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“ period of life, in which age lent vigour to my “ body, and reason held out her friendly “ guidance to my soul. Yet what, alas ! do I “ gain by thus shifting the prospect of life? " What but the wretched exchange of smaller s miseries for greater, and those more numerous “ ones? What a complication of misfortunes “ crowd upon my distracted memory, which “ make me look back with horror upon the “ days of my past life! what distresses have I " encountered from the treachery of friends or " the malice of enemies; what anguish have I “ suffered from the pressure of poverty, dejec
tion or disease; how many painful hours so have I laboured for the attainment of bread, " and how often have those labours been de“ feated by unexpected disappointments, by ill“ nature or fraud, by wanton mischief or op“posite interests and factions ! I wished for “ health, but sickness soon succeeded; I wished “ for riches, but content, that sovereign balm of * life, was wanting; I wished for children, and “ heaven sent them in vengeance to my sins, w to rend my soul with secret pangs, to harrow “ my breast with hourly apprehensions, and " make me feel that bitterest of earthly curses, "a thankless child.
.". And now, after all, what is the prospect I
am every moment less able to resist them :
." And must I end here? Is this the period
." And again, if I look inward upon myself, 66 what shall I think of those faculties with " which I find myself endowed above the rest
" of the creation ? Shall I, who reason, who • discourse, who look up to heaven, be at last “ reduced to a level with the beasts of the field, “ or the earth I trample under my feet? Shall “ I, who have hitherto considered myself as the 6 lord of the creation, when I bid my last fare“ well to these scenes, when I close these lids Los in death, and yonder blue regions of heaven “ darken upon me; must I then only furnish “ dust to be mingled with these herbs and “ plants; have I been set so far above them in 5! life, only to be levelled with them at death? “ Is it for this I have looked up to the God of “ nature ; is it for this I have laboured to con" quer my infirmities and subdue my passions ? “ Is it for this I have denied myself the enjoy“ ments of sin, and practised the rules of os virtue?
“ No: I will confidently make my silent, “ humble appeal to that invisible Being who is “ my last and only refuge : the God who has
thus preserved and distinguished me in life,
cannot forsake and abandon me in death. « Cheerfully therefore will I resign this anxious 66 being, and with willing steps explore the un“ tried regions of the grave, in full confidence " that it is the Divinity itself which points out “ an hereafter, and intimates eternity to man.”
Such then are the dictates of nature; such are the dictates of that law, which the God of nature hath inscribed upon the heart of man. Nor are the declarations of that law, which he hath revealed to mankind, less explicit in asserting and confirming the same solemn truth. I am indeed sensible that some men, and those too of great learning, willing perhaps to appear wise above what is written, have been led to doubt, whether the Jews had any knowledge of a future state. And, for my own part, I will readily grant, that there is no direct mention of a future state in the law delivered to the Jews by Moses; the sanctions of that law being altogether of a temporary nature. But notwithstanding this, that they had by some means a clear knowledge and expectation of a life to come, whether by tradition or revelation, appears so fully from the sacred volumes, as must remove every shadow of doubt from a candid and unprejudiced mind. Can, for example, any words be more clear, explicit, or satisfactory, than those of our Saviour himself, where he shews, that God had declared to the Jews the resurrection of the body, by calling himself their God? “ And as touching the dead that they “ rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, • how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, “ I am the God of Abraham, and the God of
« Isaac, and the God of Jacob: he is not the “ God of the dead, but the God of the living.” In the same manner the author of the epistle to the Hebrews declares, that Abraham, and with him Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs of the same promise, looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. And he afterwards recites many other of the Jewish believers, who died in faith, not having received the promises, but confessed they were strangers on earth, and sought their Father's country.
· And that this was the general persuasion of the pious and wiser Jews, I think would be evident from the following passages, even if no other argument could be alledged in its favour.
When the sacred historian has recited the patience and exemplary resignation of Job, amidst the various misfortunes which befel him in his journey through life; he thus concludes his account of that holy sufferer : “ Thus Job “ died stricken with age and full of days; but it " is written, that he shall rise again with those “ whom the Lord shall raise up.”