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it. Jesus is, indeed, sometimes spoken of as reigning in the future world ; and sometimes imagination places him on a real and elevated throne. Strange, that such conceptions can enter the minds of Christians. Jesus will, indeed, reign in Heaven—and so he reigned on earth. He reigned in the fishing-boat, from which he taught ; in the humble dwelling, where he gathered round him listening and confiding disciples. His reign is not the vulgar dominion of this world ;-it is the empire of a great, godlike, disinterested being, over minds capable of comprehending and loving him. In Heaven, nothing like what we call government on earth can exist, for government here is founded in human weakness and guilt. The voice of command is never heard among the spirits of the just. Even on earth, the most perfect government is that of a family, where parents employ no tone but that of affectionate counsel, where filial affection reads its duty in the mild look, and finds its law and motive in its own pure impulse. Christ will not be raised on a throne above his followers. On earth he sat at the same table with the publican and sinner. Will he recede from the excellent whom he has fitted for celestial mansions ? How minds will communicate with one another in that world, we know not; but we know that our closest embraces are but types of the spiritual nearness which will then be enjoyed; and to this intimacy with Jesus the new-born inhabitant of Heaven is admitted.
But we have not yet exhausted this source of future happiness. The excellent go from earth not only to receive a joyful welcome and assurances of eternal love from the Lord : there is a still higher view. They are brought by this new intercourse to a new comprehension of his mind, and to a new reception of his spirit. It is indeed a happiness to know that we are objects of interest and love to an illustrious being ; but it is a greater happiness to know deeply the sublime and beautiful character of this being—to sympathise with him—to enter into his vast thoughts and pure designs—and to become associated with him in the great ends for which he lives. Even here, in our infant and dim state of being, we learn enough of Jesus, of his divine philanthropy triumphant over injuries and agonies, to thrill us with affectionate admiration. But those in heaven look into that vast, godlike soul, as we have never done. They approach it, as we cannot approach the soul of the most confiding friend; and this nearness to the mind of Jesus awakens in themselves a power of love and virtue, which they little suspected during their earthly being. I trust I speak to those, who, if they have ever been brought into connexion with a noble human being, have felt, as it were, a new spirit, and almost new capacities of thought and life, expanded within them. We all know how a man of mighty genius and of heroic feeling, can im
part himself to other minds, and raise them for a time to something like his own energy; and in this we have a faint delineation of the power to be exerted on the minds of those who approach Jesus after death. As nature at this season springs to a new life under the beams of the sun, so will the human soul be warmed and expanded under the influence of Jesus Christ. It will then become truly conscious of the immortal power treasured up in itself. His greatness will not overwhelm it, but will awaken a corresponding grandeur.
Nor is this topic yet exhausted. The good, on approaching Jesus, will not only sympathise with his spirit, but will become joint workers, active, efficient ministers, in accomplishing his great work of spreading virtue and happiness. We must never think of Heaven as a state of inactive contemplation, or of unproductive feeling. Even here on earth, the influence of Christ's character is seen in awakening an active, self-sacrificing goodness. It sends the true disciples to the abodes of the suffering. It binds them by new ties to their race. It gives them a new consciousness of being created for a ministry of beneficence; and can they, when they approach more nearly this Divine Philanthropist, and learn, by a new alliance with him, the fulness of his love, can they fail to consecrate themselves to his work, and to kindred labors, with an energy of will unknown on earth ? In truth, our sympathy with Christ could not be perfect, did we not act with him. Nothing so unites beings as co-operation in the same glorious cause, and to this union with Christ the excellent above are received.
There is another very interesting view of the future state, which seems to me to be a necessary consequence of the connexion to be formed there with Jesus Christ. Those who go there from among us, must retain the deepest interest in this world. Their ties to those they have left are not dissolved, but only refined. On this point, indeed, I want not the evidence of revelation; I want no other evidence than the essential principles and laws of the soul. If the future state is to be an improvement on the present—if intellect is to be invigorated and love expanded there—then memory, the fundamental power of the intellect, must act with new energy on the past, and all the benevolent affections, which have been cherished here, must be quickened into a higher life. To suppose the present state blotted out hereafter from the mind, would be to destroy its use, would cut off all connexion between the two worlds, and would subvert responsibility; for how can retribution be awarded for a forgotten existence ? No; we must carry the present with us, whether we enter the world of happiness or woe. The good will indeed form new, holier, stronger ties above; but under the expanding influence of that better world, the human heart will be capacious enough to retain the old whilst it receives the new—to remember its birth-place with tenderness whilst enjoying a maturer and happier being. Did I think of those who are gone, as dying to those they left, I should honor and love them less. The man who forgets his home when he quits it, seems to want the best sensibilities of our nature; and if the good were to forget their brethren on earth in their new abode, were to cease to intercede for them in their nearer approach to their common Father, could we think of them as improved by the change?
All this I am compelled to infer from the nature of the human mind. But when I add to this, that the new-born heirs of heaven go to Jesus Christ, the great lover of the human family, who dwelt here, suffered here, who moistened our earth with his tears and blood, who has gone not to break off but to continue and perfect his beneficent labours for mankind, whose mind never for a moment turns from our race, whose interest in the progress of his truth and the salvation of the tempted soul has been growing more and more intense ever since he left our world, and who has thus bound up our race with his very being,when I think of all this, I am sure that they cannot forget our world. Could we hear them, I believe they would tell us that they never truly loved the race before; never before knew what it is to sympathise with human sorrow, to rejoice in human virtue, to mourn for human guilt. A new fountain of love to man is opened within them. They now see what before dimly gleamed on them—the capacities, the mysteries of a human soul. The significance of that word immortality is now apprehended, and every being destined to it rises into unutterable importance. They love human nature as never before, and human friends prized as above all price.
Perhaps it may be asked whether those born into Heaven, not only remember with interest, but have a present, immediate knowledge of those whom they left on earth? On this point neither Scripture, nor the principles of human nature, give us light, and we are of course left to uncertainty. I will only say, that I know nothing to prevent such knowledge. We are indeed accustomed to think of Heaven as distant; but of this we have no proof. Heaven is the union, the society of spiritual, higher beings.' May not these fill the universe, so as to make Heaven every where? Are such beings probably circumscribed, as we are, by material limits ? Milton has said :
Millions of spiritual beings walk the earth,
Both when we wake and when we sleep.' It is possible that the distance of Heaven lies wholly in the veil of Aesh, which we now want power to penetrate. A new sense, a new eye, might show the spiritual world compassing us on every side.
But suppose Heaven to be remote. Still we on earth may be visible to its inhabitants ; still in an important sense they may be present; for what do we mean by presence? Am I not present to those of you who are beyond the reach of my arm, but whom I distinctly see? And is it at all inconsistent with our knowledge of nature, to suppose that those in Heaven, whatever be their abode, may have spiritual senses, organs, by which they may discern the remote, as clearly as we do the near ? This little ball of sight can see the planets at the distance of millions of miles, and by the aids of science, can distinguish the inequalities of their surfaces. And it is easy for us to conceive of an organ of vision so sensitive and piercing, that from our earth the inhabitants of those far-rolling worlds might be discerned. Why then may not they who have entered a higher state, and are clothed with spiritual frames, survey our earth as distinctly as when it was their abode ? This may
be the truth ; but if we receive it as such, let us not abuse it. It is liable to abuse. Let us not think of the departed as looking on us with earthly, partial affections. They love us more than ever, but with a refined and spiritual love. They have now but one wish for us, which is, that we may fit ourselves to join them in their mansions of benevolence and piety. Their spiritual vision penetrates to our souls. Could we hear their voice, it would not be an utterance of personal attachment, so much as a quickening call to greater effort, to more resolute self-denial, to a wider charity, to a meeker endurance, a more filial obedience to the will of God. Nor must we think of them as appropriated to ourselves. They are breathing now an atmosphere of Divine benevolence. They are charged with a higher mission than when they trod the earth. And this thought of the enlargement of their love, should enlarge ours, and carry us beyond selfish regards to a benevolence akin to that with which they are inspired.
It is objected, I know, to the view I have given of the connexion of the inhabitants of Heaven with this world, that it is inconsistent with their happiness. It is said that if they retain their knowledge of this state, they must suffer from the recollection or sight of our sins and woes; that to enjoy Heaven, they must wean themselves from the earth. This objection is worse than superficial. It is a reproach to Heaven and the good. It supposes, that the happiness of that world is founded in ignorance, that it is the happiness of the blind man, who, were he to open his eye on what exists around him, would be filled with horror. It makes Heaven an Elysium, whose inhabitants perpetuate their joy by shutting themselves up in narrow bounds, and hiding themselves from the pains of their fellowcreatures. But the good, from their very nature, cannot thus be confined. Heaven would be a prison, did it cut them off
from sympathy with the suffering. Their benevolence is too pure, too divine, to shrink from the sight of evil. Let me add, that the objection before us casts reproach on God. It supposes that there are regions of his universe which must be kept out of sight, which, if seen, would blight the happiness of the virtuous. But this cannot be true. There are no such regions, no secret places of woe which these pure spirits must not penetrate. There is impiety in the thought. In such a universe there could be no Heaven. Do you tell me that according to these views, suffering must in
I heaven as a world of sympathy. Nothing, I believe, has greater power to attract the regards of its benevolent inhabitants, than the misery into which any of their fellow-creatures may have fallen. The suffering which belongs to a virtuous sympathy I cannot then separate from heaven. But that
sympathy, though it has sorrow, is far from being misery. Even in this world, a disinterested compassion, when joined with power to minister to suffering, and with wisdom to comprehend its gracious purposes, is a spirit of peace, and often issues in the purest delight. Unalloyed as it will be in another world by our present infirmities, and enlightened by comprehensive views of God's perfect government, it will give a charm and loveliness to the sublimer virtues of the blessed, and, like all other forms of excellence, will at length enhance their felicity.
II. You see how much of heaven is taught us in the single truth, that they who enter it meet and are united to Jesus Christ. There are other interesting views at which I can only glance. The departed go not to Jesus only. They go to the great and blessed society which is gathered round him—to the redeemed from all regions of earth— to the city of the living God—to an innumerable company of angels—to the church of the first-born—to the spirits of the just made perfect.
Into what a glorious community do they enter! And how they are
can easily understand. We are told, there is joy in heaven over the sinner who repenteth ; and will not his ascension to the abode of perfect virtue communicate more fervent happiness ? Our friends who leave us for that world, do not find themselves cast among strangers. No desolate feeling springs up of having exchanged their home for a foreign country. The tenderest accents of human friendship never approached in affectionateness the voice of congratulation which bids them welcome to their new and everlasting abode. In that world, where minds have surer means of revealing themselves than here, the newly-arrived immediately see and feel themselves encompassed with virtue and goodness; and through this insight into the congenial spirits which surround them, inti