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were, the natural emanations from his all-bountiful providence; but these are trifling, compared with the blessings in reserve for the righte ous, that is, for his obedient offspring. They now enjoy all the indulgences which it is consistent with his wisdom to admit; but they are perpetually reminded, that they are at present in a state of discipline: nay, that they are not at home; that they are travelling through all the scenes of this world for improvement. They are informed that the Futurity which awaits them, and for which they are educating, respects not the most permanent, the most honorable, or happy station in the present life, but their existence in a future world.
This is another characteristic excellence of Christianity. It has revealed to us a future state of existence. To those who do not believe in this Dispensation, a painful uncertainty remains; but, whoever acknowledges its Divine authority, considers this to be a most essential article of his faith. Whatever doubts there may be among Christians concerning other points, in this they are perfectly unanimous. They all agree that life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. The present life is now proved to be the mere dawn of existence; the commence
ment of a state which shall have a permanent duration.
The Pagan world, in the times of their deepest ignorance, appeared to be very indifferent about a future state. Present pursuits, and present gratifications, seemed to occupy the whole of their attention. When individuals began to speculate, their notions were wild and absurd. At the most advanced periods of mental culture, those powers of intellect which improved the arts, and penetrated into the sciences, to a degree which astonishes and humbles the modern world, could not penetrate into the regions. of futurity. The most elevated thoughts of the wisest philosophers, and strictest moralists, did not rise above a transient hope, a doubtful peradventure. When the inferior animals appeared to them more contented and happy than Man; in whom they perceived disorder, confusion, vice, and misery ;-when these moralists discovered that there is something superlatively great in virtue, without its ensuring the correspondent recompense ;---when they were compelled to acknowledge, that perfection was inscribed upon every part of nature, excepting that singular being Man, the most refined, curious, and exalted being in the creation; they were astonished at a chasm, a hiatus in the arrangement of things;
which nothing could explain or remedy, but the expectancy of a future and a better state. But whether future realities would solve difficulties, or in what manner they would fill up this mighty void, and give an uniformity to the whole, they were anxiously ignorant. When they saw Death pass upon all men alike;-when they perceived that this monster entirely consumed the human frame, without respect of characters, and without a remaining vestige ;-when they traced the various elements which compose the humanı fabric, in their assuming different arrangements, and forming different connections in the œconomy of nature, those expectations which the desire of protracted existence, powers of enjoyment, inequalities of lot, had excited, were either destroyed or rendered too languid to afford consolation.
Even to the favoured People the truths of a future state were not revealed. Pious Individuals might indulge a firmer hope than 'could be possessed by the most intelligent Heathens; for they were more intimately acquainted with the beneficent character of their God. But the full assurance of a future state of existence, was not a constituent part of their Dispensation. The Wise and Good will always hope; because they, and they alone, are able to
discern a natural connection between virtue and happiness: They perceive the possibility of enjoying permanent happiness, where there is a permanent love and practice of virtue; but they clearly perceive that this is not to be expected in the present imperfect state. It is, therefore, natural for them to look up to a better, under the government of that being whom they serve. But the desire of" a state wherein dwelleth Righteousness," is too exalted and refined for common minds. This was an expectancy for which the Jewish Nation, at large, was not prepared. Their torpid intellects and depraved morals, were sufficiently indicated by their incessant preference of the grossest idolatry, to the worship of the true God. As their Minds were carnal, to adopt the expression of the apostle, they had carnal ordinances, and we may add carnal hopes set before them. As minds like theirs could only be influenced by sensible objects, these were alone employed, by the supreme Lawgiver, as motives to obedience; and to give sensible objects all their force, they had the most absolute promise of national prosperity on the one hand, and threats of national distress on the other, according to the state of their moral character and conduct.
That fulness of time which was favourable
to the mission of Jesus, was also favourable to the promulgation of the important truth, that human beings are destined to survive the grave, and exist in a future, though unknown world.
Although a future State of existence is thus revealed, and received as an indubitable truth, by every one who professes Christianity; yet we still remain in great obscurity, concerning many circumstances, into which interested and anxious curiosity seeks to penetrate, in vain. But this concealment is as wise as it is intentional. Seldom would it be prudent for the most affluent parent on earth, to expatiate upon the future wealth of his children, in their presence; or to indulge their fancies with enlarging upon the varied enjoyments which such riches will procure. This, during the period of their pupilage, would be to foster discontent; and to make all the intermediate means of enjoyment appear to be frivolous and insipid. Thus does the wisdom of the Most High exercise the faith of his dependent creatures, in a manner calculated to encourage diligence, without too much detaching their minds from a world, in which they are destined to work out their salvation, by a conscientious discharge of its vari