A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, January 23, 1870, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington. 5/5/2011*5/5/2011
Now he who has prepared us for the very same thing is God, who also
has given to us the earnest of the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 5:5)
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1. It is a very comforting thing to be able to see the work of God in our own hearts. We can clearly enough perceive the effects of the fall, the workings of our inward corruption are always sufficiently perceptible. We do not have to search long for the foul handiwork of Satan within us, for his temptations vex us day by day, and too often wound us to our harm. The evil influences of the world are also exceedingly apparent to the eye of self-examination. It is, therefore, consoling to the highest degree when, amid all these marrings of the vessel by the hand of evil, we can see growing traces of the Great Artist’s hand still fashioning the clay upon the wheel, and undoing the mischief of his enemies. It is a sweet thing to be able to say with the apostle that God has prepared us for the grandest of all purposes. When the Creator of the world puts his all wise hand to the work of our new creation, we are favoured in the highest degree, and ought to be filled with gratitude.
2. It appears from the text that the apostle found the indications of the divine work in a groan. Observe, “We who are in this tabernacle groan, being burdened.” In that groan of his burdened soul he saw the working of the eternal God, and he exclaimed, “He who has prepared us for the very same thing is God.” Believers may trace the finger of God in their holy joys, when the soul, like the lark, mounts up towards heaven and carols her song of gratitude as she mounts; yet, just as surely is the Holy Spirit present in their sorrows for sin, their inward conflicts, their hungerings and thirstings after righteousness, their deep seated sighs, and their groanings which cannot be uttered. My brethren, as long as it is the work of God it is comparatively a small matter to us whether our hearts’ utterance is a song or a sigh; let us be assured that it is performed by the Spirit, and either the one or the other is a sign for good. If it is only proven that “the Lord is there,” we hear a voice which says, “It is I, do not be afraid.”
3. Our text brings before us a great work of God with a distinct object — your being “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven”; and looking at the words minutely, we see that the one purpose is accomplished by three great processes. The Lord has prepared in us desires after the heavenly glory. “He who has prepared us for the very same thing is God.” The apostle had spoken twice of groaning for the heavenly house, and we understand him here to affirm that this groaning in him was brought about by God. Secondly, the Lord has prepared in us a fitness for the eternal world, for so the text may be understood. “He who has fitted us for” the heavenly inheritance of which is the earnest of the Spirit. Then thirdly, God has given to believers, in addition to desires after and fitness for, an earnest of the glory to be revealed, of which the Holy Spirit is the earnest. Let us speak of these three things as the Holy Spirit may instruct us.
4. I. God’s work is seen in our souls in causing us exciting, vehement DESIRES AFTER being “clothed upon with our house which is from heaven.”
This earnest desire, of which the apostle has been speaking in the
preceding verses, is made up of two things — a painful groaning and
sense of being burdened while we are in this present life, and a
supreme longing after our promised portion in the world to come.
Dissatisfaction with the very idea of finding a continuing city here,
amounting even to groaning, is the condition of the Christian’s mind.
“We do not look at the things which are seen,” they are not worth a
glance; they are temporal, and therefore quite unfit to be the joy of
an immortal spirit. The Christian is the most contented man in
the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is
like a traveller in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its
accommodation, considering it as an inn, but never once thinking of
making it his home. He sojourns by the way, and is thankful, but his
desires lead him always onward towards that better country where the
many mansions are prepared. The believer is like a man in a sailing
vessel, well content with the good ship for what it is, and hopeful
that it may bear him safely across the sea, willing to put up with
all its inconveniences without complaint; but if you ask him whether
he would choose to live on board in that narrow cabin, he will tell
you that he longs for the time when the harbour shall be in view, and
the green fields, and the happy homesteads of his native land. We, my
brethren, thank God for all the appointments of providence; whether
our portion is large or scant we are content because God has
appointed it: yet our portion is not here, nor would we have it here
if we could!
We’ve no abiding city here,
Sad truth were this to be our home.
No thought would be more dreadful for us than the idea of having our
portion in this life, in this dark world which refused the love of
Jesus, and cast him out of its vineyard. We have desires which the
whole world could not fulfil, we have insatiable yearnings which a
thousand empires could not satisfy. The Creator has made us to pant
and long after himself, and all the creatures put together could not
delight our souls without his presence.
Hopeless of joy in aught below,
We only long to soar,
The fulness of his love to feel,
And lose his smile no more.
In addition to this dissatisfaction, there reigns within the
regenerate heart a supreme longing for the heavenly state. When
believers are in their right minds, their aspirations after heaven
are so forcible that they condemn death itself. When faith is weak,
then the pains and the groans of dying make a black cloud of
forebodings which darken the spirit, and we shrink from the thought
of departing; but when we know that our Redeemer lives, and look
forward to the resurrection and to the glory to be revealed, we cry —
Oh, if my Lord would come and meet,
My soul should stretch her wings in haste,
Fly fearless through death’s iron gate,
Nor fear the terrors as she passed.
Whatever the separation of the soul from the body may involve of pain
or mystery, the believer feels that he could dare it all, to enter at
once into the unfading joys of the glory land. Sometimes the heir of
heaven grows impatient with his bondage, and like a captive who,
looking out of the narrow window of his prison, sees the green fields
of the unfettered earth, and notices the flashing waves of the ocean,
always free, and hears the songs of the uncaged tenants of the air,
weeps as he views his narrow cell, and hears the clanking of his
chains. There are times when the most patient of the Lord’s banished
ones feel the homesickness strong upon them. Like those beasts which
we have sometimes seen in our zoos, which pace to and fro in their
dens, and chafe themselves against the bars — unresting, unhappy,
bursting out every now and then into fierce roarings, as though they
yearned for the forest or the jungle; even so we also chafe and fret
in our prison house, longing to be free. Just as by the waters of
Babylon the sons of Zion sat down and wept, even so do we. Dwelling
in Kedar’s tents and sojourning with Mesech, we long for the wings of
a dove so that we might fly away and be at rest.
Oh my sweet home, Jerusalem,
Would God I were in thee!
Would God my woes were at an end,
Thy joys that I might see.
8. Having thus seen that the groaning brought about in us by God is made up of dissatisfaction with this world and anxious desire for the world to come, we may profitably consider it yet a little further. What is it that makes the Christian long for heaven? What is that within him which makes him restless until he reaches the better land? It is, first, a desire for the unseen. The carnal mind is satisfied with what the eyes can see, the hands can handle, and the taste enjoy, but the Christian has a spirit within him which has passions and appetites which the senses cannot gratify. This spirit has been created, developed, enlightened, and instructed by the Holy Spirit, and it lives in a world of unseen realities, of which unregenerate men have no knowledge. While in this sinful world and earthly body, the spirit feels like a citizen exiled from his native land; it stands upon the outmost borders of its own region, and longs to penetrate into the centre of spiritual things. Hampered with this body of clay, the spirit, which is akin to angels, cries after liberty; it longs to see the Great Father of Spirits, to commune with the bands of the pure spirits for ever surrounding the throne of God, both angels and glorified men; it longs, in fact, to dwell in its true element. A spiritual creature, born from above, can never rest until it is present with the Lord. Oh! to see the things which we have heard of in metaphor and simile, to truly enjoy them with our spirits, the harps, the crowns, and the palms branches — what must it be to possess such joys? The streets of transparent gold, the river of the water of life, the glassy sea, the throne of the Great King — what must all these be? Until these joys and glories are all our own our souls will always cry and sigh.
9. Moreover, the Christian spirit pants after holiness. He who is born again of incorruptible seed, finds his worst trouble to be sin. While he was in his natural state he loved sin, and sought pleasure in it, but now being born by God and made like God, he hates sin, the mere mention of it vexes his ears, the sight of it in others causes him deep sorrow, but the presence of it in his own heart is his daily plague and burden. If he could be completely rid of sin this mortal body might not be to him a load, but because the tendencies of the animal passions are always towards evil, he longs to be rid of this vile body, so that he may be clothed upon with his house which is from heaven, from which all these passions will be expelled. Oh, to be without the tendency to sin, without the possibility to sin! What bliss the prospect affords! My brethren, if we could be placed in the lowest and most destitute condition, and yet could be perfect, we would prefer it to being sinful, even though we should reign in the palaces of kings. Our spirit, therefore, cries after the immortal state, because sin will be for ever banished from it.
10. In the Christian’s spirit there is also a sighing after rest. “There remains a rest for the people of God,” as though God had put in us the longing for what he has prepared; we labour daily to enter into that rest. Brethren, we long for rest, but we cannot find it here. “This is not our rest.” We cannot find rest even within ourselves. Wars and fightings are continuous within the regenerate spirit; the flesh lusts against the spirit, and the spirit wars against flesh. As long as we are here it must be so. We are in the camp of war, not in the chamber of ease. The trumpet must sound, and the clash of arms must be heard, and we must go to our watchtower, and continue there both night and day, for we are militant as yet, and not triumphant. Our soul pines to be at rest. When shall the powers of our spirit indulge themselves to the full without the fear of falling into sin? When shall my memory remember nothing except what will glorify God? When shall my judgment always rightly balance all events? When shall my desires be after nothing except my Lord? When shall my affections cling to nothing except him? Oh when shall I possess the rest of the sinless, the rest of the satiated, the rest of the secure, the rest of the victorious? This longing for rest helps to inflame the Christian’s desires for the house not made with hands.
11. This divinely prepared desire is made up of another element, namely, a thirst for communion with God. Here, at the best, our state is described as being “absent from the Lord.” We do enjoy fellowship with God, for “Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ,” but it is remote and dark. “We see through a glass darkly,” and not as yet face to face. We have the smell of his garments from afar, and they are perfumed with myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, but as yet the King is in his ivory palaces, and the gate of pearl is between us and him. Oh that we could come to him! Oh that he would even now embrace us, and kiss us with the kisses of his mouth! The more the heart loves Christ, the more it longs for the greatest possible nearness to him. Separation is very painful to a bride whose heart is burning for the bridegroom’s presence; and such are we, longing to hear the most sweet voice of our Spouse and to see the face which is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. For a saved soul to long to be in the place where its Saviour is, is no unnatural desire! To be with him is far better than earth’s best, and it would be strange if we did not long for it. God, then, has prepared this in us in all its forms, he has made us to dread the thought of having our portion in this life, he has created in us a supreme longing for our heavenly home, has taught us to value unseen and eternal things, to pant after holiness, to sigh after sinless rest, and to yearn after closer fellowship with God in Christ Jesus.
12. My brethren, if you have felt a desire such as I have described, give its glory to God; bless and love the Holy Spirit who has worked this very same thing in you, and ask him to make the desires even more vehement, for they are for his glory.
13. Bear with a word in praise of this groaning brought about by God. This desire after the world to come is above ordinary nature. All flesh is grass, and the grass loves to drive its roots deep into the earth; it has no tendrils with which to clasp the stars. Man by nature would be content to remain on earth for ever. If you long for a holy and spiritual state, your desire is not of nature’s creation. God has worked it in you. Yes, I will venture to say that the desire for heaven is contrary to nature; for just as there is an inertia in matter which makes it indisposed to move, so is there in human nature an indisposition to leave the present for the future. Like the limpet, we cling to the rock on which we crawl. We cling to earth like the ivy to the wall. We are afraid to set sail upon that unknown sea of eternity, and therefore shiver on the shore. We dread to leave “the warm precincts of this house of clay,” and hovel as this body is, we consider it dear. It is the Lord who forbids our lying among the pots, and gives us the wings of a dove to mount aloft. As soon would a clod seek the sun as a soul seek its God, if a miracle of grace were not performed within it.
14. While they are contrary to the old nature, such aspirations prove the existence of the new nature. You may be quite sure that you have the nature of God in you if you are pining after God; and if your longings are of a spiritual kind, depend upon it you are a spiritual man. It is not in the animal to sigh after mental enjoyments, neither is it in the mere carnal man to sigh after heavenly things. What your desires are, that your soul is. If you are really insatiably hungering after holiness and after God, there is within you what is like God, what is essentially holy, there is indeed a work of the Holy Spirit within your hearts.
15. I shall detain you awhile to notice the means by which the Holy Spirit quickens these desires within our spirits. This desire after a portion in the unseen world is first infused in us by regeneration. Regeneration creates in us a spiritual nature, and the spiritual nature brings with it its own longings and desires; these longings and desires are after perfection and God. Imagine an angel imprisoned in a stable: it is perfectly certain that it would be unhappy with the place where the horned oxen lay. If it felt that the divine will commanded it to tarry there for awhile, I do not doubt that the bright visitant would contentedly put up with the confinement; but if it had liberty to leave the company of beasts, how gladly would the bright spirit ascend to its native place. Yes, heaven is the place for angels, the true abode of holy spirits; and we, too, since our spiritual nature is born from above, long to be there, nor shall we be content until we are.
16. These desires are further assisted by instruction. The more the Holy Spirit teaches us of the world to come the more we long for it. If a child had lived in a mine it might be contented with the glimmer of candle light; but if he should hear of the sun and the green fields, and the stars, you may depend upon it the child would not be happy until he could ascend the shaft and behold for himself the brightness of which he had heard. Just as the Holy Spirit reveals to us the world to come so we feel longings within us, mysterious but mighty, and we sigh and cry to be away where Jesus is.
17. These desires are further increased by sanctified afflictions. Thorns in our nest make us take to our wings; the embittering of this cup makes us earnestly desire to drink from the new wine of the kingdom. We are very much like our poor, who would stay at home in England and put up with their lot, hard though it is; but when at last there comes a worse distress than usual, then immediately they speak of emigrating to those fair and boundless fields across the Atlantic, where a kindred nation will welcome them with joy. So here we are in our poverty, and we make the best of it that we can; but a sharp distress wounds our spirit, and then we say we wish to go away to Canaan, to the land that flows with milk and honey, for there we shall suffer no distress, neither shall our spirits hunger any more.
Heavenly desires are still further inflamed by communion with
Christ. The sweets as well as the bitters may be made to increase
our longings after the world to come. When a man has once known what
fellowship with Jesus is then he pines to enjoy it for ever; like the
Gauls on this side of the Alps who, when they had once drank the
Italian wines, said one to another, “It must be a fair land where
they grow such wine as this, come, brethren, let us draw our swords
and cross the Alps and take the vineyards for ourselves.” So the love
of Jesus causes us to long to be with him.
Since I have tasted of the grapes,
I ofttimes long to go
Where my dear Lord the vineyard keeps,
And all the clusters grow.
Communion with Christ sharpens the edge of our desire for heaven.
19. And to close this vein of thought, so does elevation of soul. The more we are sanctified and lifted above the grossness of earthliness into conformity with Jesus, the more we long for the world to come. A peasant at the plough is quite content to mix with his fellow labourers, but suppose he forms a passion for the study of the stars, feels a poet’s frenzy, or develops mathematical powers, or learns the science of flowers, or in any way discovers the treasure hidden in the field of learning, he will be sure to be uneasy in ignorance, and will pine for books and education. He dreams of schools, and colleges, and libraries. His fellow ploughmen laugh at him, and consider him to be a fool. If they have enough to eat and drink and clothe themselves, they are content with it, but he has desires for which the village has neither sympathy nor supply. His elevation of mind has brought with it groanings, to which, if he had grovelled like his fellows, he would have been a stranger. So it is with the regenerated man, in proportion as he is elevated by the Holy Spirit by growth in grace. The higher he rises the more he longs to rise. To him that has it is given, and he desires to have it in abundance; with a sacred covetousness he pants after still higher degrees of grace, and after glory itself.
20. Thus I have explained to you the desire which the Holy Spirit works in us. “He who has prepared us for the very same thing is God.”
21. II. Our second subject of discourse is THE FITNESS FOR HEAVEN which is performed in us.
22. Calvin’s interpretation of the text is, “He who has fitted us for the very same thing is God.” Ah! how true this is. There is no fitness whatever in man by nature for communion with his God; it must be a divine work within him. The Father works in us fitness for heaven by separating us in the everlasting decree to be his own. Heaven is the place of God’s own abode; we must be God’s own people to be fit to be there. He prepares us by adopting us into his family, by justifying us through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, by preserving us by his power. The Son of God has an equal share in the working of this fitness; he prepares us by blotting out our iniquities, and by transferring to us his righteousness, by taking us into marriage union with himself. The Holy Spirit also, for ever to be blessed, has his share in this work. It is he who first infuses the new nature, he who gives us spiritual food for the new nature, giving us to feed upon the flesh and blood of Christ; he who instructs and develops that new nature, and through the blood of Jesus makes the man fit to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, who thus in blessed union has “prepared us for the very same thing.”
23. Now, let me describe with great brevity the work of the Holy Spirit in preparing us for glory. As we have already hinted — and we must necessarily traverse much of the same ground — fitness for heaven, as prepared in us by the Spirit, consists, first, in the possession of a spiritual nature. Heaven is preeminently a spiritual region, and those who have no nature created from above would not by any possibility be able to enjoy the bliss of heaven. They would be quite out of their element. It could not be a heaven to them. A bee in a garden in the midst of the flowers is at home, and gathers honey from all their cups and bells; but open the gate and admit a swine, and it sees no beauty in lilies and roses, and wallflowers; and therefore it proceeds to root, and tear, and spoil in all directions. Such would an unregenerate man be in heaven. While holy saints shall find bliss in everything in the paradise of God, an ungodly sinner would be at war with everything in that holy region.
24. Fitness for heaven lies much in a holy nature. Now, a love for heaven is as contrary to fallen humanity as light to darkness. Do you not feel it is so? Left to yourselves, oh saints of God, do you not know that you would go back to Egypt? Do you not feel that the old nature lusts after evil? Well, then, since you cannot possibly inherit heaven unless you delight in holiness, you owe this fitness for the perfect state to the Holy Spirit. Fitness for heaven lies in a capacity to delight in God. I have always loved that first question and answer in the Assembly’s Catechism, “What is the chief end of man? The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him for ever.” Not to enjoy yourself for ever, not even to enjoy the harps of gold and the angelic company, and the feasts of the beatified, but to enjoy God for ever. Now, if a man has as yet no delight in God, and takes no solace in thoughts of him, he has no fitness for heaven, and cannot get there; but if you delight in God, it is God who has “prepared you for this very same thing.”
25. Fitness for heaven will lie very much in love for the saints. Those who do not love the people of God on earth, would find their company very irksome for ever. Here the unrighteous can manage to endure the company of the godly, because it can be diluted with a mixture of graceless men, but up there the people shall be all righteous, and their conversation shall be all about Christ and about divine things; such company and such conversation would be weariness itself to godless hearts. My hearer, if you delight in the company of the saints, and if the more spiritual their conversation the more you enjoy it, then you have been prepared for this very same thing by the work of the Holy Spirit in your soul, and you may bless the Lord for it.
26. Joy in service is another sweet preparation for heaven. Heaven is sinless service. They serve God day and night in his temple, service without weariness, service without imperfection, service without cessation. Now do you delight to serve God? If so, you obviously have a fitness for heaven; but since you once abhorred that service, and were the bondslave of the Prince of Darkness, if you now long and wish to glorify your God, you have been prepared for it by the Holy Spirit’s power.
27. Conformity to Christ Jesus, again, is another preparation for heaven. Much of heaven consists in being like Christ. It is the very object of divine grace that we should be conformed to his image, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren. Now, if you are growing by his grace somewhat like Christ, if you desire to be like him, imitating his tender, loving, brave, prayerful, obedient, self-sacrificing spirit, you have some fitness for the skies; but that fitness was not there by nature; you were once as unlike Christ as possible. God has worked all this in you.
28. I am afraid that I go from one point to another rather too rapidly, but the gist of it all is this. Heaven is the world of spirits, the land of holiness, the house of God, and if we have any capacity for the enjoyment of heaven, it has been worked in us by God. The unfitness of unrenewed souls for heaven, may be illustrated by the incapacity of certain uneducated and coarse minded people for elevated thoughts and intellectual pursuits. When I was a little child, I lived for many years in my grandfather’s house. In his garden there was a fine old hedge of yew of considerable length, which was clipped and trimmed until it made quite a wall of verdure. Behind it was a wide grass walk, which looked upon the fields, the grass was kept mown, in order to make pleasant walking. Here, ever since the old Puritan chapel was built, godly divines had walked and prayed and meditated. My grandfather was accustomed to use it as his study. Up and down it he would walk when preparing his sermons, and always on Sundays when it was fair, he spent half an hour there before preaching. To me it seemed to be a perfect paradise, and being forbidden to stay there when grandfather was meditating, I viewed it with no small degree of awe. I love to think of the green and quiet walk at this moment; but I was once shocked and even horrified by hearing a farming man remark concerning this sanctum sanctorum — the holy of holies, “It’ ud grow a many ‘taturs if it wor ploughed up.” What did he care for holy memories? What were meditation and contemplation to him? Is it not the chief end of man to grow potatoes and eat them? Such, on a larger scale, would be an unconverted man’s estimate of joys so elevated and refined as those of heaven. Alphonse Karr tells a story of a servant man who asked his master to be allowed to leave his cottage and sleep over the stable. What was the matter with his cottage? “Why, sir, the nightingales all around the cottage make such a ‘jug, jug, jug’ at night, that I cannot bear them.” A man with a musical ear would be charmed with the nightingales’ song, but here was a man without a musical soul who found the sweetest notes a nuisance. This is a feeble image of the incapacity of unregenerate man for the enjoyments of the world to come, and just as he is incapable of enjoying them, so is he incapable of longing for them. But if you and I have lost all taste for the things of sin and time, and are sighing for holy, godly joys, we have in it an evidence that God has worked in us by his grace, and will continue to do so until we are made perfect and immortal.
29. III. The text informs us that in addition to working in us desires and fitness for glory, the Lord has graciously given to us an EARNEST OF GLORY.
30. An earnest, as you all know, is unlike a pledge, in some respects. A pledge has to be returned when the matter which it ensures is obtained: but an earnest is a part of the thing itself. A man has so much wage to take on Saturday night, he receives a part of it in the middle of the week, it is an earnest of the full payment — a part of the payment itself. So the Holy Spirit is a part of heaven itself. The work of the Holy Spirit in the soul is the bud of heaven. Grace is not a thing which will be taken away from us when we enter glory, but which will develop into glory. Grace will not be withdrawn as though it had achieved its purpose, but will be matured into glory. What is meant by the Holy Spirit being given to us as an earnest? I believe it means, first, that the very dwelling of the Holy Spirit within our soul is the earnest of heaven. My brethren, if God himself condescends to make these bodies his temples, is this not akin to heaven’s honours? Only put away sin, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit would make even this earthly state to be heavenly to us. Oh my brethren, you little know what a weight of glory is contained in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If you only knew it and believed in it always, the sorrows of this life would become trivial, and as for the frowns of men you would deride them. God dwells in you. You walk among the sons of men unknown and despised, yet as angels see you, you are the objects of their wonder. Rejoice that in this, then, you have an earnest of heaven.
31. But everything the Holy Spirit works in us is an earnest of heaven. When the Holy Spirit brings to us the joys of hope, this is an earnest. While singing some glowing hymn touching the New Jerusalem, our spirit shakes off all her doubts and fears, and anticipates her everlasting inheritance. When we enjoy the full assurance of faith, and read our title clear to mansions in the skies, when faith, looking simply to the finished work of Christ, knows whom she has believed, and is persuaded that he is able to keep what she has committed to him, this is an earnest of heaven. Is heaven not security, confidence, and peace? The security, confidence, and peace which spring from faith in Jesus Christ, are part and parcel of the heaven of the blessed. Heaven is the place of victory, and, my dear friends, when we are victorious over sin, when the Holy Spirit enables us to overcome some propensity, to overcome our anger, to crush our pride, to mortify the flesh with its affections and lusts, then in that conscious victory over sin, we enjoy an earnest of the triumph of heaven. And once more, when the Holy Spirit gives us to enjoy fellowship with Jesus Christ, and with one another, when in the breaking of bread we feel the union which exists between Christ and his members, we have a foretaste of the fellowship of heaven. Do not say then, that you know nothing of what heaven is. “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love him,” but “He has revealed them to us by his Spirit.” Spiritual natures do know what heaven is, in the sense of knowing from the drop what the river must be like, of understanding from the beam what the sun must be. Its fulness you cannot measure, its depth you cannot fathom, its unutterable bliss you cannot tell; but still you know of what character the glory will be, you know that the joys of the blessed are pure, and all their dwellings are peace, you know that fellowship with Christ and with holy spirits makes up much of heaven, and you know this because the earnest of the Spirit is a part and parcel of the thing itself.
32. I conclude with a practical remark or two. If these things are so, what emotions are most fitting for us? Answer: first, oh believers in Jesus, be thankful, overflow with thankfulness. Remember these things are not your own productions, no flowers of your own garden, but they have been planted in your soul by another hand, and watered by a superior power. Give all the glory to his holy name, for to him all the glory belongs. Not a good desire in you was self-originated, no part of your fitness for paradise was self-formed. Grace has done it, grace has done it all. Adore and bless the Holy Spirit who has performed all your works in you, for you are “His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.” Be thankful. Just as the birds created to sing, pour out their song; just as the flowers, the handiwork of God, load the air with their perfume; so you sing, and let your lives be all fragrant with gratitude to him who has prepared you for the very same thing.
33. Another emotion we ought all to feel who have this performed in us is that of reverence. When a scholar knows that all he has learned has been taught to him by his teacher, he looks up from his teacher’s feet into his teacher’s face with respectful reverence and esteem. Oh reverence the Holy Spirit. Let us in our public ministry and in our private meditations always stand in awe of him. I am afraid we forget him too much, let us reverence him especially by obedience to his faintest admonitions. Just as the leaves of the aspen tremble at the faintest breath of the wind, so may we tremble at the faintest breath of God’s Holy Spirit. Let us prize the word because he wrote it; let us love the ordinances because he puts life and power into them. Let us love his indwelling, and never grieve him lest he hides his face from us. “He who has prepared us for the very same thing is God.” Do not vex his Spirit, but anxiously ask that he would continue his work, and complete it in righteousness.
34. Lastly, our heart ought to feel great confidence this morning. If the good thing had been performed by ourselves, we might be sure that it would fail before long. Nothing of mortal man was ever perfect. But if he who has begun the good work is God, there is no fear that he will forsake or leave his work undone. They shall never say of him, “He began to build and was not able to finish.” No war of his was ever undertaken and then given up because he had not counted the cost. God has begun, God will complete. His promise is “Yea and amen,” and never was broken yet. Therefore let us be well assured, and let our hearts be glad.
35. Dear hearers, the unhappy thing about this is that there are so many who have no desires for the blessed hereafter, no fitness for it, no earnest of it. Ah, then, the prophecies that are within you, what do they foretell? No yearning for heaven, does that not foretell that there is no heaven for you? No fitness for the presence of God; what does that say? Why, that in the presence of God you shall not rest. Earnest of the Spirit! Why, you almost laugh at the idea. Ah, then, no earnest is a proof that there is no reward for you. But what then? Will you be annihilated? Will you pass out of this existence and cease to be? Dark as that prospect would be, indeed, dark as midnight, yet it would be brighter than the fate which the word of God allots you. There will be darkness, but you shall live in it; there will be death, but in it you must ceaselessly exist; for if the righteous are promised “eternal life,” it is also written, “these shall go away into everlasting punishment.” May God save you from such woe by leading you to trust the Saviour. Then you will confess with us, “He who has prepared us for the very same thing is God,” and to God be the glory. Amen.
[Portion of Scripture Read Before Sermon — Psalms 73 2 Corinthians 4:16 5:9]