"So the wish grows deeper, fonder,
Friend of souls! Your face to see,
In Your pleasant Salem, yonder,
Where no tear nor sigh may be;
And God's presence on the sight
Shines in pure unshadowed light."
"We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is."
—1 John 3:2.
This beautiful verse of John comprises the two grand
elements of heavenly glory: To "SEE God"—to be "LIKE
God." It describes the matured manhood of the Christian.
We are now in a state of infancy and childhood. As a
child on earth is incapable of comprehending much that is made plain in
after years, so, with regard to divine knowledge, "we know in part, and we
prophesy in part," (1 Cor. 13:9.) But in the full development of our
spiritual being we shall "see Him face to face." The earthly prayer will,
for the first time, in all its amplitude, be fulfilled—"I beseech you, show
me your glory," (Exod. 33:18.)
See Him! What an advance does this announcement
indicate in the moral capacities and privileges of the glorified, beyond
what they enjoyed on earth! We cannot bear to look even on the natural sun
here; we are dazzled and blinded with his intolerable brightness. But
there, "the Lord our God" is to be our "everlasting light," (Isa.
60:20.) The spiritual vision will be enlarged and adapted for the augmented
glories of this higher manifestation.
See Him! What an honor! The Jewish High Priest was
highly favored in being permitted, once a year, to gaze on the
majestic symbol of the Divine presence—the Temple Shekinah Glory. What will
it be to enjoy the eternal and uninterrupted contemplation of the great God
Himself—that, too, undimmed by any mystic or shadowy rites; but "with open
face," (lit. face unveiled,) "beholding as in a glass the glory of
the Lord," (2 Cor. 3:18.) And it is to "see Him as He is." Not
canopied in clouds and wreathed in rainbow-form, dreadful,
inapproachable—but God in our nature, "Immanuel, God with us. It is plain
that it is Jesus of whom the Apostle of love speaks in our
motto-verse. Jesus as He was, and is, and ever shall be—the Elder
Brother—the kinsman Redeemer—"the same yesterday, and today, and forever,"
Often are we conscious of the thought presenting itself,
"Would that I had been among the number of those who of old were privileged
to hear that loving voice, and gaze on that countenance, 'fairer than the
children of men!' Would that I had sat on the Hill of Beatitudes, and
listened to those words of matchless wisdom; or stood by the sea-shore of
Gennesaret, or in the graveyard of Bethany, or mingled in the jubilant crowd
on Olivet!" This honor is ours in heaven. We shall "see the King in
His beauty." "Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your King comes." "They
shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads," (Rev. 22:4.)
It will be said of His redeemed people in glory, as the queen of Sheba said
of His earthly type, "Happy are your men, happy are these your servants,
which stand continually before you!" (1 Kings 10:8.)
"LIKE Him!" This is spoken of here as the
second element in Heavenly bliss.
Even on earth the contemplation of Christ by faith is
represented as bringing about a resemblance to Himself. "We are changed
into the same image from glory to glory." How much more, when, as divine
artists, gazing on His unveiled luster, we shall be enabled to copy the
Divine Original, feature by feature! "We shall be like Him, FOR we
shall SEE Him." We cannot, even in the present world, be much in the company
of an individual without insensibly contracting a resemblance to
him—catching up his tones, his manners, his habits of taste and thought. So
will it be in Heaven with Jesus. We shall become more and more
"Savior-like." Oh, surely if it be an exalted honor to see Him,
with what glory will it invest the ransomed thus, in any feeble measure, to
resemble Him! If it be the Christian's secret aspiration on earth to
be like Abraham, or Moses, or David, or John, or Paul, what will it be to be
"like HIM," of whom these are but the faintest shadow?
But, more than this—not only is likeness to Jesus an
honor; it is a necessary requirement or qualification to render the believer
fit for the enjoyment of Heaven. I need, in some degree at least, conformity
to Him in character, in order to be able to appreciate His home of purity
and love. The most beautiful landscape may be placed before the blind man,
but, deprived of the organ of vision, by which alone its beauties can be
apprehended, he can see no loveliness in it. So Heaven in its holiness would
be one vacant and dreary blank, if I have no moral eye with which to behold
it. But that moral vision will be imparted. The perfectly-renewed heart, a
copy of its Lord's, will then be the true "organ of sight." There will be no
sin to mar the contemplation of the Divine Original—nothing to disturb or
divert the spiritual eye. The heart's affections will repose with full
complacency on Him, the great center of attraction. There will be perfect
unison with His will, and entire, unreserved consecration to His glory; all
the ennobled, renovated, sanctified powers of the glorified nature will be
willingly embarked in His service. The feet will run for Him; the heart will
be an altar consecrated to His worship; memory will be a labyrinth of
remembered mercies; the tongue will be a glorified instrument to resound His
praise; the whole regenerated being a storehouse of collected materials to
proclaim and testify of His greatness and majesty—His grace, and truth, and
Be this, then, the view of Heaven I seek to have
constantly before me—that I am to be "like my Lord." What a solemn
and searching test is thus afforded with which to try my anticipations of
future bliss! Amid the most intense worldliness, there may be ethereal
speculations about the glory of the saints' everlasting dwelling-place.
But do I long after its mansions because their bliss consists in having a
heart assimilated in holiness to that of Christ? Like the Elder Brother, and
in Him to the whole brotherhood in glory—saints, angels, God!
Oh, if the consciousness of following, as His ransomed
Israel, the pillar of His presence in the wilderness be delightful, what
will it be to follow Him in the Promised Land? If the Eschol pledges be
grateful, what will it be to pluck for ourselves in the heavenly vineyard,
under the shadow of the living Vine Himself? 'Lord Jesus! prepare me for
meeting You, seeing You, enjoying You.'
Were I going, in a few years, to reside in a distant
land, how I would strive now to master its language—to know its history—to
put myself in a state of training for its habits and occupations.
Heaven is that country; and this is the message sent by letter from its
shores to every stranger and pilgrim on the earth, "And every one who has
THIS HOPE in him purifies himself, even as Christ is pure," (1 John
3:3.) The priests in the earthly temple had to wash and purify themselves
before they could engage in priestly service. So, if I am to be a "priest
unto God" in the heavenly Jerusalem, I must sanctify myself for this
It is a quaint but a true saying, "The man who does not
find heaven in his soul here, will not find his soul in heaven hereafter."
Unlike Jesus now, I cannot expect to be like Him forever. The fine
chiselings of the perfected model, indeed, will be added in glory; but the
seed of the likeness—the bold outlines of the moral sculpture—must be begun
on earth. Meanwhile, let the words sound in my ears, like the
preparation-bell for the great Sabbath-services of the Church in heaven—let
them follow me like a celestial monitor wherever I am, and howsoever
engaged, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,"