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earth most precious and delightful; in either case they seem intended to place most expressly before our thoughts the beauty and magnificence of the future abode of the blessed.
The pleasant garden, and the crystal stream,
The tree of life which bears on every bough
Fruits fit for joy or healing; on the brow,
The branching palms; the raiment white as snow:
Are these the joys that heaven's abodes bestow?
If I but reach the mark, whate'er the prize
Is told, is told us by the only Wise :
Which Christ hath purchas'd, and which God supplies.
THE CONDITION OF THE BLESSED.
An observation, similar to that which closed the preceding section, is applicable to many of the phrases whereby Holy Scripture describes the future CONDITION of the blessed ; and which speak of their condition under the images of " a kingdom,
12 and a
66 treasure ; " a crown of life,” 4 “ of righteousness,"5 and “ of
4 glory;" 6 " a prize,"like that obtained by the
" conquerors in the ancient games, " the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;" 8 " an in
66 heritance,” 9 the portion of a beloved child in the property of an affectionate and opulent father, “an inheritance in the kingdom of God ;” 10 and which exhibit the good and faithful servants of Christ, who
« faithful in few things, as, in his own language, “ made rulers over many things;" or, in the language of his Apostle, appointed to " reign with him,” to “ reign in life.” 12 Such phrases as these may perhaps be regarded as figurative, rather than literal, representations of the future condition of the blessed ; at the same time they are unquestionably intended to be in a high degree expressive of the excellence of that condition, and full of encouragement to us in the pursuit of it.
Passing on, however, from these phrases, let us proceed to such as obviously require a literal interpretation.
That condition is described by the term “life.” “ If thou wilt enter into life,” said our blessed Redeemer, “ keep the commandments.” 13
· Luke xii. 32; Heb. xii. 28; James ii. 5.
4 Rev. ii. 10.
1 Cor. ix. 24. • Heb. ix. 15.
10 Eph. v. 5. 13 -2 Tim. ii. 12; Rom. v. 17.
3 Rev. iii. 11. 6 2 Tim. iv. 8. 8 Phil. iii. 14. 11 Matt. xxv. 23. 18 Matt. xix. 17.
this,” saith his beloved disciple, " was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” 1 And it is so termed in contradistinction from the frail and transitory existence which is assigned to us in this world, as where St. Paul speaks of “mortality being swallowed up of life:" 2 in contradistinction also from that intermediate state of death from which the blessed shall be raised, according to that promise of the Redeemer, “ he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:"3 and further, in contradistinction from that state of punishment, and insensibility to all enjoyment, to which the wicked will be abandoned, according to the saying of St. Paul, “ the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord;" 4 or, as when our Lord assures us, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” 5 And again, " The hour is coming
” in the which all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of Man, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation. 6 And representing what shall
11 John iv. 9.
2 2 Cor. v. 4.
* John xi 25. • John v. 29.
follow on the final doom, he says, “ And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal.” 1
This new life, to which the blessed will be admitted is to be of interminable duration, a restoration to their aboriginal state ; for as the author of the book of Wisdom beautifully says, “ God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity.' The epithet “everlasting," or “eternal,” which has occurred in some passages just cited, is frequently repeated by the writers of the New Testament in combination with the future life of the blessed. Thus again, in a corresponding phrase, our Lord Jesus Chirst is said to have
brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” ? And thus, reverting to those expressions which we before noticed as emblematical of the happiness of heaven, we find that the residence, to which the blessed are to be promoted, is “a city which hath foundations," 4 " a continuing city;” 5 that “ the kingdom” which they are to receive is
everlasting,” one that “ cannot be moved ;" 6 that their “ crown" is unfading, incorruptible; "?
' that their "treasures are such as 66 neither rust nor moth corrupteth, nor do thieves break through
· Matt. xxv. 16.
2 Wisd. ii. 23.
2 Pet. i. 11; Heb. xii. 28
and to you
and steal;" 1 that their “ inheritance" is “ incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” 2
This future life will also comprise in it all the particulars which make life desirable.
For instance, it will be a perpetual sabbath, an uninterrupted season of tranquillity and rest. 6. There remaineth therefore,” saith the Apostle to the Hebrews, “a rest to the people of God.”A “rest” it will be from persecution and affliction ; for as he saith to the Thessalonians, “ It is a righteous thing with God, to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,
who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.” 4
It will be a “rest” from toil and fatigue; for, as we read in the Revelation of the beloved John, “I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors." 5 It will be an exemption from worldly privations, sufferings, and anxieties; for, " they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters.” 6
An exemption from worldly affliction and distress ; for “God shall wipe away all tears
Matt. vi. 20. • 2 Thess. i. 6.
? 1 Pet. i. 4.
8 Heb. iv. 9.