صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

byterians believe departed spirits pass their disembodied state, but this is a different question, and shall be treated of in the following chapter.

Whenever the labours of this life, therefore, are over, when our trials are at an end, and death shuts us out, in all probability for ever from the world we now move in, "the rest" which we are informed "remaineth for the people of God," is not one of insensibility, but of delightful repose, peace, and refreshment-a looking back with pleasure on the many cares which have ended in such unruffled ease; like the transition of delight experienced when, after a long rough voyage on a stormy sea, overshadowed with dark clouds, we at last waken from a troubled sleep, and find ourselves in a smooth bright harbour, with a certainty that we shall never be obliged to tempt the ocean of wild waters and misfortune more. In the paradise of the middle state, our souls shall be not only happy in their disembodied condition, but may have reason to hope that their delights must be greatly increased, when the spirit is united to a glorified body at the resurrection, and that they themselves shall then be admitted into the heaven of their everlasting reward.

Deem we that silent are the dead,
Because we do not hear

Their voices where their souls are led,

When from their dwellings clear?

Or can the soul feel pain or bliss,
Remembering former days;
And yet unable to express

Its thoughts in other ways

people of God, though those who die in the Lord, enjoy a repose rendered more sweet and refreshing by their preceding labours and fatigues; yet, this is not the sleep of insensibility, or the silence of an eternal grave."

Principal Brown's Sermon on the death of Principal Campbell.

If it is not the sleep of insensibility, then it is not the silence of even a temporary grave,—which, indeed, seems to be the meaning of the preacher.

Than those on earth we now must use,

Our hopes and fears to tell?

Does silence its dread chill diffuse,
Where spirits now must dwell?

This world's vain din they've left for aye,
But are a WAKEFUL band,

Who rest from toil where brighter day,
Shines than on earthly land.

O may we with delighted flight,
Meet in their resting bowers,

When death removes us from the sight,
Of earth's fast fading flowers!

And since full certain is the doom
That takes man's life away,

Let Faith direct us through the gloom,
With her enlight'ning ray.

With regard to the Christian believer who has undergone the change produced by death, we ought never to inscribe on the tombstone which marks the spot where his mortal remains mix with the earth, that he is sleeping there, or talk of the gloom of the grave; and, as sleep does not overwhelm the conscious faculty of man, let us engrave on the sepulchral monument of the true Christian :

-"Though here his ashes lie,—

To brighter realms his gentle spirit soar'd."

Or some such epitaph as the following, which the living, as they read, may be consoled for their friend, while the concluding lines may be productive of salutary warning to themselves. Surrounded by the graves of the dead, and particularly when standing at the tomb of one we knew, the vanity of all earthly things is proved most forcibly to our minds, and solemn advice comes with far greater effect than when no sign of death meets our eyes; although the extreme uncertainty of life is a truth known to every one, yet it cannot be too often brought to the remembrance of the living, for nothing is more readily forgotten, and, although each man

seems perfectly aware that all others are mortal, it is a fact which few appear to think is also their own sure doom.

* * * * * * * *

Though here his mortal body lies,
His soul lives yet and never dies.
It sleeps not in this cold dark bed;
But, freed by death, hope ye it fled
To that far distant shore of rest,
Where spirits trust to be more blest ;
With joy they feel their cares are o'er,
And pain and death they dread no more.
There deep in grief far off is seen,
(With vast and awful gulf between,)
The careless sinner's hopeless state,
Who mourns unceasing o'er his fate,
Awaiting there his certain doom,
When the dread day shall burst the gloom.

Then ye who stop to read this rhyme,
Now make the best use of your time;
To-morrow ye may never see ;-
To-night ye with the dead may be !


Proofs from the Scriptures that the departed souls of men have not as yet entered into heaven or hell; if by these terms are understood the places of our eternal reward or punishment.

"No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven."* ST. JOHN iii. 13.

IN common language, when Heaven is spoken of, that place is alone referred to, where the righteous are to remain in divine happiness throughout eternity; and it is therefore the great and laudable end of our ambition, and of all our Christian efforts. It is also the scene of our reward after the soul shall be reunited to a body, when we shall enter it as perfect creatures, rendered glorious in our frames, and susceptible of enjoying, in both parts of our nature, the pleasures which are there prepared for us. If there be an intermediate state of the soul between life on earth and our entrance into heaven, its duration is uncertain, and may last but a day, for no one can say how near the great and terrible day of account may be, when the Judge shall sit in judgment; but although the pleasures of heaven are the principal object and aim of good men, yet a state ought not to be overlooked as unworthy

Or rather, as translated by Dr. Campbell,-" For none ascendeth into heaven, but he who descended from heaven; the Son of Man, whose abode is in heaven:" meaning, none shall do so in natural course until the resurrection, or had done so at the time this was said.

of consideration, which may last for ten thousand years, for any thing we can tell to the contrary, if there be such a one as is now alluded to. When our thoughts are directed to a better country after this life is over, they should naturally contemplate in the first place, that region into which the separate soul enters to remain until the judgment of the last day, unless they believe, as many do, that our souls are at once admitted into heaven, or thrust into hell, a belief totally unfounded in Scripture, and arising principally from confounding that paradise, into which the Jews believed every righteous soul on its leaving the body was received into a state of rest from its labours, with the highest heavens, where, after the judgment of the last day, the accepted are to be invited to enter, to live there for ever.

In the New Testament there is often reference to an unseen place for the souls of the just, where they are said at present to dwell in a peaceful happiness, and it indifferently receives the name of Paradise or Abraham's bosom. Within view of this place there is another of a very different nature, for the custody of wicked spirits, named Tartarus,* which our translators render hell, and this English word we now commonly understand to mean the place of eternal torment, but which last, the Jews designated by a very different name, and never used them indiscriminately in the sense we do, for in the original Greek of the Scriptures the distinction is strictly preserved. Both Paradise and Tartarus are there described as in one general place or region called Hades, which we also translate hell, but the original word indicates nothing more than an invisible place, and one of safe custody. Both the states in it are referred to in the parable of Dives and Lazarus, and the two terms used to denote the places of eternal happiness and misery are quite distinct and different from those employed to name the places where, for a limited time, separate souls experience pleasure or pain. Our Lord was a Jew while on earth, his disciples and Apostles were so likewise, and they

*The word Tartarus is not itself used by the writers of the New Testament, but we have the verb derived from it, raprapwoas, (tartarosas) as in 2 Pet. ii. 4.

« السابقةمتابعة »