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SERMON XXX. .

THAT THE BLESSED IN HEAVEN WILL DISTINGUISH AND KNOW THOSE WHO WERE DEAR

TO THEM UPON EARTH.

HEBREWS XII. 22, 23.- “ Ye are come unto Mount

Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the First-born, which are written in Heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect."

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my last discourse, brethren, I addressed you on the nature of the intermediate state,—the state between death and the general resurrection: and endeavoured to prove, from the unerring Word of God, that the spirit, on returning to Him who gave it, is still in a state of conscious existence,-in the possession and exercise of active powers, -and consigned at once, either to “ Paradise,”--the happy region

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of repose and rest, where the souls of the righteous abide in joyful hope of the consummation of their bliss ;-or, to that fearful prison-house, where, (like the rich man in the parable,) the souls of the wicked are reserved, in unutterable torment, unto the judgment of the great, and to them, the terrible day, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In that discourse, it was my chief object to expose the fallacy of the fatal Sadducean error, —'that there is no spiritual part in man;'—and also, to refute the scarcely less dismal idea, of the soul's sleep or lethargy, in the interval between death and the resurrection.

I would now call your attention to a subject, fraught with universal interest; the discussion of which, in meek reliance on the teaching of God's Holy Spirit) I humbly trust, can be neither unseasonable, nor unprofitable; while I fervently pray, that its careful examination may, by the divine blessing, prove to many, a source of comfort and consolation ; more especially to such as mourn for the dead, “and will not be comforted, because the loved one is not.”

Let us, then, with profound humility, proceed to enquire,--whether the Scriptures afford us good ground to hope, that the blessed in

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heaven will know and distinguish those who were dear to them upon earth ?

That, in a future state, the sources of celestial happiness will be infinitely varied, as well as multiplied, both reason and revelation lead us to believe. Nor can we for a moment doubt, that the Omniscient will, in his wisdom, adapt the enjoyments of the saints in bliss, to the perfected, glorified state of our fallen nature : and though “no eye hath seen, nor heart conceived,

, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him ;" yet may we safely venture to conclude, that the joys of heaven will bear some analogy to the most refined and exalted of those moral feelings and inclinations, which solace and cheer man's chequered life, during “the time of his sojourning here.” And surely, among the purest of these, may be regarded, that divine principle of love to our neighbour, inculcated by our blessed Lord Himself, by which we are knit together in the bands of christian unity, as “fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Yes, brethren—" He who is our peace,”—whose precious blood hath reconciled mankind to God, and to each other ;-He who “ hath broken down the middle wall of partition between Jews and Gentiles, preaching to all, the glad tidings of peace and salvation ;-He whose atoning sacrifice hath not only “abolished all enmity,” but tended, most effectually, to establish

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that sincere reciprocal affection which should subsist between those who, through him alone, are brought nigh unto God, and have equal access by one Spirit, unto the Father ;--He, our Redeemer hath said,-“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another :" and again,-“ by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” And when we recollect, that He, who is Himself the source of love, not only told his disciples, that they should be with Him in those heavenly mansions, where he was going “ to prepare a place for them,”—but also, (by the beloved Apostle) declares to all his faithful servants, that “ when he shall again appear, they shall be like Him;-have we not the strongest reason to infer, that this mutual love, described by our Lord, as “like unto,” and only second to our love to God, will be refined and perfected, certainly not extinguished in “ the heavenly Jerusalem,”—where, in the presence of “God, the Judge of all,” believers shall enjoy communion not only with “an innumerable company of angels,” — but with “the spirits of just men made perfect ?”

Indeed we may remark, that with a prospective view to the social state of the blessed in heaven, Holy Scripture speaks of the future happiness of the redeemed, under the image of a kingdom,—a city ; which necessarily supposes a multitude of inhabitants, and a mutual intercourse between them. In the words of my text, the Apostle announces this city to the Hebrew Christians, as if they were already possessed of that, which at present they enjoyed only by faith. “Ye are come (says he) to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem :”—And here let us pause for a moment, to notice how distinctly St. Paul traces each progressive step, by which the faithful in Christ will be led at last to eternal glory. In the verse following the text, he speaks of believers, as being sprinkled with the blood of Jesus, “which speaketh better things than that of Abel,”—that is, than the sprinkling of the blood of Abel's sacrifice; which, however good and acceptable to God, (as being offered in faith,) was yet but a type or shadow of Christ's all-atoning sacrifice. In that blood of sprinkling,” all who shall finally arrive at the Mount of eternal glory, must first be washed; for it is by it alone, that any can “have boldness to enter into the holiest :”— thus purged from their sins, soon shall they join Him, in whose blood they have been cleansed; be united to the perfected spirits of the just; see “God the Judge of all;" be admittted “to the general Assembly and Church of the first-born ;” and “to an innumerable company of angels ;" enter the holy city, “the heavenly Jerusalem ;” and stand upon

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