Happiness of HeavenMiscellanies by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
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272. Happiness of Heaven. (See also M 95) It is not only for want of sufficient accurateness, strength, and comprehension of mind, that from the motion of any one particular atom we cannot tell whether that ever has been that now is, in the whole extent of the creation, as to quantity of matter, figure, bulk, motion, distance, and everything that ever shall be.
477. Happiness of Heaven, vide Notes on John 4:14.
576. Heaven’s Happiness. If nothing be too much to be given to man, and to be done for man in the means of procuring his happiness, nothing will be too much to be given to him as the end, no degree of happiness is too great for him to enjoy.
When I think how great this happiness is, sometimes it is ready to seem almost incredible. But the death and sufferings of Christ make everything credible that belongs to this blessedness. For if God would so contrive to show his love in the manner and means of procuring our happiness, nothing can be incredible in the degree of happiness itself. If all that God does about it be of a piece, he will also set infinite wisdom on work to make their happiness and glory great in the degree of it. If God spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Nothing could have been such a confirmation of their blessedness as this.
585. Heaven’s Happiness. It has sometimes looked strange to me that men should be ever brought to such exceeding happiness as that of heaven seems to be, because we find that here providence will not suffer any great degree of happiness: when men have something in which they hope to find very great joy, there will be something to spoil it. Providence seems watchfully to take care they should have no exceeding joy and satisfaction in this world. But indeed this, instead of being one argument against the greatness of heaven’s happiness, seems to argue for it. For we cannot suppose that the reason why providence will not suffer men to enjoy great happiness here is that he is averse to the creature’s happiness, but because this is not a time for it. To everything there is an appointed season and time, and this agreeable to God’s method of dispensation, that a thing should be sought in vain out of its appointed time. God reserves happiness to be bestowed hereafter, that is the appointed time for it, and that is the reason he does not give it now. No man, let him be never so strong or wise, shall alter this divine establishment by anticipating happiness before his appointed time. It is so in all things. Sometimes there is an appointed time for man’s prosperity upon earth, and then nothing can hinder his prosperity; and then when that time is past, then comes an appointed time for his adversity, and then all things conspire for his ruin, and all his strength and skill shall not help him. History verifies this with respect to many kings, generals, and great men: one while they conquer all and nothing can stand before them (all things conspire for their advancement, and all that oppose it are confounded), and after a while it is right the reverse. So has it been with respect to the kingdoms and monarchies of the world: one while is their time to flourish, and then God will give all into their hands and will destroy those that oppose their flourishing, and then after that comes the time of their decay and ruin and then everything runs backward, and all helpers are vain. Jer. 27.
701. Happiness of Heaven Increasing. It is certain that the inhabitants of heaven do increase in their knowledge, “the angels know more than they did before Christ’s incarnation, for they are said to know by the church, i.e. by the dealings of God with the church, the manifold wisdom of God: and to desire to look into the account the gospel gives of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” Ridgley’s Body of Divinity, p. 61, 62. vol. 1.
721. Happiness of Heaven after the Resurrection — Their External Blessedness and Delight. As the saints after the resurrection will have an external part, or an outward man, distinct from their souls, so it necessarily follows that they shall have external perception, or sense, and doubtless then all their sense and all the perception that they have will be delighted and filled with happiness — every perceptive faculty shall be an inlet of delight. Particularly then, doubtless, they will have the seeing, which is the noblest of all the external senses, and then, without doubt, the most noble sense will receive most pleasure and delight. This sense will be immensely more perfect than now it is, and the external light of the heavenly world will be a perfectly different kind of light from the light of the sun, or any light in this world, exciting sensations or ideas in the beholders perfectly different, of which we can no more conceive than we can conceive of a color we never saw, or than a blind man can conceive of light and colors, a sort of light immensely more pleasant and glorious, in comparison of which the sun is a shade and his light but darkness. And this world, full of the light of the sun, is a world under the darkness of night, but heaven is a world of light affording inexpressible pleasure and delight to the beholders, immensely exceeding all sensitive delights in this world. That the light of heaven, which will be the light of the brightness of Christ’s glorious body, shall be a perfectly different sort of light from that of this world, seems evident from Rev. 21:11, and that it will be so, and will also be ravishingly sweet to the eye, is evident from the circumstances of Christ’s transfiguration; (see Note on 2 Pet. 1:11, to the end); and also from the circumstances of Moses’s vision of God in the mount. (See Note on Exo. 33:18 to the end, No. 266.)
But yet this pleasure from external perception will, in a sense, have God for its object, it will be in a sight of Christ’s external glory, and it will be so ordered in its degree and circumstances as to be wholly and absolutely subservient to a spiritual sight of that divine spiritual glory, of which this will be a semblance, as eternal representation, and subservient to the superior spiritual delights of the saints. This is as the body will in all respects be a spiritual body, and subservient to the happiness of the spirit, and there will be no tendency to, or danger of, inordinacy, or predominance. This visible glory will be subservient to a sense of spiritual glory, as the music of God’s praises is to the holy sense and pleasure of the mind, and more immediately so, because this that will be seen by the bodily eye will be God’s glory, but that music will not be so immediately God’s harmony.
741. Happiness of Heaven. There is scarce anything that can be conceived of or expressed, about the degree of the happiness of the saints in heaven, the degree of intimacy, of union and communion with Christ, and fullness of enjoyment of God, for which the consideration of the nature and circumstances of our redemption by Christ do not allow us and encourage us to hope. This redemption leaves nothing to hinder our highest exaltation, and the utmost intimacy, and fullness of enjoyment of God. Our being such guilty creatures would be no hindrance, because the blood of Christ has perfectly removed that, and by his obedience he has procured the contrary for us in the highest perfection and glory. The meanness of our nature need be no hindrance, for Christ is in our nature. There is an infinite distance between the human nature and the divine. The divine nature has that infinite majesty and greatness, whereby it is impossible that we should immediately approach to that, and converse with that, with that intimacy with which we might do to one who is in our own nature. Job wished for a near approach to God, but his complaint was that his mean nature did not allow of so near an approach to God as he desired: God’s majesty was too great for him. Job 9:32, etc. But now we have not this to keep us from the utmost nearness of access and intimacy of communion with Christ. For to remove this obstacle wholly out of the way, Christ has to come down, and taken upon him our nature. He is as Elihu tells Job he was according to his wish. He is a man as we are, and he also was formed out of the clay. This the church anciently wished for, before it came to pass, to that end that she might have greater opportunity of near access and intimacy of communion. Song 8:1, “O that thou wert my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother, when I should find thee without I would kiss thee, yea, I should not be despised.” Christ descending so low in uniting himself to our nature, tends to invite and encourage us to ascend to the most intimate converse with him, and encourages us that we shall be accepted and not despised therein. For we have this to consider of, that let us be never so bold in this kind of ascending, for Christ to allow us and accept us in it will not be a greater humbling himself than to take upon him our nature. Christ was made flesh and dwelt among us in a nature infinitely below his original nature, for this end, that we might have, as it were, the full possession and enjoyment of him. Again, it shows how much God designed to communicate himself to men, that he so communicated himself to the first and chief of elect men, the elder brother, and the head and representative of the rest, even so that this man should be the same person with one of the persons of the Trinity. It seems by this to have been God’s design to admit man as it were to the inmost fellowship with the Deity. There was, as it were, an eternal society in the Godhead in the Trinity of persons, and it seems to be God’s design to admit the church into the divine family, so that which Satan made use of as a temptation to our first parents, “Ye shall be as gods,” shall be fulfilled contrary to his design. The saints’ enjoyment of Christ shall be like the Son’s intimate enjoyment of the Father, John 17:21-24, “That they may be all one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me have I given them, that they may be one even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, even as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me, for thou loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:26, “That the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them.” The Son’s intimate enjoyment of the Father is expressed by this, that he is in the bosom of the Father. So we read that one of Christ’s disciples leaned on his bosom, John 13:23. These things imply not only that the saints shall have such an intimate enjoyment of the Son, but that they, through the Son, shall have a most intimate enjoyment of the Father. This may be argued from this: that the way which God has contrived to bring them to their happiness, is to unite them to the Son as members, which doubtless is that they may partake with the head, to whom they are so united, in his good. And so “our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3.
We have all reason to conclude that no degree of intimacy will be too much for the manhood of Christ, seeing that the divine Logos has been pleased to assume him into his very person. And therefore we may conclude that no degree of intimacy will be too great for others to be admitted to, of whom Christ is the head or chief, according to their capacity. For this is in some sort an example of God’s love to manhood, that he has so advanced manhood. He has done this to the head of manhood, to show forth what honor and happiness God designs for manhood, for the end of God’s assuming this particular manhood was the honor and happiness of the rest. Surely, therefore, we may well argue the greatness of the happiness of the rest from it. The assumption of the particular manhood of Christ was but as a means of the honor and advancement of the rest, and we may well argue the end from the means, and the excellency of the one from the excellency of the other.
Christ took on him our nature, that he might become our brother, and our companion. The saints are called Christ’s brethren, Heb. 2, and his followers. Heb. 1:9, “God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.” Psa. 45:8. The Hebrew word properly signifies a companion and comes from a root that properly signifies to consecrate, or to be joined with. This teaches both the saints’ intimate converse with, and enjoyment of, Christ, and their fellowship with him, or being joined with him in partaking with him in his glory and happiness.
But nothing so much confirms these things as the death and sufferings of Christ. “He that hath not withheld his own Son, but hath freely delivered him up for us all in death, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” If the consideration of the greatness of Christ’s condescension, in taking on him our nature, invites us to ascend high in our intimacy with him, and encourages us that he will condescend to allow us and accept us in it, then much more does his so condescending and humbling himself as he did in his last sufferings. No degree of the enjoyment of God that we can suppose, can require grace and condescension that exceeds what was requisite in order to God’s giving Christ to die, or will be a greater expression of love. Christ will not descend lower, nor shall we ascend higher, in having Christ for us, and giving himself to us in such a high degree of enjoyment, than to give himself to us to be our sacrifice, and to be for us in such a degree of suffering. It is certainly as much for God to give his Son to bear his wrath towards us, as it is to admit us to partake of his love towards him.
The latter in no respect seems no more too much to do for a creature, and for a mean worthless creature, than the former. Surely the majesty of God that did not hinder the one will not hinder the other, especially considering that one is the end of the other. We may more easily conceive that God would go far in bestowing happiness on an inferior nature, than that he would go far in bringing sufferings on an infinitely superior divine person, for the former is in itself agreeable to his nature, to the attribute of his goodness. But bringing suffering and evil on an innocent and glorious person, is in itself, in some respect, against his nature. If, therefore, God has done the latter in such a degree for those that are inferior, how shall he not freely do the former? It will not be in any respect a greater gift for Christ thus to give himself in enjoyment, than it was for him to give himself in suffering.
The sufferings of Christ for believers, also argue the greatness of intimacy with Christ, and fullness of enjoyment of him, that believers shall have, as it shows the fullness of propriety they shall have in him, or right that they have to him. Propriety in any person is just ground of boldness of access and freedom in enjoyment.
The beloved disciple John would not have made so free with Jesus Christ as to lean on his bosom, had not he looked upon him as his own. Christ did in effect give himself to the elect, to be theirs from eternity in the same covenant with the Father, in which the Father gave them to him to be his. And therefore Christ ever looked on himself to be theirs and they his; and Christ looked on himself to be so much theirs that he as it were spent himself for them. When he was on the earth, he had, in the eternal covenant of redemption, given his life to them, and so looked upon it as theirs, and laid it down for them when their good required it. He looked on his blood as theirs, and so spilt it for them when it was needed for their happiness. He looked on his flesh as theirs, and so gave it for their life. John 6:51, “The bread I will give is my flesh.” his heart was theirs; he had given it to them in the eternal covenant, and therefore he yielded it up to be broken for them, and to spill out his heart’s blood for them, being pierced by the wrath of God for their sins. He looked on his soul to be theirs, and therefore he poured out his soul unto death, and made his soul an offering for their sins. Thus he from eternity gave himself to them, and looked on them as having so great a propriety in him as amounted to his thus spending and being spent for them. And as he gave himself to them from eternity, so he is theirs to eternity. The right they have to him is an everlasting right: he is theirs and will be forever theirs. Now what greater ground can there be for believers to come boldly to Christ, and use the utmost liberty in access to him, and enjoyment of him? Will it argue Christ to be theirs in a higher degree, and for them to be admitted to the most perfectly intimate, free, and full enjoyment of Christ, than for him so to be as it were perfectly spent for them and utterly consumed in such extreme sufferings, and in the furnace of God’s wrath.
Again: If his enemies were admitted to be so free with Christ in persecuting and afflicting, and if Christ, as it were, yielded himself wholly into their hands to be mocked and spit upon, and that they might be as bold as they would in deriding and trampling on him and might execute their utmost malice and cruelty to make way for his friends’ enjoyment of him: — then doubtless his friends, for whom this was done, will be allowed to be as free with him in enjoying of him. He will yield himself as freely up to his friends to enjoy him, as he did to be abused by his enemies, seeing the former was the end of the latter. Christ will surely give himself as much to his saints as he has given himself for them.
He whose arms were expanded to suffer, to be nailed to the cross, will doubtless be opened as wide to embrace those for whom he suffered. He whose side, whose vitals, whose heart was opened to the spear of his enemies, to give access to their malice and cruelty, and to let out his blood, will doubtless be opened to admit the love of his saints. They may freely come even ad intima Christi, whence the blood has issued for them, the blood has made way for them.
God and Christ, who have begrudged nothing as too great to be done, too good to be given, as the means of the saints’ enjoyment of happiness, will not begrudge anything in the enjoyment itself.
The awful majesty of God now will not be in the way to hinder perfect freedom and intimacy in the enjoyment of God, any more than if God were our equal because that majesty has already been fully displayed, vindicated, and glorified in Christ’s blood. All that the honor of God’s awful majesty requires is abundantly answered already, by so great sufferings of so great a person. A sense of those wonderful sufferings of Christ for their sins will be ever fixed in their minds, and a sense of their dependence on those sufferings as the means of their obtaining that happiness. Sufficient care is taken in the method of salvation, that all that have the benefit of Christ’s salvation and the comforts and joys of it should have them sensibly on the foundation, that with their joys and comforts they should have a sense of their dependence on those sufferings and their validity, and that comforts should arise on the foundation of such a sense. And as God began to bestow comforts in this way here, so he will go on in heaven, for the joy and glory of heaven shall be enjoyed as in Christ, as the members of the Lamb slain, and the divine love and glory shall be manifested through him. And the sense they will have of this, together with a continued sight of the punishment of affronting this majesty in those who were of the same nature and circumstances with themselves, will be sufficient to keep up a due sense of the infinite awful majesty of God, without their being kept at a distance, even though all possible nearness and liberty should be allowed. All the ends of divine majesty are already answered fully and perfectly, so as to prepare the way for the most perfect union and communion without the least injury to the honor of that majesty.
Though it might seem that an admission to such a kind of fellowship with God perhaps could not be, without God’s own suffering, yet when Jesus Christ, a divine person, united to our nature, has been slain, way is made for it, seeing that he has been dead. The veil is rent from the top to the bottom by the death of Christ. Nothing of awful distance towards the believer can now be of any use, the way is all open to the boldest and nearest access, and he that was dead and alive again is ours fully and freely to enjoy.
Again: We may further argue from the misery of the damned, as God will have no manner of regard to the welfare of the damned, will have no pity, no merciful care, lest they should be too miserable. They will be perfectly lost and thrown away by God as to any manner of care for their good, or defense from any degree of misery. There will be no merciful restraint to God’s wrath. So on the contrary with respect to the saints: there will be no happiness too much for them, and God will not begrudge anything as too good for them. There will be no restraint to his love, and no restraint to their enjoyment of himself. Nothing will be too full, too inward and intimate for them to be admitted to, but Christ will say to his saints, as in Song 5:1, “Eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundance, O beloved.”
Corollary 1. Humiliation. Hence we may see a reason why humiliation should be required, in order to a title to those benefits, and why such abundant love has been exercised in all God’s dispensations with fallen man to make provision for man’s humiliation and self-diffidence, and self-emptiness. Why it is so ordered and contrived that it should not be by our own righteousness, but altogether by the righteousness of another, viz. that there might be the more effectual provision to keep the creature humble and in the place of a creature in such exceeding exaltation; and that the honor of God’s majesty and exaltation above the creature might in all be maintained; and how needful it is to believe those truths; and how far those doctrines are fundamental or important that tend to this; and how much they militate against the design and drift of God in the contrivance for our redemption, that maintain contrary doctrines.
Corollary 2. Hence we may learn that a believer has more to be free and bold in his access to Christ than to any other person in heaven or earth. The papists worship angels and saints as intercessors between Christ and them, because they say it is too much boldness to go to Christ, without some one to intercede for them. But we have far more to embolden and encourage us to go freely and immediately to Christ, than we can have to any of the angels. The angels are none of them so near to us as Christ is: we have not that propriety in them. Yea, we have a great deal more to encourage and invite us to freedom of access to, and communion with, Christ, than with a fellow worm. There is not the thousandth part of that to draw us to freedom and nearness towards them, as there is towards Christ. Yea, though Christ is so much above us, yet he is nearer to us than the saints themselves, for our nearness to them is by him; our relation to them is through him.
775. Happiness of Separate Saints. The proper time of Christ’s reward is not till after the end of the world, for he will not have finished the work of Mediator till then, but yet he has glorious rewards in heaven before. The proper time of the angels’ reward is not till the end of the world, and their work of attending on, and ministering to, Christ in his humbled militant state, both in himself and members, or body mystical, is not finished till them. But yet they are confirmed before, and have an exceeding reward before. The proper time of the saints’ reward is not in this world, nor is their work, their hard labor, trial, and sufferings, finished till death. But yet they are confirmed as soon as they believe, and have an earnest of their future inheritance, the first-fruits of the Spirit, now. And so, though the proper time of judgment and reward of all elect creatures is not till the end of the world, yet the saints have glorious rewards in heaven immediately after death.
777. Happiness of heaven is progressive and has various periods in which it has a new and glorious advancement and consists very much in beholding the manifestations that God makes of himself in the work of redemption. There can be no view or knowledge that one spiritual being can have of another, but it must be either immediate and intuitive or mediate or some manifestations or signs. An immediate and intuitive view of any mind, if it be consequent and dependent on the prior existence of what is viewed in that mind, is the very same with consciousness. For to have an immediate view of the idea and exercises of any mind, consequent on their existence, is the same as to have an immediate perception, sense, or feeling of them as they pass or exist in that mind. For there is no difference between immediate seeing ideas and immediate having them. Neither is there any difference between a created mind’s immediate view of the sense or feelings of a mind, either of pleasure or pain, and feeling the same: therefore a mind without some union of personality. If two spirits were so made of God, that the one evermore necessarily saw all that passed in the other’s mind fully and perceived it as in that mind, so that all the ideas and all the sense of things that was in one was fully viewed by the other, or a full idea of all was necessarily constantly excited in the one consequent on its being in the other and beheld as in the other, those two would to all intents and purposes be the same individual person. And if it were not constantly but only for a season, there would be for a season an union of personality, and if those seasons were determined by the will of one of them, viz. of him whose ideas were consequent on those of the other, when he pleased to turn the attention of his mind to the other, still the effect is the same — there is for a season an union of personality. If the ideas and sense that pass in one, though immediately perceived, yet are not fully perceived, but only in some degree, still this does not hinder the effects being the same, viz. an union of personality in some degree.
Therefore, there is no creature can thus have an immediate sight of God, but only Jesus Christ, who is in the bosom of God. For no creature can have such an immediate view of another created spirit. For if they could, they could search the heart and try the reins, but to see and search the heart is often spoken of as God’s prerogative, and as one thing God’s divinity and infinite exaltation above all creatures appears as God is called the invisible God, Col. 1:15; and the King eternal, immortal, invisible, 1 Tim 1:17; and he that is invisible, Heb. 11:27; and of whom it is said 1 John 4:12, “No man (in the original no one) hath seen God at any time,” and 1 Tim. 6:16, “who only hath immortality dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto whom no man (or no one) hath seen or can see.” I say this being is doubtless as invisible as created spirits, and it is not to be thought that gives no mere creature to an immediate sight or knowledge of any created spirit, but reserves it to himself and his Son as their great prerogative properly belonging to them, as God would admit them to an immediate sight or knowledge of himself, whom to know is an infinitely higher prerogative of the only begotten Son of God, who is in the bosom of the Father.
Jesus Christ is admitted to know God immediately, but the knowledge of all other creatures in heaven and earth is by means or by manifestations or signs held forth. And Jesus Christ who alone sees immediately, the grand medium of the knowledge of all others, they know no otherwise than by the exhibitions held forth in any by him as the Scripture is express, Mat. 11:27. “No man (in the Hebrew, no one) knoweth the Son but the Father neither knoweth any one the Father save the Son and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him,” and John 1:18, “No one hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father he hath declared him,” John 6:46. “Not that any one hath seen the Father save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father,”.
That beatifical vision that the saints have of God in heaven is in beholding the manifestations that he makes of himself in the work of redemption. For that arguing of the being and perfections of God that may be a priori do not seem to be called seeing God in Scripture, but only that which is by manifestations God makes of himself in his Son. All other ways of knowing God are by seeing him in Christ the Redeemer, the image of the invisible God, and in his works, or the effects of his perfections in his redemption and the fruits of it (which effects are the principal manifestation or shining forth of his perfections). And in conversing with them, by Christ, which conversation is chiefly about those things done and manifested in this work, if we may judge by the subject of God’s conversation with his church by his Word in this world. And so we may infer that business and employment of the saints so far as it consists in contemplation, praise and conversation is mainly in contemplating the wonders of this work, in praising God for the displays of his glory and love therein, and in conversing about things appertaining to it.
934. Happiness of Heaven. God doubtless will entertain his saints according to the state of the King of heaven, when he comes to entertain them at the feast that he has provided with such great contrivance and wonderful amazing exercises of infinite and mysterious wisdom, showing the bottomless depths and infinite riches of his wisdom, and with such great and mighty ado, and innumerable and wonderful exercises of his power. In order to provide this feast, he has created heaven and earth, and done all in all ages, bringing such great revolutions in such an amazing wonderful series. And besides that, he has come down himself from his infinite height and become man, and also provided the feast at such infinite expense as that of his own blood. We read of Ahasuerus, a great king, when he made a feast unto all his princes and servants, he showed the riches of his glorious kingdom, and the power of his excellent majesty, and gave drink in vessels of gold, and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king, Est. 1. So doubtless the happiness of the saints in heaven shall be so great, that the very majesty of God shall be exceedingly shown in the greatness, and magnificence, and fullness of their enjoyments and delights.
1059. Happiness of Heaven. That the happiness of the saints in heaven consists much in beholding the displays of God’s mercy towards his church on earth, may be strongly argued from those texts that speak of the just and the meek inheriting the earth, and their having in the present time much more given of this world, houses and lands, etc. than they parted with in the suffering state of the church. It also may be argued from Christ’s comforting his disciples, when about to leave them, that they should weep and lament and the world rejoice, yet their sorrow should be turned into joy, as a woman has sorrow in her travail, but much more than joy enough to balance it when she is delivered; from its being promised to the good man, Psa. 128, that he should see the prosperity of Jerusalem and peace in Israel; from the manner in which the promises of the future prosperity of the church were made of old to the church then in being; and from the manner in which the saints received them as all their salvation and all their desire, and are said to hope and wait for the fulfillment from time to time.
1061. Happiness of Heaven consisting much in beholding God’s works to wards his church on earth. God says to David, 2 Sam. 7, “Thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee. Thy throne shall be established for ever.” And a promise is made in the context concerning Solomon, that must be understood in the same sense, 2 Sam. 7:12-13, “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever.”
This promise concerning his kingdom and the kingdom of his Son, its being established forever after he was dead, is what David takes principal notice of, and is most affected with, as implying this greatest benefit, and speaks of other things conferred on him in his lifetime as a small thing, in comparison of it, 2 Sam. 7:19-20, “And this was yet a small thing, in thy sight, O Lord God; but thou hast spoken also of thy servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord God? And what can David say more unto thee? for thou, Lord God, knowest thy servant.” And this he insists upon chiefly in his prayer, and in the following verses. and this he elsewhere says is all his salvation and all his desire, or what he sets his heart upon more than anything whatsoever. And the promise is renewed to Solomon, 1 Kin. 9:5, “I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised unto David thy father; there shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.” And yet this same Solomon was thoroughly aware how little a man is benefited by the thought and hopes of what should be in the world after he is dead, which he shall never see or enjoy anything of. And he speaks of it as a great instance of men’s folly and vanity to set their hearts upon it and deprive themselves of present good for it. Ecc. 2:24, “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labours;” and Ecc. 3:12-13, “I know that there is no good in them but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat, and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labours; it is the gift of God.” Verse 22, “Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?” Ecc. 9:4-7, “A living dog is better than a dead lion — for the dead — have no more a reward — neither have they any more a portion for ever in anything that is done under the sun. Go thy way.”
The saints in heaven will be under advantages to see much more of it than the saints on earth, and to be every way more directly, fully, and perfectly acquainted with all that appertains to it, and that manifests the glory of it: the glory of God’s wisdom and other perfections in it. The blessed fruit and end of it, in the eternal glory and blessedness of the subjects of the work of God at that day, will be daily in their view, in those that come out of dying bodies to heaven. And the church in heaven will be much more concerned in it than one part of the church on earth shall be in the prosperity of another.
The blessedness of the church triumphant in heaven, and their joy and glory, will as much consist in beholding the success of Christ’s redemption on earth, and in as great proportion, as the joy that was set before Christ consists in it, or as the glory and reward of Christ as God-man and Mediator consists in it.
1072. Happiness of Heaven. The saints in heaven will enjoy God as their portion, and possess all things in the most excellent manner possible, in that they will have all in Christ their head. Christ their head is as it were their organ of enjoyment, but the capacity of enjoyment that this organ has, is of infinitely greater extent than the capacity of any of Christ’s members taken separately or by themselves, as the head of the natural body, by reason of its extensive and noble senses, has such a much greater capacity of enjoyment than the inferior members of the body by themselves. Were not the saints united to Christ, they could never enjoy God the Father in so excellent a manner as now they will in heaven, partaking with Christ in his enjoyment of him. And so they never could possess all the works of God in so excellent and glorious a manner as they do in their head, who has the absolute possession of all, and rules over all, and disposes all things according to his will. For by virtue of their union with Christ, they also shall rule over all. They shall sit with him in his throne, and reign over the same kingdom, as his body, and shall see all things disposed according to their will, for the will of the head will be the will of the whole body. Christ being their head, the gratifying of his will shall be as much for their happiness, as if it were their own will separately that was gratified. For they shall have no other will, as the natural body, head, and members have but one will, and on the other hand, the holy desires of the saints (as they will have no other desires) will be evermore Christ’s will. The appetite of the members will ever be the will of the head. If the whole universe were given to a saint separately, he could not fully possess it, his capacity would be too narrow. He would not know how to dispose of it for his own good, as the inferior members of the natural body would not know how to dispose of things that the body has possession of for their good, without the eyes or the head. And if the saints did know, they would not have strength sufficient, but in Christ their head they have perfect knowledge and infinite strength.
1137. Happiness of Heaven. When God had finished the work of creation, he is represented as resting, and being refreshed and rejoicing in his works. The apostle compares the happiness Christ entered into, after he had finished his labors and sufferings in the work of redemption, to this, Heb. 4:4, 10.
Therefore we may well suppose that very much of Christ’s happiness in heaven consists in beholding the glory of God appearing in the work of redemption, and so in rejoicing in his own work and reaping the sweet fruit of it, the glorious success of it, which was the joy that was set before him. And as the apostle represents the future happiness of the saints by a participation of God’s rest and Christ’s rest from their works, Heb. 4:4-11. This seems to argue two things, viz.
1. That the way that the saints will be happy in beholding the glory of God, will be very much in beholding the glory of his perfections in his works.
2. That the happiness of the saints in heaven, especially since Christ’s ascension, consisting in beholding God’s glory, will consist very much in seeing his glory in the work of redemption. The happiness of departed saints under the old Testament, consisted much in beholding the glory of God in the works of creation, and in beholding which, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” But their happiness, since Christ’s ascension, consists much more in beholding the glory of God in the work of redemption, since the old creation, in comparison of this, is no more mentioned, nor comes into mind. But they will be glad and rejoice forever in this work.
The beatific vision of God in heaven consists mostly in beholding the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, either in his work, or in his person as appearing in the glorified human nature.
Consider the following two works by Edwards that have been updated and republished for easy reading:
Ripe for Damnation: Sermons on the Book of Revelation – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). Are you hungry for more of Edwards’ sermons? On the book of Revelation? These new works are not found anywhere on A Puritan’s Mind, and there are new ones not found in his large 2 volume works. 4 deal with the plight of the wicked, and 2 deal with the bliss of saints in heaven. These sermons are powerful, practical, and biblical, glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ, and contain 2 never before published sermons.
Justification by Faith Alone – by Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758). In this classic work, Edwards covers the intricacies of how believers are made righteous only through Christ’s merits, and that this justifying righteousness is equally imputed to all elect believers. This is accomplished by the condition of faith as an instrument.