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filled, the greater number are the knells of infinite perdition, that the graves on which the mourners weep, which to us all, at one time or other, make earth a vale of tears, are so many monuments of irreparable wreck, the silent witnesses of God's anger and man's despair ; if any one, I repeat, could constantly, and in very truth, believe that souls were thus quitting the present scene, souls with enlarged capacities, but enlarged for eternal sorrow, and ever smile again, he might wear the form of his species, but he should have the heart of a fiend.
Faith in such a doctrine should kill at once the life of joy; every sound should be funereal, brightness or beauty there should be none. Each of us, like Job, should curse the day of his birth, but with a more terrible earnestness; the exclamation of Jeremiah would be in every mouth an appropriate utterance, " Oh that my head were waters, and my eyes were fountains of tears !"
Is there the human being that could feel joy in the midst of an hospital, could laugh in a city of the plague, while death went from couch to couch, while mirth was banished from each hearth, and the grass of desolation growing in the streets ?
But how much more should all delight be banished from the soul, if in the Creator's universe there be a dark and measureless region, filled with hideous abominations and unexpiring torments! If thus it be, let there, I repeat, be no look of happiness, let there be no voice of sweetness ; let garment of praise be changed for the spirit of heaviness ; let all heads be bent in grief, and all eyes dim with weeping, in lamentation for the sorrows of the universe.
But be it not so leave us at least a gleam of light from heaven.
“ Cease every joy to glimmer o'er my mind,
But leave, oh ! leave, the light of hope behind.”
Oh no! God has no pleasure in the death of a sinner, no glory in the pain or punishment of his creatures : it is the
progress towards universal blessedness, and its final consum
mation, that truly shows forth the glory of God, and manifests the grandeur of his name and nature—more sweetly than the earth, more majestically than the heavens. It shows forth his justice: he punishes, terribly, it may be, but not cruelly or hopelessly; he punishes, but he amends; he chastises, but he purifies. It shows forth his wisdom: for universal holiness and universal happiness are the mightiest objects which infinite wisdom could select, the highest purposes in which infinite wisdom could be manifested : It shows forth his power, not in a blasting malediction, but in a creative and all-dispensing love; not in the thunder of destruction, but in the hand of a father full of gifts and full of blessings :-subduing evil, distributing happiness, drawing out of apparent confusion order and harmony, more fair and beautiful than the worlds he has called out of darkness; “ moving upon the face of many a stormy wave, and blending into calm what seemed only the chaos of contending elements."
It is marvellous that we can think seriously on existence or on providence, that we can reflect on human nature or survey human life, without feeling the need as well as the truth of the doctrine of the full mercy of God, and of his universally benignant designs for all his children. True, creation is fair, and much of existence is happy; but still there are evils and miseries which ever perplex us for solution. If the view of God's government which we receive, does not solve all the difficulties, at the very least it softens them; if there are inscrutable things in the providence of God which it cannot explain, there are atrocities ascribed by other systems to this character which it does not involve. We may mourn over the wrongs, sufferings, and sins, which exist with fatal abundance in our present state ; we may wonder and think why they exist at all; but to what an extent of perplexity and pain are we driven, if we are to believe that all these evils are to be for ever, and to have no re
medy. When I see those who bear want and sorrow through many and heavy years, I rejoice that there is at last a home and refuge for them in their father's kingdom where they who were poor shall be made rich; where those who mourned shall be comforted: when I hear the sigh of pain, when I behold the power of death; when I know, as all must, in how many human dwellings grief sits lonely on the hearth, I am saved from a fearful and dangerous distrust by the belief, that in times to come, and in regions which we know not of, there is a balm for every grief and a remedy for every sin. None are unaware of the physical and the moral evils that hang over and around this existence; and both from the felt experience of our own hearts, and the recorded experience of many others, we can judge the infinite complexity of moral struggle, the subtleties of sin, and the miserable consequences of evil doings; and we cannot think that a good, a holy, a just, and merciful God can ordain such a state to be
perpetual and eternal. We know, moreover, how many are in the thick darkness of barbarism, each having within a universe of infinite and improvable capacities; we know what millions are in the dens of indigence, of crime, and ignorance, for whom earth is barren and life a burthen: and in what thought are we to take comfort, in what sentiment are we to find hope, if we believe not there is a God who does not forget his orphan children in their worst estate ; that as here they have received their evil things, there is a heaven where they have their good? And when we observe in this life so much of antagonist passions ; so much war and strife ; so much of bitter and hopeless alienation, our tired spirits wish for a retreat of peace; and with the Psalmist we long for the wings of a dove that we might flee away and be at of heart and charity which no mistakes could again divide. rest; for a calm sky after a heated atmosphere; for a union We have no need to fear that our high aspirations for the future shall make us proud or presumptuous; for we have all enough in our present lot to keep us humble. When we look within, we find a melancholy strife between our nobler and our higher existence, which we can never entirely overcome: when we cast our gaze over the face of the world, and the inequalities of life, and there in the strong-holds of sin and selfishness see so many causes of wickedness and pain, which the most believing and the most hoping can never hope entirely to overcome; when we regard our feeble powers and our short existence; our desires ever growing and wants ever deepening, and our passions ever craving; when we think of the knowledge we longed for, and could not have, the visions we dreamed of that never came, the good we resolved on and never did, the felicity we sought and never found, the wishes that were as empty as the echo in the desert, the ideas, the plans, the aspirations, and the purposes that vainly struggled for life, but found in our breasts their prison and their grave; we shall be in no danger of thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.
Blessed and beautiful doctrine is this, of universal redemption and restoration, which pours such a radiance over our groping obscurity, which gives our troubled hearts such peace, which softens grief and glorifies affection, which corrects the perverse and dignifies the lowly, which nourishes whatever in our nature is great or god-like, renders religion transcendent and lovely, and opens before the rejoicing eye of faith the grandeur of a renovated and an emancipated universe.