Let us be urged to the practice of this duty by a consideration which, it is true, has most force for unrenewed men, who know nothing of the Christian experience. But it still has much strength for us if we consider our remaining sin and the slender amount of our communion with God. We still find it too difficult to delight in God. It is still not so easy and pleasant as it ought to be to walk with God. Notwithstanding our calling and our expectation, it is still too difficult for us to be happy in heaven. It is in reference to this that the subject we have been considering speaks with great emphasis. Let us remember that a foundation for heaven in our own minds is requisite in order to the enjoyment of the heaven that is on high. That rational being who does not practise the meditation and enjoy the experiences of heaven will not be at home there and, therefore, will not go there. Every being goes to “his own place”.
Can we suppose that a soul that never here on earth contemplated the divine character with pleasure will, in peace and joy, see that character in eternity? Can we suppose that a human spirit filled with self-seeking and worldliness, and wholly destitute of devout and adoring meditations, will be brought among seraphim and cherubim when taken out of time? Is that world of holy contemplation the proper place for a carnal mind filled through and through with only earthly and selfish thoughts? Can the sensual rich man be happy in the bosom of Abraham? God is not mocked; neither can a man cheat and impose upon his own soul when in eternity. Everyone will know then, if not before, what he does really love and what he does really loathe. And if in that other world there be only a pretended and hollow affection for God, with what a sigh and long-drawn moan will the wretched being fling down the harp with which he vainly tries to sing the heavenly song! For whatever a man thinks of with most relish here in time, he shall think of with most relish in eternity. He who loves to think of wealth and fame and sensual pleasure, and loathes to think of God and Christ and heavenly objects, shall think of wealth and fame and sensual pleasure in eternity where all such thinking is “the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched”. But he who, in any degree, loves to think of God and Christ, and abhors to think of sin in all its forms, shall think of God and Christ in eternity, where all such thought is music and peace and rest.
The destination of every man in another world may be inferred and known from the general tenor of his thoughts in this. He who does not love to think upon a particular class of subjects here will not love to think upon them there. The mere passage from time to eternity can no more alter a man’s likes or dislikes in this respect than the passage of the Atlantic can alter them. And that rational spirit – be it human, angelic or archangelic – which in eternity cannot take positive delight in contemplating God, but recoils from all such contemplation, is miserable and lost, though it tread the golden streets and hear the rippling murmurs of the river of the water of life. But if our meditation upon God is sweet here, it will be sweeter in eternity. And then our blessedness will be certain and secure; for no spirit – human, angelic or archangelic – can by any possibility be made unblest in any part of God’s vast dominions if it really finds joy in the contemplation of the ever-present God.
1. The conclusion of one of Shedd’s Sermons to the Spiritual Man, entitled Religious Meditation, on the text: “My meditation of Him shall be sweet” (Ps 104:34a). The third head, on the blessedness of meditation, appeared in the last issue. Shedd was a prominent American theologian in the second half of the nineteenth century.