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his ministry; and very soon you must follow him, to give your account of the use and abuse you have made of his labours of love. How happy are those who went before him to glory! and how happy will it be for you if you follow after!
"As to his family, prudence, tenderness, and love, say, Be sparing! I commit them all to the support of his Lord and their Lord, to his God and their God. His dying prayer for his son in the ministry, was, that he might be kept in a humble and faithful attachment to the truths of the gospel; and to this I add my hearty Amen!
Upon the whole, there might be some things in his example for us to avoid; but I ani sure, there were many for us to imitate. His happy spirit is now, doubtless, before the throne, enjoying the friendship of his companion and fellowlabourer Mr. Perry. Now their labours are ended in the eujoyment of that" rest which remains for the people of God !" "There on a green and flow'ry mount, "Their weary spirits sit; "And, with transporting joy, recount "The labours of their feet!"
ON THE COMMUNION OF THE SAINTS
An Original Letter from the late Rev. Edward Hitchin, B. D.
Dear Brother Joseph,
I AM a poor correspondent; I do not deserve the name. You will pardon me, so will brother Will; whom I have used the worst in the whole family. No more of this,- time is precious. I have had my mind much exercised on the familyaccount, at F-d:-you have all been sorely visited. We, in London, so closely and affectionately connected, have been greatly afflicted with the afflictions you have felt. The deaths of our two sisters are such strokes of Providence, that I hope the whole family will see them to be the most merciful interpositions of a Father's hand. There is nothing useless in the system of nature, not one atom but scrves an important design. How much more does every providence answer the grand design of grace! Our two sisters have the prize! the race is run. She who started last, by ten years, got to the goal first. They are now together at rest, wearing the crown of glory; admiring the wonders of the Lamb on Mount Sion; conversing in a manner suitable to their new mode of existence of which existence we have not any adequate idea. This brings me to your question proposed, viz. Whether I think, D and M (known on earth by those names) are acquainted? and whether they converse together in
Heaven, as those who were intimate when in the body? I freely answer, I believe they do. - My reasons for believing this, will fill up the rest of my paper.
1st, From that connexion which providence has with grace.. I believe, dear brother, you are happily persuaded, that provi dences are all waiting upon God's everlasting purposes of good to his church. If we consider the purpose of grace towards the church, made known in the promise which Jehovah, in the covenant, gave our father Abraham, we are led into the most delightful mazes of Providence, which opened a way for all the glory that appears in our salvation by the true Isaac now. Yea, from the declaration of the first promise*, Providence was the grand pioneer; and ten thousand minute circumstances concurred to bring about the most blessed period for sinful guilty man ;- when the man Christ Jesus, the promised seed, united to Jehovah, the Second Person, said, "It is finished." If we consider the individuals of the Lord's people, every child of God must stand and admire those providences which, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, have concurred to bring about good to his soul. How great the variety of those providences which bring poor sinners under the word! The acquaintance we have in this world, as Christians, is introduced and brought about by Providence; and nothing is more remarkable, in the course of Providence, than the way in which we become intimate. Now then, let us see what all this has to do with our point ; how this is an argument to prove, That those who are acquainted here, who converse much together, shall know each other in glory. If grace and providence are thus connected, as we see them to be here, we cannot, in the next world, admire the plan of grace without a retrospection on providence. It is impossible to adore the love of each person in the blessed Trinity, in the world above, without the recollection of the means which were blessed to us on earth. For instance, If a person, going on in the full carcer of sin, is by a kind friend as an instrument, led to hear the pure truth, which that friend, by an affectionate address in conversation, improves to such an advantage, that the person is enabled to believe and love him who styles himself The Truth, must not that instrument be recollected with admiration and gratitude in the world of glory? Surely.
The land of Canaan was a type of Heaven,-it was the typical rest. In that typical rest they were to admire the way in and by which God brought them there; for this reason, they had those very ordinances which pointed back to peculiar circumstances which attended them from the time they were in Egypt to the blessed time of their settlement in the Land of Promise. Those very ordinances, which were significative of heavenly and earthly things, and pointed directly to the person John xix. 30.
* Gen. iii, 15.
and offices of the Messiah, were of such a nature, as to bring to their remembrance the place, the time, and circumstances of God's providing, delivering, or helping. Now, dear brother, what must the inference be? viz. That in the true Canaan, the saints at rest are looking back on the various appearances of divine Providence in connexion with grace, and hereby ascribe fresh glory to their Royal Priest on his throne!
Did not divine Providence bring our two sisters into very close alliance? Were they not helpers of each other's faith? Did they not unbosom themselves to each other? Were they not in a most peculiar manner, by Providence, brought together just before they left this poor world? Was it not the grandest and most important providence our dear D--ever met with, that she should go upon a visit to her dear friend, to die with her? No less grand than it is affecting! Not many weeks after, our valuable sister foliows her! Surely then, if grace' and providence are admired in these connexions, they are both admiring that providence which introduced their joy, that awaited on them by their Lord's order, and opened the door out of this world into Heaven; that providence which makes us weep behind, beyond doubt, is a part of their song! This is my first reason the connexions of Providence has with
2d, From the fellowship of the saints. The fellowship of the saints is too little attended to at this day; the reason of it is, Christians are carnal, proud, and selfish. What are we to understand by the fellowship of the saints? The same as communion: a partaking together; yea, having that communion together as the different members of the body have one with the other. You will ask me here, Does not this prove too much? By this you may infer, that all the happy spirits in glory must know each other! No; I am first speaking of communion in general. There are two points of view, in which I look at communion, viz. 1st, General. What I mean by general is, that there is fellowship between the saints that know not each other's persons but as they have one common head, — baptized with the same Spirit, hearing of each other's faith and walk,-and love each other for Christ's sake. Thus is the communion of the churches maintained in this world. How far, or how universal the acquaintance saints have above, is too deep a subject for our finite line to fathom.-2d, There is a special communion. By this means comes the peculiar enjoyment believers have of Christ in intimate converse and acquaintance with each other, whereby the holy flame of love is kindled, and they become, as it were, one! They are like David and Jonathan; thus were our two sisters. The apostle Paul was particularly concerned, that the churches should, in their distinct communities, enjoy the fellowship; and, therefore, expresses
himself thus: "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love." The idea of being knit is extremely apt. Solomon, in his book of Proverbs, setteth forth the nature of spiritual communion by a very striking idea: +" Iron sharpeneth iron,' &c The word does not signify, in the original, to sharpen, nor does iron sharpen iron: it signifies, to unite; which no metal will do besides iron, without it is melted. This may, by some, be understood as a moral hint or proverb; but I am sure it most beautifully illustrates the true effects of spiritual communion. Now I argue thus:-If so much of the believer's happiness appears to be in the sweet fellowship saints have together on earth, while their love turns towards each other as the love of Christ spreads in their hearts, how much greater their happiness when their capacities will be refined, and the powers of reflection perfectly clear! Surely, if divine fellowship here, is the pledge of that fellowship saints will have in the immediate presence of a covenant God, it appears plain, that such as enjoyed sweet fellowship together here, will know one another in Heaven.
Sdly, I apprehend, another reason for this knowledge saints. in Heaven have of each other, is the answer of those prayers, or rather answers to those prayers, they did not live to see ans wered in this world. This thought to me, appears as rational as it is pleasing. Answers to the prayer of faith will aggrandize the joy of the saints in glory; they will illustrate the sovereignty of grace, the efficacy of the blood of the New Testament, and no less the wisdon of the adorable Trinity! The tender parent often wets his pillow with tears of love for a child of many prayers, in whom Christ seems not to dwell by his Spirit. Ah! dear brother, many of the Lord's people have had no other distress upon their death-beds, than the consideration. of their not having lived to see answers to their prayers for the conversion of their children; but after their bodies are locked up in the silence of the grave (perhaps many years after) those children, in answer to the cries of their parents faith, are enabled to rejoice in the God of Abraham, and are made eminent in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ!-Now, as with answers of prayer the glory and sovereignty of grace are connected in a very extraordinary manner, it appears to me evident, that in Heaven the saint will know him that stood in the relation of a child to him, for whom he hath wrestled with a prayerhearing God! O! such a meeting in Heaven speaks forth the grandeur of God's sovereign purpose, which he keeps secret from us till we get home!
4thly, I would mention some passages of Scripture, which make the point very plain to me. How we shall know one another is not our enquiry, nor does Scripture afford us any + Prov. xxvii. 17.
* 2 Col. ii.
light into it; we should be silent about what is not to be gathered from the written word. The glory of the body at the resurrection, is summed up in this, viz. That it will be like Christ, immortal or incorruptible, &c. Though we do not know how this knowledge is, it appears that they have it. For instance *, you find the disciples, Peter, James, and John, knew Moses and Elias. How did they know it was Elias? It is very true, the disciples were overcome with the sight, and no wonder; but yet, in the body, in the weakness of the flesh, they on this extraordinary occasion, were made to know these two witnesses of Messiah! If so, how reasonable to believe, our knowledge above will be suitable to such a description as this. Again, the apostle expresses that joy and delight he would (with the ministers of Christ) have in the day of the Lord, when those he had been instrumental of good to, should appear as monuments of the same grace. He must then have some knowledge of them. Yea, some whom he never knew in the body, he will then be made to know as his own children! If so, with respect to ministers and their spiritual children, why not (for we may argue from the greater to the lesser) as we have before considered; with respect to such as have been instruments of good to each other, and helpers of each other's faith, &c. I believe one reason why Scripture does not often mention this knowledge is, that we may not become even carnal in our views and hopes of Heaven; because the God-man is the center of glory and happiness above; and all that knowledge saints have of each other is, to increase their love to him, and (if I may so express myself) swell the notes of those two songs which are sung in Heaven, that of Moses, and that of the Lamb. Once more, John had a sight of such as came out of great tribulation. It appears, from that part of his vision, that he was entertained with company who once suffered together, and now, with their tears wiped by the same hand, are joining their praises together! How far this text illustrates the point, I leave with you to judge.
Lastly, I look upon Luke xvi. 19-28. as a strong argument to my purpose; because it illustrates (and illustration is the design of a parable) the assertion, that separate spirits know each other in the world to come if among the damned, certainly among the blessed! Now I ask, What made the rich man so desirous that one might testify unto his brethren, lest they also should come into that place of torment? Was it from brotherly love and affection? Was it because they should not be miserable? If so, a good principle, a good desire, is supposed to be in Hell; which is a paradox. The reason was, their coming would aggravate his torment, and increase the flame of his ↑ Rev vii, 14.
• Mat. xvii. 4.
†Thes. ii. 19, 20.