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Jehovah's name from the beginning to the end! Did some courtly scribe in the palace of long-handed Artaxerxes write the book ? and was he afraid for his head, if the heathen king should call for this chronicle some sleepless night, and find in it an intimation that “ The Lord He is the God,” " " and beside Him there is none else ? "
THE LAW OF IMMORTALITY.
A Fragment of a Sermon.
BY HENRY M. CROSS. Belief in the doctrine of immortality is the most powerful feeling that takes possession of the human mind. The atoms which compose the human body enter into other forms. The soul acts with, but is distinct from, the body. It is therefore quite reasonable to suppose that the spirit-life will exist apart from the body in our future life. dwell in another body differently constituted. “For that which is sown is natural, but that which is raised will be spiritual.” Think for a moment of thought. How it springs from the mind ! We give utterance to our thoughts in words. These words are separate from, yet they form a part of ourselves. They influence other men ; they inspire, stimulate, even create thoughts in the brain of other fellow-thinkers. Thoughts thus become our second selves. So the soul is my second self—a neverending existence, living for all eternity. “ It is an high, solemn, almost awful thought for every individual man, that his earthly influence, which has a commencement, will never, through all ages, were he the very meanest of us, have an end." The source of the Nile has been discovered, but who can trace the end of the eternal waters which wind along its banks into the fathomless sea. So we each have had a beginning, but who can say where the end will be ? Does death end all ? There is no such thing as death. “For though dead he yet speaketh."
“For though life darken and death be fleet
And oh! it is enough to be,
As God, and infinite as the sky."
mock the strongest instincts of my inmost nature, and say, “ Man has no soul; no spirit which links him with the ever-glorious future." Is this longing, thirsting desire after a spiritual life a mirage which disappears when the shadows of death close around us ? Has God our Divine Father implanted within us the desire for another and better life, and then said, “ Thou shalt die and not live?" If reason cannot solve the problem, Revelation is certainly the key to this great mystery. “Though after death worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.”
Is there a thinker bold enough to stand before God and say that the end of this life is the end of our being ? Will you dogmatically assert that those who “fall asleep” shall rise no more for ever? that thought, memory, conscience, hope, immortality, are for ever annihilated when the breath leaves the body? If so, then we must part company. We cannot walk together along the same road any longer. As men of the world we may act in partnership, but here our fellowship must end. You are content with this life ; I am not. You say, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we die;" I do not so interpret the book of God's Revelation. You say, “Man may have a soul, but I have no proof of it;" I
say, the evidence of our future existence lies all around me -In myself in nature, in the laws of the universe, in the teachings of analogy, and, above all, in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Follow out this train of thought, and let us see if we cannot find some satisfaction in the teaching around us. This longing after immortality, which lives and dwells in my soul-how did it arise ? Is it the result of education; the fruit of superstitious fear; the mere sentimental feeling produced by my early religious training ; the desire for historical remembrance and continuity ; or is it part of my nature to think thusimplanted in my heart by God my Father and Creator? I cannot answer these abstruse questions. One thing is clear to me, the feeling is ever present with me. Why have I been created, if this life ends all ? Does this deep inner consciousness mean nothing at all beyond the passing thought of a day, or a lifetime? Do the aspirations of the poet, the historian, the prophet, and the man of God belong only to the domain of dreamland ? Have we no abiding city whose builder and maker is God ? Surely it cannot be so.
“And though they take our life,
The city of God remaineth." And in nature, too, we read many lessons which teach us that, though all things change, yet are we immortal. I cannot look at the clear, bright star without feeling that it was made for something more than to give a beam of light to kindred stars. I look upon the modest daisy, the sweet forget-me-not, and the tender sensitive plants, and repeat, as in days gone by, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.” Are we like the potter's vessel, made only to be broken to pieces, to mingle with the dust, to be again reproduced in other forms to adorn the table, or serve any ignoble purpose which posterity may think fit? These workings within me speak of better things than this ; " they argue something more than the common clod.” They say, with unmistakeable force and convincing power, “That God made all things, man's mortal, and immaterial nature, too, a world of weal and woe beyond the grave.” Nature, though silent, speaks. The midnight sky, the noonday sun, the eternal sea, the returning seasons, the balmy air, the gentle dew, and the beautiful flowers all speak to me with the voice of God, and say,
Nothing which now lives can ever die.” The laws of nature also, are they not eternal ? The reign of law is infallible, and changeth not. The ocean tide never ceases to ebb and flow, the planets never stop in their revolutions. The silent forces of nature are continually at work in obedience to the command of God. Spring and summer, autumn and winter, seedtime and harvest, heat and cold, day and night, never cease. The law of God changeth not. “ Men may come, and men may go, but the law abideth for ever.”
THE RAMBLES OF A ROSE. Men are houses of clay, living next door to each other. They are isolated, detached. And solitude is favourable for self-cultivation. But men are likewise social beings: “God setteth the solitary in families.” And the intelligence which springs from self-culture demands association ; the law of its development being communication. Like the law of happiness, it receives by giving, and increases by distributing.
Festivity is the blossom of association, the flowering of the habits and customs of society; and is rude or refined, and its fruit is banefal or blessed, according to the degree of civilisation and the character of the religion with which it is connected. The Levitical festivals of olden time harmonised with the philosophy of human nature and with political policy. And modern Christian festivals commemorate great facts and enunciate great truths, and are necessary to the weal of humanity and the religion of our race. The Annual Meeting of the Local Preachers' Mutual-Aid Association is also an institution " whither the tribes go up" for the transaction of business, and for the grand festival of fraternal greeting, and of Christian communion.
It was an amenity to the Aylesbury Rose to be accompanied by the President and two ex-Presidents of our Mutual-Aid AssociationBros. Madder, Darley, and Benson-in his journey to the late Annual
Meeting held in Sheffield. The society of true genial souls makes suchlike pilgrimages a pleasure. Nature seemed in harmony with us, in delight and design, as we wended our way. Here and there along the route several of the brethren unconsciously gave themselves a lesson in setting their watches by the town or station clocks. Are not Local Preachers, in some sort, living dials by which worldly men often collocate their conduct ? Error in a town-clock affects the horological knowledge of a whole neighbourhood. So ministerial example is likewise extensive in its influence. Arriving at Sheffield we found our way to an upper room ” in Norfolk Street, the place selected for our deliberations. Here we meet our brethren beloved, and, with them, enjoy “the feast of reason and the flow of soul.” My home was with good Councillor Hadfield and his kind-hearted wife. I found it indeed a lodge to the mansion above. With the Councillor I held sweet counsel, and found his converse a profit and his friendship a delight. My Sunday work was characterised with novelty! being beckoned to the post of duty in the morning by a bell attached to the Chapel premises; and having in the evening to follow Bro. Wright, who once preached before H.R.H. Prince Arthur, now Duke of Connaught. The brethren, in session assembled on Monday and Tuesday, sorely missed the practical wisdom and timely aid of Bro. T. Chamberlain, the Nestor of our MutualAid Association. We have strong need, now and again, to be indoctri- . nated into, and reminded of the principle and design of the Association, so well and wisely originated and consolidated by our sagacious and sympathising brethren and fathers, viz., helping those who otherwise cannot help themselves.
The manifold warmth around us was such that we felt a relief in going with Bros. Benson, Dowsing and Candler to Barnsley, there to advocate the claims of our old men. The Barnsley people provoked our love by their hearty reception, practical sympathy, and sumptuous tea. Under the kind care and generous treatment of Bro. W. Smith, Treasurer of the Barnsley Branch, I was led to trust during my stay. My good host volunteered to drive me to the village of Silkstone, a distance of four miles, there to visit some old friends who, ten years ago, left the vale of Aylesbury, as they said, to benefit their social condition. We passed by Pogmoor, & wing of Barnsley, whence was issued that singular, Josh. Billings's style of Almanack, by Tom Treddlehoyle, Esq., the value of which, especially to us southern people, consists in the fact that it is written expressis verbis in the language spoken by Sammy Hick—a sort of stenographic diction, in which the chief feature is the shortening of words, and discarding the definite article as being altogether a waste of breath. We at length reached Silkstone, and was told the friends we sought lived at Sparrow Barracks ; a number of houses erected for the convenience of colliers. Thither we repaired. Our reception was no proof of being welcomed as angels unawares. We resorted to all manner
of devices to get a sight of them. Hard knocks at the doors, nor soft words at the windows, would not avail. The secret was that some of the neighbours took myself for a county-court officer, and my good bost for a policeman; and, from their being in debt, they supposed we were come for the purpose of haling some of them off to prison. We ascertained that one friend, having night-work to perform, was taking his rest in bed. A woman living near, more trustful than others, said, “ Coom along, I'll wakken 'em up; I know he's at whoam.” Thanks to her, and thanks to my good friend Mr. Smith, at length I saw and conversed with several of them. We pitied their condition, gave them good advice, and something to prove our counsel real. My mind naturally reverted to the time of their migration from this neighbourhood, when this class of workmen, numbers of whom called themselves Christians, daringly desecrated the Sabbath in supporting those standing on the village green, or in the market-place, and stealing sacred hours in which to deliver their harangues on secular questions. Labourers' rights should be maintained. But right should be secured by righteous means, A very bad cure will not endure. A false mend will soon end. Then, and only then, will all the labourers' rights be secured, and their immunities be enjoyed, when virtue sits at every hearth-fire, and the sons of toil have become the children of God.
Bro. Benson, with myself, went from Barnsley to Doncaster, there to engage in the Good-Samaritan work that wooed us to the former place. On our way the tall chimneys made me, in a poetic reverie, think that some tribe of giants, visiting Virginia, had stolen the whole crop of tobacco plants growing there, and, after rolling them into huge cigars, had chosen to depart thence and to hide themselves, by lying on their backs, among the Yorkshire hills, and so escape detection while they enjoyed smoking the weed. Here and there as we passed along large coke-kilns, all aglow with fervid heat, came full in our view. These seemed as if, in these days of superstition and change, some people bad determined that Moloch-worship should be revived. Leaving Wombwell
, Mexbro' and Conisbro'-places visited years before by Bro. Benson, when God visited His people and made them shout, without memoranda, and fulfil without vaunting, the first verse of the twelfth chapter of Isaiah, “And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise Thee," &c—we at length reached Doncaster, and were hailed by Rev. J. Lord, and Bros. Isaac Marsden and F. J. Littlewood. Verily Methodism has fulfilled, in some degree, the prophecy found in Isaiah xxxv. 1, 2: “ The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them,” &c. Through its instrumentality the thorn-bush has given way to the fir-tree, and the brier-brake has surrendered to the myrtle-bower. The seer might also have included in his simile the genus called Trifolium, for some of the brethren declared they had been in clover while staying at Sheffield. Not only at Sheffield, but also at Doncaster I found myself in