ON THE HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN
Consider first, and ponder well those words of the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 9, that ‘eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.’ O! what then must this happiness of heaven, what must this eternal glory be, which so far exceeds all our thoughts and conceptions! God is infinite in all his attributes, in his majesty, power, wisdom, justice, &c., but his goodness and mercy, his liberality, bounty, and magnificence in his gifts and rewards overflow as it were the banks, and show themselves in a most extraordinary manner above all his works, Ps. cxliv. If then his justice be so terrible as we have seen, with regard to his enemies, how much more shall his mercy, his goodness, and his bounty declare themselves in favour of his friends? O what then must this blessed kingdom of heaven be, which in his infinite goodness he has prepared for his beloved children? – which he has contrived by his infinite wisdom, and effected by his infinite power, for the manifestation of his glory and for the entertaining them all with an eternal banquet worthy of himself?
Consider 2ndly, that if by the cost and price of a thing we may guess at its worth, we cannot make too advantageous a judgment of the happiness of heaven, the purchasing of which has cost the precious blood and life of the Son of God himself, which is indeed an infinite price; and which, notwithstanding his purchase, is not to be obtained by us without much pains and labour without many crosses and sufferings, and without giving up our whole selves in exchange for it: and after all, though we were to labour ever so hard all our lifetime for the acquiring of it, and should give ourselves and all things else for it, yet our labours, and all and whatsoever we can give, bear so little proportion with the greatness of this happiness that we are said even so to receive this water of life at free cost. Apoc. xxii. 17. Nay, though we should even suffer a thousand deaths for the sake of this eternal life, we are still assured, Rom. viii. 18, that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to this heavenly glory that is to come. So much does the bliss of heaven exceed all that we can say, think, or conceive.
Consider 3rdly, the definition divines give of beatitude, or eternal happiness, when they term it a state made perfect by assembling together, and comprising in itself all good things – Status omnium bonorum aggregatione perfectus – that is to say, a permanent and everlasting state, replenished with all that is good, without the least mixture of evil; a general and universal good, comprising at once and for ever all manner of good things, filing brimful the vast capacity of the affections and desires of the soul, and eternally securing her from all fear or danger of want or change. O my soul, see then thou turn all thy pursuits after this time and eternal felicity; all things else are but mere toys in comparison with this thy sovereign and universal good.
Conclude with most humble and hearty thanks to the infinite goodness of God, who before thou wast born hath prepared such an eternal happiness for thee, and provided all necessary means for thee to obtain it. But resolve at the same time to be diligent in the use of all these means of thy salvation. For he who ‘made thee without thy concurrence, will not save thee without thy concurrence.’ – St. Augustine.