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LETTER OF ONESIMUS.
· TO EPAPHRAS.
FAITH AND HOPE IN HEAVEN.
“ Now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the
greatest of these is charity.” 1 Cor. xiii. 13.
'MY DEAR FRIEND,
'You are surprised, and well you may be, at what your preacher asserts with confidence, viz. That faith and hope enter not into heaven with us. If he goes so far, he has no scriptural warrant for what he says. Some err in following others too implicitly, without searching the scriptures for themselves; who, being accustomed to a certain set of notions, do not choose to part with them at any rate. But error in principle is more dangerous and difficult to combat than error in practice. Because prophecy and tongues are said to cease, do
faith and hope also? They might as well assert that we shall be deaf, dumb, and blind, in heaven.
• Faith siguifies reliance, and hope expectation. Wherever these are wanting, unbelief and despondency must reign. But God forbid the notion should be true! Let God be true, and every vain man a liar.
They ask us, What need of faith and hope in heaven? • This is a curious question; it deserves a short
The Lord is the best judge, who is the object of faith, and the foundation of hope to all eternity
They that are with him are called chosen and faithful.
• Is there faithfulness without faith? Are his chosen ones without hope?
• Does not Christ reign now in hope of his Father putting all things under his feet, which thing is not yet accomplished?
• Do not the saints in glory rest in hope, or expectation, of their bodies being raised and fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ?
Do not the souls under the altar, in hope, cry, How long, Lord God Almighty, holy just, and true? Is there nothing like hope in this cry of theirs?
Does charity destroy faith and hope in heaven? Can one grace destroy another? Does a root destroy the fruit? God forbid! Such doctrine brings no glory to God, but dishonours him.
• But you say they assert that faith and hope would be useless in heaven, therefore they must
* The apostle asserts no such thing, though mercenaries may for the sake of puzzling people.
“Now abideth these three,” says the apostle. Mind, now abideth. If all these three abide how is it that two of them are to fail? If they are all to abide, none of them can fail.
· How wicked for men to make the scriptures contradict themselves! Though the apostle declares neither of these three fail, yet they attempt to make people believe two of them do, in order to answer their purposes.
• Christ and all that are now in glory with him believe and hope the consummation of all things.
Had the Son of God no expectation of seeing the travail of his soul, and being satisfied, before he took on him human nature? And has he none now he is entered into his glory? Is be hopeless? Does not Christ patiently await the victory over his foes, and the time when he shall bring all his family safe to glory?
• If faith and hope have not, nor can have, existence in heaven, then the faculties of faith and hope must be destroyed from the soul; but the contrary is true, which is evidenced in the communications of glorified spirits with men, and in the delivery of their messages to the churches of Christ, or they could not be fit messengers and
ministering spirits to them; for they must firmly believe the truth of every message they bring, and fully expect the accomplishment of what they say. Which is evident in those who came to Abraham, Lot, Moses, and others, of the patriarchs.
• Michael the archangel also, when disputing with Satan about the body of Moses, spake in strong confidence and firm expectation when he said, “ The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem.” Did he not speak in faith and hope? Did he not expect that the Lord would accomplish what he said, and rebuke Satan?
• The angels also who came to Gideon, Daniel, Manoah, David, and others, did they not all speak in faith and hope, expecting the fulfilment of all they said
· Also the heavenly host who appeared to the shepherds at the birth of Christ undoubtedly relied on what they said and foretold, and expected the accomplishment of all they predicted. Or did they speak in unbelief and despondency? One or other must be the case.
• The angels also who visited Mary, Elizabeth, the apostles Peter, Paul, and others, did they not evidence strong faith and hope? Or was it unbelief and despondency from which they spoke? The one who came to Zacharias, was so far from being destitute of faith and hope, that he even rebuked Zacharias sharply for his want of faith, while the angel himself, on the ground of his own faith, declared that the things should be accomplished and fulfilled in their season, though Zacharias believed not. Is there no evidence of faith and hope in heaven, then, nor in the heavenly host, think you?
* But we have not only the evidence of faith and hope existing in angels, but in the departed and glorified spirits of just men made perfect in heaven.
“ Moses and Elias, when conversing with Christ on the glorious holy mount, spake to him in faith and hope, in the hearing of Peter, James, and John, concerning things to be accomplished in Christ, that the scripture might be fulfilled. These spirits were in glory at the time, as it is written, “ Behold there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias; who appeared in glory [mind, in glory,] and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem,” Luke ix. 31. They spake of something which was to come to pass, therefore must speak in faith and hope.
“How men can impudently deny the existence of faith and hope in glory, is strange; for Moses and Elias were in glory when they spoke. If they were destitute of faith and hope when speaking, they spake in unbelief and despair; a thing impossible; because, if Moses and Elias were destitute of faith and hope at the time, they neither