I. First, it is a truly blessed thing to the soul of man to see God.
1. What is meant by seeing God.
(1.) It is not any sight with the bodily eyes. The blessedness of the soul does not enter in at that door. This would make the blessedness of the soul dependent on the body, or the happiness of man’s superior part dependent on the inferior.
But the beauty of Christ’s body as seen by the bodily eyes, will be ravishing and delightful, chiefly as it will express his spiritual glory. The majesty that will appear in Christ’s body, will express and show forth the spiritual greatness and majesty of the divine nature. The pureness and beauty of that light and glory will express the perfection of the divine holiness. The sweetness and ravishing mildness of his countenance will express his divine and spiritual love and grace.(2.) It is an intellectual view by which God is seen.
God is a spiritual being, and he is beheld with the understanding. The soul has in itself those powers which are capable of apprehending objects, and especially spiritual objects, without looking through the windows of the outward senses.
2. I shall now give the reasons why the thus seeing God is that which will make the soul truly happy.
(1.) It yields a delight suitable to the nature of an intelligent creature.
Therefore those delights are most suitable to the nature of man, that are intellectual, which result from the exercises of this noblest, this distinguishing faculty. God, by giving man understanding, made him capable of such delights, and fitted him for them, and designed that such pleasures as those should be his happiness.
(2.) The pleasure which the soul has in seeing God is not only its delight, but it is at the same time its highest perfection and excellency.
To see God is the highest honor and dignity to which the human nature can attain. That intellectual beholding of him is itself the highest excellency of the understanding. The great part of the excellency of man is his knowledge and understanding. But the knowledge of God is the most excellent and noble kind of knowledge.
(3.) The happiness of seeing God is a blessing without any mixture.
This pleasure brings no bitterness with it.
This joy is without mixture, not only as it brings not bitterness with it, but also as it will not suffer any.
(4.) This joy of seeing God is the true blessedness of man because the fountain that supplies it is equal to man’s desire and capacity.
When God gave man his capacity of happiness, he doubtless made provision for the filling of it ... After they have had the pleasure of beholding the face of God millions of ages, it will not grow a dull story. The relish of this delight will be as exquisite as ever, there is enough still for the utmost employment of every faculty.
(5.) This delight in the vision of God hath an unfailing foundation.
If we take pleasure in gratifying our senses, those objects whence we draw our gratifications will perish with the using, and our senses themselves also will be gone, the organs will be worn out, and our whole outward form will turn to dust. If we take pleasure in union with our earthly friends, that union must be broken. The bonds are not durable, but will soon wear asunder ... But he who has the immediate intellectual vision of God’s glory and love, and rejoices in that, has his happiness built upon an everlasting rock.