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We propose from the words fome reflections on DEATH its nature and extent-its cause the evils connected with it and the improvement to be made of the divine decree dooming man to return to duft.
First, Of the nature and extent of this doom. Un. to duft Joalt thou return.
The animal part only of our frame was formed of the ground. This only returns to duft. In respect to this we must “ say to corruption, Thou art my “ father : To the worm, Thou art my mother and my
sifter.” This animal part“ consumes away in the grave. The worm is spread under it, and the worms u cover" it, “ That which befalleth the beasts befall. « eth the fons of men ;” as die tbose, so die these :
They have all one breath. All go to one place. Alf u are of the dust, and all turn to dust again." By difease, decay, or any accident, their breath geeth forth, and they return to the earth.
Thus much is common to man and the lower animals. But in another view there is an effential differ
“ The spirit of man goeth upward ; the spirit " of beasts goeth downward to the earth,” perisheth with the body.
With respect to man, the spirit shall return to God who gave it, the moment that the dust shall return to the earth as it was. To this “ spirit the inspiration of « the Almighty hath given understanding." In reference to this spirit. “God created man in his own im
age, and gave him dominion over the fish, and fowls, « and cattle, and creeping things, and over all the " earth." All God's works are marvellous ; but especially the human soul, the image of the Deity, capable of the contemplation, fervice and enjoyment of him : The exercise of its faculties, far from having a neceffary dependence on the animal powers, may, for aught that appears, be most vigorous when the body is senseFels, as in fleep; or when the senses are otherwise fusa pended, as in a trance or extacy; like that of Paul,
when he knew not whether he were in the body or out.And if in these, or any similar instances, the powers of the soul are moft active, what presumption is there that they are destroyed, or even suspended, when the body returns to its original duft? What presumption is there that fouls departed are in a state of entire torpor? or that death is a perpetual sleep?
The state at and after death is indeed unknown. We are ignorant after what manner separate fpirits perceive and act, enjoy or suffer, admitting the reality of these things. None come from the other world to inform us on these points. But an opinion prevailed among the heathen, that there is something within man which never dies. They expected to exist hereafter, in mind if not in body. The conscience within them suggested the sentiment of future account, future rewards and punishments. They saw that death was the destruction of the body; but did not fuppose that the soul perished with the body. They had no knowledge of a refurrection ; kill they believed an after'existence—at least the more intelligent heathen did so ; not however without some doubts.
The immortality of the foul has been argued from its faculties and the enjoyments suited to these faculties; its capacity for endless improvement, and thirst for immortality; its hopes and fears. But the believers of revelation have not occasion for these arguments. They know assuredly, that though the body is mortal, the soul is not. This “ vital spark of hea“ venly flame" allies man to the angels and to God.
That part of man's frame, which sprang from the dust, and allies him to the animal creation, was not originally destined to return to dust. “For God made “ not death ; neither hath he pleasure in the destruc“ tion of the living. He created all things that they
might have their being—and there was no poison of “ destruction in them, nor the kingdom of death upu on earth. For God created man to be immortal,
« and made him to be an image of his own eternity." The penalty threatened to disobedience was an implied promise that man should not die, if he continued upright as God made him. The tree of life, in the midit of the earthly paradise, was an emblem of the immor. tality for which man was designed by his Creator. After his fall, this tree was guarded every way by cherubims and a flaming
sword, left he should put forth his hand, and take of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. Death hath reigned from Adam to this
day over all mankind, with but two exceptions in almost fix thoufand years:
And it will reign over all his future descen. dants, except those who shall be found alive at the fe. cond coming of our Lord. These “ shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump.” This change will be similar to that which the raised dead will experience—a change from corruption to incorruption, from mortal to immortality-from the fallen image of the earthy, to the glorious image of the heavenly Adam. Not only all ages and orders, but all characters, return to duft. "No relation or conformity to, or interest in him who hath abolifhed death, and brought incorruptibility to light, exempts from the sentence, “ Unto dust shalt thou return. “ There is no discharge in that war.” The wise and righteous die, and fee corruption, no less than the fool and the wicked. Precious as the death of the for, mer is in the light of the Lord, they are under the sentence of death as well as the latter. Their victory over sin and the grave does not exempt them from the power of the last enemy. Their earthly house shall be dissolved, in one way or another. One house is appointed for all the living,
Thus extensive is the dominion of death. We need not point out its various forms. Let us attend to its cause.
Sin first entered into the world : Death followed as the effect. Had not the former entered, the latter
had been unknown, “ Of the tree of the know“ ledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat. For in " the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
By one man, sin entered into the world, and death
by sin”—even by his first act of disobedience. “ Adam all die." Those, who have not finned after the fimilitude of his transgression, die-those who have no knowledge of good and evil, as well as others. Death, in every instance, is the execution of the sentence passed in the day of man's fall the penalty threatened beforehand in case of transgression. Whatever the more immediate cause of death may be in
inftances, the original and universal caule is that we have mentioned.
Whether there was or was not a deadly quality in the fruit of the prohibited tree, is an enquiry of little moment. If that fruit naturally wrought death in our progenitors, when they had taken of it, God gave it the deadly quality If otherwise, he connected this consequence with their disobedience; fo that it was as sure as if it had naturally followed. The sentence of death might have been executed immediately: But, though their doom was denounced that same day, Adam lived till the birth of Lamech, the eighth generation from the first pair, and the father of Noah. The longevity of the antediluvians, and the gradual contraction of human life after the flood till the time of Mofes, is rather to be resolved into the pleasure of the Sovereign of life, than to be ascribed to any natural cause. I mention the time of Moses; for the term of human life appears not to have been reduced since his day, when seventy or eighty was the period set to it. If the contraction of life had been owing to some natural cause, must not that cause have continued to operate alike after the time of Moses as before? If, in the space between him and the flood, it was reduced from almost a thousand to less than an hundred years—if the reduction had still continued in like proportion thro'
more than three times that space, what must have been the present term of man's life? rather must not the whole race have been extinct? We need not therefore enquire into the natural cause of the abbreviation of human life. There is an appointed time to man upon the earth. The giver of life hath, in all generations, set the bounds which he cannot pass. The few, who exceed three score and ten or four score, find, for the most part, that this late period is labour' and sorrow_languor of mind and body-a period in which is rio pleasure, and desire fails--which naturally presageth that the dust is returning to the earth as it was.
When our firlt parents had rebelled, they were stripped of a radiant glory, the symbol of the divine prefence, which surrounded them in their innocence.
They saw that they were naked.” An horrour of great darkness succeeded. They would have fled from God, their exceeding great joy before they had sinned; but become their terror through their fall. They anticipated their doom. They saw no ray of light, no gleam of hope. “They heard the voice of the Lord “God walking in the garden in the cool of the day; “ and hid themfelves from the presence of the Lord « God among the trees of the garden.” The man was ready to cast the blame of his transgression upon God. The woman cast the blame of her's upon the serpent. He was deceived by her, and she by the tempter. Each had a distinct doom. The serpent or tempter, who, through his subtilty, beguiled Eve, received his first. “ Because thou haft done this, thou art cursed “ above all cattle, and duft fhalt thou eat all the days “ of thy life. And I will put enmity between thee, " and the woman, and between thy feed and her seed: " It shall bruise thy head, and thou fhalt bruise his heel.” Next the woman was doomed to great forrow in bearing children, and placed under the rule of the man. Then he, for hearkening unto her, who first transgressed, had the ground cursed for his fake. “In for