Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

shall beory, not mortality."

distinction to that continued death or destruction of the soul, which is the portion of the wicked,--and because it was purchased by the Redeemer's victory over the spiritual enemy, who, as the author of sin, first subjected man to the punishment of mortality. It is spoken of as a state of Glory, not only because the bodies of those who shall be admitted into it, will be glorified, or cleansed from the infirmities of the flesh; but because their souls shall therein obtain that eter, nal'weight of glory which is to be revealed,-which cannot be fully comprehended by the earthly man, while his faculties are clogged and darkened by sensual objects ;-that glory which is the perfect consummation of bliss, both in body and soul, for which the faithful in all ages of the Church have earnestly prayed, and strenuously contended ;-that glory to which they shall ultimately by the blessing of God attain, who have been endued with the excellent benefit of election in Christof being chosen to be made partakers of the privileges and aids of the covenant of grace,who, according to the eternal purpose of God to save those who embrace and perform the conditions of that covenant, have been called and admitted into the family of God, accounted righteous for the sake of Christ, and made heirs of the kingdom of heaven,who having received regenerating and preventing grace, have sought and obtained a continuance of the co-operating grace of the Holy Spirit, by whom they have been sanctified and rendered more and more conformable to the image of the only-begotten Son; that glory to which they shall assuredly attain who have duly profited by these inestimable advantages, and continued in that exercise of faith, repentance, and good works unto the end, to which the Almighty has VOL. III.

A a

been pleased, in infinite mercy, to attach, for Christ's sake, an universal promise of future imperishable reward.

:52. When the Sacred Writings record our blessed Saviour's speaking of eternal Life as a reward, we are not to understand that such a reward is meant, as is due on account of the merit of our works, but only as a recompence, not of debt but of grace, for passive and active obedience, given for the sake of Christ, It has the name of a reward, because it is a recompence for affliction and good works; but the certain hope of the reward of eternal life is given to those only who believe in Jesus Christ. Good works do not therefore deserve reconciliation with God, and are not the price of eternal life; for it is absolutely requisite that reconciliation through a mediator should pre. cede, in order that obedience may be accepted. Since, however, God does accept our obedience for the sake of Christ, although good works cannot deserve remission of sins and eternal life, yet, according to the divine promises, they may be crowned with other corporeal and spiritual rewards in this and in a future state ; and certain good works have their ap. propriate promises of recompence. For those, therefore, who are already reconciled to God, who are justified and adopted in his Son, good works will obtain the promised blessings of the present and a future life in proportion to their quality and number.

$ 3. Little as we are permitted to see and understand of the blessedness of everlasting Life, it is evident from the tenour of revelation, that those who obey the Gospel, and are guided by the Spirit of God in this

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

life, who keep the Commandments in their full evaugelical sense, and on Christian motives, or by repentance obtain pardon for their transgressions, who rely on the divine promises for salvation through the intercession and for the merits of Jesus Christ, shall, in Life eternal, find holiness and happiness in the presence of GOD, who will then be to them all in all, --shall live in intimate communion with Christ himself, with angels and saints, --shall be freed from all cause of suffering, from sin and sorrow, from weakness, want, and care,--and shall be qualified for unalloyed and spiritual enjoyment in the exaltation of those faculties which they have cultivated to good ends on earth, and in the direction of them to objects intrinsically sublime and excellent, the abundant sources of pure delight to all who are enabled to contemplate and uuderstand such faultless objects.

§ 4. Relying on the guidance afforded us by the word of inspiration, we may conceive more particu. larly, that 'beatitude will consist in the operation of an improved mind reflecting upon, and being conversant with, the most sublime and lovely objects, and that this operation will not be transient or accidental, but permanent and inherent in the mental faculties.

Future blessedness may, therefore, be supposed to comprehend the Beatific Vision of the Deity,-Love,

and Joy.

By beatific vision is meant that more perfect knowledge to which the inhabitants of heaven are admitted by near approach to the Divinity: but, as God is a Spirit, and not the object of external senses, this knowledge must be purely spiritual. Whenever the Scriptures speak of God, as in the humau form, and

A a 2':

it be not meant figuratively, it is spoken of Jesus Christ, who is ascended up into the heavens with his glorified body. When it is said that God shall be seen face to face, it is to be understood of a clearer perception of his nature and attributes than we now possess; but we are not to suppose that he can ever be wholly known in his perfections and decrees. This is beyond the ken of angels. Such a fulness of knowledge and perception of the Deity shall, however, we may be assured, accompany the beatific vision of the Creator, as is essential to the perfect happiness of the creature: and of more than this we need not be informed.

The dispositions and affections must also necessarily acquire an entire conformity to the divine will, and Love to God be perfected in holiness. With such love the most comprehensive charity must be united, -a fervent charity towards every created being.

Then shall we be made happy in the recognition and society of the saints who have died in all ages of the Church; especially of those relatives and friends who have been dear to us on earth, if they, like our. selves, have attained to the end of their faith—the sal. vation of their souls. No ties shall be dissolved in the realms of bliss, but those which have had reference only to the body and earthly things. As in this mortal life the pure and holy can only find pleasure in that which they account pure and holy, so in a future life, the objects of their regard shall be made perfect and holy, even as their heavenly Father is perfect and holy: and then our faculties shall be rendered capable of perceiving and enjoying whatever is truly estimable. Then all alloy of mutual happiness must be excluded; and that which diminishes all temporal delight-the fear of losing it can have no place. But if here we have, unconsciously, or through the frailty of our nature, set our affections on unworthy objects, when the veil is withdrawn, which now hides defor. mity, and we can love only that which is intrinsically amiable,—these objects shall cease to interest us; and we shall see ample reason to bless the Ominiscient for his just separation of the righteous from the unrighteous.

In the glorified state of the body, after the Resurrection, will unquestionably be found a source of unfading Joy. Delivered from all the necessary infirmities of animal life, as well as from the effects of sin, and endued with whatever is essential to its integrity and beauty, the body in heaven can only give completion to that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory-which the Scriptures represent under various images, all calculated to afford the best idea of felicity, that we can at present entertain—which, like all the other constituents in blessedness, is crowned by security,– by the absence of all dread of depriyą. tion, or even of diminution,

$ 5. That there will be a disparity in the rewards of heaven, and different degrees of glory, appears to be as certain, as that there are various kinds and gradations of improvement of gifts and graces in the present life, which are probably intended to be ma. tured, and to produce their respective fruits in a inore perfect state than this. Notwithstanding this disparity, all shall possess whatever they are capable of enjoying; and their desires shall be satisfied :—for no jealousy or envy can be mingled with the joys of heaven, This diversity of future retribution is generally af,

« AnteriorContinuar »