. # 2 Sam. i. 26. || Dr. Owen's Christolog. p. 158.
which I dispute not; nay, I am apt to think, every glorified soul loosed from the flesh, will be some addition to the joy of the glorified above. O what acclamations of joy will every soul landing safely in glory, occasion to the celestial inhabitants ! Well met, brethren, after a tedious, dangerous voyage, in this haven of rest; glad, full glad are we that you are got safe. And whether the saints successively going off the stage of this world, inform them above of the state of the church below, I have not to say ; but as there is no grief there, or causes of sorrow, so there are multitudes of objects and occasions of joy and triumph--the grand source of felicity, the place, the company, the duration—all afford occasions of delightful enjoyment, matter of comfort: and why may we not think their reflections upon their former state in this lower world, will contribute something to their happiness; yea, and their communicating experiences one to another in that blessed state. If any doubt, whether glorified souls will have such mutual, intelligible intercourse with each other, for satisfaction, let them read the excellent discourse of that valuable man Mr. John Flavel, called, Ilveuparodoyla, or a treatise “On the Soul of Man," 274 281, where you will find an answer to the objection of their wanting the organs and instruments of speech and hearing :
Surely," he saith, “the spirits of just men are not mutes; such an august assembly of holy and excellent spirits, do not live together in their Father's house, without mutual converse and fellowship with each other as well as with God.” The great question is, how their intercourse is conducted ? and he affirms out of Zanchy, “that it is but turning the key of the will, and their thoughts and desires are presently seen and known by others to whom they would discover them, as a man's face is seen in a glass, when he pleaseth to turn his face to it. Would one spirit make known his mind to another? it is but to will he should know it, and it is immediately known; and this internal way of speaking, is more noble, perfect, and excellent than by words and signs, both in respect of clearness, and also of despatch and speed.” See both explained in the passage just now quoted.
This is the language of spirits, called the tongue of angels, 1 Cor. xiii. 1; but after the resurrection, when bodies are united to souls, possibly there may be the use of bodily organs, howbeit in a more excellent way than now there can ; yet in the glorified state, the joy of the soul shall be shared with the body. The best pleasure however is, that of the soul. Spiritual delights are far more refined and exalted than sensual ; immediately after a gracious soul is parted from the body, it attains to a perfection of knowledge with more ease than it could attain to a small degree of knowledge whilst in the body. Yet it is questioned whether the glorified soul shall have an increase of knowledge, which certainly would be an addition to its happiness; for, the soul being a finite being, cannot at once attain a comprehensive knowledge of God, but what is enjoyed will be beatific. O what an emphasis is in that word,“ seeing God face to face, and seeing him as he is !** who now can tell what it means ? It is true, the happiness of saints lies in “ being ever with the Lord,” and God's being “all in all” to them:t but their mutual delight in one another will be a blessed circumstance of their felicity.
Whilst I was musing on a great number of believers having breathed their last, ministers and Christians, formerly and lately, known and unknown, whom I shall now never see in this world, I began to consider what is become of them: surely they are not lost but preserved, when shall we meet again ? where shall we meet? in what place or condition ? I am assured by divine revelation, that the souls of believers do immediately pass into glory, and as our Lord saith to the penitent dying thief, "today shalt thou be with me in paradise," so he saith of the soul of Lazarus, “that he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom;" | there only saints are, there all departed saints are, it is a place and state proper for saints only, yet common to all the saints, not one excluded, we need not fear want of good company, yet it is not the company of fellow saints that will make us happy, and as one saith, “ Though the strings receive not their sound and virtues from each other, yet their concurrence causeth that harmony which could not be by one alone ; for all the lines may be drawn from the centre, and not from each other, and yet their collocation make them more comely
+ I Thess. iv, 17. I Cor. xv, 28.
• 1 Cor. xiii. 12. I John iii. 2.