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present God; it reveals the stupendous fact of man's apostasy and the method of his salvation : in the distance, looming up with fearful distinctness, we get a sight of a world on fire the judg. ment-seat of Jesus Christ-the resurrection scene the final gathering and separation--the glory of the blessed, and the doom eternal of the damned. As a matter of Doctrine, religion is the most important, desirable, soul-moving thing in the universe.
How is it possible for a man to avoid feeling, who receives the doctrines of religion? In the language of Foster-" There they stand before me not in a deceptive vision, but in an absolute reality, the most important things that can be in the view of any being on this globe, or that has left it-the Redeemer of man--salvation - perdition-death-judgment-eternity! They stand confront. ing me, that there may be in me something corresponding to them. It is in the presence of God that I thus stand with these most awful objects before me; it is by his light that I see them ; it is his authority, in its utmost fullness, that insists on their demand of a corresponding state of my mind; it is his voice that pronounces me lost, if that answerable state be not here. And yet, is it the fact, that I am indifferent still ? Here is the soul that can acknowledge all this, and still not tremble, nor care, nor pray, nor strive! can be at liberty for any pursuit, or gayety, or amusement. One could almost imagine that realizing such a state of things in a man's own soul might produce an amazement enough to suspend for a while even the sense of personal interest; that a man might be absorbed awhile before he came again to the consciousness of being himself the subject; as we should look at some strange and dreadful phenomenon in the natural world. In truth there is no phenomenon in the world so portentous."
Religion is a Life as well as a doctrine ; and that life is from God himself. To experience religion, therefore, is to experience a thorough renovation of nature-a radical change of character and living ; to put off a sinful and corrupt nature, and put on a holy one; to forsake all the old paths of thought, and habit, and experience, and go in a new and opposite direction. And this change is produced by the mighty workings of the Word and Spirit of God; no other agency is adequate to produce it. Now is it reasonable to suppose, that a man can undergo so great a moral change, be shaken by the powers of the world to come, and wrought upon by the Divine Spirit; experience in his soul conviction and penitence for sin, the hopes and joys and fears of religion, and show no feeling ?
Religion has also a grand Historic interest. The Incarnation, with its marvelous attending circumstances: the history of the Old Testament church, and the conflicts and triumphs of the New: the stirring examples of patriarchs and prophets, apostles and martyrs; the brightening page of prophecy, and the illustrating and corresponding wonders of Providence a hastening death
a decaying world, and probation just ready to issue in glory or
misery eternal; surely here is enough that is interesting and moving, to awaken our drowsy powers and thrill the soul with emotion. Religion is, indeed, no trifle. God has not made the mighty heart of man to be sluggish or cold on the infinite and sublime matter of religion. Religion as a doctrine, a life, an historic embodiment of truth, piety and worth, may well make us feel as nothing else can.
PENALTY AS A MOTIVE IN PREACHING. The case before us (the preaching of Jonah) legitimately assigns a high importance to penalty as a motive in preaching. There is, however, a great deal said against it at the present time; strong efforts are made to raise a prejudice against it. It is sometimes called preaching terror. It is said by many, "we do not hold to this frightening people into religion.” And how was it with Jonah ? So far as it appears, he preached nothing but terror-utter and speedy ruin, with no indicated way of escape ; and the effect was universal and simultaneous a humbled and reformed nation. It was a true message, written in their very hearts, that they were guilty, and that a fearful retribution was before them; hence the effect these words had upon them.
Punishment, as the desert of sin, and its sure award, is to be preached because it is true-it is in the Bible. If it be not hereif God's statute-book holds not forth penalty- the positive infliction of punishment upon the evil-doer, then no statute-book has it ; nor can any reach or combination of language get out the idea, that a wicked man shall be punished for his wickedness. But the question comes round: why preach it? Because God reveals it, and commands the utterance. “Preach the preaching I bid thee.” Why preach it? Because men are made with fears, and the doctrine in question starts those fears, and stirs up their souls to think about an escape from the impending ruin. There is a part of man's nature, which nothing else will reach—here, of course, a work, nothing else will do. Let the preacher throw away this consideration, this stern feature of truth, this crowning sanction of Heaven, or decline to use it, and his authority, his power, his hold upon ungodly men goes with it. Preachers do tell us, as matter of experience, that this is the doctrine, this terrible aspect of truth is the one, which awakens the sinner, whenever he is awakened; he begins to consider by beginning to be afraid. It, certainly, cannot be expedient to drop this disturbing element, and hush every whisper of a reckoning to come, as a threatened doom. Then, there is nothing left but promise, and the cry of peace; peace to the wicked-every road ends in heaven-all kinds of conduct alike crowned with glory and blessedness. Will this do? In a world like this, of high-handed wrong, peopled everywhere with the daring and the vile, and where the tendency of all hearts is to evil, is there a sober man who believes it will do, to blot out penalty and cover up the pit? Then you may do what you please commit any crime in the long and gory catalogue ; only keep clear of human justice, there is no other fear; and if, perchance, you are too hard-pushed by the human avenger, and are likely to suffer, you can take the friendly steel and open the vital passage, and your imprisoned soul shall go clear, and go up where the Being who rules over all awaits it, and who will open heaven to your blood-stained spirit, and kindly say, “thou persecuted one, come in hither, I will protect you, for I am the friend of liars, and murderers, and adulterers, and all such." Is God such a being? Is such a message true? Will it do good ? Will it restrain men? Will it humble them and make them feel that sinning is bad business, and that sin is an abominable thing, and bring them to repentance, and reform them, and make them holy? There is no need of any words on this point. There is power in fear-in the fear of hell: and ministers must be allowed to preach the doctrine of hell, or all their preaching will be vain and nugatory. Let it be done in the just proportion; above all, let it be with the right spirit-a tender spirit. The denouncing prophet ought to be a weeping prophet; his warnings and uttered woes accompanied with his tears; then will there be a melting and subduing efficacy.
And here we strike upon one of the great difficulties of preaching on these old foundations. It lies in the fact, that preaching has been so long, and frequent, and faithful. Jonah's was a new message ; uttered in unaccustomed ears; at the first sound of it, those ears were eager and erect, and those limbs shook with the fear of the coming wo. It was so well adapted, and all so fresh, that the people were arrested and most deeply affected. But, now, truth, which came down Divinely arrayed, has grown threadbare from age and use, is cast out and goes begging. The people have had so much of it that they do not care much about it; they have come to hold it very cheap. They have heard it, till hearing is mere habit, or decency, or ceremony. It has been heard, till it has lost much of its power to interest and amuse the mind. That oft-used phrase-gospel-hardened, is, perhaps, rhetorically barbarous, but it is terribly significant-gospel-hardened ! hardened by such an instrument, by such a manifestation, a revelation of love, God's solicitude for the soul, His invitations and earnest wooings to win it, His melting influence upon it, how could these harden but by perversion and resistance? The guilt of such a course, who can tell ? And the condemnation, who can describe or indicate its severity and weight ?---Dr. Shepard, in Biblical Repository.
mJULY, 1849. SERMON DII.
1. Vol. XXII.
Whole No. 271.
BY REV. D. B. COE,
THE MEMORY OF THE LOST.
"Son, remember.”—LUKE, 16 : 25.
Many who fully believe the doctrine of future retributions, appear to lose sight of the continuity of our existence. They look upon death as a sort of chemistry, which destroys our personal identity, and transforms us into beings essentially different from what we are in the present life. Thus the intimate connection between probation and retribution is practically dissolved. The doctrine of future rewards and punishments loses its power, unless we keep in mind that we are to carry into the eternal world the same souls, with all their faculties, which we possess here. This truth is taught with terrible distinctness and power, in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. These two individuals are followed—the one from his poverty and sufferings to his rest in Abraham's bosom; the other from his lordly palace and sumptuous fare to his place of torment. The latter, though occupied with his present agonies, still remembers the past, summoning before him the scenes of his earthly career: and Abraham says to him, “Son, remember that thou, in thy life-time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things, but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
We have here presented for our consideration the office of memory in the retributions of the future world. Let us inquire
I. Whether there is satisfactory evidence that the memory of earthly scenes will be retained in eternity. The text, it may be acknowledged, is a parable, and does not necessarily refer to a
specific case. But though our Saviour might not have had reference to a particular individual, yet the facts themselves must be real, otherwise the parable teaches a falsehood. To represent a lost soul as recurring to the events of its earthly existence, when lost souls have no such power, would be a flagrant misrepresentation, such as we cannot charge upon our Saviour. We grant that this is not a historical narrative of a particular individual who remembered, but an imaginary case, to illustrate the general truth, that the soul in a future world does remember.
Indeed, this is implied in the very nature of retribution. The soul is to be punished for the deeds done in the body; and unless it remembers those deeds, how can it know for what it is punished ? How can conscience, whose stings constitute an important element in this punishment, inflict remorse for sins which are not remembered ? How can God be vindicated for the infliction of the curse of his law? How can every mouth be stopped, and the whole world become guilty before God, as the result of unremembered transgressions ? The nature of retribution, and the end of God's government in it, require that tie soul should remember.
Moreover, the philosophy of the mind itself teaches the same thing. There is no proof that any of the mind's knowledge is ever lost. We forget, that is, ideas pass from our thoughts, and are lost for the time, but reflection, and association, and various other causes, can bring back these lost possessions, and make present to our thoughts the events of years gone by. Go to the place of your birth, and look at the objects that were familiar to you in early days, and the scenes and events of childhood, which have been gone from you for years, will come thronging up from the storehouse of memory, and you will almost think yourself a child again. The past is not for ever gone, and at the appropriate signal it can all be summoned before us.
And is there any evidence that death will break this chain of memory? The ancients were accustomed to write upon parchmenis; and when they had no further use for what was written, it was erased, and the same surface was covered again. Such a parchment was called a palimpsest. A modern process has been discovered, by which the first impressions on the palimpsest may be rendered visible, and thus records that were lost for ages have been found. The human mind is a “ palimpsest.” On its tablets many successive impressions have been written. The early ones have been erased and forgotten, and others imprinted in their place; but the spiritual chemistry of the future world will bring to light those hidden characters, and the long lost records of our past lives will be recovered and remembered.
Many facts, however, might be adduced, bearing upon this position. We know, that in some cases, as the clay tabernacle