quailed, and in retiring from it many a thoughtless-aye, and even profane lip has said, "Oh! let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his !"

No. II.


IT struggles-it struggles-it struggles-and now the struggle is over! the spirit has escaped from the body in which she dwelt, and which she had almost regarded as essential to her existence! But, oh! a separation, and that for the first time, has taken place between them. Her tabernacle is about to return to the dust from which it came, and herself to ascend to him who gave it. Such a separation on the part of the intelligent and active spirit, after her first emotions of awful wonder at the greatness of the change through which she has gone, and at the sudden crowding of the invisible scene upon her, have, in some de


gree, subsided, must be attended with a joyful feeling of release, with a keener consciousness of existence, and with an incomparably more vivid sense of reality [Notee]. For, as the body is uniformly represented in scripture, especially in the writings of Paul, as an oppression to the spirit, as a drag upon her progress towards perfect purity, and as a prison in which all her energies are confined, it will necessarily follow that when, by a strong and vigorous effort, the heaven-born spirit has shook off this encumbrance to her existence, she will instantaneously become sensible of a great and unspeakable deliverance-a deliverance like that for which the apostle so deeply sighed, when with such intensity of feeling he exclaimed, "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?" "For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened."

Of such a deliverance to the spirit as that to which I have just referred, as yet we can form no adequate conception. Some conception of it, however, we shall be able to form by attending to the allusion of the apostle in his

exclamation for deliverance from the body of

this death.

His allusion is evidently to the ancient mode of punishing one who had taken away the life of another by fixing to the live body of the criminal the dead body of him who had been slain by him; which, apart from the mental anguish it would occasion by continually reminding him of the horrid deed he had committed, would be the greatest burden upon his existence it could possibly endure. To be delivered from such a burden must have been an emancipation indeed. But, oh! how transcendently greater must be the emancipation of which the spirit of the man of God is conscious the moment it is delivered from the body of this death. It then begins to feel a freedom and a freshness in existence of which it was never before sensible; and, being no longer encumbered in that existence by a material and corruptible body, its consciousness of being is expanded; its powers of life become intense in their activity; its faculties act without exhaustion; while every spring of feeling is clear and strong within it. So that, instead of desiring to return to her former

imprisonment in the body, the now liberated spirit only wonders that she could have borne that imprisonment for so long a period. The immense superiority of that mode of being upon which she has entered, is so keenly felt as to fill her with the highest thankfulness to God for her emancipation from a body of which, until now, she could form no adequate or correct conception how great an encumbrance it was. But now that she is unprisoned she is able not only to conceive, but intensely to appreciate the value of the deliverance she has obtained, and, exulting in it, exclaims, "Thanks be unto God who hath given me the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Now, the reflections of a spirit—I mean the spirit of a holy character-when first emancipated, although very peculiar, must, on the whole, be interesting, encouraging, and delightful; for she may naturally and reasonably be expected to reflect with herself thus :-"I have now passed through that great and mysterious change which, up till now, I had always known by the name of death-a change to which I had frequently looked forward with consider

« VorigeDoorgaan »