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that awful "day which shall burn as an oven," his appointed ministers, the "holy angels," will discern with unerring sagacity between them. "The righteous will then shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father, whilst they that have done iniquity shall be cast into a furnace of fire, where shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." May God, of his infinite mercy, grant us a portion with the righteous in that day, for Christ's sake.
MANNER OF READING.
"The author is impressed with the fact, that, in the manner of reading, and especially of reading Sermons, there is generally exhibited a most shameful and criminal deficiency. If he might be allowed a suggestion on this point, he would say with deference, let the parent, or some one selected by him, read aloud for the benefit of the family, after preparing himself to read with due emphasis and feeling. And as a general rule, read aloud, even when aloneremembering that impressions made at once on the ear and eye, reach the heart with double force. Let this course be prayerfully adopted, and well written sermons and essays, and the precious Bible itself, would not so often be regarded as dull compositions; but their perusal would be accompanied with power from on high."-Preface to Clark's Works.
THE FINAL SETTLEMENT.
"How soon, my brethren, will the amazing realities of Judgment and Eternity break upon our unearthly vision, and fill us either with ecstasy or despair! I cast my thoughts forward but a little, and behold, the dead are rising, the elements melting, saints rejoicing, devils trembling. The Judge appears upon his great white throne-In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we are before the judgment seat, with our respective flocks. The faithful and the unfaithful shepherds of every age are there. The trial proceeds, the books are closed, the final sentence is pronounced. The heavens are opened, and the pit yawns-the eternal song and the eternal wail are both begun. O may we then rise, with a great multitude saved through our unworthy instrumentality, to shine with them, as the brightness of the firmament—as the stars forever and ever.”—President Humphrey.
No. 12. VOL. 10.]
BY REV. WILLIAM T. HAMILTON, MOBILE, ALABAMA.
PSLAM XXVI. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners.
THE sacred Scriptures make known to us not only the certainty of a future state, not only that it will be a state of final retribution to the good and the evil respectively, but also, that at death we enter forthwith on these rewards. In the New Testament, this point is placed beyond the reach of doubt; for, to the dying thief our Lord declared, "This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise; and Paul says, "I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better." And in another place, we read of those who now
through faith and patience inherit the promises." Neither was this great truth kept hid from the Old Testament church, as is plain from the translation of Enoch and of Elijah, without seeing death; and from the phraseology some. times employed by the sacred penmen of the Old Testament, when recording the death of good men. Thus it is said, "Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people." This gathering to his people cannot refer to the interment of his body, for the account of his burial is given as a quite distinct thing, in the next verse. Besides, his body was not gathered to his people; for all his relatives were interred some hundreds of miles distant from the cave of Machpela, where Abraham's body was deposited; some of them in Chaldea, and some in Mesopotamia. In like manner, Aaron is said to have been gathered to his people at his death, although he was buried on Mount Hor, in the wilderness, far away from all his kindred. Moses, too, whose grave no man ever saw, is still said to have been gathered to his people. The idea seems, therefore, to be, that at death their souls joined the society of the redeemed in heaven, whither all, who like them, are of the people of God, are conveyed on their release from the body. The Old Testament phrase, gathered to his people, must, therefore, be regarded as equivalent to the New Testament expression, "carried by angels into Abraham's bosom;" or, "to join the general assembly and church of the first born;" or, "to depart and to be with Christ."
[WHOLE NO. 120.
This interpretation appears the more probable, from the manner in which the Old Testament writers speak of the wicked at their death. Thus we read, Job 27: 19,"The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered." And in view of the obduracy of the Jews, Isaiah writes, "Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord." From all which it is apparent, that, to saints in the Jewish church it was made known, that at death, each one, approved of God, should join the society of the blessed; while from that privilege the wicked should be debarred.
The passage before us, moreover, intimates that at their death, the wicked will be associated together. "Gather not my soul with sinners." This prayer expresses the utmost earnestness of desire for separation from the wicked, and for exemption from their portion after death. Why, then, is fellowship with the wicked after death, so greatly to be deprecated? It is so,
1. Because they will constitute a community exclusively evil, in which not one holy, or virtuous, or good being will be found. The designation applicable to them all, without exception, is sinners.
In one vast assemblage will be convened all the wicked, all the abominaable, and the vile, that have ever lived upon the face of the earth.
To the truly pious mind, association, even for a short time, with the abandoned and the wicked, is productive of exquisite pain, in hearing their blasphemies, witnessing their violence, their clamor, and their excesses. Nay, to any person of common sensibility, it must be a very painful necessity that compels a temporary companionship with the grossly wicked, giving way to their vicious propensities, their boisterous passions, and their debasing appetites. What individual here, but would feel it to be one of the severest of punishments to be compelled to pass a month in no society, night or day, other than that of the inmates of a penitentiary;-to hear their blasphemies and their ribaldry, their filthy witticisms, malicious raillery, and empty and polluted conversation: to witness continually their low cunning, and to endure their loathsome familiarity! What, then, must it be to pass a life in society so degraded, so heart-sickening! But, in the worst community to be met with on earth, there is still some good. Even in the most vicious fraternity of villains, there will be some more generous, or less hardened than the rest; some still retaining a spark of original nobleness of nature, a latent energy of conscience, restraining them from the last steps in enormity, and operating as check And, in all ordinary cases, we their more reckless associates. upon know that the good and the evil are commingled throughout society; in consequence of which, a silent, but powerful influence is every where operating to restrain the wicked from innumerable excesses into which they would otherwise rush. Who has not seen this illustrated in festive company? At first, every thing gives promise of decorum, propriety, and rational gratification. The conversation is animated, perhaps, but intelligent and chaste, and every pleasure moderate. But when they, in whose presence effrontery is modest, and vice wears the mask, are observed to retire, reserve is gradually thrown aside, and mirth, and clamor, and revelry, rise higher, and yet higher, till, in one brief hour, all traces of decency and sobriety are buried in riot. Now this is but a miniature picture of the world. Remove the good wholly
away from among the wicked, and the restraints now reluctantly submitted to, would be quickly spurned and forgotten; and bold and rapid would be the general advance in wickedness. If, with the multitude of the orderly and the pious every where scattered through the land, and restraining the wicked by the mild majesty of goodness, there is still so much drunkenness, and dissipation, and sabbath breaking, and profaneness, what would very soon be the state of public morals, were the pious all taken to heaven to-day? Were the devout and the godly all withdrawn, the sanctuary closed, and the voice of the preacher heard no more, vice would reign triumphant over the land; and our lovely villages, and flourishing towns, would speedily exhibit only a counterpart to the wretched cities long since merged in the depths of the Dead Sea. How appalling, then, must be the prospect of being entirely secluded from the good, associated with none but the wicked, and with all the wicked of every class and degree of turpitude, and with the father of lies, and with his fiendish hosts, in one horrid community! If such be their prospect, who will not exclaim with the Psalmist, Gather not my soul with sinners. But consider
2. Not only will the society be composed wholly of the wicked, but, their evil passions, uncontrolled, will be the source of constant wretchedness.
All experience shows, that tastes long fostered, habits long indulged, become fixed, and exert a powerful influence over the whole man, even against his better judgment and his sober wishes. The covetous man, in proportion as he becomes sensible of the meanness of his governing passion, finds himself stripped of ability to control it. The drunkard, with the fixed conviction that he is such, finds himself borne irresistibly along by a current of his own forming; and then, even the moving tears of a ruined family, and the thrilling interests of an immortal soul, all affectingly calling on him to pause,yea, even the tremendous gulf of perdition roaring and raging full in view before him, only rouse him madly to redouble his speed, as if anxious to drown reflection in the very horrors of destruction. So, also, the licentious, while, with each reiterated indulgence, the appetite is cloyed, and gratification diminished, yet find the chains of their own forging but the more firmly riveted upon them; and, as the galling weight of those chains is becoming more painfully felt, the power to burst them, and the inclination to attempt it, are the more sensibly diminishing. In like manner the ambitious, the envious, the malicious, the irascible, and the fraudulent, are every day increasing the power of their dominant passion, and rendering the prospect of their emancipation the more hopeless.
Now what is there to warrant the idea, that propensities cherished and obeyed through life, will be lost in death? What authorizes the expectation that the soul, merely by a separation from the organ of its communication with the material universe, will lose its peculiar and distinctive characteristics? The mechanic, or the artist, is a mechanic or an artist still, when he has laid aside his tools; he has the same knowledge of his art, the same love for its exercise. In like manner, the soul must be the same still; as ambitious, or irritable, or proud, or selfish, when it has laid aside the body, (which
is only the soul's instrument for acting on material objects,) as before. The wicked, therefore, will carry their evil passions still in their bosoms, to the world of spirits; and, if so, they bear with them eternal fires of wretchedness to consume them.
Even in circumstances the most favorable to happiness, one single evil passion will fill a man with misery. What will riches and honors avail him, who is burning with ambition, or pining with envy, or who is agitated by vindictive passions? What can the kindest attentions of the most affectionate friends contribute to the peace of that man whose bosom is the seat of discontent, or who, from a consciousness of secret, unsuspected crimes, despises and abhors himself! What an amount of misery is sometimes inflicted on a large and amiable family, by a single vice of one member! What would be the condition of that family, of which each member should be the slave of some one odious propensity, and all clashing, in their pursuits, one with another? It would be wretchedness intolerable! What mind, then, can conceive the depth of misery that must pervade a vast community, of which each member is vicious-a slave to vile, ungovernable passions: where generosity, kindness, forbearance, and moderation are wholly unknown; where selfishness reigns uncontrolled in every heart; where each one is stung with fierce passions, and intent on his own gratification, regardless of all around him; whom he hates and despises, and by whom, as he is well aware, he is himself as heartily despised and hated. Is this the fellowship of the lost? Then gather not my soul with sinners.
3. They lie under the curse of Almighty God.
God is the great fountain of light, and joy, and gladness, to the intelligent universe. 'Tis his smile that lights the sun, and gilds the landscape with beauty. 'Tis this that sends the sweet thrill of joy through the bosom of youth, alleviates the toils of manhood, kindles the fire of domestic comfort and domestic love, and soothes the cares and alleviates the sorrows of declining age. If God frown upon us, the heavens are hung with blackness, the earth sickens, vegetation languishes, business fails, labor is fruitless, commerce decays, and pestilence and death desolate the abodes of men. 'Tis God's smile that fills the heart of the contrite with peace, renders the sanctuary a banqueting hall to the soul, pours a flood of transporting radiance into the Christian's closet, nerves him to successful combat with spiritual foes, gives him strength to walk steadfast in the narrow way, dispels even the darkness of death's gloomy vale, and opens to the view of the dying saint the glories of the heavenly inheritance. Deprived of all created good, the favor of God were happiness enough. Without it, the possession of a world were but splendid misery.
But where sinners are gathered, the favor of God never beams. They are left to the wretchedness of their own vices, unmitigated by one smile from God, unsoftened by one token of his favor or of his pity. Not only so they are not merely deprived of his favor, they are not merely left to the uncontrolled dominion of their cruel and tormenting passions, but they are made to feel the weight of his positive anger, the bitterness of his tremendous curse.