Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

.

oppressed with the sordid cares of poverty, subject to infirmity, sickness, and pain, harassed by toil, doomed to sorrow and trouble as the sparks fly upwards, liable every day to misfortune and bereavement, and hastening, amidst a succession of disappointments, to dissolution and dust, cannot be a subject of felicitation or desire.

Separate and apart, then, from the Christian hope, our life is worthless; for at best“ it is “ even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, “ and then vanisheth away.” But, my brethren, we are not left to limit our views to so imperfect and transient a scene. The Gospel has brought life and immortality to light. It tells us that this world is not our rest. It declares that this is only the vestibule of being, the preparation and pathway to an endless life to come.

It is indeed appointed to all men once to die. But death terminates not the race of existence. Even in death there is victory, for if that be true of which the Scriptures assure us, we shall never cease to be, since perishing we shall survive, and dying we shall become immortal.

“ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord “ Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant

mercy, hath begotten us again untò a lively

hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from " the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and “ undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” In his resurrection we see the emblem and earnest of VOL. II,

47

[ocr errors]

our own. He who vanquished death has opened for us the gate of everlasting life. Ascended into

. heaven, he has gone to prepare a place for all who believe and obey him; and in those mansions where he abides they too shall have their dwelling and their home. For as we have borne the “ image of the earthy, we shall also bear the “ image of the heavenly. For this corruptible “must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

It would be a delightful occupation to allure men to the duties of religion, by representing to them its rewards; and of all the rewards which it holds out to beings who must speedily quit this earth, and who cannot divest themselves of their immortal nature, what shall be compared to the lustre of a risen and glorious body, and to a part in the transcendent felicities of heaven! Happy would he be, and well would be fulfil the sacred office, who should so bring to the view of men the blessedness of the celestial state, as to make them love the things which God commands, and desire that which he doth promise. Happy, and doubly happy, would he be, for he himself should largely participate in the rewards which he extends to others. “For they that be wise shall “shine as the brightness of the firmament; and

they that turn many to righteousness as the " stars for ever and ever."

But the deficiency of our knowledge fixes a

limit to our power. We know only in part. God has seen fit to reveal to us only in general terms, and in shadowy allusions, the glories of the life to come; and what he has thus revealed is expressed in words which carry to our minds only an indistinct and imperfect delineation of what shall hereafter be. Not that God is unwilling to make known the blessedness of the skies. A better reason may be found in the want of earthly things whereby to resemble it, and in the weakness and deficiency of our present capacity to comprehend and receive it. For how can the glories of that state be now understood, when neither our experience nor imagination can present to us any figures by which to do them justice, or to make any reasonable disclosure respecting them!

“ For eye hath not seen, nor “ ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, the

things which God has prepared for them that “ love him."

But since the contemplation of these subjects is not forbidden, so far as we are able to understand them, it may be a profitable topic to inquire what is revealed respecting the nature of that heavenly image which shall belong to those who are Christ's at his coming. “As we have borne “ the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the

image of the heavenly. For this corruptible “ must put on incorruption, and this mortal must

put on immortality.”

There are several things declared in Scripture respecting that body which the righteous shall inherit, of which the words just read furnish a threefold description. But before we consider them, it is worthy of remark, how agreeable the promises of Scripture are to the natural desires of men, in providing a body as a future tenement of the soul. We are so accustomed to connect all our thoughts, not of happiness merely, but even of existence itself, with the having of a body; we have so derived from the sense of the body, all the ideas that we possess of the being and quality of things, that we cannot, with any clearness, conceive of an existence purely spiritual-one in which the soul, rejecting all the usual helps and sympathies of its companion, should enter alone upon a new state of being. There is something, therefore, abhorrent in the thought, which makes us (although groaning under the burden of this tabernacle,) to say with St. Paul, We would not be unclothed, but clothed upon. We would not relinquish the having of a body, but we would have such a body, one so changed and improved, that what, in this, is liable to suffering, might, in that, be out of the reach of pain ; what, in this, is decaying and corruptible, might, in that, be abiding and indestructible.

Now such is the body which the Scriptures promise. They tell us, what it seems very consonant to our reason to believe, that flesh and · blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; and therefore they declare to us the mystery that we shall all be changed. We shall be changed, but though changed, the body which we shall have will be still our own; retaining within it such a principle of sameness as to leave it indisputably our's, though infinitely improved. Nor can we suppose that this is only such a sameness as to constitute a' mere philosophical identity. It is much more probable there will be, in the risen body, some sameness also of former appearance, some resemblance to what it originally was, and by which it may be recognized, notwithstanding the perfection which shall be imparted to it. This fact might indeed be presumed, because the Scriptures do not countenance the idea that these bodies which we now possess are to be destroyed, and new ones created; but the same bodies which sleep in dust are to be raised up and changed-changed in all that belong to their material nature and properties, though not, perhaps, in their distinctive character, and external appearance. They may here be dissolved into

. their elemental particulars, and scattered to the winds of heaven; but hereafter, from the earth and the sea, they shall be re-gathered; bone shall come to bone, sinew to sinew; Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, shall not cease to possess their own bodies; but their bodies will be glorified. And therefore it is said, They shall see Abraham,

« AnteriorContinuar »