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of darkness and of tears. They dare not think of their friends as they now are; and look forward with trembling hope to a future meeting in some distant world. But do we thus learn all that we should from death? We may indeed be made more humble, thoughtful, devout; and this is much. But if we could follow our dear ones, though only in thought, from "the humiliation of the body to the majesty of the spirit,"* from the sorrows and struggles of
*This expression, and perhaps something of the sentiment running through the paragraph, is borrowed from a volume of sermons, dedicated "To the Right Reverend Father in God, George, Lord Bishop of New Jersey,' "by his Lordship's faithful servant in Christ, Henry Edward Manning, M. A., Archdeacon of Chichester." It is possible, that some of our readers, in their republican simplicity, may not at once perceive, that this "Right Reverend Father in God, George, Lord Bishop of New Jersey," is neither more nor less than George Washington Doane, bishop of that small portion of the Christian Church in the State of New Jersey, which bears the name of "Protestant Episcopal." Were it not that we find this dedication in the second edition, we might have supposed that Bishop Doane, having had no opportunity to remonstrate with his friend, was not responsible for the language, nor pleased with the sound of such titles. But notwithstanding the dedication, and the assertion of doctrines which show that the author knows as little of the true simplicity of the Christian Church as of our republican institutions, the volume is remarkable for its purity of sentiment, its genuine piety and the spiritual loftiness of its aims. It has little force of reasoning, and its theology is based on what we believe a radical error; but the greater part of the work is taken up with considerations connected with personal religion, the character and example of Christ, the temptations of the world, the commemoration of the faithful departed, and the waiting of the invisible Church, which cannot be thoughtfully perused without a beneficial effect. We have seldom read sermons which left us more dissatisfied with ourselves, or feeling more strongly the importance of a higher life. Their faults hang loosely upon them and are easily detected by a discriminating mind, while their virtues are of a kind to find their way to the soul, warn it of its dangers, and shed a hallowed spirit within and around it. The practical religion of the Oxford divines, setting aside what is purely ceremonial, differs less from our own than that of any other Trinitarian denomination. Their theological errors are made to spend their whole strength on each other. For example, baptism, by its regenerating waters, does away the effect of native depravity, and leaves the child where our theology finds him at his birth; and then, the system of training through the discipline of life, and the growth in grace, knowledge and holiness, by which alone the sacraments can become of any use, are nearly the same as are urged by the more devout and spiritual-minded among us. Rejecting what they would most value in their machinery, we may receive nearly all that they would teach in regard to morals, to our every-day cares and pursuits, and to the inward life. While we smile at their extravagant pretensions, (for these are out of the range of reason, and hardly to be met with seriousness,) it would be well for us, if we could learn to look on time and eternity, earth and heaven with their eyes, and to cherish the spirit, which they would teach, of self-sacrifice, sanctification and devotedness to God.
their past lot to the serene and hallowed joys in which they now dwell, till we had learned to live with them in their newness of life, we should soon feel ourselves surrounded by spiritual beings; our affections, begun when they were as we are now, would draw us up, and we should never seem to ourselves less desolate or alone than when, in our solitary meditations, we lived and communed with them. This is the faith in which the Apostles and early Christians lived, and by which they died, longing to depart and be with Christ, yet willing to remain, "compassed about," as they were, "with so great a cloud of witnesses." And so should we live, severed only by a veil of flesh from the loved ones we have known, and the whole unseen “army of the living God." There are friends, numbered among the dead, who may even now, in all the deepest yearnings and affections of the soul, be more to us than any who yet walk upon the earth. With what body they shall come, how they may dwell with us, and breathe in upon our torn and wounded spirits, performing still the offices of love, we may not know. But if, instead of mourning them as lost, we cherish the idea of their presence, and in our solitary walks, our midnight musings, our busy and our silent hours, think of them as bending over us with all their sanctified affections and desires, they will become to us, indeed, angels and "ministering spirits." And we through them being made familiar with things unseen, that purer world will open upon us, and its bright inhabitants become to us distinct and real - more than the shadows of this counterfeit existence, into which so many lives, given for higher ends, are mournfully absorbed. And when we awake from the sleep of the senses into the glories of that immortal world, and our eyes are opened so that we "shall know even as we are known," then shall we find, that if mistaken here, it was only on account of the faint and inadequate conceptions we had formed, of the tender and ever watchful care around us.
So much for evils growing out of our practical unbelief. But in our speculations we move within the naked walls of a theology, which commends itself as little to the highest reason as it does to the spirit of the Gospel and the finer feelings of our nature. We render our present life mean and barren by cutting it off from the intervention of spir
itual beings, and almost shutting ourselves out, in the hourly graces and amenities of life, from the immediate care of Him, "who so clothes the grass of the field," by whom "the hairs of our head are all numbered," and who, through the various discipline of our lot, is training us up not only for a higher worship of himself, but for a more perfect communion with one another. In regard to our future condition, we think of God as a monarch, with Oriental magnificence seated high upon his throne, while all the celestial inhabitants bow down in one eternal act of adoration and praise. But surely it is more true, to think of him as a Father, delighting to behold his children in the active exercise, not only of the one sentiment of worship, but of all the affections which he had taught them to cherish, and binding them still to each other by ties of mutual endearment and offices of love. And while we look on them as thus united there, why should we sever the spirits who are yet here "in prison" from the sympathy and kindly offices of those, who but yesterday were their companions in weakness and suffering, as to-morrow they may be in " glory, honor and immortality?" This doctrine, received in its purity by the early Christians and afterwards incorporated into the growing superstitions and idolatry of a corrupt Church, till at the Reformation it was swept away, with the corruptions in which it had become imbedded, will again, we trust, be established on its true grounds, with its rightful influences and relations. We would not insist upon it as an article of faith. Thousands of humble souls live and rejoice in the love of God, and meekly look to him in their sorrows without its aid. But we could have little confidence in that system of theology, which should utterly condemn it and harshly forbid us to cherish it in sentiment as a part of our daily life. No one can, in his speculations, bring his mind to live habitually as in such a presence, without a holy influence upon his heart. It must take from the grossness of our daily occupation; it must chasten our affections and assuage the bitterness of our sorrows, causing "the wilderness and the solitary place to be glad." And at the approach of death it may lift us up, as by an easy ascent, through those whom we have loved, "to the spirits of the just made perfect," "to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven,"
"to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant," and to God, the Judge of all.
But speculations on this whole class of subjects we should enter upon with peculiar modesty and self-distrust. However interesting in themselves, they are not of the greatest importance, and their results cannot be established with that certainty which belongs to the essential truths of our religion.
The little poems that follow are based on the supposition, that we may be surrounded and ministered unto by the spirits of those that have gone from among us; and that death, while it changes, does not destroy, the relation existing between us and our friends. In the third piece is an attempt to represent a mind almost detached from its earthly fastenings, and wavering, as it were, between two worlds; drawn forward by those whom death has invested with a superior sanctity, and yet left by them the moment it recurs to the ties that bind it to the living. As a matter of fact, little more has been done than to describe in verse what actually occurred as a dream to a young woman, lying apparently at the point of death, in that half-conscious state, when our conceptions are so vivid, but the connexion between them so slight and shadowy. There seemed to appear to her, first one, then another, and then a third from those who had recently died, each offering to lead her on, but quietly permitting her to return, when she thought of the husband, child, and mother, whom she still might benefit by her life. The incident, whatever its influence on her, is of little value here, except as a poetic illustration of a doctrine, which, although not inconsistent with reason, is yet to be cherished mainly through the affections and the imagination. The gentle ascent of the soul, at its departure, through ministering agents, to the realities of heaven and the infinite majesty of the Almighty, if it be not intimated in the Scriptures, by what is said of Stephen at his martyrdom, of Moses and Elias who "appeared talking with Jesus" on the mountain of transfiguration, and of him who "died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom," is nevertheless in harmony with the analogies to be drawn from all that we know of human life and spiritual progress.
"Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud let us run with patience the race that is set before us."
O say not they are dead,
Whose forms we meet no more
In walks they used to tread,
They go with me, they stay with me,
And dear, all earthly forms above,
The music of their speech,
When sick at heart and weak,
A bruised reed I lie,
And living friends, whose love I seek,
"Faint not, dear brother," voices say,
Like sun-beams in a wintry day,
O Thou who changest not,
These angels of thy love,
Who have known our earthly lot,
Still lend us from above.
While they behold thy face
And in thy glory shine,
In them we joy to see thy grace
Thy courts, O God, are full, and we