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I am the resurrection and the life.
Or the doctrine of the resurrection, not a trace can be found in all the investigations of philosophy. Paul, when declaring it to the Athenian philosophers, was pronounced by them to be a babbler. It was, therefore, a doctrine unknown, and unheard of within the purlieus of their science. No philosopher, to that time, had been so fortunate, as to light upon it by accident; nor so ingenious, as to derive it from reason. The resurrection itself is an event, depending absolutely on the will, as well as on the power of God; and what he will choose to do, with respect to this subject, no being but himself, can determine.
How he will do it, is a question that never troubles me. The assurance that he will, is a sufficient ground on which to rest my confidence. If, indeed, I had never seen the loveliness and fertility of spring burst from the coldness and torpidity of winter ;-if I had never seen the ripened harvest waving in the wind, from the grains of corn that were committed to the ground, and perished in the soil; -if I had never witnessed the power of the magnet, that collects the particles of steel from the midst of other matter with which they have been mingled ;—if I had never "considered the heavens, the work of his fingers," those suns, the centres of other systems, in magnitude and beauty far surpassing ours, rolling in the immensity of space around me, all brought into existence by the fiat of his omnipotence ;-if I had never contemplated the curious structure of my own frame, so fearfully and wonderfully made and inspired by his breath with a living soul and an intelligent mind;—if in short, I had any doubt as to the mission of Christ, or the being of a God-I might shudder. But Christ says "I am the resurrection and the life," and I am satisfied.
No doctrine of philosophy has the sublimity, consolation and joy of this. To the dark and desolate grave, man, by the twilight of nature, looks forward in despair, as his final home. All who have gone before him, have pointed their feet to its silent chambers, and not one of them returned, to announce, that an opening has been discovered from their dreary residence to some other more lightsome and more desirable region. His own feet daily tread the same melancholy path. As he draws nigh, he surveys his prison walls, and sees them unassailable by force, and insurmountable by skill. No lamp illumines the midnight within. No crevice opens to the eye a glimpse of the regions which lie beyond. In absolute despair, he calls upon philosophy to cheer his drooping mind; but he calls in vain. She has no consolations for herself, and therefore can administer none to him. "Here," she coldly and sullenly cries, "is the end of man. From nothing he sprang; to nothing he returns. All that remains of him is the dust, which here mingles with native earth."
At this sullen moment of despair, revelation approaches, and with a command, at once awful and delightful, exclaims, "Lazarus, come forth!" In a moment the earth heaves-the tomb discloses and a form bright as the sun, and arrayed in immortality, rises from the earth, and stretching its wings towards heaven, loses itself from the astonished sight.
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
THE language of Isaiah foretelling the conversion of the heathen nations, does in effect declare the same awful truth, that God is the universal Judge. God is represented as announcing, in the most solemn manner, that every individual of the human race shall acknowledge his authority and submit to his jurisdiction. It follows, therefore, that every human being will be accountable to God for his character and conduct; and consequently, that it is his duty and his wisdom to prepare for his account.
Every knee shall bow to Jehovah, and every tongue shall confess to God. In writing of the resurrection and a future judgment, forms of expression borrowed from scripture, may be used, which some would construe as teaching a long sleep in the grave, yet not sleep, but rather non existence. These not appearing so to me, I see no proof in them of a break in our intellectual career.-When we die out of this world, we are born into another. We shall be judged by God, and we shall be judged by Christ; i. e., we shall be judged by the eternal principles of truth, which originated in the Father and were proclaimed by the Son.
The judgment will be just, without respect to persons, and in view of advantages conferred and improvement made or neglected. As no elevation of rank will then give a title to respect, no obscurity of condition shall exclude the just from public honour, or screen the guilty from public shame. Opulence will find itself no longer powerful, poverty will be no longer weak, birth will no longer be distinguished, meanness will no longer pass unnoticed. The rich and poor will indeed strangely meet together; when all the inequalities of the present life shall disappear, and the conqueror and his captive, the monarch and his subject, the lord and his vassal, the statesman and the peasant, the philosopher and the unlettered servant, shall find their distinctions to be mere illusions. The characters and the actions of the greatest and the meanest have in truth been equally important, and equally public; while the eye of the omniscient God has been equally upon them all.
He whose death is as little regarded as the fall of a leaf in the forest, and he whose departure involves a nation in despair, are in this view of the subject (by far the most important one,) upon a level. Before the presence of the great Jehovah, into which they both immediately enter, these distinctions vanish, and the true statement of the fact, on either supposition, is, that an immortal spirit has finished its earthly career; has passed the barriers of the invisible world, to appear before its Maker, in order to receive that sentence which will be "according to the deeds done in the body." On either supposition an event has taken place, which has no parallel in the revolutions of time, the consequences of which have not room to expand themselves within a narrower sphere, than an endless duration. An event has occurred, the issues of which must ever baffle and elude all finite comprehension, by concealing themselves in the depth of that abyss, of that eternity, which is the dwelling-place of Deity, where there is sufficient space for the destiny of each among the innumerable millions of the human race to develope itself, and without interference or confusion, to sustain and carry forward its separate infinity of interest.
A TRULY WISE MAN.
All are your's, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
WHAT is wisdom? Its broadest meaning is, the proper practical application of knowledge. Religious wisdom is religion. It guides to the best selection of means, and then to the best use of them. It teaches our relation to God, to Christ, to mankind and to immortality. It prescribes the acquisition of humble and confiding trust in God; a reverential awe of his majesty, a pure devotion to his will. It enjoins a firm, well attested faith in the Redeemer, an ardent love of his gospel, and a restless desire to walk by his example. It presents mankind as brethren, whom we are kindly to instruct, readily to comfort, and cheerfully to enjoy ; and by whom we are to be instructed, comforted and enjoyed. It opens immortality as the source of hope, a cessation from earthly care, and the soul's harvest time. Wisdom came forth from God, the assistant of his holy seats, that it might be in man, and labour with him, and teach him what is acceptable to God. Its natural tendency is to return to the heavens whence it came; and all that man has to do is, to listen to its heavenly dictates and follow its ascending light.
Wisdom teaches how to value every thing according to its real worth. If we are enamoured by earthly things, it is the way to be much afflicted by their loss; if we esteem them too little, it is the way to an unthankful disrespect of the giver. Christianity carries the heart in a just equipoise: when they come, they come-they are welcomed without too much joy; and when they go, they part without tears. We may like these earthly favours, but we must take heed of being in love with them; for love, of whatsoever kind it be, is not without the power of assimilation :-if we love the world, we cannot but be worldly-minded ;-contrarily, if we love God, we are made partakers of the divine nature; and we are such as we affect. If we be Christians in earnest, certainly the inner room of our hearts, which is the holy of holies, is reserved for the Almighty; the outer courts may be for the common resort of lawful cares and desires-they may come and go; but our God shall have his fixed habitation here forever.
With men, indeed, a little science may make a great show; but he only is wise in God's esteem who is wise unto salvation. Give me a man as full of policy as was Ahithophel, of eloquence as was Tertullus, of learning as the Athenians were in Paul's time. If with Ahithophel he plot against the people of God, with Tertullus have the poison of asps under his lips, with those Athenians be wholly given to superstition; for all his policy, eloquence and learning, one may be bold to call him fool in scripture language. The learned logician, whom evil daily deceives by its sophistry, and keeps from offering up to God a reasonable service, is no better than a fool for all his skill; or the subtle arithmetician, who has not learned to number his days, that he might apply his heart to saving wisdom. No, nor the cunning orator, who, although he be of singular abilities in the art of persuading men, is of Agrippa's temper himself, but "almost persuaded to be a Christian."
Who is rich? He that is content. Who is powerful? He that governs his passions. Who is wise? He that learns from every one; and learns that God is worshipped by devotion of mind and usefulness of life.
EFFORTS MAKING TO CHRISTIANIZE THE HEATHEN.
They passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the
I LOOK with charity on all the anxious labours of christian sects for the good of the heathen. Contemplate for a moment, the state of the earth, together with the means employing for its improvement. Suppose, for the sake of illustration, that you occupied the station of the angel, represented in the apocalypse, as standing in the sun; and that, with eyes of light, you could survey this revolving sphere. The Atlantic having glided away beneath your view, and with it the United States, which fringe its eastern shore, you would look down on the innumerable tribes which wander through the wilds of the American continents; still, amongst these would be discovered here and there a missionary conducting them to Jesus. Then would follow the broad Pacific, spotted with innumerable islands, each the tenanted domain of idol gods; yet Taheite and Eimeo would shine resplendent, like a bright speck upon the bosom of the ocean, from whence the light of salvation is diverging in every direction over that mighty mass of waters. No sooner had your eye regaled itself with Christian temples, floating as it were, upon the great South Sea, than China would heave its unwieldy empire, groaning beneath the crimes of two hundred millions of idolaters; but even there, groups of Chinese, assembled to read in secret the Testaments circulated by our missionaries, would exhibit the first attractions of the cross. Now the plains of Hindostan, watered by the obscene and deified Ganges, would arrest your attention, and produce an indescribable horrour, as they disclosed the frantic orgies of Juggernaut, and the flaming pile of the devoted widow; yet, in the centre of oriental abominations would you discover the crimson standard waving from the mission houses of Serampore and Calcutta. If you looked northward beyond the mountains of India, you would descry men planting the rose of Sharon amidst the snows of Siberia, and attracting the Calmuc and the Tartar, by its fragrance and beauty. Persia and Arabia would succeed, presenting to you numerous millions devoted to the false prophet, a formidable phalanx of blindness and bigotry; but, moving down from Astrachan, along the shores of the Caspian, and borne by the missionaries of Edinburgh, would be seen the cross. Palestine, "the classic ground of sacred history," next appears. How would your eye linger over the valleys where the Father of the faithful pitched his tent-the mountains on which Isaiah struck his harp-and, above all, on the summit of Calvary. Little, I confess, would be seen at Jerusalem but the mosque and the minaret, save where a company of Jews, veiled with unbelief, sat down upon the site of their ancient temple; still, would you not there anticipate the accomplishment of those predictions, which assure us, that the exiles of Judea shall one day dwell in their own cities, and look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn? In Asia Minor, amidst prevailing superstition, you would trace the Russian Bible Society, bearing back the golden candlestick to its place, in one hand, and, in the other, the torch of truth, to rekindle those lamps which once threw their lustre on the wave of the Mediterranean. If so much is doing by others to enlighten the ignorant, to reclaim the erroneous, and to seek the lost, we ought not to give sleep to ours eyes or slumber to our eyelids until we join the labour; beginning at home.
Be ye holy; for I am holy.
MORAL excellence is the highest glory of man. It implies the grand distinction between the happy and the wretched. Holiness is an image of divinity. "Who is like unto thee glorious in holiness !" "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts ?" Holiness is not simply the combinations of moral qualities in man, but it is the nearest approximation to the Deity.-Holiness is the gospel embodied; the gospel is holy; its Author holy; its maxims and its commands holy; its promises, ordinances and designs, holy; and there is nothing by which it is so much distinguished and glorified, as the holiness which pervades it.
Saints in the present world are holy, but not sinless-happy, but not out of the reach of affliction-tending to glory, but not in possession of it-advancing to heaven, but not sheltered there.
Holiness is every thing to a Christian. The bondage from which he has been rescued is the bondage of sin; his liberty is liberty to serve God, and to run the way of his commandments. He was dead, and his death was in trespasses and sins; he is raised from the dead, and his life is a spiritual mind. And what is the glory that is promised to redeemed sinners? What is heaven itself? It is holiness perfected, and undisturbed by any outward evil ;-it is to be like the Son of God;-it is the near contemplation of the unveiled glory, the wonderful attributes and works of the Most High ;-it is the elevation of affection to him ;--it is the thrill of gratitude vibrating through the soul;--it is the delight of sanctified love to our fellow creatures; it is joining the universal song, in all the ardour of enthusiastic loyality, and repeating the high praises of Him that sitteth on the throne, and of the Lamb that was slain.--This is holiness. The more holy we are, the more near we are to the heavenly state; the more like to the angels of God, who are swift to do his will; the more like to God himself-for he is holy.
Holiness is progressive in its character, and can therefore be attained but gradually. It is justification, it is sanctification, it is redemption. With it we can be saved; without it we cannot. It is piety to God proved by beneficence to men.-It is difficult to determine, by the eye, the precise moment of day-break; yet the light advances from early dawn; and at last the sun rises, yet not in full splendour. Such is the progress of divine light in the mind. The first streaks of dawn are unperceived, yet the light increases, the sun arises, the glory of God in the person of Christ shines in upon the soul. Christ, our sun in the system of revealed truth, warms into life those seeds of holiness which are sown in this world, and which are to grow and flourish for eternity.-God is unchangeable, but our idea of his perfections is capable of perpetual enlargement, and his promises assure us of an unceasing accumulation of benefits.
It is clear to my mind that heaven is the natural effect of a religious life. The joys and raptures, which are to rise up in the soul and prevail through eternal ages, must be the divine fruit of confirmed good habits. These are the heavenly seed, from which will grow up pleasures without alloy and bliss that will never end. We are at present, like plants in a nursery, and when fit for it, we shall be transplanted to the paradise of God.
The mind is in its own place, and in itself,