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mind upon the awful tranfition from this world to the next.
In the first place, Jefus Chrift gives us victory over death, by delivering us from the doubts and fears which arofe in the minds of those who knew not the gofpel, from the uncertainty in which a future ftate was involved.
Without Divine Revelation, men wandered in the dark with respect to an after life. Unaffifted reason could give but imperfect information on this important article. Conjectures, in place of discoveries, presumptions, in place of demonstrations, were all that it could offer to the inquiring mind. The unenlightened eye could not clearly pierce the cloud which veiled futurity from mortal view. The light of nature reached little farther than the limits of this globe, and shed but a feeble ray upon the region beyond the grave. Hence, thofe heathen nations, of whom the Apostle speaks, are described as forrowing and having no hope. And whence could reafon derive complete information, that there was a ftate of immortality beyond the grave? Confult with appearances in nature, and you find but few intimations of a future life. Deftruction feems to be one of the great laws of the fyftem. The various forms of life are indeed preserved; but while the fpecies remains, the individual perishes. Every thing that you behold around you, bears the marks of mortality, and the symptoms of decay. He only who is, and was, and is to come, is without any variableness or fhadow of turning. Every thing paffes away. A great and mighty river, for ages and centuries, has been rolling on, and sweeping away all that ever lived, to the
vaft abyss of eternity. On that darkness light does not rife. From that unknown country none return. On that devouring deep, which has swallowed up every thing, no veftige appears of the things that
There are particular appearances also which might naturally excite an alarm for the future. The human machine is fo conftituted, that foul and body feem often to decay together. To the eye of sense, as the beaft dies, fo dies the man. Death feems to close the scene, and the grave to put a final period to the profpects of man. The words of Job beautifully exprefs the anxiety of the mind on this fubject. "If "a man die, fhall he live again? There is hope of a "tree if it be cut down, that it will fprout again, " and that the tender branch thereof will not ceafe. "Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and "the ftock thereof die in the ground; yet, through "the fcent of water it will bud, and bring forth "boughs like a plant but man dieth, and is cut "off; man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? "As the waters fail from the fea; as the flood decayeth and drieth up: fo man lieth down, and ri"feth not; till the heavens be no more, they shall
not awake, nor be raised out of their fleep." But what a dreadful profpect does annihilation present to the mind! To be an outcaft from existence; to be blotted out from the book of life; to mingle with the duft, and be scattered over the earth, as if the breath of life had never animated our frame! Man cannot support the thought. Is the light which fhone brighter than all the ftars of heaven fet in darkness, to rife no more? Are all the hopes of man come to
this, to be taken into the councils of the Almighty; to be admitted to behold part of that plan of Providence which governs the world, and when his eyes are just opened, to read the book, to be shut for ever? If fuch were to be our ftate, we would be of all creatures the most miserable. The world appears a chaos without form, and void of order. From the throne of nature, God departs, and there appears a cruel and capricious being, who delights in death, and makes sport of human mifery.
From this state of doubts and fears, we are delivered by the Gospel of Jefus. The meffage which he brought, was life and immortality. From the Star of Jacob, light fhone even upon the fhades of death. As a proof of immortality, he called back the departed spirit from the world unknown; as an earneft of the refurrection to a future life, he himself arofe from the dead. When we contemplate the tomb of nature, we cry out, "Can thefe dry bones "live?" When we contemplate the tomb of Jefus, we fay, "Yes, they can live !" As he arofe, we shall in like manner arife. In the tomb of nature, you fee man return to the duft from whence he was taken. In the tomb of Jefus, you see man restored to life again. In the tomb of nature, you fee the fhades of death fall on the weary traveller, and the darkness of the long night clofe over his head. In the tomb of Jefus, you fee light arife upon the fhades of death, and the morning dawn upon the long night of the grave. On the tomb of nature, it is written, "Be"hold thy end, O man! Duft thou art, and unto dust "thou fhalt return. Thou, who now calleft thy"felf the fon of heaven, fhalt become one of the
"clods of the valley." On the tomb of Christ is written, "Thou dieft, O man! but to live again. "When duft returns to duft, the spirit fhall return co to God who gave it. I am the refurrection and the "life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, (c yet fhall he live." From the tomb of From the tomb of nature, you hear a voice," For ever filent is the land of forget"fulness? From the flumbers of the fhall we grave, "awake no more? Like the flowers of the field, fhall "we be as though we had never been?" From the tomb of Jefus, you hear, "Bleffed are the dead that "die in the Lord, thus faith the Spirit, for they rest " from their labours, and pass into glory :-In my "Father's houfe, there are many mansions; if it were "not fo, I would have told you: I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go away, I will come again, "and take you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be alfo."
Will not this affurance of a happy immortality, and a bleffed refurrection, in a great measure remove the terror and the sting of death? May we not walk without dismay through the dark valley, when we are conducted by a beam from heaven? May we not endure the toffings of one stormy night, when it carries us to the shore that we long for? What cause have we to dread the meffenger who brings us to our Father's houfe? Should not our fears about futurity abate, when we hear God addreffing us with respect to death, as he did the Patriarch of old, upon going to Egypt, "Fear not to go down to the grave; "I will go down with thee, and will bring thee up
Secondly, Our victory over death confifts in our
being delivered from the apprehenfions of wrath, and forebodings of punishment, which arise in the mind from the consciousness of fin.
That there is a God who governs the world, the patron of righteousness, and the avenger of fin, is fo manifeft from the light of nature, that the belief, of it has obtained among all nations. That it fhall be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked; that God will reward those who diligently feek him, and punish those who tranfgrefs his laws, is the principle upon which all religion is founded. But whether mercy be an attribute in the Divine nature to fuch an extent that God may be rendered propitious to those who rebel against his authority, and disobey his commandments, is an inquiry to which no fatisfactory answer can be made. Many of the Divine attributes are confpicuous from the works of creation ; the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, appear in creating the world; in fuperintending that world which he has made; in diffufing life wide over the system of things, and providing the means of happiness to all his creatures. But from no appearances in nature does it clearly follow, that the exercise of mercy to offenders is part of the plan by which the univerfe is governed. For any thing that we know from the light of nature, repentance. alone may not be fufficient to procure the remiffion of fins; the tears of contrition may be unavailable to wash away the stains of a guilty life, and the Divine favour may be implored in vain by those who have become obnoxious to the Divine difpleasure. If in the calm and ferene hour of inquiry, man could find no confolation in fuch thoughts, how would he