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grasp beyond the diminutive good or evil of a perishable world. Conscience must thus be dethroned, vice stripped of its terrors, and suffering virtue doomed to struggle without hope. But if on the other hand we are destined to survive the dissolution of the body, and to become immortals in some state corresponding with our present characters, the whole structure of religion then stands upon a broad and immoveable basis ; and a degree of importance belongs to every individual, which cannot be represented by numbers, or duly estimated by the powers of any finite mind. Every thing belonging to man, both in his personal and relative capacity, assumes unspeakable interest, admitting its connection with a future and more permanent state ; and then the bare fact of our future existence renders it possible, and awakens an expectation that our relation to one another may, in some important respects, be extended beyond the present world. Hence the grand question which respects the immortality of the soul, has never ceased to interest the wise and virtuous of our race. Men most distinguished by their talents and characters have, in every age, come to the investigation of this subject with a trembling anxiety; and the eye of human reason has been strained by repeated attempts to look into futurity, and to ascertain the real nature and consequences of death. But how is the inquiring mind to be satisfied on a point of such intense and universal interest ? Not a few of our fellow-creatures are passing every day and hour from the stage of life ; but who ever returns to bring us any intelligence concerning the dark and extended regions beyond the grave? The philosopher advances, and, specalating upon the mysteries of our being, affirms as the result of his most careful deliberation, that the voice of nature proclaims the certainty of a future existence. But we are, after all, disposed to think that the deep and laudable interest which all good men must naturally feel in the truth of this doctrine, and their eagerness to establish the harmony between the discoveries of the gospel and the deductions of unaided reason, have frequently led them to overrate the force of the philosophic evidence on this momentous subject, and to make concessions which have given to the advocates of deistical principles an undue advantage over them, and which have tended to weaken our sense of obligation to the revealed word. The nature and properties of the human soul, its insatiable thirst after immortality, its high aspirations and unbounded capacity of advancing in knowledge, virtue, and happiness, the presages of conscience, and the irregularities which have obtained in the system and administration of Divine Providence are, indeed, remarkable phenomena ; and it must be admitted, that these mysteries of our nature and existing condition are inexplicable on any other hypothesis than that of a future world. But the reasoning which is founded upon these and other remarkable facts, is still incumbered with numerous difficulties. In many respects, it is more plausible than solid, and with whatever beauty of illustration and force of eloquence it may be pressed upon our attention, it cannot of itself avail to dissipate our doubts, and arm us with confidence in the view of our final change. Whatever natural arguments relating to a future life may be advanced, the will of Deity viewed in connection with the circumstances of our present condition is the basis on which they must of necessity rest. And what can we know of the moral relations of God towards our apostate race, apart from the revelation which he has given us concerning them in his holy word? Even assuming his existence as an infinitely wise, just, and benevolent ruler, there are many circumstances which are seemingly so much at variance with this momentous doctrine, and so opposed to what would have been our antecedent expectations, that an insuperable difficulty meets us at the very threshold of any abstract speculation concerning his purposes. The human soul, too, admitting it to be an immaterial, and consequently an indissoluble substance, has no independent existence. Its immortality must, therefore, be résolved into the sovereign pleasure of the supreme Being. And the relation in which we stand to him as sinful creatures might be sufficient, without some positive assurance of his mercy, to awaken the most alarming apprehension as it respects the consequences of death. In short, we conceive that the light of nature affords no certain proof of a future state, and were it otherwise, it would still be unable to disperse the gloom which would hang over our prospects, and to invest the doctrine of immortality with any pleasing and practical ascendency over the human mind.*

* It is well known, as Bryant, Faber, and others, have ably shewn, that the few and feeble rays of religious knowledge which somewhat relieved the almost chaotic darkness which brooded over the heathen world, emanated from the divine light that shone upon the land of Palestine, and illumined the minds of its favoured inhabitants. The mythology of the east was accordingly little more than a strange accumulation of fables, blended with obscure and mystical allusions to the earlier events and discoveries recorded in the writings of Moses. How far the ancients were indebted for their opinions respecting a future state of rewards and punishments to revelation, it would be difficult to determine. But there is something so sublime and interesting in any superhuman information on such a subject, that supposing it to have been once imparted, it could never have been altogether effaced from the memory of man. Though the doctrine of a future existence was a popular dogma, it was however, as Seneca remarks, taken for granted rather than proved. Most of the Stoics, and not a few of the Peripatetics, with Aristotle at their head, denied the immortality of the soul. And some of the most distinguished, as well as virtuous, philosophers of Greece and Rome, although well ac

How pleasing therefore is it, for the anxious spirit to turn from the perplexing speculations of men, and repose in the full assurance of faith

upon the sure and simple testimony of God, respecting the life to come! Here the proof of a future state is just as strong as the evidences of the christian revelation are clear and convincing; that is, it possesses all the force of a moral demonstration. It rests not upon any uncertain and abstruse disquisitions concerning the nature of the soul, or the principles of the divine government, but upon ground which is level to the capacities of all, even the word of God, who cannot be deceived, and who is incapable of deceiving any of his creatures. Meeting us at the precise point where we feel

quainted with what are termed the natural arguments in support of this doctrine, and no less able to appreciate the weight of them than any man in modern times can pretend to be, entertained but weak and wavering expectations iu the prospect of futurity. They were indeed like persons groping in the dark, and kept in a painful and fluctuating state of mind, as it respects the situation in which they are placed. Now they reasoned themselves into the hope of a happy immortality, and anon they would relapse into the greatest fear and despondency, in the view of their latter end. We mention this, not to disparage the philosophic evidence in favour of a future life, which, considered as a theory, certainly affords by far the best explanation of existing phenomena, but merely to show how much we are indebted to revelation on the subject, and to expose the vain pretensions and forlorn condition of those who "reject the counsel of God against themselves.”

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