(Owen. The Glory of Christ, Part 1. File 14)

(... continued from File 13)

Chapter 14. Other Differences between our Beholding the Glory of  
Christ by Faith in this World and by Sight in Heaven.  
 Among the many other differences which might be insisted on  
(although the greatest of them are unto us at present absolutely  
incomprehensible, and so not to be inquired into), I shall name two  
only, and so put a close to this Discourse.  
 I. In the view which we have here of the glory of Christ by faith,  
we gather things, as it were, one by one, in several parts and  
parcels out of the Scripture; and comparing them together in our  
minds, they become the object of our present sight, - which is our  
spiritual comprehension of the things themselves. We have no  
proposal of the glory of Christ unto us by vision or illustrious  
appearance of his person, as Isaiah had of old, chap. 6: 1-4; or as  
John had in the Revelation, chap. 1: 13-16. We need it not; - it  
would be of no advantage unto us. For as unto the assurance of our  
faith, we have a word of prophecy more useful unto us than a voice  
from heaven, 2 Peter 1: 17-19. And of those who received such  
visions, though of eminent use unto the church, yet as unto  
themselves, one of them cried out, "Woe is me! I am undone;" and the  
other "fell as dead at his feet." We are not able in this life to  
bear such glorious representations of him, unto our edification.  
 And as we have no such external proposals of his glory unto us in  
visions, so neither have we any new revelations of him by immediate  
inspiration. We can see nothing of it, know nothing of it but what  
is proposed unto us in the Scripture, and that as it is proposed.  
Nor does the Scripture itself, in any one place, make an entire  
proposal of the glory of Christ with all that belongs unto it; nor  
is it capable of so doing, nor can there be any such representation  
of it unto our capacity on this side heaven. If all the light of the  
heavenly luminaries had been contracted into one, it would have been  
destructive, not useful, to our sight; but being by divine wisdom  
distributed into sun, moon, and stars, each giving out his own  
proportion, it is suited to declare the glory of God and to  
enlighten the world. So, if the whole revelation of the glory of  
Christ, and all that belongs unto it, had been committed into one  
series and contexture of words, it would have overwhelmed our minds  
rather than enlightened us. Wherefore God has distributed the light  
of it through the whole firmament of the books of the Old and New  
Testament; whence it communicates itself, by various parts and  
degrees, unto the proper use of the church. In one place we have a  
description of his person, and the glory of it; sometimes in words  
plain and proper, and sometimes in great variety of allegories,  
conveying a heavenly sense of things unto the minds of them that do  
believe; - in others, of his love and condescension in his office,  
and his glory therein. His humiliation, exaltation, and power, are  
in like manner in sundry places represented unto us. And as one star  
differeth from another in glory, so it was one way whereby God  
represented the glory of Christ in types and shadows under the Old  
Testament, and another wherein it is declared in the New.  
Illustrious testimonies unto all these things are planted up and  
down in the Scripture, which we may collect as choice flowers in the  
paradise of God, for the object of our faith and sight thereby.  
 So the spouse in the Canticles considered every part of the person  
and grace of Christ distinctly by itself, and from them all  
concludes that "he is altogether lovely," chap. 5: 10-16. So ought  
we to do in our study of the Scripture, to find out the revelation  
of the glory of Christ which is made therein, as did the prophets of  
old, as unto what they themselves received by immediate inspiration.  
They "searched diligently what the Spirit of Christ which was in  
them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of  
Christ, and the glory that should follow," 1 Peter 1: 11. But this  
seeing of Christ by parts in the revelation of him is one cause why  
we see him here but in parts.  
 Some suppose that by chopping, and painting, and gilding, they can  
make an image of Christ that shall perfectly represent him to their  
senses and carnal affections from head to foot. But they "feed on  
ashes" and have "a lie in their right hand." Jesus Christ is  
evidently crucified before our eyes in the Scripture, Gal 3: 1. So  
also is he evidently exalted and glorified therein. And it is the  
wisdom of faith to gather into one those parcelled descriptions that  
are given of him, that they may be the object of its view and  
 In the vision which we shall have above, the whole glory of Christ  
will be at once and always represented unto us; and we shall be  
enabled in one act of the light of glory to comprehend it. Here,  
indeed, we are at a loss; - our minds and understandings fail us in  
their contemplations. It will not yet enter into our hearts to  
conceive what is the beauty, what is the glory of this complete  
representation of Christ unto us. To have at once all the glory of  
what he is, what he was in his outward state and condition, what he  
did and suffered, what he is exalted unto, - his love and  
condescension, his mystical union with the church, and the  
communication of himself unto it, with the recapitulation of all  
things in him, - and the glory of God, even the Father, in his  
wisdom, righteousness, grace, love, goodness, power, shining forth  
eternally in him, in what he is, has done, and does, all presented  
unto us in one view, all comprehended by us at once, is that which  
at present we cannot conceive. We can long for it, pant after it,  
and have some foretastes of it, - namely, of that state and season  
wherein our whole souls, in all their powers and faculties, shall  
constantly, inseparably, eternally cleave by love unto whole Christ,  
in the sight of the glory of his person and grace, until they are  
watered, dissolved, and inebriated in the waters of life and the  
rivers of pleasure that are above for evermore. So must we speak of  
the things which we admire, which we adore, which we love, which we  
long for, which we have some foretastes of in sweetness ineffable,  
which yet we cannot comprehend.  
 These are some few of those things whence ariseth the difference  
between that view which we have here of the glory of Christ, and  
that which is reserved for heaven, - namely, such as are taken from  
the difference between the means or instruments of the one and the  
other, faith and sight.  
 II. In the last place, the great difference between them consists  
in, and is manifested by, their effects. Hereof I shall give some  
few instances, and close this Discourse.  
 First, The vision which we shall have of the glory of Christ in  
heaven, and of the glory of the immense God in him, is perfectly and  
absolutely transforming. It does change us wholly into the image of  
Christ. When we shall see him, we shall be as he is; we shall be  
like him, because we shall see him, 1 John 3: 2. But although the  
closing, perfecting act of this transformation be an act of sight,  
or the sight of glory, yet there are many things towards it, or  
degrees in it, which we may here take notice of in our way.  
 1. The soul, upon its departure from the body, is immediately  
freed from all the weakness, ability, darkness, uncertainties, and  
fears, which were impressed on it from the flesh, wherewith it was  
in the strictest union. The image of the fist Adam as fallen is then  
abolished. Yea, it is not only freed from all irregular, sinful  
distemper cleaving to our nature as corrupted, but from all those  
sinless grievances and infirmities which belong unto the original  
constitution of it. This necessarily ensues on the dissolution of  
the person in order unto a blessed state. The first entrance by  
mortality into immortality, is a step towards glory. The ease which  
a blessed soul finds in a deliverance from this encumbrance, is a  
door of entrance into eternal rest. Such a change is made in that  
which in itself is the centre of all evil, - namely, death, - that  
it is made a means of freeing us from all the remainders of what is  
 For this does not follow absolutely on the nature of the thing  
itself. A mere dissolution of our natures can bring no advantage  
with it, especially as it is a part of the curse. But it is from the  
sanctification of it by the death of Christ. Hereby that which was  
God's ordinance for the infliction of judgement, becomes an  
effectual means for the communication of mercy, 1 Cor. 15: 22, 54.  
It is by virtue of the death of Christ alone, that the souls of  
believers are freed by death from all impressions of sin, infirmity,  
and evils, which they have had from the flesh; which were their  
burden, under which they groaned all their days. No man knows in any  
measure the excellency of this privilege, and the dawnings of glory  
which are in it, who has not been wearied, and even worn out,  
through long conflicting with the body of death. The soul hereon  
being freed from all annoyances, all impressions from the flesh, is  
expedite and enlarged unto the exercise of all its gracious  
faculties, as we shall see immediately.  
 With wicked men it is not so. Death unto them is a curse; and the  
curse is the means of the conveyance of all evil, and not  
deliverance from any. Wherein they have been warmed and refreshed by  
the influences of the flesh, they shall be deprived of it. But their  
souls in their separate state, are perpetually harassed with all the  
disquieting passions which have been impressed on their minds by  
their corrupt fleshly lusts. In vain do such persons look for relief  
by death. If there be any thing remaining of present good and  
usefulness to them, they shall be deprived of it. And their freedom  
for a season from bodily pains in no way lie in the balance against  
that confluence of evils which death will let in upon them.  
 2. The "spirits of just men," being freed by death from the clog  
of the flesh, not yet refined, - all the faculties of their souls,  
and all the graces in them, as faith, love, and delight, are  
immediately set at liberty, enabled constantly to exercise  
themselves on God in Christ. The end for which they were created,  
for which our nature was endowed with them, was, that we might  
adhere unto God by them, and come unto the enjoyment of him. Being  
now freed wholly from all that impotency, perverseness, and  
disability unto this end, with all the effects of them, which came  
upon them by the fall; they are carried with a full stream towards  
God, cleaving unto him with the most intense embraces. And all their  
acting towards God shall be natural, with facility, joy, delight,  
and complacency. We know not yet the excellency of the operations of  
our souls in divine things, when disburdened of their present weight  
of the flesh. And this is a second step towards the consummation of  
glory. For, -  
 In the resurrection of the body, upon its full redemption, it  
shall be so purified, sanctified, glorified, as to give no  
obstruction unto the soul in its operations, but be a blessed organ  
for its highest and most spiritual actings. The body shall never  
more be a trouble, a burden unto the soul, but an assistant in its  
operations, and participant of its blessedness. Our eyes were made  
to see our Redeemer, and our other senses to receive impressions  
from him, according unto their capacity. As the bodies of wicked men  
shall be restored unto them to increase and complete their misery in  
their sufferings; so shall the bodies of the just be restored unto  
them, to heighten and consummate their blessedness.  
 3. These things are preparatory unto glory. The complete  
communication of it is by the infusion of a new heavenly light into  
the mind, enabling us to see the Lord Christ as he is. The soul  
shall not be brought into the immediate presence of Christ without a  
new power, to behold him and the immediate representation of his  
glory. Faith now does cease, as unto the manner of its operation in  
this life, whilst we are absent from Christ. This light of glory  
succeeds into its room, fitted for that state and all the ends of  
it, as faith is for that which is present. And, -  
 4. In the first operation of this light of glory, believers shall  
so behold the glory of Christ, and the glory of God in him, as that  
there with and thereby they shall be immediately and universally  
changed into his likeness. They shall be as he is, when they shall  
see him as he is. There is no growth in glory, as to parts; - there  
may be as to degrees. Additions may be outwardly made unto what is  
at first received as by the resurrection of the body; but the  
internal light of glory and its transforming efficacy is capable of  
no degrees, though new revelations may be made unto it unto  
eternity. For the infinite fountain of life, and light, and  
goodness, can never be fathomed, much less exhausted. And what God  
spake on the entrance of sin, by the way of contempt and reproach,  
"Behold, the man is become like one of us," upbraiding him with what  
he had foolishly designed; - on the accomplishment of the work of  
his grace, he says in love and infinite goodness, "Man is become  
like one of us," in the perfect restoration of our image in him.  
This is the first effect of the light of glory.  
 Faith also, in beholding the glory of Christ in this life, is  
accompanied with a transforming efficacy, as the apostle expressly  
declares, 2 Cor. 3: 18. It is the principle from whence, and the  
instrumental cause whereby, all spiritual change is wrought in us in  
this life; but the work of it is imperfect; - first, because it is  
gradual, and then because it is partial.  
 (1.) As unto the manner of its operation, it is gradual, and does  
not at once transform us into the image of Christ; yes, the degrees  
of its progress therein are unto us for the most part imperceptible.  
It requires much spiritual wisdom and observation to obtain an  
experience of them in our own souls. "The inward man is renewed day  
by day," whilst we behold these invisible things, 2 Cor. 4: 16-18.  
But how? - even as the outward man decays by age, which is by  
insensible degrees and alterations. Such is the transformation which  
we have by faith, in its present view of the glory of Christ. And  
according to our experience of its efficacy herein, is our evidence  
of its truth and reality in the beholding of him. No man can have  
the least ground of assurance that he has seen Christ and his glory  
by faith, without some effects of it in changing him into his  
likeness. For as on the touch of his garment by the woman in the  
Gospel, virtue went out from him to heal her infirmity; so upon this  
view of faith, an influence of transforming power will proceed from  
Christ unto the soul.  
 (2.) As unto the event, it is but partial. It does not bring this  
work unto perfection. The change wrought by it is indeed great and  
glorious; or, as the apostle speaks, it is "from glory to glory," in  
a progress of glorious grace: but absolute perfection is reserved  
for vision. As to divine worship, perfection was not by the law. It  
did many things preparatory unto the revelation of the will of God  
concerning it, but it "made nothing perfect:" so absolute perfection  
in holiness, and the restoration of the image of God, is not by the  
Gospel, is not by faith; - however, it gives us many preparatory  
degrees unto it, as the apostle fully declares, Phil. 3: 10-14.  
 Secondly, Vision is beatifical, as it is commonly called, and that  
not amiss. It gives perfect rest and blessedness unto them in whom  
it is. This may be a little opened in the ensuing observations.  
 1. There are continual operations of God in Christ in the souls of  
them that are glorified, and communications from him unto them. For  
all creatures must externally live, even in heaven, in dependence on  
Him who is the eternal fountain of being, life, goodness, and  
blessedness unto all. As we cannot subsist one moment in our beings,  
lives, souls, bodies, the inward or outward man, without the  
continual acting of divine power in us, and towards us; so in the  
glorified state our all shall depend eternally on divine power and  
goodness, communicating themselves unto us, for all the ends of our  
blessed subsistence in heaven.  
 2. What is the way and manner of these communications, we cannot  
comprehend. We cannot, indeed, fully understand the nature and way  
of his spiritual communications unto us in this life. We know these  
things by their signs, their outward means, and principally by the  
effects they produce in the real change of our natures; but in  
themselves we see but little of them. "The wind bloweth where it  
listeth, and we hear the sound thereof, but we know not whence it  
comets, and whither it goes; so is every one that is born of the  
Spirit," John 3: 8. All God's real operations in heaven and earth  
are incomprehensible, as being acts of infinite power; and we cannot  
search them out unto perfection.  
 3. All communications from the Divine Being and infinite fulness  
in heaven unto glorified saints, are in and through Christ Jesus,  
who shall for ever be the medium of communication between God and  
the church, even in glory. All things being gathered into one head  
in him, even things in heaven, and things in earth, - that head  
being in immediate dependence on God, this order shall never be  
dissolved, Eph. 1: 10, 11; 1 Cor. 3: 23. And on these communications  
from God through Christ depends entirely our continuance in a state  
of blessedness and glory. We shall no more be self-subsistent in  
glory than we are in nature or grace.  
 4. The way on our part whereby we shall receive these  
communications from God by Christ, which are the eternal springs of  
life, peace, joy, and blessedness, is this vision the sight whereof  
we speak. For, as it is expressly assigned thereunto in the  
Scripture, so whereas it contains the perfect operation of our minds  
and souls in a perfect state, on the most perfect object, it is the  
only means of our blessedness. And this is the true cause whence  
there neither is nor can be any satiety or weariness in heaven, in  
the eternal contemplation of the same glory. For not only the object  
of our sight is absolutely infinite, which can never be searched  
unto the bottom, yea, is perpetually new unto a finite  
understanding; but our subjective blessedness consisting in  
continual fresh communications from the infinite fulness of the  
divine nature, derived unto us through vision, is always new, and  
always will be so to eternity. Herein shall all the saints of God  
drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at his right hand, be  
satisfied with his likeness, and refresh themselves in the eternal  
springs of life, light, and joy for evermore.  
 This effect, - that view, which we have by faith of the glory of  
Christ in this world, does not produce. It is sanctifying, not  
glorifying. The best of saints are far from a perfect or glorified  
state in this life; and that not only on the account of the outward  
evils which in their persons they are exposed unto, but also of the  
weakness and imperfection of their inward state in grace. Yet we may  
observe some things unto the honour of faith in them who have  
received it.  
 (1.) In its due exercise on Christ, it will give unto the souls of  
believers some previous participation of future glory, working in  
them dispositions unto, and preparation for, the enjoyment of it.  
 (2.) There is no glory, no peace, no joy, no satisfaction in this  
world, to be compared with what we receive by that weak and  
imperfect view which we have of the glory of Christ by faith; yea,  
all the joys of the world are a thing of nought in comparison of  
what we so recede.  
 (3.) It is sufficient to give us such a perception, such a  
foretaste of future blessedness in the enjoyment of Christ, as may  
continually stir us up to breathe and pant after it. But it is not  
 Other differences of an alike nature between our beholding of the  
glory of Christ in this life by faith, and that vision of it which  
is reserved for heaven, might be insisted on; but I shall proceed no  
farther. There is nothing farther for us to do herein but that now  
and always we shut up all our meditations concerning it with the  
deepest self-abasement, out of a sense of our unworthiness and  
insufficiency to comprehend those things, admiration of that  
excellent glory which we cannot comprehend, and vehement longings  
for that season when we shall see him as he is, be ever with him,  
and know him even as we are known.  

(... Owen. Glory of Christ. Part 1 concluded)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owgch-14.txt