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Then when trouble comes, you will know it to be heaven-sent. Then when you bend over the grave, lamenting the loved and the lost, a weeping Saviour will mingle his tears with yours, and cheer your heart with the glorious words - thy“ brother shall rise again ; whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die."
III. Man needs religion because he is immortal. Man is not alone the tried and tempted being of time. There is an eternity, an endless, on spreading eternity before him. There is a future, full at least of uncertainty ; for, even though there were nothing to prove that we are im. mortal, there is nothing to prove that we are not. Atheists say, that man shall crumble into dust, and be a conscious being no longer. But how know they this ? Do these men, who would dethrone the Almighty, and bring chaos back again upon the world,
- do these men ever think that the same chance or fortuitous combination of circumstances which brought them into this world, may carry them into another; that, that which caused them to be
now, may cause them to be hereafter; that the matter now organized to make a mortal man, may be
reorganized to make an immortal man ? Do these inen think of this? If not, then have they yet to learn, that though they deny the existence of God, though they raise up some undefinable nothing to create and rule this universe, still they have no assurance, that the sleep of the grave is eternal and their miserable hope of annihilation is at an end.
On the scheme of the atheist then, man may be im. mortal. And when a healthy and enlightened reason acts upon this subject, how strong is the presumption that he is so! Who can think of the soul and its marvellous powers; who can take cognizance of his thoughts as they survey and analyze their dwelling-place, the mind, or as they go over creation, call back the past or penetrate the future ; who can contemplate the affections in their loveliness and strength, in their holy self-denial, and unfailing constancy, as they blend in one congenial spirit; who can study the sentiment of devotion, feel how it elevates, fills with rapture, forgets earth and soars to heaven ; who can see our capacity, our ever increasing capacity, for knowledge and virtue, can mark the ceaseless progress in good or evil of the principle within, without being almost assured that it will never cease to be ? And how will this assurance be strengthened, when he reflects, that on earth, there is not a people, who have not some hope, more or less abiding and definite, of another state of existence!
The light of nature then affords strong presumption that man is immortal, and christianity makes this presumption fact, that teaches to the believer beyond question, the everlasting existence of his soul. Now, since this great truth is thus taught, who does not feel the need of that which shall explain the conditions of this endless life, and prepare him for it. Surely, not one who has the power, and who has exercised the power of thought. It is a fearful thing to live forever; to go on, not for a few days, months and years, but for a period that hath no end nor pause, a conscious feeling soul. And no man can dwell upon the fact of his immortality, as long, as intensely as he ought, without craving knowledge of the future state, without seeking a guide to direct him concerning it, without admitting the necessity of religion. Here he is; the breath of life is in him, he cannot escape,
he must exist, he must exist forever. Go, reader, if you will, drown thought in pleasure, go plunge into business, crowd every moment with worldly care, go strive to become a desperate sinner, hug to your bosom cold, freezing infidelity, go seek to contradict conscience and the bible, to believe that sin unrepented of and unforsaken shall be pardoned, that there is no hell beyond the grave for the transgressor; go, reader, do all this if you will; what then? Have you escaped God's truth? Oh no! There will still come to your soul, at times, earnest and awsul declarations. “Thou shalt never die. God shall bring every work into judgment, every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil. All that are in the graves shall come forth, they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” There is no eluding the pressure
of these facts. If you would be happy you must admit them, live in accordance with them, found you hopes upon them. This you can only do by being a christian. As God is true and just, you have no hope but the hope of the Gospel. Is not, then, religion the one thing needful? When your imagination, guided by faith, goes onward to eternity, when earth recedes, heaven is approached, the world of spirits opened to your view; when the sound of business and pleasure, the excitement and hurry of life is over, and your soul stands at the bar of your God; when, in fine, immortality and the solemn truths connected with it, are brought home to your conscience, by the voice of the preacher, the pain of sickriess or the approach of death, - do you not feel, will you not confess, that the religion of the cross is the only hope of man? Why then, reader, why do you not seek this religion now, before it is too late? Why are you not more anxious about the salvation of your soul? Why are you not among the fervent and devout, the thoughtful and the penitent? Why are you not kneeling at the altar of God, to confess yourself a follower of his Son ? You see how vain, dwarfed, and powerless you are without religion. You see that as you are tempted and tried, as you are a child of immortality, you must look above, and press onward to heaven, or be miserable. Do not, oh do not then be foolish and mad. Do not disregard these exhortations. Do not carelessly throw aside this essay, as if it concerned not you. Reader, be you who you may,
A charge to keep you have,
A God to glorify;
And fit it for the sky.
These words of mine are another warning, bidding you keep this charge, glorify this God, save and fit this soul, You may neglect them if you will, but you do it at your peril ; for then sin will have you for its slave, sorrow will crush you to the dust; and you shall enter upon the world of spirits, unprepared for its purity and peace. Oh! then, remember, one thing is needful. Choose that good part which shall not be taken away from you.
VOL. XIV.-NO. 157.