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ven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.”a
And does not such an assurance excite in our breasts a feeling of confidence amidst the dangers of life? Is it not a positive and certain assurance that if we reach not the kingdom of heaven, the fault will rest solely and exclusively with ourselves? Does it not inspire us with a feeling of devout gratitude towards the Almighty Disposer of all things? We know that Christ is perpetually interceding for us, and that the created spirits of God are waiting the result of this intercession with a lively and intense interest in our behalf. We know that Michael and his angels have undertaken a war in our behalf, and are combating the assaults of our most inveterate foe! We know that conquest is certain ; that the palm of victory is extended towards us ; that our eternal misery can only follow an obstinate and self-willed determination to refuse the proffered advantage!
May such and similar reflections, brethren, tend to encourage our faith in God, and increase our gratitude towards him for the glorious expectations to which we are at liberty to look forward. May they teach us duly to appreciate the wisdom of that church, which has so piously ordained a day to recall our recollections to the existence of those numberless, though invisible, spirits by whom the throne of God is surrounded, and the plenitude of whose happiness consists in perpetually celebrating the praises of the Eternal Father, and singing hosannahs to the Son who is seated at His right hand; whose employment consists in serving the God who created them, by transmitting his commands, not to this world only, but in all probability to the most remote corners of the universe; whose perfect and disinterested love displays itself by ministering to the wants of men, by uniting with the “Great Captain” of their host in combating the spirits of darkness, our most inveterate foes; and by looking forward to the happy period when, in respect of hapless mortals, time shall cease and eternity shall begin; when the sins of the world shall have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb; and when we, the subjects of misery and death, shall enter into the dayspring on high; shall with them form part of the host of heaven; and participate in the joy, now known only to them, of dwelling in the presence of the three persons in one God, and celebrating the praises of this Trinity in Unity, from that time forth and for ever.
a Matt. xviii. 10.
MATERIAL OBJECTS, TEMPORAL; SPIRITUAL
Isaiah, li. 6.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath : for the heavens shall vanish away
like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner : but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”
In the text, brethren, the Prophet conveys to us a most solemn assurance that every thing which the material
eye is capable of beholding shall, sooner or later, have an end; whereas those things which are spiritual, and which the vision of the mind and the eye of faith can alone comprehend, shall be co-equal with eternity itself. The assurance, I repeat, is a solemn one, and it is, or at least it ought to be, as impressive as it is solemn. We are all of us, some it is true more_infinitely more than others, accustomed to bestow our affections on things beneath,
to the neglect of those that are above.
We know, if we have any knowledge whatever, that, in this respect at least, mankind have borne and still bear a very close and intimate resemblance to each other. The fact is most true and indisputable. It is, therefore, of little importance to ask ourselves why it is so; though, without doubt, the correct reason may be assigned to the corrupt state in which we are by nature born. Being begotten in sin, our ideas and our conceptions are by far too sensual to admit of an acquaintance with things which are above sense, and which the spirit, guided and enlightened by faith, can alone comprehend. The only alternative that remains to us, is to be acquainted with and accustomed to those things whose nature is adapted to our own, and which are every day presented to our view. We naturally become attached to those objects which long habit has rendered familiar to us; and this we do in such a manner, as to make it appear that we believe them to be imperishable, or, at least, that we close our eyes to the fact of which each successive day presents us with additional evidence—the fact of the susceptibility of every thing to decay, and that, in a short time—aye, and a very short time when compared with eternity, the objects of the world shall be destroyed, and the things of time merged in the abyss of an awful eternity.
What, then, it will be naturally exclaimed, is it possible that we, who are so different from the beasts that perish without being even aware of their
existence; we, whose nature is evidently allied, remotely though it be, to that of the Divinity himself; —is it possible that we, who by the Divine Spirit within us, for it can be by no other, are enabled to look back upon the past, and to look forward to the future;—we, who are enabled to scan even the infinity of space of which the universe is composed ; is it possible, is it credible, that we, possessing such means, and such powers, and such faculties, are to be reduced to nothing—to become again what we were before the glorious work of the creation was completed--we indeed to be reduced to nothing, and to primitive insignificance and inactivity, who have the power, and the ability, and the inclination to perform such wonders, which none others can do than those who were originally created after the likeness of the Omnipotent Himself? Brethren, the heavens may, indeed, vanish away
like smoke, and the earth may wax old as doth a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner : and, therefore, we do wrong to form such an attachment to them as would be only excusable on the supposition that they were imperishable and incorruptible; yet does it in no way follow from this, that the existence with which we have been graciously gifted is to cease, and that we shall no longer possess the energies and the attributes of life when our bodies shall be deposited in the tomb, or when this world shall be no more. In this respect the assurance of the prophet surpasses, indeed, any conception which reason and experience would sug