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The foregoing considerations are submitted to the judgment of the reader, as the principal intimations whereby the word of God appears in my mind to give probability to the opinion, that those, whom the blessed have known in this life, they will know also in the life that is to come.
The probability hence derived is great; as great as could with reason be expected from any intimation short of a distinct and positive affirmation of the fact. The intimations come before us under the various forms, as casual circumstances seem to have suggested, of exhortation to comfort under the loss of departed friends; of incidental observations on the future relation of persons at present placed in connection with each other; and of references to the future society, faculties, and feelings of the blessed. An additional argument accordingly arises from each of the several forms, under which the doctrine appears to be inferred. Nor do I think its probability much, if at all, lessened by a reflection, that the manner, in which these intimations are given, seems rather to assume the fact of such knowledge existing, than expressly to affirm it. Perhaps, indeed, the general silence, which is for the most part to be noticed on the subject in Holy Writ, may be taken for an adrnission that the knowledge in question will exist. For the supposition is so congenial with our best feelings, and appears to be so natural a consequence of the general doctrine of the resurrection, as clearly set before us by the word of God, that we might be expected in the common course of things to take it for granted, unless it were contradicted or opposed by that word, or unless it were encumbered by great and insurmountable objections.
If it be asked, then, whether this opinion is at all contradicted or opposed by the word of God ? I answer that I am not aware of any such impediment to its reception. If it be asked, whether it is encumbered by any serious objections ? I answer to the same effect. But, as there are two questions, which may perhaps raise some scruple in a reflecting mind on a consideration of this subject, I would detain the reader by bestowing on these questions some degree of attention.
First, is the opinion, that the blessed will know each other again in a future life, at variance with the declaration of St. Paul, that at the resurrection " we shall all be changed.”
To me such variance is not perceivable. For the change, of which the Apostle speaks, is to be understood as having regard to the future immortality and incorruptibility, to the glory, power, and
spirituality of the bodies with which the blessed will be invested, in comparison with their present condition of corruption, mortality, dishonor, weakness, and earthiness. But, though thus improved and elevated, their bodies, so far as we are informed, will not be “ changed" with reference to the distinguishing characteristics of individuals, so as to preclude a mutual recognition. In the particulars, which are specifically stated concerning the change, there is nothing which requires us to understand, that the removal of marks of individual distinction will be a part of it: whereas there are particulars enough specified to explain the change, without causing us to have recourse to the removal of these marks, and to the construction, as it were, of totally new individuals. This may be illustrated by the occurrences at our Lord's Transfiguration, when, as St. Luke informs us, “ the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering;”i but they were "eyewitnesses of his majesty,” while impressed with a lively sense of his “ honor and glory,” were not prevented thereby from recognising their Lord : 2 and so we presume, that when “he shall change our vile bodies, that they may fashioned like unto his glorious body,"s that change will not operate so as to prevent those which were formerly known from being then recognised by others.
1 Luke ix. 29.
? ? Pet. i. 16, 17.
& Phil. ii. 21.
That the self-consciousness of each individual will be retained, notwithstanding the marvellous changes of body and of soul to which he will have been subject, and that it will be made an occasion of his future misery or enjoyment, is unquestionable; and it is only in harmony with what we know on this subject, to suppose that a change, which will not preclude the power of identification with individuals as to themselves, will not preclude the power m its application to others.
Besides that, after all, great as the change in question may, and undoubtedly will be, it will probably not in effect surpass the changes which in this life are continually occurring to the same individual, and which nevertheless do not prevent his recognition, however altered through the successive stages of infancy, childhood, youth, manhood, and old age; nay, even of death itself. amid the decay and decrepitude of declining years we call to mind the same individual whom we have formerly known in the opening bloom, the full-blown beauty, the confirmed lusty hood and fruitfulness, of each previous successive period ; and as the marks for recollection are still capable of being discerned even when the last great change of mortality has passed upon the individual, and the animated body has become a lifeless corse : so we may be hereby prepared to expect that it may be recognised again, when “dishonor and weakness” shall have been succeeded by “glory and
power,” and “this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality."
THE CHANGED BODY RECOGNISED.
And shall I e'er again thy features trace,
Beloved friend; thy lineaments review!
Yes : though the sunken eyes, and livid hue And lips comprest, have quenched each lively grace, Death's triumph; still I recognise the face
Which thine for many a year affection knew;
And what forbids, that, cloth'd with life anew, It still on memory's tablet hold its place ?Tho' then thy cheek with deathless bloom be sheen,
And rays of splendor wreathe thy sunlike brow, That change I deem shall sever not between
Thee and thy former self; nor disallow That love's tried eyes discern thee through the skreen
Of glory then, as of corruption now.
We will now turn our thoughts to the other question to which I alluded, as throwing a possible obstacle in the way of a persuasion that the blessed will recognise each other in a future life : namely, whether the supposition is not at variance with the idea of the perfect happiness, which is prepared for