Anne Dutton's Letters on Spiritual Subjects
I am glad the Lord enables you to believe that all your afflictions are given in God's mercy, faithfulness and love—herein is the strength of a believer's spirit for patient suffering. It is my joy likewise, that you have the blessed experience that when nature is ready to cry out and faint under affliction's pressing weight, grace is enabled to sing and triumph. And believe this, that by all the dispensations of Providence, the Lord, your own God, as the God of love to you in Christ, is bringing you up to glory in that very way which infinite wisdom and grace devised and foreordained, that is and shall be most for God's highest praise and your highest bliss.
As you long to know and love Jesus more, your longing soul shall be satisfied with an increasing knowledge of Him and love unto Him here, until that which is perfect, with respect to both, shall come hereafter. And as Christ now is altogether lovely in your view, though you get but now and then a glimpse of His glory by faith in this distant state, oh, what rapturous joy will fill your heart when blessed with sight, when in His immediate presence you shall see Him as He is!
Believers who are perfectly justified before God have but an imperfect knowledge and conscience-persuasion of that their complete justification; and their personal standing in this grace is not fully known to others, much less are the resplendent glories of Christ's righteousness—that Godlike dress with which believers are richly arrayed—comprehended by themselves, or by others with whom they converse, is our present state of shortness and darkness.
The state of grace, as to sanctification, consists in a begun fitness, by inherent holiness produced in our hearts and lives by the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Spirit of grace, for the enjoyment of Christ and of God in Him; in some glances of His glory cast upon us through the gospel-glass, in a growing conformity to His image, and in an answerable employment in His praise. Now, as glory is grace made perfect, we may hence form some true notions what glory is, in that it differs not from grace in kind but in degree. But as our present conceptions about it are very imperfect, we must needs be very far from thinking or speaking of it perfectly.
The souls of the saints at the death of their bodies, by the Almighty energy of the Holy Spirit, are at once made perfect in holiness. All sin, in its being and working, which remained in them before, is then destroyed utterly, removed out of them totally and forever, and their begun holiness completed, never more to be defaced. The sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts at first, which was perfect as to kind and as to parts, as it extended as a principle of grace unto all the powers of their souls, each of which was in part sanctified, shall then be completed in degree, and all the powers of their souls sanctified perfectly as entire faculties. The 'infant principle of grace begun' shall then arrive to its full perfection, to the measure of the stature of the perfect new man. And this perfect holiness is, and will be, their perfect, inherent fitness for the state of glory, in the immediate vision of Christ and of God in Him to a blissful eternity.
They see God's infinite perfections and glories, and in all their various displays in nature, grace, and providence, and all in subservience to God's highest praise, and their highest bliss. They live in God, and dive continually into that boundless, bottomless, endless sea of immense felicity, to the ages of eternity! But the glory of separate spirits, at home with Christ, is, in this regard, much too great to be conceived or expressed by a mortal's thought or word. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard!" Dr. Goodwin well says, "When we are taken to heaven, we shall see God at once, with respect to the simplicity of His Being, as all that is in God, is God; but with respect to the immensity of His Being, it will be like sailing over an eternal sea, where every moment's sail we have a new horizon." The fresh displays of Jehovah's infinite glories will fill our finite capacities with rising joys, and present new wonders to our raptured eyes, through the circling ages of a blessed eternity; for when we see Christ, and God in Him, it will not be a bare speculation, an unaffecting sight, but a soul-attracting display, that sweetly, strongly, perpetually, will draw us into Him, that broad, deep, and endless ocean of glory, for a soul-filling enjoyment. "And they will see His face, and his name will be written on their foreheads." Rev. 22:4
And this beatific, facial vision of God and the Lamb, will be transforming. "When we see Christ, Christ as He is, we shall be like Him." And this transformation into His image by the vision of His face, as I humbly think, respects all those internal, innumerable, various and endless acts of our perfected graces, which shall be excited hereby to a vast eternity.
And consequent hereupon, we shall be externally employed in Jehovah's praise—in ascriptions of glory and blessing, salvation and honor, wisdom and power, unto Him that sits upon the throne, and to the worthy Lamb forever and ever! And a specimen of this worship of heaven we have thus given, "And every creature which is in heaven heard I saying, Blessing and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever! "
All the innumerable multitude shall continually and eternally join in the worship of God and the Lamb, with the triumphant shout of, Hallelujah! to which all the glorious angels round the throne join a loud, Amen! All the glorified members of Christ's mystical body, from Him the Head, shall be filled brimful of joy and glory, ineffably and eternally, and all the streams of bliss, from Him the Fountain, shall flow down upon all, and by all, into and through each other, and waft them all, in love's endearment and joint-praises, into God, that vast ocean from whence they came, that ocean of joy and glory—to a happy eternity. For all the displays of the glory of God, which shall then be cast upon us through Christ, will be made in the bright form of love, which will attract our spirits as so many tongues of fire in continual ascension to join with His infinite and eternal flame!
Our communion with God, as the God of love, will be full and immediate, uninterrupted and eternal. Yes, we shall then love God for Himself, first and principally in all His essential perfections and infinite glories, and in all their bright displays, chiefly in that God is glorified thereby. We shall love His glory in our salvation, above our own happiness therein, and rejoice in our felicity, as it redounds to Jehovah's glory—His manifestative glory. We shall interest ourselves in God's glory, and rejoice forever in His essential, immense, and eternal bliss.
And passing out of our little selves into the great God, we shall live in Him, and bathe in His immense pleasures, that vast and endless ocean of felicity unknown. And full it must needs be, to fill all the vessels of mercy to the utmost of their finite capacities, with ineffable and endless joy and glory, since it is full for God Himself to a boundless eternity. We shall then, by glory-union, be "in the Son and in the Father," encompassed round with a vast ocean of bliss, immense and endless, and that not simply as single persons, but as a body collectively, unto eternal praise, in which the innumerable company of holy angels will join with their eternal adorations and loud acclamations!
But, what the joys and glories of Christ's righteousness upon us, clearly and constantly beheld by us—of perfect holiness in principle within us; of immediate vision and full fruition of God the Lamb; of a full conformity to His image in the internal acts of perfected graces; of an eternal dedication to His eternal praise, together with a full and eternal communion with saints and angels—will be in their own vast greatness, nothing less than the state of glory itself can inform us.
This, my dear friend, is a weak essay to lisp out the ineffable felicity of happy spirits IN a separate state. But oh, how small a part of it can be told! It is a subject fit for our admiration, but far surpasses all expression. And until we also are blessed with sight, we are called to live by faith.
That "your fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit," may more and more increase unto a growing conformity to the divine image, and a more constant employ in Jehovah's praise, until you are called to inherit eternal bliss, is my hearty desire.
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