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cannot breathe that pure and delightful element ! To suppose that a rebel spirit, impregnated with bitterness, and long accustomed to worship self, in preference to the Creator and Redeemer, should find its happiness in the full sunshine of the divine presence, is to suppose, not only the subversion of retributive justice, but a moral and even physical impossibility. Whatever may have been the intellectual creed or high profession of such a person, his false confidence must for ever fail him; under the influence of awful terror, he must descend into regions of darkness. In heaven, assuredly, he can have no life, much less enjoyment; for there all is light, and in that light, all is love. 2
"Heaven," said an eloquent and experienced preacher, "can be no place of happiness to the wicked. Do we not learn from Scripture, that the pleasures of the heavenly state consist in the immediate presence of a holy God and Saviour-in purity-in worship, and perpetual service-in an entire conformity of the will to that of the Deity-in union with him? But every one of these things is here a cross, yea, a cross unbearable, to the wicked, who flies
2 "My chief conception of heaven," said Robert Hall to Wilberforce, "is rest." "Mine," replied Wilberforce, "is love-love to God, and love to every bright and happy inhabitant of that glorious place." Hall was an almost constant sufferer from acute bodily pain; Wilberforce enjoyed life, and was all amiability and sunshine; so that it is easy to account for their respective conceptions on this subject. What a mercy that both these conceptions are true!
That the bent of all men, in their unregenerate state, is in the wrong direction, Scripture, experience, and history, unite in bearing testimony. 'Man by nature is the child of wrath; he has inherited from his first parents, in the fall, a proneness to sin; and his distinguishing characteristic is the absence of that love to God, which is absolutely indispensable to true virtue and happiness, both here and hereafter. Hence it follows, beyond all doubt or question, that we must be "born again"-that we must undergo a radical and inward change-before we can live to the glory of God in this world, or be fitted for the enjoyment of his in the world to come. 66 presence Except a man
tionary state; and that every spirit separated from the body must, by a sort of natural consequence or physical necessity, fly off on the one side or the other, according as it is affected towards God and holiness; for, in the world to come, there is no further amalgamation between good and evil; but an irresistible avulsion of the one from the other. "Of every human spirit it may be said, that it possesses or not that affection to God, which, when freed from the embarrassments that here surround us, will spring up toward its object -will break away exultant from every defilement-and connect the created to the uncreated Spirit, between which a real alliance had already taken place. Has then the soul, at the moment when its active powers are broken up, and when it is launched upon the severed elements of good and evil, been quickened toward the moral perfections of the Supreme Being? Has it yet entertained or not the rudiment of love, of loyalty, and of submission to the divine government? Is it affiliated to God, or is it estranged and in rebellion? Does it abhor the contamination of its present state? Has it sympathy with the worship that encircles the throne of the Most High? Or is it destitute both of the emotions and of the habits of grateful and joyous adoration? **** Is the soul alive to God or not? Do we look to him for our pleasures? The answer to these questions must discriminate spirit from spirit, when each, in its moral element only, enters the world where moral elements are parted."-Saturday Evening, p. 390.
heart, and all our soul, it will prepare us for that kingdom of which love is the joy for ever.
In effecting this blessed change in the affections of fallen man, the Holy Spirit makes use of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, as his grand, appointed instrument. That gospel, written in the Holy Scriptures, and preached by the Lord's messengers, is a spiritual weapon of heavenly mould; and, when wielded by a divine hand, it penetrates the heart, and becomes "the power of God unto salvation." Convinced of sin, humbled under a feeling of its malignity, and broken down into repentance, the inner often passes through a long and painful season of inward conflict; but at length he finds rest for his soul in the Lord Jesus Christ. His sins are freely forgiven him for the sake of that Redeemer, who bore the penalty of them on the cross; "the handwriting of ordinances" which was against him, is washed out in the blood of the everlasting covenant; and now, as a reconciled and adopted child, he is brought into a dispensation of peace and love towards God our
8 "The kingdom of heaven," said our Saviour, "is like unto leaven which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened:" Matt xiii, 33. I conceive that this parable has a double meaning; that it relates first to the spread of the gospel in the world, and secondly to the growth of grace in the heart. "As the property of leaven is to change or assimilate to its own nature, the meal or dough with which it is mixed, so the property of the grace of Christ, is to change the whole soul into its own likeness; and God intends that this principle should continue in the soul till all is leavened; till the whole bear the image of the heavenly, as it before bore the image of the earthly."-See Dr. A. Clarke, Com. in loc.