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forting at the same time you and myself.” But although the illustrious sage thus spoke, it is not a conviction, it is only a passing impression; for we find his doubt in his words to the judges who are about condemning him : “Know that death is certainly not an evil; for of two things it is one or the other, either annihilation, a sleep without a dream, when it is a good—for which of our days has ever been worth a night of complete repose, a deep sleep? Or it is a better state than our actual state, and by so much the more, then, a good.” The idea of Socrates did not amount to much more than the poetic dream of old Homer, who imagined Ulysses to have descended into the world of souls, and there met and conversed with his mother and Achilles. Anyhow were it a faith, unless his beliefs were infallible they are no proof.
convictions of a future life are not founded on such arguments as these, on what then? I answer, on the revelation of God's will as contained in the Scripture, especially in the Gospel of his Blessed Son. The continuation of any creature's existence must depend upon the Creator. If He has willed that the strongest creature, constitutionally, shall live only a day, his strength will avail him nothing, he will not live an instant longer; or if He has purposed that the most fragile creature in existence shall live for ever, his existence, however frail, will never have a termination. To know, therefore, how long any creature is to live, I must know the will of God in relation to the point. That will is revealed to me in the teachings of Christ and his Apostles. Here life and immortality are fully brought to light. “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one that seeth the Son and believeth on him may have everlasting life.” Eternal life, meaning a life without sin, without misery, and without end, is an expression used no less than forty times in the New Testament. The Gospel draws the material curtain that conceals from us the world beyond the grave, and actually shows us men thinking, acting, suffering, exulting, in the eternal world. To the question, “If a man die, shall he live
again ?" it says, “Yes," with a precision and an emphasis that admit of no debate.
The fact, thus so well attested, that a man is more durable than “the mountains” gives consistency to our life. Were there no existence beyond this, this life would be a crushing enigma. We should be harassed and confounded with questions for which we could find no solution questions which preclude all faith in the wisdom, the love, and the justice of the Creator. To me, indeed, all religion seems to stand or fall with the question of a future life. Religion is love to God. Yet how can I love Him who endowed me with capacities which He denied me an opportunity to work out, capabilities which He crushed in the bud? How could I love Him who implanted within me restless cravings for a future that is not? How could I love Him who here requites not human conduct, allows the wicked so generally to revel in worldly prosperity, and the good so frequently to be the victims of oppression and want? No: if there is no future life I cannot love Him; for He has dealt too hardly with me in the nature He has given. I would rather not to have been than to be; or sooner have been the cattle that gambol on the hills, or the birds that warble in the groves, than to be what I am-burning with hopes which will be quenched in midnight-aching, for ever aching, after that which is a miserable illusion.
This fact of a future state gives grandeur to life. If we have no life beyond this, how contemptibly mean we are ! At the base of the grand old hills, in the presence of the mighty ocean, or under the awful stars, what seem we if there be no future life? Wretched ephemera unworthy of notice ! But as we are to live for ever, we rise in a majesty that throws the grandest of Nature's forms into insignificance. - The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed," but we shall be.
We infer from the text
II. That God's KINDNESS MORE DURABLE THAN THE MOUNTAINS." My kindness shall not depart from thee.”
God's kindness is more durable even than man. Though man will never have an end, he had a beginning. God's kindness never had a beginning, and will never have an end. Kindness is the very essence of the Eternal, the root of all existence, the primal font of all blessedness in all worlds,
First : His "kindness” will continue notwithstanding the sins of humanity. The very fact that men, as transgressors of the divine law, are permitted to live in such a world as this demonstrates its mercy. When men transgress the laws of their country their liberty is destroyed; they are often bound in chains, incarcerated in dungeons, and in some cases have their lives taken from them. But here are we confessedly habitual transgressors of the divine law, enjoying the blessings of nature and the favours of Providence. Why is this ? His “kindness” does not “depart" from us. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him.” The sins of six thousand years have not caused Him to withdraw his "kindness" from the world. It gleams as brightly in the heavens, breathes as vitally in the air, rolls as affluently in the seasons, flows as fully in the current of universal life as it did from the beginning. Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that
any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Men often sin away the kindness of their fellow. men, quench their love, and excite their indignation, but they cannot sin away the “kindness of God.” They may, they do, use it to their injury, as they burn themselves in fire, destroy themselves in water, and poison themselves by food. Still it is kindness, though out of it they make their hell.
Secondly: His “kindness” continues notwithstanding the sufferings of humanity. In fact, his kindness is expressed in human suffering. If we saw things as they really are, we should discover that there is as much kindness in the afflictions and trials of men as in their comfort and prosperity. Does not the loving father often show more love to his child in correcting him for his offences than in gratifying his
desires ? Such kindness, in truth, is the most self-denying and painful. “He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." There is kindness in the judgments that befall men.
The inspired bard of Israel celebrates the mercy of God in judgments as well as in blessings. “He smote Egypt and her firstborn; for his mercy endureth for ever: overthrew Pharaoh and his host; for his mercy endureth for ever: smote great kings and famous kings; for his mercy endureth for ever: Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og the king of Bashan; for his mercy endureth for ever.” It is mercy that breaks up oppressive governments, sweeps despots from the world, and makes clear the path for the progress
of humanity. The most terrible judgments are but God's
rcy weeding the world of its evils. Even hell itself is an expression of divine kindness. Gehenna was a valley in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, into which the refuse of the city was thrown, and where the decomposition of animal and vegetable matter generated “worms that never died," and where fires were kept burning day and night in order to prevent the effluvia from spreading disease and death through the population of the city. What that Gehenna was to Jerusalem, hell is to the moral universe—a sanitary institution-an institution to prevent the spread of evil. What is law, but kindness speaking in the imperative mood ? What is punishment, but kindness crushing the power that would destroy the happiness of the creation ?
God's kindness, then, is everlasting: his "mercy endareth for ever.” Let the mountains and the hills “depart.” Let all the orbs of heaven be quenched. Let the whole system to which we belong vanish as a cloud ; God's kindness will remain, and will be as active in the universe as ever.
From the text we infer
III. THAT THE UNION BETWEEN BOTH WILL BE MORE DURABLE THAN THE “MOUNTAINS." "My kindness shall not depart from thee.” It must be remembered that these words were addressed to his own people, and not to men in general ;
and the idea is, that His kindness will continue for ever in connection with the truly good.
God's kindness is indissolubly associated with the good. St. Paul challenges the universe to effect a separation. “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” What can cause His “kindness” to “depart?" Can sufferings do it? The trials of good men on this earth are often great, and the agonies they sometimes have to endure, emaciate their frames, and render their looks hideous to mortal eyes. But will these sufferings cause the Infinite Father to withdraw his love? The afflicted child in the family, instead of lessening parental affection, intensifies and absorbs it. And is not this an indication as to how the sufferings of the good affect the heart of the Eternal Father? “Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril,sword”—let these do their worst upon us; they will not cause God's 6 " kindness “to depart.” “As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him ; he knoweth our frame, and remembereth that we are dust." What can cause His“ kindness” to “depart” ? Can our moral imperfections do it? I have no word to say in extenuation of sin in any form. Sin must ever be odious to the
of infinite purity. But I rejoice to believe it will not cause God's “kindness” to “depart.” He does not love us on account of our excellences, but despite of our imperfections. We were bad, and He saw the worst of our badness from beginning to end before He loved us first. No sin that we can commit can ever shock Him by surprise. That young man who has wrought a crime which has shocked the moral sense of the age, and is now in the cell of the murderer, awaiting the hour when inexorable justice shall force him to the scaffold, there, before an execrating crowd, to pay down the penalty of his life, has a mother; that mother for years, he has treated with shameful insolence and heartless cruelty, causing her heart to bleed and her health to wane.
Has his wickedness extinguished her love ? No ; it is there yet in all the freshness of its strength, and willingly would she press the monster of the scaffold to her