Page images

draw aside the mysterious veil which concealed futurity from their view; and by referring you to the unwearied efforts they had made to obtain some light from the “land of shadows."

It is undoubtedly trae, that the heathen generally have entertained some rude hope of a future existence ; but the uncertainty and doubt, if not the gross contradictions, in which all their conclusions are involved, evince the need of a light greater than that of nature. If they have some such dubious hope, it has been derived more from the necessity under which the human mind labors for it, than from any certain discoveries, or authorized revelations, they have been able to make, or obtain. Imagination bas supplied what reason could not ascertain ; and faith has rested upon wishes rather than upon certainty. To them, their hope is not what it is to the christian,-"an anchor to the soul both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil whither Jesus our forerunner hath for us entered."

We discover, therefore, in the natural anxieties of the mind of man and in the indefatigable labors of human wisdom, the inestimable value of the doctrine of a resurrection from the dead to life and immortality; and in the unsuccessful efforts of philosophy, we learn the propriety, and indeed the necessity, of christian revelation.

It was not our design, nor is this perhaps the place for us, to defend the authority of Divine Revelation ; but since the train of thought we have hitherto pursued bas necessarily mixed itself with an argument having such à tendency, we must be permitted here to pause for a moment, to call on reason and philosophy to pay a just tribute to the superior excellency of christianity.

Ye famed investigators of the arcana of nature ! Speak. Among all youc boasted discoveries, tell us, have ye yet ascertained a satisfactory answer to that mo-t important of all inquiries : whether our "brethren" of the human famuly, whom we, with tears, commit to the clay cold clods of the valley, shall rise again 2" Ye tell us, that by the light of nature, ye have found a probability that they shall exist hereafter: but we want something more tnan a mere probability ;-we want "an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast," that shall enable us to ride out the angry storins of life, and surmount the awful surges of death :-we demand a certainty in this case.-- Ye are silent.-Learn then to bow in humble reverence before the spotless “Sun of Righteousness,” and cast your proudest honors at the feet of him, who is at once "he Resurrection and the Life,"'--"the first born of every creature,"_"the head of every man,"

in whom all shall be made alive." We would not mean that revelation is opposed to rea

We believe the former to be above, but not opposite the latter. This is a distinction, which ought to be preserved. The truth is, they are profitable allies which act in concert and strengthen each other's hands. We hope not to be of the number of those whom a celebrated female writer* once described, when she said: “It is a singular fact, that the infidel and the fanatic sometimes meet at the same point of error-that reason has little to do with religion ! Sound reason and christian piety are sometimes represented as if they were belligerent powers ; as if they were better calculated to meet sword in hand, than in the way of treaty and negociation; and as if every victory of the one, must necessarily be obtained at the expense of the other. But it is an affront to the Giver of every good gift to represent his highest natural and his supernatural endowments as hostile to each other.” Pardon this digression, and we will return.


* Hannah More.

The necessity and value of the gospel of Christ, which “brings life and immortality to light," may be further shown by an appeal to your personal wants.

Amidst the strange and unforeseen changes to wbich you are exposed :-Day in times of actual disappointments, pains and troubles, you realize, at least in some measure, the uncertain tenor of all earthly enjoyments; and perhaps, turning with disgust upon a world which you behold so full of liabilities and ruin, it is then that, resolved to seize the last hope, you čast an exploring tye toward that eternal state, to which all are fast tending. By the light of the scriptures your faith beholds the blissful regions of immortality, imparting to you a hope that is infinitely more valuable than all this world holds dear.

For what consideration, my brethren, would you part with the delightful anticipation of future existence, and of a happy reunion with those loving and beloved friends and companions, whose departure from this world has filled your bosoms with so much sorrow? If the lainp of reason afford the least light to your understanding; if the benevolent principles of your nature are not wholly extinct, you will cheerfully consent to the value of the christian doctrine of immortality.

When you behold the "king of terrors," trampling with stern indifference upon all the glory of the world; when you see the most virtuous and useful citizens, whose excellency might seem to give them some claim to life, or society an expectation of their continuance, pierced, in the prime of life and in the vigor of health, by the cold and fatal arrows of death ; who would resist the consoling influences of that faith which permits you to consider them only as removed from this to a better and more glorious mansion of our Father's house, there to hail their fellow pilgrims as they travel down the precarious banks of time into the dark valley of the shadows of death, and to welcome them to the boundless love and fond embrace of the great Redeemer of mankind "who gave himself a ransom for all po

Death regards not the honorable distinctions which virtue and talents justly merit and obtain, however useful or dear they may be to us. He as often despoils youth of its beanty, as he brings down the grey hairs to the grave. In one place you behold the venerable and deeply rooted tree suddenly prostrated ; in another you see one levelled to the earth with all its yet unripe fruit hanging thickly about its branches ; here the opening blossoms fade, and there the tender germ is blasted as it seeks the light and heat of the “king of day." Perhaps you have stood, with aching hearts, over the dying pillow of the lovely daughter, who clung closely to your bosom ; mor of the dutiful son, whose opening virtues and talents promised to make hiin the pride and support of your old age ;-or of the brother, “with whom you took sweet counsel ;" with whom you have passed many innocent and happy hours, and in whose society you réjoicet ;-or of the mother, who nursed your feebler years, and whose affectionate admonitions had given you'a heart to "weep with those that weep;"--or of a father, to whose protection you were indebted ; whose faithful counsels and maxims were directed to render


honorable, useful and happy in life ;-or of the bosom companion, whose fortunes, whose sympathies were a'l your own ;---you have caught the last beam of kindness which shot from their closing eyes”-have pressed their lips then cold aod' motionless in death, followed them to the silent "house appointed for all the living," to the grave, which conceals every fault, and from whose peaceful bosom spring only fond regrets and pleasing recollections and as you have returned to your vacant

dwellings, your souls have uttered the language of an Apostle: "We that are in this tabernacle du groan being burdened; not for that we would be uncluthed, but clothed upon; that mortality might be swallowed up of life."

At such times, if you have heard the consoling words of Jesus directed to bind up your broken hearts" Thy brother, or friend, shall rise again ; and if your faith in the joyful assurance was so strong that, with heartfelt satisfaction and gratitude you could exclaim, as the bereaved mourners mentioned in our context gladly exclaimed,"I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day;" you have found a support, at once, acceptable and sufficient,-a truth as valuable as it is needful,-of which you rejoice it is not in the power of the world or the world's fortune to deprive you.

The resurrection of the human family from death to life, from mortality to immortality, and from dishonor to glory-is a consummation most comforting in its character; as it is that alone which can satisfy the wants of the children of Adam. Here indeed appears the incoin. parable advantage derived from the gift of a Savior to the world. Jesus taught this joyful doctrine in his mortal life; and previous to his death, he furnished evidence of its truth in the resurrection of Lazarus (of whom our text was originally spoken,) from his slumbers in the grave. He predicted his own ignominious crucifixion, and his resurrection on the third day, as the first ripe and sanctifying fruits of the human harvest. When the morning of that auspicious day arrived-a day of greater wonders and of more important consequences than that on which the Almighty's voice bid the natural creation arise,-e'er the eastern beams of morning reddened the Arimathean sepulchre, Jesus the mighty captain of a world's salvation, awoke from his fruitful slumbers, threw off' mortality, enrobed himself in

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »