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In the opinion of the Writer, there are few subjects more interesting to a christian than the one which he has endeavoured to illustrate in the subsequent pages. Although it has been treated by minds of a superior order, he conceives that an attempt-though made by one of humbler pretensions-to bring together the scattered intimations which are contained in the scriptures upon the subject, and to present them in something like a connected form, might assist in the formation of more definite conceptions of the state upon which redeemed men shall enter after they have run their course in this world, and more enlarged views of the pursuits in which they shall engage in the next stage of their existence than those which are still entertained by many christians.
When, what are termed, the discoveries of modern science are unsparingly advanced for the purpose of illustrating the subject, the high and holy themes connected with the work of human redemption are in danger of being regarded as matters of secondary importance, or of inferior interest; and a colouring is thrown over the scenes of futurity which, when viewed by unrenewed men, is fitted to make them think that they could, in a very high degree, relish the enjoyments of the future state. And it has been felt that the language which has sometimes been used, condemnatory of the sentiments very generally held by christians, has generated feelings by no means in accordance with the sacredness of the subject; if it has not been laid hold of by some who are imbued by a spirit of scepticism, and made the means of doing more injury to the interests of vital religion than the vague and inadequate conceptions of the subject against which the language in question is di rected.
Whilst it must be confessed that there is a ten
dency-and there is no one who has thought much upon the subject who has not felt it-to go beyond the limits marked out by the " sure word of prophecy," and to contemplate what can be regarded as nothing better than the mere fantasies of the imagination; the Writer has advanced nothing which did not appear to him, at least, to be founded upon the letter of scripture, or to be fairly deduced from it. And it has been his aim throughout to unfold "what is the mind of the Spirit" respecting the different topics which have been brought under consideration, without, in any instance, forcing a construction upon the language of inspiration which it does not seem naturally to bear.
As all such discussions are useful only in as far as they promote the interests of personal religion, he has devoted a considerable portion of the volume to practical reflections. These, he trusts, will be found to be closely connected with the subject; and he hopes that they will, in some measure, tend to impress more
deeply upon the minds of those who may favour the Work with a perusal, the importance of looking forward to the future scenes of an interminable existence, and the necessity of cultivating, with greater assiduity, the principles and feelings which will fit them for the enjoyment of heavenly felicity. And if it shall be found to be the means of assisting, in any measure, to bring about these results, the object he had in view in writing it will be gained.
AIRDRIE, February 20, 1838.