Parish Papers eBook

Norman Macleod
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 319 pages of information about Parish Papers.

And if all this holds true of man now, what reason have we for doubting that it shall hold true of man for ever?  Why should this inherent love of action, and delightful source of enjoyment, so refined and elevated, be annihilated? and what shadow even of probability have we for supposing that the heaven revealed in Scripture is a world the occupations of whose inhabitants must for ever be confined to mere ecstatic contemplation?

This cannot be!  Such a heaven has not been prepared for man.  Arguing from analogy, the presumption is that those mental and moral habits which have been acquired with so much difficulty, and at so much expense in this present world, will not be cast away as useless in the next, but find there such scope for their exercise as cannot possibly be afforded to them within their present limited sphere of action.  But this presumption is immensely strengthened by what we know of the life of the angels, to which I have more than once alluded, as it bears so much upon the several topics discussed by us.  These angels “excel in strength;” and they “do His commandments, and hearken to the voice of His word.”  As “ministers of His,” they “do His pleasure.”  They are represented to us as ever actively employed as messengers of peace or of woe.  They have destroyed armies and cities; delivered captives; comforted the disconsolate; and are represented as the future reapers of the earth’s harvest.  All this proves, at least, that the sinless perfection and happiness of heaven are not inconsistent with a life of busy labour; and that though God can dispense with the services of either men or angels, yet, as they cannot be happy without rendering such services to Him, He, in accordance with His untiring, ungrudging benevolence, satisfies this desire of their nature as created by Himself.  Let it be remembered also, that men have acquired a wider experience than even angels, by reason of that very sin which might be supposed to render them less fit for the exalted services of heaven.  For the very storms and vicissitudes of earth have given a form and a strength to those “trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord,” that could not have been acquired amidst the sunny skies and balmy air of the heavenly paradise.  The saints of God have learned lessons here of patience, endurance, self-denial, and faith, that could not have been learned there.  Like old soldiers, they have been trained by long campaigns and terrible combats with the enemy.  On earth and not in heaven are Marthas and Maries with whom we can weep; and prodigals whom we can receive back; and saints in sickness, in prison, or in nakedness, whom we can visit, soothe, and clothe.  And therefore is earth a noble school by reason of its very sins and sorrows.  It is asked, indeed, in triumph, What employments can there be in heaven for saints?  This question I cannot answer.  The how employed, and where, must be as yet mere conjecture.  But who will be so bold as to deny, that in the new

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Parish Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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