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THE LORD'S JOY IN HIS DISCIPLES. 101
destiny—"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself." Then only is the angel-growth perfected,— then only is man prepared to enter into his consummation of joy, when Death's ministering hand shall have removed the fleshly veil which had hid the perfect brightness and glory of the heavenly state. Death, therefore, is not a calamity to the regenerate man; but the removal of what withholds him from the full enjoyment of heavenly fruition. It is the liberation of the real, substantial man from temporary bonds and intercepting obstructions. It is the brushing away of outward conditions, where much, very much, is obnoxious to the new life developed within him, and the full realization of inward conditions, where all is in harmony with his perceptions of good and truth,—where all is a lovely, joyous, music-speaking response to his heart's love and the faith of his understanding. The conditions of true heavenly happiness must be wrought out in this life, by the putting off selfish and worldly affections, and the putting on a state of holiness from the Lord; but the full experience of the intense happiness associated with those heavenly conditions is not realised in this world.
Here, then, stands the argument. Every degree of human life, starting from the merely corporeal, and rising, through regenerative stages, till the inmost and supreme degree is attained, is designed by the love, wisdom, and mercy of the Lord to be accompanied with its own peculiar delights and pleasantness,—delight being predicated of the affections, and pleasantness of the rational faculties. But in all cases •the inexorable requirements of Divine order must be fulfilled. Man, when he violates this order, fancies his pleasures and delights to be genuine; but they are rather the feverish excitements of a moral insanity, and they ruin while they flatter. But it is in the mysterious and indefinable future, and beyond the world, that the general mind expects the full realization of its dream of possible happiness. Whatever notions be entertained of heaven, as the final home of the spirit,— whether as some far distant sphere in the infinity of space, or as a state which is near and around us, and invisible and intangible to mortal sense only,—whatever it be, or wherever it be, all look forward to it as the peculiar home of blessing and delight.
In what, then, consists the inexpressible delights of heaven? For all agree in the belief that they do transcend the standard of earthly experience. It would be curious to collect and arrange the popular conceptions of eternal happiness. I am afraid they would all be found more or less unspiritual, and closely associated with a purely sensual 102 THE Lord's JOY IN HIS DISCIPLES.
imagination. And this is very natural, too. The Lord said—" The kingdom of God is within you;" so, likewise, is the opposite kingdom; and our conceptions of either of them will borrow their tone and complexion from our own states of love and intelligence. What must the quality of the heaven of that man be whose ideas of eternal peace and bliss do not centre in the ever-varying activities of love, and the realization of heavenly use, but in the selfish delectations of his own appetites? In this case, heavenly joy must be conceived of as something very vapid and profitless, or very selfish and sensual. The true idea of heavenly felicity is not yet understood, because the very source of pure enjoyment is overlooked. The essence of all enjoyment, all delight, all pleasantness, is internal, not outward; it lies in the quality of the heart's ruling love, not in anything external to that love. There are three distinct spheres of heavenly love, differing in quality, and therefore in degree: the simple love of external uses; the love of the neighbour; and the love of the Lord. Each of these loves has its own peculiar series, tone, and character of delightsomeness;—as the love, so the delight of that love.
How trite and common-place is the reflection that "happiness is enjoyed rather in the pursuit than in the possession." Poets and romancists have rhapsodically bewailed the mocking disappointment of pursued happiness. The reason is so simple that even soaring genius has overlooked it. The truly good man, the spiritually-minded man, the man whose loving activities and yearnings find their terminations in the good and happiness of others,—he does not seek his own happiness, that is not the aim and object of his existence. He, with a God-given earnestness, labours to multiply uses, and to swell the common fund of good. He does this for the sake of good, and of the Lord, who is essential Good; and Happiness, like a loving spirit, comes to him, dwells with him, forsakes him never. The "pursuit of happiness" is a hackneyed phrase, yet what does it mean? It means that we pursue some purely selfish end, believing that happiness lies in its attainment. And when that end is gained, after much toil and anxiety, it does not bring happiness, because where selfishness is, true, abiding happiness cannot be. Happiness does not fly from the good man's pursuit, for he does not seek her for herself alone; he labours earnestly to fulfil a good man's destiny,—to praise and exalt the Lord, by a love of, and an obedience to, the Lord's will, and is thus conjoined with the Lord, who is the infinite source of every form and degree of pure happiness. He who is Infinite Love has all joy in Himself. The regenerate man seeks
THE LORD'S JOY IN HIS DISCIPLES. 103
the Lord; and the Lord's influx of love radiates within him, vivifies him, and qualifies him for the purest and most unalloyed enjoyment.
The God-loving and God-serving man lives a life of uses, in the highest as well as the lowest sense of the term; and a tide of delight and pleasantness descends into him, and permeates his existence. In this life, it is true, he does not realise the fulness of felicity; yet, ever, here, he has an interior contentedness, a degree of peace, a serenity of heart and mind, which are the basis and the promise of joy's fulness. But when his mortal conditions shall be loosened and dissolved, and his freed spirit shall consciously dwell in the world of spiritual substantialities, then shall he indeed experience states of happiness which transcend mortal conception. For in that world all is subjective, that is to say, all that is external to angels, exists, as it were, through and from out of them, as a perfect correspondence of their inner life; and thus, by the creative agency of the Lord, purity of love and faith, and the delights of good offices and useful activities, are reflected in every form of beauty and loveliness which can minister to sensational happiness. This, then, is the pervading law: as is the man, so is his outward world; as are his love and intelligence, so are his delights and pleasantnesses. This is the one undeviating law for heaven and for hell; in the one case, for all that is positive, by influx from the Lord; in the other, for all that is negative, by a perversion of that influx. Thus it is written (Psalm xvi. 11.)—" Thou wilt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is the fulness of joy: at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
The popular notions of heavenly felicity are founded on an erroneous conception. From the Scripture promises of eternal rest in the heavens, the idea seems to prevail that heaven is to be a scene of voluptuous idleness. In fact, it is most difficult to reduce the misty notions of heavenly states and delights to any substantial form. Is it a settled point that we shall have organic bodies? or must we wait until the soul, by some mysterious chemistry, is reunited to its mouldering body? If it be conceded that we shall have a spiritually organic body, what are we to do with it? To eat and drink in heaven are thought to be monstrous propositions,—as little better than living on the earth, and toiling for and preparing our daily bread. Every kind of active and useful employment, it is supposed, terminates with this, our present sublunary state; it is quite clear we are not to work there. That we shall need to read, write, learn, and participate in recreations there, is unendurable to think of. We shall not marry, nor be given in marriage
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there; nor is it clear that we shall possess anything beyond "shining robes and trumpets ;"—and we are to spend thus an eternity! I say thus; but how? It is most difficult to conceive. On the contrary, however, there is not any exercise of the bodily organs which we shall not perform there as here, with the exception that, in a spiritual state, all things will be removed that do not harmonise with and pertain to that state. This material world has conditions peculiar to itself; these will assume a higher correspondential form in a state which is purely spiritual. But what we call bodily organs and senses are really spiritual in their origin; the soul is the true man; the material body is but an adapted covering to the man, wonderful indeed in its organization, yet only the ultimated form of the yet more wonderful organism of the spirit. The human form is the minutely developed expression of manprinciples, which, in their infmite state, constitute the essential nature of the Creator Himself.
All our activities in this state are nltimations and correspondences of activities in the heavenly or infernal state; and all degrees and varieties of heavenly joy and happiness can result only from a heavenly life of active duties and infinitely diversified uses, having good as their end, and being in themselves the inevitable outbirth of a ruling love towards the Lord and the neighbour. Heavenly rest is not, then, a rest from the activities of life; for life, properly so called, cannot be separated from the end of life, which is the realization and multiplication of uses. Heavenly rest is a rest from trials and temptations, and the anguish and disquietude of spirit-combats against evils and falses; and it is when this discipline of the soul is accomplished, that the "wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Hence, then, is to be seen the true nature of heavenly rest, peace, and delight; in fact, of all the varied blessings which are summed up in that one expression, the Lord's "joy." They are not such things as can be bestowed and exchanged, as we give, buy, sell, or exchange earthly commodities. They do not even exist in themselves; but they are, in their infinite manifestations, the outgrowths and accompaniments of acquired and real states of love, which bring the soul into conjunction with the Lord, and thence into a participation of His inexpressible joy. All the visible scenery of heaven, its mountains, valleys, paradisiacal gardens,—its inhabitants, meats, and drinks,—its animal, vegetable, and mineral representations, and its pervading fragrancy and music; all these, realised in forms of inconceivable beauty, richness, and loveliness, do not, and can not, exist apart from the celestial inhabitants; for they, too, are infinitely varied The Lord's Joy In His Disciples. 105
forms of an inner life, which, in its source and essence, is divine and infinitely perfect. In proportion as we love God above all things, and our neighbour better than ourselves, we shall seek in the activities of those loves the end of our being; and then heavenly beatitude, though really unsought for as a personal acquisition, will, by the Lord's pure mercy, descend into us and surround us, and indeed swallow up our very existence.
"Heaven is so constituted as to abound with pleasures, insomuch that, considered in itself, it is an aggregate of beatitudes and delectations; and that, because divine good, proceeding from the love of the Lord, constitutes heaven both in general and particular to every one there. Now, it is the property of divine love to will the salvation and happiness of all, and that intimately and fully; so that if you say heaven, or the joys of heaven, it comes to one and the same thing."—Heaven and Hell, p. 343.
Let us now, in conclusion, reckon up the points which have been touched upon in this discourse. The Lord took upon Himself humanity, and made it divine; and now in that glorious Body, by His Spirit, He is present with us, and speaks to us, and so speaks to the end that His "joy" may not only remain in us, but be "full." To be possessed of the Lord's joy is the highest and purest end of existence. But to attain any measure of His infinite joy implies that we must become, in a finite degree, like Him. He is Infinite Love, and that love is extended to every one, and perpetually desires to bless every one. So we, to be like the Lord, and to enter into His joy, must love as He loves,—that is, we must think less and less of ourselves, and more and more of others;—we must learn to live less for selfish and worldly ends, and more and more sincerely for spiritual and eternal ends. As we do this, so shall we rise into a higher capacity to receive the Lord's joy. Every unselfish love brings its measure of happiness. First, the love of external uses; secondly, the love of the neighbour; and thirdly and supremely, the love of the Lord. These are distinct planes of life, antfi each has its own peculiar state and quality of joy, happiness, aad pleasantness, and each has, in a certain sense, a, fulness of joy; but tJie most perfect sense of happiness belongs only to those who have reach .ed the highest plane of life. In each of these, it is to be well obser ved that happiness is not the end sought for, the object pursued. The end really sought for is good for the sake of good, and truth for the s/ ,ke of truth; and then happiness flows into the heart, and fills the enV je life with a continual stream of delights and pleasantnesses.