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"And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."—Rev. xxi. 4.
THE life of man in the world is a marvellous thing! Man is a wonderful being! The world is the place of man's education, and it is indeed a beautiful school. Great numbers learn very little of what might easily be known; others are in various degrees of advancement compared with the ignorant, the heedless, and the slow; but even the most diligent and the most capacious students in the Divine school know best that they but learn little, compared with the ocean of knowledge that is around them.
"The world is worthy better men."
The world has for its mission to draw out man's faculties, and train them. It is the Lord's exercising court, to prepare His children for His palace, His paradise. All are preparing for a future. The baby is wooed by the sweet endearments of its mother, and of those who love it, to bring its senses into play. The beauty of the world beams upon it on every side. The sunshine, the breezes, the trees, the flowers, the grass, above all the loving faces, the friendly aspects of all around, above, beneath, by night and day, excite its wonder and flood it with delight. The child having been well developed, is prepared for the FUTURE of youth. Education comes, and the world furnishes in abundance the means of knowledge, and of the formation of character. Fresh powers are drawn out at every step; faculties and capabilities are unfolded that had slept in the child; the youth and maiden become matured and ripen, it may be, into noble men and women; these become husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.
The world is still doing its work of education. Circumstances are affording the means of judging between truth and error, right and wrong. The world of God and the Word of God are forming the MAN, of whom the future is the ANGEL.
We have thus traced human growth and education in the world, in which there is always an advancement towards a future; an apparent disappearance, but no real death. The baby's good nursing has prepared it for its future. The babe disappears, but is really contained
1 Funeral Discourse on J. Finnie, Esq. of Bowdon Lodge, near Manchester, Sunday, Aug. 29, 1875, preached at Palace Gardens Church, Kensington, London, by Rev. Dr. Bayley.
in the youth and the maiden. These have their future, and in good time they enter upon it. The youth and the maiden disappear, but are really contained in the full men and women. Nothing is lost. So, when a man disappears at what is called death, there is no real death, such as people commonly imagine. It is but translation. We leave the outer body-the house we have inhabited—and rise to higher, fuller life. "If the earthly house of this tabernacle be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. v. 1). The good man never dies. progresses and rises to higher life. We place his outward form in the grave, but like his Lord he is not there, he is risen. The earthly body is there, but the spiritual body has risen in power and beauty. God has given him a body as He has pleased Him. "And to every seed HIS OWN body" (1 Cor. xv. 38). It is a very interesting thing to notice how constantly Scripture teaches that the good man NEVER dies. When the coming of the Lord Jehovah into the world is described by Isaiah, it is said, "He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces" (xxv. 8). And the Apostle, after the Lord had come, said, "He hath ABOLISHED death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Tim. i. 10). Our Lord astonished the worldly-minded of His day by saying, "If a man keep My saying, he shall NEVER see death" (John viii. 51). The Jews resented this teaching with the bitterest expressions, but the Saviour did not retract His words. To. Martha He said, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall NEVER die" (John xi. 25, 26). In the sixth chapter of John, our Lord says eight times over, in varied forms, that he who receives His Divine Nature, HIS FLESH AND BLOOD, that is, His Goodness and Truth, is in no danger of death: "I am that Bread of Life;" "This is the Bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and NOT DIE;" "I am the Living Bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall LIVE FOR EVER; "Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood HATH ETERNAL LIFE” (John vi. 48, 50, 51, 54).
Earth is the stage of our transitory career.
slightly altered, depict it truly :
"This world is all a fleeting show,
For time and transit given;
The smiles of joy, the tears of woe,
The poet's words,
Deceitful shine, deceitful flow,
Heaven is our HOME. For it we come into the world; we ought for it to leave the world. Death is, however, mentioned in the Word, but it does not mean non-existence; it means the opposite of LIFE. Life in Scripture means the love of God-heavenly love. Life excites to more life. "Ye will not come unto Me, that ye might have LIFE. But I know you, that ye have not the LOVE of God in you" (John v. 40, 42). Death, being the opposite, means selfishness, pride, hate, destructive pleasure, sin in its various forms. "To be CARNALLY MINDED is death," said the Apostle; "but to be spiritually minded is LIfe and PEACE" (Rom. viii. 6). That which the Word of the Lord dignifies with the name of life is heavenly love. God is LIFE, because God is LOVE. Heaven is called the land of the living, because it is the land of the loving. There flows the river of the water of life, which proceedeth from the throne of God and the Lamb. The trees there are trees of life. Everything is love embodied, and therefore everything is full of life and blessedness. Heaven is the kingdom of life because the angels glow with love. Love is the actual life of every one; hence, in pursuit of a study or an object we love, we are full of energy, are, as it were, ALL LIFE. On the contrary, when we have no affection, we are slow and cold.
"How eager are my thoughts to roam
In quest of what they love;
But, ah, when duty calls them home,
Death in Scripture does not mean the cessation of existence. matter, even, nothing ceases to be. That which is solid now may become fluid, or gaseous and invisible; but it still exists, and in some form will reappear. So with spiritual things; they can be perverted; love may become hate. What is holy and pure in itself can be changed into what is gross and vile; that which is true can be changed into falsehood and folly; but the spiritual substance does not cease to be--it lives on, it cannot die.
Many poor souls, weary with the burden of self-torture, think as suicides they will end their wretched being, and fly at once from self and misery to non-existence. But it is not so; they live on, but their woeful condition is called DEATH. The first time dying is mentioned in the Bible it evidently means a life in opposition to goodness and to God. "In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die" (Gen.
ii. 17). Our first parents did eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they did not cease to exist; they lived on. Their life was the life of evil, which is DEATH. The evil are continually called dead in Scripture: "You hath he quickened, who were DEAD in trespasses and sins" (Eph. ii. 1); "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the DEAD, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. v. 14); "The hour is coming, and now is, when the DEAD shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live" (John v. 25).
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, HATH EVERLASTING LIFE; and shall not come into condemnation; but Is PASSED FROM DEATH TO LIFE" (ver. 24). Consider these remarkable declarations. He that lovingly hears the Divine Word hath Now everlasting life. He is Now passed from death to life. My son who was dead is alive again, and who was lost is found. How evident, then, is it that death in the Word does not mean ceasing to be, but a mind opposite to the life of goodness, which alone is considered to be worthy of the name of LIFE.
The soul that sinneth it shall die, does not mean the soul that sinneth shall cease to exist; but the soul that sinneth shall sink into the life that is called death. "She that liveth in pleasure," saith the Apostle, "is dead while she liveth" (1 Tim. v. 6). Wherever pure, divine, or holy unperverted love reigns, there is life; God is life; Heaven is full of life. In the human soul there is a miniature kingdom of life, because the Lord has implanted in each soul the germs of heaven. Taking the child into His arms, our blessed Lord said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven." The love of God, the love of goodness, the love of truth, the love of whatever is just, virtuous, manly, and noble, these glorious affections are in embryo in every human soul, and constitute the kingdom of life in it, making salvation possible. They are implanted by the Lord Jesus, our heavenly Father, and addressed and acted upon by Him when He becomes our Saviour. These blessed graces make the loveliness of childhood. The tenderness of its flesh is the softness of love covered with a graceful veil of materiality. The bright gleam of a child's eyes is love looking through the windows into the world, and welcoming with gladness the beauties that it sees. The dimpled smile of a child is a charm from heaven. The trust, the confidingness, the ingenuousness of childhood and youth, give a rich beauty which one never sees in the young but the sentiment arises, What a pity it is they should ever be spoiled! Of this region of the soul it may truly be said,
"All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
And feed his sacred flame."
But there is another kingdom in the soul, the kingdom of death, -a degree of the mind inherited from our fallen forefathers. In this kingdom self-love reigns, and pride, vanity, envy, deceit, jealousy, hate, and vengeance dwell. "From within," our Lord said, "out of the heart of man proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders." These, with all their ideas, sentiments, and impulses, constitute death in the soul. When a person has turned from evil states and become repentant, looking to the Lord Jesus, his Redeemer, he can say with the Psalmist, "Thou HAST DELIVERED MY SOUL FROM DEATH; wilt not Thou deliver my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living?” (Ps. lvi. 13.) Or, in the glowing words of Psalm cxvi., "Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For Thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling" (vers. 7, 8). What a glorious deliverance is this deliverance from death! It is the gain of two worlds the present and the future. Religion puts a man in harmony with the world of nature, and, as a rule, makes the best of everything. There are exceptions, of course, in exceptional times and circumstances. Our Lord Himself was poor, and had not sometimes where to lay His head; but, as a rule, he who gains a redemption from sin gains such habits of order, health, integrity, industry, trustworthiness, intelligence, care, and perseverance, that he obtains a sufficiency of this world's goods, as well as those of the world to come. Godliness is profitable for all things. This is not an invariable rule, because the Lord does not wish us to seek heavenly things for the sake of earthly gain. He knows what is best for each of us, and sometimes wealth is withheld when it would stand in the way of our receiving better gifts. To bring radiance from the diamond, it must be polished, and the process is hard. To purify the gold there must be the fire of tribulation. We must not be surprised, then, if sometimes hard trials are permitted, but we should always be sure that we are in the best hands. The Lord is making the best of us, and His tender mercies are over all His works.
"Then welcome the earthquake, the waves, and the storm,
If these to the spirit of Jesus conform."
We have noticed the heavenly beauty of the little child, and of the