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cannot sastain the relation of christian friends to bim, unless they are “renewed in the spirit of their minds,” and possess that faith in the Saviour which is said to work by love, and the fruits of which are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. Nor can he, on' any principle of allegiance to Christ, or of love to the souls of men, receive them as such into fellowship with himself, if in the judgment of charity he has reason to believe that they are “not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”
It appears, then, on presenting the amount of the foregoing remarks, that friendship, having its origin in the very constitution and exigencies of our nature, harmonizes with the spirit of christianity, and the instructions of its divine Author ;that christian friendship is distinct from all the conventional affinities and circumstances of the present life, and is at the same time capable of blending with them under every form; and that the basis on which it rests is that vital union to the Saviour, or relation to him, which belongs to all believers, and in virtue of which there exists amongst them a community of feeling, principle, and privilege : “There is one body, and one spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your
calling ; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”
But what evidence is there in the Holy Scriptures that this sacred relation, with its accompanying recollections and characteristic pleasures, will be extended beyond the present life?
THE PERPETUATION OF CHRISTIAN FRIENDSHIP, A DOC
TRINE WHICH RESTS UPON SCRIPTURAL EVIDENCE.
HUMAN reason is but the servant or interprete of revelation, and in this capacity is bound to pay the profoundest deference to her authority, and to ascertain as fully as possible the import of her announcements. What more has it proved, whenever abandoned to its own speculations, than a sickly flame without heat, moving along capriciously in the wide regions of conjecture, serving only to render the prevalent gloom more deep, and generally leading those who have taken it for their guide into the stagnant marshes of infidelity or vice? But reason in subserviency to the scriptures holds a most important office. Without its exercise religion can have nothing more than a name. It is, in fact, the eye of the mind; and there can be no discernment of spiritual objects unless it be employed in the contemplation of them through the medium of the “true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” And the importance of the rational faculty is more especially seen in its relation to those religious discoveries which are not matter of direct affirmation, but which rest upon the inductive evidence of scripture. These it is the peculiar province of reason to elicit, and by this means to widen the range of revealed truth, or rather to lay it open before the view of the mind. They constitute some of the most interesting themes which can occupy our thoughts, and it will now be our object to shew that amongst them is to be ranked the one which is the more prominent topic of the present pages. This will appear, if it can be proved that christianity secures all that is really essential to the recovery of religious friendship. To this end it is necessary,—that those between whom this holy relation subsists should survive the present life,-that the same local destination should await them,—that they should recognise each other,--that they should retain the affections which now unite them,- and that social preferences should be consistent with the circumstances of their new condition. These several particulars we purpose to notice in distinct sections, and then to consider how the conclusion which may be drawn from them harmonizes with the principles and professed objects of the christian system.
ON THE CERTAINTY OP A FUTURE STATE.
What an object of commiseration is the person whose heart has never throbbed at the idea of his immortality! If there be any thing in the conduct of man more astonishing than another, it is that he should cling to this short and uncertain life, and feel no concern whether death extinguishes or perpetuates his conscious existence. For it is a question which lies at the foundation of religion, and involves all that is sublime and really interesting to us. The supposition that the whole amount of our sufferings, enjoyments, and pursuits, are circumscribed by the narrow circle of threescore
and ten, reduces us to the condition of an ephemeral and insignificant race. We possess nothing, in this case, to render us objects of much concern to ourselves, or of deep and benevolent interest to others. The platform on which we stand is too narrow to permit us to project, or to carry into execution any lofty and extended purpose. The great principles of our nature, the hopes and fears which are the main spring of action in the human bosom, must be weakened and de. graded, in consequence of having no object to