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FOR MAY, 1847.
QUESTIONS ABOUT HEAVEN.
By The Rev. W. Jay. It has been asked, Are there degrees turned my feet into the path of peace, in glory? We are persuaded there are. whose words were to me a well of life. All analogy countenances the conclusion. There is the beloved mother, on whose We see diversities and inequalities per
knees I first laid my little hands to pray, vading all the works of God. We know and whose lips first taught my tongue to there are gradations among angels ; for pronounce the name of Jesus! And are we read of thrones and dominions, prin- these removed from us for ever? Shall cipalities and powers. And though all we recognise them no more ?–Cease your Christians are redeemed by the same anxieties. Can memory be annihilated ? blood, and justified by the same right- Did not Peter, James, and John, know eousness, we know that there are degrees Moses and Elias ? Does not the Saviour in grace. We know the good ground inform us that the friends benefactors brought forth in some places thirty, in have made of the mammon of unrightsome sixty, in some a hundred fold. teousness, shall receive them into everAnd the apostle tells us, “Every man lasting habitations? Does not Paul tell shall receive his own reward according the Thessalonians that they are his hope, to his own labour." But here we approve and joy, and crown, at the coming of our of the old illustration-however unequal
Lord Jesus Christ? in size these vessels may be, when Some would ask, Where is heaven? plunged into this ocean, they shall all be The universe is immense, but what parequally filled.
ticular part of it is assigned for the abode It has been asked, Shall we know each of the blessed we cannot determine. It other in heaven? Suppose you should will probably be our present system renonot; you may be assured of this, that vated. May we not infer this from the nothing will be wanting to your happi- words of the Apostle Peter—"Looking ness. But, oh! you say, how would the for and hasting unto the coming of the thought affect me now! There is the day of God, wherein the heavens, being babe that was torn from my bosom! how on fire, shall be dissolved, and the elelovely then, but a cherub now! There ments shall melt with fervent heat. is the friend who was as mine own soul, Nevertheless, we, according to his prowith whom I took sweet counsel, and mise, look for new heavens and a new went to the house of God in company. earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness ?" There is the minister, whose preaching But is it a place ? Our Lord has a
body like our own, and this cannot be that “Messiah cometh, who is called omnipresent; and wherever he is corpo- Christ; and that when he is come, he really there is heaven—" Where I am, will tell us all things!” You may reckon there shall also my servants be.” Enoch upon and Elias have bodies; all the saints will Perfect purity.—This announcement have bodies ; and these cannot be every- | has little attraction for those of you who where. We read of “the hope laid up never saw the beauty of holiness, and for us in heaven"-of “entering into the never abhorred yourselves repenting, in holy place;" and “I go," says Jesus to dust and ashes. But, oh! to a Christian his disciples, “to prepare a place for it is worth dying for, to leave behind you.” But though it is really a place, him the body of this death; this law in we must chiefly consider it as a state. the members warring against the law of Even now, happiness does not essentially his mind; this inability to do the things depend on what is without us. What that he would; this presence of evil ever was Eden to Adam and Eve, after sin with him; this liableness, this proneness had filled them with shame, and sorrow, to sin, even in his holy things-tarnishand fear? But Paul in prison was infi- ing every duty, wounding his own peace, nitely happier than Cæsar on the throne and vexing and grieving the Spirit of his of the nations.
best Friend. To be freed from the enemy, What, then, are we allowed to reckon and to have nothing in me that temptaupon as the grand component parts of tion can operate upon! To be incapable this exalted state? You may reckon of ingratitude, and unbelief, and distracupon
tions in duty! To be innocent as the Pre-eminent knowledge. - This is a first Adam, and holy as the second !world of action rather than of science; What wonder the Christian exclaims, with and the wiser men are, the more readily Henry, “If this be heaven, oh, that I will they confess that their present know- were there!" You may reckon upon ledge is unspeakably less than their The most delightful associations. We ignorance. In whatever direction they are formed for society. Much of our attempt to penetrate, they are checked present happiness results from attachand baffled. Laboriousness attends every ment and intercourse. Who knows not acquirement, and doubts and uncertain. / “ the comforts of love ?" Yea, and who ties diminish the value of every possession. knows not its sorrows also? We must The difference between the knowledge of weep when the objects of our affection Newton and the most illiterate peasant, weep. The arrows that pierce our friends will be far exceeded by the difference wound us also. We tolerate, we excuse, between the knowledge of the Christian their imperfections; but we feel them. on earth and in heaven. “The light of the And the thought of absence—separation moon shall be as the light of the sun, and-death-is dreariness, pain, and anguish. the light of the sun sevenfold as the light Hence, some have been ready to envy of seven days, when the Lord bindeth up the unrelated, unconnected individual, the breach of his people, and healeth the whose anxieties and griefs are all perstroke of their wound.” Now they un- sonal. But it is not good for man to be derstand as children, then they will know alone in any condition. It is better to as men. Now they see through a glass follow the course of Providence ; to darkly; but then face to face. Now they cherish the intimacies of life; to improve know in part; then they will know even and to sanctify them; and under the as they are known. How delightful the disadvantages which now mingle with thought-amidst my present perplexities them, to look forward to a state where and obscurities, and under a sense of the the honey will be without the sting, and penury of my talents, and in the want of the rose without the thorn; and attachmeans and opportunities of improvement, I ment and intercourse without the deducand pity, and fear. In the Revelation, power, and riches, and wisdom, and heaven is always presented as a social strength, and honour, and glory, and state. You have now few holy com- blessing." You may reckon upon panions; the many are going another The most glorious employment. - I way. But, says John, “I beheld, and, should as soon think that heaven was a lo! a great multitude which no man can nursery of vice, as a state of inaction.
people, and tongues, stood before the virtue, than perfectly incompatible with throne and before the Lamb, clothed with happiness; white robes, and palms in their hands;
si! “ A want of occupation is not rest : and cried with a loud voice, saying, Sal
A mind quite vacant is a mind distress'd." vation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb."-And All the powers conferred by a wise Creator you will have access to them all. You necessarily imply their application and will there have the most endeared so- | use : and the more life any being posciety; for it will include those to whom sesses, the more energy and activeness you were so tenderly related by nature, will distinguish bim, unless he is in a or pious friendship, and at parting with state of perversion or restraint. But whom you sorrowed most of all that you what are the employments of heaven? should see their face and hear their voice Dr. Watts bas speculated much on this no more ; and also those you left behind subject. Some of his conjectures are you with reluctance and anxiety, in a probable, and all pleasing; but we dare world of sin and trouble. With these not follow him. Of this we are sure, your fellowship, after a brief separation, that there will be none of those mean and will be renewed, improved, and perfected degrading toils which arise now from the for ever. The society will also be the necessities of our nature, or from luxury most dignified; and without its present and pride. Neither will there be any of embarrassments. There are now per- those religious exercises which pertain to sonages so superior, that you seem re- a state of imperfection. Repentance will duced to nothing at the thought of them. be hid from our eyes. There will be no You esteem and admire them; and wish more warfare and watchings. Neither to hear, and see, and mingle with them; will there be any more prayers, with yet you shrink from the presence of such strong cryings and tears. Yet it is said, genius, wisdom, and goodness. But you “They serve him day and night in his will feel nothing of this, when you sit temple.” And their powers will be equal down with Abraham, and Isaac, and to the work; for neither the fervency Jacob, and Moses, and with prophets, nor the duration of the service will pro
in the kingdom of God. Nor will saints mon notion of always standing up and only be your companions, but those singing is too childish to be entertained. glorious beings who never sinned, who We have no doubt but that there may be excel in strength, who are proverbial for stated assemblies for adoration and praise their wisdom, who are your models in But Christians are said to be still prais doing the will of God on earth, who are ing him now; and they do this, not by your ministering spirits, invisibly watch- | acts of worship only, but by performing ing over you in your minority--the in- his will, by filling up their stations in numerable company of angels. And life properly, and promoting the welfare though they will not be able to say, He of all around them: and his work, even hath redeemed us unto God by his blood, here, is honourable and glorious. they will cry with a loud voice, though On the presence and sight of the Sayou will endeavour to be louder, “Worthy viour, in whom dwelleth all the fulness
after the flesh ; you will have access to
of the Godhead bodily, you may reckon ; | for, the greater the blessedness, the more and you will reckon—and reckon su- miserable we should feel if it were in premely—if you are a Christian. "Ah!" danger. Who, in the possession of such says Paul, “I long to depart, and to be a prize, could exist under the thought of with Christ, which is far better."-"We losing it? How careful, therefore, are are confident, I say, and willing, rather the sacred writers never to leave out this to be absent from the body, and present essential attribute, in any of their dewith the Lord.” What would everything scriptions! If it be life, it is "eternal" be in his absence ? Could the place, the life. If it be salvation, it is “everlasting" company, the harps, be a substitute for salvation. If it be a kingdom, it is a him? But here is the consummation- | kingdom that “cannot be shaken.” If you shall "serve him, and see his face." it be a crown, it is "a crown of glory You need not envy those who knew him that fadeth not away."
To which we may add, that you may him; you will see the King, and see him reckon, not only on the eternity, but the in his beauty. He is now with you. He increase. Who could think of being knows your soul in adversity: and comes doomed to remain stationary? How irkto you as a friend, and helper, and com- some would any condition be in which forter. But you are now in prison. His there could be no possibility of advance visits, when he looks upon you through and improvement! But your faculties the bars, and brings you supplies, and will not be confined to a circle of samecommunes with you in the cell, are re- ness: they will be free; they will break lieving. They solace the confinement; forth on every side. How much more you wish them multiplied; you expect do the angels know now than once! and them with joy. But the best of all these yet still they desire to look into the Savisits will be the last, when he will come, viour's sufferings and glory. How often not only to you, but for you: when he will there new songs in heaven, or will open the doors of the dungeon, and fresh exclamations of admiration and knock off the fetters, and take you home praise, from fresh discoveries and displays to his palace. Then you will be with of the perfections of God, in his works him; you will “walk with” him “in and ways! Every finite being is capable white;" you will "eat and drink at his of accession; and in knowing and doing, table in his kingdom ;" you will be " for and attaining and enjoying, there will be ever with the Lord.” It is hardly neces- an infinite progression before us. sary to say, that you may reckon upon If, with this account of heaven, you
The most exquisite enjoyment.—This are dissatisfied, be assured, the lecturer will spring abundantly from all the fore- is still more so. Who, upon such a subgoing sources, and especially the last. It ject, can speak worthily? will far transcend every feeling we have had of delight and ecstacy here. The state itself is expressed by it. “ Enter Heaven is a place where all joy is thou into the joy of thy Lord.” Jude enjoyed-mirth without sadness, light says, we shall be “presented before the without darkness, sweetness without bitpresence of his glory, with exceeding terness, life without death, rest without joy;" and says David, “In thy presence labour, plenty without poverty. O what is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand joy entereth into a believer, when he are pleasures for evermore." For you enters into the glory of his Master! Who may reckon upon
would not look for glory with the greatest The perpetuity of all this.—"Perma- patience ? O what glories there are in nency,” says the poet, "adds bliss to glory! Thrones of glory, crowns of glory, bliss.” But here it is absolutely indis- vessels of glory; a weight of glory, a pensable even to the happiness itself; kingdom of glory.-Dyer.
PICTURES FROM LIFE.
It needed but to view
To know their words were true.
No food had they to eat;
And wind, and snow, and sleet.
That there were many more,
Like them for months before." It is an obvious remark, that there are wrestling, agonizing, united prayer—that certain periods when, in the arrange past calamities may be sanctified, that ments of Divine Providence, we present trials may be mitigated, and called, most loudly and impressively, to that impending judgments on a nation observe three things :-to indulge in spe- may be either diininished, or entirely recial consideration-special humiliation-moved. special prayer.
The present, unquestionably, is one of Special consideration is imperatirely those periods—a period in our national required. It is not merely expedient, history, which cannot be too seriously desirable, proper, but indispensable. It regarded, which cannot be too carefully, cannot be disregarded and contemned, too earnestly, too devoutly improved. without great, and, perhaps, irreparable And how delightful it is to dwell on injury being the result.
the noble, the admirable spirit of the We are called, by the voice of a warn- Christian religion, under individual, soing Providence, to contemplate the cha- cial, or national calamities ! It expresses racters we sustain, the professions we everything that is kind.
It involves have made, the principles by which we everything that is generous. It compreare governed, the sins to which we are hends everything that is magnanimous prone, the obligations imposed on us, and and disinterested. How different from the manner in which those obligations the spirit of the world! How opposite have been discharged.
to the cold, selfish, calculating, temper There are certain seasons, also, when, of the human heart! “Do good unto by an awakening Providence, which is all men, but especially unto them who always exercised in mercy, we are called are of the household of faith.”
“ Bear to indulge in special humiliation before ye one another's burdens.” “By love God; to prostrate our spirits in the serve one another.” “Weep with them Divine presence, in consequence of the that weep.” “If thine enemy hunger, judgments of heaven inflicted on a guilty feed him; if he thirst, give him drink." land; and in consequence of our cold- “ And whether one member suffer, all ness, infidelity, rebellion, and frequent the members suffer with it." departure from God, after all the ex- This is the period, in the judgment of pressions of his goodness, and all the many, wisely and most properly aptokens of his paternal care, and forbear- pointed, by the highest authority in the ing mercy.
realm, for general humiliation before There are certain periods, moreover, God, in consequence of the dearth prewhen we are called to indulge in the vailing, and, especially, in consequence presentation of special prayer-fervid, of the miseries which multitudes are now