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ble conjectures concerning the possibility of our knowing each other in a future state; and the scripture has, here and there, favoured us with an expression that looks at least like a slight intimation of it; but because a conjecture can never amount to a proof, and a slight intimation cannot be construed into a positive assertion, therefore I think we can never come to any absolute conclusion upon the subject. We may, indeed, reason about the plausibility of our conjectures, and we may discuss, with great industry and shrewdness of argument,, those passages in the scripture which seem to favour this opinion; but still no certain means having been afforded us, no certain end can be attained; and after all that can be said, it will still be doubtful whether we shall know each other or not. Both reason and scripture, however, furnish us with a great number of arguments on the affirmative side. In the parable of Dives and Lazarus, Dives is represented as knowing Lazarus, and Abraham as knoVing them both, and the discourse between them is entirely concerning their respective characters and circumstances upon earth. Here, therefore, our Saviour seems to countenance the notion of a mutual knowledge and recollection; and if a soul that has perished shall know a soul that is saved, surely the heirs of salvation shall know and recollect each other.
"Paul, in the first epistle to the Thessalonians, encourages the faithful and laborious minister of Christ to expect that a knowledge of those who had been converted by their instrumentality would contribute greatly to augment their felicity in a future state, when each minister should appear before the throne of God, saying, 'Here am I, with the children thou hast given me.' This seems to imply, that the apostle should know the converts, and the converts the apostle, at least at the day of judgment, and if then, why not afterwards V
In another letter, the following excellent remarks occur respecting what will engage our thoughts and form part of our communications in heaven :—" The common and ordinary occurrences of life, no doubt, and even the ties of kindred, and of all temporal interests, will be entirely discarded from that happy society, and possibly even the remembrance of them done away; but it does not therefore follow that our spiritual concerns, even in this life, will be forgotten, neither do I think that they can ever appear trifling to us, in any the most distant period of eternity. God will then be all in all; our whole nature, the soul, and all its faculties, will be employed in praising and adoring him; and if so, will it not furnish us with a theme of thanksgiving, to recollect • The rock whence we were hewn, and the hole of the pit whence we were digged V—To recollect the time when our faith, which, under the tuition and nurture of the Holy Spirit, has produced such a plentiful harvest of immortal bliss, was as a grain of mustard-seed, small in itself, promising but little fruit, and producing less 1—to recollect the various attempts that were made upon it by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and his various triumphs over all, by the assistance of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ? At present, whatever our convictions may be of the sinfulness and corruptions of our nature, we can make but a very imperfect estimate either of our weakness or our guilt. Then, no doubt, we shall understand the full value of the wonderful salvation wrought out for us by our exalted Redeemer; and it seems reasonable to suppose, that in order to form a just idea of our redemption, we shall be able to form a just one of the danger we have escaped; when we know how weak and frail we were, we shall be more able to render due praise and honour to his strength who fought for us; when we know completely the hatefulness of sin in the sight of God, and how deeply we were tainted with it, we shall know how to value the blood by which we were cleansed, as we ought."
In the following letter to the same lady, he says :—" I am not sorry that what I have said concerning our knowledge of each other, in a future state, has a little inclined you to the affirmative. For though the redeemed of the Lord will be sure of being happy in that state, as infinite power, employed by infinite goodness, can make them, and therefore, it may seem immaterial, whether we shall, or shall not, recollect each other hereafter; yet, our present happiness, at least, is a little interested in the question. A parent, a friend, a wife, must needs, I think, feel a little heart-ache at the thought of an eternal separation from the objects of her regard: and not to know them when she meets them in another state, or never to meet them at all, amounts, though not altogether, yet nearly to the same thing. Remember and recognize them, I have no doubt we shall; and to believe that they are happy will, indeed, be no small addition to our own felicity; but to see them so, will surely be a greater. Thus, at least, it appears to our present human apprehension; consequently, therefore, to think, that when we leave them, we lose them for ever, and must remain eternally ignorant, whether those, who were flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, partake with us of celestial glory, or are disinherited
of their heavenly portion, must shed a dismal gloom over all our present connections. For my own part, this life is such a momentary thing, and all its interests have so shrunk in my estimation, since, by the grace of our Lord Jesus, I became attentive to the things of another; that, like a worm in the bud of all my friendships and affections, this very thought would eat out the heart of them all, had I a thousand; and were their date to terminate in this life, I think I should have no inclination to cultivate and improve such a fugitive business. Yet friendship is necessary to our happiness here, and built upon Christian principles, upon which only it can stand, is a thing even of religious sanction—for what is that love, which the Holy Spirit speaking by St. John, so much inculcates, but friendship 1 The only love which deserves the name, is a love which can enable the Christian to toil, and watch, and deny himself, and risk, even exposure to death, for his brother. Worldly friendships are a poor weed compared with this; and even this union of the spirit in the bond of peace, would suffer, in my mind at least, could I think it were only coeval with our earthly mansions. It may possibly argue great weakness in me, in this instance, to stand so much in need of future hopes, to support me in the discharge of present duty, but so it is. I am far, I know, very far, from being perfect in Christian love, or any other divine attainment, and am, therefore, unwilling to forego whatever may help me on my progress."
The anxiety of his mind respecting religion, and the progress he had made, and was still making in it, will appear from the following extract. "You are so kind as to inquire after my health, for which reason I must tell you what otherwise would not be worth mentioning, that I have lately been just enough indisposed to convince me, that not only human life in general, but mine in particular, hangs by a slender thread. I am stout enough in appearance, yet a little illness demolishes me. I have had a serious shake, and the building is not so firm as it was. But I bless God for it, with all my heart. If the inner man be but strengthened day by day, as I hope, under the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit, it will be, no matter how soon the outward is dissolved. He who has, in a manner, raised me from the dead, in a literal sense, has given me the grace, I trust, to be ready, at the shortest notice, to surrender up to him that life, which I have twice received from him. Whether I live or die, I desire it may be to his glory, and then it must be to my happiness. I thank God, that I have those amongst my kindred, to whom I can write, without reserve, my sentiments on this subject. A letter upon any other subject, is more insipid to me than ever my task was, when a school-boy. I say not this in vainglory, God forbid! but to show what the Almighty, whose name I am unworthy to mention, has doife for me, the chief of sinners. Once he was a terror to me; and his service, oh, what a weariness it was! Now I can say, I love him, and his Holy name, and am never so happy as when I speak of his mercies to me."
To the same correspondent he again writes. "To find those whom I love, clearly and strongly persuaded of evangelical truth, gives me a pleasure superior to any this world can afford. Judge then, whether your letter, in which the body and substance of saving faith is so evidently set forth, could meet with a lukewarm reception at my hands, or be entertained with indifference! Do not imagine that I shall ever hear from you upon this delightful theme, without real joy, or without prayer to God to prosper you in the way of his truth. The book you mention, lies now upon my table; Marshall is an old acquaintance of mine; I have both read him, and heard him read with pleasure and edification. The doctrines he maintains are, under the influence of the spirit of Christ, the very life of my soul, and the soul of all my happiness. That Jesus is a present Saviour from the guilt of sin, by his most precious blood, and from the power of it by his Spirit; that, corrupt and wretched in ourselves, in Him, and in Him only, we are complete; that being united to Jesus by a lively faith, we have a solid and eternal interest in his obedience and sufferings, to justify us before the face of our Heavenly Father; and that all this inestimable treasure, the earnest of which is in grace, and its consummation in glory, is given, freely given to us by God; in short, that he hath freely opened the kingdom of Heaven to all believers; are truths which cannot be disproved, though they have been disputed. These are the truths, which, by the grace of God, shall ever be dearer to me than life itself; shall ever be placed next my heart, as the throne, whereon the Saviour himself shall sit, to sway all its motions, and reduce that world of iniquity and rebellion to a state of filial and affectionate obedience to the will of the most Holy."
"These, my dear Cousin, are the truths to which, by nature, we are enemies; they debase the sinner, and exalt the Saviour, to a degree, which the pride of our hearts, while unsubdued by grace, is determined never to allow. May the Almighty reveal his Son in our hearts, continually more and more, and teach us ever to increase in love towards him for having given us the unspeakable riches of Christ."
In the following letter to the same lady he again writes:— "I think Marshall one of the best writers, and the most spiritual expositors of Scripture I ever read. I admire the strength of his argument, and the clearness of his reasonings, upon those points of our most holy religion which are generally least understood (even by real Christians) as master-pieces of the kind. His section upon the union of the soul with Christ is an instance of what I mean; in which he has spoken of a most mysterious truth, with admirable perspicuity, and with great good sense, making it all the while subservient to his main purport, of proving holiness to be the fruit and effect of faith. I never met with an author who understood the plan of salvation better, or was more happy in explaining it."
That Cowper inspected very closely, and watched very narrowly his own heart, will appear by the following extract from a letter to the same lady:—" Oh pride! pride! it deceives with the subtlety of a serpent, and seems to walk erect, though it crawls upon the earth. How will it twist and twine itself about to get from under the cross, which it is the glory of our Christian calling to be able to bear with patience and good will. Those who can guess at the heart of a stranger, and you especially, who are of a compassionate temper, will be more ready to excuse me than I can be to excuse myself. But, in good truth, I am too frequently guilty of the abominable vice. How should such a creature be admitted Into those pure and sinless mansions where nothing shall enter that defileth; did not the blood of Christ, applied by faith, take away the guilt of sin, and leave no spot or stain behind it! O what continual need have I of an almighty, all-sufficient Saviour! I am glad you are acquainted so particularly with all the circumstances of my story, for I know that your secrecy and discretion may be trusted with anything. A thread of mercy ran through all the intricate maze of those afflictive providences, so mysterious to myself at the time, and which must ever remain so to all who will not see what was the great design of them; at the judgment-seat of Christ the whole shall be laid open. How is the rod of iron changed into a sceptre of love!"
"I have so much cause for humility, and so much need of it too, and every little sneaking resentment is such an enemy to it, that I hope I shall never give quarter to anything that appears in the shape of sullenness or self-consequence here