Imatges de pÓgina

which interest never warps, and temptation never shakesof that faith in the divine administrations which retains a strong and permanent hold on the mind, even in circumstances the most powerful to try its strength, the most appalling to break it down. Consider man in every relation in which he can possibly stand with respect to others, -a parent, a child, a relative, a friend, a member of the social state, a citizen of his country, a citizen of the world,and do we not find that love of kindred and of country, that friendship and affection, which it becomes him to cherish, developed and illustrated in the most beautiful and touching manner in the language and the conduct of Jesus Christ? Consider him as a dependant and accountable being, and that distinguished Messenger stands before you radiant with the adornings of piety.

It is not without exertion and labor that such virtue can be attained. Difficult, and hazardous, and fascinating, and afflicting are the events of life. We are enticed by sinwe are subdued by sorrow. And here Christianity again befriends us. She calls us to the contemplation of the divine presence with us, prepares us for imbibing the spiritual comforts which that presence dispenses, brings us nearer to the pure Author of our being, and places us within reach of the beams of benevolence and mercy which emanate from his throne. If our energies flag, she inspirits them; if our minds are disturbed, she composes them; if our souls despond and are bruised under a sense of unworthiness, she pours into them the balm of heavenly love; and if they ascend in devout aspirations, she teaches

them to soar still higher, till they are absorbed in the contemplation of divine effulgence and glory. Thus she unites us in the holiest ties to our Eternal Parent; and thus she will unite us till we are more spiritual, more pure, till we are sublimed by the union, and become as it were a ray of his glory.

Man may be considered as an expectant of immortality. It is with painful reluctance that he admits the possibility of his enjoying but a partial existence, and his resigning that existence for ever when the grave calls him to become its inmate. However unenlightened by nature and unimproved by religion, he has still contemplated the possibility of dwelling beyond the confines of time and the world. The hope of immortality, in fact, has been essential to the enjoyment of the present life; without it, every thing has appeared gloomy and disordered, and he has shrunk from the miserable prospect of annihilation with undissembled reluctance and agonizing thoughts. From such a prospect we shrink; nor do we think of ourselves alone when it appears so dreadful to our view. The hope of immortality is not a selfish principle. When we contemplate the probability of rising from the cold and gloomy regions of the dead, and of springing into renewed existence with higher powers, quicker energies, and purer feelings, it is not that we seek the solitary happiness of such a change. In the hope of our own immortality, the immortality of others is bound. In the contemplation of our own never-ending happiness, the happiness of others. participates. We think of those with whom we are tra

versing the devious paths along which our earthly pilgrimage extends. We think of those with whom we have taken sweet counsel together, and the hope which wings its flight to other climes and regions, and reposes in the paradise of God, unites itself to their happiness as to our own. With them we would dwell for ever; with them we would renew the intercourse which death shall interrupt; with them we would taste that happiness which eye as yet hath not seen, and of which the heart of man cannot as yet conceive. Such hope becomes a source and an abundant and fruitful source of human happiness. It is a well of living water. Connecting itself with our domestic and social relations, it assumes a more important feature-it takes a more endearing shape. The more it expands itself, the more wide its circle extends, so much the more does it fill and exalt the mind. Had Christianity done no more for us than confirmed and established the hope of immortality, its advantages would have been inestimable. It has made that which was before a floating idea, a fixed, a vital, a living principle. It has converted the fountain which sent forth sweet waters and bitter, into a perennial spring of felicity. It allays the restlessness and anxieties of our thoughts with regard to ourselves and those to whom we are most intimately united; and at the same time that it gives us a foretaste of the felicities of heaven, it administers additional delight by placing an immortal crown on the beloved of our soul. Our affections are warmed and expanded by its cheering prospects; and all that we can imagine of peace, consolation, and felicity—all


that springs from refined occupations from exalted intercourse and ethereal contemplations-all that can be perceived and felt and enjoyed in the splendid presence of that Being who is the light, the life, and the joy of the universe; Christianity encourages us to anticipate, and promises to unfold, before the astonished gaze of creation, and to bestow freely and for ever upon the just made perfect.

The reasonableness of the hope of immortality is evinced the certainty is established. Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift! How valuable it is none can tell; but many can feel, who derive from it renovation to their decaying spirit, who cling to it as a refuge when the hand of the spoiler overturns the fabric of their earthly happiness and lays one after another their loved ones in the grave. Yes! many can feel, who repose upon it in the midst of earthly trouble; to whom it is the anchor of the soul when the waves of adversity beat against their fragile bark, and threaten to bury it in the deep waters. Without it, the world would present a different aspect. Clouds and darkness would often rest upon it-storms and tempests would often devastate it-and fear, and sorrow, and despair would often maintain their dreadful empire. With it, there is light and beauty-there is serenity and peace; where sorrow shows her tearful visage her sister joy is not far distant, and both are but the handmaids to conduct to the mansions of unfading glory and bliss.

Had the course of argument been as luminous and powerful as the subject permits, we should then fully perceive

in what an admirable manner the religion of our honored Lord corresponds to our situation! how it strengthens our weakness and supplies our wants! But perhaps enough has been said to give stability, where that stability was wanting to our convictions of its excellence. Oh, when it teaches us to be diligent in the improvement of every faculty and talent which we possess-when it requires us to be upright, and kind, and merciful in every relation of life-when it leads us to an intimate and holy communion with God, raises our trembling soul to his presence, and sublimes it with the essence of his purity and love-when it cherishes and exalts our virtues in the present life, and crowns them with glory in the life which is eternal—we should not refuse our admiration of its excellence, we should not count other things than as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord! Should we attempt with the most scrutinizing exactness to discover in any respect its incapacity to refine and ennoble, to communicate the most pure and enduring joys, to console amidst the afflictive changes of our mutable condition, and to sanctify every dispensation of our God and Father in heaven, the attempt would fail; we should make no such discovery, for, in this and in all respects, it is exactly such as the most perfect wisdom would contrive for us and our purest affections delight in.

Is it without reason, then, that the Apostle Paul places so distinguished a value upon it? that he esteems it above all price? that he suffered the loss of all things for it? and was only anxious in his own expressive words to win

« AnteriorContinua »