Page images

and the light of reason become dim within thee; while, to every once-interesting, sight and sound in the creation thy senses will grow regardless. The harbingers of death will assail thee on every side, allowing thee no respite or relief from pain: for, as clouds, which have just poured down their torrents, again begin to lour and to drench the earth, so the diseases, which are incident to thy frame, in constant succession, will increase upon thee, till thou be unfitted for the purposes of life. Then the keepers of the house shall tremble; the once-firm columns, which sustained thy body, shall sink beneath the weight of years; thy teeth being no longer able to masticate thy food, because they are useless or few, thy wonted nutriment shall fail. Thy sight, too, which once could descry far-distant objects, will not then discern even things that are nigh; and thine ear, once delighted with the strains of music, will close against every sound. Though nothing once could daunt thee, and thy manly soul even courted scenes of danger, then wilt thou be afraid

of shadowy perils, lest that which is high should fall upon thee, or lest that which is low should prove a snare to thy feet. Thus enfeebled, as the almond tree sheds its white blossoms, the hoary hairs, through length of days, will fall from thy head; and, as the bones of the grasshopper protrude themselves to the sight, so, thy once comely frame shall then, reduced to leanness, become weak and without desire, and sink, by degrees, to thy long last home-the Grave; whither thy mourning friends will follow thy remains along the streets. Then the silver cords, thy sinews and nerves, which held thy compacted frame together, being loosed, the golden bowl, which contained the treasures of the thinking brain, being broken, and the pitcher of the heart, whence flowed the vital current through all thy members, being shattered and useless-then, then shall the dust return to the earth, as it was; and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."

But, that the dust, the corporeal part of man, shall not, after death, remain in the earth for ever, He, that was dead and

is alive for evermore, has convinced us, by rising from the grave, and ascending into heaven, in the same human body which he had assumed. And, during the solemn interval between his death and resurrection-to prove that the soul and body are distinct natures" he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, which aforetime had been disobedient." This is, unquestionably, one of those passages in the Sacred Volume," in which are some things hard to be understood;" and which, probably, never will thoroughly be understood, till that hour when the veil shall be withdrawn from before our mental vision, and we see the adorable Redeemer as he is, mighty to save all in every age who duly trust in and obey him.

Two things, however, are clearly deducible from this mysterious passage; namely, not only are the spirits, therein spoken of, represented as existent in a state of separation from their bodies; but the spirit and body of the dead Redeemer were, at the time, separated also. The latter, his crucified mangled body, lay lifeless in the

sepulchre, which was "sealed with a stone, and guarded by a watch" of armed men. The former, his beneficent spirit, went on its gracious mission of salvation, into regions of which we can form no conception, and for a purpose, which it were vain for the most learned to attempt to fathom or comprehend.

If any man might presume to draw aside the veil, and to penetrate into the mysterious darkness of this subject, a late prelate, perhaps, was privileged to do so and no one can read his elaborate discourse upon it, without edification and comfort. The place to which Christ descended, after his crucifixion, that learned prelate affirms, "was not the place of torment, but Hell, properly so called,-the invisible mansion of departed spirits; and that part of it, where the souls of the faithful, when they are delivered from the burden of the flesh, are in joy and felicity.- -"That he should go to this place," says the Bishop, "was a necessary branch of the general scheme and project of Redemption; which required that the Divine Word should

take our nature upon him, and fulfil the entire condition of humanity, in every period and stage of man's existence, from the commencement of life, in the mother's womb, to the extinction and the renova tion of it. The same wonderful scheme of humiliation, which required that the Son should be conceived, and born, and put to death, made it equally necessary that his soul, in its intermediate state, should be gathered to the souls of the departed saints." In conclusion, adds this invincible defender of the Christian cause, "the fact," as here stated," is a clear confutation of the dismal notion that death is a temporary extinction of the life of the whole man ; or, what is no less gloomy and discouraging, the notion of the sleep of the soul, in the interval between death and the resurrection. Christ was made so truly man, that whatever took place in the human nature of Christ, may be considered as a model and example of what must take place, in a certain due proportion and degree, in every man united to him. Christ's soul survived the death of his body: there

« PreviousContinue »