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Parish Papers by Norman Macleod

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themselves. And with as imposing claims many too may seek admittance
to God's kingdom, because they "gave their goods to feed the poor, or
their bodies to be burned." Yet, to each and all such pleadings, Jesus
represents himself as saying, "I know you not! Depart from me, all ye
workers of iniquity!" But if so, we ask you, reader, what evidence of
Christian life can you adduce better or more satisfactory than all
this? Nothing, be assured, will be accepted which does not prove a
right spirit, or, in other words, the existence in the soul of _love
to Jesus Christ_ in some form or other. "LOVEST THOU ME?" will be the
grand question, the truthful reply to which will determine our real
state on that great day. Hence, while the evidence of doing wonderful
works, or of giving our body to be burned, is rejected as worthless,
inasmuch as the one proves only the existence of power, and the other
of what may be but a sacrifice to self, and not to the Saviour,--yet
the gift of a cup of cold water to a disciple for the sake of the
Master, will suffice to open the doors of heaven, because affording
evidence of the heart which loves Jesus, and for which heaven has been
prepared. "Come, ye blessed of my Father! Inasmuch as ye have done it
unto the least of my disciples, ye have done it unto me!" "If any man
love not the Lord Jesus Christ; let him be accursed!"

We need not add that we have assumed that the persons thus judged have
had full opportunities of knowing and serving Jesus as their Lord.


What shall the results be of such a searching, impartial, and
conclusive investigation into the history of mankind? Some of these we
may, perhaps, be permitted to anticipate.

_The proceedings of the day of judgment will answer all the
accusations of Christ's enemies_.

The government of Jesus Christ is hated and opposed here. This fact,
alas! in human history, cannot be denied. We do not speak of Satan and
his angels, who war against the Lord, nor even of His unconscious foes
among the heathen; but only of those men who possess the Bible, and
all the means of knowing the will of their Divine King. Yet how many
among them are His open and avowed enemies. There is not one feature
of His character which men do not blaspheme,--not one act of His
government at which they do not cavil. He is alleged to be unrighteous
in His commands; unfair in His treatment of mankind; unwise in
His arrangements; unfaithful in His words; and even vindictive,
unmerciful, implacable in His judgments, and in no respect worthy
of man's love and obedience. Jesus of Nazareth--believed in by the
Church, known and loved by all its living members--is still "despised
and rejected of men." Nor are His enemies ashamed to speak out their
thoughts, and openly to scorn and ridicule Him; asserting that He has
no right to govern them or the world,--and thus "denying the Lord that
bought them." Now, as on the day of His crucifixion, a rabble of all
ranks, talents, and professions, cry, "Away with this fellow;" while
they demand in His stead some Barabbas "hero" of their own to worship.
There is often manifested an opposition to Christianity which assumes
the aspect of personal hatred. We do not at all allude in these pages
to the sincere, reverential man, who doubts, questions, argues,
opposes, sifts, denies, rejects, while endeavouring, with an honest
mind, to discover and believe _the truth_, whatever that may be; nor
to the sadness of spirit of one who _wishes_ "the glad tidings" to be
true, but cannot arrive at a conclusion so desirable for his own good
and peace, as well as for that of society; nor to the effects of a
peculiar constitutional temperament which has a tendency first to
doubt and invest everything with darkness, and then endeavours in
vain to dispel what itself creates. But when we speak of infidels and
unbelievers, we speak of _ungodly_ men who dislike the truth of God,
and who manifest this dislike in their triumph when any supposed error
in the life or the doctrines of Jesus Christ is detected, or any evil
(for which He is held responsible) is exposed in His followers, and
who keep an ample mantle of charity for those who disbelieve, but none
for those who believe in Jesus Christ as their only Saviour.

This opposition to the government of God through Jesus Christ has not
been a temporary outburst by a few only. The kingdom of Satan has
existed here since the fall of man, side by side with Christ's
kingdom, and opposed it in every age and clime. The kingdom of
holiness and peace has never entered the soul of any living man,
without first meeting, and then overcoming, enmity and ill-will by the
power of truth and love. It has never entered a single country on the
surface of the globe without terrible combats being fought again and
again, in which the best soldiers and noblest subjects of the Great
King have "had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover,
of bonds and imprisonments." "We will not have the Lord to reign over
us!" has been everywhere the awful battle-cry; and the conflict rages
now as fiercely as it did in any age of the world! Nor, moreover,
has this opposition been given by uncivilised savages; but men of
knowledge and of genius have dedicated all the powers of their mind to
the dread task of ridding the world of the Redeemer's sceptre. What
they have thought, they have spoken; what they have spoken, they have
written and recorded in books, that their influence might extend
beyond their own immediate circle and their own time, and that other
nations and other generations might know what _they_ thought of the
Saviour,--how sincerely they themselves despised and rejected Him, and
desired all others to do the same. What is every infidel publication
but an accusation against Jesus Christ, a protest against His
government, and an attempt to rouse the world to join in the
rebellion? "They take counsel together against the Lord and his
Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away
their cords from us!"

And this hatred to Christ will continue till the end of the world: for
we read, that "in _the last days_ will come _scoffers_." Nay, it
is quite possible that accusations against Him are, and shall be,
maintained by the wicked up till the very hour of judgment. For, even
as the criminal before his trial will feed his pride, and soothe his
conscience, by denying every charge alleged against him, or by blaming
every one but himself; so it may be that the wicked, after death, will
continue to cast the blame upon the Saviour, for all they are and have
been, even when they can no longer doubt the reality of His existence
or government.

And will Jesus ever answer those accusations? Why should He? you
perhaps exclaim. His character, you say, cannot be affected in
the estimation of the good by anything which the enemies of all
righteousness can urge against it. His throne can no more be shaken by
the puny attacks of men or devils than the everlasting mountains can
be disturbed by the storm-blasts which howl around them. What more,
then, is needed, than to shut up the wicked in a prison-house, through
whose adamantine walls the accusing cry can never pierce, and whose
doors are for ever barred by the holy decree of the Almighty? Ah! were
it so, even this thought might possibly gratify pride and enmity,
could a _condemned_, though not _judged_ spirit for ever carry with
it a conviction of having waged a war in which _power_ alone had
conquered weakness, and _might_ trampled upon right; and that all its
charges remained unanswered and unanswerable! But let no one presume
upon this. It is true that Jesus Christ now, as when on earth He stood
before His enemies, "answers nothing." Do not misunderstand this awful
silence! You "marvel greatly" that He works no miracle to satisfy your
doubts, or you deny His power of doing so, and therefore you imagine,
that because He replies not to your accusations, He either hears them
not, cares not for them, or cannot meet them. But be assured, a day is
appointed when the question between you and Him will be fairly tried.
Unbelievers of all ranks, and whatever be their ability, will have
an opportunity of re-stating their case, and of proving the truth
of their accusations--if they can. Let none suppose that Jesus will
shrink from such an investigation. Every utterance is reported for
review at judgment; every book is kept for that day. It is not the
method of the divine government to put down its enemies by mere
physical power, as if the question between God and man was indeed one
of strength and weakness, and not rather of right and wrong. The Lord
will indeed answer his enemies; but He will do so by the irresistible
power of truth, and the omnipotent force of righteousness. He will
crush and overwhelm them; but it will be in their own conscience, and
in their own estimation. He will expel them from whatever refuge of
lies they may vainly attempt to seek for shelter, and expose them to
the full blaze of _principle_, until their inmost souls echo the dread
sentence of "GUILTY," which must be pronounced upon them, while they
stand "speechless" amidst the assembled universe, and before the
omniscient and holy Judge of all the earth. "He is coming with ten
thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to CONVINCE
all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they
have ungodly committed, and of all their HARD SPEECHES which ungodly
sinners have spoken against Him!"

Do we address one who is a professed unbeliever in the truth, or
rather, who "believes a lie,"--that there _is_ no Saviour? We ask such
a one to consider what the certain, or even _probable_ consequences
will be to him, if all we have said is nevertheless true? What if you
shall see Jesus Christ face to face, and have your whole outer and
inner history, as it _is known to God_, minutely revealed to your own
mind, and to the assembled jury of the universe? Will your thinking,
or saying, that the whole is a fiction, make it so? Will your scoff at
God's revelation of the future prevent the dead from rising, or the
Judge from appearing? Will a foolish jest, or a proud callousness, or
a subtle argument, or a brave indifference to what others fear, enable
you, on the resurrection morning, to shut your ears against the sound
of the last trump, or to disobey the summons of the Son of God to rise
from the tomb, and to appear before Him? And if no unbelief can change
the will of God, or make that false which He proclaims to be true, nor
alter His prescribed order in things to come, no more than it can do
His present order in the starry heavens,--what can you say to Jesus
Christ in your own defence? How can you, in consistency with His Word,
so justify your own opinions and conduct, as to make it _possible_ for
Him to say to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into
the joy of _thy_ Lord?" But, blessed be God! the same Word of truth
which condemns the sinner, and shuts out all hope of safety to him,
_while in his state of unbelief and ungodliness_, invites him, and
commands him, to come out of that state, and to share the life which
is in Christ for every man. We cannot repeat it too often that Jesus
offers immediate pardon and life through faith in His blood, to the
chief of sinners--to the oldest and most bitter enemy which He has
upon earth! Jesus offers His Spirit to every man, to enlighten
his understanding, renew his will, and spiritualise his taste and
affections, and shed abroad the love of God in his heart; so that even
thou, whoever thou art, mayest yet love, and be loved by, Jesus Christ
and His saints for ever and ever! "_Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,
and_ THOU _shalt be saved_!" But should His long-suffering patience,
and abundant mercy, and rich love, fail to gain your heart,--should
you "_prefer_ darkness to light," and "remain in unbelief," and live
and die without Him,--how can you escape? Is it not righteous that you
should walk in the darkness which you love, and be separated from your
Saviour and His people, whom you dislike, and be permitted "to eat of
the fruit of your _own_ way, and be filled with your own devices?"
On "the great and terrible day of the Lord," you will, alas! be
"_convinced_" that the sentence pronounced upon you by the Saviour, of
"Depart from me!" is but an echo of what your own heart is now saying
to Him! Hear, I beseech you, the words of warning which God now
addresses to you, in order that you may, in time, "flee from the wrath
to come!" "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation,
which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law
died without mercy under two or three witnesses: of how much sorer
punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden
under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant,
wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite
unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance
belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The
Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the
hands of the living God," (Heb. x. 26-31.)

But let us further inquire, What shall be its results with reference
to the righteous?

1. The righteous will then fully understand the excellence of Christ's
government over themselves.

How profoundly mysterious, as yet, to ourselves, is our own individual
history! If we attempt to gather up the past, and to trace the whole
way along which we have journeyed, with the innumerable windings of
the path, and all the dark valleys through which it has led, the
rugged places it has passed over, or the many lofty hills up which it
has ascended,--how endless, how perplexing does it appear! If, again,
we try to measure the various powers which have helped to make us what
we are, or to weigh the number and relative importance of all the
things which have combined to produce the present result of character
within, and of circumstances without us,--how soon are we lost amidst
the mass of the infinite items which make up the sum of even our
little history. How inadequate are all our attempts to solve the
problems without number which every year suggests. _Why_, for example,
has this or that happened? Wherefore this sorrow or that joy?--why
such changes of place or of fortune?--why the loss of old friends or
the gift of new ones?--why--But the questions are endless, and
never can be answered till judgment. It is true, that we are often
privileged to _see_ very clearly the reason of many of Christ's
dealings with us here. He shews us His _ways_ as well as His
_acts_--treating us as "friends" who "know what their Lord doeth." The
wheel of Providence often makes its revolutions in so short a period
that we see the whole movement. It was thus in the case of Abraham.
The mystery of God's command was resolved after three days on Mount
Moriah. Thus, too, the darkness of family grief and of a distant
Saviour, which brooded over the household of Bethany, was dispelled,
and vanished before bright sunshine, at the cry, "Lazarus, come
forth!" But it is not always thus; and though it would be so more
frequently if we waited more patiently upon God and considered His
ways, yet, at best, but a small fraction of our life is understood
here. Moreover, our own history is so interlaced with the history of
others, that what is more properly theirs, in some degree is ours
also. Can Moses, for instance, yet fully comprehend his own life in
its relation to the Jewish nation, whose fate is still involved in
darkness? Can any one of the saints of old, whose deeds and words are
recorded in God's Book, and are telling every day and hour upon the
history of mankind, and must continue to do so till time shall be no
more, comprehend what they really have done on earth? Must not the end
of all things come before they understand the place and the work their
Lord assigned to them? And so is it with the humblest believer. He
is a part of a great whole; and to understand how Jesus has governed
Himself as a part, he must be able to see his own life in relation to
the great whole. But each Christian who has walked by faith, and held
fast his confidence in Christ, will then also have revealed how the
Lord has governed him, and all that He has done to him and for him,
and what He has enabled him to be and to do on earth. The sackcloth
and ashes of every patient Job will be turned into garments of
praise; and the lamentations of every mourning Jeremiah into songs of
gladness: and in adoring wonder and unutterable joy, every head will
be bowed down, every crown cast at Christ's feet, and every heart
will feel, and mouth confess, "He hath done all things well!" What an
amazing disclosure will this be of the wisdom and love with which our
gracious Lord has assigned to each servant his lot,--given to each
"_his_ work," and so prepared all things for him in the world, and so
made all things work together for his good, that "the fruit has been
holiness, and the end everlasting life!"

2. But the Christian will also behold at judgment the excellence of
Christ's government over others, and over the whole world.

If we are such mysteries to ourselves, and if we cannot as yet truly
write our own biographies, how much more perplexing to us is the
personal history of any other in his relation to the Redeemer! How
impossible to discover the reasons of all, or of any, of Christ's
providential dealings with him, or to read aright any one day in his
life! Was it possible for Job's friends to interpret, _at the time_,
Job's sufferings? God alone could have corrected Jacob when, in the
dark night of his sorrow, yet just before the daybreak of his joy
in Egypt, he cried, "Joseph is not, Simeon is not, and will ye take
Benjamin away?--_all these things are against me!_" Daniel in the
lions' den, or the three young men in the furnace, with a wicked king
in peace upon the throne; John the Baptist in the dungeon, with Herod
in the banquet hall; Stephen falling asleep beneath the shower of
cruel stones, and Saul gazing complacently at the murderers' clothes
laid at his feet:--these, and a thousand other such incidents in human
history, are, to beholders, involved in a portion of that darkness
which hung over the cross of Christ itself, at the time, a mystery of
mysteries to all who witnessed its agonies! But when, from the history
of persons, we rise to the contemplation of the history of cities,
countries, and nations; or ascend to a still higher region in order to
take in, if possible, the history of the human race from age to age;
and to comprehend what Jesus Christ has done for it, and how He
has governed it,--how much more profound is the darkness! If, for
instance, we endeavour to form any estimate of the effect which has
been produced upon the character and destiny of mankind by the present
structure of the physical earth, with its mountains, seas, rivers,
winds, and climate--the house which Jesus Christ has built and
furnished for His creatures; by the famines and pestilences, wars and
conquests, migrations and settlements, arising out of circumstances
more or less controlling man, and beyond his will; as well as by all
that has come, as it were, directly from Jesus, through His Church,
from Eden till this present hour;--how infinite to us is the field
of observation! "O the depth of the riches both of the knowledge and
wisdom of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past
finding out!" We gaze upon those majestic wheels of His providence,
some of which take whole cycles to revolve, and "their wings are so
high, that they are dreadful!" It is so, for example, with the history
of Israel, which, commencing with Abraham, when earth was young, four
thousand years ago, is still moving on as a distinct stream flowing
amidst the waters of the great ocean, yet never mingling with them,
though nearing the unfathomable gulf where all is still.

But "what we know not now, we shall know hereafter," upon the great
"day of the _revelation_ of Jesus Christ," when, in the light of
unerring truth, the history of each man, and of the whole race, will
be seen, and for the first time understood. "Now we know in part, but
then we shall know even as we are known." Every question which here
perplexes or pains the thoughtful and conscientious inquirer, will be
fully answered. The secret and hitherto hidden springs of actions will
be laid bare, and their remotest results disclosed. We shall apprehend
the real life--the true philosophy--of history. Then will the
government of Jesus Christ over the whole family of man, and every
individual member of it, be seen--what it has always by His Church
believed--to have been one of righteousness, wisdom, and love.

3. Need I add, as the last grand result of judgment, that the Triune
God will be glorified?

_God the Father_ will be glorified! The prayer of Christ shall then
be fulfilled: "Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify
thee!" The doxology of the apostle will be realised: "To him be glory
by the Church through Christ Jesus throughout all ages!" That glory
will be seen in His having committed the government of the world to
Jesus Christ. Then will be understood, as it never was before, how
"God _so_ loved the world in giving His only-begotten Son" to be its
Creator and Governor, and the Prophet, Priest, and King of His Church.

_God the Son_ will be glorified! Every event and act in His great
mediatorial kingdom will shew the grandeur of His character. The whole
world's history will be as a mirror, full of the light of this Sun of
Righteousness,--reflecting the greatness of His power, the depths of
His wisdom, the beauty of His holiness, and the riches of His grace.
He will "be glorified, too, _in_ His saints." Each believer will not
only be a living monument of what Christ has done, but, as a child
of God, will also be in his character an image of what Christ the
first-born _is_!

_God the Spirit_ will be glorified when the results are made manifest
of all He has done for and in the Church, and of all which men have
received from this Teacher, Sanctifier, and Comforter! If many will
have cause to mourn upon that day because they have resisted and
grieved Him by their wilful impenitency and wickedness, what a
multitude, greater than any man can number, will adore Him for the
spiritual ignorance in the ways of God which He dispelled,--the
all-sufficient strength for duty and trial, for life and death,
which He imparted,--the holy love which He shed abroad upon their
hearts,--the good fruit which by His aid they produced in their
lives,--the calm peace which He gave to their consciences,--the
prayers heard and answered by God which He prompted,--and the joy
unspeakable to which He often raised their souls!

Thus will the proceedings of the great day of judgment, without one
single exception, reveal to the intelligent universe the glory of
God,--Father, Son, and Spirit,--as displayed in the government of the
world through Jesus Christ.

Oh, how can we form an adequate conception of the overpowering effect
which the revelations of this eventful period in the history of the
universe must necessarily produce upon the saints and just men made
perfect, and upon the innumerable company of angels, who, with intense
interest and profound intelligence, watch the proceedings before the
immaculate throne of the Son of man! As age after age passes in
solemn review, and as each succeeding era, beneath the light of
investigation, emerges out of the darkness in which it had hitherto
been wrapped,--as city after city, and kingdom after kingdom, from
their early beginnings, onwards through centuries of advancement in
power and influence, till their final silence in the dust, are all
reproduced in their living reality,--we may conceive how the awful
interest in the world's trial must deepen itself in every bosom, and
intelligent eyes must gleam with a brighter intelligence, and admiring
souls burn with a profounder and holier admiration, as they are
enabled to perceive how, over all this earth, to them hitherto so dark
and cloudy, Jesus had ever reigned with unclouded splendour, as the
sun reigns in the calm heavens, and pours down his beams of light from
a region far above the tempestuous sky. And we can, in some degree,
conceive how their lips should ever and anon give birth to accents of
heartfelt praise, as a deep moral order and beauty are seen growing
up, evolving out of the chaos of history, even as a holy temple might
rear itself from what seemed to the eye of sense to be the very "lines
of confusion, and stones of emptiness." We can imagine, too, when this
long day of wondrous disclosures is about to terminate, and its sun to
set for ever over the old order of things, how the joy of this great
assemblage should reach at last its climax, and have a fulness of
glory in it never before experienced; until, as judgment ended, and
the whole government of their blessed Lord was disclosed, their sense
of the grandeur and infinite majesty of His character and ways should
be such as to call forth from ten thousand times ten thousand ecstatic
souls, as the grand verdict of the universe, those bursts of praise:
"_Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and
wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." "Great and
marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy
ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and
glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come
and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest_."

Such are a few of the more obvious results of a day of judgment. But
who will dare to deny that these may possibly be extended to other
worlds and other orders of beings, and be made influential for the
good and happiness of the universe throughout limitless ages, and be
the means of impressing unfallen yet peaceable creatures, with a more
profound sense of the glory of God and the unchangeableness of His
government? We ourselves possess an experience somewhat analogous to
this, in the fact of God's righteous dealings with another order
of beings--the fallen angels--having been revealed to us for our
instruction and warning; and thus, for aught we know, the transactions
of the coming day of judgment may, in whole or in part, form such a
living record of God's government by Jesus Christ, as may be revealed
to millions, of whose existence and circumstances we are as yet
ignorant, and be to them for ever as a great Bible, for their warning,
comfort, and instruction in righteousness.

We have now brought our thoughts upon "judgment" to a conclusion. May
they suggest others more worthy of the theme to all who may peruse
them! We have tried to view it in the light of Scripture statement;
yet feeling deeply conscious of how dimly and inadequately we perceive
and judge of the awful future; of God's relationship to the human
family; and of the manner in which the only wise and merciful God will
apply the eternal principles of justice (which is but love dealing
with sin) to the infinite varieties of human character, or to the
circumstances of each human being. Questions innumerable suggest
themselves, which we cannot answer now, but which will be answered
then, regarding the heathen, and regarding millions who have lived and
died without knowing or loving Jesus Christ; doubtless we shall all
then be amazed at our own ignorance and sin, and overwhelmed by the
majestic glory and excellence of God in Christ. But whatever the
results of that day may be, one thing is certain, that they will
afford satisfaction and joy unutterable to just and good men, yea, to
every human being who has any real sympathy with Him whose "name is

But let us never forget that every day of our lives is a day of
judgment, in which Christ is searching our hearts and judging our
lives, condemning the evil and blessing the good, and seeking to
separate the one from the other. If we are able to welcome Him as our
judge and deliverer in our present day, we shall be able to do so also
on "the last day."

I conclude with these words:--

"For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every
one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath
done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the
Lord, we persuade men."

"And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be
the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the
Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. And we have known
and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that
dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love
made perfect, that we may have _boldness in the day of judgment_:
because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love;
but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that
feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him because he first
loved us."

"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake
you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of
the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us
not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that
sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in
the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on
the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of
salvation. _For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain
salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ_, who died for us, that, whether
we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort
yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do."

"_Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep
his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall
bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be
good, or whether it be evil_."


It is obviously impossible to treat a subject so vast and so
profoundly interesting as this within the limits of a _Parish Paper_,
except in the most cursory and superficial manner. Yet I am induced to
make the attempt, in order, if possible, to impress my readers with
such ideas of our life in heaven as are more in accordance with the
nature of man and the Word of God, than, I am inclined to think,
obtain among many sincere Christians, who accordingly are deprived of
encouragements in duty, comforts in sorrow, and bright hopes to cheer
them amid the world's darkness, which they might otherwise possess.

Let us inquire, then, in what shall consist the believer's happiness
in God's presence.

Now, it will greatly aid us in answering this question regarding our
true life in eternity, if we first consider what constitutes our true
life in time, or what would constitute our perfect happiness now, if
in the full enjoyment of all our mental and bodily powers, and if, in
the best possible circumstances, we perfectly fulfilled upon earth
God's purpose in our creation.

In endeavouring to solve this question, I remark that our perfection
consists in the gratification of every part of our many-sided nature.
Thus, for instance, enjoyment might be derived through our senses,
though the intellect was comparatively weak, and our moral being
depraved; or from the exercise of our intellectual or spiritual
nature, while the body suffered from pain: or delight might be poured
through all those channels, but yet if we were doomed to be solitary
beings, without any companion or friend with whom to communicate or
share our gladness, or were prevented from expressing our thoughts and
desires by action, the result in either of these supposed cases would
not be perfect happiness. But, on the other hand, if we can imagine a
man with his whole nature in a state of perfect health, each portion
demanding and obtaining its appropriate nourishment, and with all his
powers beautifully balanced and in perfect harmony with the plan of
God, "according to the effectual working of the measure in every
part,"--the senses ministering to the most refined tastes,--the
intellect full of light in the apprehension of truth, and strong
in its discovery,--the moral being possessing perfect holiness and
unerring subjection to the will of God,--the love of society able
to rest upon fitting objects, and to find a fall return for its
sympathies in suitable companionships, while ample scope was afforded
for activity by congenial labour;--then would such a state be
perfection or fulness of joy in God's presence here below. I do not,
of course, allege that every part of our being has the same capacity
to afford us joy, or that the flood can pour itself into the soul with
the same fulness through each of these channels, as if, for instance,
we depended in the same degree for enjoyment upon our sentient as we
do upon our intellectual or moral nature. All I mean to assert is,
that whatever proportion may come through each, God has so made us,
that perfect joy is derived only through all. Such is man's actual
constitution as he came from the hands of his Maker; and such would
have been his happiness had he remained unfallen. Placed, as Adam was,
in a material world so rich in sources of physical happiness, with
an intellect capable of unlocking the countless treasures of
science,--with a nature pure and spotless, delighting in the excellent
God,--with society begun with woman as a helpmeet for him, and
with the active labour required "to dress and keep" his earthly
paradise,--he possessed, in such perfect adaptations, a heaven upon
earth. And had perfect man been translated to another region, we
cannot conceive his joy thereby to become essentially different in
kind, though different in degree, supposing him to remain the same
being, and to possess the same human nature. Now, man's fall has not
altered this principle. Sin is a perversion of human nature, not its
annihilation; a disorder of its powers, not their destruction. Nor is
restoration by Jesus Christ the gift of a different constitution, as
if He made us something else than human beings, but the renovation of
the old constitution after its original type. It is making the "old
man," diseased, bent down, paralysed, deaf, blind, the "new man," with
frame erect, limbs strong, eyes and ears open, and all his powers
fresh and vigorous for immortality; and, therefore, that which would
constitute the happiness of man were he perfect on earth, will be
his happiness, though in a higher degree, when he is made perfect in
heaven. This supposition, I repeat, only assumes the fact that we
shall be the same persons for ever; that human nature will never
cease to be human nature, or be changed into a different species of
existence, no more than Jesus Christ, the Head of His Church, will
ever cease to be what He is--"_the man_ Christ Jesus," with a human
body and a human soul, "the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

There is another way in which I might describe the nature of our
future life, although I shall base my remarks on the principles now
stated. We must admit that the perfection of our being is fellowship
with God the Father in the possession of that spirit of son-ship which
was revealed in Jesus Christ the Son of God and the Son of man. This,
and this alone, must insure fellowship with Him in His character and
joy. We shall consequently rejoice in all that He rejoices in--_as far
as this is possible for creatures_. Thus, if He rejoices in the glory
of His own Being, as Father, Son, and Spirit, so shall we; if He
rejoices in all His works, so shall we; if He rejoices in what He
does, in what He knows, in what He purposes, so shall we; if He
rejoices in the communion of holy and happy men and angels, so shall
we. In one word, if "our chief end is to glorify God," when that
end is fulfilled, we shall "enjoy Him for ever." And this was our
Saviour's prayer when He said, "The glory Thou hast given me I have
given them, that we may be one!"

But as those two lines of thought would lead practically to the same
conclusion, it seems to me that the nature of our future life will be
best understood by most of my readers if I endeavour to shew "what we
shall be," according to the arrangement already proposed.

Let us, then, meditate on the glorious supply which God has provided
for filling up every part of this our complex nature in heaven.



Speaking of the materialism of heaven, Dr Chalmers truly says:--"The
common imagination that many have of paradise on the other side of
death, is that of a lofty, aerial region where the inmates float on
ether, or are mysteriously suspended upon nothing; where all the warm
and felt accompaniments which give such an expression of strength, and
life, and colour to our present habitation, are attenuated into a sort
of spiritual element, that is meagre, and imperceptible, and wholly
uninviting to the eye of mortals here below; where every vestige of
materialism is done away with, and nothing left but certain unearthly
scenes that have no power of allurement, and certain unearthly
ecstasies with which it is impossible to sympathise," The
sensitiveness with which many thus shrink from almost alluding to the
physical element of enjoyment in heaven, because it is unworthy to be
compared with the spiritual glory that is to be revealed, arises, no
doubt, from the half suspicion that there is some necessary connexion
between materialism and sin; thus forgetting that the body, and the
outward world which ministers to it, are God's handiworks as well as
the soul; and that it is He himself who has adjusted their relative
workings. And surely it is quite unnecessary to remind you at any
length how exquisitely God has fashioned our physical frame, as the
medium of communication with the outer material world. The nostrils
inhale the sweet perfumes which scent the breezy air, and rise as
incense from the flowers that cover the earth. By the eye the soul
perceives the glories of the summer sky, and searches for its midnight
stars; recognises splendour of colour, and beauty of form; gazes
on the outspread landscape of fertile field and hoary mountain, of
stream, forest, ocean, and island; and contemplates that world of
profounder interest still, the human countenance, of beloved parent,
child, or friend, strong with the power of elevated thought, sublime
with the grandeur of moral character, or bright with all the sunshine
of winning emotion. The ear, too, is the magic instrument which
conveys to the soul all the varied harmonies of sound, from the choirs
of spring, and the other innumerable minstrelsies of nature, as well
as from the higher art of man, that soothe, elevate, and solemnise. It
is true, indeed, that there are grosser appetites of the body which
many pervert so as to enslave the spirit; thus abusing by gluttony,
drunkenness, and every form of sensuality, what God the merciful and
wise has intrusted to man to be used for wise and merciful ends. But
even here there is already perceptible a marked difference between
those appetites and the more refined tastes alluded to; inasmuch
as the former are found in their abuse to be, strictly speaking,
unnatural, and destructive of man's happiness; and even in their
legitimate use they decay with advancing years, thus proving that
the stamp of time is upon them as on things belonging to a temporary
economy; whereas such tastes as those that enjoy the beautiful in
nature or in art, for example, abide in old age with a youthful
freshness, and more than a youthful niceness of discernment; and so
afford a presumption that they are destined for immortality. To the
aged saint "the trees clap their hands, the little hills rejoice, and
the mountains break forth into singing;" and when the earth is empty
of every other sentient pleasure, it is in the beauty of its sights
and sounds, still full to him of the glory of his God.

And so must it be for ever! The glorified saint is not "unclothed,"
but "clothed upon." He inhabits "a house not made with hands, eternal
in the heavens." The future body is called a "spiritual body" to
express, I presume, its pure and immortal essence; for though it will
be somehow related to the present body,--as the risen is related to
the sown grain which has perished through corruption,--it must be
changed into a new and higher form. "Flesh and blood cannot inherit
the kingdom of God." "We shall all be changed." "He shall change our
vile bodies, and fashion them like to His own glorious body." It is in
this new body, once sown in weakness, corruption, and mortality, but
raised at length in power, incorruption, and immortality, no more to
suffer, and no more to die, that we shall tread upon the new earth,
gaze on the new heavens, and walk in the paradise of our God.

And who can tell what sources of refined enjoyment, through the medium
of the spiritual body, are in store for us in God's great palace of
art, with its endless mansions and endless displays of glory! Well may
we say of such anticipated pleasures what good Izaak Walton says of
the singing of birds: "Lord, if Thou hast provided such music for
sinners on earth, what hast Thou in store for Thy saints in heaven!"
For if this little spot of earth is full of scenes of loveliness to us
inexhaustible; if, contemplating these in a body buoyant with health
and strength, we feel it is joy even to live and breathe; and if when,
seeing God in them all, the expression of praise rises to the lips,
"Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast Thou made them all:
the earth is full of Thy riches!"--oh, what visions of glory may be
spread before the wondering eye throughout the vast extent of the
material universe, comprehending those immense worlds which twinkle
only in the field of the largest telescope, and vanish into the far
distance in endless succession; and what sounds may greet the ear from
the as yet unheard music of those spheres; while, for aught we know,
other means of communication may be opened up to us, with objects
ministering delight to new tastes; and sources of sentient enjoyment
discovered which do not exist here, or elude the perception of our
present senses. Add to all this our deliverance from those physical
evils and defects which are now the causes of so much pain, and
clog so terribly the aspiring soul. For how affected are we by the
slightest disorganisation of our bodily frame! A disturbance in some
of the finer parts of its machinery, which no science can discover or
rectify; a delicate fibre shadowed by a cloud passing over the sun; or
a nerve chilled by a lowering of the temperature of the atmosphere,
will tell on the most genial temper, relax the strongest intellect,
and dim the brightest imagination; while other physical causes, quite
as mysterious, can make reason reel and lunacy become ascendant. The
very infirmities of old age; the constant toil required to satisfy
our cravings for food and raiment; the wounds and bruises the body
receives, and which agonise it, and the deformity which so often
disfigures it, cramping the spirit within a narrow and iron
prison-house--these form a terrible deduction from that joy which we
are capable of deriving even now through the medium of our physical
organisation. Such evils cannot here be rectified. They are the
immediate, or more remote consequences of man's iniquity; and under
Christ belong to that education by which bodily suffering is made the
means of disciplining the soul for immortality. But in the new heavens
and the new earth the body will no longer experience fatigue in
labour, or be subject to hurtful influences from the elements, nor
ever grow old; but be glorious and beautiful as the risen body of
Jesus Christ! "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and
there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither
shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
I wonder not, indeed, that Paul should exclaim along with those who
had the first-fruits of the Spirit, "Even we ourselves groan within
ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the _redemption of our

With these bright hopes let us who are now alive seek to glorify God
in the body which is to be glorified together with Christ. "The body
is for the Lord, and the Lord for the body." "Know ye not that your
bodies are the members of Christ?" "Know ye not that your bodies are
temples of the Holy Ghost? If any man defile that temple, him will God
destroy." "When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye
also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which
are upon the earth." Let us honour the body as a holy thing; and
beware how we put the chains of slavery upon it, or from our
selfishness expose it to hunger and nakedness. Let us endeavour even
to make art, that ministers to our sense of the beautiful, minister
also to our sense of the true and good; and ever speak to us of God
as seen in His works; or in "His ways among the children of men." And
finally, as we contemplate the body of a departed saint, let us behold
it in the light of this revelation. Let the grave in which it lies
no longer be associated in our thoughts with the worm and corruption
only, and with all the sad memorials and revolting symbols of
mortality. Let the voice of Him who is the resurrection and the life
be heard in the breeze that bends the grass which waves over it, and
His quickening energy be seen in the beauteous sun which shines upon
it; and while we hear the cry, "Dust to dust," let us remember that
the "very dust to Him is dear;" and that when He appears in His glory,
He will repair and rebuild that ruined temple, and fashion it in glory
and in beauty like His own!



Let us consider the joy which God has provided for our _intellects_
during our immortal life in heaven.

There are many dear saints of God who have little sympathy with those
who associate happiness with the pursuit or possession of intellectual
truth. These persons, perhaps, have had themselves such weak
intellectual capacities, as made the acquisition of knowledge
impossible for them beyond its simplest elements; or their minds
have been stunted in early years from want of education; or in the
providence of God they have been made "hewers of wood and drawers of
water," rather than intellectual princes among the people. Yet let
none of us who are so ignorant, and who as yet think and speak like
children, be discouraged by a conscious sense of our weak intellectual
grasp and scanty information; but rather rejoice with Christ in
the dispensation by which God reveals Himself not to talent but to
goodness; not to the giant intellect but to the babe-like spirit: "I
thank thee, O Father, that thou hast hid these things from the wise
and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes!"

God has, nevertheless, made the acquisition of truth by the intellect
a source of supreme delight. You well know how every field in nature
has been searched, and every quarter of the globe ransacked, and many
days and nights of patient intellectual toil consumed by men who have
endured incredible labour, supported by no other motive than their
love of knowledge. The immediate joy which is experienced by a great
discoverer when a new fact or truth flashes on his mind is to others
almost inconceivable. We read that when Newton, after years of
difficulty, was just about to step on the summit of that mountain from
which he knew he was to hear such intellectual music as never before
had sounded in the mind of man, and to catch a glimpse of the
hitherto unseen glory of that new ocean of truth which he alone had

"He was the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea!"--

his joy was so great that he was overcome by his emotions, and wept!
This passion of acquiring knowledge is not the least remarkable fact
recorded of Solomon. We are told that "he spake of trees, and of
beasts, and of creeping things." He himself says of God, "He hath made
things beautiful in time: also He hath put it into man's heart to
survey the world, and to find out the work that God maketh from the
beginning to the end." "When I applied mine heart to know wisdom, and
to see the business that is done upon the earth: (for also there is
that neither day nor night seeth sleep with his eyes:) then I beheld
all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done
under the sun; because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he
shall not find it; yea, though a wise man think to know it, yet shall
he not be able to find it." There was in all this no doubt "vanity and
vexation of spirit," for the attempt was vain to find satisfaction
for the soul in the knowledge of things themselves apart from the
knowledge of a personal God, or in any truth rather than in Him who is
true. And therefore many, perceiving how intellect is often allied
to ungodliness, and fails of itself to insure either goodness or
happiness, are disposed to refuse to it the high place which God has
assigned to it in the soul, and to suspect the reality of the exalted
delight which He has designed His saints and angels to enjoy in its
exercise. But while the deifiers of mere intellect are ever reminded
that it alone cannot deify, but may be abused so as to demonise man,
yet let those who slight it remember also that it is the head without
whose inventive genius or directing skill the strong arms of labour
would be idle. Let the man of material wealth or material power
recollect that it is the wealth of science and the power of mind,
possessed perhaps by unknown and lonely students who have all their
lifetime been struggling to obtain their daily bread, and to snatch
"the crumbs that fall from the rich man's table," which have created
our manufactures, filled our warehouses, crossed our oceans, healed
our diseases, and reared the fabric of law and government.

And God, who has made the intellect the source of delight to the
individual, and of good to society here, will surely perfect it
hereafter. Whatever its capacity may be, it shall then be filled to
its utmost limit; and be characterised by a clearness, vigour, and
precision, unknown here to the greatest thinkers. All barriers to its
progress shall be removed, which were occasioned here by the mortal
body, the poor culture, the little time, the few opportunities, the
weak or sinful prejudices; so that the poorest saint will shine there
as the sun in its strength! And with this increased power of knowing,
how inconceivably increased must be our sources of knowledge; how
boundless is the field which supplies them; how inexhaustible the
treasures it contains; how unlimited the time for gathering them;
how helpful the society that will sympathise with and join in our
pursuits! No one surely imagines that on entering heaven we can at
once obtain perfect knowledge--perfect, I mean, not in the sense of
accuracy, but of fully possessing all that can be known. This is
possible for Deity only. For it may be asserted with confidence that
Gabriel knows more to-day than he knew yesterday. Nor is it difficult
for us to conceive how, throughout eternity, and revelling with
freedom throughout God's universe, we may be occupied by the
contemplation of new and endless displays of the inexhaustible wisdom
and power of God in His works; and see more and more into the life of
all things; and continually read new volumes of that great book of
nature and of truth, whose first letters we are now learning with
difficulty to spell. And could we ever succeed in gathering together
the present treasures of all worlds, why may not new and varied
creations for ever renew the universe, and grander displays be made of
the glory and majesty of the Creator? Besides all this, must not the
_ways_ of God, as well as His works, and the wonders of His moral
government, extending over all His creatures, and over all worlds,
and throughout all ages, afford inexhaustible subjects wherewith to
exercise the intellect of man? Is not every truth, too, with which we
are already acquainted linked to another and a higher truth? And if
so, when shall we reach the end of that awful chain which is in the
hand of God? But though for ever we shall thus dive deeper and deeper
into the divine mind, never, never can we sound its unfathomable
depths. Though we shall ascend for ever from one intellectual height
to another in the eternal range of thought, we shall approach, yet
never reach, that unseen throne on which is seated the _I Am_, the
Comprehender of all truth, the Solver of all mysteries, but who
Himself, though known, because revealed to us in His eternal Son and
loved as our Father, must ever, as the absolute One, be the mystery

From the few glimpses which we obtain in Scripture of angelic life, we
may infer that the understanding of the works and ways of God forms no
small part of its joy. We read of the sons of God crowding round the
earth, and we hear those morning stars singing for joy, as they behold
the commencement of this new theatre of wonders added to those with
which they were already acquainted. I doubt not that these high
intelligences watched with intensest interest the progress of the
world's formation, and beheld order and beauty growing out of chaotic
darkness and confusion, and during the incalculable ages of the past,
before man himself appeared upon the scene, gazed with wonder on the
successive creations of animal and vegetable life, whose remains we
now see buried in their rocky sepulchres. We know, too, the deeper
interest which the angelic host have taken in this world since it
became the abode of man. They are acquainted with all its inhabitants,
and have seen the mystery of God's providence here unfolding itself
from age to age. A great multitude of them hovered over the hills of
Bethlehem at that great era when "unto us a Child was born, and unto
us a Saviour was given, who was Christ the Lord;" and in sympathy with
God and man they ascribed "glory to God in the highest," because of
the "peace" which was proclaimed to earth, and of the "good-will"
which was expressed towards man. We know also how they have taken an
active share under Jesus the King, in advancing the affairs of His
kingdom, both by punishing the wicked, and ministering to the heirs of
salvation. And to put it beyond a doubt that scope is given even here
for the exercise of the intellect of the angels, we are distinctly
informed that all the marvellous history now proceeding in this world
had a direct reference in its original design to their progressive
education: "For God created all things by Jesus Christ, to the intent
that now _unto principalities and powers_ might be known by the church
the manifold wisdom of God." There are indeed things even here "which
angels desire to look into!"

And though the redeemed from earth are not yet revealed to us as
being engaged in intellectual pursuits, nevertheless two of them have
revisited the earth and appeared in the old land of their sojourning
in visible form, and bearing the names of Moses and Elias, so familiar
to the Church of God, and have spoken in language intelligible to the
children of men, and upon a subject of all the most absorbing in its
interest to the Church above and below--the decease which Christ was
to accomplish at Jerusalem!

But I dare not enlarge on this part of my subject, however inviting it
may be. Let me only implore of you to consecrate your intellects to
God's service; and glorify Him in "soul and spirit" as well as in
"body." Reverence _Truth_ in every department, as it is the expression
of the mind and will of God, and seek it in humility, and with a deep
sense of your responsibility as to _how_ you search and _what_ you
believe. And surely it is an elevating and comforting thing to know,
with reference to those who on earth were adorned by God with high
intellects, cultivated with care, and sanctified for their Master's
service; who thirsted for truth, and relished its acquisition with
peculiar delight, and the more so when it led them directly to Him who
is Truth itself, and enabled them the better to behold His glory, that
their powers are now finding ample field for their exercise, and can
orb themselves around without a limit. Not therefore with sadness but
with joy we can turn from beholding the dead unmeaning eye of the
lifeless body, through which the noble mind once shone with mild
intellectual lustre, and contemplate the same mind rising over the
everlasting hills, amidst the fresh unsullied brightness of a new-born
day, and advancing for ever without a cloud amidst the endless glories
of the upper sky.

One other suggestion as to duty in connexion with this part of our
subject: take a peculiarly tender, sympathising, and thoughtful care
of those who are deprived of the noble gift of intellect, and who in
God's providence may be cast on your mercy. Walk by faith towards
them. See them not as they are, but as they shall be. Act as you would
wish to have done when you meet them in that world of light where we
shall no longer see through a glass darkly, and where even he who
seems exceeding fierce shall sit at the feet of Jesus, meek as a
child, and in his right mind. Thank God, "there shall be no night



Our joy in heaven will, above all, be derived from the perfection of
our moral being. We shall be "without fault before the throne of God."
"He shall present us to Himself without spot, or blemish, or wrinkle,
or any such thing."

Truly and beautifully has Sir Thomas Browne said,--"There is no
felicity in what the world adores: that wherein God himself is
happy, the holy angels are happy, and in whose defect the devils are
unhappy--that dare I call happiness; whatsoever else the world terms
happiness, is to me an apparition or neat delusion, wherein there is
no more of happiness than the name." Following out this thought, let
us reverently inquire in what chiefly consists the joy of God, or what
especially constitutes His glory. Now, He is glorious in that creative
mind by which things are made so wisely with reference to the end
which each has to serve; and made so beautiful and grand in their
sculptured forms and harmonious colours. He surveys all His works, and
rejoices in them as "very good." He is glorious also in that miracle
of a wondrous providence by which without a miracle the wants of
all the endless worlds of His creatures are supplied; and by which
responsible persons also are created and trained to glorify and enjoy
Himself for ever. But while perfection beams in every feature of the
Divine mind, His glory, His joy, is in His _character_. Not His power,
but the character which wields the power; not His wisdom, but that
which His character accomplishes by it; not His majestic sovereignty,
but that majestic character which stamps His reign as one of right and
therefore of might, commanding, irresistible. This is the glory which
He made to pass before the eyes of Moses when upon the mount; which
shone in the face of Jesus Christ the Holy One of God; and which fills
the souls of the rapt seraphim when they cry, "Holy, holy, holy, is
the Lord God of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory!" Thus God
is happy and most blessed because He is "glorious in holiness," or, in
one word, because "His name is _Love_."

And in what, moreover, does the happiness of the angels consist, but
in sharing this life of God? These bright ones, indeed, experience joy
in contemplating His works of creation and redemption, and have been
glad in acquiring truth throughout many ages; but the atmosphere which
they breathe, the light in which they dwell, is love. They are happy
not merely in what they hear, or see, or know of the things of God,
but chiefly in what they are towards God himself. They know Him, and
this is life eternal.

And, finally, it is in the defect of this in which devils are unhappy.
For Satan, as he "goes to and fro in the earth, and in walking up and
down in it," may hear those sounds of loveliness which delight our
ears, but they are no music to his jarring and discordant spirit; and
he may behold those sights of loveliness which delight our eye, but he
does so as the prowling lion who perceives no grandeur in the glorious
mountains which echo to his savage roar. Nor does the exercise of his
subtle intellect afford him joy, because it is not in harmony with
truth, nor with the God of truth; but is as a "wandering star, to
which is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." And therefore,
though he is a king, he is king of darkness, and carries hell in his
own bosom, whether he moves among the beauteous bowers of Eden, or
dwells for days upon earth, in the wilderness, in the holy temple, or
on the high mountain, with even God manifest in the flesh beside him.
He has no holiness, no love, and therefore no peace or joy.

And thus does our joy depend on our fellowship with God in character.
Other things _may_ be, this _must_ be, if we are to be happy. Other
things are required to give our joy fulness; this is essential to
give it existence. For the body may be deprived of all pleasurable
sensation, and the intellect unable to grapple with the simplest
problem, "in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and those
that look out at the windows are darkened, and the daughters of music
are brought low,"--yet the light of joy may still shine in the soul,
so long as the mind can discern that "God is," and the heart feel that
"God is love." Not, therefore, in the gratification of his sentient
tastes; nor in the certainties of pure intellect; nor in science,
which "can put forth its hand and feel from star to star;" nor even in
the exercise of that genius--so like His own creative power!--whose
contrivances change the aspect of the world, and whose glorious
flights can speed to airy regions "which no fowl knoweth nor the
vulture's eye hath seen:" not in those outer courts of God's great
temple has the Father willed that His immortal children shall find
their true life, but in the holy of holies only of His own immediate
presence, and in the possession of the spirit of life and of love
which is in His first-born Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And this was
the glory and joy which Jesus himself manifested on earth, when "He
had no place to lay his head;" and was "despised and rejected of men;"
and His "countenance was marred like no man's;" when He carried His
cross; and revealed to us that true life which He died to obtain, and
rose from the dead to impart to us by His Spirit. He did not come
to teach us to become artists, orators, or men of mere intellectual
cultivation, capable of creating a hero-worship. The race who
built Nineveh and Thebes, or produced the artists, orators, poets,
historians, or the world--conquerors of Greece and Rome, needed no
such teaching as this. But He came to reveal to men--who, whatever
else they knew, did not know their Maker, but "changed the truth of
God into a lie"--that eternal life of love which was with the Father,
so that in its possession they might have fellowship with the Father,
with the Son, and with one another, and in this way only have His own
joy fulfilled in themselves. He taught us to follow Him, "with all
lowliness and meekness," and thus "to walk worthy of God who hath
called us to His kingdom and glory!"

I have dwelt, perhaps, at unnecessary length upon this part of my
subject, yet I am anxious to quicken in you the conviction of what you
cannot doubt, that our moral nature can be satisfied only with God's
likeness. So is it now; so will it be for ever. The sweet peace which
the believer enjoys in God here; the elevating delight he experiences
from contemplating His character, and saying, "My Father, let Thy name
be hallowed! let Thy kingdom come! let Thy will be done!"--his joy in
the possession of the graces of the Christian life, are not foretastes
only, but earnests also, and pledges of the coming fulness, the
first-fruits of the approaching harvest. "We shall be like Him!"
Oh blessed consummation, before which everything else vanishes in
comparison! Our souls cleansed from every stain of guilt, and made
white in the blood of the Lamb; and washed, too, from all the
pollution of sin with the waters of regeneration and the renewing of
the Holy Ghost, shall be "faultless," "not having spot, or wrinkle, or
any such thing." The pure and holy God resting on us as His own work
through His Son and Spirit, shall rejoice in that work as _perfect_;
and every redeemed soul will be as a mirror in whose transparent
depths the Divine glory is seen reflected. Oh comforting and exalting
thought! that the weakest and most imperfect, yet true child of God,
who possessed any real faith or real love, is thus at last "glorified
together with Christ"--their confessions of sin for ever over; their
sense of their own emptiness lost in a sense of Christ's fulness;
their ardent longings for unsullied holiness gratified as no faith or
foretaste here realised, even feebly, in their hours of most pious
fervour! Should it not delight us to think of even one whom we have
known and loved really possessing such joy as this; and ought we not
to give united thanks to God for their happiness with God, even while
we sorrow for their loss to ourselves during our earthly pilgrimage?



Man is a _social_ as well as a sentient, intellectual, and moral
being; and as such he will have joy in the presence of God in heaven.
We are made for brotherhood. It was in reference to this original
craving of the heart for society that God said of man when he came
perfect from His hands, "It is not good for him to be alone." The fact
of solitariness is, indeed, unknown in God's intelligent and moral
universe. With reverence, I remark, that God has existed as Father,
Son, and Spirit, three Persons in the unity of the Godhead. We cannot,
indeed, conceive of God, whose name is love, existing from eternity
without a person like Himself as an object of His love. Certain it
is, however, that for the creature to have joy in himself alone, is
impossible. Isolation would, in time, produce insanity. The heart will
lavish its affection upon the lowest forms of animal creation, or
upon ideal beings, rather than feed upon itself. But there can be
no solitude to him who knows there is a God, nor who possesses any
religion; for religion is love to God. And even where the society of
men is shunned, and solitude fled to by the weary, this is often,
after all, but an unconscious protest in favour of brotherhood; the
bitterness of one who, having sought it from men in vain, feels as if
robbed of his brother's affections, which he had a right to possess as
a portion of his inheritance.

But while God has planted in every breast this passion for congenial
society, and has supplied to so great an extent its want by the family
institution into which we are born in our early years, and by the
"troops of friends" who accompany us during our pilgrimage, and by the
fellowship of the Christian Church, in proportion as that fellowship
is not a mere name, but expresses the intention of Christ in gathering
His people into a society,--there are, nevertheless, innumerable
drawbacks here to anything like its full gratification. Take away the
time consumed in the necessary and often absorbing labour of life, and
during the unavoidable separations and partings from those we know
and love, how little is left for the cultivation here of the truest
friendships. We are, moreover, severed as yet by death from all
congenial minds among past generations, and from those who are yet to
come. Of the many now alive whose hearts would beat to ours, could we
only meet and know them, how few can stand together on the small space
allotted to us on the earth's surface. Then, again, of those whom we
know best and love best on earth, and who know and love us best too,
oh, what mutual ignorance must necessarily exist of innumerable
thoughts and feelings lying deep clown in our inner man, half hidden,
half revealed, even to ourselves, but altogether incommunicable and
unutterable by word or sign to others! We may at times be conscious
that we stand with them on the same lofty summit, and gaze on the
same prospect, but the atmosphere is too rare to permit of any heard
communication between us. And thus in no case can there be, not the
meeting, but that blending of soul with soul by which one being,
without losing his individuality, seems completed in the being of
another. Add to all this the granite walls that rise up between us
during our wanderings in this desert--the differences, not only from
intellect, pursuits, rank, education, but also from character, and
those sins and infirmities of which all more or less partake, such as
pride, vanity, prejudice, envy,--one and all making sad drawbacks from
the fulness of joy which we are capable of deriving even now from
intelligent and holy society. We are made to realise this fact in
reading the history of the holiest society that ever was on earth,
that of Jesus Christ and His apostles. Only three years together,
often separated during this brief period by dark nights, stormy seas,
long journeys, and the sin and ignorance OR their part which made Him
exclaim, "Nevertheless I am not alone, for the Father is with me,"
intimating that, without this Divine sympathy, He was indeed alone in
His joys and in His sorrows amidst His brethren. After His departure,
how soon were the apostles scattered, and how seldom did they meet!
For years Paul was not acquainted with any of them, and possibly never
met them all, while he was quite unknown by face to many of those
Christian churches who read his letters, and revered his name. The
apostle John complains that he could not communicate to his friends
the many things he had to say by pen and ink, and longs for personal
intercourse. "I trust," he says, "to come unto you and speak face to
face, that _our joy might be full_." Ah, there is no tabernacling here
with Jesus, nor yet with Moses or Elias! But such a dispensation is
no doubt wise. It marks the condition of those who have no continuing
city here, but who look for one to come. It also greatly helps to
weaken, on the one hand, our tendency to idolise the creature, and to
strengthen, on the other, our faith in God, who abideth for ever, and
thus to unite us to one another, both now and in the end, more truly
than we ourselves as yet understand. But, nevertheless, the joy from
Christian intercourse experienced here is among the most precious
gifts of God, and its value is enhanced by the prophecy which it
contains of the glorious future. Union is the gospel watchword; it
is the grand result of redemption; for holy union is holy love, the
drawing of heart to heart, because all are drawn by one Spirit,
through one Saviour, to one God, a union which is to be perfectly
realised in our future social state, when we shall be fellow-citizens
with the saints in the heavenly Jerusalem.

Now, consider what ample resources heaven affords for the cultivation
of the social affections among those of the highest intellect, taste,
and moral worth in God's universe, "But ye are come unto Mount Sion,
and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an
innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of
the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of
all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the
mediator of the new covenant." Here we have summed up the society in
our future home.

We shall there enjoy the society of the _angels_. We know about those
holy beings, but we do not know themselves as yet. But how often does
it happen to us in regard to our earthly friends, that those who are
unknown to us in our early years even by name, become in our latter
years indissolubly bound up with our history and our joy? And thus the
angels, whom on earth we have never seen, will, nevertheless, when the
manhood of our being is reached, become our intimate friends and dear
companions for ever. Let us not forget, however, that the angels know
each saint on earth more intimately than the saints themselves are
known by their nearest friends. "For are they not all ministering
spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of
salvation?" But this fact suggests another analogy between our social
relationships with men and angels,--viz., that as earthly friends who
have been acquainted with ourselves and our family history during
the forgotten days of infancy, are met by us, in after-years, not as
strangers, but with feelings of sympathy and intimacy akin to those
awakened by old kindred; even so will the saint, on reaching heaven,
find God's angels to be, not strangers, but old friends who have known
all about him from the day of his birth until the hour of his death.
It is true that these high and holy ones belong to a different order
of beings from ourselves, and this, we might be disposed to think,
must prevent the possibility of their sympathising with us. But let us
remember, that while in material forms there is no one common abiding
type, by which, for example, the vegetable, beast, bird, or fish are
formed; yet that it is quite otherwise with intellectual and moral
beings, who are all necessarily made like God, and therefore like
one another. And, finally, though we might conjecture that beings
possessed of such vast stores of knowledge, the accumulated wealth
of ages, and of such high and glorious intellects, would necessarily
repel our approaches by the awe they would inspire in a child of earth
when with all his ignorance he enters heaven, yet let our confidence
be restored by remembering the fact, that in them, as in the great
Jehovah, all majesty and wisdom become attractive when combined with,
and directed by love. The love which enables us to cling to the
Almighty and love Him as a Father, will enable us to meet the angels
in peace, and to love them as brethren. And thus I am persuaded that
a saint on earth, compassed about as he is with his many infirmities,
would even now feel more "at home," so to speak, with angels, because
of their perfect sympathising love, than with most of his fellow-men,
because of their remaining pride and selfishness.

But "just men made perfect" also form apart of the society above.
Their number is daily increasing. Day by day unbroken columns are
passing through the golden gates of the city, and God's elect are
gathering from the four winds of heaven. There are no dead saints; all
are alive unto God, and "we live together with them."

But I further remark in reference to all this glorious society, that
there shall be _perfect union_ among its members. That union will not
be one of sameness; for there can be no sameness either in the past
history, or in the intellectual capacity of any of its members. How
vast must be the difference for ever between the history of Gabriel,
the thief on the cross, the apostle Paul, and the child who died on
its first birthday! There is, moreover, every reason to believe that
each person must retain his own individual features of mind and
peculiarities of character, there as well as here. All the stars will
shine in brilliancy, and sweep in orbits more or less wide around the
great centre, but "each star differeth from another star in glory."
Yet this want of sameness is what will produce the deepest harmony,
such as one sees in the blending of different colours, or hears in
the mingling of different notes. And I repeat it, the bond of this
perfectness must be the same in heaven as on earth--love. For it is
love which unites exalted rank to lowly place, knowledge to ignorance,
and strength to weakness; thus bringing things opposite into an
harmonious whole. See accordingly how the love which dwelt in "God
manifest in the flesh," poured itself into the lowest depths of
humanity, and met men far down to lift them high up; so that at the
very moment, for instance, when Jesus was intensely conscious of His
dignity, "knowing that he came from God and went to God," He even then
shewed how inseparable was true love from true grandeur, for we read
that "knowing" this, "He rose from supper and girded Himself with a
towel, and washed His disciples' feet!" And as Jesus in the might of
the same Divine affection bridged over the gulf which separated man
from Himself and His Father, drawing the impure to Him the Holy One,
that they might become holy; and the ignorant to Him the All-knowing,
that they might become truly wise;--so shall the same Divine love
include within its vast embrace all in heaven, from God seated on the
throne down through the burning ranks of cherubim and seraphim till
it reaches the once weeping Magdalene, and the once sore-stricken
Lazarus, and the infant who has but the hour before left the bosom
of its weeping mother! HOW glorious, again, is the thought that the
poorest saint here--the most ignorant, the most despised, the most
solitary and unknown--shall not only admire and love, but be himself
the object of admiration and of love on the part of the highest spirit
there. For the King who is not ashamed to call the poorest "brethren,"
will, in His adornments of their mind and heart, as well as of outward
form, bestowed "according to His riches," make them in all things like
Himself, and fit to move in regal grandeur with all saints and angels
in the royal palace of his God. "Fear not, little flock; it is your
Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

After what has been said, it is unnecessary to prove what I have
assumed as so evidently true; I mean the future recognition of our
Christian friends. It is almost as unreasonable to ask for proofs of
this as for the probable recognition of friends in a different part
of the country after having been separated from one another during a
brief interval of time. What! shall memory be obliterated, and shall
we forget our own past histories, and therefore lose the sense of our
personal identity, and be ignorant of all we have been and done as
sinners, and of all we have received and done as redeemed men? or,
knowing all this, shall we be prevented from communicating our
histories to others? Shall beloved friends be there whom we have known
and loved in Christ here; with whom we have held holy communion; with
whom we have laboured and prayed for the advancement of Christ's
kingdom; and with whom we have eagerly watched for His second
coming,--and shall we be unable throughout eternity, either to
discover their existence or associate with them in the New Jerusalem?
Are the apostles now ignorant of each other? Did Moses and Elias
issue out of a darkness which mutually concealed them in heaven, and
recognising one another for the first time amidst the light on Tabor's
hill, did they then return into darkness again? Oh, what is there in
the whole Word of God,--what argument derived from, our experience of
the blessings of Christian fellowship,--what in the character of God
or His dealings with man,--what in His promises of things to come laid
up for those who love Him, that could have suggested such strange,
unworthy, false, and dreary thoughts of the union, or rather disunion,
of friends in their Father's home! Tell me not that special affection
to Christian brethren, from whatever causes it may arise, is
inconsistent with unfeigned love to all, and with absorbing love to
Jesus. It is not so here, and never can be so from the nature of holy
love, and was not so in Christ's own case when He the Perfect One
lived amongst us. With supreme love to God, "He loved His church
and gave Himself for it;" with love to His church He yet loved the
disciples as "His own;" while again within this circle one of these
was specially _the_ loved one; and beyond it "He loved Martha and Mary
and Lazarus!" Tell me not that it is enough to know that our friends
are in glory. I know this now in regard to some of them, as surely as
I know anything beyond the grave; yet my heart yearns to meet them
"with the Lord," and I bless Him that He permits me to comfort myself
with the hope of doing so. Nor let it be alleged as an insuperable
objection to all this anticipated happiness, that knowledge of the
saved would imply knowledge of the lost, and that this would balance
the pleasure we hope for, by the great pain by which we, it is
assumed, must thus be compelled to endure. For even admitting that
such knowledge would be possessed at all, which is very doubtful; yet
surely, at the worst, this is a strange way of escaping pain from the
knowledge that some are lost, by taking refuge in the ignorance of any
being saved! I shall not prove this further, but express my joy in
heartily believing that we shall resume our intercourse with every
Christian friend; that remembering all the past, and reading it for
the first time aright, because reading in the full light of revealed
truth, we shall know and love as we never knew and loved here; and
shall sit down at that glorious intellectual, moral, and social feast,
not with ideal persons and strangers, but with Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob, with Peter, Paul, and John, and with every saint of God!

But I have not as yet spoken of one friend there who will be the
centre of that bright society--"Jesus the Mediator of the new
covenant!" "I will take you to _Myself_," is the blessed promise. "We
shall see Him as He is," is the longed-for-vision. "We shall be like
Him," is the hoped-for perfection. To know, to love, to be in all
things like Jesus, and to hold communion with Him for ever--what "an
exceeding weight of glory!" Jesus will never be separated personally
from His people; nor can they ever possibly separate their character,
their joy, or their safety from His atoning death for them on earth,
or from His constant life for them in heaven. It is the Lamb who shall
lead them to living fountains of waters; and the Lamb upon the throne
who shall still preside over them. The Lamb shall be the everlasting
light of the New Jerusalem; and "Worthy is the Lamb!" will be its
ceaseless song of praise. Beyond this I cannot go. In vain I endeavour
to ascend in thought higher than "God manifest in the flesh," even to
the Triune Jehovah who dwelleth in the unapproachable light of His own
unchangeable perfections; and seek to catch a glimpse of that beatific
vision which, though begun here in communion with God, is there
enjoyed by "the spirits of just men made perfect," "according to
His fulness," and therefore in a measure which to us passeth all
understanding. But if any real spiritual intercourse with Jehovah is
now "joy unspeakable;" if the hunger of the soul to possess more,
fails often from its intensity to find utterance for its wants in
words, what must it be to dwell in His presence in the full enjoyment
of Himself for ever! There are saints who have experienced this
blessedness upon earth to a degree which was almost too much for them
to bear; and there are some who have had glories flashed upon them as
if snatched from the light beyond, just as the soul was loosening from
the ligaments of the body, and preparing itself for flight from the
prison-house to its own home--strange moments when things beyond were
seen by the eye closing on the weary world, and overpowering bliss was
experienced by the chilling heart. And if men, sinful men, yea, dying
men, can behold such visions of joy even while dwelling in tabernacles
of clay that are crumbling around them, what is the measure of that
bliss which fills the souls of those redeemed ones at this moment in
the temple above, in perfectly knowing and enjoying God, Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost! May the Lord give us all grace to love on earth such
as we may hope to meet in heaven; and if we cannot as yet enjoy the
communion of angels, may we seek for, and enjoy, the communion of



It is unnecessary to do more than remind you how labour is essential
here to our happiness. Rest from fatigue is indeed enjoyment; but
idleness from want of occupation is punishment. Nor is this fact a
part of our inheritance as sinners. Fatigue and pain of body from
exertion may be so, but not exertion itself. Perfect and unfallen man,
as I have already reminded you, was placed in the garden of Eden "to
dress and to keep it." And this is what we would expect as the very
appointment for a creature made after the image of Him who is ever
working, and who has imbued every portion of the universe with the
spirit of activity. For nothing in the world of nature lives for
itself alone, but contributes its portion of good to the welfare of
the whole. And man, as he becomes more godlike, rejoices more and more
in the dispensation by which he is enabled to be a fellow-worker with
his Father, and is glad in being able to give expression by word or
deed to what he knows and admires.

And if all this holds true of man now, what reason have we for
doubting that it shall hold true of man for ever? Why should this
inherent love of action, and delightful source of enjoyment, so
refined and elevated, be annihilated? and what shadow even of
probability have we for supposing that the heaven revealed in
Scripture is a world the occupations of whose inhabitants must for
ever be confined to mere ecstatic contemplation?

This cannot be! Such a heaven has not been prepared for man. Arguing
from analogy, the presumption is that those mental and moral habits
which have been acquired with so much difficulty, and at so much
expense in this present world, will not be cast away as useless in the
next, but find there such scope for their exercise as cannot possibly
be afforded to them within their present limited sphere of action. But
this presumption is immensely strengthened by what we know of the life
of the angels, to which I have more than once alluded, as it bears so
much upon the several topics discussed by us. These angels "excel in
strength;" and they "do His commandments, and hearken to the voice of
His word." As "ministers of His," they "do His pleasure." They are
represented to us as ever actively employed as messengers of peace or
of woe. They have destroyed armies and cities; delivered captives;
comforted the disconsolate; and are represented as the future reapers
of the earth's harvest. All this proves, at least, that the sinless
perfection and happiness of heaven are not inconsistent with a life
of busy labour; and that though God can dispense with the services of
either men or angels, yet, as they cannot be happy without rendering
such services to Him, He, in accordance with His untiring, ungrudging
benevolence, satisfies this desire of their nature as created by
Himself. Let it be remembered also, that men have acquired a wider
experience than even angels, by reason of that very sin which might be
supposed to render them less fit for the exalted services of heaven.
For the very storms and vicissitudes of earth have given a form and a
strength to those "trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,"
that could not have been acquired amidst the sunny skies and balmy air
of the heavenly paradise. The saints of God have learned lessons here
of patience, endurance, self-denial, and faith, that could not have
been learned there. Like old soldiers, they have been trained by long
campaigns and terrible combats with the enemy. On earth and not in
heaven are Marthas and Maries with whom we can weep; and prodigals
whom we can receive back; and saints in sickness, in prison, or in
nakedness, whom we can visit, soothe, and clothe. And therefore is
earth a noble school by reason of its very sins and sorrows. It is
asked, indeed, in triumph, What employments can there be in heaven
for saints? This question I cannot answer. The _how_ employed, and
_where_, must be as yet mere conjecture. But who will be so bold as
to deny, that in the new heavens and in the new earth, there may be
employment for even those powers--such as inventive genius--which
might seem to be necessarily confined to this our temporary scene? If
we are through a bodily organisation to be for ever united to matter,
why may not science and art be called into exercise then as well as
now, in order to make it minister to our wants or desires? And even
as regards the noble creations of artistic genius, why should the
supposition be deemed as unworthy of the most exalted and spiritual
views of heaven, that man may for ever be a fellow-worker with the
Divine Artist who fills the universe with His own endless creations
of beauty and magnificence? And can it be that our moral habits and
Christian graces shall never be called into exercise in works and
labours of love among orders of beings of whom as yet we know nothing?
Countless worlds may be teeming with immense populations, and who
knows but such worlds may be continually added to the great family
of God. And if throughout the endless ages of eternity, or in any
province of God's boundless empire, there should ever be found
some responsible beings who are tempted to depart from God by the
machinations of wicked men or evil spirits,--permitted, then, it may
be, as well as now, to use all their powers in the service of sin and
against the kingdom of God,--and who being thus tempted shall require
warning or support to retain them in their allegiance;--or if there
be found others who are struggling in an existence, which, however
glorious, demands patience, fortitude, and faith in Jehovah; if there
are now in other worlds, or ever shall appear any persons who need
such ministrations as can be afforded only by those educated in the
wonderful school of Christ's Church;--then can I imagine how God's
saints from earth may have glorious labours given them throughout
eternity, which they alone, of all the creatures of God, will be able
to accomplish, when every holy habit acquired here can be put to noble
uses there. I can conceive patience needed to overcome difficulties;
and faith to trust the living God amidst evolutions of His providence
that baffle the understanding; and indomitable courage, untiring zeal,
gentle love, heavenly serenity and intense sympathy, yea, even the
peculiar gifts and characteristics of each individual;--all having
their appropriate and fitting work given them. "Now _abideth_ faith,
hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."
And what immense joy will be experienced in each saint thus finding an
outlet for his love, and exercise for his knowledge, and full play for
his every faculty, in that "house of many mansions," with all God's
universe around and eternity before him! I borrow the language of
the great and good Isaac Taylor, who has written so eloquently and
convincingly on this subject:--"There labour shall be without fatigue,
ceaseless activity without the necessity of repose, high enterprise
without disappointment, and mighty achievements which leave behind no
weariness or decay;--where 'they that wait upon the Lord shall renew
their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall
run, and not be weary; shall walk, and not faint.'"

Let this thought teach us to labour in harmony with the will of God;
so that we may never run counter to His wishes or His laws, but, both
in the material and spiritual world, ever seek to be "fellow-workers"
with Himself.

Let it also comfort us when we see "such a one as Paul the aged" fall
asleep after his day of toil: and strengthen us to bow our heads
in meekness when we hear of the young man full of zeal and ardour,
apparently fully equipped for God's service, suddenly cut down; or the
self-sacrificing missionary, who seems to have spent his strength in
vain, perish with no one in the wilderness to give him burial. Oh,
think not that the work of the old saint who loved it so well, till
the last hour of his existence, is ended for ever; or that the labours
of younger brethren so unfinished here, shall never be resumed
hereafter, and that all this preparation of years has been a
mere abortion, a mockery and delusion! Believe it not! No day of
conscientious study for Christ's sake has been spent in vain; no
habit of industry or self-denial acquired for Christ's sake has been
acquired in vain; nor will the burning zeal to do something for Him
who died for them be ever lost in darkness or put to shame. Soul,
spirit, and body, will yet do their work for which they have been
so exquisitely adapted, and so carefully trained. He who has been
"faithful over a few things will be made ruler over many things;" and
"he who has been faithful in _a very little_, shall have authority
over ten cities!"

Finally, this future life in heaven will be expressed in _praise_.
What are the ordinary ideas entertained by many excellent Christians
of this heavenly work, or the manner in which it is to be performed,
would be painful to describe. But perhaps it is not too much to say
that the heaven of many is little more than a grand, eternal act of
worship by singing psalms of praise. No doubt the chief work of
heaven is praise; for praise is but the necessary expression of love,
admiration, joy. In what way this praise is to be expressed I know
not: whether in the spontaneous exercise of individual souls, "singing
as they shine" with hymned voice, and fashioned instrument of golden
harp or angelic trump; or only by the rapt gaze of a spirit absorbed
in "still communion;"--and whether in heaven as on earth there may be
great days of the Lord on which the sons of God, gathered from afar,
will come specially before the exalted Redeemer, when their joy,
uttered by outbursts of harmony, shall wake the amphitheatre of the
skies with impassioned hallelujahs,--who can as yet tell! But it
_must_ be that each soul in heaven being for ever full of love, will
for ever be full of praise. Every new sight of grandeur or of beauty,
and every new contrivance of the Creator's wisdom or power, will but
prompt the beholder to praise the wondrous Creator. Every intellectual
height reached in the infinite progress of the soul, onward and
upward, must awe it into a profounder sense of the glory of the great
Intelligence. Every active pursuit will swell the tide of gratitude
and praise to Him the ceaseless worker, in whom all persons and things
"live, move, and have their being;"--while the loving and holy soul,
ever consciously dwelling in Him who is everywhere present, must
derive from increasing knowledge of, and communion with the infinite
and glorious One, a source of exulting, endless praise--praise which
will be intensified by the sympathy and song of the great minds and
great hearts of the "innumerable company of angels," and of "just men
made perfect!" But if in that voiceful temple any one song of praise
will, more than any other, issue from a deeper love, or express a
deeper joy, that must be the song of the redeemed! For that is a "new
song" never heard before by the angels in the amplitudes of creation,
and which the strange race of mankind alone can sing; for there are
peculiar notes of joy in that song which they alone can utter; and in
their memories alone can echo old notes of sadness that have died away
in the far distance. And what shall be their feelings, what their
song, as they gaze backwards on the horrible kingdom of darkness, from
whose chains and dungeons they have been delivered; and trace all the
mysterious steps by which their merciful and wise Saviour led them
safely through danger, temptation, and trial, and through the valley
of death, until He bid them welcome with exceeding joy! What their
feelings, what their song, as they look around and contemplate the new
scene and the exalted society into which He has brought them, and meet
the responsive gaze of radiant saints and of old familiar friends!
What their feelings, and what their song, as they gaze forward, and
with "far-stretching views into eternity" see no limit to their
"fulness of joy;" knowing that nothing can lessen it, but that
everything must increase it through eternal ages;--that the body can
never more suffer pain, or be weakened by decay;--that the intellect
can never more be dimmed by age, nor marred by ignorance;--that the
spirit can never more be darkened by even a passing shadow from the
body of sin;--that the will can never for a moment be mastered, nor
even biased by temptation;--that the heart can never be chilled by
unreturned kindness;--that the blessed society can never be diminished
by death, nor divided in spirit, but that, along with saints and
angels, all God's works shall be seen, all His ways known, all His
plans and purposes fulfilled, all His commands perfectly obeyed, and
Himself perfectly enjoyed for ever and ever! And then, at what might
seem to be the very climax of their joy, to behold Jesus! And, seeing
Him, to remember the lowly home in Bethlehem; the once humble artisan
of Nazareth; and the sufferer, "who was despised and rejected of men,"
"the man of sorrows, who was acquainted with grief;" and the tempted
one, who for forty days was with the devil in the wilderness;--seeing
Him, to remember Gethsemane with its trembling hand and cup of
agony; the judgment-hall and Calvary with their horrors of blood, of
blasphemy, and mystery of woe;--seeing Him, to see all this history of
immeasurable love not only recorded in the glory of every saint above,
but embodied in the very person of that Saviour, and in that human
form which was "wounded and bruised for our iniquities," and in that
human soul that was sorrowful unto death, in order that He might be
able to pour into the hearts of lost and ruined men all the fulness of
His own blessedness and joy! What shall be the feelings, what the song
of the redeemed, as all this bursts on their enraptured gaze! Oh,
blind discoursers are we of such ineffable glory! Children-dreamers
are we about this as yet unrevealed vision! What are all our thoughts
but "fallings from us, vanishings" from "creatures walking among
worlds not realised!" But let us pray more and more that the "God
of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto us the
spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him; the eyes of
our understanding being enlightened; that we may _know_ what is
the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His
inheritance in the saints;" for though "eye hath not seen, nor ear
heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, the things which
God hath prepared for them that love Him," yet "_God hath revealed
them unto us by His Spirit!_"


The subject of future punishment is one the consideration of which
gives mental pain. We naturally shrink from it, would prefer to leave
it alone, and to think, as we say, of something else.

But the question won't leave us alone, and we must think about it. It
forces itself on our notice, and that, too, in our most thoughtful and
sober moments. We cannot read the Scriptures without the dark vision
passing before our eyes with more or less gloom. Conscience whispers
to us about it. It recurs to our thoughts amidst the penitential
confessions and earnest prayers of public worship. The theme is
constantly discussed in works and periodicals widely read, and not
even professedly theological.

There are few, we presume, who will assert that every man, whatever
his character may be when he leaves the world, shall after death
immediately pass into glory, and be received into fellowship with God
and His saints. With such a belief earnestly entertained, suicide
would cease to be an evidence of insanity, and murder would become

Most men are prepared rather to believe, apart altogether from any
Scripture statements on this momentous subject, that punishment of
some kind or other must be awarded to crime at last, and in some
degree proportionate to the character of the criminal,--that somewhere
or other, by some means or other, not yet discovered or revealed,
reformation if at all possible must necessarily be effected in order
that peace and happiness may be secured. Man's undying sense of
righteousness, and what _ought_ to be, is not satisfied by the
prosperity which, in spite of every drawback, so frequently attends
the most selfish and unprincipled villain to his grave. Like the
Psalmist, we all are disposed to exclaim when contemplating such
histories, "As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had
well-nigh slipped. For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the
prosperity of the wicked. For there are no bands in their death, and
their strength is firm; neither are they plagued like other men....
Their eyes stand out with fatness; they have more than their heart can
wish.... And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge with
the Most High?"

But when we open the Word of God, it is impossible for any honest
man to deny, that whether its teaching be true or false, the fact of
future punishment is an essential portion of what is taught. By no
conceivable perversion of the words of Christ, so often repeated on
this subject, and by no interpretation of His parables, can it be
denied that it was His intention to give the very impression which the
universal Church has received, that there is a "wrath to come," and a
state of being which to some is "cursed," and so very dreadful that,
with reference to one of His own disciples, who is called "the son of
perdition," the Saviour said that it would have "been good for that
man had he never been born."

I must presume that this general statement regarding the teaching of
Christ himself, not to speak of that of His apostles, requires no
proof to any one who has ever read the Gospels. Punishment of some
kind awaits the wicked after death. Yet if this much is admitted, we
have surely already reached a conclusion which ought to fill with the
most solemn awe the mind of every man who has any reverence for the
Divine authority of Jesus Christ; or who even believes that He who
represented Himself as saying, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into
everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels,"--"Depart from
me, I know you not, all ye workers of iniquity," and who narrated such
a parable as that of the rich man and Lazarus, was one incapable of
all exaggeration or evil passion, and one who possessed the only
perfect love which was ever manifested in humanity. The apostles, who
express in language as strong and unhesitating the certainty and dread
nature of future punishment, were men also who, more than any who have
ever lived, loved their fellow-men, wept like their Divine Master for
their sins, and devoted their lives, with untiring unselfishness, to
rescue them from present evil and future woe. Now, if this be so far a
true, if not a full, representation of the teaching of Christ and
His apostles on this momentous theme, I may be permitted to put
two questions of a practical and personal kind to my reader. One
is,--Whether the knowledge of the character, apart from the authority,
of Jesus and His apostles, who spoke in such language of the future
history of some men in another world, ought not to make us pause with
becoming self-distrust and reverence, if disposed to exclaim against
the possibility of so terrible an ending as a thing "unjust,"
"revengeful," and "revolting to benevolence?" Who are we, what have
we been, or what have we done for our fellow-men, that we should thus
presume to have a more tender regard for their well-being than
the Lord Jesus Christ or His apostles had, and to be incapable of
entertaining or of uttering such "harsh thoughts" as they did about
their future state?

The other question which I would humbly suggest for consideration is
this:--What is your real belief in reference to man's future state?
Have you any faith in our Lord's teaching? Any firm practical
conviction in the fact of future punishment? After you have made
every possible deduction from the weight of Scripture testimony, and
explained away every metaphor, parable, and dogmatic statement to the
lowest possible point short of absolute denial of their truth in any
fair sense of their meaning,--may I beg of you to consider what, or
how much, remains to be firmly believed as the truth of God? For it
does appear to me that there exists a wide-spread callousness and
indifference, an ease of mind, with reference to the fate hereafter of
ungodly men, which cannot be accounted for except on the supposition
that all earnest faith is lost in either the dread possibilities of
future sin or of its future punishment. Men seem to have made up their
minds that they have nothing to fear in the next world, whatever they
believe, whatever they are, or whatever they do in this. We are,
verily, not incapable of experiencing fear, but in a vast number of
cases we are great cowards, in spite of all our bravery,--cowards when
there is nothing actually present to alarm us; and each one of us
seeks to his very utmost to keep danger or suffering far away from
himself or from those he loves. Accordingly, the possible or
near approach of mere bodily pain, or of domestic sorrow, or the
anticipated loss of money--not to speak of such horrors as public
disgrace from loss of character, imprisonment, transportation as
a felon, or execution as a criminal--would induce thoughtfulness,
anxiety, wretchedness. Yet, strange to say, the very same persons who
would tremble for such calamities as these, treat with indifference a
coming punishment, which cannot, even in their own estimation, be less
terrible, and which, as sure as Christ's words are true, they may
themselves, because of their present character, be liable at any hour
to enter upon and endure.

But many of those readers, who, up to this point, may heartily
sympathise with me in my feeble efforts to quicken a more earnest
thoughtfulness on this subject, will be disposed to avoid its further
consideration. I would not blame them for so feeling. God knoweth I
have no wish to "dogmatise" on this subject, but to approach it with
real sympathy for the difficulties, the pains, the perplexities, which
the noblest, the truest, and the most reverential have experienced
when they have attempted really to believe in it What chiefly induces
me to submit a few thoughts upon a theme so solemn, is the "dogmatism"
and unworthy views of God which are attributed to all of us who cannot
discover sunrise beyond the gloom; and the conviction also that a
more thorough belief in the clanger of sin, as well as its inherent
vileness, and a wholesome "terror of the Lord," would tend to
"persuade men" to entertain with more earnestness the deliverance
promised in the gospel.

The idea which many have formed of punishment is that of a mere
arbitrary annexation of a certain amount of suffering in the next
world to a certain amount of crime committed in this--so many stripes
for so many sins; and, as if obvious injustice were inflicted on men,
by threatening them with coming woe for present wickedness, they
exclaim, "Surely such sins as these do not deserve such punishment as
that!" But if sin itself, by an eternal moral necessity, carries with
it its own punishment, even as the shadow accompanies the substance,
then the real question in regard to the possible ending of future
suffering is merged in the deeper one of the possible ending of future
sin. And if so, what evidence have we from any one source to inspire
the hope, that the man who enters the next world loving sin, and
therefore suffering punishment as its necessary result, will ever
cease to sin, and thereby cease to suffer? It must, remember, be
admitted as an indisputable fact, that life eternal can only co-exist
with a right state of the soul. "This _is_ life eternal, to know thee
and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." Up to the moment in which the
spirit turns with filial confidence and obedience to God, there cannot
be a cessation either in the curse that must rest upon enmity and
disobedience, or in the pain which must be produced by so terrible a
malady. Some time or other, be it near or remote, in one year or in a
million, there must be repentance in the sinner, a turning away _from_
sin and _to_ God, as the only possible means of bridging over the
otherwise impassable gulf that separates the bad from the good, or
hell from heaven. There is no salvation for man but from sin; there is
no restoration for him but to love.

But if this change in the sinner is not accomplished in this world,
what evidence have we that it can be accomplished in any place of even
limited punishment? In what conceivable way, we ask with deepest
awe, is a moral and responsible being, who ends this life and begins
another at enmity to God, rejecting Christ, disbelieving the gospel,
dead in trespasses and in sins, hateful and hating, selfish and
vile,--in what way is he to be made holy after death, and before
entering heaven, by a temporary discipline of mere suffering?

We are here considering the possible future of one only who knows the
gospel of the grace of God, and we ask, what advantages will such an
one possess elsewhere for the attainment of piety that are denied him
here? If all that God has done to gain his heart has so far failed up
till the hour of his death, that he is morally unfit by his habits or
even desires for the society of God and His people, what appliances
can we conceive of more likely to influence the will and gain the
affections in a prison-house set apart for the reformation of the
impenitent? Can the sinner expect to meet, in this supposed place of
punishment and consequent reformation, more loving friends to win him
by such solemn counsels and tender ministrations as earth did not
afford? Does he anticipate daily returning mercies and sources of
enjoyment more rich and varied than those possessed here, in order to
bring him back to God? Will he possess a healthier body, a happier
home, holier society, a more beauteous world with fairer skies and
brighter landscapes, or any of those innumerable blessings which have
such a tendency to tame and soften the rudest nature? Shall means of
grace be afforded more powerfully calculated to enlighten the mind,
convince the understanding, influence the will, or draw the affections
of the heart towards God? Shall Sabbaths of more peaceful rest dawn
upon the troubled heart, or sacraments of more healing virtue be
administered? Can retreats be secured where God's Word may be read
and prayer enjoyed with more undisturbed repose? Will the gospel be
preached more faithfully, and a people be found more loving and pious
to assemble for public or private worship? Can a Saviour be offered
more able or willing to save, and the Spirit of God be poured down
upon the burning soil in more plenteous or life-giving pentecostal
showers? Is this how men picture to themselves the place in which they
expect to atone for past sins by limited suffering? Impossible!
They are thinking of a world better and more glorious than the
present;--not of a hell, but of a heaven!

Even if such a place were prepared for the impenitent and wicked, what
conceivable security is there that a new mind and spirit would be
the necessary result of those new and enlarged benefactions? We
must assume that the power of sinning remains, otherwise man's
responsibility would cease, and punishment thereby become mere
cruelty. If sin is thus possible, then why may not the sinner indulge
there in the same selfishness, disobedience, and rebellion which
characterised him here? Why may it not be with him as with many a man
who loves sin in the low haunts of profligacy and crime, but loves it
not the less when brought into circumstances of greater comfort and
among society of greater godliness? But should it be otherwise,
and the supposed place of future punishment have none of those
advantages,--and we are forced by the necessity of the case to assume
their absence, at least for a limited period, and to admit, in some
form or other, the presence of a dread and mysterious sorrow,--we
ask again, on what grounds is it concluded that this anticipated
punishment shall itself possess a healing virtue to produce, some time
or other, that love to God which, up till the hour of death, has never
been produced in the sinner? Men attach, perhaps, some omnipotent
power to mere suffering, and imagine that if hatred to sin and love to
God are all that is needed, then a short experience of the terrific
consequences of a godless past must insure a godly future. Why do
they think so? This is not the effect which mere punishment generally
produces on human character. Its tendency is not to soften, but to
harden the heart,--to fill it not with love, but with enmity. It
cannot fail, indeed, to make the sufferer long for deliverance from
the pain; but it does not follow that he thereby longs for deliverance
from the sin which causes the pain, and for the possession of the good
which alone can remove it. It is certainly not the case in this
world, that bad men are always disposed to repent and turn to God in
proportion as they suffer from their own wilfulness, and become poor
from idleness, broken in health from dissipation, alienated from human
hearts by their selfishness, or pass, with a constantly increasing
anguish, through all the stages of outcasts from the family; dwellers
among the profligate; companions in crime; occupiers of prisons;
members of convict gangs, till the scaffold with its beam and drop
ends the dreadful history. Such punishment as this, constantly dogging
the crime which at first created it and ever preserves it, only makes
the heart harder, fans the passions into a more volcanic fire,
and possesses the soul with a more daring recklessness and wilder
desperation. And arguing from this experience, to which men appeal, as
if it was truer than the Word of God, what more special virtue will
punishment have in the next world than in this? What tendency will
there be in that long night of misery to inspire a man with the love
of God, whose very character, and whose holy and righteous will, have
annexed the suffering to the sin? If the sinner's character is not
thereby reformed, and all the while he retains his responsibility,--as
he must do on the assumption that reformation is possible,--and if he
continues to choose sin with more diabolical hatred to the good, is it
imagined that such a process as this, of continued sin accompanied by
continued mental suffering, will at any period render him mere meet
to enjoy the holiness of heaven than when he first departed from the
world to enter upon his new and strange probation? Oh, the more we
think of it, the darker does the history grow,--the faster does the
descent of the evil spirit become, clown that pit which, from its very
nature, seems to be bottomless! If means are discoverable there more
suited to gain the end of moral regeneration than any which exist
here, let them be pointed out. We have searched in vain to find them
in the Word of God, or in the mind and history of man.

Making every allowance for the real difficulties which beset this
question, and for the peculiar feelings, partly allowable, and largely
the reverse, with which it is entertained, we have no doubt that many
have been driven to the extreme of utter disbelief in the existence of
any punishment by the bold and presumptuous manner in which they may
have heard men consign all the heathen, and all Christendom, with the
exception of a very few, to this awful doom. Infants even have not
escaped the condemnation of some who, professing to have more orthodox
faith than their neighbours, have really little or any faith at all
in God, but utter mere words to which--in this case, fortunately for
themselves--they attach no meaning. For if they did, what would life
be to them, believing that it was possible for their babe, because of
Adam's sin, to be cast for all eternity into literal fire? But while
we have perfect confidence in the salvation of infants, and of many
more, we dare not condemn any. The living God, who alone knows each
man, may be dealing in ways beyond our comprehension with the most
lonely savage, whose inmost spirit He ever sees, and who is of more
awful value in His sight than all the stars of the sky. _How_ the
living and omniscient Spirit of God has access to the inner spirit of
man, I neither know nor could perhaps understand if it were revealed;
nor how He can teach that spirit without the gospel or the ordinary
means of grace, so as to bring it under law to God. But when I saw
a child (Laura Bridgman) who was born deaf, dumb, and blind,
marvellously educated by the genius and wisdom of her remarkable
instructor, I could not but feel how grand ends might be accomplished
in the human soul by means which before this experience I would have
pronounced as impossible;--and it suggested also to me how a poor
heathen even, like that blind girl, might be really taught by another
person, and be receiving light within, though for a time utterly
ignorant of either the name, the character, or the purposes of the
unseen and unheard teacher, who yet in his own way gradually was
training his scholar for fellowship with God and man.[A] We ignorant
and sinful men must confine our judgments as regards others to what is
right or wrong in their actions, and that solely to guide ourselves in
our personal duties towards God and one another. But as to deciding
the eternal fate of any man, that, thank God! can be done only by Him
to whom all men belong. When disposed to occupy the throne of the
judge, and to scrutinise human character with a jealous regard for the
righteousness of God, let us at once do so by summoning ourselves to
the bar!

[Footnote A: As an illustration of this, see a remarkable account of
a North American Indian, narrated by Brainerd in his Diary, date
September 21, 1745.]

This, however, amidst all perplexities we may certainly rely upon with
perfect confidence, that whatever is finally decided, and whatever
punishment is finally awarded to any, will be in accordance with the
perfect will of "God, whose name is love;" so that all the true and
just, the good and loving in the universe, will, when they know all
the grounds of His judgment, sympathise with their whole soul in His
decisions, and see His glory revealed in them. We also know that there
will be "a multitude greater than any man can number" in God's family;
that they will be gathered "out of every nation, kindred, and tongue;"
and this we may hope for, that the number of the lost may be to those
who are saved fewer far than the number of those in penal settlements
and prisons are to the inhabitants of a well-ordered and Christian

But not only are our thoughts of future punishment naturally darkened
into deepest gloom by the assumed multitudes of those who will suffer,
but also by the nature of those sufferings which we also assume are
to be assigned to them. We literally interpret all those images of
unquenchable fire and the undying worm, borrowed from the constant
conflagrations and corruptions of the offal and carcases of dead
animals in the valley of Hinnom, (or Gaienna,) near Jerusalem, and
also the obviously metaphorical language used in the parable of the
rich man and Lazarus, as if necessarily teaching that worms or fire
would be employed to torture for all eternity the immortal bodies
of the lost. But what if there is to be no such bodily pain? though
possibly there may be some kind of physical suffering immediately
produced by sin there as well as here. What if the wicked shall be
punished only by permitting them to "eat the fruit of their own way,
and to be filled with their own devices?" What if, instead of the
wrath of God being poured upon them to the utmost, it will be
inflicted in the least _possible_ measure, and only in the way of
natural consequence? What if the sin which makes the hell hereafter,
is, in spite of all its suffering, loved, clung to, even as the sin is
which makes the hell now? Nay, what if every gift of God, and every
capacity for perverting His gifts, are retained; and if the sinner
shall suffer only from that which he himself _chooses_ for ever, and
for ever determines to possess? I do not say that it must be so;
but if it is so, then might a hell of unbridled self-indulgence be
preferred then, as it is by many now, to a heaven whose blessedness
consisted in perfect holiness, and the possession of the love of God
in Christ, for ever and ever. Let, then, the fairest star be selected,
like a beauteous island in the vast and shoreless sea of the azure
heavens, as the future home of the criminals from the earth; and let
them possess in this material paradise whatever they most love, and
all that it is _possible_ for God to bestow; let them be endowed with
undying bodies, and with minds which shall for ever retain their
intellectual powers; let them no more be "plagued with religion;" let
no Saviour ever intrude His claims upon them, no Holy Spirit disturb
them, no God reveal Himself supernaturally to them; let no Sabbath
ever dawn upon them, no saint ever live among them, no prayer ever be
heard within their borders; but let human beings exist there for
ever, smitten only by the leprosy of hatred to God, and with utter
selfishness as its all-prevailing and eternal purpose; then, as sure
as the law of righteousness exists, on which rests the throne of God
and the government of the universe, a society so constituted must work
out for itself a hell of solitary and bitter suffering, to which no
limit can be assigned except the capacity of a finite nature. Alas!
the spirit that is without love to its God or to its neighbour is
already possessed by a power which must at last create for its own
self-torment a worm, that will never die, and a flame that can never
more be quenched!

* * * * *

And yet, when forced to come to this conclusion, especially after
reading the Scriptures, which in our judgment but confirm it, and give
it the sanction of Divine authority, who can, even then, with his
human heart silence a "timid voice which asks in whispers" many
questions suggestive of what would appear to be the brighter hope?
"Who can limit" (in some such form might those questionings be put)
"the resources of God's infinite love and wisdom? May there not be
found means, though yet to us unknown, and as yet unrevealed, by which
the good shall ultimately triumph over the evil,--when every being
whom God has originally made capable of love and joy will at last
fulfil His glorious purpose,--when every sheep lost to the Shepherd
will be found, and brought with rejoicing back to the fold,--when
every lost piece of money with the King's image, defaced, yet not
destroyed, will be recovered from the dust and restored to the King's
treasury,--and when every prodigal, weary of his wanderings, convinced
at last, through self-inflicted misery, of his folly, and remembering
a Father, will return to that bosom which never can reject a child
seeking there his rest and refuge,--until, finally, there shall not be
throughout creation even one sinner, but a mighty family of immortal
beings, who, after their terrible experience of the reign of self,
shall freely and joyfully accept of the reign of the blessed and
loving God? If it is _possible_, must it not be so? May we not, in
our darkness and difficulty, rely upon One who, knowing man's fallen
condition, yet said, Increase, and multiply, and replenish the earth?
upon One who declared it to be a legitimate source of joy to every
mother that a child was born to the world? upon One whose love to all
whom He has made is to our love as the light of the mighty sun to a
fire-fly's spark wandering in darkness?"

"Oh, yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill,
To pangs of nature, sins of will,
Defects of doubt, and taints of blood

"That nothing walks with aimless feet;

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