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makes a proper use of them. Our great business is not to decide, a priori, what the Bible ought to teach, how much, or how little; but having evidence of its divine origin, to read it and understand it, and then rest in calm and hopeful confidence upon its information. This is the ground to which every soul must come, or be without the quietude of simple faith. It is the ground of highest dignity and greatest glory in respect to the intellect, and equally of obvious duty in respect to the heart. To what higher employment can intelligence aspire on earth, than to converse with its Maker through his word? How else can the heart so well be sanctified and trained for heaven? "Sanctify them through thy truth: THY WORD IS TRUTH." If any man can do better than to read and expound the Bible, believing what it teaches, and seeking to obey its commands, then let him do so; but for ourselves, we must shrink from the awful experiment. We have yet to learn that human speculations are of as much value as divine light.-N. Y. Evangelist.
"HAVING NO HOPE."
Ephesians ii. 12.
1. An unconverted and unregenerate state is one of appalling horror. "Having no hope." No hope for this life, no hope for the life to come. No hope living, none for the hour of death, and the day of judgment. An infinite, eternal Future before you, and yet in all that measureless duration of being no signs of life, no ray of light, no blessed experience-an eternal existence before you, and nothing, nothing in all the Past, nothing in all the Future to sweeten and bless it. O, is this your state--the state of a moral, accountable, immortal creature of God-a creature with such capacities for enjoyment, such longings after happiness, with such a Past to look back upon, and so bright an eternity unveiled to your view! "Condemned already”—“ having no hope"-" without God in the world."-O, how these fearful words thrill the soul; they are the knell of that state of fixed and eternal despair to which impenitent and unpardoned sin quickly leads a man. And yet you can be thoughtless and gay, and unconcerned-yet you can imagine that all is well-yet you can indulge the pleasures of sin and the world-when you have only to look forward to see written on the door of your death-chamber, and on the stone which marks the place of your sleeping dust, and on the Heavens over you, and on the throne of the living God, and on the bar of judgment, "no hope"-" no hope." 2. The text gives us a vivid conception of the misery and tor
ment of hell. From that world Hope is entirely and for ever shut out. Her sweet voice, her reviving influence, her blessed companionship are never seen or felt there. There is an utter extinguishment of this mighty passion in every breast. The future gives no promise of relief or good. Forth from its infinite depths there comes no voice of consolation or gladness, no ray of peace or beam of light. Darkness and only darkness forever and ever! Misery and only misery forever and ever! Suffering, remorse, abandonment of God, exclusion from heaven, the horrid companionship of hell, forever and ever!-Without change -without mitigation-without relief! Dreariness, sadness, "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth," blasphemies, the raging of passion, the reign of despair unchecked, unchangeably, eternally! Forever, forever! O, that is the sum of final misery. "No hope" from out the Future. Pain, remorse, separation, darkness, dying, eternal, eternal ! O, the inconceivable horrors of such a state, such a world! O, on the despairing countenance of that lost spirit I see gleaming in lurid light the fearful words "no hope." On the walls of his eternal prison where he is doomed to drag out his long and weary existence, I read again no hope." On the massive chains which fetter his agonized body and raving spirit "no hope" is seen in glaring brightness. On "the smoke of their torment which ascendeth up before God forever and ever" the inscription once more appears "no hope." And on the battlements of heaven, and on the rainbow which is round about the Throne, these fearful words again gleam forth. And now a voice breaks on my ear-ten thousand times ten thousand tongues catch up the cry and repeat it-it rolls through the caverns of that despairing world, and breaks in thunder on the ear of Heaven; and O, it is the same sentence which I have repeated to you so often, but now burdened with the sighs of a lost and despairing world-" no hope-no hope-no hope!"— Rev. J. M. Sherwood.
FORETASTES OF HEAVEN AT THE CLOSE OF LIFE.
O, the aged, venerable saint, upon whose mild countenance is reflected the soft, holy dawn of Heaven! We more than love, we reverence him. His very deadness to all the affinities of earth, makes us feel that he already belongs to a higher sphere! We linger around his arm-chair as around an oracle, and our spirits bow and worship in the sacred element of mystery which breathes around him. A thousand times blessed is the close of his life, so full of hope and immortality. The soul that can rise above the clouds of earth, can always behold the infinity of Heaven, and, perhaps, every rightly taught man, before God takes him, ascends to a Pisgah of his own from whence to look farewell to the wilderness he has passed in the leadings of Jehovah's right hand, and to catch a glimpse of the promised land, lying in the everlasting orient before him.
Christian biography is rich in examples of such rapturous and peaceful foretastes as often characterize the closing scenes of the eminently pious. Of these, perhaps, the most remarkable is that of the deeply pious and devoted John Janeway. "I am, through mercy, quite above the fears of death, and am going unto Him whom I love above life. O, that I could let you know what I now feel. O, that I could show you what I now see! O, the glory! the unspeakable glory that I behold! My heart is full; my heart is full; Christ smiles, and I cannot choose but smile. Can you find it in your heart to stop me, who am now going to the complete and eternal enjoyment of Christ? Would you keep me from my crown? The arms of my blessed Saviour are open to embrace me; the angels stand ready to carry my soul into his bosom. O, did you but see what I see, you would all cry out with me, "How long, dear Lord? Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!"
Dr. Doddridge, when near his end, said: "Such delightful and transporting views of the heavenly world as my Father is now indulging me with, no words can express."- Light breaks in ! Light breaks in! Hallelujah!" were among the dying words of the pious Blumhart of Basle. Dr. Bateman, a Christian physician, said, a little before he died: "I can hardly distinguish whether this is languor or drowsiness which has come over me; but it is a very agreeable feeling ;" and, dying, he exclaimed, "What glory! the angels are waiting for me! Lord Jesus receive me soul! Farewell!" Addison, the English Poet, when near death, called a young man, who was rather indifferent to religion, of his bed side, and while he pressed his hand with tender affection, said to him: “Behold with what peace a Christian can die !"
Such language reminds one of the swan-song, which is sweetest when dying. It is like some of that language of rapture which we find in the Scriptures that trembled, like a thrill of
heavenly joy, upon the tongues of saints ready to depart. Like that of Jacob: "I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord." Like that of Simeon, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." Like that of Paul: "I am now ready to be offered, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness!"
Why should not saints, "on the verge of heaven," share a foretaste of it? They have the assurance, that the Comforter shall abide with them always, and why not peculiarly amid the trying scenes of death? He, as a spirit, has direct access to the spirits of saints to fill them with His consolation and peace. Beyond doubt, also, the soul in its last moments of stay upon the earth, if so far free from its inward affinities with the body, as to see already the glorious realities of that world which it is just entering. Thus Stephen, the first Christian martyr, when his soul was about stoned out of his body, "being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into Heaven, and saw the glory of God, and said, Behold I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God."
These experiences of dying saints are, of course, various in their degree; some are rapturous and ecstatic while others are more calm and peaceful. Some have glimpses of Heaven vouchsafed them, while they, departing, have still sufficient strength to express their feelings; while others, as in the cases mentioned, can only yet give a faint token that joy is breaking upon them through the gloom of death. In this respect, too, there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. Sure it is, that in one form or other, the Comforter is doing his work at the heart.
Such a joyful, peaceful end is to be desired, not only because it tends to take away the gloom from the prospect of death, but also because of its unspeakable blessedness to the dying saint. In that hour, when flesh and heart fail, what must be the joy of such a portion! It is desirable, too, on account of those who stand in tears around our dying bed. It will take away much of the bitterness of their sorrow and bereavement, to see that our death is full of peace and hope. Their farewell looks and words will lose much of their mournfulness when we see their countenances lighted up with an expression which seems to say, "I am going home!" Oh! the deepest of all sorrow is sorrow without hope. The sweetest of all consolation in the hour of bereavement, is the assurance that the spirit of the departed rests-rests forever in the bosom of its God. Afterwards, too, it is the pleasantest of all the duties of love to drop the tears of affection upon the grave of one whose spirit we know to be in the Heavenly Home.--[The Heavenly Home.
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free Spirit: then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee."-PSALMS li. 10-13.
THE history of David is very instructive. Great was his sin, and great was his punishment. He was made to suffer in his person and family, as well as in his own soul. His heart was wrung by family feuds and contentions, the consequences of his transgression. His son Amnon atrociously insulted his sister Tamar, and her brother Absalom fearfully avenged the crime: Absalom, in turn, having become a successful rebel, and having expelled his father from the capital, at the instigation of Ahitophel, irreparably widened the breach between them, by violating the sanctity of the royal harem before the people and before the sun, pitching his tent on the very spot where David had first nursed his unhappy passion.
And if we inquire why David's old and honored counsellor should be the first to abet the rebellion of the son, we may trace his motives back to the outraged feelings of family pride. Bathsheba was the grand-daughter of Ahitophel.