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Compare the insect in its two different states as a caterpillar, and as a butterfly.The caterpillar feeds on gross food; the butterfly on the sweets of flowers. The caterpillar crawls hearily on the earth, the butterfly ranges the air ; its wings are of the finest down, adorned with brilliant colours; its powers are renewed, it enjoys a superior existence.--Between its caterpillar, and its butterfly state, we have seen that the insect passes into one of torpor approaching death.
Does the subject suggest any spiritual truth?
The state of man upon earth may be compared to that of the caterpillar ; he is confined to a narrow spot; his powers are contracted his senses are a hindrance to his higher nature. His body must pass into the tomb, into a state of inactivity and death.
But will his body be always confined to the tomb ?
Must not all who are in their graves come forth at the voice of the Son of God? (John v. 28, 29; 1 Cor. xv. 52.]
And into what state will the bodies of the righteous pass
? Shall they not be transformed ? shall they not rise in glory and beauty?
What did we say of the former, of the present, and of the future state of the chrysalis ?
What comparison did we draw?
Can you think of any other manner, in which we may derive instruction from the subject?
Consider an individual in his unrenewed state.
Does he not feed on earthly food, without even desiring the bread of heaven?
Next consider the goodness of God in calling him to repentance, to a state of inward retreat. The man must pass “ through death to life.” A great change must be wrought in his soul. He may be for a time perhaps, to all appearance, useless; all the powers of his being may be absorbed by the secret operations of the Spirit of God; dead to this world, for it may be that he cannot occupy himself as formerly, and not yet alive to God.-But God seeth and worketh in secret. The greatest operations of nature are performed in stillness, and under the outward appearance of death. In the dark recesses of the earth, the diamond is formed in all its brilliancy; the ruby and the sapphire in their glowing colours. It is in the repose of winter that the process of vegetation takes place; it is in corruption and death, that the seed is fertilized.
And the NEW MAN is formed in the inward retreat of penitence :-in the recesses of the broken and contrite heart, God speaks peace; into the depth and inmost part of the soul, He breathes new life. In that state of apparent listlessness, torpor, and inaction, which the
spectator often cannot understand, the Christian is prepared to act with the high powers of a spiritual nature. In the appointed time, the new creature emerges from its prison; the captive sees the light of heaven; he lives in other regious; he feeds on other food : he is already in desire become an inhabitant of heaven-on the wings of faith he soars towards God.
Do you know the substance I have laid upon the table? Have you often seen it?
Why have I brought it before you?
What kind of substance is it?--Is it hard ? cold? heavy? opaque ?
Does it belong to the animal kingdom ?. To the vegetable? To the mineral ?
Where are minerals found ?
Must the Creator have foreseen our wants, when He formed coal ?
When is coal particularly a comfort?
Now let us consider this piece of coal. Were I to put a living creature on the table, what would you observe in it, which you cannot observe in the coal ? Will the coal ever move? Has it animal life?
Were a plant to remain long upon the table, what change would take place in it? Would a similar change ever take place in the coal ? Why not?
We spoke of the coal as hard : is it as hard as a stone ?
If you rub the coal in your hands, what will you perceive ? Why?
Would a dark stone produce the same effect? Why not?
Has every piece of coal a shape ? Has every piece of coal the same shape ?
Is shape an essential, or an accidental quality ?
Is particular shape ever essential ?
Is the particular shape of the coal essential or accidental ?
Of what properties can you think as essential to coal ?
What is the peculiar use of coal !
Would stone or clay answer the same purpose? Why.not?
Stone and clay cannot be kindled, but we see that coal can :-what is coal with respect to the fire ? Does it create fire? Is it not the food of fire ?
Will a piece of coal burn always !-When the coal burns, does all the fire you see proceed from that which was first applied to it?
In what respects does the coal become changed by the action of fire ?
What takes place when the coal begins to burn?
We said that its colour is black; does it continue black !
What becomes of the blackness?
What proceeds from the cor! in its burning state? (Smoke].