תמונות בעמוד

times the case, find fears and sorrows await him at this period; this is his last enemy, and possessed of puwer over him but for a moment.

Thus the good man goes through the present life, possessed of a happier character, and of a happier loi, than any, which can be challenged by bad men. His enjoyments are superior in kind, in number, and in degree. He possesses alleviations of trouble, lo which no bad man can make any pretensions. Death itself is lo him often peaceful; and citen filled with hope and consolation. Whenever it is not; it is still the termination of all his sorrows.

In the future world, the difference is infinite. When the good man resigns his body to the grave, and his spirit to the hands of God who gave it; he enters immediately into the joy of his Lord. Sin and suffering, time and death, hold their dominion over him

The dawn of his future being is to him the dawn of verlasting day. In this immense duration, his life will be an uninterrupted progress of virtue, honour, and enjoyment. Fixed for ever in ihe world of glory, and surrounded by the General assembly of the firsi-born, a companion of angels, and a child of Gord, he will look back with ineffable delight, on that choice, which accomplished the end of his being, and made life and death blessings to him; and will stretch his view forward with transport to joy succeeding joy, and to glory surpassing glory, throughout ages, which cannot end.

10 more.



ECCLESIASTES Xii. 7.- Then shall the dust return to the Earth as it was, and the

spiril shall relurn lo God who gave il.


IN my

last discourse, I made several observations concerning Death, considered as the last Dispensation of Providence lo man in the present world. The immediate Consequences of Death furnish the next subject of our investigation.

in the text we are told, that, when man goeth to his long home, the dust, or body, shall return to the earth, of which it was formed, and that then also, the spirit shall return to God who gave

it. considering this subject, I shall follow the order of discourse here presented to us; and examine those things which, immediately afier Death, respect,

1. The Body; and,
II. The Soul.
Under the former of these heads, I observe,
1. That the body is changed into a corpse.

Death is the termination of all the animal functions of our na. ture. So long as these continue, life, the result of them, diffused warinth, activity, and beauty, throughout our framc. In this state, the Body is a useful, as well as pleasing, habitation for the soul; and a necessary, as well as convenient instrument, for accomplishing the purposes, to which it is destined in the present world. But, when these functions cease, life also ceases. The Body then become4 cold, motionless, deformed, and useless. The form, which once gave pleasure to all around it, now creates only pain and sorrow. The limbs are stiffened; the face clouded with paleness; the eve closed in darkness; the ear deaf; the voice dumb; and the whole appearance ghastly, and dreadful

. In the mean time, the spirit deserts its ruined habitation, and wings its way into the unkuown vast of being.

2. The Body is conveyed to the grave.

Necessity compels the living to remove this decayed frame from their sight. Different nations have pursued different modes of accomplishing this purpose. By some nations the Body bas been consumed with fire. By others it has been embalmed. By some it has been lodged in tombs, properly so called. By some it has been consigned to vaults and caverns; and by most has been huried in the grave. All nations, in whatever manner they have disVol. IV.


posed of the remains of their departed friends, have with one consent wished, like Abraham, to remove their dead out of their sight.

In this situation the body becomes the prey of corruption, and the feast of worms. How humiliating an allotment is ihis to the pride of man! When the Conqueror, returned from the slaughter of millions, enters his capitol in triumph; when the trumpet of fame proclaims his approach, and the shouts of millions announce his victories; surrounded by the spoils of subjugated nations, and followed by trains of vanquished kings and heroes ; how must his haughty spirit be lowered to the dust by the remembrance, that within a few days himself would become ihe food of a worm, reigning over him with a more absolute control, than hc ever exercised over his slaves. Yet this will be the real end of all his achievements. To this humble level must descend the tenant of the throne, as well as of the cottage. Here wisdom and folly, learning and ignorance, refinement and vulgarity, will lie down together. Hiher moves with an unconscious, but regular step, the Beauty that illumines “the gay assembly's gayest room;" that subdues the heart even of the Conqueror himself; and says, " I sit as Queen, and shall see no sorrow.” All these may, and must ultimately say to corruption, Thou art our father, and to the worm, Thou art our mother, and our sister. But we are not yet at the end of the progress. The next stage in our humiliation is, to be changed into dust. · This was our origin : this is our end. The very clods on which we tread, were once not improbably parts, so a greater or less extent, of living beings like ourselves. Noi a small part of the surface of this world has, in all probability, been animaicd; and inhabited hy human minds: and the remains of man are daily perhaps, as well as insensibly, turned up by the plough, and the spade.

J!. The Events which immediately after Death concern the Soul, are the following.

1. Ai Death ihe Soul quils the body, to return to it no more.

At Death, the animal functions cease; or rather the cessation of them is Death itself. Then the flexibility, the power of action, and the consequent usefulness to which they gave birth, are terminated also. The Soul, of course, finds the body no longer fitted to be an instrument of its wishes, or its duties. The limbs can no longer convey it from place to place; the tongue communicate its thoughts ; nor the hands execute its pleasure. Deprived of all its powers, the body becomes a useless, and uncomfortable residence for a being, to whose nature activity is essential, and the purposes of whose creation would be frustrated by a longer confinement to so unsuitable a mansion. We cannot wonder, therefore, that the Author of our being should, in his providence, remove the Soul from a situation, so contradictory in all respects to the design of its cxistence.

The proof of the fact, which I am considering, and of the existence of the Soul in a state of separation from the body, bas to a great extent, been necessarily given in a former discourse; in which I attempted to show, that the Soul is not material. To that discourse I must, therefore, refer my audience for these proofs. It may, however, not be improper briefly to mention some of them on the present occasion,

The first which I shall mention, is the Text. Here we are in formed, that the dust, at death, shall return to the earth, as it was ; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. That the soul and body are two distinct beings, and that at death one returns to the earth, and the other to God who gave it, are truths, declared in this " passage in a manner so plain, as probably never to have been misapprehended by any man, not embarked in some philosophical controversy.

Secondly; Of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is said, accordingly, that they gave up the Ghost, or rendered their spirits 10 God, who gave them. In Exodus, God saith, I am the God of thy father, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. God, our Saviour obscrves, is not the God of the dead, but of the living ; that is, of the spirits of Abra. ham, Isaac, and Jacob; living at the time, when this declaration was made to Moses. Accordingly this passage is alleged by our Saviour to the Sadducees, as full proof of the avaosades, or separate existence of souls beyond the grave.

Of these persons also, it is said, that they were gathered unto their people. This declaration is commonly, but very crroneously, understood to mean, that their bodies were gathered to the bodies of their kindred; and is supposed to be cquivalent to the Scriptural phrase, They slept with their fathers.

But in this sense, it is, in many instances, obviously untrue. Neither Abraham, nor Isaac, was, in this sense, gathered unto his people. The people of Abraham were all buried either in Pudan Hrum, or in Ui, of the Chaldees ; while he was buried in the cave of Macpeluh, in Canaan, Isaac was buried with none of his friends beside his Parents ; and these could not be styled his people. The people, to whom these persons were gathered, were the assembly of the blessed.

Thirdly; In conformity to this interpretation, Christ says concerning Lazarus, that he died, and was carried by angels to Abraham & bosom : a complete proof, that Abraham was in existence among the blessed, at the time to which this parable refers.

Fourthly; Christ said to the penitent thief on the cross, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. This could not be truc, unless the Soul of the thief existed in a separale state.

Fifthly; St. Paul declares, 2 Cor. v. 6, that, While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord; and suhjoins, We are confident, I say, willing rather to be abseni from the body, and present with the Lord. Here, this Apostle teaches us, that Christians can

be absent from the body; and that this absence must take place, to enable them to be present with the Lord; and that, whenever it does take place, they will be present with the Lord. Christians, therefore, that is, the spirits of Christians, exist in a state, separated from the body.

Sixthly; The same Apostle, Phil. i. 21–23, says, For me to live is Christ

, and to die is gain: and again, I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is fur belter. When the Apostle says, For me to live is Christ, he declares, that the present life is to him a source of high enjoyment. But if he did not exist in a separate state, his death would put an end to all his enjoyment: being an absolute termination of his consciousness. li, then, he had the least degree of enjoyment, while living; his death, destroying this enjoyment, and supplying no other in its place, would with mathematical certainty be a loss to him. How much greater must this loss be, when, as he informs us, It was Christ lo him to live. Can any sober man believe, that St. Paul meant to declare death, which, according to the opposite scheme, is merely a lemporary annihilation, to be greater good, than the happiness, indicated by this expressive phraseology?

But the Apostle himself has determined this point. He has told us, that the gain of his departure consisted in being with Christ, in a state of happiness totally superior to any thing, found in the present world. Here, indeed, he enjoyed the presence of his Saviour, in an eminent, perhaps in a singular degree; yet in a manner far inferior to what, he was assured, he should find immediately after death.

Seventhly; St. John, when caught up 10 Heaven, beheld a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and longues, standing before the Throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palms in their hands, uniting rilh the angels in their everlasting song of praise. The Apostle asked who these persons were. The interpreting angel informed him that they were those who came out of great tribulation, and had washed their robes, and made them while in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, he adds, are they before the throne of God, and serve him, day and night, in his temple : and He thal silleth on the throne, shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat: For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them; and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away all tears from their

It will not be denied, that these were men; and deceased men: nor that the time, referred to in this passage, was long antecedent to the resurrection. They were, therefore, separate spirits : conscious, virtuous, happy, beings. It may be said, and truly, that all this passed in vision. But it must be added, and must be admitted by those who say this, that a vision,


« הקודםהמשך »