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it must be so with God in a more absolute sense. But God has set us in relations of love to Himself, his love for us being the basis and reason of our love for Him. Life has no higher end than to come into a conscious love of God. Grant now, for a moment, that this life is the end of all, — what sorrow does God inflict upon Himself by allowing the objects of his love to perish ! Nay, what more than sorrow, what folly to train men to love, to lead them through years up to the point of mutual recognition and sympathy only to snuff them out of existence! What then are we but bubbles floating on the summer air of existence, reflecting for a few fleeting moments the image of our Creator, and bursting, destroy both ourselves and the image we reflect ! Why should love allow the end of what it loves? If it cannot prevent the end why does it create ? It is as though a father should rear children till their love for him had bloomed into full sweetness, and then dig graves into which he thrusts them while their hearts are springing to his, and his name is trembling upon lips that he smothers with eternal dust. It is related of an Arab chief, whose laws forbade the rearing of his female offspring, that the only tears he ever shed, were when his daughter brushed the dust from his beard as he buried her in a living grave. But where are the tears of God as he thrusts back into eternal stillness the hands that are stretched out to Him in dying faith? If death ends life, what is this world but an ever-yawning grave in which the loving God buries his children with hopeless sorrow, mocking at once their love and hope, and every attribute of his own nature. Again we say, the logic of love upon the divine as upon the human side, is, there is no death. Divine as well as human love has but one symbol in language — forever.
The probabilities might be greatly multiplied. If stated in full, they would exhaust the whole nature of God and man. Immortality has been named “the great prophecy of reason,” — a phrase that is in itself an argument. We cannot look into ourselves without finding it. The belief is a part of the contents of human nature: take it away, and its most unifying bond is broken; it has no longer an order or a relation; the higher faculties are without function : eyes, but nothing to see ; hands, but nothing to lay hold of; feet, but no path to tread; wings, but no air to uphold them, and no heaven to fly into.
To doubt immortality is to reverse instinct; to reject the loftiest verdict of reason; to withhold from humanity its inspiration ; to blast the only hope of mankind. It is a lapse, a regression; it crowds man back into his animal nature, and makes him a thing to eat and drink and perish. It cuts every strand that binds man to God, and destroys all conceptions of God. In place of the moral and spiritual truths that underlie and feed the life of society, it puts a creed of negation and despair:
“ The pillared firmament but rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble." Let us be careful then how we allow ourselves to think on this subject except with the utmost so
lemnity and carefulness of thought. Let no presumptions against it stand till they have been tested and weighed by absolute knowledge. And let not the reasons for it be given up till we have some other theory of man and his destiny that shall clothe him with equal glory, and secure for him an equal blessedness; and if we cannot solve immortality as a problem, let us cherish it as a hope, holding that such a hope is better than the wisest perplexity.