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Spiritual Magazine ;
« There are Three that bear record in heaven, the FATHER, the WORD, and the HOLY GHOST: and these Three are One.”
1 John v.7. « Earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
(For the Spiritual Magazine.)
« I go and prepare a place for you.”—John xiv. 3. THE compassionate Saviour having finished the work he came into our world to perform, informed his disciples that it was needful for him to leave them. The tidings made them very sorrowful, but he expressed the tender love of his heart for them, by letting them know that he would still care for them, and plead their cause in the blest country whither he was going. Such conduct would arouse the minds of those who had been companions with him in sorrow and tribulation. Thomas solicited information from the Lord, and he condescendingly imparted the knowledge requested. Expressions of friendship in times of sorrow are generally remembered with pleasure and spoken of with delight.
The followers of the Lamb of God in every age are exposed to the scorn of men and devils; and were it not certain that God bounds the wrath of his creatures, and renders it subservient to his plans of wisdom, they would not be able to proceed in safety to their Father's home above. Under the protection of the cross they travel in safety through this wilderness, and by the guidance of the Holy Spirit they find rest and peace in the bosom of their creating and redeeming God. Frequently while they are moving forward toward the land of perfection, they are indulged with blest anticipations of the rest that is laid up for them above the skies. With such hopes generated by the eternal Spirit, they hang upon him in whom it has pleased their gracious God and Father to plant their title to endless life, nor do they trust in vain. He who loved them, and gave his life a ranVOL. IV.No. 45.
som for them, is engaged in their behalf in the world of vision; por does he, although adorned with light and possessing royal honour in that blest land, forget his suffering brethren in this vale of tears. The path that he opened when he ascended to heaven, he opened it for the saints to follow him home to the kingdom of which he is Lord.
The certain salvation of Zion is a pleasing and profitable theme for the saints to muse upon while they are travelling to heaven. What he did and suffered upon whom their eternal felicity depends, is of the last importance to know and spiritually believe. The scriptures are a perfect revelation of the mind and will of God to his people; and it is their interest and duty carefully to read and media tate upon their divine contents. Every thing connected with the heavenly state is beyond the power of intellect to comprehend, but God has made known as much concerning it as is for his own glory and our good to know. When we muse upon that bright abode of Deity we soon find that we are very limited creatures, and so long as we are inhabitants of these tents of clay we must be contented to walk by faith and not by sight. There is a time approaching when Almighty God will take down these tabernacles of dust, and introduce us to his presence to keep eternal sabbath.
We may consider heaven as an estate of supernatural perfection. Man is an immortal being, and as he is to live for ever it is very reasonable to ask, where will he find his endless home? Happiness is the object pursued by the family of Adam; but ever since that day when we became apostate, and brake the law of God, we seek death in the errors of our way; nor are we disposed by nature to seek for felicity where it may be found. If then any of the human family are recovered from their lapsed condition, it must be upon the basis of sovereign favour. The innocency of man in his natural state did not qualify him to live with God in the heavenly world; and the scriptures constantly affirm, that the chosen of God are by his supreme pleasure adopted in Christ Jesus to the relationship of children. It having been the pleasure of God to make known his will to us in the Bible, we, as the followers of Christ, are bound to study that book, in order that we may learn what are his counsels and thoughts of love toward us. : We must always observe that the creatures can alone enjoy communion with God in the way he has appointed. The principle of our innocent father Adam fitted him for fcommunion with God, according to the relationship subsisting between them; so the principles of sanctity the Holy Ghost implants in the sinner's mind in regeneration, prepares him to enjoy the friendship of God, according to his gracious alliance to Christ Jesus. And as it is necessary, for the well-being of the chosen of God, to be spiritually animated in order to a knowledge of their interest in him as the root of life to all his seed, it cannot be thought a thing superfluous to qualify him to go home to the heavenly world; forasmuch as heaven is the free gift of God in Christ Jesus to the election of grace. It would be an inversion of the order of things to say an
innocent creature is prepared for heaven; when it appears, that the people for whom the Saviour prayed are represented as given to him by the Father, and redeemed by his blood, and stand in him as jointly partaking of his love. The sovereignty of God reigns in all this plan. We are debtors to it. And when to heaven we shall ascend, our songs of praise will be to love, blood, and power, for having planted us in a country we neither naturally deserved nor anticipated.
What the felicity of the saints in the heavenly world will be, it is impossible for us accurately to conceive or describe while we remain in this world, but we are informed in the word of God that they will be like their Head. They are all predestinated to appear in the world of supernatural perfection to the glory of God in Christ Jesus. As the vessels of mercy they will be filled with glory, and when their slumbering dust will be raised their bodies will then be spiritual and no more subject to death. Raised by virtue of union to the person of Christ, who is the glory of his body, they will partake of it as a recompence due to him for the work he has accomplished as their once crucified Lord and Saviour.
There can be no doubt but heaven is a place of residence, as well as a state of glory; for when we consider the countless millions of saints who are predestinated to appear with the Lord Jesus Christ as his spiritual seed, and that their bodies will be glorified, there can be no just cause to oppose the idea. The diversity of mansions mentioned by our Lord has in it something that favours such an opinion; and it does moreover seem to imply individual abodes in Christ's Father's kingdom. However, it will be the residence of the saints, of which they may make their boast while they are travelling thither. The place the Saviour is gone to prepare may be considered a state of the highest glory. When the great Redeemer withdrew from the company of his disciples, to plead with his Father for the glory he had with him before the world was, he asked for his saints to be advanced to that estate with him in heaven. The personal glory of the Son of God is incommunicable to any one, but his relative glory as the head of grace is conveyable to all his spiritual seed. The Lord spoke of a glory, which he had given to his people, that he had with the Father before the world was; and as there is a glory, possessed with Christ when the saints enter the heavenly world, there is every reason to conclude that it is exceedingly great. Even now, in this imperfect state of being, the disciples of the Lamb when privileged to have fellowship with him, they do in some respect resemble Moses when he had been in the mount with God: the brightness of his countenance was such, that as he came to the foot of it he was obliged to put a veil upon his face, for the children of Israel could not look upon him for the glory of his countenance. So the saints of God are changed by the Spirit of the Lord from glory to glory, until they see the face of the Lord in glory. And if the glory of Christ as it is reflected upon his saints in this world is so dignifying, what the blest vision of the heavenly world will be we are not competent to describe; and we must be contented to wait until we plant our feet upon the plains of that country. It is not intended to convey the idea, that the glory of the saints will be equal to that of Christ! No, but that they will wear and enjoy a relative glory with him as his brethren.
That the happiness of the church in heaven will consist in being like unto and near the Saviour, no one can doubt; but the scriptures speak of a variety of orders in the world of light, " principalities and powers in heavenly places.” We humbly conceive that this refers to the holy angels. "If one common bond of interest in the Head of nature links the whole creation together as one family, it is equally certain that divine love cements the whole election of grace together in Christ as King in Zion. What relationship there is between elect angels and men we cannot say ; that Jesus is the head of both is certain. Whether they possess a super-creation holiness or not, I do not undertake particularly to say ; although I am induced to think they are raised in the scale of spiritual existence above their original standing. If this is true, it might not be known by them until those angels who kept not their first estate had rebelled against the divine government; that their present standing is to be attributed to their election in Christ, I can never doubt. If, then, the holy angels are supremely raised by God into a standing in their great Head above the due of their nature, their union and relationship to the church ransomed from amongst men is much nearer than we are accustomed to think; and, therefore, when the plan of wisdom will be consummated, grace will be honoured in the perfection of the family of God. That Jesus is the Son of the Father in truth, we are informed by an inspired apostle; and that he had been in the heavenly world before he came to our's he often declared. “ I came forth and proceeded from God.” “I came down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me." Christ has a native right to the heavenly world as the Son of God. Many affirm that Jesus is no more than a man, and others declare that he is begotten in his divine per. son. Neither of these notions are true : for if he is no more than man, many things in the scriptures are not intelligible; and if he is begotten in his divine person, how can we attribute to him independance and self-existence? When men are disposed to quarrel with the word of God, and set up their own notions in opposition thereto, we are not prepared to say what will follow as the necessary consequence of such conduct. Truth is clearly revealed, and a man of a true noble spirit learns its worth and commends its excellency. That Christ is Jehovah by nature, and his person unbegotten and self-existent, is an immutable fact, and the real foundation of christianity. But that his Sonship is founded in the junction of natures in his complex person is equally certain. The holy angel who announced his incarnation said, “ that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Seeing then that Jesus is Jehovah by nature, above the consideration of his being " the first-born of all creatures,” he doubtless had an essential right with the Father and the Holy Ghost, as the one eternal God, to bestow the heavenly inheritance upon the election of grace. It is not the essential right of Christ to which I have referred above, but to his given right as the Son of God. We may gather evidence to this amount, that the heavenly world as a state and place was prepared for Christ and his seed, before as their head he had existence to take possession of that blest land.
Let Adam in this respect be considered a type of Christ. God first made the world, and he then separated Eden to be the dwelling place of the man. He than created him without the garden, and put him into it, as the Lord over all things found there. So it appears that heaven was provided as a residence for the Son of God, and as a complex person he was invested with a right to be the Lord of that country. The headship of Christ over the church is according to the will of the THREE who are ONE. Many things in the word of God cannot be understood unless this prominent truth is admitted. Here is wisdom, here is love, and every other excellence of the divine nature clearly made known. It is quite clear that Christ had dwelt in the bosom of love before he tabernacled in the body provided for him. The friend of sinners, being invested with a right to bestow heaven upon those who were given to him, deigned kindly to make known the solemn fact for the encouragement of his family. The Lord our Redeemer is ruler of the heavenly world according to the high decree of heaven. God will not allow any one to treat his Son with indifference. He himself bore testimony to the character of Christ at his baptism, transfiguration, and at the raising of Lazarus, and declared the divinity and dignity of his person. Angels were commanded to worship him. Numerous attacks have been made by puny mortals to subvert the government of the Son of God, but he who sits in the heavens has them in derision, and he will laugh while fear will seize hold of them. The sceptre that adorns the Saviour's hands is a righteous one: “ All power,” said he, “ is given to me in heaven and earth.” Whatever is the form of government in the heavenly world there is no doubt but it is a gracious government, and consistent with the purity aad perfection of the Most High God. Curious and philosophical men have written much upon the employment in which the glorified church is engaged; but the amount of their reasoning appears to be this, that it will be entirely spiritual that it will be spirituality of so elevated a degree, that we who are clothed with garments of clay are not prepared at present to conceive. We need powers of mind immortalized and perfected to think correctly, and tongues to speak so elevated a language as that which can describe the glories of heaven. When the mind is now filled with the humbling presence of the Lord, such are his essential, personal, and mediatorial glories, that we apprehend more by far than we can possibly express. And if here in the vision of faith we are overcome by his love, and with adoring gratitude ever admire his goodness and