Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meditation on Heaven

In his devotional work on private prayer, Sir William Dawes writes, "O! let us then often retire to our closets, and give our souls the pleasure of conversing thus with God, let us be frequent in reading his word, in praying to him and praising him, and in sending up our souls to him in religious meditation" (pp. 207-208)...."If therefore we desire to become Friends of God, if we would enjoy his Conversation, it must be in our closets..." (p. 2). As an help to sweet meditation, he gives us some samples of his own, one of which, on heaven, I thought good to share here.

William Dawes, Meditation II (on Heaven), in The Duties of the Closet from The Whole Works of Sir William Dawes, Vol. 3 (1732 ed.), pp. 154-156:

Great and glorious are the things which are spoken of thee, thou city of God. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, how richly thou art furnished with all things necessary to make the happiness of thine inhabitants complete and perfect. But this in general we know, that as the happiness which thy blessed inhabitants enjoy is vastly beyond that which we call happiness in this world, so is it likewise in itself exceeding great; great indeed, since it is, too big for us to frame any notion or conception of; infinitely great, because it shall be like the happiness of him, who is indeed happiness itself. For we know and are allured, that when we shall ascend up into heaven, we shall become like God himself; like him, as in other things, so in his happiness and glory. Did we therefore know no more of our future happiness than this, it were enough to satisfy us in our inquiries concerning it, for what can we desire more than to be like God, the most perfectly happy being, in happiness? But if we desire to be more particularly still informed concerning the ingredients that help to make up the mighty happiness, the scriptures will discover some of them to us. They promise us an infinite enlargement of our knowledge, and that our wills shall be unchangeably bent towards good, and our affections chained to the most amiable objects; that we shall know God, even as he knows us, cheerfully and readily perform his will, and love him, and be beloved by him, with the most intense and ardent affection; that we shall be admitted into the society of angels and just men made perfect, and enjoy their endearing conversation and friendship, and partake with them their blessed employments, and in that fullness of joy, which is continually in God's presence. O glorious state! how wilt thou feast our understandings, wills and affections, by setting before them constantly such objects, as they shall contemplate, love and admire with inexpressible pleasure. Were this the only happiness of heaven, it would be an abundant recompence for all that we can do or suffer in this world. But alas! we know not yet what our happiness will be, and even this which we pretend to know, we know but in part, very darkly and obscurely. This I know, O may I often think on it! that the rewards of heaven are infinitely beyond everything which I can now conceive or imagine, and that the happiness which the blessed souls there enjoy, being like the happiness which God himself enjoys, must be infinitely great and infinitely perfect.

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