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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
to us, who we accidentally meet withi in our passage through the world, and accordingly treat him as such, but rather as a fellow citizen of heaven, eas a brother, who is to abide with us for ever in our Father's house.
itbesind: Lastly, we may learn from hence, what important advantage a virtuous friendship has over a vicious one; and how far superior the hope of a true believer is to that of the infidel. For the friendslip; which is founded in virtue, will for ever subsist and Aourish: But the friendship betwixt those, who have been partners and confederates in iniquity, will certainly be turned into mutual curses and reproaches, and become an eternal and implacable enmity. And, whilst the infidel can only hope to enjoy his dearest friend, during this short and transitory life, after which, according to his own creed, they are both of them to perish like beasts, the Christian looks upon his friend as his fellow-traveller through eternity, and an everlasting possession': For he is persuaded, that though death inay
separate them for a time, it will soon bring them together again, never to be parted any more.
Wherefore then should we weep so much for the death of those we love ? Do we not know that we shall go to them? And is not that infinitely better than that they should return to us ? For by returning to us, they would only return to misery, anguish and disappointment: but by going to them, we shall go to peace, rest, and joy for evermore. Even so, Lord Jesus! therefore come quickly!