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millions who at this day inhabit the earth, had been called into being: the world was to us as if it existed not; and after the lapse of a very
years, another race will have succeeded, and we shall have passed into that invisible region to which so many generations had been carried before us.
While we look upon the scene around us, it is every day changing before our eyes; many of those with whom we formerly took counsel together, and some perhaps who were most dear to our affections, have gone to the house appointed for all living. And what then has become of them ? Has the principle of life been destroyed with the corruptible body ? Has the body itself perished in the grave ? and is nothing left for us but to contemplate, with sad or even hopeless forebodings, the dark night of futurity? The gospel invites us to better oontemplations; it rolls back that thick mist which hangs over the tomb, and tells of life and immortality in the regions beyond it. It bids us extend our views to the day which is emphatically called “the day of the Lord ;” it points out to us the Son of God descending in the clouds of heaven, and exhibits to us the glorious spectacle of “ them who sleep in Jesus," as they are summoned from their graves and assembled before him. It gives us the assurance that of those who have departed in the faith of Christ, and those who possessing the same faith, are alive at the period of this mighty consummation, not one shall be wanting : they shall all meet him and shall be with him for
We cannot imagine a sorrow which considerations
like this are not suited to alleviate. For whatever be our troubles, whether extreme poverty, or bodily pain, or mental affliction from whatever quarter it may arise, the gospel presents to us,
in the resurrection of the dead, and the prospects of a blessed immortality, a remedy for every evil. Do we indeed believe that we are only as strangers and pilgrims on the earth ?" Are we persuaded, that when this mortal life is ended, we shall cast off all the cares and afflictions which disturbed us; and that after this corruptible body shall have slumbered for a season, we shall ascend to meet the Lord in the air, and be with Him for ever? These are reflections which can lighten the heaviest burden of mortality, and deprive even death of his terrors. Wherefore," says
the apostle, “comfort one another with these words ;" when you have occasion to console a Christian mind, let not these motives be forgotten: remind each other of the declarations of the gospel, and of the high destiny which awaits you ; endeavour to raise the contemplation of the depressed and the sorrowful, to the day of the Lord: let them dwell upon the realities of that scene, when this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and the free spirit, no longer confined by the chains and shackles of mortality, shall expatiate in perfect happiness through the unmeasured regions of that heavenly world. What a blessing would the gospel prove, if all who are in trouble and distress could bring home to their minds the motives here suggested! How light would be our afflictions, if we could turn from them to the bright anticipations of the great day! What a source of never-failing consolation does such a subject present to us, if we are only qualified to apply to it! Are we then, my brethren, living in such communion with Christ, that we may hope to die in the Lord ! “ The life which we now live in the flesh, do we live by the faith of the Son of God?” Are we seeking daily for a more perfect conformity to His likeness ? Unless we possess that character, and are influenced by these desires, comfort the Scriptures give us none; but if we are indeed living to Him who died for us, then may we appropriate to ourselves the consolations of the gospel, not doubting that to us, as well as to all the faithful servants of Christ, is the assurance held forth, that we shall attain to the resurrection of the just, and enter into the joy of the Lord.
clearly it discovers the impress of immortality. I do not mean, that this evidence supersedes all other. From its very nature it can only be understood thoroughly by improved and purified minds. The proof of immortality, which is suited to all understandings, is found in the Gospel, sealed by the blood and confirmed by the resurrection of Christ. But this, I think, is made more impressive, by a demonstration of its harmony with the teachings of nature. To me, nature and revelation speak with one voice on the great theme of man's future being. Let not their joint witness be unheard.
How full, how bright are the evidences of this grand truth! How weak are the common arguments which scepticism arrays against it! To me, there is but one objection against immortality, if objection it may be called, and this arises from the very greatness of the truth. My mind sometimes sinks under its weight, is lost in its immensity; I scarcely dare believe that such a good is placed within my reach. When I think of myself, as existing through all future ages, as surviving this earth, and that sky, as exempted from every imperfection and error of my present being, as clothed with an angel's glory, as comprehending with my intellect and embracing in my affections an extent of creation compared with which the earth is a point; when I think of myself, as looking on the outward universe with an organ of vision that will reveal to me a beauty and harmony and order not now imagined, and as having an access to the minds of the wise and good, which will make them in a sense my own; when I think of myself, as forming friendships with innumerable beings of rich and varied intellect, and of the noblest virtue, as introduced to the society of heaven, as meeting there the great and excellent of whom I have read in history, as joined with“ the just made perfect” in an ever-enlarging ministry of benevolence, as conversing with Jesus Christ with the familiarity of friendship, and especially as having an
immediate intercourse with God, such as the closest intimacies of earth dimly shadow forth ; when this thought of my future being comes to me, whilst I hope, I also fear; the blessedness seems too great: the consciousness of present weakness and unworthiness is almost too strong for hope. But when, in this frame of mind, I look round on the creation, and see there the marks of an omnipotent goodness, to which nothing is impossible, and from which everything may be hoped; when I see around me the proofs of an Infinite Father, who must desire the perpetual progress of his intellectual offspring ; when I look next at the human mind, and see what powers a few years bave unfolded, and discern in it the capacity of everlasting improvement; and especially when I look at Jesus, the conqueror of death, the heir of immortality, who has gone as the forerunner of mankind into the mansions of light and purity, I can and do admit the almost overpowering thought of the everlasting life, growth, felicity of the human soul.
To all is this felicity offered ; a good which turns to darkness and worthlessness the splendour and excellence of the most favoured lot on earth. I say, it is offered. It cannot be forced on us; from its nature, it must be won. Immortal bappiness is nothing more than the unfolding of our own minds, the full, bright exercise of our best powers; and these powers are never to be unfolded here or hereafter, but through our own free exertion. ticipate a higher existence whilst we neglect our own souls, is a delusion on which reason frowns 110