"Oh, how beautiful that region,
And how fair that heavenly legion,
Where thus men and angels blend!
Glorious will that city be,
Full of deep tranquility,
Light, and peace, from end to end!
All the happy dwellers there
Shine in robes of purity,
Bound in firmest unity.
Labor finds them not, nor care,
Ignorance can never perplex,
Nothing tempt them, nothing vex;
Joy and health their fadeless blessing,
Always all things good possessing."
—Thomas A Kempis, 1380.

"And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light."—Rev. 21:23.

Heaven is here compared to a city. But it is no created orbs, no material luminaries, which light up its glorious edifices. These are superseded. There is no longer need of the intervention of means as on earth. All the knowledge and light and glory of the Church triumphant emanate directly from the Divine Source of all excellence. The immediate presence of the Creator and the Lamb will render unnecessary every other medium of communication. As a vessel requires props before being launched to sea—or a house in building requires scaffolding before it can be completed—so the Church, in its earthly condition, requires the props and scaffolding of ordinances and means of grace. But when the erection is finished—the last stone placed on the consummated structure—then the scaffolding is removed—it is needed no more. "There shall be no more prayer there," says Baxter, "because no more necessity; but the full enjoyment of the thing prayed for. God's face shall be the Scripture where we shall read the truth."

We have servants in the lower banqueting-house—angels are ministering spirits sent forth "to minister to the heirs of salvation." The Church has ordained office-bearers to carry the vessels of the sanctuary. In Heaven, the Master "girds Himself and serves," (Luke 17:8.) Here it is mediately through the creature our spiritual needs are supplied—there all will be supplied directly from God and the Lamb. It is "THE LAMB who leads to the living fountains of water." It is "God" who "wipes away all tears from the eyes!" (Rev. 7:17.) Here on earth, the use of means is indispensable. They are adapted for our state of imperfection. The infant or sick man cannot bear the full blaze of the sun—they must have the curtain drawn, or the brightness tempered and subdued; it is only with increasing age or returning health that either are able to look on the light. So in the infancy and weakness of our probation-state we could not bear to gaze on the unveiled majesty of God's glory—we could not endure its intolerable brightness; it would blind and consume us. The figurative "sun" and "moon" of ordinances are, therefore, graciously appointed for the feebleness of our earthly condition. But when invested with the nobler powers of our heavenly manhood, we shall be able to dispense with these—we shall be able to draw aside the veiling curtain, which is needed now to subdue and modify, and to gaze with eagle-eye on the brightness of Jehovah's presence.

To borrow an apt illustration: None of the lower animals can hold, in the noblest sense of the word, fellowship with man, as they are at present constituted; but let one of them have suddenly imparted to it the gift of reason, then it becomes immediately fitted to do so. So it is with regard to our present and future relation to God. We are unable, with our present limited powers, to hold, in the highest sense, intimate fellowship with Him—we have the feeblest conceptions of His glory, the most inadequate apprehension of His goodness, and power, and excellency, and majesty. But when we come in a glorified state to have higher and nobler spiritual endowments conferred on us, we shall be able to see, as we cannot do now, His glorious perfections, and to enjoy, as we cannot do now, His presence and favor, His fellowship and love.

The city will then have no "need" of the sun! It is needed now, while on earth—the softer and more subdued light is required now; but earth's darkness will then be past, and the true Light will shine. We shall be able (without being, like Moses, hidden in the cleft of any sheltering rock) to "see God and live!" (Exod. 33:20.)

And what a fellowship will this be!—The Being of all beings, the Light of all lights! David felt it to be subject-matter of gratitude and joy—"I am companion to those who fear you." He had a hallowed joy in the fellowship of kindred spirits on earth. What will it be to be the companion of God Himself?—to be linked with all that is essentially great, and glorious, and good, in the universe—not only to be brother to the angelic hosts, but, in a higher sense than even the Father of the faithful knew it, "to be called" (and to BE) "the friend of God!"

If, even on earth, I have known something of Him as my "Light" and my "Salvation"—if I have seen somewhat of His glory shining through the battered chinks of my ruined soul—what will it be to bask in the floods of infinite light and love before the Throne? "What can be desired," says one now in the midst of the glorious realities on which he often dwelt, "beyond the bliss imparted by the consciousness of loving and being loved by Him, in whose smile of love the highest archangels find the very heaven of heaven to consist?"

I shall be independent of all that contributes to light up my earthly pathway. Friends I may have then among the angels—hallowed reunions of earthly affection may and will take place in that world of glory; but though I expect to prize and cherish them, I shall have no "NEED" of them. They will be among the "lesser glories," having no glory (comparatively) by reason of "the glory that excels." The sunlight and the moonlight will pale into nothingness in the presence of mightier beams!

But while I shall be lost in amazement at the exceeding greatness and excellency of this great Being, who is enthroned "in light, inaccessible, and full of glory"—while all the eloquence of earth that has tried to portray the majesty of His glory will fall immeasurably short—it will, at the same time, be a softened glory. Never, in these sublime pictures of Heaven which we have in the Book of Revelation, is the Lord God Almighty spoken of but in conjunction with "the Lamb." John "saw no temple; the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb were the temple," (Rev. 21:22.) Now he sees no light. The luster of earthly sun, and moon, and stars, have faded, and are quenched forever, but "the Lord God Almighty AND THE LAMB are the light thereof." He hears the redeemed multitude sing a lofty anthem, but it is this—"Salvation to our God that sits upon the throne, AND UNTO THE LAMB," (Rev. 7:10) What is the design of this often-recurring imagery and symbol but to keep ever before the Church, even in its triumphant state, the intervention of a Mediator, by whom alone it is that we can see God and live? "The Lamb is the light thereof!" Calvary's cross and Calvary's Savior will still be the theme and mystery of eternity!

And if light be the emblem of purity, how I ought, in the prospect of such a Heaven and such a Presence, to make it my great ambition to be "perfecting" that "holiness, without which no man can see the Lord!" (Heb. 12:14.) Holiness becomes that city! Its gates are never shut except against sin. Let me seek, as its chartered citizen, that every vestige of the accursed thing be now put away. What a happy world, where temptation shall no longer be felt or feared!—where I shall never more, by reason of sin, be mourning an absent Lord—never more, in the midst of my own erring estrangements, be uttering the plaintive soliloquy of the patriarch, "Oh that I knew where I might find HIM!" but ever reposing in the joyous consciousness, "I am still with You!"

"With HIM all gathered! to that blessed home,
Through all its windings, still the pathway tends;
While ever and anon bright glimpses come
Of that fair city where the journey ends.
Where all of bliss is centered in one word,
'So shall we be forever with the Lord.'"