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reader, that in order duly to appreciate the force of the argument founded upon the above citations, he must advert to the specific character of the evidence contained in them. It may be objected, as it has often been, that in the passages adduced no formal proof or direct affirmation is to be found on the subject before us. But granting this to be the fact, what then ? Does it follow that the whole argument rests upon uncertain data ? This would be an irrational conclusion. For the proof is not the less certain and valid, because of its implied and incidental character. When a doctrine is assumed as the basis of any reasoning, or appears to be casually wrought into the texture of an illustration, it is evidently supposed to be true, and such an appropriation of it amounts to the same thing as a positive affirmation on the particular point, since it originates in a belief that the assumed topic is too obvious, or too generally received, to require that it should be made the subject of explicit statement or formal discussion. The evidence in this case is analogous to that which accompanies the incidental testimony of a credible historian, which, everyone is aware, is often stronger than that of a direct assertion. The existence of God is not less certainly announced in the language with which divine revelation opens, than if this all interesting doctrine had been propounded in formal and positive terms. And this remark is applicable to the subject discussed in the present pages ; for it is plain, from the passages which we have advanced, as well as from the general language of the scriptures, that the inspired writers take for granted the certainty of future recognition, and extended consciousness, as they do many other important truths, which no professing christiau ever thinks of calling in question.

SECTION IV.

ON THE PERPETUATION OF THE SOCIAL PRINCIPLE.

The considerations and passages of scripture advanced in the preceding section, leave us, we conceive, no room to question, whether human consciousness will be retained after death, or whether we shall have, individually, the retrospective knowledge of one another in a future state. But in order to the recovery of religious friendship, or to any pleasurable interest in the society of holy and happy beings, something further than mere recognition is obviously required, and that is, the perpetuation of the social principle.

This is a point, however, which, as there can be but one opinion concerning it, does not call for the aid of detail or formal discussion. For there is no feature more prominent in the human character, no element in its constitution, more indispensable, than the principle which attaches us to society, and which discovers itself in the pleasure which springs from communion with persons whose views and sentiments harmonize with those of which we are conscious ourselves. Those affections of our nature, which sympathy is understood to comprise, are as really necessary to man in his relative, as is the principle of self-love in his personal, capacity. Were he deprived of these, he would lose all that is most lovely in his character, and be unfitted for the chief purposes contemplated by Him who called him into being, and who has placed him in the midst of other creatures like himself. Frozen by the chilly atmosphere of selfishness, he would become a very Niobe in the moral world, and incapable of sharing the pleasures, or of fulfilling the duties, of virtuous fellowship, he would be alone in the midst of surrounding multitudes. We might, therefore, with reason, have concluded, independently of scripture testimony on this particular point, that a principle which enters thus essentially into our constitution, and which is requisite to the chief ends of our existence, would, in some form or modification, accompany the spirits of good men

into another world, and attain to a far greater degree of purity and power than it ever acquires in the present life.

In forming our views of the ultimate condition which awaits the righteous, and of the elementary principles which will enter into their constitution, we are warranted to assume, as an unquestionable fact, from which much important information may be derived, that the present state is incipient and introductory to that fature and exalted economy under which they are destined to live. It is too often forgotten, in the discussion or elucidation of subjects relating to the future state of believers, that eternal life is not a boon, for the possession of which they are obliged to wait the arrival of death and their actual admission into the celestial world. It is, indeed, true, that the difference between what they now are, and what they will be on their departure from the present life, and more especially on the morning when God “will perfect that which concerneth them," must be transcendantly great, and therefore in this view, “it doth not yet appear what we shall be.” But still we are given to believe, that this difference will consist rather in the perfection of those mental powers, and holy affections, which every believer already possesses, and, , in an external position, which will admit the full developement of them, than in any essential change in the nature and constitution of the human mind.

For the salvation of the gospel is a present good, enjoyed by all who are “ born of the Spirit;” and those exercises and graces of the regenerated soul, which, for the want of a better term, are frequently represented to be the conditions, are, in fact, the appropriate evidences and movements of spiritual and everlasting life. Heaven is begun already, , in the heart that throbs with pulsations of love to God, and to all beings who bear his radiant image. In reference to this point, the Saviour and his apostles have expressed themselves in plain and unequivocal terms. “ He that heareth my words, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life ; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.*

These representations have an obvious bearing upon the immediate point before us. They teach us that we greatly err when we conceive of heaven as a state which admits of little or nothing that is

* John v. 24. i John v. 10–13.

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