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might not the Lord of human salvation, be enabled to return back to the ordinary state of humanity, in such a manner as to afford indubitable evidence that he had been in a very different state a state, however, in which he retained his essential sameness, and was intimately ac quainted with all their proceedings, and deeply interested in them? Were not they, and are not all mankind through their attestation, in the highest degree, concerned to know the reality of a change which awaits all his genuine disciples; and at some period, with variations, perhaps, proportioned to their moral deserts and demerits, the whole human race?
From the day of the resurrection of Jesus, to that of his ascension, including the latter, four manifestations of his person are distinctly recorded, each of which appears to have been attended with its peculiar advantages, for evincing that his entire person was both restored to life, and translated to a celestial immortality. It will be recollected, that the incredulity of the Apostle Thomas furnished the occasion for the re-appearance of his Master, after the very same manner as on the former occasion, and to his affording him those additional proofs which he had required. The superior calmness with which this second appearance from invisibility would be contemplated, together with the new proofs of the corporeity and identity of Jesus, and the knowledge he manifested of their intercourses when withdrawn from their observation, during an interval of eight days, were all admirably adapted to establish his existence in both states, and that when invisible, he remained essentially the same person. There are few subjects, perhaps, attended with greater difficulty, or which have given rise to more perplexity and diversity of sentiment, than that of the preservation of personal identity amid the great changes which we must necessarily undergo, in passing from the present to the future exist ence. Now, the repeated alternations of the man Jesus from one of these states to the other, and vice versa, with the proofs he gave of mental sameness, and of great activity in presenting himself when and wherever his visible presence seemed requisite, are practical illustrations of the subject. Let us place ourselves in the situation of the disciples. We experience, that, from the period of his resurrection, he was ordinarily withdrawn from observation; we have every reason to conclude, that he then became invisible, since he eluded the observation of persons whose
office it was to keep the body in custody, but from whom he was released by the appearance of a glorious and powerful personage, from invisibility. By this transfer of the body or person of Jesus into an invisible state, his predicted resurrection is accomplished; the same man is no longer an inanimate corpse, but is translated to a vivified spirit, probably of a kindred nature to that of the celestial messenger who underwent the opposite change on the occasion. That he is the same person, is verified by his repeated returns back to the ordinary state of a living man, exhibiting precisely the same bodily parts and functions, and the same mind and character, as previous to his decease. The apparent opposition of ideas between an invisible nature, and a solid tangible body, rendering it difficult to be conceived, that they can be alternated in the same individual, he embraces repeated opportunities of presenting it under circumstances under which it is impossible there could be any deception, when there could have been no ingress of solid bodies into the room where the witnesses are assembled, and what deserves particular remark, when their minds are in states the very opposite of anticipating the objects which were presented to their view. Invisible as he is, he is prompt to know and to be present at all proceedings of his disciples; he watches their every movement, their every state and change of mind! Of the sameness of his own mind and character, both when visibly present and when invisible, he affords irrefragable evidence. He discourses with them on the most interesting topics, relating to his past intercourses with them; and his language and actions have often a reference to what passed when they were apparently by themselves, and in conversation respecting him. In short, they appear to receive every evidence that mortals are capable of receiving, that their Lord was essentially the same, whether visible or invisible, corporeal or apparently incorporeal; or rather that, in his invisible state, his nature being elevated to superior vitality and corresponding activity, they were more thoroughly known, regarded, and protected by him at all times and places, with the same or even a purer ardour of affection, than while he constantly sojourned on earth, with the imperfections neces sarily appertaining to this animal existence.
At the "third" manifestation of Jesus to his disciples on the lake of Tiberias, he partook with them of food of his own providing, the production of which in such abund
ance, after they had been toiling all night unsuccessfully in search of it, would appear to proceed from a like state of invisibility as that in which he ordinarily existed; while his conversation brought to their recollection, some of the more interesting scenes of his past intercourses with them, and taught them to look forward to their great undertaking as his Apostles.
The appointed meeting in a mountain of Galilee, his. native country, and the principal scene of his ministerial labours, but not of their cruel termination, would draw together an assemblage who most intimately knew, and were least prevented by aversion or fear from entering into a calm interview with him. Being by particular appointment, it would afford opportunities for preparation in order to the removing of any remaining difficulties respecting his corporeity, identity, and the great change he had undergone. This probably was the occasion on which more than five hundred persons were present, who were eventually enlisted among the number of his converts.
He lastly met his Apostles at Jerusalem, the scene of their subsequent labours, and after assuring them of the speedy fulfilment of his promise, that they should be aided by a supernatural mental influence in the discharge of their new and great undertaking, he was gradually withdrawn from their view by a glorious ascent to the visible heavens. There appears no solid reason to conclude that in this instance, any more than in the foregoing instances, he was withdrawn from opportunities of knowing what is passing upon our globe, and from what relates to the concerns of his disciples. Heaven is, in all probability, "not a place but a state of existence,"* and, as the Supreme Being is universally and most intimately present with all his works, though, in accommodation to our ordinary habits of thinking, he is occasionally represented as seated on a throne in the heavens, so there appears good reason to believe, that Jesus, in common with other celestial spirits, his associates in blessedness, has a much wider field of knowledge and action in the system of nature, than ourselves. And his last disappearance from his dissciples, was probably intended to afford them a deliberate opportunity of witnessing his transition into that invisible and celestial state, in which, though he is withdrawn from the view of his brethren of mortality, he is, nevertheless, intimately acquainted with their proceedings.
HOMO. * See Mr. Belsham's valuable discourse on "the Ascension of Christ.'
The Character and Writings of Fenelon.
It would give us pleasure to enlarge on the character of Fenelon, had we not proposed to ourselves another and still more important object in this review. But, in truth, this grateful duty has been so faithfully performed in the Memoir added to the Selections, that our readers will have no cause to complain of our declining it. This sketch of Fenelon overflows with fervent yet discriminating admiration, and gives utterance to affectionate reverence, with a calmness which wins our confidence. It is not easy to make extracts where the whole is so interesting. But as some of our readers may know Fenelon only by name, and as we wish all to know and love him, we insert a few passages.
Fenelon, by mixing with all ranks and conditions, by associating with the unfortunate and the sorrowful, by assisting the weak, and by that union of mildness, of energy, and of benevolence, which adapts itself to every character, and to every situation, acquired the knowledge of the moral and physical ills which affect human nature. It was by this habitual and immediate communication with all classes of society, that he obtained the melancholy conviction of the miseries which distress the greater part of mankind; and to the profound impression of this truth through his whole life, we must ascribe that tender commiseration for the unfortunate, which he manifests in all his writings, and which he displayed still more powerfully in all his actions."-p. 263-4.
In the course of his walks, he would often join the peasants, sit down with them on the grass, talk with them, and console them. He visited them in their cottages, seated himself at table with them, and partook of their humble meals. By such kindness and familiarity, he won their affections, and gained access to their minds. As they loved him as a father and friend, they delighted to listen to his instructions, and to submit to his guidance. Long after his death, the old people who had the happiness of seeing him on these occasions, spoke of him with the most tender reverence. There," they would say, is the chair on which our good Archbishop used to sit in the midst us; we hall see him no more,' and then their tears would flow.
"The diocese of Cambrai was often the theatre of war, and experienced the cruel ravages of retreating and conquering armies. But an extraordinary respect was paid to Fenelon by the invaders of France. The English, the Germans, and the Dutch, rivalled the inhabitants of Cambrai in their veneration for the Archbishop. All distinctions of religion and sect, all feelings of hatred and jealousy that divided the nations, seemed to disappear in the presence of Fenelon. Military escorts were offered him for his personal security, but these he declined, and traversed the countries desolated by war, to visit his flock, trusting in the protection of God. In these visits, his way was marked by alms and benefactions. While he was among them, the people seemed to enjoy peace in the midst of war.
"He brought together into his palace, the wretched inhabitants of the country whom the war had driven from their homes, and took care of them, and fed them at his own table. Seeing, one day, that one of these peasants ate nothing, he asked him the reason of his abstinence. Alas! my Lord,' said the poor man, in making my escape from my cottage, I had not time to bring off my cow, which was the support of my family, The enemy will drive her away, and I shall never find another so good."
Fenelon, availing himself of his privilege of safe conduct, immediately set out, accompanied by a single servant, and drove the cow back himself to the peasant.
"This,' said Cardinal Maury, is, perhaps, the finest act of Fenelon's life.' He adds, Alas! for the man who reads it without being affected.' Another anecdote, showing his tenderness to the poor, is thus related of him. A literary man, whose library was destroyed by fire, has been deservedly admired for saying, 'I should have profited but little by my books, if they had not taught me how to bear the loss of them.' The remark of Fenelon, who lost his in a similar way, is still more simple and touching. I would much rather they were burned, than the cottage of a poor peasant.'
"The virtues of Fenelon give his history the air of romance; but his name will never die. Transports of joy were heard at Cambrai when his ashes were discovered, which, it was thought, had been scattered by the tempest of the Revolution; and to this moment the Flemings call him The Good Archbishop." "-p. 274-5.
The Memoir closes in this touching strain :
"When we speak of the death of Fenelon, we realize the truth of what we all acknowledge, though few feel, that the good man never dies; that, to use the words of one of our eloquent divines, death was but a circumstance in his being.' We may say, as we read his writings, that we are conscious of his immortality; he is with us; his spirit is around us; it enters into and takes possession of our souls. He is, at this time, as he was when living in his diocese, the familiar friend of the poor and the sorrowful, the bold reprover of vice, and the gentle guide of the wanderer; he still says to all, in the words of his Divine Master, Come to me, all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
"In the houses of the unlearned, where the names of Louis the Fourteenth and Bossuet have never entered, except as connected with Fenelon's, where not a word of his native tongue would be understood, his spirit has entered as a minister of love and wisdom, and a well-worn translation of his Reflections, with a short Memoir of his life, is laid upon the precious Word of God. What has thus immortalized Fenelon? For what is he thus cherished in our hearts? Is it his learning? his celebrity? his eloquence? No. It is the spirit of Christian love, the spirit of the Saviour of mankind, that is poured forth from all his writings; of that love that conquers self, that binds us to our neighbour, that raises us to God. This is Fenelon's power, it this that touches our souls. We feel that he has entered into the full meaning of that sublime passage in St. John, and made it the motto of his life. Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God; and every one that loveth, is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love." " "-p. 282-3.
The translator has received and will receive the thanks of many readers, for giving them an opportunity of holding communion with the mind of Fenelon. Her selections are judicious, and she has caught much of that simplicity which is the charm of Fenelon's style. A want of coherence in the thoughts may sometimes be observed; and this, we may suppose, is to be ascribed, in part, to the author, whose writings seem to be natural breathings of the soul, rather than elaborate works of art; but still more to the translator, whose delicate task of selecting only what would suit and edify the Protestant mind, must have compelled her to make omissions and sudden transitions, not very favourable to order and connexion. We should be glad to enrich our pages with extracts, but want room.