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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

The Delights of the Next World

By Mather Byles (1707–1788)

[The Glorious Rest of Heaven: A Sermon. 1745.]

THE EMPLOYMENT of heaven is glorious employment. As the company is so excellent and illustrious, so no less is the conversation with which they gratify and entertain one another, in those delightful habitations. Doubtless those happy spirits will discourse together, on the actions of their past lives; the blessings they were favored with, the miseries they escaped from, and glory that they now possess. Those that knew one another upon earth, will be much better acquainted there; and where any have been instrumental in forwarding and helping on one another in their way to heaven, they will be mutual joys to one another when they meet together.

How blessed and pleasing an intercourse must it be, for friends to congratulate the arrival of friends to that holy world; to talk over the prayers they have perhaps formerly made together; the pious conversation they have carried on upon earth; and the serious religion they promoted in each other’s minds, by their word and their examples. It will certainly be no little satisfaction, for them there to renew to one another, the thoughts and discourses they once entertained concerning the glory and happiness of the kingdom where they will then reign. They will say one to another, How dark and obscure were our conceptions of this felicity! How low and mean the talk we formerly had about it! How inadequate and trifling the most exalted strokes of our mortal discourses to these sublime enjoyments!

And as the conversation we shall have with those which we were familiar with on earth, will be so pleasant and happy, so no less will that delight us, which we shall have with those who have gone to heaven before us. To mix in the divine and sinless companies there, to hear the improving expressions of their tongues, and attend to the soft persuasion that sits upon their lips, this will be a very noble entertainment. How glad shall we be, to hear Paul give us an account of his conversion with his own mouth; or Noah himself be the relator of the flood which bore him up in his ark, over the tops of the mountains! To hear Moses, in an improved sublimity of style, tell of the wonders of the creation, and relate the pomp and terror of Mount Sinai, when its summit blazed with fire unto the midst of heaven, and the black smoke arose like the smoke of a furnace, and rolled away through the air; while the voice of the trumpet echoed louder and louder, and the whole mountain shook to its foundations.