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tions of excellence, on the other, the sentiments of admiration and esteem: here, the communications and expressions of kindness; there, attention and gratitude; and thus form some idea of the celestial society. Your conceptions are especially assisted, concerning the intercourse of the saints, if on earth ye have experienced the many nameless endearments of virtuous and pious friendship. Your complaints, I fear too frequent, of disguise, imperfection, interruption, mutability, separation, death; of whatever embitters and extinguishes the joys of friendship, enhance the value of the regions of love. No such complaints or fears, or sorrows, are known in heaven. The obscurity, that hangs over these blessed regions, is not such as to repress the ardour of our desires to be admitted into the general assembly and church of the first born that are written in heaven.
On this subject, I cannot but observe that our experience of the delights of the friendship of the excellent of the earth; our intimacy, our peculiar obligations, our tenderness and proofs of affection, suggest and endear the idea that we jhall again meet with
X x the the objects of our love; in the celestial regions, we (hall renew and increase the satisfactions of the purest and most exquisite amity. I do not say that this expectation, na>tural and peculiarly soothing and comfortable aS it is, is essential to the happiness of hope; for surely if all the blested are perfect, if all love andare loved with the strength and purity of the best affection, there must be happiness; yet the presumption is high, the expectation is rational, and more than probability says, It shall not be disappointed.
While we are in this world we cannot distinguish the angelical from the human inhabitants of heaven, as a society who are all perfect, and all well affected towards every one who is received among them. We well know that, among men, are many gradations in faculties, in exertion, in attainments: we know that there are many gradations in moral qualities, also, and that, therefore, esteem and admiration are proportioned to tfiat excellence, in those who know them and enjoy their friendship. Revelation informs us that the angels are a superior order of beings: Man was made a little lower than the angels:
The The angels excel in strength, they do the commandments of God, hearkening to his word. We know that the angels have been employed in the most distinguished and honourable offices, in the government of the world, and of the church. Their ministry was repeatedly employed under the law: they proclaimed the incarnation of the Saviour: they ministered unto him: they are sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation. We shall be introduced into the company, the innumerable company of angels. Now, superior powers and knowledge, and excellence, excite veneration, impart knowledge, inspire confidence: angelical friendship, then, how precious must it be!
With more emphasis, with higher exultation, we exclaim, How exceedingly, how unspeakably, blissful, must be the presence and the love of Him that sits upon the throne and of the Lamb!
Sweet were the hours of tender friendship, but sweeter far the hours of devout meditation; of lifting up the soul to God; of inrercourie with heaven; of pious affection;
X x 2 »f of every sentiment, which the glory and grace of the Father and of the Son, when aright perceived and confided in, inspire. Recollect also, the happiest state and the best employment of our best and hapoiest friends, human or angelical, is their uniting in the praise, and in executing the commands, of their God and Saviour. Alas! you who have experienced the delights of devotion, and of the purest and most exalted joy, in worshipping before God, and promoting his glory, know and complain of the coldness, the infrequency, the interruptions, of holy affection; and of many imperfections in your best services. Distracting thoughts, suspicion, languor; an anxious mind, a distempered body, unholy companions, untoward circumstances, are water mingled with your wine. All these mixtures, interruptions, imperfections notwithstanding; devout men experience, in serving God, a joy unspeakable and full of glory; what must be their blessedness who fee his face, who enjoy his favour, who are transformed into his image; whose every best affection and sentiment is perfect, and is gratified; who are for ever with the Lord!
III. In heaven, the saint attains exertion and employment superior to his best attainments on earth, as those of age exceeds the most perfect of early life.
It is in exertion and employment, in a very particular manner, that mature age differs from childhood. Feebleness is succeeded by strength, awkward inexperience by the facility of habit: mere efforts and imperfect imitations, give place to perfect labours. The employments of enlarged minds, and of pure affections, are peculiarly active, and cheerful, and zealous. But we often find, when every internal quality is favourable for exertion, which infrequently happens, many things prevent or thwart the actions and conduct that would correspond, either with our abilities, or with our inclinations. With every thing favourable for exertion in youth, age is still superior: One man also rises far above another. Were there no weakness in the body, no depression on the spirit, no difficulty in knowing, no incapacity of performing, what we are called to do, and to delight to do; should enemies not oppose; mould friends encourage, assist and applaud ; should