« VorigeDoorgaan »
At such a moment his perceptions of the change before him, which is not only a change of being, but of worlds, startle and embarrass him with the mysterious vividness and strength with which they occasionally flash upon him; while every tie which binds him to the living, and every association which connects him with the earth, rises in interest and attraction as the moment is advancing in which he must be wholly separated from it. And that moment is at hand. His spirit is already on the stretch for the future world, and, after a few more struggles, will altogether burst the cords, the mysterious cords, which confine her to the body, and will enter upon the unknown flight.
That the mind of even a holy man should be somewhat agitated at a position like that which I have just described,) can excite no surprise. For, much as his affections may be set upon things above, and great as may be his treasures in heaven, an attachment towards earth is still lingering within him. Christianity, although it has sublimed his feelings and elevated his affections, has not attempted so en
tirely to detach them from the things which are innocent and interesting upon earth as to make him insensible to the prospect of an entire and almost instantaneous separation from it. Possessing, therefore, and that in a very high and refined degree, the sympathies of our nature, can we wonder that an acute perception of his position, as upon the eve of another state, should greatly affect him? Oh! he cannot think of the tender ties which must now be rent, of the hallowed associations which must now be broken off, of the pleasing connexions which must now be dissolved, and, if a warm and affectionate admirer of nature, of the many lovely scenes from which he must now be separated, without many emotions of melancholy and sorrow. Nor is the existence of such emotions inconsistent with his character as a believer in a happier world, or at all displeasing to the great Author of his being. For while Christianity was designed to purify and to control the susceptibilities of man, it was never intended to extinguish them, or even to lessen their proper influence upon him. Much, therefore, as it may do on his
behalf, and vast as is the change which it sometimes produces in his character and disposition, it eradicates not a principle belonging to him as a human being, since this would imply that it ought never to have existed within him; and having been implanted by the Creator himself, he would then, as the God of grace, censure and condemn the workmanship of his hands as the God of nature.
Trembling, therefore, as he this moment does upon the pinnacle of earth, and being keenly conscious of his position, it is hardly possible that even a holy man can be otherwise than affected at the thought of so soon passing from a scene in which, with all its sorrows, "there is much to interest and attract his mind. And, although the principles of faith and hope may eventually triumph over the sensibilities of his heart, be they ever so acute, they will neither extinguish nor abate them. As a man, he will feel the position in which he stands, and many a look of lingering affection and regard will he cast upon the scene he is about to leave. The acuteness of his emotions will naturally vary, and that according to the cha
racter of the ties which have bound him to it. Should a lovely and youthful family have entwined themselves about his heart, oh! then the thought of parting from them will intensely agitate and affect him. Such emotions piety will not prevent. The holiest of men have suffered from them when about to die-have wept as they were separating from the earth and its inhabitants, but especially from the objects of their fond and doting regard. Thus when Hezekiah the king was "sick unto death," the inspired historian informs us, that Hezekiah "wept sore," for he said in the cutting of his days, "I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years." He said, "I shall not see the Lord, even the Lord, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world."
But many of the emotions which agitate a holy character, while passing to another state, are anxious and perplexing. Insensibility may escape solicitude; but he whose spirit is susceptible, and whose mind is thoughtful, cannot
avoid it. For, oh! the moment is arrived, when, under every circumstance, his connexion with the earth must be dissolved. And as the tabernacle which detains his spirit is so shattered that it can hold it but a little longer, he is deeply concerned as to where that spirit will fly to, or upon what other world it will alight, when the last mysterious link is rent. His anxiety is intense, because there is now upon him a keen and somewhat awful conviction that no circumstance, within the range of human probability, can avert the almost instantaneous settlement of his immortal destiny. When that settlement was at a distance, even then it would occupy his thoughts and occasion great solicitude; but now that it is at hand, now that a momentous change, both as regards the mode and the condition of his being, must take place-now that the links which prevent a separation from the body, and his direct ascent to the bar of God, are so few and so feeble that the slightest incident will rend them all asunder-he cannot but be concerned as to the issue of his reception when he shall stand before