Sidor som bilder

bothers, as whose souls the inn

his victim. Cain and Abel, who have been, perhaps, parted from each other since the hour when the fratricide fled from the scene of his crime, and the body of his brother lay breathless in the dust, will now meet again. The body which sunk beneath that murderous blow, dealt by a brother's hand, and the hand which inflicted that blow, will be there, gathered again from the indiscriminate dust over which the world has trodden for scores of centuries. But if it be fearful to meet, thus, any on whom we may have brought temporal death, how much more may the scene be dreaded, by those who have occasioned the spiritual death of others, as the scene of their meeting with the proselytes and admirers, whose souls they aided in ruining forever. It will be sad for Caiaphas to meet the innocent Messiah whom he adjudged to death, though it was but the death of the body; but it would seem almost equally sad for the Jewish High Priest to face there his kindred and friends, whose unbelief his arguments sealed, and whose impenitence his example served to render obdurate and final, for upon them he will have brought the death of the soul. The meetings of the resurrection will form, then, no small portion of its terrors. This is the truth upon which we would chiefly insist, from the part of Scripture now before us. We have considered, generally, the resurrection of the dead. Let us proceed next to consider the dead of the sea, who are in our text distin. guished from the rest of the dead; and thence let us pass to the effects of their reunion with the rest of mankind, who ended their mortal career elsewhere than on the deep. Our remaining divi. sions will be, therefore,

II. The sea giving up its dead.

III. The meeting of the dead, so given up of the sea, with the dead of the land.

II. The sea will be found thickly peopled with the mortal remains of mankind. In the earlier ages of the world, when the relations of the various nations to each other were generally those of bitter hostility, and the ties of a common brotherhood were little felt, the sea, in consequence of their comparative ignorance of navigation, served as a barrier, parting the tribes of opposite shores, who might else have met only for mutual slaughter, ending in extermination. Now that a more peaceful spirit prevails, the sea, which once served to preserve, by dividing the nations, has, in the progress of art and discovery, become the channel of easier intercourse and the medium of uniting the nations. It is the great highway of traffic, a highway on which the builder cannot encroach, and no monarch possesses the power of closing the path, or engrossing the travel. Thus continually traversed, the ocean has become, to many of its adventurous voyagers, the place of burial. But it has been also the scene of battle, as well as the highway of commerce. Upon it have been decided many of those

night storry, have perishen merce first befahiş depe

conflicts which determined the dynasty or the race, to whom for a time should be committed the empire of the world. It was on the sea, in the fight of Salamis, that the fleets of Greece and Persia contended, whether the despotism and wealth of the East should extend their widening sway over the freedom and arts of the West. It was in the sea-fight of Actium, that the imperial power of Rome, then claiming dominion over the world, was assured to Augustus and his successors, and the way was prepared for the universal peace that reigned at our Saviour's birth. On this element was fought the battle of Lepanto, where the right arm of the Ottoman was broken. And, as we come down to our own times, the fights of Aboukir, Trafalgar, and Navarino, all contests upon the sea, were battles affecting in no slight degree the destinies of all Europe, and the civilized world. All these have served to gorge the deep with the carcasses of men. It has had, again, its shipwrecks. Though man may talk of his power to bridle the elements, and of the triumphs of art, compelling all nature to do his work, yet there are scenes on the sea in which he feels his proper impotence. And when God lets loose his winds, and calls up his billows, man becomes sensible of his dependence. How many in all ages, since commerce first began her voyages of profit or discovery, have perished in the waters, foundering in the midnight storm, driven on the unsuspected rocks, engulfed by the whirlpool, or dashed by winds against some iron-bound coast. Even in our own times, with all our improvements in the art of navigation, and with all the expenditures that are incurred to increase the mariner's security, it has been calculated by some, that each year one thousand ships are lost at sea.

The sea, then, has its dead. And when the trump is blown, the archangel's summons to the judgment, the sea shall give up these its long-buried treasures. The gold and the jewels it has accumulated, the “buried argosies,” with all the rich freight which it has swallowed up, will be permitted to slumber unreclaimed; but no relic that has formed part of the corpse of a child of Adam will be left unclaimed or unsurrendered in that hour. The invalid, who, in quest of health, embarked on the sea, and perished on the voyage, committed to the deep with the solemn ceremonies of religion--the pirate, flung into the waves from a deck which he had made slippery with blood-the emigrant's child; whose corpse its weeping parents surrendered to the deep on their way to a land of strangers-the whaler, going down quick into death midst his adventurous employment--the wretched slave, perishing amid the horrors of the Middle Passage-the sailor, dropped from the yard-arm in some midnight galethe wrecked, and the dead in battle, all will arise at that summons. The mariners of all times, who have died on their loved element, those who rowed on the galleys of Tyre or Carthage, or manned the swift ships of Tarshish, will be there, together with the dead of our own days. The

[ocr errors]

idolater, who sunk from some Chinese junk while invoking his graven images; and the missionary of the cross, who, like Coke, perished on his way to preach the gospel to the heathen, or who, like Chamberlain, compelled to return from the field of missionary toil, with shattered health, and all wearied and spent with labors for Christ, has expired on his homeward way-all, all shall be there. As these shall reappear from the entombing waters, will their coming have no effect upon the multitudes who died on the shore, and whose bodies also the cemeteries and sepulchres of earth shall on that day have 'restored? We have thus reached the last division of our subject.

III. The meeting of the dead of the sea with the dead of the land.

1. There must be, then, in this resurrection from the sea, much to awaken feeling in the others of the risen dead, from this, if from · no other cause : these, the dead of the sea, will be the kindred and near connections of those who died upon the land. Among those whom the waters shall in that day have restored, will be some who quitted home expecting a speedy return, and for whose coming attached kindred and friends looked long, but looked in vain. The exact mode, and scene, and hour of their deaths have remained until that day unknown to the rest of mankind. And can it be, without feeling, that these will be seen again by those who loved them, and who through weary years longed for their return, still feeding “the hope that keeps alive despair?” The dead of ocean will be the children and pupils, again, of the dead of the land. Their moral character may have been formed, and their eternal interests affected, less by their later associates on the deep, than by the earlier instructions they received on shore. They may have exhibited on the deck and in the forecastle only the examples they witnessed in the nursery, and the tempers they cherished, and the habits they formed in the home. When these are restored, they are restored to witness for or against their parents, and the associates of their childhood and youth. These last may have died on shore, but by their influence on the mariner, they have transmitted their own spirit and moral character over the wide waste of waters, to remote and barbarous shores. It cannot, in the very nature of the human soul-its memory, its affections, and its conscience remaining what they now are—it cannot but be a scene of solemn interest, when the dead of the land shall behold their kindred dead of the sea.

2. Let it be remembered, again, that a very large proportion of those who have thus perished on the ocean, will appear to have perished in the service of the landsman. The mariner will appear very generally, we say, to have found his watery grave while in the service of those dwelling upon shore. Some in voyages of discovery, despatched on a mission to enlarge the bounds of human

knowledge, or to discover new routes for commercial enterprise, and new marts for traffic. Thus perished the French navigator La Peyrouse, whose fate was to the men of the last generation so long the occasion of anxious speculation. Still greater numbers have perished in the service of commerce. The looms and forges of Britain could not continue to work, and famine would stalk through her cities, did not her ships bear abroad the manufactures of her artisans to every clime. It is to the sailor we owe it that the cottons of Manchester, and the cutlery of Birmingham reach even the wigwams of our western Indians. Literature employs and needs the seaman, and the scholar beyond the Alleghanies studies books that were purchased for him in the bookfairs of Germany, and brought across the sea by the adventurous mariner. And look to the home, and see how many of its delicacies, and luxuries, and adornments are brought to us from abroad by the sailor's skill and enterprise. And our agriculture needs his aid. The grains of the North, and the cotton of the South, would find little vent, were not the swift ships ready to bear them to a market. They have served the church also. By them the Pilgrim Fathers reached a refuge on these shores, and found a home. By them the missionary has been wafted to his station in the heathen world. As a people we are under special obligations to the art and enterprise of the navigator. We are a nation of emigrants. The land we occupy was discovered and colonized by the aid of the mariner. The seaman has, then, been employed in our service. And as far as he was our servant, doing our work, we were bound to care for his well-being; and if he perished in our service, it was surely our duty to inquire whether he perished in any degree by our fault. The ten commandments describe the duties of the employer as well as those of the parent. Care for the servant as well as the child was one of the lessons of Sinai. And though literally the servant named in the Decalogue might be only the servant of the household, not he who does service for us at a distance; yet the spirit of these commandments is not to be confined by so close and literal an interpretation. When our Saviour was asked, “Who is my neighbor ?” he pointed the inquirer to the remote and alien Samaritan. All whom we can reach, and all whom we use in service, mediate or immediate, we should seek to benefit, as far as our power and influence extend.

3. Others of those buried in the waters have lost their lives in defence of those upon the shore. In the last of our wars with the mother country, the navy was regarded as the right arm of our defence, under God, from the foreign foe. And so it has been with other lands. Their possessions, their liberties, their families and homes, have been protected by the deaths of those whom they have never known, but who expired, fighting their battles, leagues away, on the deep sea. Are no obligations imposed on us, in behalf of those who have thus befriended us, and in behalf of their successors and associates ? Can a nation claim the praise of common honesty or gratitude, who neglect the moral and spiritual interests of these their defenders ?

4. Let us reflect, also, on the fact, that many of those who have perished on the waters will be found to have perished through the neglect of those living on shore. We allude not merely to negligence in providing the necessary helps for the navigator. The Government, that should leave the shoals and reefs in its harbors unmarked by buoys, and that, along a line of frequented but dan. gerous sea-coast, should rear no light-houses, would be held guilty of the death of all shipwrecked in consequence. But may there not be other classes of neglect equally or yet more fatal? The parent who has neglected to govern or instruct his child, until that child, impatient of all restraint, rushes away to the sea as a last ref. uge, and there sinks, a victim to the sailor's sufferings or the sailor's vices, can scarce meet, with composure, that child in the day when the sea gives up its dead. Or if, as a community, or as churches, we shut our eyes to the miseries of the sick and friendless seaman, or to the vices and oppressions by which he is often ruined for time and eternity, shall we be clear in the day when inquisition is made for blood ? No, unless the church does her full duty, or in other words, reaches in her efforts the measure of her full ability, for the spiritual benefit of the seaman, her neglect must be chargeable upon her. Now, in the Saviour's description of the condemnation of sinners at the last day, it will be observed, that he selects instances, not of sins of commission, but of sins of omission, as destroying the world. “Inasmuch as ye did it not,” is the ground of the doom pronounced. May not the perishing sailor take up most of the items of that sentence, and charge them home upon many of the professed disciples of Christ ? Neither by influence, nor prayers, nor alms, did they relieve his temporal and spiritual destitution, when hungry, or thirsty, or sick, or naked, or in prison. And far as this neglect operated to form the habits that hastened his death, and led, perhaps, to his eternal ruin, so far it cannot be desirable to think of meeting him again, among those who shall rise in the last day from the ocean depths, to stand with us before the judgment-seat.

5. Many, we remark lastly, of the dead of the sea will be found to have been victims to the sins of those upon shore. Those who have perished in unjust wars waged upon that element, will they · have no quarrel of blood against the rulers that sent them forth?

The statesmen, the blunders or the crimes of whose policy the waters have long concealed, must one day face those who have been slaughtered by their recklessness. How many of the victims over whom the dark blue sea rolls its waters, have perished, year by year, in the nefarious slave-trade. Such is the large proportion of the miserable children of Africa who die on the voyage, that, along the ordinary course of the slave ship from the eastern shores

« FöregåendeFortsätt »