Fire and Ice: Puritan and Reformed Writings
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Views of Heaven a Test of Character

by John Owen

We may hereby examine both our own notions of the state of glory and our preparations for it, and whether we are in any measure "made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light." Various are the thoughts of men about the future state,-the things which are not seen, which are eternal. Some rise no higher but unto hopes of escaping hell, or everlasting miseries, when they die. Yet the heathen had their Elysian fields, and Mohammed his sensual paradise. Others have apprehensions of I know not what glistening glory, that will please and satisfy them, they know not how, when they can be here no longer. But this state is quite of another nature, and the blessedness of it is spiritual and intellectual. Take an instance in one of the things before laid down. The glory of heaven consists in the full manifestation of divine wisdom, goodness, grace, holiness,-of all the properties of the nature of God in Christ. In the clear perception and constant contemplation hereof consists no small part of eternal blessedness. What, then, are our present thoughts of these things? What joy, what satisfaction have we in the sight of them, which we have by faith through divine revelation? What is our desire to come unto the perfect comprehension of them? How do we like this heaven? What do we find in ourselves that will be eternally satisfied hereby? According as our desires are after them, such and no other are our desires of the true heaven,-of the residence of blessedness and glory. Neither will God bring us unto heaven whether we will or no. If, through the ignorance and darkness of our minds,-if, through the earthliness and sensuality of our affections,-if, through a fulness of the world, and the occasions of it,-if, by the love of life and our present enjoyments, we are strangers unto these things, we are not conversant about them, we long not after them,-we are not in the way towards their enjoyment. The present satisfaction we receive in them by faith, is the best evidence we have of an indefeasible interest in them. How foolish is it to lose the first-fruits of these things in our own souls,- those entrances into blessedness which the contemplation of them through faith would open unto us,-and hazard our everlasting enjoyment of them by an eager pursuit of an interest in perishing things here below! This, this is that which ruins the souls of most, and keeps the faith of many at so low an ebb, that it is hard to discover any genuine working of it.


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