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fices: “ For certain we shall die ; for we have seen God," Judges xiii. In like manner, when God appeared to Abraham in the shape of a man, this man is called the Lord, and Abrabam bowed himself before him, and worshipped. And at another time this holy patriarch saw no less than three human shapes which appeared to him at once. Some think that God was visible but in one of these shapes, and the two others were angels. That which confirms this opinion is, that of these three persons, there is but one that speaks as God, and receives Abrahan's adoration, and then he appears no more; the two others are styled angels, in the beginning of the xixth chapter. But others believe, with some ancient doctors of the church, that these three human shapes were a true image and living representation of the most holy, most glorious, and most wonderful Trinity. In this opinion there is nothing contrary to the analogy of faith.
Finally, God hath discovered himself by his Son in a particular manner; he is named therefore, “ The image of God, the image of the invisible God, and God manifest in the flesh.” God hath not only imprinted in him some tokens of his Godhead, and marks of his divine power; he hath caused him not to walk and move as the borrowed bodies of the Old Testament. He hath not only engraven in him the perfect image of all his divine perfections; God is not in him in a shadow, or a figure, as he was in the ark, and in Solomon's temple, but he hath dwelt in him bodily, and by his eternal Godhead, as St. Paul informs us, “ That in him dwelleth bodily, (that is to say, really and essentially,) all the fulness of the Godhead;" therefore our Saviour tells St. Philip,“That he that hath seen him, hath seen the Father,” John xiv.
This being granted, let us now consider how we see God now here below, and how we shall see him hereafter in heaven. At present we see him with the eyes of the body in his vişible works; and we see bis Being also with the eye of our understanding, but in a weak and imperfect maoner; we know him with a very obscure and clouded knowledge. For this cause St. Paul saith very well and truly, “ That we know him in part, and we prophesy in part.” We see God also with the eye of faith; it is with this eye that we see him, as Moses did, who is invisible, and that we behold our Lord Jesus Christ, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, above all the principalities and powers, worshipped and adored by all the glorified church in heaven. In paradise we hope to see with the eyes of our glorified body, the images and marks of the Divinity, so glorious and magnificent, so beautiful and full of majesty, that, in comparison of that, whatsoever appeared to the prophets and patriarchs in their illustrious visions, was nothing but obscurity and darkness. And with the same eyes of the body we shall see God in the person of our Saviour, who is the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person; so that we may well say with Job in a full assurance of faith, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he gall stand at the last day upon the earth; and though after my skin worms destroy this body, I shall see God in my flesh, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another,” Job xix. But for the essence of God, and for the eternal Godhead, we shall not, nor can we,see it with the eyes of the body, let them become never so glorious, incorruptible, and immortal. Neither shall we see it with the eye of faith; for then faith shall be totally abolished, and we shall not walk any more by faith, but by sighit. But we shall see God with the eye of the understanding, enlightened with a divine glory. Now, as we bave taken notice, there are two sorts of contemplation and knowledge; the one perfect proportioned to the object which we behold and look upon; the other imperfect, suitable to the subject that looks and sees. Our future knowledge of God, shall not be of the first, but of the latter sort; that is to say, that we shall never see into the bottom of the mysteries of God's divine majesty, and of his glory. We shall never know perfectly this highest Perfection, this infinite Being, this incomprehensible and glorious Godhead. For things are in their action as they are in their beings and in their abilities. Now, in the most glorious state of heaven, our beings and abilities shall be liv mited and circumscribed. Therefore it shall be absolutely impossible for us to comprehend perfectly the Being of God, which is infinite in itself, and in all its wonderful perfections. The holy angels themselves, the cherubims and serapbins, these creatures of light and glory, are not able to pry into these bottomless depths, they are not able to approach this infinite light. In a word, it belongs only to God himself, to comprehend and understand perfectly the infinite glory, and highest perfections of the Godhead.
Although our sight shall not be able to search into the bottom of these depths of the Divinity, though we shall never be able to comprehend perfectly the infinite Being of God; nevertheless, we hope to behold openly this wonderful object, and to obtain as much knowledge of it as shall be requisite to render us perfectly happy. For as when our eye beholds the noon-sun, it cannot stedfastly look upon it, nor receive all its beams, but it partakes of as much as is necessary to enlighten it; and when there shall be a thousand suns, our eyes would never make use of more light than they do at present. Likewise, in beholding the Father of lights, this beautiful Sun of our souls, it is altogether impossible to admit the immensity of its beams; but we shall partake of as much as shall be necessary to drive away all our darkness, and to fill us full of perfect light, to make us become light in the Lord, and to cause us to shine for ever, as so many stars and little suns. As an empty vessel, when it is cast into the sea, comprehends not all its waters, but it receives only enough to fill it up, so that there is no part empty; thus, when we shall be cast into
the the ocean of the Godhead, we shall not be able to comprehend and receive God's infinite glory and happiness; but we shall receive and comprehend as much as shall content all our désires, and satisfy all our craving appetites. So that there shall be nothing at all wanting in us, which might be expected in the highest felicity of an human creature.
I do not say, in the highest felicity, absolutely without limitation: for there are two sorts of felicities; the one absolutely perfect, beyond which there can be nothing expected. This felicity or happiness is only to be found in God. The other is perfect, in a certain degree. As the perfect happiness of the angels is to attain to that degree of glory, of which the angelical nature is capable ; likewise the perfect happiness of man is to enjoy all that blessedness, which the human nature, alone and single, is able to enjoy. I must say the single nature of man, to distinguish it from that which is united to the person of the eternal Son of God. For by this union, this hath' attained to an incommunicable glory, of which other creatures cannot partake in the same perfection ; it hath attained to an happiness far above the glory of all the children of God, and of all the holy angels of heaven, far above what they can or may expect.
Again, I may say, that there is a supreme and perfect happiness, independent, which subsists of itself, without any foreign assistance. This kind of happiness is only to be found in God: for, as he is of himself an infinite Being, he borrows nothing from others, and of himself is absolutely and perfectly happy. The other happiness is, that which proceeds not out of ourselves, but is derived to us from another ; such is the glory and happiness of the angels. This lesson the Holy Ghost teaches us in these words, “ God puts light into his angeis;” that is to say, that these holy spirits have nothing of light or glory in them, but what is derived to them from the
Father of lights, and his gracious aspect. Such also is the
From hence you may easily understand, that God is the only object, and the only source of our eternal glory, and future happiness. If you inquire from me what shall be the essential form?-I answer, That it shall be our likeness and resemblance with God; which shall be as perfect as an human creature is capable of. Now this resemblance and similitude shall consist in three things ; in a pure and bright light, which shall not be mixed with the least obscurity; in a perfect and complete holiness, where there shall not be the least blemish ; and in an infinite and unalterable joy and content, where there shall never be the least cloud of grief: But of this we have sufficiently treated already.
Some there are that inquire whether in paradise there shall be an equality, or an inequality, in glories and happia nesses ?—This question is more curious than necessary. For we need not inquire whether there shall be any more or less happy than ourselves. It should suffice us for our comfort, to know, that if we be true believers, and truly penitent; if we fear God as we ought, if we serve him with a religious mind until the last gasp; then in such a case we shall attain to the glory of the children of God, and possess them with a perfect and eternal happiness. Nevertheless, that we may seem to omit nothing which might give satisfaction to every believing soul, I shall examine this particular; but it shall be without advancing any new thing, which I have not seen in the gospel, nor learned from the true Doctor of our souls. I