ON A HAPPY ETERNITY
Consider first, that what completes the happiness of the servants of God in his heavenly kingdom is the eternity and the absolute security of all their enjoyments in every branch of their bliss. Their joys are even linked with God’s eternity; and by the unalterable decrees of his divine love, they can no more cease to be happy than he can cease to be God. The honours, riches, and pleasures of this world are all, alas! short and momentary – could they even continue with us for the whole time of our life (which is seldom or never the case) they could be of no better condition than this our mortal life; which is ‘but a vapour which appeareth for a little while, and presently vanishes and is seen no more,’ St. James iv. 15. And though we would give the whole world to secure to ourselves but one day the enjoyment of them, we should not be able to purchase any such security. How long then, O ye children of men, will ye be in love with these empty vanities? How long will you suffer yourselves to be imposed upon with lies and deceits? Give but your hearts in earnest to God; give yourselves up to divine love, and, instead of these vain worldly toys, which at the best you can only enjoy for an uncertain moment, you shall secure to yourselves all good from your God for endless ages.
Consider 2ndly, Christian soul, and look forward into this immense eternity of the incomprehensible and never-ending felicity which is prepared for thee in heaven, to reward thy fidelity in the love and service of thy God, and to recompense the short labours and sufferings of thy mortal life. O what a pleasure it is to lose one’s self in the happy prospect of this boundless ocean of eternity! O what an unspeakable joy to think of being for ever plunged into the immense abyss of the divinity itself! What a delight to be counting up millions of millions of ages, crowned with all the honours, riches, and enjoyments of the heavenly paradise; and after all to find one’s self no nearer the end of this felicity than when one first set out. The thought of this blessed eternity inspired St. Teresa, when yet an infant, with a contempt of all those things that pass away with time, and with a desire of giving up her life for the love of Christ. She often repeated with great feeling those words: ‘For ever, for ever, for ever,’ and in the meditation on these eternal years a bright fire of devotion was enkindled in her soul. O let the like thought inspire us with the like affections.
Consider 3rdly, that in this eternal bliss there is not only an absolute security of their joys never having an end, but also an assurance that they shall never suffer the least decay or diminution, or any ways become tedious or less agreeable by the infinite length of the possession of them. For as the God whom the blessed perpetually enjoy is every way infinite and incomprehensible, being an immense ocean of all good, an inexhaustible treasure of all happiness; so the joy, pleasure, and delight of those that eternally enjoy him is ever fresh and ever new, and continually fills the whole capacity and fully satisfies the whole appetite of their souls. O! how ‘blessed then must they be that dwell in thy house, O Lord. for ever and ever thy shall praise thee,’ Ps lxxxiii. O! ‘how lovely are thy tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul longeth and fainteth for the courts of the Lord.’ Yea, my soul thirsteth after this fountain of eternal life which is with her God, and which perpetually inebriates all his heavenly guests, flowing without ceasing into their happy breasts.
Conclude to despise henceforward all that is earthly and transitory, and from this hour to set out and to begin thy journey towards this glorious, heavenly, and eternal kingdom. There thou shalt find all that thy heart can desire – immortal honours, never-failing riches, pure and everlasting pleasures. There thou shalt meet with beauties that never fade, perpetual health, perpetual life, & c. O this alone is thy true home, the land o the living!