S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
The last use which I shall make of this remarkable property in human nature of being delighted with those actions to which it is accustomed, is to show how absolutely necessary it is for us to gain habits of virtue in this life, if we would enjoy the pleasures of the next. The state of bliss we call heaven will not be capable of affecting those minds which are not thus qualified for it: we must in this world gain a relish of truth and virtue, if we would be able to taste that knowledge and perfection which are to make us happy in the next. The seeds of those spiritual joys and raptures which are to rise up and flourish in the soul to all eternity must be planted in her during this her present state of probation. In short, heaven is not to be looked upon only as the reward, but as the natural effect, of a religious life.
If we really live under the hope of future happiness, we shall taste it by way of anticipation and forethought; an image of it will meet our minds often, and stay there, as all pleasing expectations do.
I must confess, as the experience of my own soul, that the expectation of loving my friends in heaven principally kindles my love to them while on earth. If I thought I should never know, and consequently never love, them after this life, I should number them with temporal things, and love them as such; but I now delightfully converse with my pious friends in a firm persuasion that I shall converse with them forever; and I take comfort in those that are dead or absent, believing that I shall shortly meet them in heaven and love them with a heavenly love.
Is heaven, with its pleasures for evermore, to be parted with so unconcernedly? Is an exceeding and eternal weight of glory too light in the balance against the hopeless death of the atheist, and utter extinction?
Briefly, therefore, where the soul hath the full measure and complement of happiness; where the boundless appetite of that spirit remains completely satisfied, that it can neither desire addition nor alteration; that, I think, is truly heaven; and this can only be in the enjoyment of that essence whose infinite goodness is able to terminate the desires of itself, and the unsatiable wishes of ours: wherever God will thus manifest himself, there is heaven, though within the circle of this sensible world. Thus the soul of man may be in heaven anywhere, even within the limits of his own proper body; and when it ceaseth to live in the body, it may remain in its own soul, that is, its Creator.
When at eve at the bounding of the landscape the heavens appear to recline so slowly on the earth, imagination pictures beyond the horizon an asylum of hope,a native land of love; and nature seems silently to repeat that man is immortal.
We may conclude that the chief subjects of study in the heavenly world will be History and Philosophy. Under the department of History may be comprehended all the details which will be exhibited to them respecting the origin, progress, and consummation of the redemption of man, and the information they may receive respecting the natural and moral scenery and the prominent providential occurrences and arrangements of other worlds . Under the department of Philosophy may be included all those magnificent displays which will be exhibited of the extent, the magnitude, the motions, the mechanism, the scenery, the inhabitants, and the general constitution of other systems, and the general arrangement and order of the universal system comprehended under the government of the Almighty. On these topics, with all their subordinate and infinitely diversified ramifications, the minds of redeemed intelligences from this world will find ample scope for the exercise of all their powers, and will derive from their investigations of them perpetual and uninterrupted enjoyment throughout an endless existence.
Dr. Thomas Dick: Philosophy of a Future State, Part III.
Think how completely all the griefs of this mortal life will be compensated by one age, for instance, of the felicities beyond the grave, and then think that one age multiplied ten thousand times is not so much to eternity as one grain of sand is to the whole material universe. Think what a state it will be to be growing happier and happier still as ages pass away, and yet leave something still happier to come!
John Foster: Life and Thoughts, by W. W. Everts, 215.
If the mere conception of the reunion of good men in a future state infused a momentary rapture into the mind of Tully,if an airy speculation, for there is reason to fear it had little hold on his convictions, could inspire him with such delight,what may we be expected to feel who are assured of such an event by the true sayings of God! How should we rejoice in the prospect, the certainty rather, of spending a blissful eternity with those whom we loved on earth; of seeing them emerge from the ruins of the tomb and the deeper ruins of the fall, not only uninjured, but refined and perfected, with every tear wiped from their eyes, standing before the throne of God and the Lamb in white robes and palms in their hands, crying with a loud voice. Salvation to God that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever! What delight will it afford to renew the sweet counsel we have taken together, to recount the toils of combat and the labour of the way, and to approach, not the house, but the throne, of God in company, in order to join in the symphonies of heavenly voices, and lose ourselves amid the splendour and fruitions of the beatific vision!
There are many graces for which we may not cease hourly to sue, graces which are in bestowing always, but never come to be fully had in this present life; and therefore, when all things here have an end, endless thanks must have their beginning in a state which bringeth the full and final satisfaction of all such perpetual desires.