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hath said to his faithful disciples, and he will make it good, “In my father's house are many mansions : if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for
I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there may ye be also.”
THERE cannot be a more important question proposed to the mind of man, than whether he is immortal; whether this life is the whole period of his being, or he is destined to fill another sphere, on the termination of his mortal course.
It is a question, however viewed, which infinitely outweighs every other, and may well be supposed to occupy the chief attention of a rational and thinking agent, in every stage of his temporary existence. If it be true that he is immortal, then the actions and concerns of this life are not ends in themselves, but are only means leading to an end, and derive their principal interest from the relation which they bear to the future state. Not only does their importance really abate, but in proportion as the view of eternity gains upon the mind, and occupies the thoughts and attention, the love of this life, and the value of all things connected with it, gradually subside,
and we come to dwell upon the future world, as the only thing worthy of our serious consideration. It is, perhaps, one of the most striking evidences of the growing influence of religion upon the mind, when eternity becomes a frequent and familiar subject of its devout meditation and holy exercise, and this life, with all its cares, its pleasures, and its interests, gradually and imperceptibly loses its power
And this must inevitably follow where religion is treated with the seriousness which it deserves; where the vastness, the awfulness of its great truths are duly weighed; and where the immense stake which we have at issue, renders us exceedingly alive to the attainment of it. Well might our blessed Saviour exclaim, “ What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” The world has its charms, and were it eternal, it might afford a better recompense, than it now does, to its inconsiderate and short-lived votaries; but we can carry nothing away with us when we die, and consequently, the world, however delightful to us whilst we live in it, can be of no advantage when we are removed to another.
It might be enough for all those who admit the truth of revealed religion, to take the declarations of Scripture for a sufficient authority upon the subject before us. But it must strengthen such authority, and remove from captious and doubting minds all incredulity respecting it, if the immortality of the soul, and its existence in another world, can be proved from reason also; and when the mind is
convinced by argument of the probability of any truth, it receives the authority of Scripture with ten-fold greater readiness and respect.
I. The first thing which points out to us that this world cannot be the whole of our existence, is its inadequacy to the wants and feelings of mankind.
The belief of a God, which is the foundation of all religion, supposes him to be greater and better than ourselves; and the homage which we pay to him, is founded upon his creation and government of the world. We cannot prove how the world came to exist, without referring it to some wise and great being, for it is evident that the creatures which inhabit it, neither made themselves, nor it. If they did not make it, they doubtless cannot govern it, for they scarcely know the laws by which it is upheld; yet it is evidently under the care and direction of some one, who superintends all its motions, and comprehends all its interests; and who can that be, but the same Almighty Agent who first called it into being, and understands the elements of which it is composed. That this being is good, and that all things were formed by him for the welfare of his creatures, is manifest from this, that the tendencies of all things have this ex
“ Happiness,” says a close and accurate observer of nature, “is the rule, misery the exception” of life. No one ever yet discovered
* See Paley's Theology.
a law of nature, the direct tendency of which was to produce misery. A human body is a cluster of contrivances, every one of which has a beneficial tendency. If, therefore, among a multitude of instances, misery is never the object of contrivance, but the result of some indirect cause, some fortuitous occurrence,
some variation of the law of nature, and not the law itself, it proves, most incontestably, the beneficence of the Creator, and his tender concern for the happiness of his creatures.
Now, it may be argued, and with great propriety, that a being so merciful and so beneficent, so full of contrivances for the health, the enjoyment, the happiness of his creatures, would not stop in the goodness of his designs towards them, and confine his tenderness to this life only, but would make provision for their future welfare in another and a better state, after they should have put off this mortal body. It seems to be a proper and almost necessary inference from his mercy, as it stands displayed in the works of creation, that he should have some ulterior point in view, beyond what we see around us, comprehending the final and complete happiness of the moral part of his creation. For no man can say that this life, with the fullest and longest enjoyment of it, is adequate to the desires of the human soul. The soul, evidently, pants after better, and more enduring things, and plainly indicates, in all her motions, that she is not at rest here. But how few are there to whom this life is a scene of full and long enjoyment! How very few admit,