ON THE ETERNAL ENJOYMENT OF GOD
Consider first, that although the kingdom of heaven abounds with all that can be imagined good and delightful, yet there is but one sovereign good, in the enjoyment of which consists the essential beatitude of heaven, and that is God himself, whom the blessed ever see as he truly is, face to face; and see him in the very centre of their own souls; and by the eternal contemplation of his infinite beauty and truth, together with all his divine attributes and attractions, they are quite ravished and set on fire with seraphic flames of eternal love. By means of this contemplation and love they are closely united by a most pure and amiable union with this sovereign and infinite good, and they eternally enjoy him. He surrounds and penetrates them on all sides with inexpressible delights; he fills their whole souls with himself, the overflowing source of all good; he gives himself to them to be their joy, their treasure, their never-ending bliss; he transforms them in a manner to himself, as when brass or iron in the furnace is perfectly penetrated by the fire it loseth in a manner its own nature, and becomes all flame and fire. O happy creatures! what can be wanting to complete your joys, who have within and without you the immense ocean of endless felicity?
Consider 2ndly, that what makes God himself infinitely and eternally happy is the eternal knowledge, love, and enjoyment of himself. For God himself is his own happiness; nothing less than his own immense divinity could ever make them happy. See then, my soul, the infinite riches of the bounty and goodness of thy God, who giveth his servants, in reward of their loyalty, so great a good that nothing greater an be given: even God himself can give nothing greater; since he giveth himself to them to be their possession and eternal inheritance; and what can be given greater than himself? O shall that not suffice, my soul, to make thee happy which maketh God himself happy! Who than can be able to conceive the least part of the joy, peace, and pleasure which that soul must experience that sees herself thus full of God and enjoying him! O how happily does she here lose herself – downed in an ocean of delights – an immense ocean, where she can neither find surface nor bottom, nor any shore, because it is on every side incomprehensible and infinite.
Consider 3rdly, in what manner all the powers of these blessed souls, which are thus full of God, are eternally employed. Their understanding elevated by the light of glory, and in this light of God, seeing God, they ever contemplate with infinite delight this sovereign and universal truth, and in him see all truths, penetrate into the secrets of God and the sublimest mysteries, and are even let into the closet of his heart, to see there the immense treasure of his love for us, and all the wonders he works in time and eternity in consequence of this love. Their memory is continually occupied with the remembrance of all their God has ever done for them; his creating them out of his own pure goodness, for the eternal enjoyment of himself; his redeeming them with the blood of his divine Son; and through him opening to them an inexhaustible source of mercy, grace, and all good; his manifold preservations, by which he has so often delivered them both from a temporal and an eternal death; and his innumerable other benefits and distinguishing favours. Their will all set on fire with the sight of the infinite beauty and infinite goodness of their God, loves him without ceasing and without measure, and perfectly consumes herself in the flames of an eternal love; she lays fast hold on this her sovereign good; she embraces him, she eternally adheres to him, and by a thrice happy union she becomes in a manner the same thing with her divine lover.
Conclude to employ here all the powers of thy soul upon God, by the practice of mental prayer and recollection, and to accustom them now to that kind of exercise which thou hopest will be their eternal occupation. Thus mayest thou, by contemplation and love, in some measure anticipate here upon earth the joys of heaven.