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and Rome, in the "Connection between Sacred and Profane Literature," a work well meriting a most attentive perusal.
How pleasing is the search after Divine truth; which, like the great object of heathen adoration, at first faintly illumines the horizon; till, in its gradual progress from the shades of night, it breaks forth upon our enraptured sight in full meridian splendour! O how thrice blessed the employment, which leads us to our own and to our fellow-men's salvation, by teaching the eternal truth of God, the Lord our Maker!
Taught, like our great Apostle of the Gentiles, to give a reason for the faith that is in us; led by the example of our Lord Jesus Christ, to seek that reason in the Word of God: therein we are sure of success, "going forth in the strength of the Lord our God." Yet is it, if it be lawful so to say, even a greater pleasure, if possible, to disarm the infidel by his own weapons; and, by uplifting the shield of mercy against the sword of wrath, to save him from himself.
With such benevolent intentions did the Son of God come down from heaven "and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin
Mary, and was made man." Feeling every infirmity of human nature in his own person; knowing as God himself, the secrets of all hearts; he ably combated, during his whole ministry, the weakness, prejudice, and wickedness of man.
Guided by such an intimate knowledge of the human heart; and knowing that our immortal mind, or soul, is apt to pride itself upon its great original; he appealed to reason and experience, in confirmation of revealed religion. Yes, my fellow-servants of an eternal and gracious Redeemer! Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the very God of truth, himself appealed to the holy evidence of truth operating upon men's hearts, and minds, and understandings.
He unfurled his glorious banner of the cross upon the everlasting rock of ages, where it still proudly courts the breeze, wafting the glad-tidings of salvation from pole to pole. That immortal banner of his holy Church triumphant; militant here on earth, in heaven, and paradise, triumphant among the angels of God, and departed souls of just men: "the ensign unto which," as Isaiah foretold, "all nations shall draw near.”
To a Christian congregation it will be unnecessary to trace, with minute exactness, the history of mankind throughout the inspired pages of the Bible. Our holy Church, that purest branch of the Catholic, or universal, Church of Christ, has selected the most prominent parts of that history for our learning ; in the lessons, epistles, and gospels of our Liturgy: thus perpetually recalling to our memory the ever-varying and eventful history of our race.
To our first parents, in the sacred groves of Eden, God was graciously pleased to reveal himself personally; for as Moses, in the book of Genesis, or the creation, informs us, "they heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden, in the cool of the day." And to the conferences of our Maker with the first man and woman, and others his faithful servants, are we indebted for a great part of our information, as to the things of this life, as well as of those which concern eternity.
To their disobedience we owe the punishment of death, that temporary disunion of our soul and body; while to God's merciful decree, at the time his justice denounced eternal wrath against sinners, we owe the blessed rest
of the soul, in the intermediate state of those departed in the fear of the Lord; and our final victory over death, and the grave, by the reunion of our soul and body at the last great resurrection of the dead. For "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
This last consoling account of the eternal kingdom of the Lord our Maker, that "he is the God of the living;" was vouchsafed to the lawgiver of the Jews, when Jehovah declared himself "the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." When he said, "I am the God," not that "I was," merely, the Being whom they served upon earth; but "I am, actually at the time I speak thus to thee, O Moses!" their God."
Intimating thereby, as our Lord Jesus Christ, who came forth from God, told the Sadducees, who denied a future state; that "God is not the God of the dead, but of the living."
Let me call your earnest attention, my brethren of the resurrection, to the present time, so strongly marked in these collated passages from both Testaments. In neither of them is past, or future, time expressed by the verb relating to God in both, the sense
plainly leads to the inference pointed out by our Saviour; an inference conclusive from his dying declaration to the penitent sinner, "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise."
An inference, moreover, further confirmed by his own return from the realms of departed spirits, when he arose again from the dead; truly certified by his own words, before he ascended into heaven. For he then, and then only, said, "I go to my Father, and your Father to my God, and your God."
For death, however painful the separation of the soul, and body; is to the believer in Christ Jesus, merely the gate of eternal life. Of a continuing existence in the intermediate state of the soul, while the body returns, for a time only, to the dust from whence it came; of an everlasting existence, after the general resurrection of the dead, or reunion of the soul, and body, in the mansions of life, and heaven.
Well, therefore, may we accord with the royal Psalmist, in the grateful words of our text; grateful both as to the knowledge of God's power, and his care of our souls and bodies, here, hereafter, and for ever."O come, let us worship, and fall down,