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THE HAPPINESS OF HEAVEN.
GLORIOUS bodies are not restored to the right eous, only to strike a harp, nor imperishable bodies to the wicked, only to suffer and not die. To the righteous they are given to renew the connexion between spirit and matter, which is productive, even in this fallen world, of such exquisite delight; and, in order to meet the nicer capacities of these new formed organs, a new world is created, fair as the sun, beautiful as the moon, fresh and fragrant as the garden of Eden. And around this new habitation of the righteous is thrown a wall like the crystal wall of heaven itself, within which nothing shall enter to hurt or to defile. There shall be no sickness nor sorrow of countenance, and there shall be no more death. There shall be no more stormy passion, with its troublous calm of overspent rage, and its long wreck of ruin and havoc, which no time can repair. No wars, nor rumors of wars and bloodshed, shall ever again spot the bosom of the ground; and rivalry shall no longer trouble friendship, nor jealousy love; nor shall ambition divide states, which, be they commonwealths or royal sovereignties, shall dwell in untroubled peace. The cares of life shall no longer agitate the bosom, and the reverses of life be forever unknown. Hunger and thirst shall no longer be felt, and the heat of the sun shall not smite by day, nor the moon by night.
Of how many cheap, exquisite joys are these five senses the inlets! and who is he that can look upon the beautiful fragrance of the morning, lying in the freshness of the dew, and the joyful light of the risen sun, and not be happy? Cannot God create another world many times more fair, and cast over it a mantle of light many times more lovely, and wash it with purer dew than ever dropped from the eyes of the morning? Can he not shut up winter in his hoary caverns, or send him howling over another domain? Can he not form the crystal eye more full of sweet sensations, and fill the soul with a richer faculty of conversing with nature, than the most gifted poet did ever possess? Think you the creative function of God is exhausted upon this dark and troublous ball of earth; or that this body and soul of human nature are the masterpiece of his architecture ? Who knows what new enchantment of melody, what new witchery of speech, what poetry of conception, what variety of design, and what brilliance of execution, he may endow the human faculties withal ? in what new graces he may clothe nature, with such various enchantment of hill and dale, woodland, rushing streams, and living fountains; with bowers of bliss and sabbath scenes of peace, and a thousand forms of disporting creatures, so as to make all the world hath beheld, to seem like the gross picture with which you catch infants, and to make the Eastern tale of romances, and the most rapt imagination of Eastern poets, like the ignorant prattle and rude structures which first delight the nursery, and afterwards ashame our riper years?
THOUGHTS ON DEATH.
It is a moderate computation which supposes a hundred thousand millions to have died since the exit of righteous Abel. Oh! it is true that man hath entered the creation of God! that sin has made a breach in that innocence which fenced man round with immortality, and even now the great spoiler is ravaging the world! As mankind have still sunk into the dark gulf of the past, history has given buoyancy to the most wonderful of their achievements and characters, and caused them to float down the stream of time to our own age. It is well; but if, sweeping aside the pomp and deception of life, we could draw from the last hours and death beds of our ancestors, all the illuminations, convictions, and uncontrolable emotions of heart, with which they have quitted it, what a far more affecting history of man should we possess ! Behold all the gloomy apartments opening, in which the wicked have died ! Contemplate, first, the triumphs of iniquity, and here behold their close ; witness the terrific faith, the too late repentance; the prayers suffocated by despair, and the mortal agonies !
These, once, they would not believe; they refused to consider them; they could not allow that the career of time and pleasure was to end. But now, truth, like a blazing star, darts over the mind, and but shows the way to that darkness visible' which no light can cheer. “Dying wretch!' we say in imagination to each of these, “is religion true ? Do you believe in a God, and another life, and a retribution?' 'O yes!' he answers, and expires! But the righteous hath hope in his death. Contemplate, through the unnumbered saints that have died, the soul, the true and unextinguishable life of man, charmed away from this globe by the celestial music, already respiring the gales of eternity. If we could assemble in one view all the adoring addresses to Deity, all the declarations of faith in Jesus, all the gratulations of conscience, all the admonitions and benedictions to weeping friends, and all the gleams of opening glory; our souls would burn with the sentiment which made the wicked Balaam devout for a moment, and exclaim, 'Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his.'
What an affecting scene is a dying world! Who is that destroying angel whom the Eternal has employed to sacrifice all our devoted race? Advancing onward over the whole field of time, he hath smitten the successive crowds of our hosts with death; and to us he now approaches nigh. Some of our friends have trembled, and sickened, and expired, at the signals of his coming. Already we hear the thunder of his wings. Soon his eye of fire will throw mortal fainting on all our companions. His prodigious form will to us blot out the sun, and his sword sweep us all from the earth; for the living know that they must die!'
I know not, I wonder how I shall succeed in mental improvement, and especially in religion. Oh! it is a difficult thing to be a Christian! I feel the necessity of reform through all my soul, when I retire into thought. I find myself environed by a crowd of impressive and awful images. I fix my ardent gaze on Christianity, assuredly the last best gift of Heaven to men; on Jesus, the agent and example of infinite love; on time as it passes away; on perfection, as it shines as beauteous as heaven, and alas! as remote ; on my own beloved soul, which I have injured, and on the unhappy multitude of souls around me, and I ask