« EdellinenJatka »
the power of words to express; I loved him too well; and this love now occasions my grief. I am also pained that I have not prayed more for him, and talked more with him, about God and his soul. Satan has also insinuated a thought that the dispensation contains peculiar tokens of the Lord's displeasure. That God should take away the eldest child; for three successive times, and now my son-an only son six years of age! But I know this very circumstance aggravates the trial, and shows the wisdom which designed it. It was intended for a trial, and must therefore cross some dear purpose of the heart.
This enemy tells me what he might have been. He reminds me of his tenderly affectionate temper-how he embraced me the last morning of his life; such an affection would have been a source of attention and kindness towards us in our sickness, age, and death. But, Satan,-Could any one be sure that we shall live to need it ?— Or that he would have increased in this tenderness if he had lived? Are there no instances of foolish and rebellious children in the world? He was peculiarly loving in his temper; this is a reason for thankfulness, and might render him the more meek for a heaven of love.
This cruel foe haunts my imagination with pictures of his face, his smiles, his tears, his agonies, and conflicts with disease.-He points me to his little garden, where are the different flowers his own hand planted, his little spade, the stick with which he took his last walk with me. Ah! (he hints), what a sweet companion to you he was in the field, and the garden!-and in the house, how he enlivened your wintry and solitary hours? But his sufferings were comparatively short: he is better employed; and had he lived, he must have been separated by apprenticeship or something else.
But I may "sing of mercy, and judgment." I might have left him a prey to an unfriendly world. Instead of the child, the mother might have fallen; or, he might have lived, to ruin his soul and break our hearts! Or lived, to die at nine or ten years of age, without repentance, or lived to be a cripple, or an invalid the greatest part of his life.
When I observe the children of some believers, I have no reason to regret, that my dear child is in Heaven!
Not only what he might have been, but what he was, and what he is, consoles me. Yonder he is, with thousands of angels, who once were infants-himself an angel! In this world, he had a man's soul, in an infant's body; but now, his mind has left its prison, and is expanded into all the enjoyments of a perfect state.
I, too, have a period to all my cares, fears and anxieties, about his soul, his body, or his circumstances. Nothing can injure him, nor grieve me on his account, in his present state.
Another strong tie to this world is cut; and I have a new reason, to "set my affections on things above." The largest and best part
of my family are now in Heaven, "They shall not return to me; but I shall go to them!" Such are my persuasions of their happiness, and expectations of meeting them.
ERRORS OF THE SICK POOR.
SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS, or a disposition to "trust in themselves that they are righteous;" whilst destitute of faith in Christ. They trust their own obedience for justification, rather than "the obedience of ONE, by which MANY are made righteous." Their imaginary good works are "the sand" on which they build their hopes; rather than the atonement, righteousness and grace of Jesus. This false hope is supported, by judging themselves by an unscriptural standard.
Supposing their best works far exceed their own worst works, trusting to forms of religion without the power; rejecting experimental religion as enthusiasm or fanaticism, cant and hypocrisy, they "fail," come short of the grace of God. Instead of comparing their characters with the character of God, the obedience of Christ, or the perfect law. They compare themselves with the prophane, the sensual, and the unjust; and like the Pharisee, “thank God they are not as other men !"
If, however, CONSCIENCE IS ALARMED by past sins-tears, prayers, promises of future obedience, and the sacrament, constitute the refuge, a refuge of lies which Satan sets before them. Having taken the sacrament, at the request of "a blind guide," they are lulled into a false peace, produced by a persuasion of their oWN GOODNESS. They cry "peace! peace! when there is no peace."
Others are trusting their sound creed-without vital faith in it; or excusing their ignorance of the Gospel, by saying "I am no scholar."
Some conclude they shall be saved because they have suffered; or have done no harm.
Not a few expect to be saved by their evangelical notions, exalting themselves by their clear views of the Gospel, whilst strangers to its SANCTIFYING influence.
Numbers ignorantly glory in having been baptized and confirmed, who have only been confirmed in their proud conceit of their own goodness.
Who went to church proud, humbly to repent,
And left it much more wicked than they went.
Too many persons think if they repeat the Creed, the Lord's prayer and the Ten Commandments, they shall be saved.
But the most wicked man on earth may do all this, and much more. Your creed may be good; but you may not believe it. You may profess to believe it, and often repeat the words without faith. "the devils believe and tremble." B
The apostle James says,
they do not believe and repent-believe and pray; believe and trust in Christ; believe and love God; believe in Christ to make them holy.
Be not deceived; morality without faith is dead; and faith without obedience, is a dead faith.
If you believe that Christ is able and willing to save sinners, you will trust in him to pardon your sins, to give you repentance, to make you holy, by giving you his spirit. You will trust him to save you from your sins and temptations, to support you in trouble, to comfort you in distress, to strengthen you to obey him, to succour you in a dying hour, and to conduct you to Heaven.
Remember, your time is short, diseases may soon confine you; death approaches you every hour, and Heaven or Hell will soon receive you. This night, your soul may be required of you.
Watch therefore; for in such an hour as you think not, the son of man cometh!
No. CXIX.-EFFECTS OF DEATH ON MAN.
(This article is abridged and altered from the First Chapter of Butler's Analogy.)
ALL that we know from reason concerning death, is the effects it has upon animal bodies: and the frequent instances among men of the intellectual powers, continuing in high health and vigor, at the very time when a mortal disease is on the point of putting an end to all the powers of sensation, induces us to hope, that it may have no effect at all on the human soul, not even so much as to suspend the exercise of its faculties. And even admitting their suspension by death, it no more implies their extinction, than a sleep or a swoon. Our faculties remain undestroyed, in sleep and in a swoon, though in the latter we are not in a capacity to exercise them.
Death destroys the sensible proof of our existence. The perception or consciousness, which we have of our own existence, is indivisible, so as to imply a contradiction that one part should be here and another there, the perceptive power must be indivisible too, that is, the conscious being. Then our organized bodies, are no more part of ourselves, than any other matter around us. We might have existed in bodies differently organized, and may yet animate another body, or the same, differently modified. The dissolution of such bodies successively animated, would have no more tendency to destroy the faculties of perception and action, than the dissolution of any foreign matter from which we are capable of receiving impressions.
Men may lose their limbs, their organs of sense, and even the greatest part of their bodies, and yet remain the same living agents. And persons can trace up their existence to a time when the bulk of their bodies was extremely small in comparison of what it is in
mature age: they might have lost a great part of that small body and remained the same living agent. Indeed, the bodies of animals are in a constant flux, from a never ceasing attrition in every part of them. Large quantities of matter may be alienated from us, and successively change its owners, whilst each living agent remains one and the same permanent being.
According to certain laws of nature, perhaps we have several times lost the whole of our bodies, still we remain the same living agents. When we lose as great a part, or the whole, by another established law of nature, death, why may we not remain the same living agents? what is my nearest relation to matter? The living agent and those parts of the body, mutually affect each other.
If we consider the body as made up of organs and instruments, of perception and motion, it brings us to the same conclusion.
Optical experiments, and the assistance of sight by glasses show, that we see with our eyes in the same sense as we see with glasses; nor is there reason to believe that we see with them in any other sense, which would lead us to think the eye itself a percipient. The like may be said of hearing, and our feeling distant solid matter by means of something in our hand.
Foreign matter, therefore, which constitutes no part of our bodies, may be instrumental in preparing objects for and conveying them to the perceiving power, in a manner similar to that by which our senses convey them. The percipient power remains, after losing soine of our organs of sense. Dreams also prove a latent power of perceiving sensible objects in as strong and lively a manner without our external organs of sense.
The active power of the will remains the same, after the loss of a limb it can walk by the help of an artificial leg. There is no appearance of our limbs being endued with a power of moving or directing themselves, though adapted like the several parts of a machine, to be the instruments of motion to each other. If a man determines that he will look through a microscope, or, being lame, walk to such a place with a staff,-his eyes and his feet no more determine in these cases, than the microscope and the staff. His eyes are not the seers, nor his feet the movers, in any other sense than as the microscope and the staff are so. The alienation of these instruments is not destructive to the moving agent, and we have no reason to think that we stand in any other kind of relation to any thing which we find dissolved by death.
An objection may be stated, that these observations are equally applicable to brutes. Answer
First. If it implies the natural immortality of brutes, this creates no difficulty, since we know not what latent powers and capacities they may possess. Man, in infancy and childhood, is incapable of religion. It is the general law of nature, that rational creatures should, for years, be placed in a condition of being, in which he can
not exercise his reason; and great numbers leave the world before they can exercise the capacities they possess.
Secondly: The natural immortality of brutes does not imply that they are possessed of any latent capacities of a rational or moral nature. The economy of the universe may require that they should be living creatures without such capacities. Such difficulties are founded in our ignorance how they will be disposed of.
It is evident that our present powers and capacities of reason, memory, and affection, do not depend on the body, in the manner perception by our organs of sense does. Why then should we think that the death of the body will destroy them, as well as our powers of sensation? Or, why even suspend the powers of reflection?
There are instances of mortal diseases which do not at all affect our present intellectual powers; and this affords a presumption that those diseases will not destroy them.
Drowsiness and sleep suspend the exercise of our living powers, and hence we might have imagined it would destroy them, till experience shewed the weakness of this decision. But in many mortal diseases, there is not the shadow of probability, of our reflecting powers being suspended, as the moment before death, many persons are in the highest vigour of life. Apprehension, memory, reason, all appear entire, with the utmost force of affection, sense of character, of shame, and honor; and the highest mental enjoyments and sufferings, even to the last gasp; which prove greater vigour of life than bodily strength does. Why think disease will destroy those powers, which, even when mortal, it does not impair ?
If death does not suspend our reflecting powers,-the next life, with all its additions, may consist rather in going on, than beginning anew. Death, in some respects, may answer to our birth, which is not a suspension of the faculties we had before it, or a total change of the state of life in which we existed in the womb; but a continuation of both, with great alterations. In the natural course of things, death may put us into a higher and more enlarged state of life, or sphere of perception and action, as our birth does.-It appears then, from analogy, that death does not destroy the soul, or living agent,nor its present powers of reflection,-nor even suspend the exercise of our reflecting powers.
We have a capacity for happiness and misery. In our present state, much of our enjoyments and miseries, is put in our own power. Pleasure and pain are the consequences of our actions; these consequences we are enabled to foresee. God does not preserve us exclusively of our own care. We obtain common blessings by exertion. Prudence may secure comfort and promote our worldly interests; and imprudence render us miserable. Many do, what instruction, example, and experience teach then will bring poverty and disgrace, misery and death. It is the general method of divine administration, that we should possess capacities to foresee