Imágenes de página

Go into his chamber-observe his pallid countenance-his wild look-his distracted featuresand if you could penetrate the deep recesses of his soul, you would behold it writhing under the tortures of its own infliction. But why? Why this tremour and alarm? Why this deep sepulchral groan? Why this awful presentiment of some unknown portion of woe? Ah why!! Is it not childish! May not all this alarm and terror be traced up to the impulse of superstitious impressions? No. He has been accustomed to laugh at superstition-he has done more,-he has been accustomed to turn the sublime truths of revelation into a theme of ridicule, to call Christ an impostor, and to treat with indifference the messages of his grace. Ah! it is this-it is the remembrance of this-and he cannot banish the remembrance of it from his mind, which now overwhelms him with dread; and he would gladly hide himself beneath the rocks and mountains of the earth, but he feels conscious that they cannot conceal him from the eye of him who sitteth on the throne; nor shelter him from the impending wrath of the Lamb.

No. I have taken my

Nor is this fictitious. description, not from the impression of my own fancy, but from the facts of real life; and merely thrown into a form to strike the public eye, what I am often called to witness in my embassy of mercy to the sick and the dying.

How sublime and interesting are the discoveries of revelation, on all the questions which relate to our present and final happiness, when contrasted with the vague replies, or sullen silence of infidelity. When oppressed with guilt -when sinking under the awful sentence of condemnation which you have pronounced with your own lips; go and ask the proud philosopher who boasts, that his reason is sufficient for all the purposes of human happiness, how you are to obtain peace? Your case will perplex him, and though he may prescribe some course of moral discipline, yet it will not prove efficacious.

When approaching the grave, and dwelling with devout and solemn awe on your expected dissolution, go and ask him this question: If a man die shall he live again? He is silent. Why? He can advance only conjectures which he is conscious, rest on no substantial basis. To him futurity is a vast profound

"Too deep to sound with mortal lines,
Too dark to view with feeble sense."

But why do I make these references? Unassisted reason cannot pass the boundaries of mortality, and assert with confidence that there is a future state of existence for man. For if it be true that we receive our information on every subject, through the medium of our senses, it will be obvious to every reflecting mind, that unassisted

reason is more likely to admit the annihilation of man at death, than to indulge a momentary thought of his immortality and resurrection from the dead. What does the system of animated nature teach us? Does it not teach us, that destruction is one of its fundamental laws! The species remain, but the individuals perish. The lion, after ranging the woods, feeding on inferior kinds of living animals, at last groans, and expires. The sturdy oak of the forest, which out-lives many generations of human beings at length moulders to dust. Every thing around us bears the stamp of mortality, and evinces symptoms of decay. And does not man? It is true, on some occasions, the intellect displays more than an ordinary degree of strength and acuteness, and the passions glow with more intense fervour, at the moment which precedes dissolution; yet in general, the soul and the body seem to decay together, and the grave appears to the eye of sense, to terminate their mutual career. The words of Job are finely descriptive of the perplexed state of the mind, when pondering over this deeply interesting subject. "For there is a hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant. But man dieth, and wasteth away; yea,

man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? If a man die shall he live again?

From this state of uncertainty we are relieved by the revelation of the scriptures. "The destruction of death in the final repeal of the law of mortality, and the resurrection of the body to life and happiness, was the frequent theme of ancient revelation. A sublime obscurity indeed, invested those sacred records, on which the faith and hope of patriarchs and prophets rested; and the clearness in which they appear to us, is, no doubt, reflected from the brighter illumination of the glorious gospel; but there was still a sufficient portion of light, to gild by its heavenly dawning, the dark valley of the shadow of death. It is the triumphant boast of revelation, that at the period when the proud philosophy of nature, assuming its highest tones, and raised to its utmost elevation, could attain to no satisfactory conclusion respecting a future state--the despised inhabitants of Judea, rejoiced that their Redeemer lived, and that he should stand at the latter day upon the earth. In their Scriptures they knew they had eternal life; and there they read, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces."+ Long before this prediction was uttered, the venerable patriarch of Uz, had expressed his persuasion, that in his flesh he should

* Job xiv. 7, 8, 9, 10, 14.

[ocr errors]

+ Isa. xxv. 8.

see God; and Hosea, at a subsequent period, recorded with eminent precision, the gracious promise. "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death I will be thy plagues; O grave I will be thy destruction."

But the subject of their prophetic contemplations is more clearly unfolded to us, by the appearance of Jesus Christ in the flesh, who hath abolished death, and brought life and incorruption to light, through the gospel. He drew aside the vail, which conceals the invisible world, and exhibited hell as a place of torment, originally prepared for the devil and his angels, to which place the finally impenitent will be banished-where the worm dieth not and where the fire will never be quenched, and from whence the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever, and for ever: and he described heaven, as the paradise of innocence and joy—the local habitation of his own glory, and the glory of his Father-where the weary should rest in undisturbed security and repose, after the troubles of life-and enjoy, in the society of angels, and the spirits of the just made perfect, a state of unfading and endless felicity.

The imagery which he employs as descriptive of heaven, is no less simple than beautiful, and the unembarrassed ease, with which he

*Hosea xiii. 14.

« AnteriorContinuar »