Of the Glorious Estate of the Saints in Heaven to which God cals all sinners repenting and be∣lieving.
1 PET. 5. 10.
THe Apostle Peter concludes his Epistle with a Petition in this verse, and a doxology in the next. In the Petition we have these parts:
First, The Object to whom this Petition is addressed, viz. God, de∣scribed by a glorious property sutable to the matter of the prayer, The God of all grace; he was to pray for grace, and therefore mentioneth the foun∣tain of grace. This is of great consolation, the people of God want more and Page 665 more grace, and God is cloathed with allsufficiency: if you want it, you know where to be supplied.
Secondly, God is described by a gracious effect of this grace, Who hath called us: This fountain was not sealed up, but diffuseth it self.
The term to which, of this grace, described in its nature to be Glory. Belie∣vers should lift up their heads at the very hearing of this: and there is the adjunct of it, eternal glory.
Fourthly, There is the meritorious cause of this grace, By Christ Jesus.
Fifthly, The matter prayed for, which is in the accumulation of many words together, Make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. Some do curiously enquire after a difference between every one of these: but I take them to be nothing but the vehement and holy Oratory of Paul affectionately expressing himself in his prayer for them, and they are most of them metaphorical words from the Artificer, who is careful to settle and establish his building. Now by the matter prayed for, viz. further perfection and establishment in grace, we may see even the best godly men, do need further addition and strengthning in grace. As he cried out, O me nunquam sapientem, so mayest thou, O me nunquam pium, still there is a further degree in every grace to be obtained. There is im∣perfection, and there must be continual correcting; but this is not the matter I intend, I come therefore to my purposed subject in this Text; and that is the term to which, of Gods gracious effect mentioned in the Text, Who hath called us to eternal glory; That which the eye hath not seen, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive; that we are now to treat of, or rather to stammer about, viz. that infinite and everlasting glory which God cals wretched sinners, but repenting and believing unto. He hath called us into it: This sheweth how close and intimate that fruition is we have of this glory. It may never trouble a man to part with his beloved lusts and sins, which are but for a moment, for this eternal glory; it is to part with dirt and dung to have gold and precious stones.
For the further opening of this you must know there is a two-fold end of Gods calling us, the near and proxim one, and that is, Repentance and Faith: So the first thing God cals wicked and sinful men unto, is truly to repent of their sinne, and stedfastly to believe in him; But secondly, There is the remote and further end, which is Salvation and Eternal Glory. Of this we are to speak at this time.
God cals sinners repenting and believing, to no lesse then infinite and eternal*Glory.
This point certainly may much affect you; for did the Devil think by show∣ing the glory of the world to tempt Christ to worship him? and shall not we by the discovery of this heavenly glory, make you fall down and worship, and obey God who hath promised to give this unto all those that do so to him? There is a parallel place, 1 Thess. 2. 12. Who hath called us unto his kingdom and glory. What un∣speakable condescention is this, that God should take us, and put us into a commu∣nion with him of kingdom and glory, to set us upon thrones next to Christ and him, yet the Scripture doth frequently insist on this glory that God intends to put on those that obey his calling. To open this, if they were so many dayes to purify and prepare themselves for hearing the Law, which was a ministration of death, and there was such glory on Moses his face in the delivering of it, that the people could not stedfastly behold him: Certainly there ought to be more cleansing and preparing of the soul to receive the Doctrine of this Gospel-glory. We can onely shew you the back-parts of it, for we cannot comprehend it in all its fulnesse, no more then a little shell can hold the Ocean.
We shall first speak of the Nature of this Glory, and then the Properties. And
First, The Nature of it is seen in discovering the object to be enjoyed by us to all*Page 666eternity, and that is God himself, the perfect, universal and sufficient good. Our glory is in this, that we enjoy God to all eternity, who is the inexhausted sea of all heavenly happinesse. See how David doth triumph in that enjoyment he hath of God in this life, which yet is but the cluster of grapes to that heavenly Ca∣naan. Whom have I in heaven but thee, and whom in earth but thee? Psal. 73. 25. And in other places, The Lord is my portion and my inheritance. So then, if God enjoyed by faith do give so great a blessedness to the soul in this life, how much more when he is enjoyed by immediate vision? This the Scripture cals, Seeing of God face to face, 1 Cor. 13. 12. So then, herein lieth this unspeakable glory, that whatsoever goodnesse, excellency, fulnesse and blessednesse is in God, the same is communicated unto the glorified Saint according to its capacity. Deus meus & omnia, said he: but this will be much more in Heaven, where not on∣ly our sinful, but our animal lives will be ended; Then shall we be with the Lord for ever, said Paul, that is spoken, as the compleat perfection of all happinesse.
Secondly, This glory which may be called formal or subjective, as the former ob∣jective,*lieth in the intellective and affective part of a man closing with, and enjoying of God. When we say we are made glorious by enjoying of God, the meaning is, the intellective and affective parts of the soul are wholly fixed upon him to their utmost desire and capacity; for the glory of a man must consist in his ra∣tional part, his understanding, will and affections, which are the best faculties, must be united to the best good, in the best manner. And
First, For the intellectual or knowing part of a man, its plain there can be nothing*of this happinesse, if that be not present. For as of an unknown thing there can be no desire, so neither any love or delight: and the more clear and intuitive this knowledge is, the more is our glory. Now the Scripture speaks, that we shall then see him face to face, not as in a glasse, 1 Cor. 13. 12. We shall know him even as we are known of him; and our glory is expressed in this phrase To see God. So then, herein will our blessednesse and glory be, that we shall fully and clearly know and behold all the excellency that is in God, all the objects and motives of love and delight. That as the bodily eye descrying the pulchritude of a sen∣sible object, presently kindles love in the heart, Ut vidi perii; So it is here, The soul of a man glorified, beholding all the admirable lovelinesse and excel∣lency in God, that holy and pure nature of his, those gracious and free acts of his love to us, is hereupon set on fire, and made glorious; That which the Apo∣stle prayeth for us here to attain, will then be compleated, To know the breadth, and length, and depth of the love of Christ Jesus, Ephes. 3. 18.
Again, This glory lieth in the affective part of the soul, whereby it takes in∣finite complacency and delight in God, who is thus made known; and certain∣ly, if good be the object of the will and love, then God being infinitely, uni∣versally and in an unlimited manner good; the will and affections of a man must needs be drawn out to the full.
Thirdly, That the soul of a man can thus gloriously enjoy God, its necessary that all the filth and loathsome spots of sinne should be wholly cleansed away: For as * long as there is any relique of this noisomnesse, as it is not fit or sutable for such a glorious object, as God is; so neither hath it compleat and full glory it self. The bloud of Christ was shed, that we might be without spot or wrin∣kle, or any such thing; but this lovelinesse cannot be obtained in this life. Its true, Christ in those spiritual Songs of Solomon, cals his Church, His Love, his Fair, his undefiled One, that she is altogether Lovely, but that is meerly because of the lovely Ornaments, and Excellency Christ put upon Her. But in Heaven this Lovelinesse will be inherent, she will have all this Glory inexistent, not imputed: Oh then what Tongue can expresse the glorious∣nesse of such a condition, when there shall not be the least imperfection, or defect in thy Grace, thy Love perfect Love, thy Delight in God a full and per∣fect Delight! Paul in Heaven doth no longer complain, When I would do good, Page 667 evil is present with me, Rom. 7. No, his heart is as godly and as holy as he can desire. This then is the glory that the called ones of God should breath after; when will the time come that all my spots and blemishes will be done away? I am as yet ashamed to see so much drosse and filth in my self; I blush because of my nakednesse; but the day is coming, when all things that are imperfect will be done away. This should exceedingly support them for the present in their conflicts and combates with sinne: Oh what shall they doe! Their hearts suffer violence within them, they are loathsome beasts in their own eyes; they doe not love to see themselves in the pure Glasse of Gods Word. Well, comfort thy self, the time is coming, thy Graces will be made perfect, thy Soul will be glorified with all fulnesse, not the least spot or ble∣mish in it.
Fourthly, This Glory will be in the enlarging and extending of all the fa∣culties*of the Soul to partake of God: For God being infinite, and the Soul of a limited and finite Nature, hath no proportion till God raise and elevate it up to that which of it self it could not doe. Hence the very Soul of an Infant dying a member of Christ, and glorified in Heaven, is stretch∣ed out to an actual capacity for the full enjoying of God. The Apostle Hebr. 12. calls them The spirits of just men made perfect. So that God doth widen and enlarge the Soul of a man, whereby it doth partake of God, and hath communion with him in a more powerful and transcendent manner, then of it self it could have.
Fifthly, This Glory doth not onely stay on the Soul, but reacheth to the bo∣dy*also. Which the Scripture 1 Cor. 15. and in other places doth often speak of, Our vile bodies shall be made glorious bodies; That as the Artificer by his Art out of earth can make curious and resplendent glasses, so God much more out of the dust of our bodies, will make immortal, incorruptible and even spiritual bodies, as the Apostle cals them. The glory of our bodies is, First in the perfection of them; all the Defects, Imperfections, Deformities will then be quite removed. Secondly, In impassibility, there will be no pains, no Diseases, no bodily Grief, no Passion from, or suffering of, any offensive ob∣ject. Thirdly, In Immortality, it will be no more mortal, no more subject to fears and pains of Death. And lastly, In Agility, in quick Motions, We shall be snatched up into the Clouds, and be there with the Lord for ever: Oh who can believe that this vile house of clay shall ever be made such a golden Palace! who can ever think that so much glory should be put upon such vessels of disho∣nour and infirmities?
Sixthly, This Glory is not onely thus real and inherent, but it is also manife∣sted and revealed Glory in the eyes of others; For Glory is properly illustris*& clara notitia, the knowledge and favour of an excellency, the manifestati∣on of it to others; and thus the glory of called persons will be a known mani∣fested Glory. It will be seen by the eyes of the whole world, God will put the Robes and Crown of Glory upon them, in the midst of all persons at the Day of Judgement; Lo these are the persons whom I have thus honoured, the An∣gels they will bear witness of it; The Devils and wicked men condemned, they shall see it and gnash their teeth. Those men whom we scorned, derided, op∣posed, how doth God honour them? So then, God will hereafter put such visible glory upon his people, that all the world shall be witnesses of it; As yet it doth not appear, saith the Apostle, 1 Joh. 3. 2. but it shall be made mani∣fest. That as precious jewels have that naturally which covers their excellency, and the choice gold lieth in the earth, and at first sheweth not its full lustre, till by Art made so: So the godly who in this present life are despicable and un∣comely by their weaknesses, by their afflictions, by the outward meannesse of their Condition, will hereafter have all these rags pulled off, and the Page 668 day of their glorious Coronation will appear. This is for the Nature of their Glory, and for the Adjuncts and Properties of it they are admi∣rable. *
First, Its eternal Glory, it abideth for ever and ever. All the greatest out∣ward Glory and Pomp, is but like the burning of the Torch, Sic transit gloria mundi, but there needs no M•mento te hominem esse, Then shall we be with the Lord for ever: Oh that phrase For ever should astonish us, What is for ever? What is eternal glory? After thou hast sate down and thought, and thought still; Eternity is above thy thoughts. The fear of death is like Jonah's Gourd that eateth up all our outward Glory. You are but glorious Gloe-worms that shine for a night; but glorious Flowers that presently fade: Give me any world∣ly glory, of which you can say, it is eternal, that it is for ever; yea men of the greatest glory in this world have found it to be like a shadow, the longest before the night come upon them. King Solomon in all his glory was not above a Lilly, and a Lillies glory endureth but for a day, when cropt from its root. The Scri∣pture saith, Act. 24. 23. Agrippa and his wife came to the Court of Judicatory with great pomp, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, it was a great fancy that presently passeth away.
Secondly, This Glory is spiritual and heavenly as well as visible. The glory of * the body is indeed visible, and Heaven is a glorious visible place, but yet that which is the greatest glory is spiritual, the soul made holy and perfect; God who is the object of our glory is invisible; and although it be disputed, yet many conclude, that God is not seen with the bodily eye there, onely Christ because of his humane nature is; So then, the greatest part of this glory is spiritual and holy. And thus it is farre above the glory of the world, which is in outward sensible objects, that tend onely to a bodily and carnal de∣light. If the Queen of Sh•ba was so overwhelmed to see the external glory and pomp of Solomon, How can we be able to bear all that heavenly glory?
Thirdly, This Glory is sound and solid, it is that which hath a true bottom• Paul cals it, The eternal weight of Glory; and the Hebrew word for Glory signi∣fieth *weight: So that the glory of believers is substantial and real, it will in∣wardly and deeply possesse the whole man: whereas if you look upon the out∣ward glory of the world, its but a puff, a bladder, an empty nothing. This is a true solid glory, which is accepted of by God, to which he giveth his wit∣nesse, that it is true; What is it to have glory among men, and to be abomina∣ble before God? What is it for a while to have external pomp in this world, and then God to raise thee out of the dust to everlasting contempt and reproach? Thou gloriest in thy wealth, in thy beauty, in thy honours, but what is this to the glory in Heaven?
Lastly, This is an universal and entire glory. There is nothing of glory •o be desired which is not here; In the world all their glory hath some gall * or other to bitter it. Haman had much outward glory, yet because crost in his ambition about Mord•chai, all his glory did him no good; Solomon that made it his businesse to have all external happinesse, yet found a vexation and vanity in it. No worldly glory did ever satisfie a man, no more then the air or the winde will an hungry stomack: yet this heavenly glory is so perfect and compleat, that there is nothing to marre it, to corrupt it; and it hath this admirable effect that it doth wholly satisfie the desire, and yet excites it to desire it more: they desire no other happiness, no other glory, they are in their centre, yet they are never wearied, as they were of the Manna; but this glory is as admirable, as ravishing, as ever it was at the first moment they enjoyed it. This may be greatly improved practically.
Use. What good reason is there for every sinner called by Gods grace to part *Page 669 with any lust or sinne, though never so profitable, so pleasant, so delightful; for what is that sinne thou art so ende••ed unto? Is it comparable to this eternal glory? Oh the madness and folly o• men! Sinne and the devil, they call by their lusts to eternal horrour and torment, and men readily obey; but God cals to eternal glory, and they stop the ear. Hear, O heavens, and be astonished, O earth! wicked men do not believe or consider these things, or else the matter is so evi∣dent that it needs no deliberation, no dispute; for what is the chaff to the wheat, drosse to gold, gall to honey? Do then wicked men know what they do? These lusts are dear lusts to thee, they will deprive thee of this eternal glory, they will hinder thee of all this happinesse, and yet thou imbracest them.
Use 2. Of Instruction. How sad a thing it is to be moved to any good action * out of humane and vain-glory, when yet this solid eternal glory doth not affect thee. What is more ordinary, though nothing scarce more abominable; you shall have men to get glory and repute in the world, be diligent in the external profession of religion, when the true glory of God doth not at all move them; The Pharisees they prayed, they gave alms; why? out of vain-glory to have re∣pute with men. Thus its said of some that believed, but would not confesse Christ, that they loved the glory of men more then of God, Joh. 2. Oh let this me∣ditation make thee even a loathsom beast in thy own eyes; Shall I pray, preach, have religious conference, give alms, do justly, that men may praise me, that I may be exalted with humane glory, and neglect that eternal glory which we ought principally to seek after?
Use 3. Are people called out of their sins, and endued with grace to partake * of this eternal weight of glory? then what vanity is it to glory in any earthly thing, and yet to want this? Thou gloriest in thy birth, in thy prosperity, in thy outward greatnesse: but oh miserable wretch, if destitute of this eternal glory. Oh say, Its not for me to hold up my head, to go proudly, to fare deli∣ciously every day, but rather to throw my self in the dust and tumble upon the ground, and to cry out, Oh me miserable sinner, worse then beasts, undone for ever, till God fit me for this glory! Do not then glory in thy rich apparel, for that is but the excrement of an unreasonable creature; not in thy beauty that is the spoil of time and years; not in thy riches, they are winged birds that quickly flie away: No not in any thing, but in grace and the knowledge of God, which is accompanied with everlasting glory.
Use 4. Of Comfort unto the godly, who though despised, contemned, vili∣fied * and rejected as the off-scouring of the world, yet are sure to inherit eternal glory: Oh this should sweeten every affliction! this should make every bitter ••ll to be swallowed down! Doth not the Apostle bear up himself with this? We account not these light afflictions, which are but for a moment, comparable to that eternal weight of glory? See how he lessens his afflictions, they are but light ones, but the glory to come is weighty and eternal; Could the people of God live in a lively faith of this, make these things real to them, they would be above the fear of any outward losse, or the love of any unlawful advantage. He that hath the Sun needs not the star, or the Ocean, a drop.