Mr. Prince's SERMON Upon the DEATH of Madam Stoddard.


The Fulness of Life and Joy in the Presence of God.

A SERMON Occasion'd By the DECEASE of Mrs. Martha Stoddard, Late CONSORT of the HONOURABLE Anthony Stoddard, Esq Feb. 11. 1747, 8. AEtatis 62.

Delivered In the South Church in BOSTON, on the Lord's Day after her Funeral.

By THOMAS PRINCE, M. A. And a Pastor of the said Church.

BOSTON: Printed by Kneeland and Green in Queen-Street. 1748.


A Funeral SERMON.

PSAL. xvi. 11.Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life: In thy Pre­sence is Fulness of Joy, at thy Right Hand there are Pleasures for evermore.

THE Title of this Psalm is Michtam of David: and Michtam seems to signify a Golden Ornament, or something made or embellished with the finest and brightest Gold. But whether it intimates some pe­culiar Excellency in the Matter; or the Name of a musical Instrument, Song, or Tune, which were to lead the Singing, seems uncertain. *

However, in this Divine Composure their appears a singular Excellency. And as it is usual in Poetical Performances both sacred and profane, for the Writer to express himself sometimes in his own Name, and sometimes in the Name of others; so the holy Psalmist under the Conduct of Inspiration, sometimes here writes in his own, sometimes in the Name of the MESSIAS, whose humane Nature, he rejoiced in the View of deriving from him, and sometimes in the Name of both together.

[Page 6] Thus he writes in the Name of CHRIST in the four last Ver­ses—I have set the LORD always before me: Because he is at my Right Hand, I shall not be moved: Therefore my Heart is glad and my Glory rejoiceth: My Flesh also shall rest in Hope: For thou wilt not leave my Soul in Hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy one to see Corruption: Thou wilt shew me the Path of Life; in thy Presence is Fulness of Joy, at thy Right Hand there are Pleasures for evermore.

For that these Speeches are meant of CHRIST in his human Nature; both the Apostle Peter in Acts ii, and the Apostle Paul in Acts xiii, most clearly show us.

By the Path of Life seems plainly to be meant the certain Way, which thro' all the Sufferings, Temptations, Darkness & Per­plexities of his State of Humiliation his human Nature was to pass, to its desired Life of Glory and Immortality. Of the Divine Conduct unto this, his human Soul is represented here as (1) expressing its Assurance; and then (2) of that Felicity giving this most agreeable Description—In thy Presence is Fulness of Joy, at thy Right Hand are Pleasures for evermore. And this doubt­less was the Joy we read was afterwards set before him, and did animate his viewing Soul to endure the Cross and despise the Shame, 'till he ascended and sat down at the Right Hand of the Throne of God. Heb. xii. 2.

But tho' these Passages are meant of CHRIST in his human Nature; yet no doubt the Psalmist, as far as was consistent with his own Condition, join'd in with them for himself: and while the SPIRIT of Prophesy presented him with that lively Prospect and Assurance which should rise in the humane Soul of CHRIST, of the Life and Joy at the Presence and Right Hand of GOD; the raised and holy Soul of David rejoiced also in the Views of this Felicity, and triumphed in the Prospect of his ar­riving to it.

The Words in the Original are exceeding full: both Life, Presence, Joy and Pleasure, being all expressed in the Plural Num­ber: as Montanus renders them exactly thus—Thou wilt make me know the Path of Lives; Fulness of Joys with thy Faces in thy Right Hand Delights perpetually▪ And on this, a learned Man observes—‘That the Prophet might express this Fulness of Joy and Pleasure, he uses the plural Number, to comprehend and signify every true Matter of Rejoicing, every Kind of Joy and Delight, and their most abounding Plenty and Variety.’ (r) [Page 7] And to this I may add, He might also express the Life in the plural Number, to signify every Supply, Degree and Exercise of Life, as the immediate Source of all.

By Life we are to understand that perfect Life which the Spi­rits of the sanctified Spring into on their parting from their Bodies; which filled both the Souls and Bodies of Enoch and Elijah at their Translation, and shall fill the Bodies of all the Saints in their glorious Change and Resurrection. And an ex­cellent Interpreter observes, that the final Term—For ever­more—is to be applied to Life, as well as to the two following Terms: For eternal is that Life as well as the Joy and Plea­sure. (d) And as Joy and Pleasure in the very Nature of Things imply a living Subject that perceives them; the Life must needs be full and eternal, that the Joy and Pleasure may be full and eternal also. Yea Moller judges, that ‘this Fulness of Joy and Pleasure is an amplified Description of that Life itself: As if the Psalmist had said—That Life has in it such an intimate Com­munion with the blessed GOD, wherein as before his Face we have a Fulness of Joys and Pleasures; not momentany, mixed or interrupted, as in the present State; but most pure, abun­dant and perpetual.’

And thou wilt shew or make me know the Path of Life, intends both a clear and sure Discovery made by the Divine Word and SPIRIT, to the enlightened and apprehending Mind, of the Way thereto; as also a certain and effectual Conduct till he should come to know by happy Experience what that perpetual Life and Fulness of Joys and Pleasures are. (m) ‘As if he had said; Thou wilt safely guide me unto Death; and then open to me an Entrance to eternal Life, and make me experience that highest Joy which thy Countenance or Presence, with the honourable Session at thy Right Hand, or the Bounty of thy Right Hand bestows.’ (d) Or as the inspired Asaph in Psal. lxxiii. 24, Thou shalt guide me by thy Counsel, and afterwards receive me to Glory.

But for the further Illustration of these Passages, I shall endea­vour briefly these four Things—

1. Consider what is that eternal Life which the Renewed upon their Dying are led into.

2. Show what may be intended by that Presence and Right Hand of GOD.

3. Lay open the Springs from whence the Joys and Pleasures there arise.

[Page 8] 4. And lastly, Take some Survey of the Fulness of Joys and Pleasures there for ever.

I. Consider what is that eternal Life which the Renewed upon their Dying are led into.

Now eternal Life is in Scripture used in these two Senses; (1) In a more strict and proper Sense, to signify, the Advancement of all the excellent Powers and Principles of the truly sanctifyed to their full Maturity or Perfection; (2) in a larger Sense, to comprehend both this Perfection, and all the Visions, Actions, [...] Pleasures, which the sanctified by Means of that perfect Life shall be employed in and enter­tained with for ever.

But I shall under this General Head consider eternal Life, only in the former or more restrained Sence, to signify the Ad­vancement of all the excellent Powers and Principles of the truly sanctified to their full Maturity. And as this eternal Life may be considered, either as subsisting only in their separate Spi­rits upon their Disolution from their Bodies; or as subsisting both in their united Souls and Bodies, which is now the Case of many Saints in the World above, and will be of all the rest at their General Resurrection, to Eternity; I shall yet more strictly confine my Views to that eternal Life sub­sisting only in the separate Spirits of the sanctified at their Dissolving from their Bodies.

Now as there are two Sorts of Powers and Principles in the sanctified Spirit; (1) Those which are called natural or essential; (2) Those which are called by some moral, and by others more agreeable to Scripture, spiritual, because produced by the Holy Spirit in his saving Work of Renovation, when he begins to sanctify the Sinner; so this blessed and eternal Life of the separate Spirit consisteth in the Advancement of these two diffe­rent Sorts of Powers and Principles to their full Maturity.

1. In this eternal Life of their seperate Spirits, all their ex­cellent natural or essential Powers are advanced to Perfection.

Many of these are now known to us: As the Powers of per­ceiving Themselves and other Objects and of being affected with them; the Powers of thinking, conceiving, remembring, comparing, penetrating, understanding, judging, and deciding; the Powers of approving and disapproving, of liking and dis­liking, loving and hating, desiring and Aversion; the Powers of refusing, chusing, resolving, contriving, moving, acting, pursuing, enjoying or delighting in those Objects, Actions or Conceptions that are agreable to us, &c.

[Page 9] Now all these known essential Powers of the sanctified Spirit, and all others, tho' in the present State unknown, upon their Separation at once awake and rise to their maturity of Strength, Activity and Vigour. Their Understandings are intirely right and clear, strong, sure and satisfying in all their Apprehensions, without Confusion, Darkness, Perplexity or Doubting: their Memories, tenacious, ready, exact and faithful: their Self-determining, Self-moving and active Powers of every Kind, ex­alted to their Ripeness or full Degree of Strength and Liveliness, answerable to the full Extent of their several original Capaci­ties: tho' as their Knowledge or Ideas grow, these Capacities may afterwards perhaps by the infinite Power of GOD enlarge for ever. Nor is their any Infirmity in any of their other essen­tial Faculties, but all advanced to their Perfection.

In short, they are made much like Angels in Activity & Power: And if they are cloathed with celestial Substances bro't by those holy Ministers from Heaven, like their own, inexpressibly more fine and active than any here below; as Origen the most learned of the ancient Fathers conceived, and as may possibly be hinted in Zech. iii, and 2 Cor. v; the Celerity of Light is nothing comparable to them. The All-sufficient GOD is their everlasting Strength: and as in him there is an eternal Scource of Life; a Stream of vital Power from him eternally flows thro' their Spi­rits, to quicken and keep them in their perpetual, unwearied and delightful Views, Perceptions, Actions and Enjoyments.

2. In this eternal Life of their separate Spirits, all their moral or spiritual Powers or Principles are advanced also to Perfection.

Their Spirits began to be made holy and righteous by the SPIRIT of Holiness in their Renovation: they then began to have the holy Image of GOD produced in them, began to be like him in all those Graces which resemble his moral Excellen­cies. In particular, in their highest Love to and Delight in Himself and all his Excellence and Blessedness; his Dominion, Sovereignty, Authority, Will and Glory, especially as display­ed in CHRIST the Mediator; with all the grateful Homage, Submission, Services and Adorations paid him both by Men and Angels: as also in their Love to Men, their Love of Benignity to all about them, and their Love of Complacency to all who resemble and honour him. Then he made them his Temples; took up his constant Dwelling; i. e. fixed his vital, gracious, reigning and improving Influence in them: and by his Help they persevered and grew in divine Light and Knowledge, Gifts and Graces towards maturity. Yet they were still imperfect▪ and [Page 10] a great Degree of moral Blindness, Error and Corruption re­mained in them, to their continual Grief, Abasement and Exci­tation; as the Apostle observes in Rom. vii, Phil. iii, &c.

But when their Spirits are freed from their vile & disordered Bodies; they are not only fully delivered from every Kind and Degree of Temptation, but also intirely purified from every sinful By [...]; yea they are made perfect in Holiness, as the A­postle signifies in Heb. xii. 23. All is Purity, Light & Holiness in them; and every Branch of Holiness made perfect.

With THEE, says David to GOD, is the Fountain of Life, in thy Light shall we see Light. Psal. xxxvi. 9. From the vital Power of GOD, there streams a glorious Light, which so strongly shines and gives them such a clear View of his transcendent Amiableness displayed in CHRIST, as perfects their Love to him and Complacency in him. They see nothing dimly as they [...] before, but in clear and open Vision, as of Face to Face when the Sun is risen. 1 Cor. xiii. Then with open Face they behold the Glory of the LORD, and are by his Spirit changed into his perfect Image in every moral Excellency: and this glo­rious Light will shine without a Shade for ever. Then every Grace is perfected, both in their Principles, Powers & Actings: and by the same almighty, quickening, and eternal Spirit which inspired and bro't them to this Perfection, will they for ever live and act without the least Decline or Weariness in their de­lightful Exercise.

Thus much of that eternal Life which the Spirits of the truly Sanctified are immediately advanced to upon their Expiration.

And as to the transformed Bodies of those now in Glory;—They are also full of this divine Life and Power, and in the ab­solute Influence of them. And I can't but think, that the sepa­rate Spirits of the Just made perfect, have such like Powers and Perceptions, especially seeing, speaking, singing, making Me­lody, and hearing, as the Angels and heavenly Hosts in Luke i, ii, and other Places; and as the Saints in their glorified Bodies, inconceivably more exquisite and perfect than any on Earth: tho' 'tis likely, those Bodies appearing like the Body of CHRIST, display some peculiar Glories; which excite in the others a Joy in the certain Prospect of their having in due Time also their Bodies raised and making the like Appearances.

We now come

II. To show what may be especially meant by the Presence and Right Hand of GOD▪ represented here as the Place of Hap­piness.

[Page 11] In thy Presence—The Hebrew Particle signifies both—With, Before and In: and the Name signifies, both Face, Countenance, and Presence. The Septuagint renders the Passage, and from them the Writer of the Acts, for the Sake of the Generality in those Parts of the World who then used that Version, cites the same—Thou shall make me full of Joy with thy Countenance. And a learned Modern thus explains it—In thy Presence; where I shall enjoy the full Sight of thy Face appearing in the kindest and most paternal Manner.’ (m)

At thy Right Hand‘The Hebrew Particle sometimes sig­nifies—Out of, With and At: But more properly, and chiefly—In, . And de Muis tells us—The learned Rabbi Kimbi observes, that Presence and Right Hand are Terms of Honour; citing Psal. cxl. 13. The Upright shall dwell in thy Presence; and Psal. cx. 1. Sit Thou at my Right Hand:That the learned Rabbi Ezra renders the Words—Pleasures in thy Right Hand; accounting they signify that highest Pleasure which the Soul enjoys in GOD; such Pleasure as one per­ceives when a Friend with his Hand holds to him a Gift of singular Excellence: And then adds, that this Term seems to represent the supream GOD as a munificent Prince, with a full Hand bestowing his Bounties on those about him.’

In thy Right Hand (1) Because this is the Place of Honour, Joys and Delights eternal: (a) (2) This also signifies his Favour and Benignity, as being bestowed by his Power & Mu­nificence. (r) As if he had said; With thy Right Hand thou bountifully givest these Pleasures to thy Children.’ (p) Or, the Presence of God and his Right Hand may intend the same; (m) to give us the more rais'd Ideas of the superior Honours, Favours, Joys and Pleasures of his pecular Presence, where this Life and Bliss of the Saints are perfect and perpetual.

For, the essential Presence of GOD we know is every where; both in the Heavens, Air, Earth, Seas and Hell; in ev'ry Part of the Creation, yea beyond▪ without any Bounds, and the same for ever.

[Page 12] By his Presence must then be meant some peculiar Place in the Creation, where he distinguishingly shows his Presence in the clearest, fullest and happiest Manner to the holy Angels & Saints translated, both those who already have their changed & raised Bodies, and those who have only their perfect Spirits; with the human Nature of our ascended SAVIOUR in the midst of all: and by his Right Hand is meant the distinguishing Favours and Honours he most freely and bounteously gives them there.

And this leads us on to these two Views—

(1) The Heavenly World, which he has made most suitable for the clearest, fullest and happiest Manifestations of Himself to Saints and Angels, and giving them the highest Favours and Felicities.

(2) The most glorious Manifestations of his Being, Presence, Excellence, Designs and Love, to the happy Creatures there.

1. By the Presence and Right Hand of GOD, we are led to [...]ew the highest Heaven or World above, sometimes called in Scripture the Heaven of Heavens, the third Heaven, and his holy Heaven.

The Air surrounding the Earth being, as to us, the nearest, First or lowest Heaven; the vast expanded Firmament, where the Planets, Comets, and fixed Stars appear, being the Second; Beyond them all, tho' there be ever so many Millions of Stars and Systems, there's the Third, the highest in Place, in Excellence and Dignity. This third Heaven seems by the immense, almighty Power of GOD to be formed round the other, as the fittest Place for the largest Display of his Glories, and to receive all the Transportations of the perfectly prepared Inhabitants from the Probationary Worlds below or comprehended in this mighty Concave. And if those Probationary Worlds should continue or succeed for ever; there is infinite Space adjoining beyond and round this Third Heaven, sufficient to entertain them to Eter­nity; and both the Inhabitants▪ the Hosts and Glories of that highest World may increase for ever.

But in the Contemplations of Immensity and Eternity, our most extended Tho'ts are swallowed up: and before the infinite GOD, we see, that all Nations, yea all Worlds are as nothing, and less than nothing, and Vanity.

However, of this Third and highest Heaven, there are glorious Things delivered and hinted in the sacred Ora cles. It is represented, in the highest Sense, as the Kingdom, the City, the Palace, the Temple, the Sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, and the Throne of GOD: as the high & holy Place where­in [Page 13] in he dwells, and the Habitation of his Holiness and Glory. It is described as being full of Light; and the Light so dazling, as no mortal Eye is able to approach and [...] ▪ Nothing of Impurity, nothing of Unloveliness, nothing hurtful, nothing disagreable, nothing vain or mean, nothing but what is perfect in Holiness, and in every amiable Excellency, shall ever enter there.

In fine, this is the happy Receptacle of all the glorified Saints of all Nations, Countries, Worlds and Ages; to which they are constantly ascending. This is the glad Resort from Time to Time of all the holy and blessed Angels: Thence are they con­tinually descending, with Pleasure to perform the Orders, ac­complish the Designs and advance the Glory of their Creator: Thither are they constantly ascending with their glad Tidings and happy Charges of perfect Spirits, to increase the Joy of Heaven itself, receive fresh Discoveries, and join with all the heavenly Hosts in their new Songs of Praise and Adorations. That is the holy Place whereinto CHRIST entered: There is the Throne of the SON of GOD in human Nature: There he shines perpetually in the Brightness of the FATHER's Glory, and the express Image of his Person: There both the perfect Saints and Angels are continually beholding, and adoring him: and that's the happy Place designed for the eternal Residence of all the Saints with their most illustrious HEAD, when they shall have received their raised and glorious Bodies, fashioned in a Likeness to his own, and presented to him in one vast Assembly arrayed in all their glittering Attire, as a Bride adorned for her Husband: Thither, after the Honours done them in the publick Judgment, shall they openly ascend together with him; and there admire and love, enjoy, praise and serve him, with su­pream and fresh Delight for ever.

2. By the Presence and Right Hand of GOD we are also led to take some View of the most glorious Manifestations of his Be­ing, Presence, Excellence, Designs and Love to the happy Crea­tures there.

By all the created Glories of that highest World, and the Perfection of the Saints & Angels there, that World is fitted to receive and bear the most glorious & happy Discoveries of GOD.

It is true indeed, the most capacious of them all, even the highest Arch-Angels that were ever made, being but finite, can never fully see his Excellence, or bear the full Display of his Majesty and Greatness: they want unbounded Capacity to take the unbounded View; and they want almighty Power to bear the Sight of infinite Degrees of Glory.

[Page 14] Not only Moses one of the holiest and highest Favourites of GOD among meer Men that ever liv'd, even after he came down from Sinai, was not able to enter into the Tabernacle when the Glory of the LORD filled it; Exod. xl. Nor had the holy Pro­phet Isaiah a Vision of Him as setting on a Throne high and lifted up in Solomon's Temple, without crying in Anguish, Wo is me, for I am undone: But he also saw the Seraphims them­selves, even while they were with two Wings flying to fulfil his Pleasure or to minister before him, yet covering with two Wings their Feet and with two more their Faces, and crying one to ano­ther,—Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts, the whole Earth is full of thy Glory! Isai. vi.

But what are the Manifestations of the Glory of GOD on the Earth his Footstool, or in a transient earthly Tabernacle or Temple below, to the Displays of his Glory in the Place of his Throne above, in that most holy and splendid Temple, not made with human Hands, but by his almighty Power, eternal in the highest Heaven? Surely these must be inconceivably more illustrious.

What these Manifestations are in particular, no mortal Eye has seen, nor Ear heard, nor have entred into the Heart of any on Earth to conceive. It seems to be vastly above our present Reach or Power, even to apprehend them: We are in the pre­sent State like Children of two Years old, to such a great Philoso­pher as Newton, or such a great Divine as Paul, in the Hights of their Improvements. And this seems to be the Reason they are no more revealed.

But in the General, that the SON of GOD in our glorified Na­ture in that heavenly World, is the principal, distinguished and visible Medium of those Manifestations. There are the highest Beauties both human and divine that can possibly appear, appear­ing in Him: In Him even the divine Perfections display their Glories; and in his Face the Saints and Angels, in a Manner yet unknown to us, behold them: In the Face of CHRIST they especially see the Rays of divine Wisdom, Purity, Justice, Holi­ness, Grace, Truth, Kindness, Love, Complacency, shining out, to their perpetual Wonder, Pleasure, Joy and Satisfaction; in such surprizing Radiations as we cannot now conceive. From his transporting Voice they also hear and receive those Revelations of the Nature and Love of GOD, and of the Excellence of his Designs and Works, which the universal Assembly of Saints and Angels are unable to discover: He also by his almighty SPIRIT helps them to the readiest, clearest and most surprizing Appre­hension [Page 15] of those Revelations: and where Words and Voices are not adequate to the Manifestations he wou'd give them; there He by inward Inspiration in their capacious, clear, strong and active Spirits, gives them such Discoveries as raise their yet higher Delights and Wonders.

But this brings us

III. To lay open the Springs from whence their Joys and Pleasures flow.

Now the original Spring of all, is the infinite Excellence and All-sufficiency of GOD: and thence his eternal Councils, Grace, Love and Designs of Happiness to innumerable Millions of Men and Angels: and in particular, the sovereign, wise kind and never to be broken Agreement of the Divine FATHER, WORD, and SPIRIT, before they began the World, to save and bring to Glory Multitudes which no Man can number, of the human Race, thro' all their Sinfulness and Wretchedness and mighty Oppositions. His universal Providence answerable to these most gracious and wise Designs and Resolutions. The Media­tion, Incarnation, perfect and meritorious Obedience, Sufferings, Purchase, Resurrection, Ascension, and various Mediatorial Offices of the SON of GOD in human Nature. His inspired Word and pious Ministers, and other Means of Grace and Salvation. The enlightening, awakening, humbling, renewing, and effectually calling them to repent and believe, by the ALMIGHTY SPIRIT; and thereupon their federal and vital Union to CHRIST and Interest in Him; their being pardoned, justified, reconciled to GOD, adopted among his Children to all their Privileges given in the well ordered, sure and everlasting Covenant; and the DIVINE SPIRIT dwelling and reigning in them, restraining them from Sin, exciting them to Duty, maintaining and advancing them in Grace, making all Things to work for Good, and ripening them for Glory. At their Dissolution, his making their Spirits perfect in Power & Holi­ness, as we observed before: On their ent [...]ing Eternity, giving them clear and open Views of heavenly Objects, and by his holy Angels swiftly carrying them to the World above. Lastly, the SON of GOD receiving and presenting them intirely spotless before the Presence of his Glory; showing them all the lovely Objects, and giving all the glorious Light and Manifestations there. And from all these Springs will rise in their happy Souls, full and ever flowing Streams of Joys and Pleasures.

[Page 16] [...] might enlarge on these; but shall somewhat further open them under our

IV. and last General Head; which is to take some Survey of the Fulness of their perpetual Joys & Pleasures in this glorious Presence in this heavenly World and Company.

Now this in General, is a Fulness answerable to all the various and growing Capacities of all the Saints and Angels there, and this continually & for ever. Or as a learned Man expresses it—‘As Vessels of various Sizes, tho' ever so capacious, dipt in this infinite Ocean, are and shall be always brim full of Joys and Pleasures, tho' they can never reach to comprehend the Ocean itself:—A Fulness beyond all that Faith or Hope [and I may add—Imagination] is now able to conceive—a Fulness that fills up all Desires [tho' in the Light of GOD ever so far ex­tended]—a Fulness of Fruition and of Satisfaction, without Satiety;’ (r) without the least Degree of Weariness, and without all Apprehension or Possibility of ending, intermitting or Decay for ever. For the infinite and perpetual Variety of Objects, Visions, Actions and Enjoyments, eternally supported and supplied by the Power of GOD, will render the happy Sub­jects as unweary of their full Joys and Pleasures, as that infinite Being is, of his own eternal Blessedness.

And they have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in such Things as These

On the one Hand, they always most clearly and surely see and find themselves delivered from every Kind of Sin and Trouble; Pollution, Guilt and Darkness; Infirmities, Imperfections, Va­nities; Enemies, Temptations, Dangers: and they always know, that by the unchangeable Truth of GOD, they are also eternally secured from them.

And on the other Hand, they always see and find themselves not only perfected in all their Powers and Graces, and in a won­drous Measure made like to CHRIST; but also all these Powers and Graces in a constant, various most lively and delightful Ex­ercise; all their Wants supplied, all their sensible Powers com­pleatly entertained, all their active Powers fully employed, all their Desires filled and satisfied: and they perpetually rejoyce that they are absolutely secure of all this for ever.

They have then a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in their perfect Views of all the glorious Objects, Revelations, Actions and Enjoyments of the heavenly World; and in viewing [Page 17] them all, thro' the Purchase of their admirable HEAD, their undissoluble Union to him, and the irrevocable Will and Gift of GOD, as their own rightful, absolute, unalienable, actual and eternal Inheritance.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in see­ing the innumerable Multitudes of Saints redeemed by the Blood of CHRIST out of every Kindred and Tongue and People and Nation, and made Priests and Kings with Themselves to GOD; both those who are there in their shining Bodies, like Moses and Elias in the Mount of Transfiguration, with those who are like themselves in their perfect Spirits, and those who follow 'till the universal Resurrection and Ascention, and thence to Eternity; and in particular Those, of whom they have read in Scripture, with all their pious Acquaintance; appearing in all their engaging Beauties, and eternally conversing and re­joycing with them.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures, in see­ing the holy and glorious Angels, the Seraphims and Cherubims, in all their Brightnesses; those ready and joyful Messengers of GOD, and powerful, kind, ready and faithful Ministers to them and all their Fellow-Heirs in the World below; receiving won­derful Intelligences by them, both concerning Themselves and Others, and of their Messages, Employments, Actions, Servi­ces, with the various Works of GOD in all the Worlds they have visited, and the Multitudes of Kindnesses received from them; and in their most friendly Converse will delight for ever.

They have a perpetual Fulness of yet higher Joys and Plea­sures in viewing the SON of GOD in our exalted Nature; the Sovereign Lord of all the Angels; yea the Ruler of the whole Creation: the supream Revealer of the divine Being, Nature, Subsistences & Perfections; of his Will, Designs and Works, and of his Excellencies in them: the personal Effulgence of his Glories: the Mediatorial Purchaser, Head and Saviour of in­numerable Multitudes of the ruined Race of Men, from their Sinfulness and Misery, to an eternal Likeness to himself, the perfect Vision of Him, and the most delightful Services in the World above for ever. And they have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in their most perfect Converse with Him; in continually and sensibly receiving vital and most delightful Influences and Improvements from Him; in his eternally beholding them with smiling Pleasure; and filling them perpetually with intellectual Light and Revelations.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in the clear Reviews of the original, ancient, sovereign Designs of [Page 18] Grace in the divine FATHER, WORD, & SPIRIT, for them, even in the Foresight of all their Vileness and Provocations; in re­viewing their most condescending and kind Regard in their united Councils and Covenant Transactions for them before the Foundation of the World;—and in tracing all the wondrous Steps of GOD agreeable thereto, from his first creating of this Heaven for them to their being translated to it.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in view­ing the amazing History of the SON of GOD from its Be­ginning, in the Rise and Progress of his Work of Mediation, thro' its innumerable Branches; in his various and mysterious Offices and Managements before he became incarnate, and then in his State of Abasement to his Ascention, and ever since in his Exaltation.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in view­ing the Works of the SPIRIT of Grace in all their wondrous Process from the Beginning, in all his various common & spe­cial Influence among the Nations in the several Ages:—especi­ally on those he sanctifies, and Themselves in particular, 'till he made them fully meet for their heavenly Inheritance.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in seeing their divine and glorified MEDIATOR opening to them and to all the admiring Hosts about them, the deep, extensive and full meaning of the inspired Scriptures—the mysterious Volumus of the vast & perfect Schemes, Designs and Works of GOD in the various Parts of his Creation and successive Providence, both with res­pect to Themselves and Others, both Men and Angels, both good and bad, both those who perish and those who are saved: showing them the surprizing Depths of his Council, Wisdom, Justice, Grace and Faithfulness in all; and especially in steer­ing them thro' their innumerable Dangers, making every Thing conspire to their Advantage, fulfilling all his Covenants and Promises, and bringing them to Glory.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in his revealing the infinitely various Histories of their Fellow Saints and Angels from their Creation; their various Genius's, Capa­cities, Situations, Helps, Improvements, Employments; the various Trains of Dispensations towards them, the divine Con­trivance and Perfections in them; and all subserving and ad­vancing the Glory of their CREATOR, and the universal Joy and Blessedness of the heavenly World for ever.

They have a Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in his opening to them and all the heavenly Hosts about them, the most [Page 19] surprizing Prospects of his future fulfilling all the Scripture Pro­mises and Prophecies, especially the Book of the Revelations, with other Predictions, he doubtless gives them in that lightsome World above, of wondrous Things to come: In particular, of his illustrious Descent with the New Jerusalem and all the Saints from Heaven; his changing the Dust of their Bodies into per­fectly pure, fine, spiritual and shining Substances; forming them in perfect Strength and Beauty, incorruptible, immortal, and like that most glorious Body of his they behold in Heaven with so much Admiration and Delight; the uniting and displaying of their perfect Spirits in them, and rising up to meet him; his Restitution of all Things here below to their pristine Excel­lence; the Glory of his long Reign on Earth; the Scenes of the universal Judgment; and their open Ascent with Him and all the Hosts of Saints in their glorious Bodies to that highest World again, to enter into new and further Visions & Delights for ever: In the Views of which they rejoyce continually, with Joy unspeakable and full of Glory.

Lastly, they have a perpetual Fulness of Joys and Pleasures in the perfect Adorations, Praises and delightful Services beyond our present Apprehension, which they and all the heavenly Hosts are always yielding to the divine FATHER, SON and SPIRIT, for all their Excellencies, Councils, Designs, Works and Reve­lations: To whom with the highest Joys and Pleasures they return all the Glory for ever and ever.

And thus have we taken some scant and faint Survey of the Fulness of perpetual Joys and Pleasures in the Presence and Right Hand of GOD in the heavenly World. And these are but some general Hints, which have risen in my Mind as I went along, and might easily be branched into numberless Par­ticulars. Nor have I given the Scriptures which suggest them, least I had interrupted their Connection and left out many of great Moment to enlighten the Subject.

We now conclude with some IMPROVEMENT. And

1. What a mean, contemptible, dark and wretched Place is this World below, in Comparison with that World above?

We have here indeed many wonderous Displays of GOD con­tinually both in his inspired Word and in his Works of Nature, Grace, and Providence: But few alas behold Him in them▪ few receive any sanctifying Influence by them; few are thereby raised up to see his supream Excellency, or supremely to ad­mire and love Him! How miserably dark and wrong are their [Page 20] Ideas both of his Word and Works, and even of GOD Himself in his Designs and Glories! And with respect to Multitudes of these, we are surrounded all about with Mysteries and live in Darkness.

How wretchedly mean and low are the Apprehensions of GOD, in the Minds of most; as if He were a Thing not worth the fearing, regarding, praying to, or thinking of! Yea, even in the Light of Inspiration, how exceeding faint their Belief of his very Being, Presence, Holiness and Justice; of his universal Providence, of the coming Judgment, and even the future Existence of their own immortal Spirits! And how much less their Belief of his Word and the glorious and most important Things therein revealed; concern­ing GOD and his Perfections, Laws and Government; of Hell and Heaven, of endless Misery & Blessedness; of their number­less and aggravated Sins, and their constant amazing Danger of sudden and eternal Ruin; of CHRIST the all-sufficient Medi­ator, of the HOLY GHOST the almighty Sanctifier, and the absolute Necessity of being redeemed by the one and sanctified by the other. They read and hear of these momentous Truths, as meer Amusements, and are unconcerned about them.

How horribly full of all Kinds of Corruption and heinous Wickedness are the Hearts and Lives of Men continually! of Impiety, Selfishness, Pride, Avarice, Sensuality, Deceit, and all other vile and hurtful Lusts, which drown them in Perdition! How full is this lower World of Idolatry, Profaness, Defiances of GOD and Enmities to one another! Tyrannies and Conten­tions; Drunkenness, Fornications and Adulteries; Stealing, Cheating, Lying and Defamations; Briberies and Partialities; Robberies, Oppressions, Persecutions, Cruelties, Murders, and all Kinds of Injuries and Violence! Multitudes a plundering, wounding and destroying each other—Distress of Persons, Families, Countries, Nations, and great Perplexities!—innu­merable Crosses, Losses, Wants and Troubles—Diseases, Pains and Death afflicting and devouring all before them; filling our Houses with Griefs and Cries, and leaving the Survivors to ex­pect soon to meet the same Fatality.

But now look up into the heavenly World—where none of these shall ever enter—and There is nothing but Perfection, Light and Glory, perfect Purity and Holiness—all the Saints and An­gels eternally united with each other and with the blessed GOD in one common Interest and Desire—intirely, purely, fervently and incessantly loving and delighting in each other—and There [Page 21] are suprizing, satisfying, and perpetual Visions & Enjoyments—the infinite GOD for ever filling, but not over-bearing their enlarged and growing Capacities, with such Views and Joys as he has Himself; eternally pouring the delightful Streams of his own undiminished Excellence & Blessedness into them, and eternally advancing them in their most joyous Likeness to Him.

2. How happy then are those who are got out of this sinful wretched World below into the Life of Glory and Presence of the blessed GOD in that World above; and with what sacred Pleasure should we by Faith behold them there?

In their sinful and imperfect Spirits, in their corrupt & vile Bodies, in this low, wicked and vexatious World, in the View of themselves and others, they groaned continually, as the A­postle signifies, being heavily burthened; and nothing but the sovereign Will, the gracious Promises and the Power of GOD, could bear them up from sinking in Dejection and Impatience.

But O the amazing Change at their Expiration!

From the horrid Visage of Death, they suddenly open to the delightful Views of most beauteous and friendly Angels round about them, receiving them into their welcome Arms and transporting them to Glory;—From hideous Darkness they sud­denly break into glorious Light;—From rending and distressing Pains they spring at once into ravishing Delights;—From a Satiety of Sorrows to a Plenitude of Joys:—And the happy Change so sudden, so surprizing, so extream; that nothing but the equal Increase of their Capacities and the mightier Power of GOD could support them under it, or render them able to bear it.

As they rise nearer the Glory of that World above, no doubt their Powers grow, to their own increasing Joy and Wonder, and the increasing Pleasure of the Angels about them.

But O! when they enter that blissful World—who can imagine the mutual and universal Joys, Congratulations, Looks and Triumphs between the REDEEMER and them, and all the Hosts of Saints and Angels There! Even the Glories & Joys of Heaven itself are enlarged, and more joyous Adorations than ever returned to GOD the sovereign Source and Giver of all the Glory and Blessedness.

And There we have satisfying Reason to apprehend is the happy Spirit of that honourable & excellent Gentlewoman, whose bodily Remains we last Week attended to the Grave.*

[Page 22] She was of a pleasant natural Temper; and this by Grace yet further improved and sweetned. I am well informed, she has been piously inclined from her early Days. And from my first Acquaintance with her, which was above thirty Years since, I could not but admire her singular Modesty, Discretion and Humility in all her Looks, Behaviour and Apparel; and for the excellent Ornament of a meek and quiet Spirit, which the Scrip­ture tells us is in the Sight of God of great Price. And this was the more remarkable in One of the chief of our Families both by Blood and Alliance, which GOD has been pleased to raise to eminent Honours in her Day; yet she never appeared in the least exalted or altered by them, but to persevere in the same humble and even Temper as ever.

Extreamly inoffensive and courteous in all her Conduct—In every Company, whenever she spake, it was with a natural Guard and Prudence; and yet in both her Looks and Voice, and even in her bodily Gestures, with graceful and unusual To­kens of Respect and Deference. And she was scarce ever known to utter a Word to the Disadvantage of any, not even of such as were unfriendly to those who were nearest & dearest to her.

She was in her Family, frequent in her retired Devotions, avoided all ostentatious Show of Religion, but was a constant and devout Attender on the publick Worship 'till prevailing Weakness hindered; and a Lover of all good People.

She was many Years exercis'd with great bodily Weakness, Illness and other Afflictions: but remarkably calm, submissive and patient in all: and in her final Sickness these Graces ap­peared in an eminent Manner. She said, GOD had weaned her from the World—and blessed Him for helping her by his gracious SPIRIT to prepare for her Change, before she came to her Death-Bed, and that she had not now this great Work to do. She renounced all Dependance on her own Worthiness—spake most lowly of Herself, and most highly of CHRIST—intirely trusted in Him, in his infinite Grace and Merits, in his Ability and Willingness to save her and give her eternal Life and Blessedness.

And being favoured with the Exercise of Reason and Speech to the last, she endured the Pangs of Death with great Tranqui­lity. Being asked by one, a little before her Expiration, whe­ther her Faith in CHRIST continued steady? she replied—O my Faith in CHRIST the Almighty Saviour is immoveable.—And [Page 23] with the pleasing Prospect of going to that admirable PERSON, she chearfully left this World, and resigned her Spirit to Him; to perfect it in Holiness, and receive it to Himself in Glory.

I might have justly said much more; but would rather keep within Bounds on such Occasions: And this may suffice, with the divine Help, to excite our Imitation of her amiable Vir­tues, and in particular the Wisdom of preparing timely for Eternity.

3. & lastly, Then eternal Life, and the State, the Glories, the Visions, Actions and Enjoyments of the heavenly World are highly worthy all our Seeking, Prayers, Strivings, Labours and Sufferings; and the securing and preparing for them should be the chief of our Thot's and Cares.

As there is no Proportion of Earth to Heaven, there is none of Time to Eternity; no Proportion of this temporal Life to Life eternal; no Proportion of the mean, scanty, momentany Joys and Pleasures of this World below, in the Fellowship of vanishing, imperfect Creatures, to the Fulness of the sublime Joys and Pleasures in the glorious Vision of GOD in the Face of CHRIST and the most intimate Communion with Him in the World above for ever. And a just, believing, and lively View of these Diversities in Comparison, would quickly lessen all the seeming Glories of this lower World, even of Crowns & King­doms, yea its universal Empire, to a Point or Nothing; and GOD alone, especially as he shows himself in that highest World, would appear great in our Eye.

If we should gain the whole Earth, which no meer Man ever did or can; what is it we should gain but a Place of almost infi­nite Corruptions, Cares, Toils, Disappointments, Dangers and Vexations? Or if we have all the earthly Pleasures Heart can think of; they are every Moment utterly uncertain, grow in­sipid in the Enjoyment; and we must quickly loose them, and therewith all the Comfort and all the Light of our Souls for ever: yea plunge at once into horrible Deeps of Darkness and Despair, surrounded with cruel Devils, deserted as they, vile as they▪ and wretched as they.

O who can look down into that hideous Abyss, without shrinking back with shuddering Horror, and without the utmost Efforts to avoid it! and who can look up to the Life & Glory of the World above, without the most ardent Desires & Labours to make them our own, and secure our Entrance into them!

[Page 24] Wherefore now to conclude—Let us most earnestly and perseveringly pray and labour, as in 2 Pet. [...]. 1, &c. ‘That we may obtain like precious Faith with the Apostles themselves, through the Righteousness of our GOD and Saviour JESUS CHRIST:—that he may effectually call us to Glory and Virtue:—that he may thereby give us exceeding great and precious Promises; and that by these we may be Partakers of the divine Nature, or Likeness, and escape the Corruption in the World thro' Lust:—that Grace and Peace may be multiplied to us thro' the Knowledge of GOD and of JESUS our LORD:—that giving all Diligence, we may add to our Faith, Virtue; and to Virtue, Knowledge; and to Knowledge, Temperance▪ and to Temperance, Patience; and to Pa­tience, Godliness; and to Godliness, Love of the Brethren; and to Love of the Brethren, universal Charity; and that these Graces may abound in us, that so we may not be un­fruitful in the Knowledge of our LORD JESUS CHRIST:—Lastly, that we may give Diligence to make our Calling and Election sure: For doing these Things, we shall never fall; but an Entrance shall be ministred to us abundantly into his everlasting Kingdom.’

What is comprehended in that Word—abundantly—we can­not fully conceive 'till we come to experience:—only This in General, that in Proportion to the Abundance of our Grace and glorifying GOD on Earth, will be the Abundance of our Bliss in entering Heaven. And every good Action, Suffering, Word, Endeavour, Purpose and Desire; yea every Grace and every Exercise of Grace in this World below, will so much the more increase the Glory of GOD, the Joy of the World above, and our eternal Blessedness.


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