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tle speaks concerning the patriarchs that were in an unsettled condition, travelling into a strange country. It is said concerning Abraham, the father of them, Heb. 11. 10. “He looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is God. He dwelt in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise.” Tabernacles were moving tents, that had no foundations, that might easily be carried from one place to another: but heaven is a city which hath foundations. This lower world, and the upper world that is visible to us, shall either be refined or consumed by fire, notwithstanding all that exquisite order and beauty that we see in them. The apostle tells us they are reserved for fire; now whether that fire shall be consuming, or whether it shall be merely a reforming purifying fire, we are not certain: though there are some probable reasons that may induce us to a belief of it that it shall only be a reforming and refining one. For the apostle tells us, Rom. 8. 22. “We know the whole creation groaneth, and travaileth in pain together until now :” and in the foregoing verse it is said, “Because the creature also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The apostle speaks concerning this world, which you know hath been defiled and stained by the sin of man. And St. Peter saith, 2 Pet. 3. 13. “We look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” This visible form of the heavens, which is subjected to our eye, shall be destroyed: for thus the psalmist speaks, Psal. 102. 25, 26. “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of thy hands; they shall perish, but thou shalt endure; yea, all of them shall wax old as a garment, as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed.” In the elementary world all things are in a perpetual change: those things that are so much admired and loved, all those vain idols that men set their hearts upon, they are all changing and perishing every day: but now for the heavens and the earth themselves, observe what the prophet saith, “Thou shalt change them.” We see no cause that would be sufficient to change this heaven and this earth; the divine power only can do it: but he that hath made them, will and can easily change them. But for the heaven of glory, where the saints shall be, that is a city that hath foundations, there shall be no change there. In the history of the creation, it is obser
vable, Moses speaks not one word concerning the making of the supreme heavens, though they may be included in the visible heavens. He only speaks expressly of this visible world, which shall be changed. Observe what our Saviour tells us, John 14. 2. “In my Father's house are many mansions.” Our habitations in this lower world are like an inn, or house of progress, that one lies at for a little time. But heaven is called a mansion, the place of the saint's residence; there shall be no change, no shadow of change there, but it shall be kept always by the power of God, as a prepared habitation for the rest of God's people. Now by the way, this shows how vain it is for us to expect rest here, in a house that is but propped up for a while. Therefore we cannot expect rest here. It is spoken of as one of the prodigies of nature, concerning the kingfisher, that she builds her nest in the sea, one of the most moveable elements; but that little bird is instructed by nature to build her nest there when there is a perfect calm, for the security of its young. But there is no calm in this world, all things are in a perpetual flux, in a rapid motion. The heavens that are over us shall be confounded and destroyed, and the stars shall fall like leaves in autumn, and the fire shall pass upon them all: but the heavenly kingdom is unshaken, a place that is fit for rest. 2. To show you further how this place is fitted for rest, as the scripture speaks concerning the stability of it, so it discovers to us its vastness and immensity. It is a place capacious enough to be the seat of an innumerable company of angels, and of all the saints of God, when they shall be united together in one glorious assembly at the last day. John 14. 2. “In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Many mansions; there is room in abundance. There is such an extension, as to hold all the blessed spirits together, so as every one shall have his particular mansion, every one shall have a place of ease and rest. When Solomon had built a magnificent temple to God, saith he, 1 Kings 8. 27. “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built? Will God indeed dwell on earth?” That is, will he afford his glorious presence with his people in his temple? Then it follows, “Behold, the heavens, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee.” It is spoken with respect to the amplitude of that kingdom. There are three heavens that the scripture speaks of; the aerial heaven, that which encompasseth all the earth and sea. So you read of the fowls of heaven, the birds that fly in the air. 2ndly, The ethereal heaven, where are the sun, moon, and stars, And 3dly, There is the heaven of heavens which is called the third heavens in scripture. Now do but observe this earth, that contains innumerable inhabitants and creatures upon it, this vast earth, compared to the starry heavens, is but as one single point; it is as nothing: and the heaven of heavens encompasseth all the starry heavens, and hath a vastness that is inconceivable to us. How great it is, we cannot tell; but we are sure of this, that it is a place built for the glory of God, and answerable to the greatness of that King. Now this still falls in with the notion of the rest: every saint shall be a king there, and have a kingdom large enough to fill all his desires. It is a fancy of some of the schoolmen, that one of the torments of hell shall be the narrowness of the place, where the damned shall be crowded together. I cannot tell whether there is any foundation for such a notion in scripture, where we read indeed of hell represented by the great£st torments to sense, as fire and brimstone, and the worm that never dies: but it says nothing of its being so strait a place. But as for heaven, that the scripture represents as a very large one. Our Saviour says, “In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you?” if it were not a place large enough for you, I would have been so faithful to you, as to make a discovery of it. So that the boundlessness of that kingdom tends to make it a fit habitation for our rest. 3. The scripture discovereth to us the glory of it: and that fore-mentioned place of Solomon is applicable to this purpose: it is called the heaven of heavens; it is so called by way of excellency and transcendency; and Christ calls it my Father's house: Christ's Father is the Father of glory; you know he is particularly called so in scripture; the Father of glory. So heaven is called God's throne: Isa. 66. l. “Thus saith the Lord, heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool.” His throne, that signifies it is that place wherein he doth manifest himself in his glorious presence. As when a king is seated upon his throne, it is with all the ensigns of majesty and greatness. God's throne is that place where he exhibits himself in the most glorious manner. So it is called God's temple: Hab. 2. 20. “But the Lord is in his holy temple.” Heaven is a throne and a temple, a place prepared with all divine art for the manifestation of God's glory. You read concerning New Jerusalem, Rev. 21. 17, 18. “The building of the wall of it was of jasper, the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass; and the foundation of the walls of the city was garnished with all manner of precious stones.” The walls of the city are thus represented to us by precious stones, because they are most fair and lively representations of the excellency of that place: but alas! all the rare marvels of nature are nothing, compared to the glory above. All the lustre of diamonds, the fire of carbuncles, and the beauty of pearls, are nothing to the glory of heaven. We are said to be made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Light is the highest comparison that the scripture can make use of, both to inform us and astonish us with the glory of heaven. When our Saviour appeared at his transfiguration, it is said, Mat. 17.2. “His face did shine as the sun, and his garments were white as the light.” This is the highest comparison in nature, the inheritance of the saints in light. So on the contrary hell is set forth by a place of darkness, invincible darkness, the blackness of darkness for ever, for there is a perpetual night. So heaven is said to be a place of light. Do but consider what heaven is, when the scripture saith, “The Lord is the light of it, and God is the glory of it.” There is no need there of the light of the sun, for Christ the Sun of Righteousness sheds abroad an effusion of transcendent glory, that at the first entrance into heaven the saint is struck with admiration at the glory of the place: and it is said in one scripture, “Thy God shall be thy glory.” Now is not this fitted to be a place of rest, a place of light and glory? 4. Heaven this everlasting rest is represented to us in the scripture under the notion of a place of pleasure, and so it is called a paradise. So you shall find our Saviour speaking to the thief on the cross that prayed to him, Luke 23.43. “Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom: Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” The apostle Paul tells us, 2 Cor. 12.4. “That he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, &c.” Now this expression is allegorical, and allusive to that first delicious garden that God prepared to be a seat for innocent man. The garden of Eden was a place that had in it all things that were for the support, and comfort, and pleasure of this life; and paradise is a word that signifies a garden of pleasure. Now heaven is represented to us by paradise, a place that was made for delight and joy; and it hath this glorious privilege above this earthly paradise, that the earthly paradise was not exempted from the poison of the serpent, that infected man in his head and original, the woful effect of which we feel to this day: but the paradise above is inaccessible to all evil, a place framed for delight, no thorns or briars there, nothing that can afflict or cause sorrow; no, it is the paradise of God, a paradise in the midst whereof the Son of God is the tree of life, upon which the saints feed and live for ever. And this is another thing the
scripture speaks of concerning the glory of that place where we shall have our rest.
o of the excellency of this rest. This is a point which carnal men cannot relish: it is a holy rest, both as it imports a ceasing from the dominion and being of sin and temptation: and performance of all those holy duties which are proper to this state; for which the soul is exalted to the highest
pitch of natural perfection, and has supernatural endowments, whence re. sult the most exalted operations,
III. I Shall, in the next place, consider the excellencies of this rest: and here I shall premise this, that I am about to treat of a subject that I fear most that are here cannot taste or relish. As for a discourse of heaven, a carnal man is no more affected with it, than if you should bring a swine into a curious palace, adorned with all things of art and industry; to see pictures drawn with exquisite skill in paint, or statues carved in the most excellent and lively manner; could a swine take any delight in