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ian life, though, alas! defective in too many particulars, yet if we reject all but "the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all that believe '," we shall find such a consolation in death, as we could never have conceived at any other period.
I mean not here to encourage presumption, or the bold expectations of an aspiring mind; for in this there is no Christianity. "The servant of the Lord must not strive"." The humble follower of the Saviour will find an encouragement of thought very different from this; an encouragement, indeed, from which he almost shrunk, lest he should ground the delicious sensations which he experienced on a false foundation. But now his timidity is fled; celestial help is near; he knows on whom he has believed; and whilst the breathings of a spiritual life still soothe his confirmed mind, whilst he is assured that the promised Comforter is come, the mercy of the Saviour is blended with his purest hopes, and the consistent Christian sleeps in peace.
Thus he reposes in the confidence of an assured hope, that "if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that sleep in Jesus will God bring with him3." This is indeed true consolation in death, for this is victory. Happy tranquillity! happy exultation! ever watchful, he is not taken by
1 Rom. iii. 22.
2 2 Tim. ii. 24.
31 Thess. iv. 14.
surprise; ever pious, he is always ready; ever humble, he receives the blessed gift as an unmerited mercy; ever grateful, he is overwhelmed with the divine goodness. Excited by the intensity of feeling, he is as unable to explain, as he is to understand, the great change which has already begun in him. But he waits the Lord's leisure; and who can comprehend his joys? Who can calculate the fulness of his delight under the impression of acceptance, while the earthly frame is contending with the celestial spirit? when, in the satisfaction of a resigned and satisfied mind, he addresses his Almighty Father through the merits of his beloved Son, whilst his last aspiration is departing from his lips," As for me, I will behold thy presence in righteousness, and when I awake up after thy likeness, I shall be satisfied with it?" "He hath loved God in time, and in this visible world; and there is nothing in all the unseen worlds, nothing through all the ages of eternity, which shall ever separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. The moment of death hath fixed him for ever a holy and beloved soul, beyond the power of creatures to change his temper, or his state. He is awake to receive this change; he rejoices in the removal from world to world; his vital and active powers are ready for the business of paradise, and he opens his heart to take in the joy ""
1 Psalm xvii. 16.
2 Watts's Serm. on a world to come, p. 166.
"So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God that giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ'."
11 Cor. xv. 54, &c.
I.-Lent; the spring-time of religion.
As the word Lent implies, in its original Anglo-saxon sense', the vernal season of the year, and is co-incident with that period set apart by the Church for many holy purposes, let us go out into the fields to meditate on the union produced by the connection of the most pleasing scenes of nature, and the delightful views of divine revelation. Sweet is the breath of morn, and sweet are the graces and communications of Christian love. There is an harmony that is doubly pleasing, when the calm sunshine of a believing breast is in accordance with a redolent world. Such once was paradise; and such may be paradise still, in a heart rescued from the penalty of Adam, and tasting the tender endearments of redeeming love. The very thought diffuses such a glow of happiness in a breast sensible of the blessing, that we hear, as it were,
1 Lent: quadragesima, jejunium quadragesimale; quoniam quadragesima incidere solet in tempus vernum, nam ver a Saxonibus læingten, lengten, lenten. Lente, Germ. quidem derivant a vet. lind lenis; quod hyeme tum solutâ, cœloque mitescente, res omnes leniore aëris temperie recreantur ac veluti reviviscant. Ang. Sax. lengten fortasse a leng, lencg. Amplius, diutius, longius; quod circa illud tempus dies fiant longiores, ac manifestum capiant incrementum; vel, quod illa anniversarii jejunii tempora, longa videantur iis, qui corpora macerent inediâ.-Junii Etymol.
sweet music in every breeze. I will not now recur to any less harmonious intercourse, such as paradise once beheld; I will indulge a feeling of uninterrupted spiritual enjoyment, the exquisite contemplation of Paradise Regained.
"In the pleasant soil
This far more pleasant garden God ordained.
Here would the pious man repose, and listen to the voice of God in this delicious garden; for here he will meet celestial companions; here he will resemble the prophet, under other auspices, who "heard the words of God, and saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open "." I would not indulge in myself, or encourage in others, fanciful visions, or rapturous imaginings; though it is impossible not to be warmly excited on subjects connected with an immortal existence; but there is a feeling more easily conceived than expressed, the satisfied and tranquil feeling which pervades the breast of the confirmed Christian. The scene here represented, the first blushing spring-time of religion, excites this feeling in the heart of the early professor, in proportion to our confidence in Him, who is the leader of the way, and the dresser of the vineyard. Nothing
'Milton's Par. Lost. B. iv.
2 Numb. xxiv. 4.