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clings suffering so bitter These aona
awake, where they can no more sleep, nor die. Then will they know, that if it was a fearful thing once to diem-it.is infinitely more terrible to live, without a possibility of death,
Even the gloomy expectation of Danton is disappointed. Ambition cannot soar so high as to pass the bounds of existe ence. To misery God promises no such relief. Nor to the .. wicked does he grant permission thus to escape forever. No. darkness of eternity covers them with its friendly gloom,
Nor are the good man's hopes destined to be lost in the '. shadow of death. He is not born to die. When bis soul de.) parts out of the body, it does not sink into a dark cloud and, disappear. It mounts to a higher state.
If therefore we look beyond death; it is still life life for, ever-whicb alohe is to be 'hoped or feared. It is not the , Cessation of being, but its continuance, that appalls'us. Not that the body will decay-but that there is in man a princia ple which resists decay. Not that we shall be soon dead and gone. But that in some other region our spirits will live,. This necessity of life-this impossibility of annihilation, awakes deadly fear. And it is this which makes religion 80: immensely important, because that teaches us how to live, The effect of moral action clings to us with the tenacity of life. It is not the immediate suffering which follows one wrong act which makes its commission so bitter. But onetransgression is the forerunner of a thousand. These airy motions of the will soon harden into habits. Evil passions T grow too' strong ito be resisted. Therefore must they be, checked in the beginning, and a firm principle of religion be, implanted. For a mind that has no sense of religious obliga tion, and no principle of obedience, has lost the main element of self-control, and must go on to sin' and inflict pain upon itself.:
With such elements of misery, infixed in the very, being, what more terrible prospect can be offered than simple ex istence? Will it not be enough that the heart must beat on, forever, then every throb is agony ? ! ,
Some tell us that men are punished as they go along, and!'. therefore that they cannot be punished in a future world. It) admit the premise, but deny totally the conclusion. True," men do suffer bitterly for their evil deeds in this life. But so far from that being an evidence that they will not suffer stills hereafter, it is the strongest presumption of future misery,' ; For sin against God, and duty and conscience, is not like a civil offence, which is punished by imprisonment, and which can claim no more when the term of the penalty expires. It'
is rather a poisoning of man's whole nature—a deadly venom, working in the blood and brain--and which must cause suffering as long as it remains in the system--even if that be forever! Because I see that every wrong act causes man either bodily or mental suffering, I am certain that when habits of wickedness have been confirmed by seventy years of sinful life, they must produce complete and uninterrupted misery.
Others, in despair, have sought refuge under the very threatenings of the Bible, and hoped that by eternal death God intended annihilation that the wicked should be eternally dead. But no, life remains, whether the great hope of eternity be lost or won. The Scriptures assure us that a time will come when death shall be destroyed and for evermore unknown. But to the irreclaimably bad and lost, life will be no boon. They will long to die, and their supreme misery will be, that they cannot expire.
Here then I rest my argument for religion. It is not because you are to die, but because you live, and must live, and religion alone can save you from infinite misery here and hereafter.
I say not, you must be religious because life is short, and death is near Alas ! life may be very long-too long for your happiness. Death may be far distant. And before you reach that bourne, you may have to traverse years of suffering that shall seem like so many slow moving centuries. Therefore, do you need religion—not for a dying hour-but here--and now. Take to your bosom that celestial Comforter. It will mitigate every human sorrow. It will break the force of those inevitable calamities which must fall even upon prosperous life, so that they shall not crush you. It will revive your courage and hope. It will keep you from being your own worst enemy, and destroying yourself by madness and by crime. It will save you from endless folly and wretchedness. It will avert from you hours of weeping and of remorse. It will prepare you both to live and to
Yes—to die ! For I mean not that your minds should be barred against all thought of death. Only that it be not clothed with false and unreal terrors, and thus made an object of unmanly fear. Bodily dissolution is a matter neither of hope or dread. What is it but to cease to breathe, and to turn into dust?
I look into the caverns of Death, and find nothing there half so wonderful or terrible as I meet in the broad light of day. Men speak ot the swful mystery and solemnity of death. Would that they might ponder the more awful mystery of life. This fact of a vital existence is the great wonder of creation. The highest act of God was not the monlding of externel forins, but the inspiration of an independent life. We can imagine
BY REV. ELBERT S. PORTER, PASTOR OF THE REF. PROT. DUTCH CHURCH, WILLIAMSBURG, L.,
“AND THE BOOKS WERE OPENED.” * And the books were opened ; and the dead were judged out of those things' which were written in the book, aceording to their works," --Rev. KX. 12.
The present bears a most intimate relation to the future. And wbether we believe it or not, there is a record of all our past which will hereafter" be opened before us, and according to its registrations our eternal destiny will be fixed. The thought of to-day will meet us again; and the deed which was done in presence of few if any witnesses, will be read vut before the audience of an assembled unirerse. So revelation teaches so we believe. But there are many who think the threatened judgment a priestly device or ghostly bugbear, and in no wise to be feared. Scoffers ridi." cule the idea, and men of were worldly viewe, if they think at all cancerning the matter, are quite too ready to indulge the hope, that either the judgment tribunal will not be set, or if set, will not possess those tre mendous adjuncts of justice and holiness, which the Sacred Oracles ascribe to it. And even within the pale of the church, there is an appalling! amount of mere speculation respecting the great day of the Lord. And being little, if anything, more than mere speculation, the doctrine of eternal judgment does not exert that practical control over the life, which a doctrine of so intrinsic an importance ought most surely to exert upon us all. To revivify our decaying impressions, quicken our faith, and deeply impress us with a conviction of the certainty of the coming scene in which we shall all share a glad or sorrowful part, will be the object of the present discourse. We proceed to inquire what are the books which will be opened.
1. The book of the material universe will be opened.
The connection between mind and matter is most intimate-and the most meagre attainments in the merest elements and rudiments of science familiarize us with the fact, that mind is the controlling and plastic power which rules over and impresses matter to a wonderful extent. It is indeed the boast of modern achievement, that spirit, by its inventive skill has subdued nature, and rendered the elements of matter subservient to its purposes. And while this is a thing of common and open notoriety, there are relationships between mind and matter of a nature far more astounding, than all those included within the ordinary range of scientific and mechanic art. There are relationships and points of contact between the thinking soul and the world of matter, which, instead of flattering our pride of intellect, may well awe our hearts and fill us with bols fear. We say only, what the best teachers of natural science declare, when we aver that the outward world is a depository of the moral doings of each accountable man. Nature is the great ledger, on whose sheets a recording angel traces a record of our every thought and act. The air we breathe, the light which enwraps us, and the dull clod we press in the daily rounds of our business, are so many scribes, taking note of all our movements, and recording all our works. The heavens wbich surround us are
the parchment scroll on which God's telegraphic agencies are ever tracing the symbolic characters that delineate our lives. This is not fancy, but the demonstrative testimony of the most exact and rigid science. In proof we advert to a few samiliar illustrations.
We are accustoined to speak of matter as dead, inert, unfeeling. But the fact is, it is ever in motion, and always impressible. Every particle entering into the composition of the material world, is so nicely adjusted to every other particle, as to preserve its ba ånce, while it ceaselessly vibrates. And while thus vibrating, every kind of matter, the granite rock as well as the yielding clay, are all busy in receiving impressions, just as wax takes and retains the image stamped upon it. Thus all the pages of nature are adapted to receive the image of our words and works.
From this general, to proceed to more specific, illustrations. Take the atmosphere. This is a fluid ocean, raising it waves and its ripples, similar to those which are visible on an ocean of waters. When you cast a stone into a sea or a lake, you set in motion a series of concentric circles, which recede farther and farther from the place of disturbance, until they finally become invisible. But, if when the naked eye loses the power of tracing them, it were assisted by a powerful magnifying glass, they would still be discerned rolling op. And if when the eye and the glass together should fail to follow them, recourse should be had to the searching analysis of mathematical investigation, it would be found that beyond a peradventure, they still continued to widen and widen, coming in contact with other circles, originating from other centres, modified by them, and modifying them in return; yet never losing their motion, but entering into the permanent movements, and forces which fill up the universe. This is indeed a mystery, but no less a fact; and none but the illiterate or the sciolist will deny it. As this is true of impressions made on water, so also is it of impressions made on air. Our words, which are the outward flows of invisible thought, and every act, set in motion a series of waves, just as surely as do the vibrations of a bell when struck; and these waves enter into the perinanent movements of the atmosphere; and are all preserved there and will be preserved until the heavens shall flee away. It argues nothing against this fact, that these waves become invisible or inaudible to usfor our pereeptions are not the limits of material 'existence. If it be objected that the impressions produced upon the atmosphere may become infinitely minute, I answer that this minuteness will be no hindrance to their being read by Him, whose infinity embraces the minute as well as the vast.
In like manner we might go on to show that the unfeeling earth preserye, amid all the vibrations of its countless atoms, the record of human action. So that the lonely spot where the murderer dashed down his victim—the darkened cave, where persecution tracked his martyr, and the dungeon's wall where suffering virtue bowed the head in agony-are as 80 many memorial-stones, whereon man's acts are engraven, as with the pen of a diamond; and there is no deed of man, whether done in the day or in the night, of which the insensible particles of earth are not the witnesses and the recording angels.
To confirm these illustrations and establish the general fact, we may avail ourselves of the aid which the nature and properties of light afford, in proof of a natural record of human transactions. I need not tell you tbat there is a light-bearing ether_a luminous fluid-diffused through all space and penetrating all bodies, however dense. The sun and the stars, singly, do not produce light. This is generated by the chemical and elec