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a tree if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. Though its root wax old in the earth, and its stock die in the ground, yet, through the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant; but man dieth and wasteth away: Man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?" * These melancholy reflections of the afflicted Patriarch arose from his agonized breast, while sitting in the depths of sorrow; and a train of reasoning, so similar in beautiful sentiment, and so expressive of a mind darkened with the cheerless view of annihilation, is presented to us by a heathen writer, as to induce a belief that this page of inspiration was not unknown to him; for thus does Moschus, on the death of Bion, pour forth his complaint over the darkness of the tomb:A The humblest flower the cottage garden yields,
The meanest weed that blossoms in the fields,
* Job xiv.
But lo! the great, the brave, the good, the wise,
Let us briefly pursue this train of mournful thought, as indulged in by the striken' Patriarch;—"As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up; so man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more. He shall not awake, nor be raised out of his sleep."* · To the view of the heathen, in the above free translation of his lines, no morning dawns on the night of the grave; whereas, to that of the Patriarch it does faintly seem to break, but at a great distance; not still the heavens be no more;" when, as St. Peter, declares, those heavens “shall vanish away, with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat; the earth, also, and the works that are therein, . shall be burnt up." Yet soon afterwards, “like a light shining in a dark
* Job xiv.
place,” the feeble ray which fell on the mind of the sufferer, becomes obscured by doubt; and we hear him ask this anxious question; “If a man die, shall he live again?” In similar doubt and obscurity the mind of the Psalmist seems involved on this subject: “Wilt thou show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise thee? shall thy lovingkindness be declared in the grave; or thy faithfulness in destruction ? shall thy wonders be known in the dark; and thy righteousness in the land of forgetfulness?” So, likewise, with painful doubt and uncertainty, was the good and amiable Hezekiah depressed, on receiving intelligence of his apprehended speedy , dissolution. “He wept sore, and said, I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord in the land of the living! I shall behold man no more, with the inhabitants of the world.”
It is impossible not to sympathize with one so circumstanced; especially with one who feels himself entering that unknown region, whose “ feet already be
gin to stumble on the dark mountains," and who has neither staff nor guide to prevent his fall. With a heart disquieted and disconsolate, he sees, in the ashes of all who have gone before him, his own immediate destiny; that he is about to mingle with their dust, and to have that dust blown over the face of the earth, like perished leaves in autumn, as if the breath of life had never animated his frame. Who shudders not at the thought ?—Pondering on such a wreck of mortality as was presented to the view of the prophet, whether by local translation to "a valley that was full of bones," or by way of vision and terrific representation; and reflecting, that, among them, might be the precious fragments of “the Excellent of the earth” -excellent for beneficence and mental knowledge *—who, 1 say, surrounded by the darkness of nature on every side, would not exclaim, “Is the light of mind
* Ezekiel XXXVII. The horrid sublimity of the first ten verses of this chapter is, perhaps, without a parallel.
and intelligence, which shone brighter than all the stars of heaven, set to rise no more? Is a Homer, a Socrates, a Plato, a Newton, a Milton, a Locke--are such men, when in the grave, dead for ever? Is a Howard, who traversed the wide globe in search of misery, with the godlike motive alone of assuaging it, and whose life was sacrificed in the beneficent pursuit-are his relics to mingle with the sands of the desert, through interminable ages, and never to be restored to being? Are none of the wretched objects he blessed ever to bless him, nor to behold, with gladness, the glorified face of their benefactor, in the land of immortality ? Are all the sweet charities of life, all those tender bonds of affection, by which our hearts have been influenced in our present probationary state of existence, to be broken for ever? Are parents and children, brothers and sisters, nay, the friends who were “as our own souls,” severed from us eternally? Are all the intellectual gifts of the Most High to his favoured creatures all the endearing