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appear; and when, in full communion with the Most High, thou shalt « see him as he is ?”
How our knowledge in heaven will be acquired, whether by testimony, by immediate revelation, or by some method of mental application, it would be idle to speculate. We know that whatever mode is determined upon by God, will promote, and not interrupt, our felicity; we shall have nothing of the weariness of study-nothing of the anxiety of doubt
nothing of the torture of suspense. Ideas will flow into the soul with the same ease and pleasure on our part as rays of light come to the bodily eye. Whatever knowledge we gain in heaven will be transforming: it will not be mere opinion, or uninfluential speculation. All our ideas will be as fuel, to feed the flame of love, which will then burn the altar of the soul: all will be quickening, penetrating, influential. Our opinions will be principles of action. Every thing will lead us to see more of God, to love him with a more intense glow of holy affection, and to be more conformed to him. The light of truth will ever be associated with the warmth, of love. “We shall be like God, for we shall see, him as he is."
It is difficult to find, in the volume of revelation, a stronger internal evidence of its divine original, than the view it gives of the celestial state, combining, as it does, the perfection of knowledge and of purity. Every other representation which has been given of heaven, bears the mark of an earthly source, -the proof of being a human device. As, in seeking for a Deity, man found the prototype in his own passions, when he had abandoned the one living and
true God; so, in forming a heaven, he collected all the materials from the objects of his own fleshly delights. The Elysium of the Greeks and the Romans; the Hall of the Scandinavians; the Paradise of the Mahometans; the fantastic abodes of the departed Hindoos;-are all adapted to their depraved appetites, and were suggested by their corrupt imaginations. Beyond the pleasures of a seraglio, of a field of glory, or of a hall resounding with the shout of victory-beyond the gratification of sense, -man, when left to himself, never looked for the happiness which is to constitute his paradise. A heaven made up of perfect knowledge, and of perfect love, is a vision entirely and exclusively divine, and which never beamed upon the human understanding till the splendid image came upon it from the word of God. How worthy of God is such a representation of celestial bliss! It is an emanation from his own nature, as thus described:-" God is light: God is love." The glorious reality is evidently the provision of his own wisdom and grace; and the sublime description of it in the Scriptures, is as evidently the delineation of his own finger.
THE PRE-EMINENCE OF LOVE.
"Now abide these three, Faith, Hope, Charity; but the greatest of these is Charity."
SUCH is the tri-une nature of true religion, as described by an inspired penman; of that religion about which myriads of volumes have been written, and so many controversies have been agitated. How short and how simple the account; within how narrow a compass does it lie; and how easily understood, might one have expected, would have been a subject expressed in terms so familiar as these. This beautiful verse has furnished the arts with one of their most exquisite subjects: poets have sung the praises of faith, hope, and charity; the painter has exhibited the holy three in all the glowing colours of his pencil; and the sculptor has given them in the pure and almost breathing forms of his marble; while the orator has employed them as the ornaments of his eloquence. But our orators, poets, sculptors, and painters, have strangely misunderstood them, and too often proved that they knew nothing of them but as the abstractions of their genius: what
they presented to the eye were mere earthly forms, which bore no resemblance to these divine and spiritual graces and multitudes have gazed, with admiration kindling into rapture, on the productions of the artist, who at the same time had no taste for the virtues described by the Apostle. Religion is a thing essentially different from a regard to classic elegance; not indeed that it is opposed to it, for, as it refines the heart, it may be supposed to exert a favourable influence on the understanding, and by correcting the moral taste, to give a still clearer perception of the sublime and the beautiful. It is greatly to be questioned, however, whether religion has not received more injury than benefit from the fine arts; whether men have not become carelessly familiar with the more awful realities of truth, by the exhibition of the poet, the painter, and the engraver; and whether they have not mistaken those sensibilities which have been awakened by a contemplation of the more tender and touching scenes of revelation, as described upon the canvas or the marble, for the emotions of true piety. Perhaps the "Paradise Lost" has done very little to produce any serious concern to avoid everlasting misery; "The Descent from the Cross" by Rubens, or the "Transfiguration" by Raphael, as little, to draw the heart to the great objects of Christianity. Innumerable representations, and many of them very splendid productions too, have been given of Faith, Hope, and Charity; and doubtless by these means many kindly emotions have been called for awhile into exercise, which, after all, were nothing but a transient effect of the imagination upon the feelings.
It is of vast consequence that we should recollect that no affections are entitled to the character of religion, but such as are excited by a distinct perception of revealed truth. It is not the emotion awakened by a picture presented to the eye, nor by a sound addressed to the ear, but by the contemplation of a fact, or a statement, laid before the mind, that constitutes piety. We now proceed to the subject of this chapter.
FAITH is the belief of testimony, accompanied, if the testimony be delivered by a living individual, by a disposition to depend upon his veracity; and, if it relate to something in which we are interested, with an expectation of the fulfilment of the promise. In reference to spiritual things, it means a firm persuasion of the truth of what God has revealed in his word. "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen: or, as the passage is rendered by some, "Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." It is a belief, not only that the Bible is true, but of the truth contained in the Bible: it is not merely a perception of the evidences of Christianity, as a divine revelation, but also a perception of the truth of its doctrines. General faith, means a belief of all that God has revealed in the Scriptures, whether it be invitation or promise command or threatening, prophecy or history; and it is this that the Apostle describes in the eleventh chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews. Faith in Christ, or justifying faith, relates to that part of the divine word which testifies concerning the person and work of the Redeemer. Saving belief takes into its view everything contained in the