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--and instead of congratulating them and ourselves that they are most mercifully dismissed from this ensnaring world, before they were corrupted with its vices—instead of joyful gratulations that they have exchanged death for life, mortality for immortality, time for eternity, trouble and distress for peace and tranquillity, disease and pain for immortal health, and ease, and joy; instead of pronouncing them happy, almost envying their happiness for having escaped the pollutions of this world, been strangers to its variety of misery and wretchedness; and in the youth and morning of life by a soft and no very great transition been metamorphosed into angels and radiant blessed seraphs; instead of cheering and consoling our spirits with these delightful Christian views and prospects, to go mourning all our days; to refuse to be comforted because they are not; to carry about with us a bosom heaving with incessant sorrows, a heart and spirit overwhelmed in the bitterness of despairing melancholy; night and day brooding over a dreary, dismal prospect; our eyes raining ceaseless streams of bitter briny tears; the sun a blank to us, music discord, innocent pleasure and cheerfulness madness and distraction; not so resigned to God as we ought to be, and thinking hardly of the Divine dispensations to us. Not that our religion forbids a just and becoming expression of our sorrows. Our religion doth not lay an embargo on any of those tender sensibilities of which our natures are formed susceptible. Neither our Divine religion nor the Author of it, either by precept or example, forbid our tears to flow or our hearts to feel a pang on the loss and departure of the objects of our fond affections. To drop a tear over the ashes of our departed friends is human, it is Christian. Jesus weptshed a shower of affectionate tributary tears over the grave of his amiable departed friend Lazarus. A stoical apathy and insensibility is not a doctrine of the Christian religion. The gospel was not intended to extirpate our passions, but to moderate them. It would be cruel to interdict the heart those soft effusions which are the dic
tates of our nature, and which afford such relief and ease to a mind overwhelmed with grief. For deceased worth, for departed amiable virtue, it permits us to sorrow, provided we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. Inconsolable, hopeless sorrow it leaves to unenlightened heathens, who have not the principles and views of Christianshave not their delightful transporting prospects to sooth and assuage their sorrows, Those who had no other glimpse of futurity but what the light of nature gave them; those whose prevailing notion it was that death put an end to all our existence—that life, and being, and happiness were all extinguished and vanished into air with our last breath-those who had these cheerless uncomfortable views, as the heathens had, who had no hope of any thing better and further than the grave, might consistently with their principles indulge the highest excesses of immoderate sorrow, and with disconsolate melancholy deplore the everlasting annihilation, and total, absolute, irrevocable extinction of the dear objects of their parental, fraternal, or filial tenderness--now for ever lost—to be seen and embraced no more-to be mingled with the common earth-reduced to their original principles-never more to be reassembled—sharing one common undistinguished destiny with the brute creation. Jews and gentiles, who in their religions enjoyed no clear and express discoveries of a future state, might on the death of amiable and beloved objects, as we find from their history they did, rend their clothes, put on sackcloth, throw ashes over their heads, tear their hair, beat their bosoms, refuse all proper sustenance for several days and nights, pierce the air with their cries and lamentations, use the most violent expressions of grief, and yield their hearts a prey to obstinate and sullen melancholy-they might commit these violences, who believed an utter annihilation at death, and consequently had every thing to fear from death ; but such extravagances and excesses as these are highly unbę coming the virtuous professors of the gospel, who have every thing to hope from death, and who are taught to
believe that death is nothing more than the means of introduction and admission to a new and nobler life. I cannot but observe the language which the Scripture applies to the decease of our friends. It is truly beautiful and consolatory. I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are ASLEEP: denoting that the state of insensibility into which they are fallen by death is but a temporary repose, from which they will wake in the morning of the resurrection. Their being is not annihilated—they are not lost* out of the creation —there is not a total and everlasting extinction of their existence—their vital and intellectual powers are only for a few unperceived moments suspended—their sensibilities, and faculties, and capacities are only laid dormant for a momentary point of time in the grave, that they may recover and re-enjoy them with infinite advantage and improvement in the eternal world of light, perfection, and happiness.' Our friend Lazarus sleepeth, says our Lord, speaking of his decease, but I go to awake him out of his sleep. The disciples thought, says the evangelist, that he meant the refreshing repose of sleep, and judged it a favourable prognostic of his recovery : Lord, if he sleepeth, he will do well; however, Jesus spake of his death ; and the phrase by which he expressed his death is, upon the Christian scheme, elegant, just, and instructive. The same beautiful expression of denoting death by sleep the apostles used. Even so them, also, says St. Paul, who sleep in Jesus, will God brinġ with him. Awakening and awful are the words of our Lord upon this subject, and it behooves the living to pay them a devout and most serious attention. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour is coming, and now is, when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth—come forth, not to enter upon a state of trial and probation any more-that is irrecoverably past; but shall awake
come forth-those who have done good in this world to everlasting lise; those who have done cvil, to everlasting destruction. O, blessed day! when we shall meet our deceased parents, our virtuous children, and all the wise and good whom we have known and read of in books, and embrace and congratulate each other with tears of joy, if the blessed can weep, at being ushered into a life that will never know pain, and sorrow, and death; and now all beginning a duration that will be commensurate with eternity, and last as long as God himself endures. We see, therefore, in the last place, the reason why, in the grief for friends deceased, in which the Thessalonian Christians were involved, the apostle tells them, that he would not have them to be ignorant of the joyful prospects Christianity opened before them, in order that by the power and energy of these great and glorious truths, he might alleviate and assuage their sorrows,
* I Cor. xv. 19.
and prevent them from indulging grief and melancholy to an unjustifiable excess. The principles of the gospel afford the best antidote to grief. It gives us such elevated views of the glory and blessedness of the eternal world as make us look down upon this fugitive introductory system with a great and noble indifference. It exhibits to our mind the glorious realities of the invisible world in such a strong and striking light, as infinitely diminishes the value of all terrestrial enjoyments, and causes us to prize nothing in this frail and transitory life as our chief good and ultimate felicity. I would not, therefore, have any Christian who reads these pages to be ignorant of this one great and animating truth concerning the pious dead, abundantly sufficient to dissipate, at least to alleviate, his sorrows : that if we believe, as we profess to do, that Jesus died and rose again, even so them, also, who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him, and collect them into a happy, harmonious, and blessed society and assembly, to part no more, but to be mutually happy in each other through eternal ages.
Hear, then, the consolatory words of Jesus, and may God dispose thee, reader, to receive all that comfort which his affectionate valediction was designed to impart! Let not your heart be troubled : ye believe in God, believe also in me. In
Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself ; that where I am, there you may be also.
HAPPINESS OF GOOD MEN IN A FUTURE STATE.
STANHOPE SMITH, D.D.
“There all the millions of his saints
Shall in one song unite;
With infinite delight."
Rev. xiv. 13.-That they may rest from their labours, and
their works do follow them.
The first subject of consideration concerning the future happiness of good men suggested in the text is rest.
The second is enjoyment,~“ their works do follow them."
This figurative language evidently points to that high and positive state of felicity which the saints shall enjoy in heaven, which is the consequence and reward of their works. It conveys to us also, in the mode of expression, two other truths of the highest importance ;—the first, that the habits of a holy life are necessary to qualify men for the possession of heaven ; because without them they neither could desire it as their abode, nor could they enjoy the pure and spiritual pleasures that constitute to the pious the happiness of the place ;-the second, that their rewards there shall be proportioned to the advances they have made in the divine life, and to the labours they have endured, the dangers they have encountered, and the services they