« 이전계속 »
destiny, through divine power and grace, in | rest upon this all-important fact. For why the long succession of interminable ages?
There is evidence even in our constitution that man is for eternity. Witness those living powers by which we achieve so great performances; by which we bring all things within the grasp of our understanding; by which we are every day advancing our supremacy over matter, space, and time; and by which we seem indefinitely able to extend our knowledge and dominion. They are distinct from those limbs and members of the body, which they use as instruments. The living principle within, the mind, the soul, the active part of man, or by whatever name it may be called, appears to have no element of decay. The dissolution of the earthly tabernacle has no discernible effect upon its spiritual inhabitant. The latter often manifests much greater energy than before, during the prostration of bodily strength; and up to the very period of death it is strong and vigorous. Often, as when the mind remains active during sleep, it manifests its separate existence. Those inward powers, that inward living agent, seem therefore independent of the outward man. So far as we can judge, they survive the flesh, and are destined to make advances onward in the same direction throughout a lengthened period of future being. We are led to follow the departing spirit into the unseen world, to think of it as unaffected by the stroke which severed it from the lifeless form it left behind, and to conceive almost irresistibly, from observation and experience alone, that those thoughts which glowed upon the mind shall perish not; that that far-reaching intellectual sight shall see still farther into the secrets of nature, and into the immensity of the universe; that that energy, which was here confined, shall there be able to put forth all its strength; and that those emotions, which were as gleams of sunshine, or as darkening shadows on the heart, shall be felt far more intensely amid the glorious and dread realities of this other life.
Thus there are many things which preach to us on this subject. There are many ways in which the testimony of the bible is confirmed. But what saith that heaven-sent book itself, on which all reliance can be placed, and whose authority becomes every day, if possible, stronger and more undoubted? How does it assure us of our future destiny? It declares that there is an eternity which is past, known only to Jehovah, and another which is to come, which all that are born into the world of Adam's race shall know, for good or evil. And all the dealings of God with us. recorded in the bible,
should he have shown such care of man, why should he have bound us by his laws in this world, why should he have been so strict in exacting our obedience, above all why should he himself have made atonement for our sins by such a sacrifice, had not an infinitely higher being been conferred on us than on anything else upon our globe, were not much expected of us, and were it not that our everlasting welfare had to be secured? In the gospel which has been devised for our sake we see that not the fleeting present, but the endless future is at hazard. Were there no eternity, Jehovah might have left us to our selves. He might have spared the care and watchfulness which he has exercised over us, and the infinite sacrifice which he has made for us. There would be no necessity for the bible, nor for revelation, nor any room for the glad tidings of the gospel. But since we see all these, along with the positive announce ment of the fact, no doubt can remain of our immortality. We are assured that in death i we do not cease to be; that there stretches on before us an unbroken line of existence; that here we are treading the portals of eternity; ! and that, whatever change may take place in us as we pass from the things seen to the things unseen, our future state shall be un changeable, where death shall reign no more.
II. Secondly, what know we of the future? What is the nature of that eternity which is before us? Can we look upon it in any other aspect than that of infinite duration, than as a boundless ocean of time, whose further limits are never reached, and never seen, and which is ever widening behind us?
An apostle writes that they are things un seen which are eternal; but he did not mean to assert that they were altogether unknown; for they have not been unheard of. We have had some tidings from Jehovah of that spi ritual world on which we have not yet entered (for what influence should the mere fact of an unknown existence have upon the mind, did we not also have some intimation of the cir cumstances in which we may be placed therein ?); and we can anticipate with confidence some of those unseen realities which the future will disclose. The bible carries us along with it into the ages that are to come; it opens up beforehand the unfolding chart of time, and tells us of those extraordinary destinies which shall be experi enced beyond the grave. And, though but very indistinctly they have been revealed, enough we know to raise our hopes or fears for the events of immortality.
Men shall still be men. The individuality of man shall still remain. Identity of person,
and of character, of thought and feeling, shall mark each son of Adam, and distinguish him, as when on earth, from all his fellows. Not to speak of the present state of departed souls (of which little is certain beyond this, that it corresponds with the righteousness or unrighteousness of that life here), I shall ask you to extend your view further onward into that more distant and defined future which is to succeed the judgment-day, when the announcement of the text shall be fulfilled. We may form some idea of our condition then from this, that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the pattern of the resurrection of his followers. He assumed again the body which lay in the tomb. And, though in some inconceivable manner changed into that glorious body in which he afterwards appeared, and which the apostle has left some intimations of in his first epistle to the Corinthians, it continued still to wear the marks of crucifixion. His human nature now remains, though perfected. He has in heaven the form which he had on earth, it would seem, even in its outwardly distinctive features. And he shall wear it now for ever. The same also shall happen to his people. "As they have borne the image of the earthy, they shall also bear the image of the heavenly." They shall rise as did their Master from the tomb. They shall appear before him, sitting on the judgment-seat, as men, the very individual men they were on earth before. And their bodies, having put on immortality, shall be reunited to their former animating spirits, to live with angels and with the Lord. It is not a new existence that is to be expected, but a new and higher condition of existence; not another nature, but the same nature restored to its unfallen state, and fitted for the heavenly world. Wherever that may be, or however glorious, the saved of Adam's race shall be distinguishable among its blessed inhabitants, gathered perhaps from many and from the remotest spheres, as just men made perfect. But how excellent will our nature be, and free from all its earthliness, and angel-like in all its qualities, when we shall worship in the presence of the King of kings; and, instead of a few short years of childhood, youth, and age, we shall hold on our happy course throughout the unceasing, everlasting roll of future ages!
We are taught, moreover, to expect that the life to come will be to the Saviour's followers one of perpetual action and advancement. It were nothing without these, and undesirable. It were hardly to be esteemed a progress in the scale of being, to have an endless existence, if we were doomed to have
no new ideas, and to run for ever in the same round. The soul delights in action, and in soaring upward beyond its present height to scan still further into the hidden regions of knowledge and of truth. Its element is progression. It is always grasping at the things above, and leaving those below; always exercising its unwearied powers in seeking the great Original of all, the fulness of perfection, from whom its own immortal energies have been derived, to whom they tend. We feel a strong desire to look behind the vail that hides the other world from view, and to search into those unseen realities which have been but obscurely told us. We long to see them as they are, and we even try to anticipate the revelations of the future by the unsatisfactory visions of the imagination. These are the efforts and aspirations of the soul after a higher state of being. These are its struggles to overcome the fetters which bind it to the earth, to get free from the narrow circle of its present perceptions, to attain the light and liberty of eternal day. And shall all this be in vain? Shall its end be disappointment?
Shall not the future be adapted to the employment and development of those internal powers which, cramped and fettered now, we shall carry hence along with us, to become still more active and more vigorous in the spiritual renovated man, and in that more glorious kingdom which awaits us? How much will be there to learn, to admire, to contemplate, to praise! How much to excite the wonder of the enlightened understanding! How much to employ the faculties of the soul throughout that infinite futurity which is before it! The things of earth, however grand and marvellous to us here, shall sink to nothing. The eye shall behold far greater things than now. mind shall rise to far more vast and more sublime conceptions than ever the thought of even inspired genius conceived. The purified and quickened feelings shall be charmed with the beauties of a holy perfect world, and with the sweetness of celestial song, and with the endless glories of the Creator. The bible speaks of this better state of being. It reveals the exaltation and advancement of the saints, when introduced into their Father's house, eternal in the heavens. It declares that they shall see face to face, and know even as also they are known; that they shall be equal to the angels; that they shall share the Saviour's joy; that they shall have no wants unsupplied, no desires ungratified. It removes any doubt which might exist as to the condition we shall be placed in hereafter. It teaches, in conformity with the suggestions of reason, the development of our powers, the increase
felicity, that wondrous exaltation, that growth of the faculties of the soul, that insight into things unknown and inconceivable, that pro gress upward in intellectual and moral ex cellence of which I have been speaking, the glorious destiny of saved man. God will be their life and light and portion for evermore. The gospel reveals all this, and does so that it may be ours. It places all within our reach. It offers it to every sincere and peni tent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. It presses that offer on our acceptance. It saith, "Believe and live." May none of us
of our happiness, the advancement of our nature; but in language which we cannot now interpret. And it sums up all in this, that " eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, the things which God hath provided for them that love him." We expect, then, that the progress of nations and of individuals which we see on earth shall have its counterpart in heaven; that it shall be there much more strikingly and permanently manifested; that the infant who leaves this world befere its eyes have opened upon any of its kindred, and before it has discerned the love-regret that exhortation, or refuse to hear that liness of creation, and before it has received any of its impressions, shall not long be an infant, or in ignorance, amid the scenes on high; and that the man who is conversant with them shall likewise make advances in all that is excellent and good during the long existence that is before him.
Hence it is that the future state of God's people is emphatically called "life," and "life eternal" this is sure to be their reward. The present state is, in comparison, undeserving of the name. It is short and precarious and toilworn. It is full of pain, disease, misfortune, and unhappiness. We are conscious of powers which might be applied to noble purposes and which might produce great results, but we cannot use them as we would. Our energies are cramped by the languor of the body; for flesh and blood have not the elements of duration or of strength; and sin works every where its fatal and noxious contagion, destroying the moral health. Shall we call this "life" which is the sport of so many enemies? or shall we suffer ourselves to be deluded by a name? We see nothing but weakness and imperfection around us; and shall we say that this is a condition to be desired, one on which we ought to rest? No: there is no life here, where all things have an end. Life is all before us: it is only to be realized above. Life is unceasing existence-being, action, knowledge, holiness, happiness eternal. If we say that it is here, it is only as the beginning of it is here. But we shall find it perfect in the future world, where there are no hindrances to its advancement, no limits to its progress, no alloys to its happiness, and no termination to its enjoyments. It is of that future life that the gospel holds forth the prospect. It declares it to be "the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord". It is the possession of his followers. "He that hath the Son hath life: "I give unto my sheep," said he, "eternal life; and they shall never perish; neither shall any pluck them out of my hand." Then will be that never-ending
word, or forfeit by neglect the complete and permanent salvation which it promises.
But there is another representation of ete nity. It is made known to us as a twofol state. "The wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous into life eternal." Character shall not change, neither shall opposite characters be placed hereafter in the same position. Each shali have its separate state, where each shall remain unalterable, except in the direction of its former propensities. There is a decree which takes effect in all at last, and which runs in this way: "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." The soul of one man is as immortal as that of another, his lot as certain and unchangeable. But how differ ent may be their future destinies! how unlike the development of their powers! how oppo site the termination of their earthly course, and the result of their prevailing inclinations! Righteousness and happiness are eternal; so also are ungodliness and misery. The u believing and impenitent shall be left is unbelief and impenitence: the enemy of Gol and of holiness shall be suffered to continue his unavailing enmity. They “shall eat" as the scripture saith, "of their own way, be filled with their own devices". And what a torment shall wickedness be to itself! What a fire are angry passions! What a gnawing worm are a too late repentance, envy, and despair! We can hardly conceive a greater, direr punishment, nor at the same time one more just, than for those who reject salvation to be left for ever under the dominion of those sins, which they would not pat away from them; to be cast out from the presence of that God whose mercy they had slighted, and from that Saviour who shall no more intercede for them; and to have enlarged faculties and powers, only to sink lower and lower still into that gulph of wretchedness from which they can no more have any ex
pectation of being freed. This is eternal death-the opposite of eternal life in all except duration. It is not annihilation, nor insensibility; but pain instead of pleasure, grief instead of joy, shame and humiliation instead of honour and exaltation, and that for evermore. Between these who would not choose, and exclaim with Balaam, "Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his"?
III. In conclusion, how near is this eternity to every one among us! At the farthest limit of our existence it is not distant. We are always approaching nearer and nearer to that everlasting state which is to be unalterably ours. It is always approaching nearer and nearer unto us. But little separates us from that world from which there is no return, and from those unseen realities of which I have been discoursing. A week, a day, an hour, a moment, may be all the time now left to some for preparation for their change. While I have been speaking immortal souls have passed into eternity. The soul enters on its future condition as soon as it is parted from the body. It is conscious even then of what shall be its after destiny. For there is no repentance in the grave, no change in the spiritual inclinations and affections in their separate state, no possibility then of reversing the course and actions of the present life, and of altering the doom to which they inevitably lead. Soon soul and body, again united as before, shall together suffer or enjoy the fruits of their former con5 duct, world without end. The revelation of God shall be fulfilled in all its announcements. Nor shall it be long until every one here present shall have passed into that future, which it makes known to us, there to experience its truth.
Momentous, then, is our position as immortal beings. We cannot cease to be. And we stand upon the verge of time, ready to be precipitated into an undefined but endless existence, of which our present life is but the fore-runner, and in which we shall be doomed, according to our conduct here, to happiness or woe. We have entered on a course which has no termination, the direction of which depends very greatly on ourselves. We have not only to make our way in this world we have also to attend to what is infinitely of greater consequence to prepare to meet our God; to provide for the long hereafter which is revealed to us; to live in the conviction that by securing the welfare of the soul we are laying the foundation of the only happiness which shall not be destroyed. The things of time must be estimated all with reference to the future, and our own condition even now by its fitness or unfitness for
eternity. How earnestly should we fix our eyes on that which is before us! How diligently should we improve our spiritual privileges, talents, opportunities, and all the means of grace, in order to our permanent welfare! What reasons have we all to hear and embrace that gospel in which God addresses us as sinners, and invites us to flee from the wrath to come! It tells us of a way in which we may be pardoned, sanctified, and glorified. It discloses the joys and terrors of the spiritual world that here we may seek for and find mercy, that we may become the faithful followers of the Saviour, and that our final home may be with his people in the abiding mansions of his Father's house. Without that gospel we should vainly hope for happiness in the state to which we naturally look forward beyond the grave. It is the light of the world, to guide them to him who is the Giver of all good, and in whose presence there is fulness of joy. It is the life of all who cordially receive it. Blessed is the man who, through its message, is made the rich possessor of the light and life and glory of eternal day.
THE RETURN OF SPRING.
BY MRS. H. W. RICHTER.
ONE of the signs by which we may be warned that the shadows on our dial of life are waxing lengthy and dark is the change and decrease in those sensations of hope and joy with which we once welcomed the return of spring. Once on a time, we can all remember, how the very first gleam of the gentle season, the first primrose or snowdrop, nay, the humble buttercup, the lengthened day, the buds and the blossoms, came over our young spirits as something divine. There was a joy and rejoicing, a buoyancy and hope, in this season then, which words but faintly express. The clouds of winter were broken; and through that opening what a beam of gladness warmed ture herself was "all music to the ear, and beauty and renovated our untried, unworn spirits! Nato the eye." Years roll on: why do these early joys no more return? We welcome not spring as once we did; the rebound of energy and hope comes not to greet it, drinking "the spirit of the golden day,' ," in the very triumph and joy of existence itself. The once buoyant spirit folds its sad retrospection: "Even such was the violet's broken wings, and thus soliloquizes thought in perfume, thus did the softened breezes blow, and the morning's breath was all redolent of vernal freshness; so did leaf and flower unfold, when they ushered in many a past sorrow and bereavement, which all their promise and their loveliness failed to charm away." No more can we welhovers round them, telling of all the year may come them as once we did; for an ominous whisper bring. "Old experience gradually attains to something of prophetic strain," especially in the
sensitive, who retain long impressions. We turn from all the young year is bringing, to all which it cannot restore-the early trust, the unhesitating faith in all the fair seemings of life: vanity is all too legibly engraven there, and the sky-tinted visions of that dewy morning wax into fast-fading shadowy outlines. But the angel Hope leaves us not; for the bright dream of eternal day rises in more real and distinct "form and pressure" on the soul's inward gaze. In nature's very silence how eloquent the voice which tells that these unvarying returns of the great Giver's bounty, in their ever-recurring forms of grandeur and beauty, give sweet assurance of his unchangeable love, whose promises secure to his faithful ones an inheritance beyond this earthly bourne, of which the fairest things, in "these his lowest works," are but faint types and shadows. And though every year may take away something dear and precious, and the "old sexton, time,' may bury early hopes, yet does the soul, in every return of the gifts so richly given to this beautiful world, repose with the more calm and trusting certainty on the promised future. For, as that writer, whose clear and profound reasonings have brought peace to many minds, has so finely observed, "As is that divine power which created the particles of light of such an inconceivable smallness that, although darted from the sun at the rate of two hundred thousand miles in a second, they strike without wounding them (the petals of the most delicate flower, or the retina of an insect's eye), so are some degrees of the extent and exactitude of God's retributive justice." And, as is that mighty education of vegetative life by which he calls forth the "foliage on ten thousand forests, and renews the plants and fruits and flowers of every zone and region, so is a portion of the unsearchable strength and exceeding tenderness of divine love." The dark cares of this most frail and feverish being die away into remoteness and insignificance from views like these, and we welcome the flowery season, with all its rich and countless bounties, as bringing us yet nearer to the land where " unbounded spring encircles all.”
BY THE REV. DENIS KELLY, M.A.,
ancestors: you look for something of a revival of the spirit of the men of past ages. This feeling is not lessened when the name borne by the individual is a name connected with the land which is known as the land of chivalry and romance, the land of the brave, of lofty daring and "high emprise," which boasts of its noblest blood shed in the cause of liberty and truth-the land where every hill and vale and glen and mountaintastness tells of some deed of prowess, of the struggles of the warlike and the brave,
It was, I own, with associations like these floating in my mind I went to see and to bear the distinguished nobleman to whom I have assigned the above title; and I could not forbear imagining to myself in what manner or in what form the fierce daring of the warlike chiefs of other days would embody itself now, in these peaceful times, if it should revive; what shap that lofty spirit would assume when mirgling not with the mailed warriors, but with the wis the good, the thoughtful; when it appeared net at the head of daring chieftains or in councils of war, but presiding over and influencing and directing an assembly met together to promote objects of high and enduring interest, to diffuse the light of divine truth, to extend the bounda. ries of Christ's kingdom upon earth. I could not help fancying to myself what a strange trans formation this would be; what a different thing the lofty and chivalrous spirit as it shone in baronial halls of old, and as it would appear in the Christian assembly that I was now going to join. For I felt there is scope for high and chival rous feeling in these assemblies too. There is a scope for the display of courage and firmness in abetting the cause of God, which might adorn the best and the bravest.
What added to the interest of the occasion was, that the same meeting was to introduce to us the well known historian of the Reformation; him whe has stirred the hearts of thousands with the recital of events of three hundred years' date, as if they were of recent occurrence, as if they were a new told tale; the man who has himself so much the spirit of the mighty hero of his tale (for this the true secret of the spell that his interesting volume exerts on the mind): if he had not hims imbibed the spirit of Luther, all the genius and learning and talents upon earth would not have accomplished what he has done. I fancied to myself that the historian of the medieval age
Minister of Trinity Church, Gough Square, Fleet and the descendant of medieval chieftains and
THE SCOTTISH CHIEF.
"To scorn delights, and live laborious days." MILTON.
It is difficult to divest one's mind of the association connected with high birth, with ancient lineage and distinguished ancestry. And, when one sees an individual bearing a name which shines in the historic page, a name with which we have been familiar from our youth, one can hardly help identifying him with the character and the achievements of other days. You expect to see in him a sort of representative of a line of illustrious
nobles were not unsuitably met upon the same platform.
Feelings and associations like these made me look with interest to the occupancy of the chair by one whom I had never seen, and of whose ap pearance and aspect I had no previous concepties. I was not long, however, left either to suspense or to conjecture. At the appointed hour, and as it were in a moment, the vacant place was occu pied. If pomp and parade and ceremony lordly presence were necessary to produce an inpression, there was little in that slight, active, youthful-looking but most intelligent form that now stood before me to produce any striking sensations. But these are not the indications of greatness: it is the mind that is the standard of
* D'Aubigné, in May (I think) 1851.