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of Christ's glorified body. And this will be his heaven, that he will serve God without a struggle, and in a full gale of spiritual delight—because with the full concurrence of all the feelings and all the faculties of his regenerated nature. Before death, sin is only repressed—after the resurrection, all sin will be exterminated. Here he has to maintain the combat, with a tendency to evil still lodging in his heart, and working a perverse movement among his inclinations; but after his warfare in this world is accomplished, he will no longer be so thwarted—and he will set him down in another world, with the repose and the triumph of victory for his everlasting reward. The great constitutional plague of his nature will no longer trouble him; and there will be the charm of a genial affinity between the purity of his heart, and the purity of the element he breathes in. Still it will not be the purity of spirit escaped from materialism, but of spirit translated into a materialism that has been clarified of evil. It will not be the purity of souls unclothed as at death, but the purity of souls that have again been clothed upon at the resurrection. But the highest homage that we know of to materialism, is that which God, manifest in the flesh, has rendered to it. That He, the Divinity, should have wrapt his unsathomable essence in one of its coverings, and expatiated amongst us in the palpable form and structure of a man; and that he should have chosen such a tenement, not as a temporary abode, but should have borne it with him to the place which he now occupies, and where he is now employed in preparing the mansions of his followers; that he should have entered within the vail, and be now seated at the right hand of the Father, with the very body which was marked by the nails upon his cross, and where with he ate and drank after his resurrection—that he who repelled the imagination of his disciples, as if they had seen a spirit, by bidding them handle him and see, and subjecting to their familiar touch the flesh and the bones that encompassed him; that he should now be throned in universal supremacy, and wielding the whole power of heaven and earth, have every knee to bow at his name, and every tongue to consess, and yet all to the glory of God the Father— that humanity, that substantial and embodied humanity, should thus be exalted, and a voice of adoration from every creature, be listed up to the Lamb for ever and ever— does this look like the abolition of materialism, after the present system of it is destroyed; or does it not rather prove, that transplanted into another system, it will be preferred to celestial honours, and prolonged in immortality throughout all ages?
It has been our careful endeavour, in all
that we have said, to keep within the limits of the record, and to offer no other remarks than those which, may fitly be suggested by the circumstance, that a new earth is to be created, as well as a new heavens for the future accommodation of the righteous. We have no desire to push the speculation beyond what is written, but it were, at the same time, well, that in all our representations of the immortal state, there was just the same force of colouring, and the same vivacity of scenic exhibition that there is in the New Testament. The imagination of a total and diametric opposition between the region of sense and the region of spirituality, certainly tends to abate the interest with which we might otherwise look to the perspective that is on the other side of the grave; and to deaden all those sympathies that we else might have with the joys and the exercises of the blest in paradise. To rectify this, it is not necessary to enter on the particularities of heaven—a topic on which the Bible is certainly most sparing and reserved in its communications. But a great step is gained simply by dissolving the alliance that exists in the minds of many between the two ideas of sin and materialism; or proving, that when once sin is done away, it consists with all we know of God's administration, that materialism shall be perpetuated in the full bloom and vigour of immortality. It altogether holds out a warmer and more alluring picture of the elysium that awaits us, when told, that there, will be beauty to delight the eye; and music to regale the ear; and the comfort that springs from all the charities of intercourse between man and man, holding converse as they do on earth, and gladdening each other with the benignant smiles that play on the human countenance, or the accents of kindness that fall in soft and soothing melody from the human voice. There is much of the innocent, and much of the inspiring, and much to affect and elevate the heart, in the scenes and the contemplations of materialism—and we do hail the insormation of our text, that after the dissolution of its present frame-work, it will again be varied and decked out anew in all the graces of its unfading verdure, and of its unbounded variety—that in addition to our di- . rect and personal view of the Deity, when he comes down to tabernacle with men, we shall also have the reflection of him in a lovely mirror of his own workmanship; and that instead of being transported to some abode of dimness and of mystery, so remote from human experience, as to be beyond all comprehension, we shall walk for ever in a land replenished with those sensible delights, and those sensible glories, which, we doubt not, will lie most profusely scattered over the “new heavens and the
new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
II. But though a paradise of sense, it will not be a paradise of sensuality. Though not so unlike the present world as many apprehend it, there will be one point of total dissimilarity betwixt them. It is not the entire substitution of spirit for matter, that will distinguish the future economy from the present. But it will be the entire substitution of righteousness for sin. It is this which signalizes the Christian from the Mahometan paradise—not that sense, and substance, and splendid imagery, and the glories of a visible creation seen with bodily eyes are excluded from it, but that all which is vile in principle, or voluptuous in impurity, will be utterly excluded from it. There will be a firm earth, as we have at present, and a heaven stretched over it, as we have at present; and it is not by the absence of these, but by the absence of sin, that the abodes of immortality will be characterized. There will both be heavens and earth, it would appear, in the next great administration— and with this speciality to mark it from the present one, that it will be a heavens and earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness.”
Now, though the first topic of information that we educed from the text, may be regarded as not very practical, yet the second topic on which I now insist, is most eminently so. Were it the great characteristic of that spirituality which is to obtain in a future heaven, that it was a spirituality of essence, then occupying and pervading the place from which materialism has been swept away, we could not, by any possible method, approximate the condition we are in at present to the condition we are to hold everlastingly. We cannot etherealize the matter that is around us—neither can we attenuate our own bodies, nor bring down the slightest degree of such a heaven to the earth that we now inhabit. But when we are told that materialism is to be kept up, and that the spirituality of our future state lies not in the kind of substance which is to compose its frame-work, but in the character of those who people it—this puts, is not the fulness of heaven, at least a foretaste of heaven, within our reach. We have not to strain at a thing so impracticable, as that of diluting the material economy which is without us; we have only to reform the moral economy that is within us. We are now walking on a terrestrial surface, not more compact, perhaps, than the one we shall hereafter walk upon ; and are now wearing terrestrial bodies, not firmer and more solid, perhaps, than those we shall hereafter wear. It is not by working any change upon them that we could realize, to an extent, our future heaven. And this is simply done by opening the door of our heart for the influx of heaven's affections— by bringing the whole man, as made up of
soul, and spirit, and body, under the presiding authority of heaven's principles. This will make plain to you how it is that it could be said in the New Testament, that the “kingdom of heaven was at hand”— and how, in that book, its place is marked out, not by locally pointing to any quarter, and saying, Lo here, or lo there, but by the simple affirmation that the kingdom of heaven is within you—and how, in defining what it was that constituted the kingdom of heaven, there is an enumeration, not of such circumstances as make up an outward condition, but of such feelings and qualities as make up a character, even righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost—and how the ushering in of the new dispensation is held equivalent to the introduction of this kingdom into the world—all making it evident, that if the purity and the principles of heaven begin to take effect upon our heart, what is essentially heaven begins with us, even in this world; that instead of ascending to some upper region, for the purpose of entering it, it may descend upon us, and make an actual entrance of itself into our bosoms; and that so far, therefore, from that remote and inaccessible thing which many do regard it, it may, through the influence of the word which is high unto you, and of the Spirit that is given to prayer, be lighted up in the inner man of an individual upon earth, whose person may even here, exemplify its graces, and whose soul may even here realize a measure of its enjoyments. And hence one great purpose of the incarnation of our Saviour. He canne down amongst us in the full perfection of heaven's character, and has made us see, that it is a character which may be embodied. All its virtues were, in his case, infused into a corporeal frame-work, and the substance of these lower regions was taken into intimate and abiding association with the spirit of . the higher. The ingredient which is heavenly, admits of being united with the ingredient which is earthly—so that we, who, by nature are of the earth, and earthly, could we catch of that pure and celestial element which made the man Christ Jesus to differ from all other men, then might we too be formed into that character by which it is that the members of the family above differ from the outcast family beneath. Now, it is expressly said of him, that he is set before us as an example; and we are required to look to that living exhibition of him, where all the graces of the upper sanctuary are beheld as in a picture; and instead of an abstract, we have in his history a familiar representation of such worth, and piety, and excellence, as could they only be stamped upon our own persons, and borne along with us to the place where, he now dwelleth—instead of being shunned as aliens, we should be welcomed and recog
nised as seemly companions for the inmates of that place of holiness. And, in truth, the great work of Christ's disciples upon earth, is a constant and busy process of assimilation to their Master who is in heaven. And we live under a special economy, that has been set up for the express purpose of helping it forward. It is for this, in particular, that the Spirit is provided. We are changed into the image of the Lord, even by the Spirit of the Lord. Nursed out of this sulness, we grow up unto the stature of perfect men in Christ Jesus—and instead of heaven being a remote and mysterious unknown, heaven is brought near to us by the simple expedient of inspiring us where we now stand, with its love, and its purity, and its sacredness. We learn from Christ, that the heavenly graces are all of them compatible with the wear of an earthly body, and the circumstances of an earthly habitation. It is not said in how many of its features the new earth will differ from, or be like unto the present one—but we, by turning from our iniquities unto Christ, push forward the resemblance of the one to the other, in the only feature that is specified, even that “therein dwelleth righteousness.” And had we only the character, of heaven, we should not be long of feeling what that is which essentially makes the comfort of heaven. “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest iniquity; therefore, God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness, above thy fellows.” Let us but love the righteousness which he loves, and hate the iniquity which he hateth, and this, of itself, would so soften and attune the mechanism of our moral nature, that in all the movements of it, there should be joy. It is not sufficiently adverted to, that the happiness of heaven lies simply and essentially in the well-going machinery of a well-conditioned soul—and that according to its measure, it is the same in kind with the happiness of God, who liveth for ever in bliss ineffable, because he is unchangeable in being good, and upright, and holy. There may be audible music in heaven, but its chief delight will be in the music of well-poised affections, and of principles in full and consenting harmony with the laws of eternal rectitude. There may be visions of loveliness there, but it will be the loveliness of virtue, as seen directly in God, and as reflected back again in family likeness from all his children—it will be this that shall give its purest and sweetest transports to the soul. In a word, the main reward of paradise, is spiritual joy —and that, springing at once from the love and the possession of spiritual excellence. It is such a joy as sin extinguishes on the moment of its entering the soul; and such a joy as is again restored to the soul, and that immediately on its being restored to righteousness.
It is thus that heaven may be established upon earth, and the petition of our Lord's prayer be fulfilled, “Thy kingdom come.” This petition receives its best explanation from the one which follows: “Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.” It just requires a similarity of habit and character in the two places, to make out a similarity of enjoyment. Let us attend, then, to the way in which the services of the upper sanctuary are rendered—not in the spirit of legality, for this gendereth to bondage; but in the spirit of love, which gendereth to the beatitude of the affections rejoicing in their best and most favourite indulgence. They do not work there, for the purpose of making out the conditions of a bargain. They do not act agreeably to the pleasure of God, in order to obtain the gratification of any distinct will or distinct pleasure of their own, in return for it. Their will is, in fact, identical with the will of God. There is a perfect unison of taste and of inclination, between the creature and the Creator. They are in their element, when they are feeling righteously, and doing righteously. Obedience is not drudgery, but delight to them; and as much as there is of the congenial between animal nature, and the food that is suitable to it, so much is there of the congenial between the moral nature of heaven, and its sacred employments and services. Let the will of God, then, be done here, as it is done there, and not only will character and conduct be the same here as there, but they will also resemble each other in the style, though not in the degree of their blessedness. The happiness of heaven will be exemplified upon earth, along with the virtue of heaven—for, in truth, the main ingredient of that happiness is not given them in payment for work; but it lies in the love they bear to the work itself. A man is never happier than when employed in that which he likes best. This is all a question of taste; but should such a taste be given as to make it a man's meat and drink to do the will of his Father, then is he in perfect readiness for being carried upwards to heaven, and placed beside the pure river of water of life, that proceedeth out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. This is the way in which you may make a heaven upon earth, not by heaping your reluctant offers at the shrine of legality, but by serving God because you love him; and doing his will, because you delight to do him honour.
And here we may remark, that the only possible conveyance for this new principle into the heart, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ —that in no other way, than through the acceptance of its free pardon, sealed by the blood of an atonement, which exalts the Lawgiver, can the soul of man be both emancipated from the fear of terror, and solemnized into the fear of humble and holy reverence—that it is only in conjunction with the faith which justifies, that the love of gratitude, and the love of moral esteem, are made to arise in the bosom of regene. rated man; and, therefore, to bring down the virtues of heaven, as well as the peace of heaven, into this lower world, we know
not what else can be done, than to urge upon you the great propitiation of the New Testament—nor are we aware of any expedient by which all the cold and freezing sensations of legality can be done away, but by your thanksul and unconditional acceptance of Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
“For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.”—1 Corinthians iv. 20.
There is a most important lesson to be derived from the variety of senses in which the phrases “kingdom of God,” and “kingdom of heaven,” are evidently made use of in the New Testament. If it, at one time, Carry our thoughts to that place where God its in visible glory, and where, surrounded by the family of the blessed, he presides in full and spiritual authority—it, at another time, turns our thoughts inwardly upon Qurselves, and instead of leading us to say, here, or lo, there, as if to some local habitation at a distance, it leads us, by the declaration, that the “kingdom of God is Within us,” to look for it into our own t, and to examine whether heavenly affections have been substituted there in the Place of earthly ones. Such is the tendency * Qur imagination upon this subject, that *kingdom of heaven is never mentioned, without our minds being impelled thereby e an upward direction—to go aloft to that place of spaciousness, and of splendour, *d of psalmody, which forms the residence of angels; and where the praises both of *deemed and unfallen creatures, rise in one anthem of gratulation to the Father, who rejoices over them all. Now, it is evident, that in dwelling upon ouch an elysium as this, the mind can picto itself a thousand delicious accomPaniments, which, apart from moral and Spiritual character altogether, are fitted to egale animal, and sensitive, and unrenewed than. There may be sights of beauty and illiancy for the eye. There may be sounds 9f sweetest melody for the ear. There may innumerable sensations of delight, from the adaptation which obtains between the materialism of surrounding heaven, and the materialism of our own transformed and glorified bodies. There may even be poured upon us, in richest abundance, a higher and * nobler class of enjoyments—and separate still from the possession of holiness, of that Peculiar quality, by the accession of which * sinner is turned into a saint, and the man who, before, had an entire aspect of secu
larity and of the world, looks as if he had been cast over again in another mould, and come out breathing godly desires, and aspiring, with a newly created fervour, after godly enjoyments. And so, without any such conversion as this, heaven may still be conceived to minister a set of very refined and intellectual gratifications. One may figure it so formed, as to adapt itself to the senses of man, though he should not one single virtue of the temple, or of the sanctuary; and one may figure it to be so formed, as, though alike destitute of these virtues, to adapt itself even to the spirit of man, and to many of the loftier principles and capacities of his nature. His taste may find an ever-recurring delight in the panorama of its sensible glories; and his fancy wander untired among all the realities and all the possibilities of created excellence; and his understanding be feasted to ecstacy among those endless varieties of truth which are ever pouring in a rich flood of discovery, upon his mind; and even his heart be kept in a glow of warm and kindly affection among the cordialities of that benevolence, by which he is surrounded. All this is possible to be conceived of heaven; and when we add its secure and everlasting exemption from the agonies of hell, let us not wonder, that such a heaven should be vehemently desired by those who have not advanced by the very humblest degree of spiritual preparation, for the real heaven of the New Testament—who have not the least congeniality of feeling with that which forms its most essential and characteristic blessedness—who cannot sustain on earth for a very short interval of retirement, the labour and the weariness of communion with God—who, though they could relish to the uttermost, all the sensible and all the intellectual joys of heaven, yet hold no taste of sympathy whatever, with its hallelujah and its songs of raptured adoration—an who, therefore, if transported at this moment, or if transported after death, with the frame and character of soul that they have at this moment, to the New Jerusalem, and the city of the living God, would positively find themselves aliens, and out of their kindred and rejoicing element, however much they may sigh after a paradise of pleasure, or a paradise of poetry. It may go to dissipate this sentimental illusion, if we ponder well the meaning which is often assigned to the kingdom of heaven in the Bible; if we reflect, that it is often made to attach personally to a human creature upon earth, as well as to be situated locally in some distant and mysterious region away from us—that to be the subject of such a kingdom, it is not indisensible that our residence be within the imits of an assigned territory, any more, in fact, than that the subject of an earthly sovereign should not remain so, though travelling, for a time, beyond the confines of his master's jurisdiction. He may, though away from his country in person, carry about with him in mind a full principle of allegiance to his country's sovereign; and may, both in respect of legal duty, and of his own most willing and affectionate compliance with it, remain associated with him both in heart and in political relationship. He is still a member of that kingdom in the domains of which he was born; and in the very same way, may a man be travelling the journey of life in this world, and be all the while a member of the kingdom of heaven. The being who reigns in supreme authority there may, even in this land of exile and alienation, have some one devoted subject, who renders to the same authority the deference of his heart, and the subordination of his whole practice. The will of God may possess such a moral ascendency over his will, as that when the one commands, the other promptly and cheerfully obeys. The character of God may stand revealed in such charms of perfection and gracefulness to the eye of his mind, that by ever looking to him he both loves and is made like unto him. A sense of God may pervade his every hour, and every employment, even as it is the hand of God which preserves him continually, and through the actual power of God, that he lives and moves, as well as has his being. Such a man, if such a man there be on the face of our world, has the kingdom of God set up in his heart. He is already one of the children of the kingdom. He is not locally in heaven, and yet his heaven is begun. He has in his eye the glories of heaven; though, as yet, he sees them through a glass darkly. He feels in his bosom the | of heaven; though, still at war with the propensities of nature, they do not yet reign in all the freeness of an undis. puted ascendency. He carries in his heart the peace, and the joy, and the love, and the elevation of heaven; though under the in
cumbrance of a vile body, the spiritual repast which is thus provided, is not without its mixtures, and without its mitigation. In a word, the essential elements of heaven's reward, and of heaven's felicity, are all in his possession. He tastes the happiness of heaven in kind, though not in its full and finished degree. When he gets to heaven above, he will not meet there with a happiness differing in character from that which he now feels; but only higher in gradation. There may be crowns of material splendour. There may be trees of unfading loveliness. There may be pavements of emerald—and canopies of brightest radiance—and gardens of deep and tranquil security—and palaces of proud and stately decoration—and a city of lofty pinnacles, through which there unceasing flows a river of gladness, and where jubilee is ever rung with the concord of seraphic voices. But these are only the accessaries of heaven. They form not the materials of its substantial blessedness. Of this the man who toils in humble drudgery, an utter stranger to the delights of sensible pleasure, or the fascinations of sensible glory, has got already a foretaste in his heart. It consists not in the enjoyment of created good, nor in the survey of created magnificence. It is drawn in a direct stream, through the channels of love and of contemplation, from the fullness of the Creator. It emanates srom the countenance of God, manifesting the spiritual glories of his holy and persect character, on those whose characters are kindred to his own. And is on earth there is no tendency towards such a character—no process of restoration to the lost image of the Godhead —no delight in prayer—no relish for the sweets of intercourse with our Father, now unseen, but then to be revealed to the view of his immediate worshippers—then, let our imaginations kindle as they may, with the beatitudes of our fictitious heaven, the true heaven of the Bible is what we shall never reach, because it is a heaven that we are not fitted to enjoy. But such a view of the matter seems not merely to dissipate a sentimental illusion which obtains upon the subject. It also serves to dissipate a theological illusion. Ere we can enter heaven, there must be granted to us a legal capacity of admission —and Christ by his atoning death, and perfect righteousness, has purchased this capacity for those who believe ; and they, by the very act of believing, are held to be in possession of it, just as a man by stretching out his hand to a deed or a passport, becomes vested with all the privileges which are thereby conveyed to the holder. Now, in the zeal of controversialists, (and it is a point most assuredly about which they cannot be too zealous)—in their zeal to clear up and to demonstrate the ground on which the sinner's legal capacity must rest,