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the good which we enjoy, and that we have not merited the evils with which we are visited, is a mark not only of senselessness, but of impiety. The decision, on all these points, may safely be left to our own inward consciousness, - to our first and most natural thoughts, which are always just and true. Scepticism and unbelief are the contrivances of perverted reason ; and are brought about by perplexity of thought and by the labour of the brain. Our own souls whisper the truth immediately to us ; -our unperverted reason will confirm it ;-the voice of God, in his revelations to mankind, speaks it out plainly and explicitly to us.
It highly concerns us, therefore, never so much as to suffer the notion of a controlling Providence to be questioned in our thoughts. If we do, the distrust carries within itself its own punishment. It casts a gloom over the whole scene of life, and makes prosperity more insipid and less valuable ;-it embitters affliction and distress, as supposing them to happen not for our trial, and correction, and final benefit, but from blind chance, and without any moral purpose. For rational creatures to ascribe events to chance, to good or ill fortune, to lucky or unlucky stars, or to fated operations, is not only irreligious, but it is a discredit and a disgrace to common sense. Such modes of speech, even in ordinary conversation, are scarcely supportable ; but when used by men of reflection, they are without excuse. They are always marks of indolence; and they serve no other purpose than to palliate our faults or fatter our pride, at the expense of our virtue and our reason.
Let the true, and rational, and Christian train of thought, be made familiar to our minds. In the works of nature, let us acknowledge the Almighty Author and Preserver. In the world of reason, let us look into the agency of Providence, and view the moral government of God over his responsible creatures. The incidents of our own lives will then convince us, that He loves righteousness, and exercises judgment. This will be the surest means to improve us in our course of duty, and to recal us from the pursuits of sin.
When our innocence is secured, when we are convinced that the eye of the Lord is ever upon us,--and when we are, from that conviction, calmly resigned as to the future, and truly thankful for the past, we shall be assured, that, throughout the wide sphere of his Providence, God is to the wicked a consuming fire, but to the humble and meek a Father of comforts; and we shall see reason, in every occurrence of our lives, to exclaim, with pious adoration “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are thy ways, Thou King of Saints !”,
AGAINST AN IMMODERATE FEAR OF DEATH.
1 CORINTHIANS xv. 32, 33.
-let us eat and drink; for to-morrow we die. Be not deceived : evil communications corrupt good manners.*
In this justly admired chapter, St. Paul's chief intention is, to establish in his Corinthian converts the belief of a future resurrection. Their faith, as to that important tenet of Christianity, seems to have been shaken, by the false reasonings of some, who regarded present pleasure as the height of happiness; and who, therefore, chose rather to deny the doctrines of a Divine Providence and of a future state, than forego any notion that allowed them to indulge the appetites of undisciplined nature. Such reasonings, might claim sorne little attention, if man's whole existence were limited by his present state ; and if the dread * The part of the former of these two verses is borrowed from Isaiah xxii. 13.
The latter verse is found in the Greek Poet Menander.
of futurity could be so banished from the mind, as to leave us free from disquietude and doubt :--and to him, who could follow up those reasonings with certain proofs, we should then, perhaps, concede, that Christians, who practise self-denial and undergo afflictions, for the sake of their faith in the resurrection, "are of all men the most miserable.” But whence the ungenerous care to excite this gloom of infidelity, when every one who is gifted with the slightest powers of reflection, would chose to err in his belief of God and of immortality, rather than be of a correct opinion with those who are inclined to deny both ? We believe, and we know,--because we are convinced that “ Christ is risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept;" —and that, in consequence of it, they that sleep in the grave shall rise again, to receive the reward of their righteousness, and to partake of eternal happiness. If, then, the careless or the profane should attack our passions with the plausible suggestion, “ let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die,” the intent can only be to deceive and to ruin us : and to guard ourselves against such deception, we should remember, that “evil communications corrupt good manners."
In the former part of the 32nd verse, there is a difficulty, which will not easily admit of an undisputed solution; though the Apostle's general meaning, and the tendency of his argument, are clear and obvious. He had said before, “I protest, by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily :' and his meaning seems to be, “I protest by those joys in Christ, which I share in common with you, that I am daily beset with dangers that threaten my life ;-but what would my patience amidst these dangers avail me, if I had no hope beyond the grave ?” He goes on further to say, “ If, after the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not?” That St. Paul was once in great danger of being forced into the theatre at Ephesus, where men used to combat with wild beasts, is mentioned in the 19th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles ; but we do not learn that he ever underwent the combat. The drift, however, of his reasoning appears evidently to be this :-"My life has been continually in peril, encompassed with hardships and misery; and what would it avail me to have endured all this, if there were no future state, in which my exertions in the cause of the Gospel will be recompensed ?” A faith in the glory that shall hereafter be revealed, is the great support of Christians amidst all their trials. It enables them to persevere in the steep and rugged paths of duty,--and to shun the ways of vice, where the prospect, indeed, is glittering, but it is only to confound the sight,--and where every step seems smooth and easy, but it is only to entangle and ensnare the feet. Let those yield to sinful pleasures, who are persuaded that the present life is all in all ; let them “ eat and drink,” and indulge their desires,