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the trees blossom, since he is equally ignorant of the methods of both.
The sacred Scriptures thus establish the existence of a future state. The application of the doctrine of a future state is important and solemn. This life to come is the state from whence our Maker has drawn motives to enforce on us his law. “Obey me,” says he, “because hereafter I will render to every man according to his works.” What vast and awful objects thus present themselves to us! What a boundless range of being! What intensity of blessedness or woe! Shall we really be, and shortly be, in this dread eternity? And which will be ours,-its sorrows or its joys ? Tremendous question ! transgressors against God, we all deserve its deepest woes. Have we repented of iniquity? Have we fled for refuge from the wrath to come ? Have we entered the narrow way that leads to eternal life? Have we embraced cordially, and are we following wholly, Jesus, who is the way, the Truth, the Life?
(To be continued.)
THE ENGLISH MONTHLY TRACT SOCIETY,
20, RED LION SQUARE, LONDON ;
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOUTHAMPTON ROW, LONDON.
J. & W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
A FUTURE STATE.
The certainty of a future state being ascertained, it is to be expected that the mind should demand some information as to its nature and the circumstances under which our existence will be protracted in it. It would be strange, if an individual about to take up his residence in some distant part of the globe, from which he had not the prospect of ever returning to the scenes amid which he had been brought up, were to manifest no desire to ascertain the particular features of the locality on which he should soon enter, and pay no regard to the probability of its being a happy exchange, or otherwise. Ordinary prudence would conspire with natural curiosity to constrain to such inquiries. Certain then as we are of another state of being, it is not only natural, but wise, that we should press inquiry with respect to the characteristics by which futurity is distinguished,—the nature of the future state. The sacred Scriptures enable us to do so with a considerable degree of success. They meet us in our solicitude, and afford us at least some general ideas of what awaits us.
From their pages we collect, for instance, that the condition of the body, although truly raised from the dead, and the same body which it had ever been, will be greatly modified. To this effect we have the express testimony of the apostle, 1 Cor. xv. 50, 42, 44 : “ Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption ..... It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: it is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” We conceive the sentiment to apply to the raised body of man universally. It will not be a natural body, but a spiritual body. Not the body transformed into a spirit, but rendered suitable to a world of spirits, and to all the modes in which spirits act. The precise nature of the change which this expression indicates, it is of course impossible to ascertain, but it would seem necessarily to involve the idea, that every thing heavy and cumbrous will be done away, as well as every thing adapted to limit the acting of the soul.
The future state will be characterized by great expansion of powers. It does not appear that the intelligent constitution of man will undergo any change as to its nature or mode of operation. So far as the mental process is concerned, we shall perceive and reflect—we shall feel and determine on the same principles as we do at present—but all with much greater vigour and intensity. Decisive indications of this are to be found in the force and even vehemence which is thrown into the Scriptural representations of the future condition of men. It is not described so much in simple language, as in metaphors taken from the most striking objects, and of the utmost possible strength. Their happiness is life-their misery death. The former is expressed by glory, crowns, a kingdom-the latter by torment, fire, the worm that never dies. The former utters itself in songs and everlasting joy—the latter in weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. Such language is clearly meant to describe something far exceeding either the ordinary pains or pleasures of mortality.
This sentiment is in perfect harmony with the circumstances of the case. When we consider that the soul is a spiritual existence, it becomes obvious that it is capable in its own nature of much more extended and vigorous action than it now performs. As a spirit, it could discern and converse with spirits, and act with the force and velocity of a spirit; and although the body furnishes its present means of perception and operation, the actual effect of this conjunction is, not to augment the capabilities of the soul, but to limit them. The body being suited only to an earthly state, it prevents the powers of the soul from coming into action, except in as far as they are adapted to a similar condition. It contracts the sphere of our vision to regions which the eye can command ; it limits the objects we pursue to the competency of an arm of flesh; and restrains our very emotions within the dimensions which a feeble body can sustain. We have many proofs that the soul is capable of much more intense feeling than the body can bear, inasmuch as emotions of alarm, and even of joy, have occasionally overcome the mental frame, not only to faintness, but to death. It seems manifest, therefore, that nothing more than the mere occurrence of death is needful to an immediate expansion of the mental powers, as when an elastic spring escapes from the pressure by which it had been previously and closely confined.
While liberation from this earthly clod thus enables the freed spirit to assume the full use of its powers, their vigorous and proportionate action will be called forth by its immediate proximity to the exciting objects of the unseen world.
If our spiritual capabilities had not been restricted on earth, they would have found no objects adequate to engage them; they would have resembled the powers of a giant thrown away upon the labours of ordinary men, or those of mature age squandered amidst the occupations of children. But the case is different when a man has fully entered on the world to come. There, if his eye is fully open, he finds objects that fill all his regard -if his emotions are intense, he finds occasions worthy of their utmost power—if his actions are vigorous, he finds pursuits which demand all his strength. To be in such a state, fettered with bodily infirmity, would be as great an impropriety on one side, as to be unfettered in this world would be on the other; and verily, if a departed spirit can see and feel and do much, there is enough in the objects into the midst of which he will be thrown, and into close contact with which he will come, to waken and to occupy his utmost powers.
The future state will be marked by identity of character. The prevailing and cherished dispositions of men here will be their prevailing and cherished dispositions hereafter. Such is the express testimony of the sacred oracles, Rev. xxii. 11: " He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” On this point, indeed, another sentiment has been held by many, (a sentiment which, however it is to be feared, is dictated rather by their wishes than their convictions,) that, however unsuited to a world of purity and holiness our present dispositions may be, when God removes us out of this, he will fit us for the next, and that in this manner all will be set right when we die. This opinion is no doubt well adapted to encourage those who wish to give the reins to their desires in the pursuit of present gratification ; but, as it is decidedly contradicted by the Scripture we have just quoted, so it is altogether at variance with the reason of the case.
We ask, on the one hand, upon what ground a change of disposition is expected from the mere occurrence of death? It is manifest that death dissolves the organization of the body, and, for a time, the connexion subsisting between the body and the soul; but that it should have any tendency to alter the objects of our love and hatred of our hopes or fears—is not.