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“ vanish into nothing: but the things “ which are above are so great, so solid,
so durable, so glorious, that we cannot “ raise our thoughts to an equal height “ with them; we cannot enlarge our de“sires beyond a possibility of satisfaction. “ Our hearts are greater than the world ; ; “ but God is greater than our hearts, and “ the happiness which he hath laid up for
us, is like himself, incomprehensibly great " and glorious *.”
It is thus that the good man possesses, within his own breast, a degree of happiness which can arise only from such heavenly contemplations. In him is the poetical image fully realized, with his foot resting on the earth, his head reacheth above the clouds t. The glory to come mixes itself with his present satisfactions, alleviates every sorrow, and increases every comfort.
But even the good man cannot long be a partaker of sublunary enjoyments, without
* Tillotson, Sermon 193.
finding those enjoyments interrupted by some painful though expected cause. The separation of friends by death, cannot but give a pang to those hearts, which were once firmly united by affection. But the religious man, though he feels the stroke sharper than the shorn lamb, possesses a cordial of no common strength. He sees the sign of the Son of man in heaven-he hears a voice, “ Behold! I bring you glad “ tidings.” And the same principle of faith by which he expects to behold his Saviour on the throne of his glory, and the twelve apostles on seats judging the twelve tribes of Israel, leads him to exult in the expectation, that the bond of friendship and affection, which has been broken by death, will be re-united when lie comes to
city of the living God, to an innu“ merable company of angels, to the general
assembly and church of the first-born, “ and to the spirits of just men made per
Let it not be thought that diere is too much of terrestrial enjoyment in this expec
tation. The passions and affections of men were not given us for a trivial purpose. It is well understood that nothing earthly can find a place in that spiritual state of exist
But there is so strong an analogy between the heavenly dispositions which the gospel recommends to us here, and those which angels and the spirits of good men will exercise themselves in hereafter, that we cannot but imagine, that those who have excited in us such qualities of goodness and benevolence, will be partakers with us in the full perfection of them in a better world. Faith and hope will be then no more, because the hour of certainty is come; but charity, which comprehends every amiable feeling; will enter with us into heaven, and no doubt constitute no small part of our happiness. St. Paul, “ we see through a glass, darkly, " but then face to face; now I know in
part, but then shall I know, even as also “ I am known.”—I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me where I am there shall my servant be--are the foundations of
Now,” says an argument which inspires the mourner with consolation, and affords a pious confidence which is not to be shaken by metaphysical reasonings. The resurrection of the same body implies an identity of person. Such a consciousness of a pre-existent state must bring to our remembrance the things done in the body; and as this consciousness must extend to every person risen from the dead, there is more than reason to convince us, that virtuous friends will meet again in happiness. Our earthly desires indeed will be extinguished; we shall hunger no
more, neither thirst any more;" our vile body, that is, the body of our humiliation, shall be changed, that it may be fashioned like unto the glorified body of Christ * The instincts of life must cease with it; but the spiritual and better part of every virtuous connection will continue for ever. Every relative affection will be renewed with ardour. The cord between married friends will be drawn still closer; their affections will be purer, their delights more
* Phil. iii. 21.
exquisite; exquisite; for they will be, as the text expresses it, as the angels of God in heaven*.
There is one objection which it may be necessary to obviate, as it may be thought to derogate from the individual happiness of men, when reflecting on this argument as a source of consolation ; namely, that they may not meet in the next world with some friends which they have had in this. But they must remember, that such will not have been virtuous friends, and therefore not entitled, according to the gospel dispensation, to the rewards of heaven. It will be no diminution of our happiness,
* When the dread trumpet sounds, the slumb’ring dust
Not unattentive to the call, shall wake;