Heaven Is a World of Love

INTRODUCTION BY STEPHEN J. NICHOLS

Of all the sermons explored in the previous chapters, "Heaven Is a World of Love" seems to capture Jonathan Edwards's vision of heaven on earth the best. This sermon was the final installment in Edwards's sermon series on Paul's exquisite chapter on love, 1 Corinthians 13. The old King James Version word for love was charity. So Edwards entitled his series "Charity and Its Fruits." In the first of these fifteen sermons, Edwards declares that love is the sum of all the virtues. The doctrine for that sermon reads, "That all the virtue that is saving, and that distinguishes true Christians from others, is summed up in Christian love." It is love directed to God first and to our neighbors second. It is an active love, one that also results in serving God and serving others. This love and its fruits are the telltale signs of discipleship.

Edwards closes his series by reflecting on 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, the promise of perfected love that awaits us in heaven. He pulls out all stops in describing the glorious future for us in heaven, the world of love. The sermon truly inspires. But as we have seen in the previous chapters, Edwards sought not only to inspire but also to instruct. As he ends this sermon, he reminds us that if heaven is a world of love, then the way to heaven is the way of love.

The late Paul Ramsey, an Edwards scholar at Princeton University, lamented that most who know Edwards know him only as the preacher of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" and not as the preacher of "Heaven Is a World of Love." Edwards had a profound sense of sin and judgment–made quite clear in "Sinners." He had an equally profound sense of the beauty and joy of God, of the glory of heaven, and of the happiness of God's children. He knew the pain and misery of life, and he understood the evil of the human heart. But he also knew of the power of love. He knew the power of a life of love, the power of living on earth as it is and in heaven.

A NOTE ON THE TEXT

Edwards preached this sermon series between April and October 1738. Tryon Edwards, a grandson, first published the sermon series in 1851. His edition has been widely reprinted, available currently as Jonathan Edwards, Charity and Its Fruits (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth, 1969). Tryon Edwards's version has sixteen sermons, as he divided the fourth sermon into two. The scholarly edition of the entire sermon series, along with a helpful introduction, is available in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Volume 8: Ethical Writings, edited by Paul Ramsey (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989).

The original manuscript has been lost. The scholarly edition of the sermon is based on an early nineteenth-century manuscript in an unknown hand that is part of the Edwards manuscript collection at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary in Massachusetts. It is not known on which manuscript Tryon Edwards based his edition.

The text reprinted here is based on Tryon Edwards's version, with some stylistic and editorial changes. The final paragraph comes from the conclusion of the Paul Ramsey edition. I have abridged the sermon to roughly half of its original length. If it's any consolation to modern readers (and preachers), he likely took more than one service to preach the full sermon.

"Heaven Is a World of Love" is only the tip of the iceberg. Any one of the other sermons offers equal inspiration and instruction for living the Christian life. If this book whets your appetite for more of Edwards, then the references in the footnotes will help you track down the other sermons.  Reading Edwards's sermons well repays the effort.


THE SERMON, ABRIDGED

"Heaven Is a World of Love"

Jonathan Edwards

October 1738

1 Corinthians 13:8-10: Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

From the first of these verses, I have already drawn the doctrine, that that great fruit of the Spirit in which the Holy Ghost shall not only for a season, but everlastingly, be communicated to the church of Christ, is divine love.

And now I would consider the same verse (1 Cor. 13:8) in connection with the two that follow it (1 Cor. 13:9-10) and upon the three verses would make two observations. First, that it is mentioned as one great excellence of love, that it shall remain when all other fruits of the Spirit have failed. Second, that this will come to pass in the perfect state of the church, when that which is in part shall be done away, and that which is perfect is come....

DOCTRINE

Heaven is a world of love.

The apostle speaks, in the text, of a state of the church when it is perfect in heaven, and therefore a state in which the Holy Spirit shall be more perfectly and abundantly given to the church than it is now on earth. But the way in which it shall be given when it is so abundantly poured forth, will be in that great fruit of the Spirit, holy and divine love, in the hearts of all the blessed inhabitants of that world. So that the heavenly state of the church is a state that is distinguished from its earthly state, as it is that state which God has designed especially for such a communication of his Holy Spirit, and in which it shall be given perfectly, whereas, in the present state of the church, it is given with great imperfection. And it is also a state in which this holy love or charity shall be, as it were, the only gift or fruit of the Spirit, as being the most perfect and glorious of all, and which, being brought to perfection, renders all other gifts that God bestowed on his church on earth needless.

And that we may the better see how heaven is thus a world of holy love, I would consider, first, the great cause and fountain of love that is in heaven; second, the objects of love that it contains; third, the subjects of that love; fourth, its principle, or the love itself; fifth, the excellent circumstances in which it is there exercised and expressed and enjoyed; and, sixth, the happy effects and fruits of all this.

I. The Cause and Fountain of love in heaven. Here I remark that the God of love himself dwells in heaven. Heaven is the palace or presence-chamber of the high and holy One, whose name is love, and who is both the cause and source of all holy love. God, considered with respect to his essence, is everywhere. He fills both heaven and earth. But yet he is said, in some respects, to be more especially in some places than in others. He was said of old to dwell in the land of Israel, above all other lands; and in Jerusalem, above all other cities of that land; and in the temple, above all other buildings in the city; and in the holy of holies, above all other apartments of the temple; and on the mercy seat, over the ark of the covenant, above all other places in the holy of holies. But heaven is his dwelling-place above all other places in the universe; and all those places in which he was said to dwell of old, were but types of this. Heaven is a part of creation that God has built for this end, to be the place of his glorious presence, and it is his abode forever; and here will he dwell, and gloriously manifest himself to all eternity.

And this renders heaven a world of love. God is the fountain of love, as the sun is the fountain of light. And therefore the glorious presence of God in heaven fills heaven with love, as the sun, placed in the midst of the visible heavens in a dear day, fills the world with light. The apostle tells us that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). And therefore, seeing he is an infinite being, it follows that he is an infinite fountain of love. Seeing he is an all-sufficient being, it follows that he is a full and overflowing, and inexhaustible fountain of love. And in that he is an unchangeable and eternal being, he is an unchangeable and eternal fountain of love.

There, even in heaven, dwells the God from whom every stream of holy love, yea, every drop that is, or ever was, proceeds. There dwells God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, united as one, in infinitely dear, and incomprehensible, and mutual, and eternal love. There dwells God the Father, who is the father of mercies, and so the father of love, who so loved the world as to give his only-begotten Son to die for it. There dwells Christ, the Lamb of God, the prince of peace and of love, who so loved the world that he shed his blood, and poured out his soul unto death for men. There dwells the great Mediator, through whom all the divine love is expressed toward men, and by whom the fruits  of that love have been purchased, and through whom they  are communicated, and  through  whom love is imparted to the hearts of all God's people. There dwells Christ in both his natures, the human and the divine, sitting on the same throne with the Father. And there dwells the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of divine love, in whom the very essence of God, as it were, flows out, and is breathed forth in love, and by whose immediate influence all holy love is shed abroad in the hearts of all the saints on earth and in heaven.

There, in heaven, this infinite fountain of love, this eternal Three in One, is set open without any obstacle to hinder access to it, as it flows forever. There this glorious God is manifested, and shines forth, in full glory, in beams of love. And there this glorious fountain forever flows forth in streams, yea, in rivers of love and delight, and these rivers swell, as it were, to an ocean of love, in which the souls of the ransomed may bathe with the sweetest enjoyment, and their hearts, as it were, be deluged with love!

II. To the objects of love that heaven contains. Here I would observe three things.

1. There are none but lovely objects in heaven. No odious, or unlovely, or polluted person or thing is to be seen there. There is nothing there that is wicked or unholy. "There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defiles, neither whatsoever works abomination" (Rev. 21:27). And there is nothing that is deformed with any natural or moral deformity; but everything is beauteous to behold, and amiable and excellent in itself.... All the persons that belong to the blessed society of heaven are lovely. The Father of the family is lovely, and so are all his children; the head of the body lovely, and so are all the members....

2. They shall be perfectly lovely. There are many things in this world that in the general are lovely, but yet are not perfectly free from that which is the contrary. There are spots on the sun; and so there are many men that are most amiable and worthy to be loved, who yet are not without some things that are disagreeable and unlovely. Often there is in good men some defect of temper, or character, or conduct, that mars the excellence of what otherwise would seem most amiable; and even the very best of men, are, on earth, imperfect. But it is not so in heaven. There shall be no pollution, or deformity, or unamiable defect of any kind, seen in any person or thing; but everyone shall be perfectly pure and perfectly lovely in heaven. That blessed world shall be perfectly bright, without any darkness; perfectly fair, without any spot; perfectly clear, without any cloud....

3. In heaven shall be all those objects that the saints have set their hearts upon, and which they have loved above all things while in this world. There they will find those things that appeared most lovely to them while they dwelt on earth; the things that met the approbation of their judgments, and captivated their affections, and drew away their souls from the most dear and pleasant of earthly objects. There they will find those things that were their delight here below, and on which they rejoiced to meditate, and with the sweet contemplation of which their minds were often entertained. And there, too, are the things which they chose for their portion, and which were so dear to them that they were ready for the sake of them to undergo the severest sufferings, and to forsake even father, and mother, and kindred, and friends, and wife, and children, and life itself. All the truly great and good, all the pure and holy and excellent from this world, and from every part of the universe, are constantly tending toward heaven. As the streams tend to the ocean so all these are tending to the great ocean of infinite purity and bliss.

The progress of time does but bear the saints on to blessedness. And we, if we are holy, are to be united to them there. Every gem which death rudely tears away from us here is a glorious jewel forever shining there. Every Christian friend that goes before us from this world is a ransomed spirit waiting to welcome us in heaven. There will be the infant of days that we have lost below, through grace to be found above. There the Christian father, and mother, and wife, and child, and friend, with whom we shall renew the holy fellowship of the saints, which was interrupted by death here, shall be commenced again in heaven, and then shall never end. There we shall have company with the patriarchs and fathers and saints of the Old and New Testaments, and those of whom the world was not worthy, with whom on earth we were only conversant by faith. And there, above all, we shall enjoy and dwell with God the Father, whom we have loved with all our hearts on earth; and with Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior, who has always been to us the chief among ten thousands, and altogether lovely; and with the Holy Ghost, our Sanctifier, and Guide, and Comforter; and shall be filled with all the fullness of the Godhead forever....

[IIl. To heaven's subjects, which are the hearts in which it dwells....IV. Of the principle of love in heaven.]

V. The excellent circumstances in which love shall be exercised and blessed, and enjoyed in heaven. Here I observe ten points.

1. Love in heaven is always mutual. It is always met with answerable returns of love that are proportioned to its exercise. Such returns, love always seeks; and just in proportion as any person is beloved, in the same proportion is his love desired and prized. And in heaven this desire of love, or this fondness for being loved, will never fail of being satisfied. No inhabitants of that blessed world will ever be grieved with the thought that they are slighted by those that they love, or that their love is not fully and fondly returned. As the saints will love God with an inconceivable ardency of heart, and to the utmost of their capacity, so they will know that he has loved them from all eternity, and still loves them, and will continue to love them forever....

2. he joy of heavenly love shall never be interrupted or damped by jealousy. Heavenly lovers will have no doubt of the love of each other. They shall have no fear that the declarations and professions of love are hypocritical, but shall be perfectly satisfied of the sincerity and strength of each other's affection, as much as if there were a window in every breast, so that everything in the heart could be seen. There shall be no such thing as flattery or dissimulation in heaven, but there perfect sincerity shall reign through all and in all. Every one will be just what he seems to be, and will really have all the love that he seems to have. It will not be as in this world, where comparatively few things are what they seem to be, and where professions are often made lightly and without meaning; but there every expression of love shall come from the bottom of the heart, and all that is professed shall be really and truly felt....

3. here shall be nothing within themselves to clog or hinder the saints in heaven in the exercises and expressions of love. In this world the saints find much to hinder them in this respect. They have a great deal of dullness and heaviness. They carry about with them a heavy-molded body, a clod of earth, a mass of flesh and blood that is not fitted to be the organ for a soul inflamed with high exercises of divine love; but which is found a great clog and hindrance to the spirit, so that they cannot express their love to God as they would, and cannot be so active and lively in it as they desire. Often they fain would fly, but they are held down as with a dead weight upon their wings. Fain would they be active, and mount up, as a flame of fire, but they find themselves, as it were, hampered and chained down, so that they cannot do as their love inclines them to do. Love disposes them to burst forth in praise, but their tongues are not obedient. They lack words to express the ardency of their souls, and cannot order their speech by reason of darkness (Job 37:19). And often, for want of expressions, they are forced to content themselves with groanings that cannot be uttered (Rom.8:26). But in heaven they shall have no such hindrance....

4. In heaven love will be expressed with perfect decency and wisdom. Many in this world that are sincere in their hearts, and have indeed a principle of true love to God and their neighbor, yet lack discretion to guide them in the manner and  circumstances of expressing it. Their intentions, and so their speeches, are good, but often not suitably timed, nor discreetly ordered as to circumstances, but are attended with an indiscreetness that greatly obscures the loveliness of grace in the eyes of others. But in heaven the amiableness and excellence of their love shall not be obscured by any such means. There shall be no indecent or unwise or dissonant speeches or actions, no foolish and sentimental fondness, no needless officiousness, no low or sinful propensities of passion, and no such thing as affections clouding or deluding reason, or going before or against it. But wisdom and discretion shall be as perfect in the saints as love is, and every expression of their love shall be attended with the most amiable and perfect decency and discretion and wisdom.

5. There shall be nothing external in heaven to keep its inhabitants at a distance from each other, or to hinder their most perfect enjoyment of each other's love. There shall be no wall of separation in heaven to keep the saints apart, nor shall they be hindered from the full and complete enjoyment of each other's love by distance of habitation. They shall all be together, as one family, in their heavenly Father's house. Nor shall there be any want of full acquaintance to hinder the greatest possible intimacy; and much less shall there be any misunderstanding between them, or misinterpreting things that are said or done by each other. There shall be no disunion through difference of temper, or manners, or circumstances, or from various opinions, or interests, or feelings, or alliances. But all shall be united in the same interests, and all alike allied to the same Savior, and all employed in the same business, serving and glorifying the same God.

6. In heaven all shall be united together in very near and dear relations. Love always seeks a near relation to the one who is beloved; and in heaven they shall all be nearly allied and related to each other. Al shall be nearly related to God, the supreme object of their love, for they shall all be his children. And all shall be nearly related to Christ, for he shall be the head of the whole society, and the husband of the whole Church of saints, all of whom together shall constitute his spouse. And they shall all be related to each other as brethren, for all will be but one society, or rather but one family, and all members of the household of God.

7. In heaven all shall have property and ownership in each other.... Divine love rejoices in saying, "My beloved is mine, and I am his." And in heaven all shall not only be related one to another, but they shall be each other's, and belong to each other. The saints shall be God's. He brings them home to him­ self in glory, as that part of the creation that he has chosen for his peculiar treasure. And on the other hand, God shall be theirs, made over to them in an everlasting covenant in this world, and now they shall be forever in full possession of him as their portion. And so the saints shall be Christ's, for he has bought them with a price; and he shall be theirs, for he that gave himself for them will have given  himself to them; and in the bonds of mutual and everlasting love, Christ and the saints will have given themselves to each  other. And as God and Christ shall be the saints', so the angels shall be "their angels" (Matt. 18:10). And the saints shall belong to one another, for the apostle speaks of the saints in his days, as first giving themselves to the Lord, and then to one another by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:5). If this is done on earth, it will be more perfectly done in heaven.

8. In heaven they shall enjoy each other's love in perfect and uninterrupted prosperity. What often on earth alloys the pleasure and sweetness of worldly pleasure, is, that though persons live in love, yet they live in poverty, or meet with great difficulties and sore afflictions, whereby they are grieved for themselves and for one another. For, though in such cases love and friendship in some respects lighten the burden to be borne, yet in other respects they rather add to its weight, because those that love each other become, by their very love, sharers in each other's afflictions. Each has not only his own trials to bear, but those also of his afflicted friends. But there shall be no adversity in heaven to give occasion for a pitiful grief of spirit, or to molest or disturb those who are heavenly friends in the enjoyment of each other's friendship. But they shall enjoy one another's love in the greatest prosperity....  

9. In heaven all things shall conspire to promote their love, and give advantage for mutual enjoyment. There shall be none there to tempt any to dislike or hatred; no busybodies, or malicious adversaries, to make misrepresentations, or create misunderstandings, or spread abroad any evil reports, but every being and everything  shall  conspire  to  promote  love,  and the full enjoyment of love. Heaven itself, the place of habitation, is a garden of pleasures, a heavenly paradise, fitted in all respects for an abode of heavenly love.... The petty distinctions of this world do not draw lines in the society of heaven, but all meet in the equality of holiness and of holy love....

10. The inhabitants of heaven shall know that they shall forever be continued in the perfect enjoyment of each other's love. They shall know that God and Christ shall be forever with them as their God and portion, and that his love shall be continued and fully manifested forever, and that all their beloved fellow-saints shall forever live with them in glory, and shall forever keep up the same love in their hearts which they now have. And they shall know that they themselves shall ever live to love God, and love the saints, and to enjoy their love in all its fullness and sweetness forever. They shall be in no fear of any end to this happiness, or of any abatement from its fullness and blessedness, or that they shall ever be weary of its exercises and expressions, or cloyed with its enjoyments, or that the beloved objects shall ever grow old or disagreeable, so that their love shall at last die away.

All in heaven shall flourish in immortal youth and freshness. Age will not there diminish anyone's beauty or vigor; and their love shall abide in everyone's heart, as a living spring perpetually springing up in the soul, or as a flame that never dies away. And the holy pleasure of this love shall be as a river that is forever flowing clear and full, and increasing continually....

Having thus noticed many of the blessed circumstances with which love in heaven is exercised, and expressed, and enjoyed, I proceed to speak lastly of the sixth point.

VI. Of the blessed effects and fruits of this love, as exercised and enjoyed in heaven. And of the many blessed fruits of it, I would at this time mention only two.

1. The most excellent and perfect behavior of all the inhabitants of heaven toward God and each other. Divine love is the sum of all good principles, and therefore the fountain whence proceed all amiable and excellent actions. And as in heaven this love will be perfect, to the perfect exclusion of all sin consisting in enmity against God and fellow creatures, so the fruit of it will be a most perfect behavior toward all. Hence life in heaven will be without the least sinful failure or error. ...

We know not particularly how the saints in heaven shall be employed; but in general we know that they are employed in praising and serving God; and this they will do perfectly, being influenced by such a love as we have been considering. And we have reason to think that they are so employed as in some way to be subservient, under God, to each other's happiness, for they are represented in the Scriptures as united together in one society, which, it would seem, can be for no other  purpose but mutual subservience and happiness. And they are thus mutually subservient by a perfectly amiable behavior one towards another, as a fruit of their perfect love one to another....

2. The other fruit of love exercised in heaven is perfect tranquility and joy. Holy and humble Christian love is a principle of wonderful power to give ineffable quietness and tranquility to the soul. It banishes all disturbance, and sweetly composes and brings rest to the spirit, and makes all divinely calm and sweet and happy. In that soul where divine love reigns and is in lively exercise, nothing can cause a storm, or even gather threatening clouds....

Oh! what tranquility will there be in such a world as this! Who can express the fullness and blessedness of this peace? What a calm is this! How sweet, and holy, and joyous! What a haven of rest to enter, after having passed through the storms and tempests of this world, in which pride, and selfishness, and envy, and malice, and scorn, and contempt, and contention, and vice, are as waves of a restless ocean, always rolling, and often dashed about in violence and fury! What a Canaan of rest to come to, after going through this waste and howling wilderness, full of snares, and pitfalls, and poisonous serpents, where no rest could be found!... 

Every saint in heaven is as a flower in that garden of God, and holy love is the fragrance and sweet odor that they all send forth, and with which they fill the bowers of that paradise above. Every soul there is as a note in some concert of delightful music that sweetly harmonizes with every other note, and all together blend in the most rapturous strains in praising God and the Lamb forever. And so all help each other, to their utmost, to express the love of the whole society to its glorious Father and Head, and to pour back love into the great fountain of love whence they are supplied and filled with love, and blessedness, and glory. And thus they will love, and reign in love, and in that godlike joy that is its blessed fruit, such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath ever entered into the heart of man in this world to conceive. And thus in the full sunlight of the throne, enraptured with joys that are forever increasing, and yet forever full, they shall live and reign with God and Christ forever and ever.

APPLICATION

1. If heaven be such a world as has been described, then we may see a reason why contention and strife tend to darken our evidence of fitness for its possession. Experience teaches that this is the effect of contention. When principles of malignity and ill-will prevail among God's people, as they sometimes do through the remaining corruption of their hearts, and they get into a contentious spirit, or are engaged in any strife whether public or private, and their spirits are filled with opposition to their neighbors in any matter whatever, their former evidences for heaven seem to become dim, or die away. They are in darkness about their spiritual state, and do not find that comfortable and satisfying hope that they used to enjoy.

And so, when converted persons get into ill frames in their families, the consequence commonly, if not universally, is that they live without much of a comfortable sense of heavenly things, or any lively hope of heaven. They do not enjoy much of that spiritual calm and sweetness that those do who live in love and peace. They have not that help from God, and that those do who live in love and peace. They have not that help from God, and that communion with him, and that near intercourse with heaven in prayer, that others have. The apostle seems to speak of contention in families as having this influence. His  language is, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [your wives]  according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel; and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers be not hindered" (1 Pet. 3:7). Here he intimates that discord in families tends to hinder Christians in their prayers. And what Christian that has made the sad experiment, has not done it to his sorrow, and in his own experience does not bear wit­ ness to the truth of the apostle's intimation?

Why contention has this effect of hindering spiritual exercises and comforts and hopes, and of destroying the sweet hope of that which is heavenly, we may learn from the doctrine we have considered. For heaven being a world of love, it follows that, when we have the least exercise of love, and the most of a contrary spirit, then we have the least of heaven, and are farthest from it in the frame of our mind. Then we have the least of the exercise of that wherein consists a conformity to heaven, and a preparation for it, and what tends to it; and so, necessarily, we must have least evidence of our title to heaven, and be farthest from the comfort which such evidence affords. . . .

[2. How happy are those who are entitled to heaven.]

3. What has been said on this subject may well awaken and alarm sinners. Here I will consider two points.

First, by putting them in mind of their misery, in that they have no portion or right in this world of love. You have heard what has been said of heaven, what kind of glory and blessedness is there, and how happy the saints and angels are in that world of perfect love. But consider that none of this belongs to you. When you hear of such things, you hear of that in which you have no interest. No such person as you, a wicked hater of God and Christ and one that is under the power of a spirit of enmity against all that is good, shall ever enter there. Such as you never belong to the faithful Israel of God, and shall never enter their heavenly rest. It may be said to you, as Peter said to Simon, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God" (Acts 8:21). And it may be said to you, as Nehemiah said to Sanballat and his associates, "You have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem" (Neh. 2:20). . . .

Second, by showing sinners that they are in danger. Hell is a world of hatred. There are three worlds. One is this, which is an intermediate world, a world in which good and evil are so mixed together as to be a sure sign that this world is not to continue forever. Another is heaven, a world of love, without any hatred. And the other is hell, a world of hatred, where there is no love, which is the world to which all of you who are in a Christless state properly belong. This last is the world where God manifests his displeasure and wrath, as in heaven he manifests his love. Everything in hell is hateful. There is not one solitary object there that is not odious and detestable, horrid and hateful. There is no person or thing to be seen there, that is amiable or lovely; nothing that is pure, or holy, or pleasant, but everything abominable and odious. There are no beings there but devils, and damned spirits that are like devils. Hell is, as it were, a vast den of poisonous hissing serpents; the old serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and with him all his hateful brood. In that dark world there are none but those whom God hates with a perfect and everlasting hatred. He exercises no love, and extends no mercy to any one object there, but pours out upon them horrors without mixture. . . .

Now consider, all you that are out of Christ, and that were never born again, and that never had any blessed renovation of your hearts by the Holy Spirit implanting divine love in them, and leading you to choose the happiness that consists in holy love as your best and sweetest good, and to spend your life in struggling after holiness. Consider your danger, and what is before you. For this is the world to which you are condemned; the world to which you belong through the sentence of the law; the world that every day and hour you are in danger of having your abode everlastingly fixed in; and the world to which, if you repent not, you will soon go, instead of going to that blessed world of love of which you have now heard. Consider that it is indeed thus with you. These things are not cunningly devised fables, but the great and dreadful realities of God's Word, and things that, in a little while, you will know with everlasting certainty are true. How, then, can you rest in such a state as you are in, and go about so carelessly from day to day, and so heedless and negligent of your precious, immortal souls? . . . 

4. Let the consideration of what has been said of heaven stir up all earnestly to seek after it. If heaven be such a blessed world, then let it be our chosen country, and the inheritance that we look for and seek. Let us turn our course this way, and press on to its possession. It is not impossible but that this glorious world may be obtained by us. It is offered to us. Though it be so excellent and blessed a country, yet God stands ready to give us an inheritance there, if it be but the country that we desire, and will choose, and diligently seek. God gives us our choice. We may have our inheritance wherever we choose it, and may obtain heaven if we will but seek it by patient continuance in well-doing....

And for direction on how to seek heaven,

First, let not your heart go after the things of this world, as your chief good.  Indulge not yourself in the possession of earthly things as though they were to satisfy your soul....You must mortify the desires of vain-glory, and become poor in spirit and lowly in heart.

Second, you must, in your meditations and holy exercises, be much engaged in conversing with heavenly persons, and objects, and enjoyments. You cannot constantly be seeking heaven, without having your thoughts much there.... Think often of all that is in heaven, of the friends who are there, and the praises and worship there, and of all that will make up the blessedness of that world of love. Let your conversation be in heaven (Phil 3:20).

Third, be content to pass through all difficulties in the way to heaven. Though the path is before you, and you may walk in it if you desire, yet it is a way that is ascending, and filled with many difficulties and obstacles. That glorious city of light and love is, as it were, on the top of a high hill or mountain, and there is no way to it but by upward and arduous steps. But though the ascent be difficult, and the way full of trials, still it is worth your while to meet them all for the sake of coming and dwelling in such a glorious city at last. . . . At every step it will be easier and easier to ascend; and the higher your ascent, the more will you be cheered by the glorious prospect before you, and by a nearer view of that heavenly city where in a little while you shall forever be at rest.

Fourth, in all your way let your eye be fixed on Jesus, who has gone to heaven as your forerunner. Look to him. Behold his glory in heaven, for a sight of it may stir you up the more earnestly to desire to be there. . . . Look to him as your mediator, and trust in the atonement which he has made, entering into the holiest of all in the upper temple. Look to him as your intercessor, who forever pleads for you before the throne of God. Look to him as your strength, that by his Spirit he may enable you to press on, and overcome every difficulty of the way. Trust in his promises of heaven to those that love and follow him, which he has confirmed by entering into heaven as the head, and representative, and Savior of his people.

Fifth, if you would be in the way to the world of love, see that you live a life of love, of love to God, and love to men. All of us hope to have part in the world of love hereafter, and therefore we should cherish the spirit of love, and live a life of holy love here on earth. This is the way to be like the inhabitants of heaven, who are now confirmed in love forever. Only in this way can you be like them in excellence and loveliness, and like them, too, in happiness, and rest, and joy. By living in love in this world you may be like them, too, in sweet and holy peace, and thus have, on earth, the foretastes of heavenly pleasures and delights.

Thus, also, you may have a sense of the glory of heavenly things, as of God, and Christ, and holiness; and your heart be disposed and opened by holy love to God, and by the spirit of peace and love to men, to a sense of the excellence and sweetness of all that is to be found in heaven. Thus shall the windows of heaven be as it were opened, so that its glorious light shall shine in upon your soul. Thus you may have the evidence of your fitness for that blessed world, and that you are actually on the way to its possession. And being thus made fit, through grace, for the inheritance of the saints in light, when a few more days shall have passed away, you shall be with them in their blessedness forever. Happy, three times happy are those who shall thus be found faithful to the end, and then shall be welcomed to the joy of their Lord! There "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 lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Rev.7:16-17).

By living a life of love, you will be in the way to heaven. As heaven is a world of love, so the way to heaven is the way of love. This will best prepare you for heaven, and prepare you for an inheritance with the saints in the land of light and love. And if ever you arrive at heaven, faith and love must be the wings which must carry you there.