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This Volume, though separately complete, is nevertheless part of a general plan which the Author has pursued in treating on the Future Life. Two volumes — the first entitled “Heaven; or an Earnest and Scriptural Inquiry into the Abode of the Sainted Dead,” and the second, “The Heavenly Recognition; or an Earnest and Scriptural Discussion of the Question, Will we Know our Friends in Heaven ?"-have already been published. The Heavenly Home here follows in order, and concludes what the author has designed to contribute to this interesting department of pious inquiry the fruits of seven years' attention to this subject.
These themes have not been treated without a special and definite aim, even beyond the general desire of promoting the interests of individual piety and comfort. While this has been kept steadily in view, it has always been in connection with what we consider the wider and deeper wants of the age. We believe that there is, in the piety of our age, a momentous tendency to mere naturalism. The “powers of the world to come” do not enter into
and affect our piety as they ought to do. We are not conscious, as we should be, of our nearness to unseen, supernatural, and eternal realities. Hence, instead of reverence, we have boldness; instead of humility, presumption; instead of quietude of spirit, restlessness; instead of faith, individual notions and opinions; instead of love, distractions; instead of hope, mere fitful spasms of desire; and instead of the life of a higher world, dwelling in us by grace, and bearing us on to glory, we have become the unhappy subjects of mere influences.
We do not sufficiently feel the great fact that all which belongs to this life of grace is but the “example and shadow of heavenly things,” and “the pattern of things in the heavens.” We practically forget that yonder, and there alone, is the true substance — the glorious and eternal consummation! We forget that faith is not faith, unless it rests upon things supernatural and unseen in its deepest ground. We have individual notions, opinions, views, and speculations in abundance; but if the Son of man should come, would He find faith upon the earth ?—faith which treads upon the world in every form, overcomes its fashion, its follies, its promises, its profits, and counts them all but loss ! — faith which fastens, roots, and grounds our whole life in the unseen and supernatural; and which leads us to view this world, with all its pretensions, as but the scaffolding of a temporary tabernacle, which in due time shall be taken away to reveal the fair and faultless proportions of a temple eternal in the heavens.
May we not ask whether the very progress of modern natural science, which is the cause of all our earthly conveniences, and which, if rightly used, leads us toward God, has not, by a prostitution to mere carnal ends, had a tendency to cause men to deify human reason, to enthrone intellect, to overrate man's natural powers, to flatter his pride, to seek the satisfaction of mere temporal wants, and thus practically to forget the momentous interests and claims of a future and higher world ? Behold for a moment the busy whirl of earth, the rush and rivalry of the multitudes in pursuit of the mere interests of time, even to the secularization of holy seasons and places, and then say whether the subduing powers of another life are felt as they should be.
We believe, moreover, that one great cause perhaps the fundamental one of the divisions, distractions, bickerings and bitterness, which afflict the religious world so sorely at this time, is this same evil tendency. Nothing can have a greater influence in making us quiet, humble, and peaceable, than the deep consciousness that the powers of a supernatural world are hanging over us!--that we are really surrounded by a cloud of spiritual witnesses—and that we are come, even in the church on earth, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born, to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. How can we but be meek, peaceable, and quiet in love, when we feel that the eyes of
such an host, from behind a thin veil, are upon us ! Christians will cease to look jealously around, crying to each other in sectional strife, mine, thine, when they are once all attracted by the flood of glory which dawns down from the higher world, and induced to exclaim together, OURS! OURS!
The Church needs to be reminded that the Saviour's discourse, which precedes that intercessory prayer in which occurs the petition, “That they all may be one,” begins with the declaration, “In my Father's house are many mansions.” O, that intercessory prayer! “Jesus lifted up His eyes to Heaven!” — and the whole prayer is full of holy longings for the union of all saints in the hopes of that higher world, till it closes with the divine desire, that all His own may be with Him where He is, that they may behold His glory.
The church must return to her peaceful themes. No one must venture to give laws to his brother who has not been in this mount, in deep communion with God, until his face has shone with the holy light and love of Heaven. Individual Christians must call to mind, that they are but reflectors of the heavenly light, not sources; and, instead of presuming to make the world wise in their own wisdom, they must point to heaven and cry, Behold the true light: walk in it. As all objects that are bright on earth are so in the light of the same sun, 80 will all Christians reflect one glory if they all bask in the same light from above.
We may be permitted to quote, as exactly expressing our views on this point, the words of Bax