Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

dutiful acquiescence, from an experimental conviction that all your dearest interests were in his hands --that you had, and could have no other dependence than on him. If such has not been the effect--if you are still unconcerned and unreflecting-I can only say that you are much less happy (whatever you may think) than those who have heard the voice of chastisement, and learned its wholesome lessons—but positively unhappy if you are stubborn and untractable, and harden your hearts against repeated rebukes, and reiterated strokes of the corr:cting rod. Yet those of us who are least inclined to question the sovereignty and equity of the divine dispensations, often find a hard conflict between the dictates of faith and the feelings of nature. We are ready to think that if we were really objects of the care and compassion of an heavenly Parent, we should be differently dealt with, and that desires which appear to us so reasonable ought not to be crossed. But wherefore this distrust if we really believe what we constantly profess? If we were as clearly required by an immediate divine command as Abraham was, to make a similar sacrifice, would we hesitate to obey ? He obeyed in full dependence on the promise; and if such an order be given in the common course of God's providence, ought we not to believe that if we be resigned and obedient, he has purposes to serve of the highest importance to us, although we may be unable to discern them? It was no wanton or unnecessary trial to which he put the patriarch's faith, nor is it of our's. Can we imagine that he would exhibit himself in his message of mercy by our Lord Jesus Christ as our Father, without any design to act the part of that endearing and protecting rela

tion-a relation which we know (or ought to know implies rebuke and correction as well as indulgence? Can he be regardless of the sighs and tears of the mourning parent and near relation, who enabled his Anointed to work repeated miracles in the behalf of such, with expressions and actions of the tenderest sympathy and most engaging condescension ? No! Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him, for or he knoweth their frame, he remembereth that they are dust.”

You will have perceived, my friends, in what I have already said, the great superiority of the dictates of revelation over those of unassisted reason, on occasions which at once awaken all our sensibility and demand all our fortitude. Reason indeed is here little if at all better than absolute stoicism. It may tell us that death is an evil not to be avoided, and that it is folly to lament the loss of what cannot be recovered. But alas ! this is no balm to a wounded spirit; and the tears which will continue to flow in contempt of this boasted reasoning, sufficiently prove its futility-prove that fainting nature is looking round for some more substantial support. Religion on the contrary-and when I speak of religion, it will be easily understood that I mean Christianity, far from doing violence to the emotions of the heart, does not require their suppression. She suffers the natural drops to fall, so as to ease it of its burden, gently interposing, first to moderate grief, and then to offer topics of consolation peculiarly her own. It is much when she convinces us that it is at the command of paternal wisdom and goodness, that we are called to resign to the arms of death those in whom our warmest affection and our dearest hopes of hap

piness were centered-but how much more when she proves to us that the separation shall not be final that we shall rejoin them in circumstances vastly more advantageous-that our union shall be eternal! What an adamantine heart must that be which can proudly boast of its independence on considerations, hopes, and prospects such as these, and even reject them as the dreams of monastic superstition or wild fanaticism! Methinks if I were an unbeliever in Christianity till the messenger of death had entered my dwelling, I could no longer be indifferent to its claims on my attention. I should feel an anxious solicitude that what was evidently so much to my advantage, and suited my case so exactly, might at length prove to be true. I should at least think the arguments in its behalf worthy of serious consideration; and if the result should be nothing more than that it could not be demonstrated to be a falsehood, I think I should scarcely commit the folly of adhering to the barren, cheerless, hopeless principles of infidelity. As I would not renounce the use of my senses and understanding by adopting the absurd and extravagant notions of atheism, and abandoning the belief of the existence of a First Cause an intelligent and omnipotent Creator, I should think it unreasonable to deny the possibility of the principal fact stated in the gospel, the resurrection of Christ-I should only have to examine the evidence adduced of its reality, and if I found no sufficient cause to impeach that evidence, every inferior objection would at once give way, and, instead of darkness and despair, the delightful idea would dawn upon my soul that the tender bonds, recently broken, should hereafter be renewed. Contemplating the short space

which must elapse between the departure of a dearly beloved object and my own, as the only interval which would separate us from each other, and considering that after closing the eyes in death, it will be but as an imperceptible moment to open them in immortality, I would exchange perturbation for tranquillity, tears for smiles, complaints for congratulations. It doth not indeed yet appear what we shall be; nor is it necessary that we should be acquainted with every particular of our improved state. But as we cannot but be painfully sensible of the imperfections and disadvantages, whether mental or corporeal, of our present condition, it ought to satisfy us that it does sufficiently appear what we shall not be to know that we shall have done with and be exempt from them all. « God shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.” Alas! are they not even now passing away? What is there here that wears the character of permanence? Possessions unstable-love and friendship mutable—the closest natural bonds dissoluble-health precariouslife itself a flower, a vapour, a dream-typified by every thing that can express fragility, uncertainty, and brevity! From all these the life to come shall be perfectly and for ever free.

Among other particulars relating to the future state, of which little is said, and which therefore call for the exercise of our faith, is the condition of those who have left the world almost as soon as they entered upon it-in early infancy. But I think there is enough to remove any anxiety on the subject from the minds of those who are most nearly interested.

That there is nothing to forbid them to hope is very clear; and they may be encouraged to form the most pleasing anticipations from the condescending and endearing notice which he, who is the resurrection and the life, took of little children while on eartb, declaring that of such is the kingdom of heaven. The time was coming, he said, when all that are in the graves-(and no exception is made when all that are in the graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God and shall come forth. As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. I saw the dead, says the prophetic writer of the Apocalypse, small and great, stand before God. When we consider by what slow degrees the powers of the human mind are unfolded while yet their existence cannot be doubted what an amazing difference between Newton just born, and Newton in the full vigour of his faculties, we might naturally ask, would that mighty genius have been extinguished and lost if he had died in infancy –We can scarcely persuade ourselves (upon Christian principles at least) to answer in the affirmative. No surely-the capacity for attaining excellence is not destroyed by death; and although the opportunity was not afforded in the present world, it may be in the future-it is but like the precious seed which “though buried long in dust, shall not deceive our hope,” but shall spring up under happier auspices, and produce the fair fruits of eternal life and immortal vigour. What are the suggestions of natural feeling upon this point? Where is the parent that could contentedly forego the pleasing hope of recovering what it cost so much to part with? Arrived in the mansions of bliss, would you not eagerly look around for something that was necessary to

« AnteriorContinuar »