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It is not so proper to say, that the creator has. communicated a principle of life to the animated world, as that he is himself the great principle of uni. versal vitality. It is not so accurate to say, that he has laid down laws for nature to observe, as that he himself perpetually operates with that benignant regularity which is necessary to the welfare of his living works. He is the great spring and impulse that actuates all things. He is himself the attracting power that holds the particles of all bodies together, and combines all bodies into the beautiful systems we see them compose. He is himself the living soul that inhabits and animates every living thing; that propels every drop through every vein; that produ.. ces every pulsation of every artery, every motion of every limb, every action of every organ, throughout the whole animal kingdom. Every operating prin.. ciple, through the ample compass of things, is God, that moment willing, God, that moment acting. He is the life of the world : at once the maker, the inspector, and the mover, of all things. Water we call the element of one animal: air, we say, is the element of another : the vital presence of God himself is the universal element, in which all living crea. tures "live and move, and have their being.?
This is the voice of reason and philosophy, as well as of scripture. Ile that made all things, must be every moment necessary, to the support of every thing. As according to that particular constitution of nature, under which we live, when you lift with your hand a body high in the air, if you wish to prolong its elevation, you must not only lift it thither, but hold it there ; as, if you take away your hand from under it, that instant it falls ; so, according to the eternal nature of things, the being, that called us into existence, must every moment hold our souls in the life to which he has raised us. If he withdraw his hand, we drop. In his hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind.” Whateyer we subsist upon, subsists itself, upon him.
All that sustains us, it is God that sustains. Our de. pendance upon him is the most comprehensive, complicated, and profound nature. Whatever name we give to its prop, God is the staff of every life. That whatever it be, on which it leans, leans upon him. When your seasons are fruitful, it is not only he who covers your vallies with corn, who causes to rise the sun that ripens it, who prevents your bread from failing;but who gives to that bread its nutritive pow. er. When your seasons are healthful, it is not only he who preserves your air from pollution, but who empowers the purest air to supply you with life. When your slumbers are sound, it is not only he who protects your pillow from pain, but who imparts to sleep its restorative property. The civil policy, that defends your person from violence, is the result of wisdom which he has illuminated, and of passions which he has implanted. T'he medical art, that raises you from the bed of sickness, proceeds from understandings, which his inspiration hath given, and is supplied with materials, which his hand hath furnished. The arm, that saves you from violent death, is an instrument made, and moved by him.
So completely is our breath in the hand of God. He is the soul within us; he is the shield without us; the word by which we live; the word by which we die. So the Scripture tells us it is; so'reason tells us it must be. Man, the partial maker of a single thing, possesses but a partial power over it; God the perfect naker of all things, must be every moment necessary to the support of every thing.
The habitual recollection of this close and intimate connection between the giver and the receiver of life, between the living God, and the living creature, is what I would earnestly recommend to all before me, as being adapted, in the highest degree, at once to entertain the understanding of contemplative, and gratify the heart of affectionate, piety. The 'perfectly uninterrupted, and the infipitely extended activity of divine power, in the preservation of universal na.
ture, present to reason a contemplation, of all others the most sublime ; while religious sensibility is soothed by the idea of being completely in the hand of a power, to whom it feels the most animated love, and in whom it reposes the most tranquil trust.
.. : Section XVI.
THE TRIUMPH OF LIFE AND THE mit TRIUMPH OF DEATH.
Sharp is the sting of death, great the victory of the grave, shrill and terrible in thuir triumph, when simply considered in themselves, and without regard to Jesus, the restorer of life, the vanquisher of the grave.
Terrible, in the first place, are the harbingers of death, formidable his menaces, tremendous the preparatives he makes for the destruction of life and the subversions of happiness. What a sable host of disasters, of diseases, of pestilences, march before him! What infirmities, what pains, what struggles announce his arrival! What tears, what sobs, what wringing of hands, what shrieks of agony are seen and heard in his train! And how numerous, how deeply-wounding, the darts supplied him for destruction! Is there any inotion, any occupation, any affliction, any enjoyment, any gratification which may not prove mortal to man? How every thing shudders at his approach! How quickly as he advances fades every flower on the path of life! Ilow every sound of joy and gladness is hushed at his tremendous call.
What profound and awful silence, what dejection, what doleful apprehensions reign where he appears ! How ghastly is the countenance of the man who lies pale and wan, faint and spiritless, on the bed of sickness, longing in vain for help, for relief and recovery, sinking ever lower under the burden of pains and
miseries, continually more incapable of joy, ever more insensible to comfort, anxiously fluctuating between death and life, between fear and hope, wish. ing for the return of his feeting life, and trembling as he beholds the near approach of death!
The dominion of death is, moreover universal, and this too increases his furious triumph. It stretches over every living thing upon the earth. His devastations on this sublunary scene are in a manner unbounded. No species of living creatures are exempt from the lot of mortality, no one is safe from the power of dissolution and corruption. As the flower fades, the leaf withers, the tree dies, so likewise man, the lord of the whole animal and inanimate creation, is a prey to death and the grave. Numerous and manifold are the victims which the grim spoiler daily and hour. ly demands of the human race, throwing all of them into the dust, without distinction of age, of rank, of Ť dignity, of merit.
Here the saint has no pre-eminence over the sinner, the benefactor and reliever of his brethren no pre.em- ., inence over the destroying conqueror and the cruel ty, rant. Here lies the babe, who scarcely saw the light of the sun, close by the aged head which could no lon. ger sustain its beams. There are miogled the ashes of blooming youth with those of riper man, the ashes of the great and powerful with the ashes of their meanest slaves. Here falls the strong man, who seemed to brave every toil, every burden, every misfortune ;there decays the beauty, who flourished like a vernal flower, and promised herself and others so rich a harvest of delight. All, all that is of the earth must revert to the earth from which it was taken. Whoever thou art, O man, that walks on the ground, thou walk, est on the territory of death; wherever thou settest thy foot, thou treadest on the graves of the dead, thou raisest the dust that was formerly animated, the fleshly garment of thy brother.
Terrific is the triumph of death, as his arrival is generally unexpected, and his power is irresistible.
Now he seizes one of us in the intoxication of pleas-
And the proper business of death, how tremendous ! Who is not seized with profound horror at the sight of it! Gradual decay of the vital powers, total cessation of all spontaneous and mechanical motion of the body, undersal darkness, profound night, frigidity, numbDess, rigor, separation from the whole visible world, the grave, corruption, dissolution : this is the work of death; this the victory which he obtains over all that is mortal ! And now consider besides, the circumstances of this awful scene, the agony that seizes on the dying person, the wishes for longer life which are only abandoned so late, the ties which knit him to the bystanders soon to be dissolved, the multiplication of his sufferings by theirs, the reproaches which his conscience often makes him, and the apprehensions that so frequently torment him with prospects of an uncertain futurity : how much inore dreadful must all this make the triumph of death!
Yes, terrific is this triumph; since even the consequences that attend the ravages which death commits, are deplorable, are abundant sources of tears and la