« ÎnapoiContinuați »
the blessed in a future state? For, whatever enjoyment may be derived from their consciousness of the presence of those of their relatives and friends, with whom they will become conversant, will not a counterbalancing pain be felt from the consciousness of the absence of others, and of their consequent abandonment to a state of suffering and woe?
An answer to this question will perhaps be furnished, and the difficulty be removed, or at least abated, by such considerations as the following:
First, although a recognition of each other may take place among the blessed to a certain extent, it does not perhaps follow, that with all of those, who have been objects of their affection in this world, their connexion and acquaintance must necessarily be renewed in another. “ In
Father's house,” saith our blessed Lord, “are many man
The lot of some may be cast in some of these “ mansions,” and of others in others; and hence there may be room for imagining, that some are in a state of happiness, though they be not brought to the knowledge of their former relations and friends.
But supposing that those, who are not brought to the knowledge of the blessed as being in a state of happiness, must be understood to be in a different state, the circumstance of their being removed
1 John xiv. 2,
out of the sight of their former friends will probably cause their fate to be contemplated with less lively and pungent feelings.
Further, the lapse of time will probably cooperate with absence, and eventually obliterate the remembrance of them from the memories of the blessed.
And it may be, since God's rational creatures are dear to Him according to their moral excellence, and since the blessed in the future state will be “like God;" it may be, that their affection towards those, who in their earthly relation were naturally the objects of it, will be regulated by this likeness to the Divine nature; and that, whilst it will be ratified, confirmed, and strengthened with respect to such as partake of their Father's blessing, and are objects of his love, it will be annihilated with respect to those who are banished from his presence, and pronounced aliens from his affectionate regard.
This difficulty indeed applies, though in an inferior degree, to the doctrine of the punishment of the wicked in a general way.
The angels of heaven know the judicial sufferings of their companions who sinned; nevertheless their own condition is one of pure felicity. The spirits of just men made perfect will in all probability know, that a large number of their fellowcreatures are doomed to misery. But the effect of this knowledge on their feelings will doubtless be
so overruled by the Providence of God, that it shall not disturb their happiness: and such, we may likewise presume, will be the result, as to the knowledge which they may possess of the condition of their own immediate earthly connexions. It requisite for the fulfilment of their joy, God himself, we may humbly presume, will providentially interpose; and counteract by some merciful agency of his own any tendency to the diminution of the delight, which He has prepared and promised for them that love Him.
HEAVEN'S BLISS NOT AFFECTED BY
THOUGHTS OF HELL.
of the realms of woe
To blunt thy sense of heavenly ecstasies.
No friend of thine, 'mid those keen agonies,
In that dark prison-house of torment lies;
And earth's most sacred bonds, are but a twine
To Him, the Lord of all! On Him recline; He shall thy heart of every care unload,
He bid thy day with cloudless lustre shine.
CONCLUSION.-UTILITY, AND SALUTARY EFFECTS, OF SUCH
AN INQUIRY AS THE PRESENT.
In bringing the inquiry, which has been prosecuted through this chapter, to a conclusion, I wish it to be understood by the reader, that it has been by no means my desire to occupy his mind with a farfetched and strange topic; or to induce him to indulge in groundless imagination, or in idle and unprofitable speculations concerning it. On the contrary, pre-supposing in the minds of most refecting persons a disposition to think on these things, I have endeavored to direct my own and the reader's thoughts into the proper channel, so that we may be regulated in our conclusions by the revelation imparted to us by the written word of God, from which I have made it my business to adduce such passages as seemed calculated to throw light upon the question, and to give of them a just and satisfactory exposition.
At the same time it appears to me, that an examination of the subject conducted in a spirit of devout submission to that word ;-and it is in such a spirit that every religious examination ought to be conducted, and, unless so conducted, it cannot lead to ultimate satisfaction in the discovery of the truth ;-but a modest and devout examination of our present subject by the light of Scripture appears to nie, not innocent only, but profitable and improving. For supposing us to arrive, as by this inquiry I think we have arrived, at the probable conclusion, that the blessed, who have been known to each other in the present life, will also be known to each other in the life to come, the persuasion may be judged calculated to produce some such effects as the following
Whilst we are endeavoring to improve our own hearts and lives, it may concur with other motives in animating us to strive after the improvement of the hearts and lives of those with whom we are connected, from an anticipation of the joy which we shall experience in the consciousness of their being admitted to everlasting happiness in pursuance of such our exertions. Thus St. Paul labored among his brethren in Christ, that he might “ present every man perfect in Christ Jesus ;" esteeming them his “hope, and joy, and crown of rejoicing, at the coming of the Lord : " an example, worthy of being followed, as especially by every minister of Christ, so also in a due degree by every Christian.
It may animate us to practise towards those who fall within the reach of our benevolence, the poorer and more afflicted of our fellow-creatures, acts of mercy and loving-kindness : looking forward to that day, when we shall be brought together with them into the presence of our Judge; and shall hear with inexpressible delight the sentence