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of his unreflected infinity. “We shall see him as he is." We shall survey his power, and goodness, and majesty, as exhibited clearly and without shade, in a state of things where love and purity ever reign triumphant, and where no secondary object intervenes to draw off our attention, or to abate our enjoyments. “ Then shall we know, even as also we are known.” We shall be blest with intuitive knowledge,-with knowledge poured in upon us with the richest variety, -an not impeded, either through the weakness of our own capacities, or by conflicting objects, which, though they may sometimes here engage our attention, serve only to distract it, and make it, in a great degree, unavailing. We shall be relieved from the two great intruders, hope and fear; each pointing to the future, but neither of them affording us any certainty respecting it. We shall also be relieved even from the exercise of faith, which belongs only to our earthly condition ; inasmuch as it has reference only to “ things hoped for,” and is “ the evidence of things not seen :”—but when we “ walk by sight,” faith can have no place.
“When,” therefore, “we awake up after God's likeness,' we shall be satisfied with it.” The veil that hid Him from our sight, shall be for ever removed. He will no longer be “ dimly seen” in the mirror of earthly and created things; for all those will be “ done away,” when the final consummation takes place. “ They shall perish ; but He shall endure from everlasting to everlasting: they all shall wax
old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shall he change them, and they shall be changed :—but He is the same, and his years shall not fail.” The fulness of joy that is to be participated in his presence, and the pleasures that are for evermore at his right hand, will be ours, if, in this our day of trial, we walk humbly with Him, and do justice and love mercy in regard to our brethren.
How, then, can we sufficiently thank our merciful God; for providing this immense reward for our few years or hours of earthly trial? How can we sufficiently express our gratitude to his blessed Son, who, by his merits and atonement, has procured it for us ? How can we sufficiently value those aids of his Holy Spirit, through whose comfort and guidance we are taught and encouraged to pursue the path of life? Words cannot express our sense of these immense obligations. The tongue of man cannot form itself to suitable expressions for this purpose. Imagination cannot devise thoughts by which to measnre the extent and value of his unspeakable gifts. In silent admiration, we may muse over them ; but we cannot comprehend their fulness. It is a theme inexhaustible, and replete with glory. It not only surpasses our present powers of acknowledgment, but will be an employment for our meditating admiration and our gratitude, in those regions of bliss, where its entire scheme will be developed to us. It is one of those things which “the angels desire to look into.” To those perfect and
unerring spirits, it is an object, of which they are not yet fully informed, and which they cannot yet behold in all its clearness. How, then, shall man, mixed up as he is with frailty, and ignorance, and infirmity, in his earthly condition, be able now to reach it?
And does not all this teach us an impressive lesson of humility ? Shall it not repress within us every emotion of arrogance, and suggest to us the wisdom of “ not thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think ?” For what are we at the best, but the
poor, and helpless, and ignorant creatures of a day?-born to weakness and uncertainty, and unable to control the circumstances of even a single moment that is passing over us? It is for want of thought and of self-examination, that, in any case, we grow presumptuous. We pride ourselves upon the feeble resources of our own minds, forgetful of that Infinite Mind to which we owe every thing. And this error is not confined to those who, humanly speaking, are “the ignorant and foolish,” but it steals imperceptibly on those who are thought wise and superior; and it grows upon them, unless they guard themselves cautiously from its insinuations and its dangers. Knowledge, indeed, is indispensable to us, as religious creatures. Without it we can have no well-directed zeal for God's honour and service; nor can we have any consistent faith ; for ignorant belief is presumption. To furnish our minds, therefore, with all sound and useful knowledge, under the
guidance of the Holy Spirit, is unquestionably one of our first duties ; but to presume upon it, and to relax into notions of self-sufficiency, is the height of folly :-and, as Solomon has forcibly remarked, “ there is more hope of a fool, than of a man who is wise in his own conceit.”
We cannot glorify God aright, so long as we indulge in this preposterous self-complacency. We shall be too much taken up with ourselves, to render to Him the honour that is his due. We shall forget our dependence on him. We shall forget, in particular, that all his gifts to us are intended, not as ends, but as means; and that if we value them merely for their own sake, -or value ourselves for possessing them, while we allow them to terminate in themselves ; -we defeat the purposes for which they were conferred,—and are chargeable with folly, presumption, blindness, neglect, and disobedience. It should never be forgotten, that we are only God's instruments. His gifts are granted to us for their use, and not for any right of preference that exists in ourselves. They are talents entrusted to our charge ;—and we are in the situation not of owners, but merely of stewards. True it is, that we may have an intellectual fitness for the trust itself; but unless we have also a moral fitness, in the exercise and improvement of that trust, we are unprofitable servants, and shall be dealt with accordingly. We should remember that though “goodness without knowledge is but lame and ineffectual,” yet “knowledge without goodness is but dry subtlety or mischievous craft."*
If we lay all these truths together, and act upon them, as religious and accountable creatures, we are safe ; but if we depart from the great law of humility, and forget the relation in which we stand to God, from whom all knowledge and power, and every good gift proceed, then the most ignorant and insignificant of our species, who rightly employ the small share of talents entrusted to them, are superior to us, and will be able to give a better account of themselves at the day of judgement.
* Dr. H. More's Antidote against Atheism. bk. i. ch. 4.