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said to be conveyed; but it bore, I would suggest, the same relation to man's then intended ultimate appointment, as the Paradise, or receptacle, of the souls of the faithful departed, where they are holden until the final day in which body and soul shall be reunited, bears to the final inheritance of heaven; while there is this difference between them, that the one is not probationary, and the other was probationary: man's probation now ends with the separation of body and soul, which we call death; and the place of his soul until the last day,—I am still speaking of the faithful only,—is but a receptacle of peace; yet, it is a receptacle, in which he awaits his full and final happiness, as Adam would have awaited in Paradise his full and final happiness : and our Saviour's application of the term therefore proves, that Adam's Paradise was a place in which he was to have rested, or remained, until God's purpose should have called him to his more exalted destiny, in like manner as the souls of the faithful departed are now said by us to rest, or remain, in their Paradise until the day of judgment, when Christ shall appear in his glory, and with the holy angels, and shall summon them again to his presence in their bodies, for their portion of final happiness and glory with Himself in the everlasting and unchangeable mansions of heaven.
It should be our endeavour, earnest and sincere, to fit ourselves for this Paradise, this better Paradise, we are to say, because we shall there incur no danger of falling into sin, and offending God. Our probation will have been ended: our mortal course will have been run. Our enjoyments there will be pure; our knowledge will be full, for, our capacities will be refined, will be relieved from all the clogs and incumbrances, which now cause us not rightly to apprehend the things that are before us; which hide from our sight; which make imperfect and obscure; and, our happiness, abundant as in itself it will be, will be still further enhanced by the certain consideration, that it will be succeeded by the more perfect happiness of heaven, in the presence of God, with His saints and angels for ever.
To the attainment of this most blessed state, let all our labours be directed; let all our study of God's word be guided by a desire to attain to it; and let. every inquiry into the meaning of the Holy Scriptures, into an elucidation of any particular expressions of them, have the same object in view, we not striving to be wise above what is written, but determining and endeavouring, by all means, and beyond all other considerations, to submit ourselves, our words, and our thoughts, to that which is written,
intention of the heart and soul; accounting all to be folly which is at variance therewith, for that it only is wisdom, it only is knowledge, it only leadeth to real happiness and glory, to comfort and peace here, and to true enjoyment hereafter. God's word was not intended for mere speculation. It is too sacred, too awful, to be so received, or used; and His just anger will surely fall on any who shall so unworthily treat it. The inquiry which is
instituted but with a view to a better faith, to a better obedience, to an altogether better submission, is in entire accordance with both His word and His design, and will be met by His own gracious co-operation. The grace of His Holy Spirit is promised to it; but confusion must necessarily attend on all other efforts. We cannot penetrate mysteries which God has closed; we cannot gain a knowledge which He has forbidden. What did Adam gain by eating of the forbidden tree? Not what he desired; but what he would have sacrificed the whole world to have had not-a knowledge that he had sinned—that he had become corrupt—that he had forfeited the favour of God. There can be no happiness where there is no peace of mind; and the very feverish thirst after forbidden knowledge is destructive of all peace; let, therefore, all our inquiries be bounded by the Holy Scriptures. In them is peace, because in them is life. The knowledge they do not give or lead to, the knowledge they forbid, is not to be obtained elsewhere, however Pride or other temptation may promise it to the credulous folly of man. If we have the wisdom they impart; if we have the knowledge they offer, -our knowledge will be as perfect as knowledge in the present life is intended to be; and our wisdom will be the most excellent that can be acquired; for, it will be certain, and righteous, unerring, and that which cannot deceive; and both our knowledge and our wisdom will be in agreement with the will of God; they will be, the knowledge of our duty, and the wisdom of Holiness; the only knowledge, and the only wisdom, to which is engaged the blessedness of the life that is to come, where alone perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom can be had and enjoyed; and where alone the doubts, and the mysteries, and the darknesses, which now encompass us, and obscure our vision, bodily and mental, can be cleared away; where alone either can be rectified, and our senses made so pure and simple, as to see and to perceive clearly; to see God as He is; to understand ourselves, and our purpose; to know ourselves as from the beginning it was intended we should be. “ Therefore, be we stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord.”
Genesis i. 31.
And God saw every thing that He had made, and behold, it was
This observation, which had so often before been particularly made, that is, at the conclusion of each specific portion of the work, is now appended to the whole of creation: “ God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Each object of creation had been pronounced to be good ; but the general expression is even stronger; the whole work is said to be very good. Each was good in itself, and for its own individual purpose; all are here seen to be good, not merely in individual parts and purposes, but in their relation each to other and to the whole. I remark the distinction, in order to shew what I conceive to be the true import of it, since there is an opinion, from which no inconsiderable mistake has been incurred, that the observation does not apply to the whole work, but to man alone, who was the last object of creation; and, that