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earthly house of this dwelling be destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not built with hands, everlasting in the heavens.”1
The Scripture also declares that the blessed shall be rewarded with never-ending happiness, exempt from all pain and misery: "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor wailing, nor sorrow shall be any more, for the former things are passed away.
The beatitude of the righteous will essentially consist in the vision and fruition of God: "Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God." "We know that when He shall be manifested, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is."4
We can form no adequate idea of the felicity of the Saints, for as the Apostle tells us, it is beyond the reach of human experience, as it is above the power of human conception: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man what things God hath prepared for those who love Him."5 As well might one born blind attempt to picture to himself the beauty of the landscape, as for the eye of the soul to contemplate the supernal bliss that awaits the righteous in what is beautifully called "the land of the living."
1 II. Cor. V., 1. Rev. XXI.
• I. John III.
I. Cor. II.
Not only shall the soul possess eternal rest, but the body, companion of its earthly pilgrimage, shall rise again to share in its immortal bliss. Fifteen hundred years before Christ, Job clearly predicts the future Resurrection of the dead as he gazes with prophetic eye on the Redeemer to come: “I know," he says, “that my Redeemer liveth, and in the last day, I shall rise out of the earth, and I shall be clothed again with my skin, and in my flesh I shall see my God.”! And the prophecy of the Patriarch is amply confirmed by our Redeemer Himself: “All who are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they who have done good, shall come forth unto the Resurrection
“The body," says St. Paul, “is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption; it is sown in dishonor, it shall rise in glory; it is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power; it is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body. ... For this corruptible shall put on incorruption: and this mortal shall put on immortality. But when this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying which is written : Death is swallowed up in victory."3
Whether our immortality will be happy or miserable, rests with ourselves. It rests with ourselves whether we shall be, as the Apostle Jude expresses it, “wandering stars for whom the storm of dark
31. Cor. XV.
1 Job XIX. 2 John V.
ness is reserved forever; or whether we are destined to be bright stars shining forever in the empyrean of heaven, reflecting the unfading glory of the Sun of Justice. 0 let us not barter an eternal happiness for a fleeting pleasure! Let us strive by a good life to obtain a blissful immortality. “What things a man shall sow, those also shall he reap. For he that soweth in his flesh, of the flesh also shall reap corruption. But he that soweth in the Spirit, of the Spirit also shall reap life everlasting.”
When Sir Thomas More was imprisoned in the Tower of London by Henry VIII. for refusing to take an oath that would sully his conscience, he was visited by his wife, who thus bluntly saluted him: “Why, Mr. More, I marvel much that you who have hitherto been taken for a wise man, will
, now so play the fool as to lie here in this close, filthy prison, shut up with mice and rats, when you might be abroad at your liberty enjoying the favor of the king and council. You might dwell in peace in your fair house at Chelsea with your library, gallery, and garden, and be merry in company with me, your good wife, your children and household.”
“Why, good Alice," said he with a winning smile, “is not this prison as near heaven as my own house ?"
1 Jude I. 2 Gal. VI., 8.
“Oh! tilly vally! tilly vally!” she replied with a sneer of contempt.
“Nay, then, Alice,” More continued, “how long, think you, one might live to enjoy this house of
“Perhaps some twenty years.
“Well, now, my good Alice, he were a very bad calculator that, for a hundred or a thousand years,
, would risk the loss of an eternity."
1 Walter's Life of Sir Thomas More, ch. VIII
THE ETERNAL EXCLUSION OF THE REPROBATE FROM HEAVEN NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH DIVINE JUSTICE AND MERCY.
No article of the Christian creed has been so vehemently assailed as the doctrine of Eternal Punishment. It is denounced even by some professing Christians, as unjust and cruel, and in conflict with our ideas of divine clemency.
That Revelation proclaims the eternal exclusion of the reprobate from the kingdom of heaven, cannot be reasonably questioned, and, therefore, we need not dwell at any length on the subject from a Scriptural point of view.
Our Saviour, contrasting the future retribution of the righteous and of the wicked, says: "These shall go into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting." The duration of punishment and of bliss is declared to be the same. Now, as the eternity of happiness is admitted, so too must the eternity of misery. St. Paul says: "The works of the flesh are manifest, which are fornication,
1 Matt. XXV., 46.