Think Well On't/Day 17
THE SEVENTEENTH DAY.
CONSIDER, that if God's justice is so terrible in regard to his enemies, how much more will his mercy, his goodness, his bounty declare itself in favour of his friends! Mercy and goodness are his favourite attributes, in which he most delights: his tender mercies says the royal prophet, Ps. cxliv. are over all his works. What then must his blessed kingdom be, which in his goodness he has prepared for his beloved children, for the manifestation of his riches, his glory and magnificence for all eternity; — a kingdom, which the Son of God himself has purchased for us, at no less price than that of his own most precious blood! No wonder then that the apostle cries out: 1 Cor. ii. 9. That neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard nor hath it entered into the heart of man, what God has prepared for those that love him. No wonder that this beatitude is defined by divines, a perfect and everlasting state, replenished with all that is good, without the least mixture of evil; a general and universal good, filling brimful the vast capacity of our affections and desires, and eternally securing us from all fear or danger of want or change. O! here it is that the servants of God, as the psalmist declares, Ps. xxxv. shall be inebriated with the plenty of God's house, and be made to drink of the torrent of his pleasure; even of that fountain of life, which is with him, and flows from him, into their happy souls for ever and ever.
2. Consider, that although this blessed kingdom abounds with all that can be imagined good and delightful, yet there is one sovereign good, in the sight, love and enjoyment of which consists the essential beatitude of the soul; and that is God himself, whom the blessed ever see face to face; and by the contemplation of his infinite beauty, are set on fire with seraphic flames of love, and, by a most pure and amiable union, are transformed in a manner into God himself; as when brass or iron in the furnace is perfectly penetrated by the fire, it loseth its own nature, and becometh all flame and fire. Happy souls! What can be wanting to complete your joys, who are in perfect possession of your God, the overflowing source of all good; who have, within and without you, the vast ocean of endless felicity? O the excessive bounty of our God, who giveth his servants, in reward of their loyalty, so great a good, which is nothing less than himself, the immense joy of angels! O! shall that not suffice, my soul, to make thee happy, which makes God himself happy?
3. Consider the glory and beauty of the heavenly Jerusalem, which the holy scripture, to accommodate itself to our weakness, represents to us under the notion of such things as we most admire here below. St. John, Apoc. c. 21. describing this blessed city, tells us, that its walls are of precious stones, and its streets of pure and transparent gold; that these streets are watered with the river of water of life, resplendent as crystal, which flows from the throne of God: and that on the banks of this river on both sides grows the tree of life; that there shall be no night, nor any sun nor moon, but that the Lord God shall be its light for ever. O blessed Jerusalem! O how glorious are the things that are said of thee, O city of God! But what wonder? For if our God has given us such, and so noble a palace here below, in this place of banishment, beautified with this sun, moon and stars, furnished and adorned with this infinite variety of plants, flowers, trees, and living creatures of so many sorts, all subservient to man; if, I say, he has so richly provided for us in this vale of tears and region of the shade of death, what must our eternal habitation be in the land of the living! If here he is so bountiful, even to his enemies in giving them so commodious, so noble a dwelling, what may not his friends and servants expect in his eternal kingdom; in which, and by which he designs to manifest to them his greatness and glory, for endless ages in an everlasting banquet, which he has there prepared for his elect! Blessed by all creatures be his goodness for ever.
4. Consider the blessed inhabitants of this heavenly kingdom, those millions of millions of angels, of whom the prophet Daniel, having seen God Almighty in a vision, tells us: Dan. vii. That thousands of thousands ministered to him, and ten thousand times a hundred thousand stood before him: that infinite multitude of saints and martyrs, and other servants of God of both sexes, gathered out of all nations, tribes and tongues; and above them all, the blessed Virgin Mother of God, queen of saints and angels: their number is innumerable. But O! who can express the happiness of enjoying this pleasant company? They are all most noble, most glorious, most wise, most holy. They are all of blood royal, all kings and queens, all children and heirs of the most high God: ever beautiful and ever young; crowned with wreaths of immortal glory, and shining much more brightly than the sun. Their love and charity for one another is more than can be conceived: they have all but one heart, one will and one soul: so that the joy and satisfaction of every one is multiplied to as many fold, as there are blessed souls and angels in heaven, by the inexpressible delight that each one takes, in the happiness of all and every one of the rest. Christians, let us imitate their virtues here, that we may come to their happy society hereafter, and with them eternally sing to our God the immortal song of Sion.
5. Consider, that what renders all the joys of heaven, and the felicity of the blessed completely great, is the eternity of this bliss, and that infallible certainty and security which they enjoy, that their happiness is ever linked with God's eternity; that as long as God shall be God, they shall be with him in his blessed kingdom. O! my soul, how pleasant, how delightful it is to look forward into this vast eternity, and there to lose thyself in this happy prospect of endless ages! O! bless thy God, who has prepared these immortal joys for the reward of such small services, and designed them for all eternity for thee! Nor shall this immense eternity render these enjoyments anywise disagreeable or tedious by the length of the possession; but as God is an endless ocean of all good, and his divine essence an inexhaustible infinite treasure of delights, so the happiness of those that eternally enjoy him shall be always fresh, always new. Conclude then, Christian soul, to contemn and forsake all that is earthly and temporal, and from this hour, to begin thy journey towards this glorious, heavenly and eternal kingdom. There thou shalt find all that thy heart can desire, immortal honours, immense riches, pure and eternal pleasures, life, health, beauty never fading, &c. O! this alone is thy true home, the land of the living.