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Psalm, xvi. 11.
IN THY PRESENCE IS FULNESS OF JOY; AT THY RIGHT HAND
ARE PLEASURES FOR EVERMORE.
It has been observed, that our truest notions of heaven are derived from a consideration, rather of what it is not, than of what it is; rather of the evils it is free from, than of the good which is present there. How glorious a liberty will it be, for instance, to attain that part of the adoption of God's children, which St. Paul terms the redemption of our body! What a large proportion of mankind are doomed by their corporeal necessities to toilsome and incessant drudgery; rising up early, late taking rest, and eating the bread of carefulness, and, after all, pinched with want, depressed by poverty, without comforts for their children around them, toiling when their strength is almost gone, when their soul is fainting in them! Again, time would fail us to recount the long catalogue of sharp distempers and pains which beset this mortal body; the wearisome nights that heavy sickness brings; the humiliating and unsightly ailments which render us a terror to ourselves; the tortures which even remedies occasion, and which make men of nervous and sensitive constitutions, sometimes dread the surgeon's knife more than death itself.— Will it then be a small deliverance to be out of the reach of these? To find ourselves clothed with bodies pure, spiritual, incorruptible, subject to no languor, no heaviness, no pain? To be where there is no pining sickness, no withering old age ? Where no poor
ery for bread, where they shall neither thirst or hunger more?
Neither in heaven will there be any more dying. Here we live in the very region of death. The whole creation, irrational as well as rational, groaneth and travaileth in pain together, under the iron sceptre of this king of terrors. And surely, if life in every other respect yielded the purest happiness, it would be some abatement of it, to see the inferior animals all around, silently submissive to that curse which our sins have brought down upon them. Nor is it possible to survey the cattle upon a thousand hills, the sheep that ornament our fields, innocent, defenceless, and unsuspecting, without some feeling for that allotment, by which they will all be summoned
from their pleasant pastures, to die by the hand of slaughter. Into this mysterious arrangement I do not presume to enter fully ; nor would I take upon me, with a late truly excellent minister of the gospel, to lay down as a positive doctrine, (cheering as the prospect may be) that these animals will rise again to a new and blessed life. But this I will say, because the Scripture says it, that the meanest of such creatures is the care of heaven; that God feedeth the young ravens that call upon him; that not even a sparrow falleth to the ground without our Heavenly Father. In these hands we should be satisfied to leave them assured that they will be considerately and mercifully dealt with. One thing, however, is clear, that while they are the objects of such care, it is a more serious thing than some imagine to trifle with their pains; to make their miseries our sport, or to put them to one moment's needless suffering. These sentiments, I am well aware, will pass many for unmanly, childish weakness : but alas! do we consider how much of that high mettle, which we call manliness, must come down? Do we remember that we must become as little children, if we would enter into the kingdom of heaven? In that world, then, of angelic innocence, of divine simplicity, tenderness, and love, where he, who was himself once led as a lamb to the slaughter, sitteth upon the throne-it
will, I say, be a part of its blessedness, to feel assured that no creatures are doomed to suffer for our use; to look, around, perhaps, and see various orders of happy beings, who range its everlasting hills, and rejoice in security on every side ; to see its vallies smile with flocks, against which no hand of violence shall be raised, and which shall repose upon their pastures during the days of an endless life.
But death comes closer to our own doors. We must die ourselves. And though it is the privilege of true believers to look with confidence, through him that loved them, beyond the grave; yet between them and the heavenly Canaan are interposed the swellings of Jordan, and the dark valley of the shadow of death. And however they may rejoice in hope of their inheritance, with joy unspeakable and full of glory, yet the last illness, the sinkings of the heart, the nerves in surprise and in alarm, the clouds which overhang the soul, and all the mysterious horrors of dissolving nature; these are formidable to flesh and blood. Nor is it a small thing to bid farewell to the light of the sun, and to the cheering face of nature; to scenes long-endeared, and twined around our hearts by every soothing and every sacred association. Nor is it a light affliction to behold our weeping friends around us, and to disappoint all their anxieties and prayers for our recovery: to let go the helm, and send forth the vessel, which contains our children and all our earthly treasures, without a pilot, upon the waves of this troublesome world. These are the sorrows and the deep waters of a dying hour. And though in the midst of these, comforts will refresh the Christian's soul; yet the best of all these comforts is, that he is passing to a world in which there is neither pain, nor tears, nor death, nor parting In heaven there will be no more sin.
sin. There the nations learn war no more.
There no weapons of destruction are found. There no hand of oppression wrings sighs and tears from the poor, and him that has none to help him. Sin is the root of all our miseries. If sin were banished from the earth, this world would be comparatively a heaven. No legal securities or bonds, no bars or locks, would then be wanting. We could lie down in peace at night, and leave our doors wide open, and let the houseless wanderer in, and confide all that we possessed, our lives and fortunes, to the sure keeping of every stranger's conscience. We might throw all our treasures untold around us, and trust our neighbour, as we would the purity of an angel. We might then dismiss all anxieties for our children, and commit them in full repose of mind to the wide world, and bid them ask the way to heaven of