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THE RECOGNITION OF SAINTS PROBABLE, FROM
HAVING seen what society the saints in heaven are permitted to enjoy, the question naturally arises :—“What will they be permitted to know of their companions in glory?" In this blessed society of angels and saints, associated, as we shall be, with our brethren, “the spirits” of other “just men made perfect,” with those who are “ fellow citizens of the saints, and of the household of God," with “the general assembly and church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven,” shall we recognise among them those whom we knew and loved on earth ? and if so, will those feelings of affection which linked
us together here, be renewed and perpetuated in heaven? These are questions which every Christian is disposed to ask; they are of universal interest, and not without some practical utility.
We have all lived to see many of our dearest friends and acquaintances removed the world of spirits; and oft as busy memory retraces the scenes of by-gone years, and calls up the well-remembered forms—“the voice, the hand, the smile,” of the loved and lost“ not lost, but gone before”-it is natural for us to inquire whether we shall ever meet to know each other again ; and whether those attachments which we now cherish will remain after death.
Did we aim at logical accuracy, we should consider separately these several propositións:--first, whether the souls of the righteous, in their disembodied state, and immediately after death, will know each other ;or, secondly, whether this recognition, if i occur at all, takes place only after the reunion
of soul and body at the resurrection day ;and, thirdly, whether, if such knowledge exist, the attachments, which bind us here, will be continued hereafter. These subjects are, strictly speaking, entirely separate and distinct, inasmuch as there may be knowledge without affection; and if it were admitted that saints in light know each other, and all love each other, yet it does not necessarily follow that the peculiar ties which bind us here, will be perpetuated hereafter. In like manner, if it be proved that friends will recognise each other in their glorified bodies, it does not follow, as a consequence, that pure disembodied spirits will possess such a recognition. To be strictly accurate, therefore, each of these separate propositions, ought to be distinctly proved. It would, however, be foreign to our present purpose, and would be neither interesting nor instructive to our readers, to enter into all the niceties of the argument. We are aware that objections may be urged against the spirits of the righteous knowing each other, which
would not apply to such a recognition in their glorified bodies. But, without attempting to answer such cavils, we can only say, in the words of the Rev. John Newton, “ How wonderful will the moment after death be! how we shall see without eyes, hear without ears, and praise without a tongue, we cannot at present conceive. We now use the word intuition—then we shall know the meaning of it. But we are assured that they who love and trust the Saviour shall see him as he is, and be like him and with him."* We shall, therefore, consider the whole subject as one and indivisible; and attempt to show that departed spirits, “whether in the body, or out of the body,” will know each other, and that the pure and holy affections of love and friendship, which subsist now, will subsist for
This doctrine appears to be perfectly consonant to reason; for unless it be true that
* Memoirs of Hannah More, vol. ij. p. 54.
the souls of the righteous possess this knowledge, their views of God's wisdom, and justice, and mercy, and truth, must necessarily be very imperfect in a future state.
The veracity of Him, “who cannot lie," seems to stand pledged to assure us that he has, agreeably to his promises, conferred a superior degree of glory on those whose sufferings for the truth, and whose faith and patience in this life were most conspicuous. Surely it will give us more exalted views of the faithfulness and love of Jehovah, to know that he has bestowed the greatest rewards on those who were distinguished for the greatest virtues; that the faith of an Abraham, the meekness of a Moses, the patience of a Job, the zeal of a Paul, and the fidelity of that host of Apostles, Martyrs, and Confessors, who suffered for the cause of Christ, “ not accepting deliverance,” have been rewarded with a greater measure of bliss and glory. But to know this, it seems necessary that we should know the persons thus distinguished. And if we are permitted to know