« السابقةمتابعة »
every casual passenger on the road of life. These would be bright and halcyon days-happy would be the people in such a case; yea, blessed the people who had the Lord for their God. But these days of innocence we shall never see on earth — these delightful visions will be realized alone in heaven.
Such are, if I may so speak, a few of the negative blessings of the future life: let us now consider what may be its positive sources of enjoyment.
The happiness of heaven is occasionally described to us in the word of God, under the most captivating forms of rural pleasure-those innocent delights which the pure in heart enjoy, in the calm retreats of country life, and amidst the soothing scenes of nature. The Scriptures tell us of its green pastures, its clear fountains, its rivers of pleasure, by which the Shepherd of Israel shall lead his chosen sheep and faithful followers. "To him that overcometh," saith the Spirit to the churches, "will I give to eat of the tree "of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of "God." For my own part, when I sometimes walk in a garden, amidst fruits and flowers, and birds that sing amongst the branches, I fall as it were insensibly into the following train of meditation :-If man was what he once was-if the love of God glowed in every breast around
us-if this sweet tranquillity was, as in the pri-. meval paradise, but the outward copy of that peace which reigned within man's soul-surely it would be good for us to be here; we need no translation to another world to satisfy the fondest wish for happiness. But again, when I have had time to think of the corruption which overspreads this fallen world, and have remembered that all within my view was short-lived, frail, and perishing, and that winter was coming quickly round to wither and to desolate this peaceful scene :-I have then turned for relief to those Scripture promises which hold out to us, as it were, a renewal and restoration of these calm delights, in an unchangeable world-in that paradise where we shall walk in ways of pleasantness, and paths of peace, amidst trees whose fruits shall never decay, and whose flowers shall never fade; where the seasons will know no change, and where summer will never end.
Sometimes the state of blessedness is likened to a city; and its brilliancy and magnificence are described in terms of the most splendid sublimity. From the twenty-first and twenty-second chapters of the Revelations, I shall select a few remarkable passages to this effect. Come," said one of the angels in vision to St. John, "and I "will shew thee the Bride, the Lamb's wife. And "he carried me away, in the spirit, to a great and
high mountain, and showed me that great city, "the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven "from God. And the street of the city was pure 'gold, as it were transparent glass. And I saw "no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty "and the Lamb are the temple of it. And he "showed me a pure river of water of life, pro"ceeding out of the throne of God and of the "Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on "either side of the river, was there the tree of "life, which bare twelve manner of fruit, and yielded her fruit every month. And there "shall be no night in that city-and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the "Lord God giveth them light; and they shall "reign for ever and ever."
Such is the residence which God has prepared for his people. And there they will not pass each a solitary existence, but will form an united and happy society together. For in that city of the living God (we are told in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews) there dwell an innumerable company of angels, the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven, and the spirits of just men made perfect. In the Jerusalem above, all jarring interests, all selfish and discordant passions, are unknown. None but the sons of peace shall enter there. None shall strive or cry, neither shall
any one lift up his voice in the streets. Brethren shall dwell together in unity-all will be of one heart and of one soul. Nor will it be a small part of our happiness to see there, face to face, the illustrious dead, whose praise is recorded in the Scripture. Patriarchs, Prophets, and Apostles; all who have walked with God on earth, or suffered for the testimony of Jesus. To see there, perhaps, the man who by his writings converted us from the paths of sin; who by his example, or his faithful reproofs, plucked us as brands out of the burning. And amongst the multitudes, which no man can number, what joyful meetings, what blessed re-unions will there be, between those who were bound to one another in life as the friends of God, and fellow-soldiers of the cross-Between parents who had watched, and wept, and prayed over their children's souls, and children who had trod in those parents' steps, and followed their good example-Between all those, in a word, who, united in the faith of the Redeemer, were pleasant to each other in life, and in death were not divided. They shall hail one another on that happy shore; they shall call to mind the dangers and deliverances of life's tempestuous voyage, and adore together that merciful hand, which unseen had led them all by their allotted courses, to the land of everlasting life.
In that world where friends shall meet, it will
be the blessed privilege of all who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, to meet that friend who sticketh closer than a brother. What the unspeakable happiness of this may be, can be estimated, however imperfectly, by those alone who really feel that sacred attachment; those who have believed the record that God gave of his Son, and who have laid hold upon him as their righteousness, their sanctification, and their redemption. These are the souls for whom it is reserved to behold in glory, a Master whom they have loved and served under the vail of his humiliation.— "Ye are they," says our Lord to his Apostles, "which have continued with me in my tempta"tions; and I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; that ye
may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, "and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of "Israel." Such promises seem to me to have à peculiar significance; the principle of which I shall endeavour to open out.
It is not in prosperity that we can best appreciate the fidelity of our friends. Many will flutter round the favourite of the world; but few will cleave to him when things are altered: few will sooth the pillow of his affliction when he is depressed, when he is low in spirits, in fortune, and in estimation. Few are those with whom the memory of a friend still lives, when the world has