|Vol. IV, No. 3
Sivan 5606, June 1846
By a Moralising Layman.
My Dear Readers,
When I first commenced addressing you the language of my reflections upon our moral condition; it was my intention to present these topics for your consideration more frequently; but circumstances have interposed, precluding the fulfilment of this contemplation; and I can only promise to appear before you at such intervals as relaxation from other numerous engagements may afford the opportunity. It is to me, however, a labour of love, and I shall omit no occasion to prosecute the task.
The text which I have selected as the subject of my remarks in this number, you will find in the following words:
“What man liveth that will not see death?”—Psalm 89:48.
It is doubtful whether any theme could be selected better adapted to claim at once your undivided attention and most serious reflection, than the uncertainty of life and the certainty of death. There are none of us who can look forward to the termination of our earthly career, without some feelings of apprehension, without some misgivings of conscience, “for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.” It is a feeling inherent in our nature, doubtless implanted by the inscrutable wisdom of God, that we might know and truly feel the responsibilities of our life and its collateral duties. I need not say unto you, that no event, yet undeveloped, is more certain to follow than the melancholy truth, that of those who, at this moment in the fulness of vigorous health, are engaged in the perusal of this page, one from amongst their number, ere a year shall have closed, will be taken away, and consigned to the cold grave, “even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death.” It is sure to happen to one of us; and who shall claim the individual exemption? “Does not the thought speak trumpet-tongued to us, that we should “set our house in order;” that we may make our souls strong in faith, and be prepared to die? Reflect, my dear readers, how suddenly you may be called into the presence of an offended God, before whose tribunal the extenuations of mortality find no entrance! Have you quite abandoned all those sins, so common to our nature, which have been registered in heaven, until the page of your existence is darkened with the record? Have you cast aside iniquity, transgression, and sin; purged your heart free from pride, deceit, and envy, and, with a soul cleansed from pollution, prepared yourselves for admission to eternity? If you are not so prepared, you are not fit to die, and thus the great blow may fall upon you with the heaviness of your guilt, weighing your soul down to destruction.
With these reflections ever present to your, mind, what duty so closely demands instant attention as the work of preparation for death? You dare not procrastinate; for what moment can you call as certainly yours? and to-morrow, in the agonies of death, you may learn that bitter lesson, that repentance may come too late. What reflection more appalling than a death
bed thus surrounded by horrors; the termination of life shrouded in agony and misery! And why should we thus purchase affliction, when, by a life of purity and virtue, by the practice of obedience to the word of God, we can render our last moments the richest in glorious contemplation of all that have preceded them? But it must be by a life of virtuous piety that we can look forward to the hour of death with resignation, ay, with hope, that it will translate us to a better and happier existence. The poor offering which some of us bring of a single day, dedicated to the expiation of our sins, will barely compensate the offended majesty of disregarded laws, commandments disobeyed and broken. It were an easy task to reach the eternal bliss of heaven, if such devotion could attain it; but we do but deceive ourselves, if we are content with such a belief. The holiness of a single day will not suffice for the transgressions of every other in the year; and the tears of repentance, though shed in fervid poignancy, will hardly wash clean the long record of our sins. The offering which we render will be accounted to us for righteousness, but is the tribute commensurate with the debt? Do not stifle your consciences with a false belief, when your judgment gives you a better assurance of truth.
It is not my wish to draw a gloomy picture of our condition, or our prospects, but it is my simple aim to reach the heart, by speaking language, so truthful, as at once to be admitted. The use of any other terms would completely overthrow the very end of my design. The hope, therefore, burns strongly within me, that something tht I have said will awaken you to a serious contemplation of this subject.
And this thought of death how it chills the sense!
We need not that emperor’s decree that bound the living prisoner to the corpse of the dead convict; for who that hath passed childhood’s years that carries not the image of a dear one dead, yet ever present to the living thought? But let us not descend to the grave to contemplate the form that once was dear; for there we shall find nought but lifeless, perishable flesh, mouldering in its own corruption; but to the stars and the bright skies our souls shall travel with an unfettered spirit, in unfettered thought. And it is sweet to believe
invisibly watching over us, as the good spirits which avert the impending dangers that threaten us with evil. Such contemplations elevate us nearer unto heaven.
Take these reflections deeply to heart; and if within your breasts there lives a hope aspiring to those empyrean heights, on whose verge, amidst peace and purity, your immortal souls would seek to dwell, amidst joys enduring for eternity, let your soul be so ruled in its inclinations that every aspiration that it breathes may bring you nearer to such a rest.