« הקודםהמשך »
minently in their view that sacred and all-important subject which is invested with an interest which no other subject possesses ; and which—if the revelations of scripture are to be our guide in the formation of our opinions respecting the matter-will continue to be the most interesting subject of contemplation, and the theme of their highest praise throughout eternity. The material universe, therefore, with all its grandeur and magnificence, will be a subject of but secondary interest and importance to redeemed
It will be only a means to an end; but if the contemplation of it tend to elevate their conceptions of the greatness of the Almighty, and in that way to make the condescension and compassion exhibited in the scheme of redemption more prominently appear, it will answer an important purpose, and will be a source of pure and satisfying enjoyment.
Fifthly, The dispensations of divine providence to them in this life will also engage their attention, and be productive of a large amount of happiness.
All the arrangements of providence are made in subserviency to an ulterior end; and they are to be regarded as an order of means employed by God to qualify the subjects of his grace for the particular place which shall be assigned to them in the future state. They must, therefore, from the very nature of the case, be often dark and mysterious, and place those whom they are designed to benefit in the most painful situation. So complicated, indeed, are the methods adopted by infinite wisdom to improve the character of the heirs of immortality, and to work out his own purposes respecting our world, that we cannot comprehend them, nor discover the reasons which influence the divine Mind in any particular parts of his procedure. In these circumstances, we must be still and know that he is God; and in the spirit of humility and submission exclaim—" Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known !"
It is unnecessary to suppose, however, that the nature of these arrangements is such as to render it impossible for created beings to understand them, and to acquire such a knowledge of the entire scheme of providence and of the adaptation of its different parts to accomplish the end for which it was framed, as to perceive the rectitude of the divine procedure, and even to call forth their grateful praises. What renders it inexplicable to us at present is, our ignorance of ourselves and of the effect of particular circumstances upon us; our inability to perceive how one event, perhaps of a painful nature, can bring about a series of other events of a different description; and our incapability of tracing the connexion between the present and the future. But, when these arrangements shall have answered their intended purposes, the air of mysteriousness which formerly hung over them will be cleared away; and the whole, I doubt not, will be brought within the limits of hu. man comprehension in the future world. Of the
divine dispensations it may, with propriety, be affirmed, • What we know not now, we shall know hereafter.”
They are so closely connected, indeed I may almost say interwoven, with the working out of the eternal purposes
grace, that the full development of them cannot fail to be interesting to redeemed men ; and it will afford them subjects of contemplation of the most important and elevated nature. But there is not, that I am aware of, any ground on which to rest the hope that they will be developed instantaneously, or that the results of them will be traced back to their causes by a single glance; they will be unfolded gradually, and clearer light will be incessantly breaking in upon them till the connexion of the whole with the great work of human redemption is seen. In the heavenly state, the redeemed will see, as upon a map, all the windings and intricacies of their earthly pilgrimage; they will perceive the unseen dangers which lay in their path ; and when they remember what befel them at particular stages of the way, they will gratefully acknowledge that God has done all things well.
They will then see how often they would have stept out of the path, and heedlessly rushed upon destruction had not God in his provi. dence checked them by some affliction or disappointment; and they will joyfully think of the gentle and merciful means which were employed to bring them back again when they did go astray. Every stripe they received, and every pain they recollect to have
felt, will then be regarded as memorials of eternal love; and whilst they will excite in their breasts mingled emotions of wonder and gratitude, they will call forth songs of praise.
If we except the varied subjects of contemplation furnished by the work of redemption, we can scarcely conceive, indeed, of a theme more interesting and pleasing than this ; or of one that will furnish more ample and striking illustrations of the divine faithfulness and love. The records of each individual's experience, and the incidents which compose his personal history, will, when investigated in the world of light, be found to be so many commentaries upon such declarations as these :-“ All things are yours ; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come ; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.”_"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—The trath of all these statements will then be fully perceived and felt and acknowledged. And when the whole multitude of the redeemed shall meet together in the place which the Saviour is gone to prepare for them, they will look back with adoring gratitude upon
all the way by which they were led to the city of habitation, and upon the most painful circumstances which occurred. And as they occasionally renew their retrospections of the incidents which happened in the former stage of their being, the employment will impart a higher zest to their pleasures, and make them strike a louder note in the sacred anthem which shall for ever ascend from the abodes of the righteous to the throne of the Eternal.
Sixthly, They will derive their highest enjoyment from contemplating the scheme of redemption and celebrating the wonders of redeeming love.
If the value of the soul is to be taken into the ac. count and permitted to influence our judgment of the Almighty's doings, we must, I think, whatever some may affirm to the contrary, consider the work of hu. man redemption, to us at least, to be the greatest and most interesting of them all ; and that it illustrates the attributes of his character as well as the principles of his government, more fully than any of his other works can do. But there are beings in the universe, with intellects and powers of discernment superior to those of men, who seem to have conceived of it in a similar way. Into its mysteries and facts and stupendous results, “ the angels desire to look.” Although these holy beings have beheld displays of creative wisdom and power which“ eye hath not seen,” and have listened to narratives of his
in other spheres of existence, which“ ear hath not