William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America


by Edward Griffin

"For he looked for a city which hath foundations whose builder and maker is
God." Hebrews 11:10

This was the habit by which the patriarch Abraham sustained himself under the
ills of life, while wandering a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth. It was
reasonable in him so to do. When men are about to remove into another country,
they are eager to catch the reports of those who have visited it, and if
possible they visit beforehand to explore it. We hope by and by to go away to
dwell in the heavens for the rest of our existence, and it is interesting to
collect all the information we can respecting that country. It is interesting to
see where our Christian friends have gone who have disappeared from our sight.
If the Bible is not a fable and all the hopes of man not a dream, they are yet
alive, in another and a better state. Why should unbelief put them out of
existence? Cannot God uphold them in a state of pure spirits like his own? Could
his benevolence be gratified by placing them hero to groan and weep for a few
days and then to be no more? If their present existence differs from our
experience what then? Have we seen all the varieties of things even in this
little world? To a mind that in thought has visited India and China and the
islands of the southern sea, is it incredible that a state of things should
exist widely different from our experience? And if our beloved friends are still
alive and in that blessed state, how interesting to visit them there and see the
home they have found.

There is no need that the inhabitants of earth should remain so little
acquainted with heaven.- There is a ladder, such as Jacob saw, by which they may
ascend and descend every hour. We ought daily in our thoughts to visit that
delightful land and to make excursions through its glorious regions. The more we
accustom ourselves to these flights the easier they will become. Why is it that
we feel so little the impression of eternal glory, but because our thoughts are
no more conversant with heaven? It is of the last importance that we should
become more familiar with that blessed country. It would tend to wean us from
this poor world, to support us under the trials of life and the delay of our
hopes, to illumine us with the light of that land of vision, to transform us
into the likeness of its blessed inhabitants, and to reconcile us to the
selfdenials and labors which we have here to endure for Christ. It would tend to
settle the great question of our qualifications for heaven. If we could gain
distinct ideas of that blessed world, we might easily decide this point by
ascertaining whether we could relish its sacred enjoyments, and whether this is
the heaven we desire.

One reason that heaven makes so little impression upon us is that we contemplate
it in generals, and of course confusedly. We must take it in detail. We must go
through its golden streets, and traverse its flowery fields, and examine its
objects one by one. Let us spend a few moments in attempting this, and for a
season imagine ourselves there.

The reflection of least importance respecting that world is that it is a
pleasant country. In whatever part of the universe it is situated, there is a
local heaven, where the body of Jesus is, where the bodies of Enoch, and Elijah,
and those who arose with Christ are, and where the bodies of all the saints will
be after the resurrection. Those bodies will be material, and of course will
occupy space, and must have a local residence, as real as the bodies which are
now on the earth. That country is already prepared, (it was "prepared from the
foundation of the world,") and is unquestionably material. The idea that the
saints will have no place to dwell in but the air has no support in the word of
God. Their city, in more senses than one, "hath foundations." It is a real
country; and my first remark is that it is a pleasant country. He that could
make the scenes which we behold, can unite the most beautiful of them into one
and surpass them all. And there can be no doubt the place which he has chosen
for the metropolis of his empire, and which Christ selected from all worlds for
his residence and the residence of his Church must be the most beautiful of all
the worlds that he has made. It is set forth in Scripture under images drawn
from the most enchanting objects of sense. I know that these are intended to
illustrate its spiritual glory, but can you prove that this is all? Why are
spiritual things set forth by sensible objects? You say, because men are in the
body. And pray, will they not eternally be in the body after the resurrection?
And will not an exhibition to the senses of the riches of the divine nature be
as useful an auxiliary to other revelations then as now? Nor can we doubt that
unimbodied spirits are capable of beholding and enjoying the material works of
God. Otherwise the material universe would be a blank to the angels, and to
human spirits before the resurrection.

We may then reasonably conclude that heaven is a world of more resplendent and
varied beauty than mortal eye has ever seen.

The next circumstance to be mentioned respecting that world is that it contains
the most delightful society. The saints are forever delivered from the
interruptions of the wicked, from the pollution of their society and the
disgusting coarseness of their conversation; and are admitted to the most
intimate friendship with the holy angels, and with patriarchs, prophets,
apostles, martyrs, and the whole assembly that have been collecting since the
death of Abel, including, in many instances, the most beloved friends they knew
on earth. Parents will there meet their children, and husbands their wives,
after a long and painful separation. Brothers and sisters will rush into each
other's arms and exclaim, "Have I found you at last? This is far unlike the
parting hour when I closed your eyes, and far unlike the solitary evenings in
which I have visited your grave and wept over your dust."- Those blessed spirits
will enjoy the most perfect friendship, with every distrust and rival interest
banished; each loving the other as his own soul, and not a thought nor a joy but
what is common. Their conversation will be high and satisfying, turning on the
history of God's love and the wonders of his works; and the expressions of love
to each other in their looks, deportment, and words, will be most tender and

The employment of heaven is delightful. The saints are delivered from all the
cares and toils of this life, and have nothing to do but to serve and praise
God, to go on his errands to different worlds, to study into the mysteries of
his nature and the wonders of his works, and to converse with their brethren on
these high and exhaustless themes. Every faculty has attained its full
employment- the understanding in grasping the great truths of God and declaring
the glories of his nature; the memory in going over his past dispensations and
collecting materials for an everlasting monument of praise; the heart in loving
and thanking him; the will in choosing him and his service; the eyes in
beholding his glory; the hands and feet in doing his will; the tongue in high
conversation and bursting songs.

In that world they have attained to the perfection of all their powers; not to
that perfection which excludes progress, but to that which fits them for the
highest action and enjoyment that their capacities admit. They are delivered
from every hindrance to meditation, devotion, or service, arising from a weak or
disordered body; from all the passions and prejudices which warped their
judgement here; from all those indiscretions by which they feared they should
injure the sacred cause they loved; and have attained to unerring wisdom. Their
memories are strengthened to recall the leading actions of their lives and the
principal dealings of God with them. They are freed from all languor and
wanderings in duty, and can hold their attention perpetually fixed without
weariness or satiety.

They have attained to the perfection of knowledge; not that perfection, I say
again, which excludes progress, but that which prevents error. They have
advanced greatly in the positive knowledge of all those things which a
sanctified spirit desires to know. The feeblest infant that has gone to heaven
probably knows more of God than all the divines on earth. They see as they are
seen and they know as they are known. Besides the light directly shed upon them,
in the excursions which they make through the universe they have a glorious
opportunity to study God in his works and dispensations.

They have escaped from all the sufferings of the present life; from sickness and
pain and the mortification of being laid aside as useless; from want and the
fear of want; and have attained to the perfect gratification of every taste and
desire,-to the possession of all things. "They shall hunger no more, neither
thirst any more, neither shall the sun light on them nor any heat; for the Lamb
which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto
living fountains of waters, and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
As heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, they own the sun, moon, and stars;
they possess the eternal God.

They have escaped from all the degradation and scorn and slander which their
poverty or their religion drew upon them here, and have reached the highest
honors of the sons of God. They have been crowned and have sat down with Christ
on his throne, and with their golden harps and robes of light forever sing and
forever shine.

They have escaped from all the "vanity" that was found in the creature, which
left them unsatisfied, uneasy, and vexatiously disappointed; the vanity too
which consisted in the transient nature of earthly things, and disturbed the
shortlived enjoyment with the reflection that it would soon expire. From all
this "vanity and vexation of spirit" they have escaped, and have found a good
which fully satisfies and brings no sorrow with it, and no apprehension that it
will ever end.

They are perfectly delivered from sin, that body of death under which they
groaned all their lives long. O how they used to look forward and pant after
this deliverance. But now they have found it. Not a worry that will ever offend
their God again. And they have attained to perfect positive holiness. They love
and thank and delight in God as much as they desire. They could not wish, with
their present powers, to be more tender or grateful towards him. They could not
wish to be more free from selfishness or anger or envy, nor, with their present
powers, to be more benevolent or affectionate towards every creature of God.
They are forever delivered from the buffetings of Satan. The enemy that annoyed
them so long is shut up in prison and can never approach them again. No longer
can those temptations vex them which made them weary of life and pursued them
into the grave.

Every wall of separation between them and God is taken down, every cloud which
hid his face is dispersed, every frown smoothed into smiles.- They are admitted
to the perfect vision and sweet enjoyment of God and the Lamb. They see that God
does not reproach them for the past, that he has not one less tender feeling
towards them for all their sins, and that he loves them with an affection
infinitely surpassing that of the tenderest earthly parent.- They are conscious
of an interchange of thoughts and feelings with him most affectionate,-of a
communion no less real than that which subsists between earthly friends. They
possess greatly enlarged views of his perfections, particularly of his unbounded
love, and enjoy him to a degree of which we have here no conception. Their souls
swell and expand with the mighty blessedness, and rise into raptures of wonder,
love, and praise.

The principal medium through which they see and commune with God is the
Mediator. It is from his face that the strongest emanations of Godhead shine. He
is the sun which illumines the heavenly city. "The city," as John saw it, "had
no need of the sun neither of the moon to shine in it; for the glory of God did
lighten it, and the Lamb" was "the light thereof." It is through him chiefly
that God speaks to the inhabitants of heaven, and through him as the
representative of the Father they send up their thanks. They put them into his
hands as the Deity expressed, much in the same way as they did in the days of
his flesh. The incarnate God is constantly displayed in heaven on a resplendent
throne, with much the same personal appearance, perhaps, that he had on Tabor
and in Patmos. Though arrayed in glory that would overpower mortal vision, it is
Jesus of Nazareth still;-the same body, the same features, the same scars in his
hands and feet and side. O how do they feel as they behold him. When they look
back to Calvary, and then down to hell, and then abroad over the heavenly
plains, and down the slope of ages, and see from what he delivered them, and to
what he raised them, and at what expense, with what unutterable gratitude do
they cast their crowns at his feet, and say, "Worthy is the Lamb that was
slain." And then they take their harps and fill all the arches of heaven with
the song, "Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and
dominion forever and ever."

All this glory and happiness will be eternal. On earth their enjoyment was
damped by the thought that it would soon expire. Their dearest friends, their
health, their life, were held by a very uncertain tenure. But now they have no
fear of change. When they first opened their eyes in that world and found
themselves entered on a blessedness which was sure and eternal, with what
transport did they contemplate that single fact after all their doubts and
fears. The thought that they are forever safe, that no changes can cast them
down, has in it a weight and sublimity of blessedness which no imagination can
conceive. They have leisure to ponder over these glorious thoughts. They may
look forward to twenty, thirty, or forty years without thinking that age is
coming on to cramp their powers and terminate their enjoyments. They may breathe
the airs of paradise and inhale the delights of heaven for a thousand years,
without losing the freshness of their youth or approaching any nearer to an end.
They may measure over a million of ages of varied delights, and have as much
before them as at the first. They may pass as many more millions of ages as
there were dusts in the earth, and still they are as young as ever. From that
distant period of eternity, when they look back to the few moments that they
sojourned on earth, how diminutive will this little space appear; how trifling
its joys and sorrows; and how amazing will it seem that they could be so
interested in them.

They will eternally grow in capacity, knowledge, holiness, and happiness. This
seems to be the natural progress of mind until it is checked by bodily decay.
But when no such restraint hangs upon the spirit, it will hold on in its course
of advancement without end. As it grew in the vigor of its faculties from
infancy to manhood, so it will expand in the regions of life to eternity:
insomuch that the least soul will far outstrip the present dimensions of
Gabriel; and holding on its way, will be to what the highest angel now is, as a
giant to an infant; and still it has an endless progression before it,- rising
higher and higher in intellectual sublimity, and forever approximating towards
the infinite dimensions of God.

Its knowledge too will forever increase. Perpetually pondering on the wonders of
God, studying him in his works, drawing lessons from all worlds among which it
makes excursions, and diving deeper and deeper into the unfathomable wonders of
redemption, it cannot fail to advance in knowledge without end. The time then
must come when the least soul in heaven will know more than all the creation of
God now do; and still it has just entered the heavenly school. Imagination
cannot keep pace with its flight through the sublime heights of intellectual
ascension. What amazing views of God and the Lamb, what amazing views of the
mysteries of redemption, what amazing views of the wonders of creation, of the
purposes to be answered by the sufferings of the damned, of the boundless reach
of mercy, of the whole history of God's administration in all worlds: and still
to pursue the high and glorious study without end.

And in proportion to its advance in capacity and knowledge must be its holiness.
The more God is seen the more he will be loved and delighted in.- What new and
unspeakable fervors of affection will be enkindled by those accessions of
knowledge which will be hourly coming in. What a flame of love and gratitude
will be acquired in the eternal progress of capacity and knowledge. The time
will come when the least soul in heaven will contain more love and gratitude
than the whole consistory of angels now do: and still to advance to higher and
still higher fervors without end.

And in proportion to its advance in capacity, knowledge, and holiness, will be
its happiness. If to know and love God in one degree makes a heaven, to know and
love him in ten degrees will make a tenfold happiness. What unimagined bliss
then must the holy soul find in rising up to views and fervors increasing as the
ages of eternity go round. The time must come when the feeblest saint in heaven
will enjoy more in one hour than all the creation of God have enjoyed to this
day; and still he has just begun his eternal progress in blessedness. From those
sublime heights of ecstacy he will ascend to heights still more sublime,
reaching upwards continually and approximating forever towards the infinite
happiness of the Eternal Mind.

And now behold that creature!-the feeblest that ever entered heaven; behold him
at some imagined point in eternity, with all this increase of capacity,
knowledge, holiness, and happiness; and how awfully great and glorious does he
appear. As much above the heathen gods as the sun exceeds a glow worm. Could
that creature appear on earth he would be worshipped by half the nations. He
would pour upon their sight a sublimity and glory a million times greater than
they ever ascribed to God himself. And still that creature has just begun his
eternal progress. What then will he become? The imagination of Gabriel falters
and turns back from the amazing pursuit.

Child of God, bow before thine own majesty.- Debase not thyself by sordid
actions. Forget not the glories of thy nature, nor sell thine infinite
birthright for such a contemptible mess of pottage as earth can yield. Child of
God, cheer up under the trials of life. Let nothing cast you down who are
standing on the verge of immortal glory. It is the only opportunity you will
ever have to suffer for Christ. Eternity will be long enough for enjoyment. Your
toils and selfdenials will all be recompensed a thousand fold by that "far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Child of God, why are you cast down? I
wonder you are not constantly transported. Our Saviour said to his disciples,
"Rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rejoice rather because
your names are written in heaven." So say I to you. Rejoice not that your wealth
is increased, that your honors flow in upon every gale, that the laurels of
science encircle your brow, that you have the sweetest and most affectionate
friends; but rejoice rather that an immortality of glory is before you. Child of
God, why are you sluggish and sleeping out life in ungrateful inaction? What is
the world to you who are so soon to be transported to the heaven of heavens? How
will the world appear to you when it is melting down in the general
conflagration? How will the world appear to you a million ages after the
judgment, while you are lost among the glories of heaven? And why this
ungrateful sloth? Have you nothing to do for him who irrevocably conferred this
immortality upon you? Have you nothing to do for him who redeemed you from hell
by his own blood, and has gone to prepare a place for you? Have you nothing to
do for him on earth at whose feet you will presently lie in such unutterable
transports of wonder and gratitude? Have you nothing to do for him on the very
ground which was stained by his blood, and while breathing the air that was
agitated by his sighs? Have you forgotten that he left on earth a beloved
Church, and that he has said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least
of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me?" Have you nothing to do for that
Church on which his heart is so tenderly fixed? Have you nothing to do for his
honor among men, who came out to seek you when you were wandering from the fold
of God,-who separated you from your former companions and put a title to heaven
in your hands? Ah Sirs, how will this listlessness appear when you are enveloped
in the glories of heaven and are filling the celestial arches with your bursting

Up, every redeemed soul, and do what you can for your God and Saviour. Take your
harps from the willows and begin the raptured song. Let all the country around
be charmed and won by your sacred melody. Go on your way enchanting the ear of a
Christless age with your harp and your song; and when you come to the last
enemy, enchant the ear of death itself with the same celestial notes; and let
your praises die away from mortal ears, only to burst in new and louder tones on
the ear of heaven. Amen and Amen.


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas