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melancholy and distressing must be his thoughts as he contemplates the destiny of man, fated to fall into eternal nothingness.

An unbeliever there was in the last age, whom Providence had gifted with every talent that can ennoble a human being ; of commanding intellect, of lofty imagination, of never-failing conscious power of mind; of natural influence over all who came within the range of his genius; of eloquence, that captivates even now, though it wants the eye that spoke more than the tongue, and the voice that shook by its tones those whom its words failed of convincing, and though it is commonly exercised in making the worse appear the better reason-this accomplished man, destitute of only one sense, one taste, one habit—the habit, the taste, the sense of piety; as if Providence designed to show the world bow poor a creature is the noblest man that is blind -blind to his Maker, blind to the real character of his species, blind to his own destiny--I allude to Bolingbroke, the pride of his age and country-he, with all his philosophy, was struck to the heart on seeing a friend struggling with death-and exclaimed, in language that shows, if anything can, that without the Christian hope man is nothing, and society is a delusion—“ 'Tis hardly worth while to be here at all !" **

Compare with this confession the triumphant de

* See Spence's Anecdotes (Singer's Edition, 1810), p. 320.

claration of the apostle, preparing for martyrdom“I am ready to be offered, I have finished my course, I have fought the good fight. I have kept the faith ; henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness;" and then say with whom is true philosophy—with whom true dignity? With him that holds man, and the societies of men, to be mere dust and ashes, blown into various fantastic shapes by the wind of chance, presently to fall back to their pristine worthlessness; or with him that reveres man, and every man as a child of God, formed in the image of undecaying excellence, and the communion of man upon earth as the first essay of social existence, the symbol of indissoluble, happy and perfect society through endless ages ?

2. We derive from the subject an admonition of the necessity and lasting influence of the social virtues ; for it shows us that mutual affection, courtesy, compassion and tenderness, are not merely serviceable to present happiness, but will be the ground and preparation for happiness future and for ever.

The apostle has marked one class of mankind as barred out from heaven, those that want mutual affection; and has thus inversely attributed fitness for that happy state to those that, with other virtues, cultivate love and friendship.

All the kindly sentiments of our nature are from Heaven, and, like the flower that is opened by the sun, turn and bend to the source of light from which they derive their beauty and fragrance.

A state of charity and love is heaven begun upon earth.

"*

Our religious' hopes confirm, and sanctify, and encourage our friendships.

The pious and affectionate Baxter says upon this subject, and his declaration is congenial to the mind of every Christian of a well-tempered spirit—“I profess from the experience of my soul, that it is my belief that I shall love my friends in heaven, that principally kindles my love to them on earth : and if I thought I should never know them more, and consequently not love them after death, I should now love them comparatively little, as I do other transitory things—but now I converse with them with delight, as believing I shall converse with them for ever.

Were this renewal and everlasting continuance of our virtuous earthly connexions constantly in our view, how studious should we be of all the delicacy of love and all the tenderness of friendship ; how careful lest we should be insensibly alienated from one another; how watchful lest any root of bitterness should produce evil fruit in our domestic circles; how much alarmed at the consciousness of any feeling working division between us and those whose hearts and hands Providence has joined to ours !

The holy apostle's exhortation to husbands and wives applies to all that stand in near relation—that they should “ dwell together as heirs of the grace of life, that their prayers be not hindered.”

* Converse with God, &c. p. 79.

3. The subject exhibits the glorious prospect that lies before the Christian in the world beyond the grave.

This is not his rest; on earth he is a stranger and pilgrim ; his home is in the heavens.

The hope and belief that death will introduce him to a communion of high intelligence and pure enjoyment is of power to reconcile him to his departure, and to inspire him in the midst of nature's decays with joy unspeakable and full of glory.

Before Christianity, the consciousness of having cultivated the social feeling inspired multitudes with the good hope that Cyrus, the Persian prince, is reported to have expressed on his death-bed—“I have been a lover of mankind,” said he, “ and a friend and merciful, and now I expect to communicate in that great kindness which He shows that is the great God, and Father of men and mercies.”

The feeling is eminently Christian, and the lover of his species from pure Christian motives is borne up by the assurance of his unity with his fellowcreatures, even when all the billows of mortality are passing over him.

When the good Mr. Thomas Firmin, whose religion was shown in doing good, though he strove to reform the doctrine of the Church, believing that the more pure Christianity is, the kinder will be its influence and the greater blessing to the fatherless and widow-when this excellent man was dying in great pain, he said to his friend, Bishop

Bishop Jeremy Taylor's Holy Dying, 8vo. 1658, p. 70. Fowler, modestly, but emphatically—“I am now going, and I trust God will not condemn me to worse company than I have loved and used in the present life.”+

Children meeting after long absence and separation under the paternal roof; mariners, gaining their haven, the abode of friendship, after a long and perilous voyage-are but faint examples of the happiness attendant upon the rejunction of virtuous friends on the shores of eternity. All uncertainty at an end, every danger passed, every hope fulfilled, faith turned into sight,-heart will be knit to heart in closer connexion than is known amidst the infirmities of earth. Voices of congratulation will rise on every side, and the tide of human joy will swell and roll along, bearing sounds of praise to the Almighty Deliverer, who, sitting on the throne of grace and mercy, maketh all things new.

Finally: This subject is abundant in consolation on the death of virtuous and pious friends, who are not dead, as uninstructed nature interprets death, but merely asleep, and are watched while they sleep by the Lord of life, who will presently awake them, to behold glories as yet invisible, and unutterable by mortal tongues.

It may be that even now, while we speak of them and mourn their loss, in some mode of existence which we understand not, they are absent from the body to be present with the Lord ; and their depar

+ The Life of Thomas Firmin, late Citizen of London, 8vo. 1698, p. 62.

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