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know him again in that state ; for otherwise he could not properly be said to go to him ; since to go to any one certainly means in common acceptation, not barely to go where that person is, but to see and be conversant with him. And it is surely very natural for all of us to wish and hope, that we may once more meet with those whom we tenderly loved in this world, and for ever continue with them. And it cannot, I think, be doubted, that the knowing our friends, and seeing them in the same blessed state with ourselves, would give a higher relish to our own felicity; as, on the other hand, it would increase the misery of the damned to behold their companions in iniquity, and to be perpetually subject to the reproaches of those, whom they had drawn on to perdition, or any other way injured, in the
There is likewise some intimation of this, in other parts of Scripture. Thus, in the Parable of the Rich Man and La-zarus, the several parties are represented by our Saviour as being known to each other in the next life. And in St. Luke it is said, that those who shall be excluded from heaven, and much more those who shall be admitted there, shall see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God. To which we may add that remarkable expression, so often used in the Old Testament, of Abraham and many others being “ gathered to their fathers and to their “ people:” An expression, from which we may, with the greatest fairness, argue in the same manner, as from the words of David now under consideration, that we shall know, and share in the felicity of our friends in a future life.
• But then, it will be said perhaps, what will be the case, if the friends. we loved should be in the unhappy number of the condemned, and we should know them to be so, from their absence from the mansions of the blessed ? Would not our knowledge of their misery be some diminution of our own happiness ? Could we bear the thought of their hopeless condition, without feeling, now and then, some
painful painful emotions of pity and grief? Would not, for example, the idea of a favourite child sentenced to dwell with everlasting burnings, fill us with horror, and throw a gloom over that fulness of joy, which we are taught to expect hereafter ?
Certainly, according to our present feelings' and imperfect modes of reasoning, this must be the case. But, to be grieved at what cannot be helped or remedied, and to make ourselves miserable, because others, by their own fault, have made themselves irrecoverably so, is certainly a weakness, and a proof of our present imperfection, and therefore will never be found in the spirits of just men made perfect, who will be delivered from all the infirmities and irregular passions, to which they were subject in the present world.
Besides, one part of our future happiness will consist in our being made like unto God; that is, in resembling him chiefly in the rectitude of our wills, and the perfectionroof our understandings. -1: Vol. IV.
: Now, Now, though God has the most tender love for all his creatures, and would not that any should perish, yet it is no matter of affliction to him, nor any diminution of his happiness, to see them deprived of the mercy they have rejected, and suffering that vengeance, which they so boldly defied. And therefore, what ever our present ideas may suggest, we may rest assured, that neither will the eternal damnation of those, who were once dear unto us, be able either to lessen or interrupt our future felicity. We shall be thoroughly convinced of the justice of the sentence passed upon them, and be continually applauding, and enjoying the rewards of, our own wisdom and better choice.
But, after all, it must be confessed, that this point is no fundamental article of our faith, and that though it may, from the grounds before us, appear highly probable, yet it is by no means absolutely certain. That God who made us what we are, and who knows whereof we are inade, and what will contribute to our
happiness or misery in the next world, will either grant or deny us this mutual knowledge hereafter, according as it would be conducive, or otherwise, to the fulness of our joy in that state. And, in the mean time, we may, with a becoming submission to his will, and an absolute confidence in his goodness, innocently indulge ourselves in a hope so natural and delightful ; more especially, as it tends to produce the most salutary influence on our lives and conversations here.
For, in the first place, if we are thus. to go to and know our friends in the other world, it certainly much concerns us, how we behave to them in this: since, accordingly as we shall have performed, or violated our duty to them, we may expect their everlasting thanks or reproaches. A consideration, which we should take along with us in all our intercourses with others; as it would dispose us to practise towards them that justice and sincerity, that love and charity, which our several relations require from us. We should not then look upon any man as a stranger