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perish;" as if, because we dare not expatiate in dreams and visions of incorporeal existence in an intermediate state, we must, therefore, be insensible to that blissful communion of the saints in light, the contemplation of which, under the guidance of the Word of Truth, turns the thoughts of the pious Christian heavenwards, and teaches him to look for the coming of our blessed Lord as near at hand; admonishing him not to be ignorant of this one thing, " that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." Sleep is not annihilation; and it is St. Paul himself who declares that, in dying, we virtually do no more than fall asleep, to awake, as it were after a night's rest, at the last day.* Am I then harsh in concluding, that if the good but mistaken men to whom I have alluded, would but take into consideration the nothingness of time, in comparison with eternity, they would be better able to apprehend and to appreciate the import of St. Paul's words, either when he is expressing the inestimable privilege of going hence and being with the Lord; or when, with reference to the flight of time, he speaks of himself, although well aware that his end was fast approaching, as if he might be alive upon earth at the last day? So much a matter of indifference did he appear to think it, at what period of the world's existence each individual departed hence, to be no more seen; for, "they who are alive at the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them that are asleep."
* No one, I think, can have read the sermons of the late Bishop Horsley without being struck with the singular infelicity with which that learned Bishop has endeavoured (in his sermon on 1 Peter, iii. 18,19,20,) to fix the locality of the abode of disembodied spirits. "It is evident," he says, " that this must be some place below the surface of the earth; for, we are told, that he 'descended,' that is, he went down to it. Our Lord's death took place upon the surface of the earth, where the human race inhabit; that, therefore, and none higher,is the place from which he descended; of consequence, the place to which he went, by descent, was below it; and it is, with relation to these parts below the surface, that his rising to life, on the third day, must be understood." And so far is he from correctly expressing, at the end of his sermon, the real state of the Christian's mind, when, in favour of his views, he says, that they are a clear confutation of the dismal notion of death as a temporary extinction of the life of the whole man, that I can truly aver, that never in the last accents of a dying Christian, and rarely, very rarely, in the works of our best divines, have I recognised any allusion to an intermediate state. Their thoughts are transferred from this passing scene to that consummation of bliss, in the endless ages of eternity, which is to ensue when this mortal shall put on immortality. "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye (the dead in Christ) also appear with him in glory." In fact, "to die and be with Christ," is alike the language of inspired Apostles and holy penmen; and it is, moreover, the prevailing thought in the minds of those humble composers of inscriptions for the tombstones that adorn our rural churchyards, of which the following, in Kenwyn burial-ground, may serve as a fair specimen:—
And here it may be stated, that it is an admitted difficulty, how to reconcile the established doom of each individual, at the hour of death, with the scrutiny of a judgment day. This is, indeed, a high and impenetrable mystery, of a similar nature, it may be, with that of the omniscience of the Deity, in connexion with man's moral responsibility. Still, deep and unfathomable as it is, it almost disappears before the consideration of the nothingness of time. Seen through that medium, death, resurrection, judgment, and retribution, become virtually contemporaneous; and the whole mystery is, in a manner, resolved into the contemplation of an appalling, but still almost comprehensible, event.
"Blest are the happy souls that dwell
When we die, our fate is so far determined that we cannot alter it; and, with reference to the judicial sentence that awaits every one, it differs from that which awaits an apprehended felon, only so far as this, that in the courts of/this world the guilty may escape; whereas, at the grand tribunal, not only every eye shall see Him—the glorious Judge Eternal—but each, in particular, shall be seen by Him, as he is, and be sure, therefore, of receiving a righteous judgment.
Great stress has been laid on the undoubted reappearance of persons who had departed this life, as well as upon the affirmation that God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is not the God of the dead but of the living.
Now, I would first observe that, in either case, the fact is recognised, that there are dead (dead, in some sense or other,) as well as living; and that, whereas certain persons have, for some good purpose, been raised from the sleep of death, as e. g. at the period of the crucifixion; so the words, "God is not the God of the dead but of the living," may fairly be deemed to predicate, in confutation of the Sadducean heresy, that death, emphatically termed sleep, no more implies annihilation, than the death of a grain of wheat, when committed to the earth, does incompatibility with its inherent vitality and future growth. Enough for us to know, that "all who die in the Lord," are said " to live in the Lord;" and, therefore, with reference to eternity, never die.*
But it is time to quit this fascinating digression, and return to my friend Dr. Glynn, who, whilst a sojourner in this vale of tears, never lost sight of that great day of account which he has so majestically displayed; and whatever may have been his eccentricities, of no one could it be said with more truth,
"That to relieve the wretched was his pride,
In the moral department of his profession he was, in fact, at all times as much the friend as the physician; whilst in his practice, he brought a sound judgment to bear upon a good code of medical principles; and happily so; for he pertinaciously adhered to his own views, and was not to be put out of his way by Cullen or any other Medical Reformer. The probability is, that he followed pretty closely the precepts and example of his early preceptor, the celebrated Dr. Heberden, whose lectures he attended, and whose methodus medendi, as displayed in his "Medical Commentaries on the History and Cure of Diseases," was very similar to that of his pupil Dr. Glynn, many of whose prescriptions I have seen, and I can speak of them as written with much simplicity and plainness, and as clearly indicative of the symptoms to which they were directed. This was no small merit at a period when the practice of physic could scarcely be said to have escaped the perils of a farrago of conflicting ingredients in the same prescription; not to mention the lesser evil of an unlimited accumulation of similar articles under different names. Such was naturally the result of that imperfect chemical analysis which had not yet learned to discriminate even the different carbonates of lime, insomuch that, not unfrequently, five or six of these, under the various denominations of prepared chalk, red coral, oyster shells, &c. &c, met together in the same prescription.
* See the beautiful Collect at the end of the Burial Service, "O merciful God," &c. With respect to the preceding Collect (or prayer), I would humbly suggest, that the words, " with whom the souls of the faithful, after they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity," however pleasingly they may fall upon the Christian ear, are inadmissible, whether we believe in an intermediate state or not. Consistent believers in such a state, have the notion of Hades associated with it; and they who do not believe that the incorporeal soul exists in a state of consciousness between death and the resurrection, cannot suppose it to be in a state of joy and felicity. But, inasmuch as the whole duration of time, equally with " a thousand years, is but as yesterday in the sight of God; seeing that is past, as a watch in the night;'' the expression may, perhaps, have been considered as somewhat in accordance with those anticipations of the faithful, which appreciate, and in a manner realize, the blessings which are to cease upon the second coming of our Lord. Still, I consider this prayer as bearing internal evidence of having been taken by the compilers of our present Liturgy (cautious as they were in this regard) from the Roman offices.
What a satisfactory comment upon this note, does the Collect for the sixth Sunday after the Epiphany afford!