Sidor som bilder

to bliss, or pain, or annihilation—and these, are certainties which we do not keenly anticipate, and just because we are asleep unto these things. Should we behold a neighbour on the same path of enterprise with ourselves, suddenly arrested by the hand of bankruptcy, and be further told to our conviction, that the same fatality is sure to encounter all who are treading that path, we would retrace, or move aside, or do our utmost to evade it--because all awake to the disgrace and wretchedness of bankruptcy. We every month behold such a neighbour arrested by the hand of death-nor can we escape the conviction, that sooner or later, he will cast his unfailing weapon at ourselves; and yet no one practical movement follows the conviction, because we are asleep to a sense of the mighty ruin which awaits us from unsparing and universal mortality. Should the house in which you live, be entered with violence by the executioners of a tyrant's will, and a brother, or a child, be hurried away to a perpetual dungeon-if made to know, that it was because such a doom had been laid upon the whole family, and that sooner or later, its infliction was most surely in reserve for every successive member of it--would not you be looking out in constant terror, and live in constant insecurity, and prove how feelingly you were awake to a sense of the sufferings of an earthly imprisonment? But though death break in upon our dwelling, and lay a ruthless grasp on the dearest of its inmates, and leave the assurance behind him, that he will not cease his inroads on this devoted household, till he has swept it utterly.away-all we know of the loneliness of the church

philosopher, is in flames, it is not by a demonstration of philosophy that the one is awakened, and the other is left to perish in the ruin; and when both are awakened by the same call, it is not at the bidding of philosophy that the one hastens his escape, while the other lingers in the midst of destruction. They need only to be recovered to the use of senses which were alike suspended with both, that both may flee with equal promptitude from the besetting calamity. And the same of the coming wrath-the same of the consuming fire, that is now ready to burst on the head of the guilty, from the storehouse of treasured vengeance-the same of all the surrounding realities of God, and judgment, and eternity, which lie on every side of us. It is not philosophy which awakes him who has it, to a sense of these things. Neither is it the want of philosophy which keeps him who has it not, fast asleep among the vanities and day-dreams of a passing world. All the powers of philosophy, operating upon all the materials of philosophy, will never dissolve the infatuation of him who is not yet aroused either from the slumbers, or from the visions of carnality. To effect this, there must be either the bestowment of a new sense, or the restoration of an old sense, which has been extinguished. And be he learned or be he unlearned, such an awakening as this will tell alike upon both. The simple view of certain simple realities, to which the vast majority of the world are asleep, will put each of them into motion. And when his eyes are once opened by the force of such a demonstration, will he either flee from the coming wrath, or flee for refuge to the hope set before him in the Gos-yard, and all we read of the unseen horrors pel, without the bidding or the voice of phi- of that eternity to which the impenitent and losophy to speed his way. the unbeliever are carried by the ministers And that the vast majority of the world of the wrath of God, fail to disturb us out are, in truth, asleep to all those realities of the habit of living here, as if here we which constitute the great materials of re- were to live for ever; and that, just because ligion, may be abundantly proved by ex-while awake to all the reality which lieth perience and we cannot proceed far in the on this side of the grave, we are asleep to details of such a proof, without leading many the consideration both of the grave itself, an individual hearer to carry the topic home and of all the reality which lies beyond it. to his own experience. For this purpose, let us just compare the kind of feeling and perception which we have about an event that may happen on this side of time, with the feeling and perception about an event, as nearly similar as possible, that will happen on the other side of time, and try how much it is that we are awake as to the former, and asleep as to the latter. Should we assuredly know, that in a few years we are to be translated into a splendid affluence, or sunk into the most abject and deplorable poverty, how keen would be our anticipation, whether of hope or of fear: and why? Because we are awake unto these things. We do assuredly know, that in a few years we pass that mysterious portal, which leads

Now, the question comes to be, how is this sleep dissipated? Not, we affirm, and all experience will go along with us, not by the power of natural argument-not by the demonstrations of human learning, for these are just as powerless with him who understands them, as with him who makes his want of learning the pretence for putting them away--not by putting the old materials of thought into a new arrangement--not by setting such things as the eye of Nature can see, or its ear can hear, or its heart can conceive, into a new light--not by working in the varied processes of combination, and abstraction, and reasoning, with such simple and elementary ideas as the mind of man can apprehend. The feelings

and the suggestions of all our old senses it. The last messenger lifts many a note of put together, will not make out for us a preparation, but so deep is the lethargy of practical impression of the matters of faith-- our text, that he is not heard. Every year and there must be transition as great as do his approaching footsteps become more that by which man awakens out of the sleep distinct and more audible; yet every year of nature, and so comes to see the realities rivets the affections of the votary of sense of Nature which are around him--there more tenaciously than before, to the scene must be a something equivalent to the com- that is around him. One would think, that munication of a new sense, ere a reality the fall of so many acquaintances on every comes to be seen in those eternal things, side of him, might at length have reached where no reality was felt or seen, however an awakening conviction into his heart. much it may have been acknowledged be- One would think, that standing alone, and in fore. mournful survey amid the wreck of former It is true, that along the course of our or-associations, the spell might have been alreadinary existence, we are awake to the con- dy broken, which so fastens him to a perishcerns of our ordinary existence. But this able world. O, why were the tears he shed is not a wakefulness which goes to disturb over his children's grave, not followed up by the profoundness of our insensibility, as to the deliverance of his soul from this sore the concerns of a higher existence. We are infatuation? Why, as he hung over the in one sense awake, but in another most dying bed of her with whom he had so oft entirely, and, to all human appearance, taken counsel about the plans and the inmost hopelessly and irrecoverably asleep. terests of life, did he not catch a glimpse We are just in the same condition with a of this world's vanity, and did not the light man who is dreaming, and so moves for the of truth break in upon his heart from the time in a pictured world of his own. He solemn and apprehended realities beyond is not steeped in a more death-like indiffer- it? But no. The enchantment, it would ence to the actual and the peopled world appear, is not so easily dissolved. The deep around him, than the man who is busy for sleep which the Bible speaks of, is not so the short and fleeting pilgrimage of his easily broken. The conscious infirmities of days upon earth, among its treacherous de-age cannot do it. The frequent and touchlusions, is shut in all his sensibilities, and ing specimens of mortality around us, canall his thoughts, against the certainties of not do it. The rude entrance of death into an immortal state. And the transition is our own houses, and the breaking up of our not greater from the sleeping fancies of the own families, cannot do it. The melting night to the waking certainties of our daily of our old society away from us, and the business, than is the transition from the day- constant succession of new faces, and new dreams of a passing world, to those sub-families, in their place, cannot do it. The stantial considerations, which wield a pre-tolling of the funeral bell, which has rung siding authority over the conduct of him so many of our companions across the conwho walketh not by the sight of that which fines of eternity, and in a few little years, is around him, but by the faith of the unseen will perform the same office for us, cannot things that are above him, and before him. | do it. It often happens, in the visions of To be thus translated in the habit of our the night, that some fancied spectacle of mind, is beyond the power of the most busy terror, or shriek of alarm, have frightened and intense of its natural exercises. It us out of our sleep, and our dream together. needs the power of a new and simple mani- But the sleep of worldliness stands its festation; and as surely as the dreamer on ground against all this. We hear the moanhis bed behooves to be awakened, ere he beings of many a death-bed-and we witness restored to a just sense of his earthly con- its looks of imploring anguish-and we dition, and of his earthly circumstances, so watch the decay of life, as it glimmers onsurely must there be a distinct awakening wards to its final extinction-and we hear made to pass on the dark, and torpid, and the last breath--and we pause in the solemn overborne faculties of us all, ere the matters stillness that follows it, till it is broken in of faith come to be clothed to our eye in the upon by the bursting agony of the weeping characters of certainty, and we be made attendants--and in one day more, we retruly to apprehend the bearing in which visit the chamber of him, who, in white and we stand to the God who is now looking shrouded stateliness, lies the effigy of what over us, to the eternity which is now ready he was-and we lift the border that is upon to absorb us. the dead man's countenance, and there we gaze on that brow so cold, and those eyes so motionless-and, in two days more, we follow him to his sepulchre, and mingled with the earth, among which he is to be laid, we behold the skulls and the skeletons

This awakening calls for a peculiar and a preternatural application We say preternatural, for such the obstinacy of this sleep of nature, that no power within the compass of nature can put an end to it. It withstands all the demonstrations of arith-of those who have gone before him-and it metic. Time moves on without disturbing is the distinct understanding of nature, that

and the adventures, and the bustle, and the expectation of the scene that is immediately around him. Eternity is again shut out; and amid the dreaming illusions of a fleeting and fantastic day, does he cradle his infatuated soul into an utter unconcern about its coming torments, or its coming triumphs.


soon shall have every one of us to go through the same process of dying, and add our mouldering bodies to the mass of corruption that we have been contemplating. But mark the derangement of nature, and how soon again it falls to sleep among the delusions of a world, of the vanity of which it has recently got so striking a demonstration. Look onwards but one single day Yes! my brethren, we have heard the more, and you behold every trace of this man of serious religion denounced as a loud and warning voice dissipated to no- visionary. But if that be a vision which is thing. The man seemed, as if he had been a short-lived deceit—and that be a sober actually awakened; but it was only the reality which survives the fluctuations both start and the stupid glare of a moment, after of time and of fancy--tell us if such a use which he has lain him down again among of the term be not an utter misapplication; the visions and the slumbers of a soul that and whether, with all the justice, as well as is spiritually dead. He has not lost all with all the severity of truth, it may not be sensibility any more than the man that is retorted upon the head of him, who, though in a midnight trance, who is busied with prized for the sagacity of a firm, secular, the imaginations of a dream. But he has and much exercised understanding, and gone back again to the sensibilities of a honoured in the market-place for his exworld which he is so speedily to abandon; perience on the walks and ways of this and in these he has sunk all the sensibili- world's business, has not so much as enties of that everlasting world, on the con- tered upon the beginning of wisdom, but is fines of which he was treading but yester- toiling away all his skill and all his energy day. All is forgotten amid the bargains, on the frivolities of an idiot's dream.


On the new Heavens and the new Earth.

"Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness."-2 Peter iii. 13.

THERE is a limit to the revelations of the | somewhat is made known, and which, too, Bible about futurity, and it were a mental may be addressed to a higher principle than or spiritual trespass to go beyond it. The curiosity, being like every other Scripture, reserve which it maintains in its informa- "profitable both for doctrine and for instructions, we also ought to maintain in our in- tion in righteousness." quiries-satisfied to know little on every subject, where it has communicated little, and feeling our way into regions which are at present unseen, no further than the light of Scripture will carry us.

But while we attempt not to be "wise above that which is written," we should attempt, and that most studiously, to be wise up to that which is written. The disclosures are very few and very partial, which are given to us of that bright and beautiful economy, which is to survive the ruins of our present one. But still there are such disclosures-and on the principle of the things that are revealed belonging unto us, we have a right to walk up and down, for the purpose of observation, over the whole actual extent of them.

What is made known of the details of immortality, is but small in the amount, nor are we furnished with the materials of any thing like a graphical or picturesque exhibition of its abodes of blessedness. But still

In the text before us, there are two leading points of information, which we should like successively to remark upon. The first is, that in the new economy which is to be reared for the accommodation of the blessed, there will be materialism, not merely new heavens, but also a new earth. The second is, that, as distinguished from the present, which is an abode of rebellion, it will be an abode of righteousness.

I. We know historically that earth, that a solid material earth, may form the dwelling of sinless creatures, in full converse and friendship with the Being who made them— that, instead of a place of exile for outcasts, it may have a broad avenue of communication with the spiritual world, for the descent of ethereal beings from on high-that, like the member of an extended family, it may share in the regard and attention of the other members, and along with them be gladdened by the presence of him who is the Father of them all. To inquire how this

can be, were to attempt a wisdom beyond will be ground to walk upon; or scenes of Scripture: but to assert that this has been, luxuriance to delight the corporeal senses; and therefore may be, is to keep most strictly or the kindly intercourse of friends talking and modestly within the limits of the record. familiarly, and by articulate converse toFor, we there read, that God framed an ap-gether; or, in short, any thing that has the paratus of materialism, which, on his own least resemblance to a local territory, filled surveying, he pronounced to be all very with various accommodations, and peopled good, and the leading features of which may over its whole extent by creatures formed still be recognised among the things and the like ourselves-having bodies such as we substances that are around us-and that he now wear, and faculties of perception, and created man with the bodily organs and thought, and mutual communication, such as senses which we now wear-and placed we now exercise. The common imagination him under the very canopy that is over our that we have of paradise on the other side heads-and spread around him a scenery, of death, is, that of a lofty aerial region, perhaps lovelier in its tints, and more smiling where the inmates float in ether, or are and serene in the whole aspect of it, but cer- mysteriously suspended upon nothingtainly made up, in the main, of the same where all the warm and sensible accompaobjects that still compose the prospect of niments which give such an expression of our visible contemplations—and there, work-strength, and life, and colouring, to our ing with his hands in a garden, and with present habitation, are attenuated into a trees on every side of him, and even with sort of spiritual element, that is meagre, animals sporting at his feet, was this inha- and imperceptible, and utterly uninviting bitant of earth, in the midst of all those to the eye of mortals here below-where earthly and familiar accompaniments, in every vestige of materialism is done away, full possession of the best immunities of a and nothing left but certain unearthly citizen of heaven-sharing in the delight of scenes that have no power of allurement, angels, and while he gazed on the very and certain unearthly ecstacies, with which beauties which we ourselves gaze upon, re- it is felt impossible to sympathize. The joicing in them most as the tokens of a pre- holders of this imagination forget all the sent and presiding Deity. It were venturing while, that really there is no essential conon the region of conjecture to affirm, whe- nection between materialism and sin-that ther, if Adam had not fallen, the earth that the world which we now inhabit, had all we now tread upon, would have been the the amplitude and solidity of its present everlasting abode of him and his posterity. materialism, before sin entered into itBut certain it is, that man, at the first, had that God so far, on that account, from lookfor his place this world, and, at the same ing slightly upon it, after it had received time, for his privilege, an unclouded fel- the last touch of his creating hand, reviewlowship with God, and, for his prospect, aned the earth, and the waters, and the firmaimmortality, which death was neither to ment, and all the green herbage, with the intercept nor put an end to. He was ter- living creatures, and the man whom he had restrial in respect of condition, and yet raised in dominion over them, and he saw celestial in respect both of character and every thing that he had made, and behold enjoyment. His eye looked outwardly on it was all very good. They forget that on a landscape of earth, while his heart breath- the birth of materialism, when it stood out ed upwardly in the love of heaven. And in the freshness of those glories which the though he trode the solid platform of our great Architect of Nature had impressed world, and was compassed about with its upon it, that then the "morning stars sang horizon---still was he within the circle of together, and all the sons of God shouted God's favoured creation, and took his place for joy." They forget the appeals that are among the freemen and the denizens of the made every where in the Bible to this magreat spiritual commonwealth. terial workmanship-and how, from the face of these visible heavens, and the garniture of this earth that we tread upon, the greatness and the goodness of God are reflected on the view of his worshippers. No, my brethren, the object of the administration we sit under, is to extirpate sin, but it is not to sweep away materialism. By the convulsions of the last day, it may be shaken, and broken down from its present arrangements, and thrown into such fitful agitations, as that the whole of its existing frame-work shall fall to pieces, and by a heat so fervent as to melt its most solid elements, may it be utterly dissolved. And thus may the earth again become without form, and

This may serve to rectify an imagination of which we think that all must be conscious-as if the grossness of materialism was only for those who had degenerated into the grossness of sin; and that, when a spiritualizing process had purged away all our corruption, then, by the stepping-stones of a death and a resurrection, we should be borne away to some ethereal region, where sense, and body, and all in the shape either of audible sound, or of tangible substance, were unknown. And hence that strangeness of impression which is felt by you, should the supposition be offered, that in the place of eternal blessedness there

that ere the immaterial soul of man has reached the ultimate glory and blessedness which are designed for it, it must return and knock at that very grave where lie the

void, but without one particle of its substance going into annihilation. Out of the ruins of this second chaos, may another heaven and another earth be made to arise; and a new materialism, with other aspects mouldered remains of the body which it of magnificence and beauty, emerge from wore-and there inquisition must be made the wreck of this mighty transformation; for the flesh, and the sinews, and the bones, and the world be peopled as before, with which the power of corruption has perhaps the varieties of material loveliness, and for centuries before, assimilated to the earth space be again lighted up into a firmament that is around them—and there, the minute of material splendour. atoms must be re-assembled into a structure that bears upon it the form and the lineaments, and the general aspect of a manand the soul passes into this material frame-work, which is hereafter to be its lodging-place for ever-and that, not as its prison, but as its pleasant and befitting habitation-not to be trammelled, as some would have it, in a hold of materialism, but to be therein equipped for the services of eternity-to walk embodied among the bowers of our second paradise-to stand embodied in the presence of our God.

Were our place of everlasting blessedness so purely spiritual as it is commonly imagined, then the soul of man, after, at death, having quitted his body, would quit it conclusively. That mass of materialism with which it is associated upon earth, and which many regard as a load and an incumbrance, would have leave to putrefy in the grave without being revisited by supernatural power, or raised again out of the inanimate dust into which it had resolved. If the body be indeed a clog and a confinement to the spirit, instead of its commodious tenement, then would the spirit feel lightened by the departure it had made, and expatiate in all the buoyancy of its emancipated powers, over a scene of enlargement. And this is, doubtless, the pre-set free from the corrupt principle that vailing imagination. But why, then, after is in his body-not the materialism by having made its escape from such a thral- which he is now surrounded will be done dom, should it ever recur to the prison-house away, but that the taint of evil by which of its old materialism, if a prison-house it this materialism is now pervaded, will be really be. Why should the disengaged done away. Could this be effected without spirit again be fastened to the drag of that dying, then death would be no longer an grosser and heavier substance, which many essential stepping-stone to paradise. But think has only the effect of weighing down it would appear of the moral virus which its activity, and infusing into the pure has been transmitted downwards from element of mind an ingredient which serves Adam, and is now spread abroad over the to cloud and to enfeeble it. In other words, whole human family-it would appear, what is the use of a day of resurrection, that to get rid of this, the old fabric must if the union which then takes place is to be taken down, and reared anew; and that, deaden, or to reduce all those energies that not of other materials, but of its own maare commonly ascribed to the living prin- terials, only delivered of all impurity, as if ciple, in a state of separation? But, as a by a refining process in the sepulchre. It proof of some metaphysical delusion upon is thus, that what is "sown in weakness, this subject, the product, perhaps, of a is raised in power"-and for this purpose, wrong though fashionable philosophy, it it is not necessary to get quit of materialwould appear, that to embody the spirit is ism, but to get quit of sin, and to purge not the stepping-stone to its degradation, materialism of its malady. It is thus that but to its preferment. The last day will be the dead shall come forth incorruptible

a day of triumph to the righteous-because and those, we are told, who are alive at the day of the re-entrance of the spirit to this great catastrophe, shall suddenly and its much-loved abode, where its faculties, mysteriously be changed. While we are so far from being shut up into captivity, compassed about with these vile bodies, as will find their free and kindred develope- the Apostle emphatically terms them, evil ment in such material organs as are suited is present, and it is well, if through the to them. The fact of the resurrection working of the Spirit of grace, evil does not proves, that, with man at least, the state of prevail. To keep this besetting enemy in a disembodied spirit, is a state of unnatural check, is the task and the trial of our Chrisviolence and that the resurrection of his tianity on earth--and it is the detaching of body is an essential step to the highest per- this poisonous ingredient which constitutes fection of which he is susceptible. And it that for which the believer is represented is indeed an homage to that materialism, as groaning earnestly, even the redemption which many are for expunging from the of the body that he now wears, and which future state of the universe altogether-will then be transformed into the likeness

There will, it is true, be a change of personal constitution between a good man before his death, and a good man after his resurrection-not, however, that he will be set free from his body, but that he will be

« FöregåendeFortsätt »