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Hades, even afar off? Even though they were fixed on different sides of the great gulf? Can we doubt then whether the souls that are together in Paradise shall know one another? The Scripture therefore clearly decides this question. And so does the very reason of the thing. For we know, every holy temper which we carry with us into Paradise, will remain in us for ever. But such is gratitude to our benefactors. This, therefore, will remain for ever. And this implies, that the knowledge of our benefactors will remain, without which it cannot exist.
12. And how much will that add to the happiness of those spirits, who are already discharged from the body, that they are permitted to minister to those whom they have left behind? An indisputable proof of this we have, in the twenty-second chapter of the Revelation. , When the apostle fell down to worship the glorious spirit which he seems to have mistaken for Christ, he told him plainly, “I am of thy fellow-servants, the prophets ;” not God, not an angel, but a human spirit. And in how many ways may they minister to the heirs of salvation ? Sometimes by counteracting wicked spirits whom we cannot resist, because we cannot see them : sometimes by preventing our being hurt by men, or beasts, or inanimate creatures : how often may it please God to answer the prayer of good Bishop Kenn,
“O may thine angels while I sleep
Around my bed their vigils keep!
Sing to my God a grateful song. And may not the Father of spirits allot this office jointly to angels, and human spirits waiting to be made perfect ?
13. It may indeed be objected, that God has no need of any subordinate agents, of either angelical or human spirits, to guard his children, in their waking or sleeping hours ; seeing He that keepeth Israel doth neither slumber nor sleep. And, certainly, He is able to preserve them by his own immediate power; yea, and he is able, by his own immediate power only, without any instruments at all, to supply the wants of all his creatures, both in heaven and earth. But it is, and ever was his pleasure, not to work by his own immediate power only, but chiefly by subordinate means, from the beginning of the world. And how wonderfully is his wisdom displayed, in adjusting all these to each other! So that we may well cry out, “ O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In Wisdom hast thou made them all.”
14. This we know, concerning the whole frame and arrangement of the visible world. But how exceedingly little do we now know, concerning the invisible! And we should have known still less of it, had it not pleased the Author of both worlds, to give us more than natural light, to give us his Word, to be “a lantern to our feet, and a light in all our paths.” And holy men of old, being assisted by his Spirit, have discovered many particulars, of which otherwise we should have had no conception.
15. And without Revelation, how little certainty of invisible things did the wisest of men obtain ! The small glimmerings of light which they had were merely conjectural. At best they were only a faint, dim twilight, delivered from uncertain tradition; and so obscured by heathen fables, that it was but one degree better than utter darkness.
16. How uncertain the best of these conjectures was, may easily be gathered from their own accounts. The most finished of all these accounts, is that of the great Roman Poet. Where observe how warily he begins, with that apologetic Preface ?—“Sit mihi fas audita loqui ?”—“May I be allowed to tell what I have heard ?"-And in the conclusion, lest any one should imagine, he believed any of these accounts, he sends the relater of them out of Hades, by the ivory gate, through which, he had just informed us, that only dreams and shadows pass! A very plain intimation,
that all which has gone before, is to be looked upon as a dream!
17. How little regard they had for all these conjectures, with regard to the invisible world, clearly appears from the words of his brother Poet, who affirms without any scruple,
6 Esse aliquos manes & subterranea regna
Nec fieri credunt." 66 That there are Ghosts or Realms below, not even a man of them now believes.'
So little could even the most improved reason discover concerning the invisible and eternal world. The greater cause have we, to praise the Father of Lights, who hath opened the eyes of our understanding, to discern those things which could not be seen by eyes of flesh and blood: that he who of old time shined out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, and enlightened us with the Light of the Glory of God, in the Face of Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith; by whom he made the worlds; by whom he now sustains whatever he hath made : for,
66 Till nature shall her Judge survey,
The King MESSIAH reigns." These things we have believed upon the Testimony of God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible: by this Testimony we already know the things that now exist, though not yet seen, as well as those that will exist in their season, when this visible world shall pass away, and the Son of Man shall come in his glory.
18. Upon the whole, what thanks ought we to render to God, who has vouchsafed this evidence of things unseen, to the poor inhabitants of earth, who otherwise must have remained in utter darkness concerning them ? How invaluable a gift, is even this imperfect light, to the benighted sons of men ! What a relief is it to the defects of our senses, and, consequently of our understanding! Which can give us no information of any thing, but what is first presented by the senses. But hereby a new set of senses (so to speak) is opened in our souls: and by this means
" The things unknown to feeble sense,
Unseen by reason's glimmering ray,
Their heav'nly origin display.
The clouds disperse, the shadows fly;
And God is seen by mortal eye!” LONDON, Jan. 17, 1791.
ON THE DECEITFULNESS OF THE HUMAN
JEREMIAH XVII. 9.
* The Heart of Man is deceitful above all Things, and
desperately wicked: Who can know it.2"
1. THE most eminent of the ancient Heathens have left us many testimonies of this. It was indeed their common opinion, that there was a time, when men in general were virtuous and happy: this they termed the golden Age. And the account of this was spread through almost all nations. But it was likewise generally believed, that this happy age had expired long ago. And that men are now in the midst of the iron Age. At the commencement of this, says the Poet,
Irrupit venæ perjoris in ævum
-66. Immediately broke in
And cursed thirst of gold bore unresisted sway.” 2. But how much more knowing than these old Pagans are the present generation of Christians ! How many