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In the beginning, signifies in the Hebrew way Gen.! of marking the sacred books (which was commonly done by taking the first word of the book.) In the first of Genesis is the Mimra; the Word of Jehovah said, “ let there be light, and there was light.” I have made the earth, says Jehovah, by my Mimra. The Mimra was with Jehovah, not only in the sublime sense, as one brought up with him, but in that position or collocation as placed in the Chaldee paraphrase (for to a Jew this was a home argument) that when Jehovah appeared acting, still the Mimra was there, ad latus, as the acting agent, and in such a way, and employing such epithets of Deity, as that the Mimra also was God. From this I could perceive a closer alliance between Judaism and Christianity than what I had heretofore done ; that the latter naturally grew out of the former—that to fulfil the law, as Christ speaks, expresses not abolition, but completion; or that that part of the divine plan is done and past, in the same natural way as the fading of the blossom is found to terminate, not in the breaking of the branch, but in the formation of the fruit.
Mankind are the only creatures on earth, who are summoned by the voice of celestialwisdom to at tend to a future and an invisible state. They are reminded that the present is the time given to provide for the future ; that a haryest is approaching,
which, whether they have carefully or negligently sown, they must reap; that their manner of life here extends its effects into their After-state, and impresses on each individual a character which must be his through the revolutions of an endless esistence.
A temporary divulsion of soul and body is to take place, which awaits not our consent. By it we are transmitted to another region, and put into another mode of being. What that state is, as to the life led, its enjoyments and actions, are secrets confined within the precincts of that country, between which and our world, death interposes a veil, through which no mortal eye can penetrate.
Revelation comes in aid to human ignorance, and raising the veil a little, gives us to know, that after death, while “ it is well with the righteous, it is ill with the wicked;" that while the portion of the former is light and consolation, the latter lift up their eyes and are in torments. It then deeply concerns us to know, and in some degree to ascertain, whether happiness is to be our future lot; and, while days are indulged, to meditate with fruit upon the things which belong to our peace. If timely consideration and prompt exertion be our indispensable duty: if to look into our After-state, before we approach close upon it, and to understand somewhat of it as to its future consequences, be wisdom, this ought to be our ruling
principle, our primary object upon earth. The lamp of life burns only for a few days, and then 's extinguished for ever. This is a necessity; this is a law of our nature to which we, however utzwilling, must bring ourselves to submit. We know the place to which the body is consigned, but the destination of the spirit, no human sagacity can trace or discover. These gates of death cannot be opened to gratify our curiosity, nor can we see the doors of its shadow. The awe of an unknown, an untried Power, naturally invades us, while the only relief we can have, is, from that voice which announces,“ on earth peace, and good will toward the children of men.”
It is merely our ignorance and vain fears which clothe death and the invisible state with a dreary gloom. Did we know the whole, this glooma would instantly dissipate, it being nothing but a spectre of our own raising. The body, committed to the grave, we would view as a trust, to be re-delivered with interest ; like the seed, which, although committed solitary to the furrow, soon emerges to the view, with its beauteous as
blage of branches and fruits. In the spirit of the Brachmans of India, we would consider the present life as merely the period of gestation, and that death was truly a birth into a higher and nobler state of existence. *
* Strabo, b. 15.
We have naturally clinging to us a prejudice in favour of the soul's surviving the body; " for who would, to dumb forgetfulness a prey, resign this pleasing anxious being ?” Annihilation is the dart that reaches the spirit. We are unwilling to surrender to it the friend we have venerated and loved: his voice and looks still maintain a place in our imagination, long after his mortal remains are mouldered into dust. This is an opinion which seems to have pervaded all nations, the source of which might be the revelation of the Deity, formerly - made to man, and transmitted down from times reaching far beyond any records. *
Of the most enlightened in the heathen world, the language was mingled with much diffidence and uncertainty. They affirmed that to obtain a clear knowledge of these things was impossible,
or, at least, very difficult in this life. When the Gen, 5.76 patriarch Enoch was taken
appears to have been the belief of that age, that his removal was a singular exertion of Omnipotence, and that his after-state was with God. This event must have been viewed as amounting to a declaration to the people of that period, that souls existed somewhere, and that the place, and manner of their existence, were things very remote from the knowledge of mankind.
* Permanere animos arbitramur consensu nationum omni. tim, Cicero,
Men may ransack the bowels of the earth, and bring up its contents to the day; they may traverse unknown oceans, and discover countries lying far remote on the face of the globe; but it
is not given them to pass the limits of nature, or to 1 explore the recesses of departed spirits. This is a
region from which none can return. Here is a path which no human foot re-treads, and which " the vulture's eye hath not seen.” Its waters of communication cannot be approached, or navigated by human skill. The little we are admitted to know, must come from Him, whose presence fills all space, and whose eye penetrates through all worlds.
In his wisdom he might see it to be necessary that man should not be left in total ignorance of that state which succeeds to the present, while a full discovery might be either unsuitable, or, for the present condition of man, wholly impossible.
We are naturally fond of description, and lend a greedy ear to narratives of the various minutiæ of a newly discovered region. But the Supreme Majesty of heaven, with respect to the world of spirits, is superior to this, and rather checks than fully gratifies human curiosity. Men must be content with the measure of knowledge vouchsafed. “ If they hear not Moses and the prophets, nei-I.k./6.31 ther will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Enough is revealed to awaken dili