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CHAPTER VII.

THE DIFFICULTIES AND OBJECTIONS CONNECTED WITH

THE DOCTRINE OF PERPETUATED FRIENDSHIP.

When a proposition is established by unquestionable evidence, every principle of just reasoning obliges us to give it our assent, in spite of its apparent inconsistency with other acknowledged truths. If we refuse to admit this rule, the proper range of our belief must dwindle into a most contracted circle, and reason will soon find herself launched out on the dreary and interminable ocean of scepticism, bereft of that which is at once her compass and anchor-hold. Every one knows, that many of the most important and indubitable truths are connected, and necessarily, with difficulties which baffle the highest efforts of human ingenuity and research. We admit the doctrine of a supreme and uncreated Intelligence to be an established and fundamental article of religion, which

no one can reject, without acting the preposterous part of a man who should obstinately close his eyes to the light of day, and then deny the existence of the sun, which is shining upon him in cloudless and noon-tide splendour. But we are aware that there are innumerable things relating to the character, perfections, and conduct of God, which are involved in awful mystery, and which will, no doubt, in many instances, surpass the comprehension of the greatest finite mind. Each one of the physical and abstract sciences has its limit, beyond which the philosopher cannot attempt to pass, without finding himself wrapt in the dense cloud of human ignorance, which compels him to fall back, and welcome the light of settled principles. And it is well known that the higher branches, more especially of mathematical abstraction, present us with propositions which admit of rigid demonstration, and which, nevertheless, are seemingly at variance with some of the plainest truths. Yet no man, whose mind is not enfeebled and inflated by the fumes of intellectual vanity, will allow apparent discrepancies to shake his confidence in established principles; for he cannot but perceive, that it is far more consistent with reason, and with a becoming sense of his mental condition, to receive a doctrine as true, which rests upon certain evidence, than to reject it as false upon the uncertain data of plausible objection. It should never be forgotten, that a being like mana creature of inferior capacity, who just opens his eyes upon a nook of the universe, and a little section of the divine administration, and then closes them in death—must, of necessity, be little able to discover the various dependencies and complicated relations of many truths, which his understanding at the same time compels him to admit. Were some one of the numerous cherubim, who have drank for ages at the living fount of knowledge, to light upon our globe, and were he to summon around him the most select assemblage of sages which our earth can produce, with what ease might he, in all probability, confound them, and impose upon their speculations a character of imbecility, by the simple announcement of a few truths, which, though never yet discovered, may be capable of being embodied in human language, and of being transmitted to the human mind! But the very inability of tracing ont in many cases the relations of truth, instead of inducing us to renounce the portion of certain knowledge which we have acquired, should cause us to prize it the more, and to hold it with increased tenacity of faith.

The principle, however, which many professing christians seem disposed to adopt in the interpretation of scripture, is the very reverse of the one to which we have adverted in the preceding remarks. The plain and indisputable testimony of revelation, if not rejected, is frequently met with unreasonable scepticism, because it does not appear to square with other explicit announcements of scripture, or with certain prepossessions of their own minds. This tendency to systematize the discoveries of christianity is perfectly natural, and may be of great service, when kept within the limits prescribed by a due regard to the authority of the divine volume ; for it tends to lay open to the view of the contemplative mind, the harmony and beauty of revealed truth. But when it is allowed to transgress its proper boundaries, then it becomes the fruitful source of error, and implicates us in the charge of ineffable vanity—the vanity of supposing that we are quite able to perceive the entire accordance of the scriptures with themselves, and with the whole phenomena of nature.

Not a few persons reject the very idea of future recognition and perpetuated intercourse, as in. compatible with other representations of scripture, in reference to the purity and bliss of the heavenly state. That the doctrine in question should be encumbered with difficulties, and suggest to an inquisitive mind inquiries which are not to be fully met, will be surprising to none who reflect upon the feebleness of the human intellect, and the scantiness of our knowledge in reference to the future economy. But does this sublime and consolotary hope rest upon the testimony of God? If so, then it is not for us to reject it because of alleged difficulties, but rather to conclude, as all the parts of the christian system must ever be consistent with each other, and with the whole, that such discrepancies are nothing more than apparent. Here the christian, who is satisfied with evidence adduced in the foregoing pages, may take his stand, and repose on the assurance, that God will not fail to accomplish his own purpose.

We are not reduced, however, to the necessity of dismissing, in this summary manner, the supposed difficulties relating to the present subject; and it may not perhaps be amiss to notice some of the most plausible, which are frequently urged by those who are disposed to adopt the negative of the question. For most, if not all, of these, evidently have their origin in misapprehension, or oversight, in reference to the nature of the final condition which awaits the followers of Christ. In forming any just or scriptural conceptions of the happiness which glorified spirits enjoy, some abstraction of thought and purity of feeling are requisite. We find it difficult to carry along with our meditations the remembrance of the fact—that they are raised inconceivably above ourselves in the scale of

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