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understood. But, without adverting specifically to these circumstances, it may be observed, that this consideration does not preclude the application that I am now making of the parable: which appears to be framed on the assumption, that after this life we shall retain the faculty of recognising the persons who had been previously known to us.
True indeed it is, that in this particular instance the faculty is attributed to a person in a state of torment: but nothing occurs to warrant the supposition, that it will be limited to such persons, and not extended to others in a state of bliss. On the contrary, the information, which we possess concerning the faculties of the blessed, is in favor of the opposite supposition. For it does not appear that there will be a diminution of their faculties, intellectual or corporeal: rather it appears, that their faculties will be improved and strengthened, for what is “ sown in weakness" will be “ raised in power :
so that they will be enabled to see and know objects surpassing the compass of the abilities which they now possess. Thus the faculty of seeing and knowing again those whom they have previously known will probably be perpetuated : and, as the faculty will exist, our former considerations have perhaps shown that there will probably be opportunities for exercising it, opportunities especially acceptable to the affectionate and feeling heart.
11 Cor. xv. 43.
THE RE-UNION OF FRIENDS IN HEAVEN.
There is a void in lorn affection's heart,
Which yearns to be supplied. On God's high will
Though it repose submissively, yet still Of those, who bore in its regards a part, The cherished forms it holds, as in a chart
Depicted, hoping He may yet fulfil
Their restitution. Pardon it if ill
And, what thou sayest, thy bounty will provide :
The sense of earth's sweet charities denied, Might feel a craving in those realms of love,
By angel hosts and patriarchs unsupplied.
THE parable of the rich man and Lazarus, which has been just noticed in illustration and support of our views concerning the faculties of the blessed, may be further noticed, as tending to show, that we shall probably carry with us into another world the same feelings with respect to our relatives and connexions, by which we have been affected in this world.
Together with a pungent sense of his own condition, the rich man retained a lively interest for those whom he had left behind him, his “ five brethren” in his father's house.' Why should we imagine such an interest to be peculiar to those in his condition? Why should we not suppose that, when the righteous are awakened from the sleep of death, they with a personal feeling concerning their own state will unite a reviving feeling concerning the happiness of their relatives and friends? Why should we not suppose that that feeling will be subsequently retained with respect to their former connexions, so far as shall be consistent with their own promised blessedness; a limitation to which we shall presently have occasion to give more particular attention? And why should we not suppose that, retaining the feeling, they will enjoy a fit field and scope for its exercise ?
That the righteous will enjoy occasions for the exercise of such a feeling of interest concerning their former relations and friends, is rendered highly probable by a particular which I would now mention, as revealed in the future condition of the blessed.
Of the Christian gifts and graces there is one especially distinguished by its property of perpetual endurance. “Charity never faileth.” ? Throughout the future existence of the blessed, the love of God and the love of man, the two principal departments of this comprehensive grace of “ charity,” will still remain in active operation.
Luke xvi. 28.
9 1 Cor. xiii. 8.
Now of the love of man the most delightful exercise is that which arises from intercourse with those, with whom we are associated by the nearest and the dearest ties. The natural, the domestic, relations are the most precious forms under which charity takes possession of the soul: and together with, and next to, these, the almost natural connexion of early, long-continued, persevering, reciprocal friendship. It appears, therefore, reasonable to suppose, that these relations will be prolonged into a future state, as modes for the exercise of never-failing charity: the rather, forasmuch as that grace will be deprived of an extensive sphere of its activity in this life, by the absence of all poverty and affliction.
Doubtless in the company of other “just men made perfect,” with whom they are to be thenceforth associated, though they may have been beforehand personally unknown, the blessed will experience, by the bounty of the All-Good, no want of sufficient objects of their affection. Still we cannot but deem it probable, that, so far as shall be consistent with their exalted, purified, and spiritual nature, those peculiar objects of affection, on which, more than on any other earthly object, the heart now delights to dwell, in pursuance of its natural, innocent, virtuous, praiseworthy feelings, and in obedience
to the will and word of its Creator, will not be withholden from it hereafter. The sweet sympathies of parental, of filial, of fraternal, may I not add of conjugal affection ? (for although in that life
they neither marry nor are given in marriage,” yet I see not reason to disbelieve the perpetual existence of affection derived from that holy estate in this life ;) the sweet sympathies, I say, of domestic affection, together with those of friendly and social intercommunion, will probably be continually maintained; and contribute to constitute there, as here, some of the most precious objects for the exercise of the “charity which never faileth ; " the most enduring and the most unperishable, as well as the greatest and most excellent, of the graces and gifts of God.
CHARITY NEVER FAILETH. What joy more pure, or worthier of our kind,
Than when the good, the wise, the pious meet,
By bond of kindred, love, or friendship sweet
More joy from aught in that celestial seat,
Save from God's presence, than again to greet
Dissolv'd, again unites. Ordain'd to train
Faith lost in sight, and hope in joy, shall wano, Their task fulfill'd; but heaven-born charity,
God's greatest gift, shall still in heaven remain.