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shall never taste of death-he shall never see death.” In accordance with these representations, he has given to the state of Death the soft and tranquillizing name of Sleep. This use of the term, indeed, was not unknown to Jewish saints ; but, as applied by them to death, it denoted chiefly the silence, darkness, and inactivity of the grave. The Greeks, too, had long been accustomed to speak of death in the softest terms: the dead they often spoke of as the departed, the worn-out, and called their burialgrounds “ dormitories,” or sleeping-places. But this arose partly from the dislike they felt to allude to a gloomy and unwelcome subject, and partly from a wish to propitiate the deceased, of whom they stood in considerable dread. How superior the sense in which Jesus employed the term, Sleep ! They used it as a figure, but he turned it into a reality ;—they uttered it from fear, but he made it the language of hope and of faith. He used it with the highest authority, for he was about to awaken one of the sleepers from his sleep ; and however protracted the slumbers of his people may be, he knew that they are all finally to hear his voice, and to come forth.
Dense as the gloom is which hangs over the mouth of the sepulchre, it is the spot, above all others, where the gospel, if it enters, shines and triumphs. In the busy sphere of life and health, it encounters an. active antagonist; the world confronts it,-aims to obscure its glories,—to deny its claims,—to drown its voice,-to dispute its progress,-to drive it from the ground it occupies. But from the mouth of the
grave the world retires: it shrinks from the contest there; it leaves a clear and open space in which the gospel can assert its claims, and unveil its glories, without opposition or fear. There the infidel and the worldling look anxiously around ; but the world has left them helpless, and fled. There the Christian looks around, and, lo, the angel of mercy is standing close by his side. The gospel kindles a torch, which not only irradiates the valley of the shadow of death, but throws a radiance into the world beyond, and reveals it peopled with the sainted spirits of those who have died in Jesus. It descends with us into the low chamber of the grave,-bids us look on its silent inmates; and to look on them with the persuasion that they only sleep. It assures
us that death, like sleep, is not the destruction of the living principle, but only a temporary change in the mode of its operation ; that, like sleep, it is a state of rest, discharging us from all the concerns of the world ; and most of all, that, like sleep, it will not be perpetual, but only endure for a night. tells us that a day will dawn on the world, when Jesus, assuming an aspect of infinite benignity, will say in effect, of all his sleeping saints, as he said of Lazarus, “ I go to awake them out of sleep.”
Oh! how vast the immortal awakening! Who can lift his mind to the greatness of the occasion ! Where is the height from which we can command a view of the sublime spectacle? In prospect of it Jesus said, “ The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone ; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” As the first-fruits of them that sleep, he has arisen and appeared before God, the certain pledge of the great harvest-home. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe; multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision.” The wide earth shall“ stand thick," and wave with that ocean plenitude of life. The produce of the fields, every year, is a renewed triumph of life over death ; but the triumph of life on that day will be final and complete, leaving not an atom for which death can contend. It will be a triumph of the highest order, consisting not in the mere creation of new being, but in the release and reanimation of what had been dragged away from the territories of life ;-death itself will be turned into life,-corruption will put on incorruption.
To consummate the triumph, life on that day will be crowned with immortality ; it will not merely be restored, but ennobled, exalted, to the highest state of security and glory it can sustain. From the ruinous heap of every grave, a living structure shall arise, built up into an imperishable monument of “ the Resurrection and the Life;" in the stead of corruption, it shall be inaccessible to decay ; “ for neither can they die any more; they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” In the stead of dishonour, it will be raised in glory, radiating a splendour which shall eclipse all sublunary glory. In the place of weakness, it shall be clothed with the vigour of immortal youth, asking no relaxation or repose; the wings of the soul accompanying and aiding it in all its untiring fights. In the place of a natural body, it shall be raised a spiritual body; the original grossness of its materiality shall be purged away ; it shall be refined and etherialized into spirit-a robe of light rivalling the invisible essence of the soul itself; while each of its senses shall form an inlet to floods of enjoyment, and each of its organs be instinct and emulous with zeal for the divine glory.
INATTENTION TO THE DOCTRINE
OF A FUTURE LIFE.
(REV. ROBERT HALL.] WHI
HEN it is considered that the doctrine of a
life to come is ascertained by the advent of the Messiah, with a degree of evidence so superior to that which attaches to any other futurity, that he who refuses to believe it on his testimony, would not be persuaded although one rose from the dead, the propensity to disregard it, however general, is the most astonishing phenomenon in nature. Man is naturally a prospective creature, endowed with a capacity not only of comparing the present with the past, but also of anticipating the future, and dwelling with anxious rumination on scenes which are yet remote. He is capable of carrying his views, of attaching his anxieties, to a period much more distant than that which measures the limits of his present existence; capable,we distinctly perceive, of plunging into the depths of future duration, of identifying himself with the sentiments and opinions of a distant age, and of enjoying, by anticipation, the fame of which he is aware he shall never be conscious, and the praises he shall never hear. So strongly is he disposed to link his feelings with futurity, that shadows become realities, when contemplated as subsisting there; and the phantom of posthumous celebrity, the faint image of his being, impressed on future generations, is often preferred to the whole of his present existence, with all its warm and vivid realities. The complexion of the day that is passing over him, is determined by the anticipations of the morrow: the present borrows its brightness and its gloom from the future, which, presenting itself to his contemplation as in a mirror, incessantly agitates him with apparitions of terror or delight. In the calculations of interest, the mind is affected in the same manner; it is perpetuity which stamps its value on whatever we possess, so that the lowest epicure would prefer a small accession to his property to the most exquisite repast; and none are found so careless of futurity, as not to prefer the inheritance he may bequeath, to one of equal value the title to which expires with his life.
How is it then we find it so difficult to prevail upon men to fix their attention firmly on another world, that real future existence wbich reason assures us is probable, which revelation teaches us is certain, which is separated from us by so narrow a boundary, and into which thousands of our fellow creatures aie passing every moment? How is it that the professed