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his vital influences ; living as it were only by Christ's life, without any remainder of spiritual death, or carnal life.
IV. Departed souls of saints are with Christ, as they enjoy a glorious and immediate intercourse and converse with him.
While we are present with our friends, we have oppor. tunity for that free and immediate conversation with them, which we cannot have in absence from them. And therefore, by reason of the vastly more free, perfect, and immediate intercourse with Christ, which the saints enjoy when absent from the body, they are fitly represented as present with him.
The most intimate intercourse becomes that relation which the saints stand in to Jesus Christ and especially becomes that most perfect and glorious union they shall be brought into with him in heaven. They are not merely Christ's servants, but his friends, John xv. 15. His brethren and companions ; Psal. cxxii. 8; yea, they are the spouse of Christ. They are espoused or betrothed to Christ while in the body; but when they go to heaven, they enter into the king's palace, their marriage with him is come, and the king brings them into his chambers indeed. They then go to dwell with Christ constantly, to enjoy the most perfect converse with him. Christ conversed in the most friendly manner with his disciples on earth; he admitted one of them to lean on bis bosom; but they are admitted much more fully and freely to converse with him in heaven. Though Christ be there in a state of glorious exaltation, reigning in the majesty and glory of the sovereign Lord and God of heaven and earth, angels and men; yet this will not hinder intimacy and freedom of intercourse, but rather promote it. For he is thus exalted, not only for himself, but for them; he is instated in this glory of head over ali things for their sakes, that they might be exalted and glorified; and when they go to heaven where he is, they are exalted and glorified with him; and shall not be kept at a more awful distance from Christ; but shall be admitted nearer and to a greater intimacy. For they shall be unspeakably more fit for it, and Christ in more fit circumstances to bestow on them this blessedness. Their seeing the great glory of their friend and Redeemer, will not awe them to a distance, and make them afraid of a near approach; but on the contrary, will most powerfully draw them near, and encourage and engage them to boly freedom. For they will know that it is he that is their own Redeemer, and beloved friend and bridegroom; the very same that loved them with a dying love, and redeemed them to God by his blood; Matth. xiv. 27. “ It is I ; be not afraid." Rev. i. 17, 18. “ Fear not :-I am he that liveth, and was dead." And the nature of this glory of Christ which they shall behold, will be such as will draw and encourage them; for they will not only see infinite majesty and greatness, but infinite grace, condescension, mildness, gentleness, and sweetness, equal to his majesty. For he appears in heaven, not only as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, but as the Lamb in the midst of the throne,” Rev. v.5, 6; and be shall be their shepherd, to “ feed them, and lead them to living fountains of water," Rev. vii. 17; so that the sight of Christ's great kingly majesty will be no terror to them; but will only serve the more to heighten their pleasure and surprise. When Mary was about to embrace Christ, being full of joy at the sight of him again alive after his crucifixion, Christ forbids her to do it for the present; because he was not yet ascended, John xx. 16, 17.“ Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni, which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not: for I am not yet ascended to my Father: But go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” As if he had said, “ This is not the time and place for that freedom your love to me desires : That is appointed for heaven, after my ascension. I am going thither : and you my true disciples, shall, as my brethren and companions, soon be with me in my glory. And then there shall be no restraint. That is the place appointed for the most perfect expressions of complacence and endearment, and full enjoyment of mutual love." And accordingly the souls of departed saints with Christ in heaven, shall have Christ as it were unbosomed unto them, manifesting those infinite riches of love towards them, that have been there from eternity: and they shall be enabled to express their love to him, in an incomparably better manner than ever they could while in the body. Thus they shall eat and drink abundantly, and swim in the ocean of love, and be eternally swallowed up on the infinitely bright, and infinitely mild and sweet beams of divine love; eternally receiving that light, eternally full of it, and eternally compassed round with it, and everlastingly reflecting it back again to its fountain,
V. The souls of the saints, when they leave their bodies at death, go to be with Christ, as they are received to a glorious fellowship with Christ in his blessedness.
As the wite is received to a joint possession of her busband's estate, and as the wife of a prince partakes with him in his princely possessions and honours; so the church, the spouse of Christ, when the marriage comes, and she is received to dwell with bim in heaven, shall partake with him in bis glory. When Christ rose from the dead, and took possession of eternal life; this was not as a private person, but as the public head of all his redeemed people. He took pos, session of it for them, as well as for himself; and they are « quickened together with him, and raised up together."And so when he ascended into heaven, and was exalted to
great glory there, this also was as a public person: he took possession of heaven not only for himself, but his people, as iheir forerunner and head, that they might ascend also," and sit together in heavenly places with him," Eph. ii. 5, 6, “ Christ writes upon them his new name," Rev. iii. 12. i. He makes them partakers of his own glory and exaltation in heaven. His new name is that new honour and glory that the Father invested him with, wben he set bim on his own right hand : As a prince, when he adyances any one to new dignity in his kingdom, gives him a new title, Christ and his saints shall be glorified together, Rom. vii. 17.
The saints in heaven bave communion, or a joint participation with Christ in his glory and blessedness in heaven, in the following respects more especially.
1. They partake with him in the ineffable delights he has in heaven, in the enjoyment of his father,
When Christ ascended into heaven, he was received to a glorious and peculiar joy and blessedness in the enjoyment of his father, who in his passion hid his face from him such an enjoyment as became the relation he stood in to the Father, and such as was a meet reward for the great and hard service he bad performed on earth. Then God shewed him the path of life, and brought him into his presence, where is fulness of joy, and to sit on his right hand, where there are pleasures for evermore," as Psal. xvi. 11. 6 Then the Father made him most blessed for ever : he made him exceeding glad with his countenance;" as in Psal. xxi. 6. The saints, by virtue of their union with Christ, and being his members, do in some sort partake of his child-like relation to the Father; and so are heirs with him of his happiness in the enjoyment of bis Father; as seems to be intimated by the apostle, in Gal. iv. 447. The spouse of Christ, by virtue of her espousals to that only begotten Son of God, is, as it were, a partaker of his filial relation to God, and becomes the King's daughter, Psal. xly. 13; and so partakes with her divine husband in his enjoyment of “ bis Father and her Father, his God and her God.”. A promise of this seems to be implied in those words of Christ to Mary, John xx. 17. Thus Christ's faithful servants “ enter into the joy of their Lord,” Matth. xxv. 21-23; and “ Christ's joy remains in them;" agreeable to those words of Christ, John xv. 11. Christ from eternity is, as it were, in the bosom of the Father, as the object of his infinite compla
In him is the Father's eternal happiness. Before the world was, he was with the Father, in the enjoyment of his infinite love; and had infinite delight and blessedness in that enjoyment; as he declares of himself in Prov. viii. 30. “ Then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” And when Christ ascended to the Father after his passion, he went to him, to the enjoyment of the same glory and blessedness in the enjoyment of his love ; agreeable to bis prayer the evening before his crucifixion, John xvii. 5. “ And now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory I had with thce before the world was." And in the same prayer, he manifests it to be his will, that his true disciples should be with him in the enjoyment of that joy and glory, wbich he then asked for himself; verse 13. « That my joy might be fulfilled in themselves ;” verse 22. “ And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them.” This glory and joy of Christ, which the saints are to enjoy with him, is that which he has in the enjoyment of the Father's infinite love to him; as appears by the last words of that prayer of our Lord, verse 26. “ That the love wherewith thou hast loved me, may be in them, and I in them." The love which the Father has to his Son is great indeed; the Deity does, as it were, wholly and entirely flow out in a stream of love to Christ; and the joy and pleasure of Christ is proportionably great. This is the stream of Christ's delights, the river of his infinite pleasure; which he will make his saints to drink of with him; agreeable to Psal. xxxvi. 8, 9. “They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house: thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures. For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” The saints shall have pleasure in partaking with Christ in his pleasure, and shall see light in his light. They shall partake with Christ of the same river of pleasure, shall drink of the same water of life, and of the same new wine in the Father's kingdom ; Matth. xxvi. 29. That new wine is especially the joy and happiness that Christ and bis true disciples shall partake of together in glory, which is the purchase of Christ's blood, or the reward of his obedience unto death. Christ, at his ascension into beaven, received everlasting pleasures at his Father's right hand, and in the enjoyment of his love, as tbe reward of bis own death, or obedience unto death. But the same righteousness is reckoned to both bead and members; and both shall have fellowship in the same reward, each according to their distinct capacity.
That the saints in heaven have such a communion with Christ in his joy, and do so partake with him in his own enjoyment of the Father, greatly manifests the transcendent excellency of their happiness, and their being admitted to a vastly higher privilege in glory than the angels.
2. The saints in heaven are received to a fellowship or participation with Christ, in the glory of that dominion to which the Father bath exalted him.
The saints, when they ascend to heaven, and are made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, and are partakers
of the glory of his exaltation, are exalted to reign with him. They are through him made kings and priests, and reign with him, and in bim, over the same kingdom. As the Father hath appointed unto him a kingdom, so he has appointed to them. The Father has appointed the Son to reign over his own kingdom, and the Son appoints his saints to reign in his. The Father bas given to Christ to sit with him on his throne, and Christ gives to the saints to sit with him on his throne, agreeable to Christ's promise ; Rev. iii. 21. Cbrist, as God's Son, is the heir of bis kingdom, and the saints are joint heirs with Christ; which implies, that they are heirs of the same inheritance, to possess the same kingdom, in and with him, according to their capacity. Christ in his kingdom reigns over heaven and earth; he is appointed the heir of all things; and so all things are the saints'; “ whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come,” all are theirs; because they are Christ's, and united to him, 1 Cor. iii. 21–23. The angels are given to Christ as a part of his dominion; they are all given to wait upon him as ministering spirits to him; so also they all, even the highest and most dignified of them, are “ministering spirits, to minister to them who are the heirs of salvation." They are Christ's angels, and they are also their angels. Such is the saints' union with Christ, and their interest in him, that what he possesses, they possess, in a much more perfect and blessed manner than if all things were given to them separately, and by themselves, to be disposed of according to their discretion. They are now disposed of so as, in every respect, to be most for their blessedness, by an infinitely better discretion than their own; and in being disposed of by their head and husband, between wbom and them there is the most perfect union of hearts, and the most perfect union of wills.
As the glorified spouse of this great King reigns with and in him, in his dominion over the universe, so more especially does she partake with him in the joy and glory of his reign in his kingdom of grace; wbich is more peculiarly the kingdom that he possesses as head of the church, and is that kingdom wherein she is more especially interested. It was especially to reign in this kingdom, that God the Father exalted him to his throne in heaven : he set his king on his holy hill of Zion, especially that he might reign over Zion, or over his church, in bis kingdom of grace; and that he might be under the best advantages to carry on the designs of his love in this lower world. And therefore undoubtedly the saints in heaven are partakers with Christ in the joy and glory of the advancement and prosperity of his kingdom of grace on earth, and success of his gospel here, which he looks on as the peculiar glory of his reign. The good shepherd rejoices