The Hope of Future Bliss
Written by: Spurgeon, C.H. Posted on: 04/01/2003
The Hope of Future Bliss" A Sermon by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy
IT WOULD be difficult to say to which the gospel owes most, to its friends or to its enemies. It is true,
that by the help of God, its friends have done much for it; they have preached it in foreign lands, they
have dared death, they have laughed to scorn the terrors of the grave, they have ventured all things for
Christ, and so have glorified the doctrine they believed; but the enemies of Christ, unwittingly, have done
no little, for when they have persecuted Christ's servants, they have scattered them abroad, so that they have gone
everywhere preaching the Word; yea, when they have trampled upon the gospel, like a certain herb we read of in
medicine, it hath grown all the faster: and if we refer to the pages of sacred writ how very many precious portions
of it do we owe, under God, to the enemies of the cross of Christ! Jesus Christ would never have preached many
of his discourses had not his foes compelled him to answer them; had they not brought objections, we should not
have heard the sweet sentences in which he replied. So with the book of Psalms: had not David been sorely tried
by enemies, had not the foemen shot their arrows at him, had they not attempted to malign and blast his character,
had they not deeply distressed him, and made him cry out in misery, we should have missed many of those
precious experimental utterances we here find, much of that holy song which he penned after his deliverance, and
very much of that glorious statement of his trust in the infallible God. We should have lost all this, had it not been
wrung from him by the iron hand of anguish. Had it not been for David's enemies, he would not have penned his
Psalms; but when hunted like a partridge on the mountains, when driven like the timid roe before the hunter's
dogs, he waited for awhile, bathed his sides in the brooks of Siloa, and panting on the hill-top a little, he breathed
the air of heaven and stood and rested his weary limbs. Then was it that he gave honour to God, then he shouted
aloud to that mighty Jehovah, who for him had gotten the victory. This sentence follows a description of the great
troubles which the wicked bring upon the righteous, wherein he consoles himself with the hope of future bliss.; As
for me," says the patriarch, casting his eyes aloft; As for me," said the hunted chieftain of the caves of
Engedi"As for me," says the once shepherd boy, who was soon to wear a royal diadem"As for me, I will
behold thy face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied, when I awake with thy likeness."
In looking at this passage to-night, we shall notice first of all, the spirit of it; secondly, the matter of it; and
then, thirdly, we shall close by speaking of the contrast which is implied in it.
I. First, then, the SPIRIT OF THIS UTTERANCE, for I always love to look at the spirit in which a man
writes, or the spirit in which he preaches; in fact, there is vastly more in that than in the words he uses.
Now, what should you think is the spirit of these words? "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I
shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."
First, they breathe the spirit of a man entirely free from envy. Notice, that the Psalmist has been speaking of
the wicked. "They are inclosed in their own fat: with their mouth they speak proudly." "They are full of children,
and leave the rest of their substance to their babes." But David envies them not. "Go," says he, "rich man, in all
thy richesgo, proud man, in all thy pridego, thou happy man, with thine abundance of children; I envy thee
not; as for me, my lot is different: I can look on you without desiring to have your possessions. I can well keep
that commandment, 'Thou shalt not covet,' for in your possessions there is nothing worth my love; I set no value
upon your earthly treasures; I envy you not your heaps of glittering dust; for my Redeemer is mine." The man is
above envy, because he thinks that the joy would be no joy to himthat the portion would not suit his disposition.
Therefore, he turns his eye heavenward, and says, "As for me I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Oh!
beloved, it is a happy thing to be free from envy. Envy is a curse which blighteth creation; and even Eden's garden
itself would have become defaced, and no longer fair, if the wind of envy could have blown on it, envy tarnisheth
the gold; envy dimmeth the silver; should envy breathe on the hot sun, it would quench it; should she cast her evil
eye on the moon, it would be turned into blood, and the stars would fly astonished at her. Envy is accursed of
heaven; yea, it is Satan's first-bornthe vilest of vices. Give a man riches, but let him have envy, and there is the
worm at the root of the fair tree; give him happiness, and if he envies another's lot, what would have been
happiness becomes his misery, because it is not so great as that of some one else. But give me freedom from
envy; let me be content with what God has given me, let me say, "Ye may have yours, I will not envy youI am
satisfied with mine," yea, give me such a love to my fellow creatures that I can rejoice in their joy, and the more
they have the more glad I am of it. My candle will burn no less brightly because theirs outshines it. I can rejoice in
their prosperity. Then am I happy, for all around tends to make me blissful, when I can rejoice in the joys of
others, and make their gladness my own. Envy! oh! may God deliver us from it! But how, in truth, can we get rid
of it so well as by believing that ye have something that is not on earth, but in heaven? If we can look upon all the
things in the world and say, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied by-and-bye!"
then we cannot envy other men, because their lot would not be adapted to our peculiar taste. Doth the ox envy the
lion! Nay, for it cannot feed upon the carcase. Doth the dove grieve because the raven can gloat itself on carrion?
Nay, for it lives on other food. Will the eagle envy the wren his tiny nest? Oh, no! So the Christian will mount
aloft as the eagle, spreading his broad wings, he will fly up to his eyrie amongst the stars, where God hath made
him his nest, saying, "As for me, I will dwell here; I look upon the low places of this earth with contempt. I envy
not your greatness, ye mighty emperors; I desire not your fame, ye mighty warriors; I ask not for wealth, O
Croesus; I beg not for thy power, O Caesar; as for me, I have something else, my portion is the Lord." The text
breathes the spirit of a man free from envy. May God give that to us!
Then, secondly, you can see that there is about it the air of a man who is looking into the future. Read the
passage thoroughly, and you will see that it all has relation to the future, because it says, "As for me, I shall." It
has nothing to do with the present: it does not say, "As for me I do, or I am, so-and-so," but "As for me, I will
behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied, when I awake." The Psalmist looks beyond the grave into
another world; he overlooks the narrow death-bed where he has to sleep, and he says, "When I awake." How
happy is that man who has an eye to the future; even in worldly things we esteem that man who looks beyond the
present day, he who spends all his money as it comes in will soon bring himself to rags. He who lives on the
present is a fool; but wise men are content to look after future things. When Milton penned his book he might
know, perhaps, that he should have little fame in his lifetime; but he said, "I shall be honoured when my head shall
sleep in the grave." Thus have other worthies been content to tarry until time has broken the earthen pitcher, and
suffered the lamp to blaze; as for honour, they said, "We will leave that to the future, for that fame which comes
late is often most enduring," and they lived upon the "shall "and fed upon the future. "I shall be satisfied"
by-and-bye. So says the Christian. I ask no royal pomp or fame now; I am prepared to wait, I have an interest in
reversion; I want not a pitiful estate hereI will tarry till I get my domains in heaven, those broad and beautiful
domains that God has provided for them that love him. Well content will I be to fold my arms and sit me down in
the cottage, for I shall have a mansion of God, "a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." Do any of
you know what it is to live on the futureto live on expectationto live on what you are to have in the next
worldto feast yourselves with some of the droppings of the tree of life that fall from heavento live upon the
manna of expectation which falls in the wilderness, and to drink that stream of nectar which gushes from the
throne of God? Have you ever gone to the great Niagara of hope, and drank the spray with ravishing delight; for
the very spray of heaven is glory to one's soul! Have you ever lived on the future, and said, "As for me I shall
have somewhat, by-and-bye?" Why, this is the highest motive that can actuate a man. I suppose this was what
made Luther so bold, when he stood before his great audience of kings and lords, and said, "I stand by the truth
that I have written, and will so stand by it till I die; so help me God!" Me thinks he must have said, "I shall be
satisfied by-and-bye. I am not satisfied now, but I shall be soon." For this the missionary ventures the stormy sea;
for this he treads the barbarous shore; for this he goes into inhospitable climes, and risks his life, because he
knows there is a payment to come by-and-bye. I sometimes laughingly tell my friends when I receive a favor from
them, that I cannot return it, but set it up to my Master in heaven, for they shall be satisfied when they awake in
his likeness. There are many things that we may never hope to be rewarded for here, but that shall be remembered
before the throne hereafter, not of debt, but of grace. Like a poor minister I heard of, who, walking to a rustic
chapel to preach, was met by a clergyman who had a far richer berth. He asked the poor man what he expected to
have for his preaching. "Well," he said, "I expect to have a crown." "Ah!" said the clergyman, "I have not been in
the habit of preaching for less than a guinea, anyhow." "Oh!" said the other, "I am obliged to be content with a
crown, and what is more, I do not have my crown now, but I have to wait for that in the future." The clergyman
little thought that he meant the "crown of life that fadeth not away!" Christian! live on the future; seek nothing
here, but expect that thou shalt shine when thou shalt come in the likeness of Jesus, with him to be admired, and
to kneel before his face adoringly. The Psalmist had an eye to the future.
And again, upon this point, you can see that David, at the time he wrote this, was full of faith. The text is
fragrant with confidence. "As for me," says David, no perhaps about it. "I will behold thy face in righteousness; I
shall be satisfied when I awake up in thy likeness." If some men should say so now, they would be called fanatics,
and it would be considered presumption for any man to say, "I will behold thy face, I shall be satisfied;" and I
think there are many now in this world who think it is quite impossible for a man to say to a certainty, "I know, I
am sure, I am certain." But, beloved, there are not one or two, but there are thousands and thousands of God's
people alive in this world who can say with an assured confidence, no more doubting of it than of their very
existence, "I will behold thy face in righteousness. I shall be satisfied, when I awake in thy likeness." It is possible,
though perhaps not very easy, to attain to that high and eminent position wherein we can say no longer do I hope,
but I know; no longer do I trust, but I am persuaded; I have a happy confidence; I am sure of it; I an certain; for
God has so manifested himself to me that now it is no longer "if" and "perhaps" but it is positive, eternal, "shall."
"I shall be satisfied when I awake in thy likeness." How many are there here of that sort? Oh! if ye are talking like
that, ye must expect to have trouble, for God never gives strong faith without fiery trial; he will never give a man
the power to say that "shall" without trying him; he will not build a strong ship without subjecting it to very mighty
storms; he will not make you a mighty warrior, if he does not intend to try your skill in battle. God's swords must
be used; the old Toledo blades of heaven must be smitten against the armor of the evil one, and yet they shall not
break, for they are of true Jerusalem metal, which shall never snap. Oh! what a happy thing to have that faith to
say "I shall." Some of you think it quite impossible, I know; but it "is the gift of God," and whosoever asks it shall
obtain it: and the very chief of sinners now present in this place may yet be able to say long before he comes to
die, "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Methinks I see the aged Christian. He has been very poor. He is in a
garret where the stars look between the tiles. There is his bed. His clothes ragged and torn. There are a few sticks
on the hearth: they are the last he has. He is sitting up in his chair; his paralytic hand quivers and shakes, and he is
evidently near his end. His last meal was eaten yester-noon; and as you stand and look at him, poor, weak, and
feeble, who would desire his lot? But ask him, "Old man, wouldst thou change thy garret for Caesar's palace?
Aged Christian, wouldst thou give up these rags for wealth, and cease to love thy God?" See how indignation
burns in his eyes at once! He replies, "'As for me, I shall,' within a few more days, 'behold his face in
righteousness; I shall be satisfied soon; here I never shall be. Trouble has been my lot, and trial has been my
portion, but I have 'a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'" Bid high; bid him fair; offer him your
hands full of gold; lay all down for him to give up his Christ. "Give up Christ?" he will say, "no, never!"
"While my faith can keep her hold,
I envy not the miser's gold."
Oh! what a glorious thing to be full of faith, and to have the confidence of assurance, so as to say, "I will
behold thy face; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
Thus much concerning the spirit of David. It is one very much to be copied and eminently to be desired.
II. But now, secondly, THE MATTER OF THIS PASSAGE. And here we will dive into the very depths of it,
God helping us; for without the Spirit of God I feel I am utterly unable to speak to you. I have not those gifts and
talents which qualify men to speak; I need an afflatus from no high, otherwise I stand like other men and have
nought to say. May that be given me; for without it I am dumb. As for the matter of this verse, methinks it
contains a double blessing. The first is a beholding"I will behold thy face in righteousness," and the next is a
satisfaction"I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness."
Let us begin with the first, then. David expected that he should behold God's face. What a vision will that be,
my brethren! Have you ever seen God's hand? I have seen it, when sometimes he places it across the sky, and
darkens it with clouds. I have seen God's hand sometimes, when the ears of night drag along the shades of
darkness. I have seen his hand when, launching the thunder-bolt, his lightning splits the clouds and rends the
heavens. Perhaps ye have seen it in a gentler fashion, when it pours out the water and sends it rippling along in
rills, and then rolls into rivers. Ye have seen it in the stormy oceanin the sky decked with stars, in the earth
gemmed with flowers; and there is not a man living who can know all the wonders of God's hand. His creation is
so wondrous that it would take more than a life-time to understand it. Go into the depths of it, let its minute parts
engage your attention; next take the telescope, and try to see remote worlds, and can I see all God's
handiworkbehold all his hand? No, not so much as one millionth part of the fabric. That mighty hand wherein
the callow comets are brooded by the sun, in which the planets roll in majestic orbits; that mighty hand which
holds all space, and grasps all beingsthat mighty hand, who can behold it? but if such be his hand, what must his
face be? Ye have heard God's voice sometimes, and ye have trembled; I, myself, have listened awe-struck, and
yet with a marvellous joy, when I have heard God's voice, like the noise of many waters, in the great thunderings.
Have you never stood and listened, while the earth shook and trembled, and the very spheres stopped their music,
while God spoke with his wondrous deep bass voice? Yes, ye have heard that voice, and there is a joy
marvellously instinct with love which enters into my soul, whenever I hear the thunder. It is my Father speaking,
and my heart leaps to hear him. But you never heard God's loudest voice. It was but the whisper when the
thunder rolled. But if such be the voice, what must it be to behold his face? David said, "I will behold thy face." It
is said of the temple of Diana, that it was so splendidly decorated with gold, and so bright and shining, that a porter
at the door always said to every one that entered, "Take heed to your eyes, take heed to your eyes; you will be
struck with blindness unless you take heed to your eyes." But oh! that view of glory! That great appearance. The
vision of God! to see him face to face, to enter into heaven, and to see the righteous shining bright as stars in the
firmament; but best of all, to catch a glimpse of the eternal throne! Ah! there he sits! 'Twere almost blasphemy for
me to attempt to describe him. How infinitely far my poor words fall below the mighty subject! But to behold
God's face. I will not speak of the lustre of those eyes, or the majesty of those lips, that shall speak words of love
and affection; but to behold his face' Ye who have dived into the Godhead's deepest sea, and have been lost in its
immensity, ye can tell a little of it! Ye naughty "ones, who have lived in heaven these thousand years perhaps ye
know, but ye cannot tell, What it is to see his face. We must each of us go there we must be clad with
immortality. We must go above the blue sky, and bathe in the river of life: we must outsoar the lightning, and rise
above the stars to know what it is to see God's face. Words cannot set it forth. So there I leave it. The hope the
Psalmist had was, that he might see God's face.
But there was a peculiar sweetness mixed with this joy, because he knew that he should behold God's face in
righteousness. "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." Have I not seen my Father's face here below? Yes, I
have, "through a glass darkly," But has not the Christian sometimes beheld him, when in his heavenly moments
earth is gone, and the mind is stripped of matter? There are some seasons when the gross materialism dies away,
and when the ethereal fire within blazes up so high that it almost touches the fire of heaven. There are seasons,
when in some retired spot, calm and free from all earthly thought, we have put our shoes from off our feet
because the place whereon we stood was holy ground; and we have talked with God! even as Enoch talked with
him so has the Christian held intimate communion with his Father. He has heard his love whispers, he has told out
his heart, poured out his sorrows and his groans before him. But after all he has felt that he has not beheld his face
in righteousness. There was so much sin to darken the eyes, so much folly, so much frailty, that we could not get
a clear prospect of our Jesus. But here the Psalmist says, "I will behold thy face in righteousness." When that
illustrious day shall arise, and I shall see my Savior face to face, I shall see him "in righteousness." The Christian in
heaven will not have so much as a speck upon his garment; he will be pure and white; yea, on the earth he is
"Pure through Jesus' blood, and white as angels are."
But in heaven that whiteness shall be more apparent. Now, it is sometimes smoked by earth, and covered with the
dust of this poor carnal world; but in heaven he will have brushed himself, and washed his wings and made them
clean; and then will he see God's face in righteousness. My God; I believe I shall stand before thy face as pure as
thou art thyself, for I shall have the righteousness of Jesus Christ there shall be upon me the righteousness of a
God. "I shall behold thy face in righteousness." O Christian, canst thou enjoy this? Though I cannot speak about
it, dost thy heart meditate upon it? To behold his face for ever; to bask in that vision! True, thou canst not
understand it; but thou mayest guess the meaning. To behold his face in righteousness!
The second blessing, upon which I will be brief, is satisfaction. He will be satisfied, the Psalmist says, when
he wakes up in God's likeness. Satisfaction! this is another joy for the Christian when he shall enter heaven. Here
we are never thoroughly satisfied. True, the Christian is satisfied from himself; he has that within which is a
wet-spring of comfort, and he can enjoy solid satisfaction. But heaven is the home of true and real satisfaction.
When the believer enters heaven I believe his imagination will be thoroughly satisfied. All he has ever thought of
he will there see; every holy idea will be solidified; every mighty conception will become a reality, every glorious
imagination will become a tangible thing that he can see. His imagination will not be able to think of anything better
than heaven; and should he sit down through eternity, he would not be able to conceive of anything that should
outshine the lustre of that glorious city. His imagination will be satisfied. Then his intellect will be satisfied.
"Then shall I see, and hear, and know,
All I desired, or wished, below."
Who is satisfied with his knowledge here? Are there not secrets we want to know, depths in the arcana of nature
that we have not entered? But in that glorious state we shall know as much as we want to know. The memory will
be satisfied. We shall look back upon the vista of past years, and we shall be content with whatever we endured,
or did, or suffered on earth.
"There, on a green and flowery mound,
My wearied soul shall sit,
And with transporting joys recount
The labors of my feet."
Hope will be satisfied, if there be such a thing in heaven. We shall hope for a future eternity, and believe in it. But
we shall be satisfied as to our hopes continually: and the whole man will be so content that there will not remain a
single thing in all God's dealings, that he would wish to have altered; yea, perhaps I sa
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