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WE LIVE FOR HEAVEN
WE LIVE FOR DUTY.
By REV. JASON WHITMAN.
PRINTED FOR THE
American Unitarian Association.
BOSTON: JAMES MUNROE & CO., 134 WASHINGTON STREET.
Price 3 Cents.
WE LIVE FOR HEAVEN
WE LIVE FOR DUTY.
It is difficult so to bring together, in our minds, the ideas of time and eternity, of the present and of the future life, that they may both bear in unison upon our prevailing feelings and our daily conduct; - so to connect them with each other, in their relations and influences, that we shall feel that, while we are conscientiously performing the duties of this life, we are, at the same time, and by the same effort, making the best possible preparation for the joys of the future life. When we bring together the ideas of time and eternity, we do not regard them as blending in beautiful and perfect harmony. We set them over against each other, by way of contrast, and regard the interests of the one as in opposition to those of the other; and this causes confusion in our ideas, or error in our opinions, of the proper purposes and the true influences of religion. There are many, who regard religion as intended to secure to its subjects the pure felicity of heavenly blessedness; but, at the same time, they regard it as an enemy to present happiness. And, therefore, they disregard the claims of religion upon them now, endeavoring to take their fill of present joy, and hoping to obtain an interest in religion just as they are about to pass to that world, whose felicity they consider it as the sole object of religion to secure. There are others, who have become truly religious, in purpose, but who labor under the mistake, that the interests of time and those of eternity are in opposition to each other. Regarding the interests of eternity as altogether outweighing those of time, they leave the stations in which God has placed them, neglect the duties he has assigned them, and become Monks or Anchorites, that so they may have a better opportunity to attend to the spiritual interests of the soul, and prepare for the joys of eternity. Others still, under the influence of a similar mistake, conduct all the ordinary affairs of life, their social intercourse and their business transactions, upon principles of worldly policy, without regard to the instructions or the spirit of the Gospel, while, at the same time, they seek, by the manifestation of zeal for their peculiar opinions, by an increased attention to the forms of religion at stated times, or by occasional and generous contributions for its advancement, “to do some good thing that they may inherit eternal life.”
These several views seem to be more or less erroneous. And
yet it is not strange that men should fall into them. The views which we have of eternity are so entirely at variance from what we know of time, that it requires something more than a superficial glance at the two, to perceive the harmony between them. Here, we are clothed with frail, decaying, mortal bodies, which are the seats of animal appetites and passions; there, we expect
to be clothed upon with bodies, which will be fashioned after a more glorious image. Here, we are placed in certain relations, as neighbors and citizens, rulers and subjects, from which spring appropriate duties. There, we expect that many of these relations will be changed, and that the duties arising from them will no longer find a place. Here, we are tempted, and tried, and fall into sin. There, we hope to see the Saviour as he is, and to be transformed into some humble degree of resemblance to his pure and holy character. Where then, we ask, is the harmony between the two? How are the duties of the one to become the preparation for the other? How, for example, is a conscientious regard for truth and honesty in our business transactions, a careful endeavor to do to others as we would have others do unto us in all our social intercourse, a sacred regard to the limits of temperance in the indulgence of our appetites, and the exercise of an enlarged benevolence in our treatment of those less favored than ourselves, how is a conscientious discharge of these and other duties, which we readily perceive will make us good members of earthly society, to prepare us for the enjoyments of that world, where all is spiritual ? This is the inquiry which these pages will attempt to answer. They are addressed to a particular stage of the religious course. They suppose the reader to have been awakened from indifference to the claims of religion, and to have determined, in view of his obligations to God and his own soul, to lead a religious life. They suppose this determination to have been formed in the exercise of sincere love to God and to Christ, and in humble reliance upon the assistance of the Spirit. They relate not to that change of affections