« PrécédentContinuer »
These are in part the difficulties and dangers which beset the journey of life. For these we ought to be prepared, as soon as reason permits. On them we ought to calculate as we advance in years, that thus when they happen to us, we may meet them aright. We must be armed with courage to resist, and patience to bear, whatever befalls us, or otherwise we never can complete our journey to our own comfort. We ought to remember, that prosperity or adversity cannot long affect us; that our journey is short; that it is of little consequence what our accommodations are, provided we have in prospect an happy end.
Of ourselves we have not the necessary qualifications thus to act, but must obtain them from God. We must take the shield of faith, and the sword of the Spirit, putting on for an helmet the hope of salvation. To relax our vigilance, to yield to fear, to despond or despair, is not only unmanly, but criminal. Ah, how many madly shorten their course, because of its difficulties, and rush uncalled into the presence of their God! How many give way to discontent, to repinings, to jealousy, to a thousand corroding cares, and spend their lives in making themselves miserable here, and preparing for themselves ruin hereafter! These things are inconsistent with our real state. We must bear up under every trial, displaying a holy resolution. We must enlist under the banners of Jesus, to fight successfully. We must follow the star of Jacob, if we do not wish to stray. We must trust in the Lamb of God for strength to hold out unto the end. We must be contented with our lot, whatever it may be, realizing that we brought nothing with us into the world, and can take nothing out of it, into eternity.
5. As travellers to eternity, we ought to assist each other on every occasion, that our journey may pass on pleasantly, and end happily. Like natives of the same place, who meeting in a distant country, deVol. IV.-No. I.
light in each other's company, and aid each other, so ought we to act. We are all descendants of the same ancestors, partakers of the same flesh and blood, travellers to the same eternity. We have all the same God for our Creator, the same Jesus for a Saviour, the same Spirit for a Sanctifier. We are all dwellers on the earth, subject to the changes of time, liable to the stroke of death. Every circumstance in our na ture, our state, our prospects, ought to unite us to each other. We ought to feel for each other's woes, and rejoice in each other's welfare. We ought to instruct, comfort, and cherish all we can: to do unto others as we would wish to be done by ourselves, under similar circumstances. We ought cheerfully to contribute of our worldly substance for the relief of the destitute; never to hold back, but yield to the impulse of pity and compassion. The commands and directions of Scripture to the exercise of benevolence, of kindness, of alms-giving, are more frequent than any other. If we realize our situation as travellers, we will fulfil them with promptness, thankful that we have any thing to give. We will be all of one mind, having compassion one of another, loving as brethren, being pitiful, courteous, not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing.
Thus ought we to conduct ourselves in this world, travelling the journey of life, steadfastly looking to eternity as our home; solicitous about the right way to heaven; believing in Christ as that way; guarding through grace against every temptation to forget the end of our journey, or seduce us from the right way to heaven; bearing every trial and trouble with fortitude and patience, and mutually assisting each other as we advance. Such is the manner of life which we ought to lead from our state in this world, as dying mortals; and to this life we are urged by the season which God in his providence has granted us. We
have survived the past year, but know not if we shall survive the future. Whatever awaits us is hid from our eyes, but not so our duty. This is evident. us then pass the time of our sojourning here in fear. Let us earnestly intreat God to teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
And the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.-1 Cor. xv. 52.
is the extinction of life. This change, which we have with solemn emotions contemplated upon others, we all expect we shall ourselves sooner or later undergo. It is indeed inexplicable, but our conviction of its reality is irresistible.
The laws of animal life, although long the subject of scientific investigation, are still very indistinctly known. The definition which theorists have given us of life itself are so unsatisfactory, that no one has hitherto acquired the general assent of the learned world. Speculative men may call it that which resists disorganization, or nervous energy, or excitability, or the effect of stimuli, or whatever else genius or fancy may dictate. The illiterate man is here upon a level with the proudest philosopher. He feels that he lives. Life is an emanation from the Almighty, and subject to his will through all its various modifications; an emanation capable of being communicated and recalled at the pleasure of Jehovah, Acts xvii. 28. In him we live, and move,
and have our being. Yes, we feel life, and we expect death. Soon, very soon, shall our eyes become dim, and our limbs become motionless. The busy scenes in which we act, and the cares which agitate our thoughts, crowding in quick succession in the mind, shall soon become as a tale that is told. An hour will tell the story of a toilsome life, and another generation will forget that we have been. Lord make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold thou hast made my days as an hand-breadth, and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state, is altogether vanity.
The life to which we fondly cling shall vanish in a moment, like the air which we expire; and the corpse remain stiff and cold, as the plank upon which it is laid. The nearest friend will also feel the anxiety of Abraham, relative to the wife of his youth, "Give me a burying-place, that I may bury my dead out of my sight." We shall all become tenants of the house of silence.
And is this the last end of man? And is this the hope of a Christian? Shall the iron reign of death be perpetual? No. Ye disciples of Jesus Christ, "death is swallowed up in victory." The soul is immortal, and the body shall be so hereafter. The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
We shall exhibit a summary of the evidence by which our faith in the doctrine of the resurrection is supported; examine the objections of unbelievers; show that our bodies shall be changed; and suggest some practical improvement.
I. We shall exhibit a summary of the evidence which supports our faith in the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead.
The heathen had very obscure ideas of a future state. Ignorant of the immateriality of the soul, and
the resurrection of the body, they conferred upon the ghosts of their departed friends, an existence, in a separate state, which is neither body nor spirit, but something of the nature of both. The Celtic bard introduces the ghost of Crugal to Connal, upon "a "dark red stream of fire coming down from the "brow of the hill. His eyes are like two decaying "flames. Dark is the wound of his breast. Light 66 as the blast of Cromla he moved like the shadow of mist. And like the darkened moon he retired "in the midst of the whistling blast." The exercises assigned by the Grecians to their deceased relatives in the place of the dead, corresponded better with corporeal beings, than with immaterial actors. But from divine revelation we derive knowledge on this subject. All besides is frivolous conjecture. Life and immortality are brought to light by the Gospel. At death," shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it*." "Concerning them which are asleep we sorrow not, even as others which have no hope: for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. The dead in Christ shall riset." The Scriptures afford, in confirmation of this doctrine, abundant arguments, and facts, and assertions.
1. Arguments. The justice of God displayed in the government of the moral world, affords a strong presumption in favour of the resurrection of the human body. Man is a compound creature. Body is as necessary to his constitution as spirit. Considered as a subject of the divine moral government, we include, in the idea which we form of man, his whole nature; his corporeal organization, as well as his mental faculties. All those actions upon which depend the final judgment, are performed in the body.
* Eccles. xii. 7.
+ 1 Thess. iv. 13-16.