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that Friend ; the most pleasing of all emotions. On this Friend also, he perpetually relies, as perpetually able, and inclined, to befriend him; as present wherever he is; as knowing whatever he needs ; as exercising towards him everlasting loving-kindness ; and as having given his own immoveable promise, that all things shall work together for his good. This train of considerations, regularly attending his whole course of enjoyments, cannot fail to enhance the value of every blessing, in which he shares; and to spread warmth, and light, and life, around him in his journey towards Heaven.
At the same time, he is at peace with himself. He has submitted to God : he has yielded himself to the Redeemer. The war between his inclinations and his conscience, the tumult of bis passions and his fears, has in a great measuře subsided. To this state of agitation, has succeeded the peace of forgiven sin, and an approving conscience. The long night of darkness and storm has retired ; and a serene and cheerful morning has arisen upon the world within ; a happy presage of perpetual day. A mind, at peace with itself, is the only mind at ease : and a mind without ease is ill prepared to enjoy. Whatever good the world gives must be imperfectly tasted by him, who is unsatisfied with himself, conscious of his exposure to the anger of God, and terri. fied by expectations of future woe. An exemptiom from these evils is the first great step towards sincere happiness, and confers a capacity for enjoyment, which, without it, must be for cver unknown. But the present state is far from being a state of enjoyment only. The means of soothing sorrow are at least as necessary to us, as those of enhancing comfort. In this important privilege, the superiority of the good man's choice is perhaps still more conspicuous. Peace of mind blunts, in a great measure, all the shafts of adversity. A strong sense of the universal Government of God, and of his friendship to the soul, change the very nature of afflictions; and transmute them from curses into blessings. At the same time, the Hope of the Gospel, always present to the mind of such a man, administers to him the richest consolation in every sorrow; reminds him daily, that in this life only will he be a sufferer; and directs his eye to that world of
approaching peace, and prosperity, where his afflictions will final. ly flee away.
In Death itself, all these privileges will be his. Hope parti. cularly, and peace, will soothe all the sufferings of a dying-bed, and illumine his passage into Eternity. Or should be, as is sometimes the case, find fears and sorrows await him at this period; this is his last enemy, and possessed of power over him but for a moment.
Thus the good man goes through the present life, possessed of a happier character, and a happier lot, than any, which can be challenged by bad men. His enjoyments are superior in kind, in number, and in degree. He possesses alleviations of trouble, to which no bad man can make any pretensions. Death itself is to him often peaceful; and often filled with hope and consolation. Whenever it is not; it is still the termination of all his sorrows.
In the future world, the difference is infinite. When the good man resigns his body to the grave, and his spirit to the hands of God who gave it; he enters immediately into the joy of his Lord. Sin and suffering, time and death, hold their dominion over him no more. The dawn of his future being is to him the dawn of everlasting day. In this immense duration, his life will be an uninterrupted progress of virtue, honour, and enjoyment. Fixed for ever in the world of glory, and surrounded by the General assembly of the first-born, a companion of angels, and a child of God, he will look back with ineffable delight, on that choice, which accomplished the end of his being, and made life and death blessings to him; and will stretch his view forward with transport to joy succeeding joy, and to glory surpassing glory. throughout ages, which cannot end.
THE IMMEDIATE CONSEQUENCES OF DEATH.
ECCLESIASTES xii. 7.
Then shall the dust return to the Earth as it was, and the spirit
shall return to God who gave it.
In my last discourse, I made several observations concerning Death, considered as the last Dispensation of Providence to man in the present world. The immediate Consequences of Death furnish the next subject of our investigation.
In the text we are told, that, when man goeth to his long home, the dust, or body, shall return to the earth, of which it was formed, and that then also, the spirit shall return to God who gave it. In considering this subject, I shall follow the order of discourse here presented to us; and examine those things which, imme. diately after Death, respect,
1. The Body; and,
Death is the termination of all the animal functions of our nature. So long as these continue, life, the result of them, diffuses warmth, activity, and beauty, throughout our frame. In this state, the Body is a useful, as well as pleasing, habitation for the soul; and a necessary, as well as convenient, instrument Vol. V.
for accomplishing the purposes, to which it is destined in the present world.
But, when these functions cease, life also ceases, The Body then becomes cold, motionless, deformed, and useless. The form, which once gave pleasure to all around it, now creates only pain and sorrow. The limbs are stiffened; the face clouded with paleness; the eye closed in darkness; the ear deaf; the voice dumb; and the whole appearance ghastly, and dreadful. In the mean time, the spirit deserts its ruined habitation, and wings its way into the unknown vast of being.
2. The Body is conveyed to the grave.
Necessity compels the living to remove this decayed frame from their sight. Different nations have pursued different modes of accomplishing this purpose. By some nations the Body has been consumed with fire. By others it has been embalmed. By some it has been lodged in tombs, properly so called. By some it has been consigned to vaults and caverns; and by most has been buried in the grave. All nations, in whatever manner they have disposed of the remains of their departed friends, have with one consent wished, like Abraham, to remove their dead out of their sight.
In this situation the body becomes the prey of corruption, and the feast of worms. How humiliating an allotment is this to the pride of man? When the Conqueror, returned from the slaughter of millions, enters his capital in triumph ; when the trumpet of fame proclaims his approach, and the shouts of millions announce his victories ; surrounded by the spoils of subjugated nations, and followed by trains of vanquished kings and heroes; how must his haughty spirit be lowered to the dust by the remembrance, that within a few days himself would become the food of a worm, reigning over him with a more absolute control, than he ever exercised over his slaves. Yet this will be the real end of all his achievments. To this humble level must descend the tenant of the throne, as well as of the cottage. Here wisdoin and folly, learning and ignorance, refinement and vulgarity, will lie down together. Hither moves with an unconscious, but regular step, the Beauty that illumines“ the gay assembly's gayest room;" that subdues the heart even of the Conqueror himself; and says, “ I sit as Queen, and shall see no
sorrow.” All these may, and must, ultimately say to corruption, Thou art our father, and to the worm, Thou art our mother, and our sister. But we are not yet at the end of the progress. The next stage in our humiliation is, to be changed into dust. This was our origin: this is our end. The very clods, on which we tread, were once not improbably parts, to a greater or less extent, of living beings like ourselves. Not a small part of the surface of this world has, in all probability, been animated, and inhabited by human minds: and the remains of man are daily perhaps, as well as insensibly, turned up by the plough, and the spade.
II. The Events, which immediately after Death coneern the Soul, are the following.
1. At Death the Soul quits the body, to return to it no more.
At Death, the animal functions cease; or rather the cessation of them is Death itself. Then the flexibility, the power of action, and the consequent usefulness to which they gave birth, are terminated also. The Soul, of course, finds the body no longer fitted to be an instrument of its wishes, or its duties. The limbs can no longer convey it from place to place; the tongue communicate its thoughts; nor the hands execute its pleasure. Deprived of all its powers, the body becomes a useless, and uncomfortable, residence for a being, to whose nature, activity is essential, and the purposes of whose creation would be frustrated by a longer confinement to so unsuitable a mansion. We cannot wonder, therefore, that the Author of our being should, in his providence, remove the Soul from a situation, so contradictory in all respects to the design of its existence.
The proof of the fact, which I am considering, and of the existence of the Soul in a state of separation from the body, has to a great extent, been necessarily given in a former discourse; in which I attempted to show, that the Soul is not material. To that discourse I must, therefore, refer my audience for these proofs. It may, however, not be improper briefly to mention some of them on the present occasion.
The first, which I shall mention, is the Text. Here we are informed, that the dust, at death, shall return to the earth, as it was; and the spirit shall return to God who gave it. That the