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was truly man, and he ascended into the presence of his father in the form and with the nature of glorified man. And he is the pattern to which every believer will, after his measure, be conformed in the fulness of time. But “we have not an high-priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
It is not presumptuous, then, to affirm, that none of the pure elements which enter now into the social principle which binds christians together, will be annihilated by the transforming process which the religion of Christ contemplates. But their affections will be more pure, their sensibilities more acute, the pleasures of communion more exquisite and thrilling, their grateful and beneficent emotions more intense and disinterested, and their complacencies incomparably richer than they are, or possibly can be, in the happiest moments of the believer's experience in the present life. “ Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him.” But “God is love ;” and, therefore, the spirit of every holy affection will be retained- the essence of every relative virtue extracted-and the flame of christian charity, burning no longer in the damp and polluted atmosphere of earth, will every where diffuse around itself the warmth and radiance of heaven.
THE FUTURE EXISTENCE OF specifIC AFFECTION.
One more link is wanting to complete the chain of evidence advanced on the present subject, and to connect all that has been stated with the conclusion at which it is our object to arrive. For friendship, in the strict and appropriate sense, implies the specific exercise of affection—the concentration and bias of the social principle towards one or more particular objects ; and some may be disposed to imagine, that all social partialities are peculiar to the present imperfect economy, and that they will hereafter be merged in that expansion of feeling, which we are taught to ascribe to the society of celestial spirits. We do not, however, conceive, that we are trespassing upon the ground of presumptuous speculation, or gratuitous assertion, when we pronounce this to be an erroneous view of the subject. In proof of the fact, we would submit the following reasons to the consideration of the reader.
In the first place, the preferences of religious friendship are not inconsistent with feelings of the most extended benevolence. The spirit of pure and expansive charity is, it is true, essential to a
perfectly holy and happy association. Without this the common harmony would be disturbed ; and selfishness, which is but another name for sin, would be the result, together with all the evils which are known usually to flow from this pernicious principle. Accordingly, if there be one spirit which peculiarly distinguishes the religion of Christ, one which of all others it is most adapted to produce and mature, it is the spirit of enlarged and enlightened charity. It warms the heart with celestial fire, which softens, dilates, and purifies the feelings from the dregs and dross of selfish emotion. The soul, fraught with its inspirations, spurns the trammels of party sentiment, and disdains to be confined within the petty circle which the sectary would prescribe. And if, therefore, we know any thing of heaven, it must be this that there, no capricious preferences will be felt, no separate interests pursued, and nothing, in short, countenanced, which might in the least degree obstruct the free circulation of charity throughout the entire body of its virtuous and blissful inhabitants. Love, without the admixture of any contracted sentiment, will, doubtless, be the presiding temper of the place—the invisible chain which will bind them together into a harmonious and happy fraternity. But does it follow, that particular friendships are incompatible with such a state of things ? Facts sufficiently decide
the question, without any appeal to the laws and circumstances which regulate the exercise of the benevolent principle. That such partialities may consist, with feelings of exalted and expansive charity, may be proved, by a reference to men who have, in an eminent degree, united them in their own characters; and, above all, we might advert to the authoritative example of our Saviour himself. Though he breathed the spirit of the purest philanthropy--the very spirit of the celestial world -and was utterly incapable of any thing which does not comport with perfect excellence, yet did he participate in the pleasures and partialities of the more private attachments. This circumstance alone furnishes us with sufficient reason for inferring, not only the accordance of such intimacies with the laws of the future economy, but the extreme probability of their existence hereafter, as far as they may coincide with the more general principle of benevolence.
In truth, the very nature of christian friendship is such, as to provide against the encroachment of the private affections; for as the basis of the connection is the existence and appreciation of moral excellence, it cannot be maintained in opposition to the common good, or apart from the spirit of true philanthropy, without debasing its character, and violating the principle on which it rests. If virtue be loved at all for its own sake, it will be loved wherever it is beheld, and in whomsoever it dwells ; and will secure for itself the confidence and complacency of every holy being. And christian friendship, being founded in love to God, it is obvious, that the more vigorous it becomes, the more must it warm and expand the bosoms of the parties between whom it is formed, with the sentiments of extended charity. It recognises a principle, which maintains a due balance between opposing claims; and hence it is not difficult to perceive, how it is that they who are most distinguished by the virtues and attachments of private life, should be equally eminent for the philanthropy of their sentiments, and the self-denying energy of their zeal for the public good.
In the second place, let it be remembered, that the partialities of friendship arise, as we have attempted to shew, out of the very nature of things, and therefore it is inconceivable, that they should be altogether limited to the present life.
To give to all beings at one and the same time a measure of regard that shall correspond only with their characters, or degrees of excellence, and to be uninfluenced by the relations of place, and the power of accidental circumstances, must surely be the prerogative only of Him, who fills immensity with his presence, and whose “ tender mercies are over all his works.” The circumstances which