2 Corinthians 4:17-18
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;
I. THE CELESTIAL STATE WILL IMPART EXALTED AND PERFECT FELICITY TO THOSE WHO SHALL ENJOY IT. It will be a state of —
1. Unsullied and absolute holiness. Mourning, as now you do, over your waywardness and sinfulness, how must you exult in the prospect of being "made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light!"
2. Vast intellectual illumination (1 Corinthians 13:9-12). As to the objects of celestial knowledge, we may believe them to be the Divine character and perfections; the reasons of providential government, the counsels of grace; the breadths, and lengths, and depths, and heights of the love of Christ which "passeth knowledge," etc. As holiness is our moral glory, attainment of such knowledge, will be our intellectual glory, both being associated with happiness which is incomparable and supreme. "The tree of knowledge," there will hide no serpent in its foliage, and instil no poison with its fruit. It shall be "the tree of life," as well as "the tree of knowledge," and there shall not be a leaf that adorns it, or a cluster that enriches it, that will not be found redolent with rapture, and that can decay or die. Ye who love and long for knowledge, endeavour to find your sphere in heaven; and while now, at the best, you can but collect the fragments and the crumbs, be it your high ambition to pant always for the full banquet of intelligence in immortality.
3. Delightful communion. A vast proportion of the enjoyments of the present life arises from intercourse; the more refined that intercourse, the more delightful it is; and the delights of intercourse will be found perfected amidst the purity and the expanded illumination of the skies. If man be permitted to enjoy fellowship with God, while still he bears the remains of his sinfulness, much more will he possess that fellowship when all his impurities shall be removed, and when he shall exist perfectly in the image of his God. Intercourse with God is the very life of heaven; and were that intercourse to be withdrawn, the light would wane, and the glory would be shrouded, and the music would be hushed, and the bliss would die, and the reward would be transformed into wretchedness.
4. Active and devoted employment. The rest of heaven is not synonymous with indolence; it is rest merely from corporeal languor, pain and disease, mental sorrow and foreboding. But this rest is not incompatible with employment. As Luther said, "God requires servants in heaven as well as on earth." Worship, in presenting the expressions of adoration and of praise; study, in the contemplation of the grand themes of knowledge; and active employment, in promoting the high behests, which probably will be multiplied upon us by the vastness of our capacities and by the deathlessness of our existence.
5. Permanent and imperishable duration. Heaven bears over its golden portals the inscription, "There shall be no more death." You read of heaven as a substance; it is "a better and enduring substance." As a kingdom, it is an "everlasting kingdom." As an inheritance, it is "an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." There is nought in that world of glory, which is not for ever and for ever.
II. THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE CELESTIAL STATE OUGHT TO PRODUCE POWERFUL INFLUENCES AND EFFECTS, WHILE WE ARE EXISTING IN THE PRESENT LIFE.
1. We ought to embrace the one appointed method, by which alone the enjoyment of the heavenly state is to be secured. Do any of you ask what is the way to heaven? By the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," if you would "be saved." Bear with fortitude, in the prospect of that celestial state, the various difficulties and sorrows of the present life. In the context you see how the fortitude of the apostle and of his companions was secured by the prospect of the future.
3. There ought also to be a constant anticipation of the period when the celestial state shall be entered by ourselves. Conclusion: Let me remind you there is no middle state, no compromise between a destiny of splendour and a destiny of darkness and despair.
Parallel VersesKJV: For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;