William Bradford Institute
for Study of the
Early Settlement of America

Views of Heaven a Test of Character

by John Owen

We may hereby examine both our own notions of the state of glory and our
preparations for it, and whether we are in any measure "made meet for the
inheritance of the saints in light." Various are the thoughts of men about the
future state,-the things which are not seen, which are eternal. Some rise no
higher but unto hopes of escaping hell, or everlasting miseries, when they die.
Yet the heathen had their Elysian fields, and Mohammed his sensual paradise.
Others have apprehensions of I know not what glistening glory, that will please
and satisfy them, they know not how, when they can be here no longer. But this
state is quite of another nature, and the blessedness of it is spiritual and
intellectual. Take an instance in one of the things before laid down. The glory
of heaven consists in the full manifestation of divine wisdom, goodness, grace,
holiness,-of all the properties of the nature of God in Christ. In the clear
perception and constant contemplation hereof consists no small part of eternal
blessedness. What, then, are our present thoughts of these things? What joy,
what satisfaction have we in the sight of them, which we have by faith through
divine revelation? What is our desire to come unto the perfect comprehension of
them? How do we like this heaven? What do we find in ourselves that will be
eternally satisfied hereby? According as our desires are after them, such and no
other are our desires of the true heaven,-of the residence of blessedness and
glory. Neither will God bring us unto heaven whether we will or no. If, through
the ignorance and darkness of our minds,-if, through the earthliness and
sensuality of our affections,-if, through a fulness of the world, and the
occasions of it,-if, by the love of life and our present enjoyments, we are
strangers unto these things, we are not conversant about them, we long not after
them,-we are not in the way towards their enjoyment. The present satisfaction we
receive in them by faith, is the best evidence we have of an indefeasible
interest in them. How foolish is it to lose the first-fruits of these things in
our own souls,- those entrances into blessedness which the contemplation of them
through faith would open unto us,-and hazard our everlasting enjoyment of them
by an eager pursuit of an interest in perishing things here below! This, this is
that which ruins the souls of most, and keeps the faith of many at so low an
ebb, that it is hard to discover any genuine working of it.


Promoting a Greater Understanding of the Discovery of the Americas