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But not to equal glory - for, alas!
With bowlings dire, and execrations loud,
Some wail their fatal birth.—First among these,
Behold the mighty murd'rers of mankind;
They who in sport whole kingdoms slew; or they
Who to the tott'ring pinnacle of power
Waded through seas of blood! How will they curse
The madness of ambition! How lament
Their dear-bought laurels; when the widow'd wife
And childless mother at the judgment seat
Plead trumpet-tongued against them! Here are they
Who sunk an aged father to the grave;
Or, with unkindness hard, and cold disdain,
Slighted a brother's sufferings.—Here are they
Whom fraud and skilful treachery long secured;
Who from the infant virgin tore her dow'r,
And ate the orphan's bread; who spent their stores
In selfish luxury; or o'er their gold
Prostrate and pale adored the useless heap.
Here too who stain'd the chaste connubial bed;—
Who mix'd the pois'nous bowl;—or broke the ties
Of hospitable friendship;—and the wretch
Whose listless soul, sick with the cares of life,
Unsummon'd, to the presence of his God
Rush'd in with insult rude. How would they joy
Once more to visit earth, and, though oppress'd
With all that pain and famine can inflict,
Pant up the hill of life? Vain wish! the Judge
Pronounces doom eternal on their heads,
tion, I believe, as to the authenticity of the following epitaph, which I lately heard a Devonshire clergyman repeat, as being a little out of the common way:
"Here lies I at the chancel door,
Perpetual punishment. Seek not to know
The happiness of the blessed is pourtrayed in equally glowing terms; but enough has, I hope, been selected from this exquisite Poem to attract fresh attention to it. Many years have elapsed since it first made its appearance; and, as a single gem, it might have receded from view and have lain hid amidst the unnumbered stores of ancient libraries, had not a place been fortunately assigned it in that valuable depository of literary treasures, in prose and verse, the "Elegant Extracts." Well may the day of judgment be deemed, of all themes, the most appalling. And since it is an undoubted fact,—a fact as sure as that the Bible is the Word of God,—that we shall all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to answer for the deeds done in the flesh, it is to the events of that stupendous day that we are bound to look, regardless of the inquiry respecting what has been denominated the intermediate state.
The advocates of such a state say, that death is, in Scripture, denominated sleep, with reference to the body only,—to that body, forsooth, which, when the breath of man goeth forth, returns to dust and ashes; and which we are bound to honour with respectful interment, not because we believe that the identical elements of which it consisted will reassemble at the resurrection, but because they are the mortal remains of one we loved, and not only formed an integral part of him in his abode here, but constitute in our minds the type of those glorified and spiritual bodies which shall be hereafter, and of which we can, at present, form no nearer conception.
I am at a loss to understand how any one can read, with attention, the lesson in our Burial Service, from 1 Cor. xv. 20, and continue to entertain a doubt that consciousness is suspended at death. When St. Paul asks, "What advantageth it me, that I have fought, after the manner of men, with beasts at Ephesus, if the dead rise not?" is it not evident, that there is no sense whatever in the question, if applied to the mere resurrection of the body? For, surely, if such had been the will of the Almighty, the soul of man might have been so constituted as to have required no further fellowship with the body in a future state; and they, who attach importance to the doctrine of incorporeal existence in an intermediate state, should have been the very last to assent to St. Paul's argument, if taken with reference to the body only. But, in fact, no language can imply more plainly the death of the entire man, than that in which the whole strain of this inspired lesson proceeds.
What then? Does it follow that the soul is annihilated at death? God forbid! But it does, unavoidably, lead to the negation of consciousness and individuality to man's incorporeal spirit. That spirit, Holy Writ assures us, returns to God who gave it; and, like the seed committed to the earth, the whole man is said to die, as a necessary prelude to a resurrection from the dead. And, in what can the Father of mercies have consulted the kindly affections of a considerate Christian more than in the gracious representation of death as sleep?
Our minds and bodies are, in this life, mutually dependent; the only cognizance we have of our spiritual part is derived from its own operations, evinced through the instrumentality of the body; and, during sleep, we are, more or less, unconscious of existence, according as our sleep is more or less sound.
What would be thought of that man's intelligence, who should come to the conclusion that, because, during profound sleep, or during suspended animation, the soul is devoid of consciousness, it can, at such times, be no other than a nonentity; and this reasoning is equally applicable to the condition of our spiritual part at death. Its consciousness ceases; but the same Creative Power, by whose fiat man became a living soul, has declared, that he shall hereafter become a spiritual body. What, I repeat, can be more kindly affectionate than this gracious representation of death as sleep? What more calculated to allay its terrors than the declaration that it is, what we know ordinary sleep to be, when the body is in health and the mind at ease, a state of composure and rest!
The man is blest, who retires to rest When the toils of the day are past,
"How are the dead raised ? and with what bodies do they come?" are no otherwise the questions of a fool, than in as far as they challenge the truth of a resurrection. As the words of an inspired Apostle, they are even sufficient, methinks, to establish the fact that the whole man dies, or falls asleep, and not the body merely. What otherwise, in the above text, does the expression, "the dead," mean? It has, literally, no meaning. The body, albeit an integral part of man, is, in fact, but an appurtenance of the soul;and to speak of it, irrespectively of the soul, as dead or asleep, is, with reference to our being, absolutely inane.
So, when it is said that, at the last day, "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump,"—it may fairly be asked, to whom does the word we apply, if not to those who are asleep? to the same individuals, unquestionably, who once lived upon the earth, and not merely to the scattered elements of their bodies.
I am never more surprised than when I hear good and sensible men speak, as if it were revolting to the best feelings of our nature, to suppose, that death is a sleep, or, in other words, that "when we die, all our thoughts