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STATE OF THE SOUL AT DEATH.
The soul is an essence entirely distinct from the body, It is not a mere chain of exercises ; - it is a positive existence, –a reality, — as truly as matter. Thought, love, fear, hope, veneration, and all the operations of an intellectual and moral nature, must have their basis in something real.
If from nothing only nothing comes, the greatest of effects can come only from the greatest of causes. And what are the effects of matter, compared with those of the intelligent spirit? — that spirit before which the savage wilderness melts away, and becomes a blooming paradise; which constructs a path for ships over the trackless sea; which compels the laws of nature into its service, and even snatches the flashing lightnings from their clouds ; which can dart, in an instant, over spaces which it would require ages for light to traverse; and finally, can, with a single leap, pass “ the flaming bounds of space and time," and burn with seraphic joys before the throne of God!
We believe it to be a general law of our present condition, that the soul and the body, — the immortal and the mortal,shall be separated only by death. We cannot accompany the spirit through that mysterious and dark valley; — which to the Christian, however, is usually far from dark. Sometimes the diseased body afflicts the spirit with a dethronement of reason, wildness of fancy, or utter obliviousness, and always with more or less of its own earthliness, until the final, decisive moment comes, when Death executes his commission, strikes the blow, and opens the prison-door. At that instant, the emancipated spirit goes forth, a free denizen of eternity. It then enters upon the higher walks of existence. Like a bird let loose, it moves with unfettered wing, in its own proper element. Its faculties are quickened into a more vigorous and commanding activity; its perceptions become immeasurably more lucid and comprehensive, than while they were restricted in these dull fetters of clay.
These considerations bring eternal retributions very near. It is but a breath, a vapour, that separates us from them. They also invest death with an amazing solemnity. It is not " the pains, the groans, the dying strife;" not the parting
with all the possessions and friendships of earth; not the narrow house of gloom and corruption, awaiting the body, that imparts the shrinking dread to death; - it is the fact that the undying spirit is about to open its eye on the tremendous scenes of eternity. That active, conscious, immortal spirit, is about to meet its Judge, and render its last account ! The curtain that has hitherto hung before the eye of the probationer is about to rise. A few hours or moments, and his eternal destiny will be fixed.
The hour, the moment, at length comes! There is an awful pause. — The last agony of nature is over ; – the gates of mortality are thrown open; the struggling spirit has escaped. And as we gaze upon the calm, pale form,- now only a form, that deathless spirit is awakening to more amazing realities and more mighty activities than we have ever conceived.
Is he a spirit of holiness? He that is. holy is holy still. His pure and piercing eye descries the far-rolling worlds of brightness, all radiant with the glory of God and the Lamb. An innumerable company of angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, invite him with their hallelujahs to come up higher. With bounding joy, he exclaims,
“I mount, I fly:O grave, where is thy victory?
O death, where is thy sting ?” In a moment, the gates of glory receive him; - and while our tears are falling, he is in the midst of the visions of that world, where God wipes all tears away; — while our mourn. ful silence is broken only with sobs of grief, his ears are drinking the melodies of heaven; and he is beginning to sing that new song which no man on earth can learn. He has reached his home; — and so shall he be “ forever with the Lord.”
RESULTS FROM THE SUFFERINGS OF THE PILGRIMS.
· E. Everett.
It is sad indeed to reflect on the disasters, which the little band of pilgrims encountered. Sad to see a portion of them,
the prey of unrelenting cupidity, treacherously embarked in an unsound, unseaworthy ship, which they are soon obliged to abandon, and crowd themselves into one vessel ; - one hundred persons, besides the ship's company, in a vessel of one hundred and sixty tons. One is touched at the story of the long, cold, and weary autumnal passage; of the landing on the inhospitable rocks at this dismal season; where they are deserted, before long, by the ship which had brought them, and, which seemed their only hold upon the world of fellowmen, - a prey to the elements and to want, and fearfully ignorant of the numbers, of the power, and the temper of the savage tribes, that filled the unexplored continent, upon whose verge they had ventured.
Methinks I see it now, that one, solitary, adventurous vessel, the Mayflower of a forlorn hope, freighted with the prospects of a future state, and bound across the unknown sea. I behold it pursuing, with a thousand misgivings, the uncertain, the tedious voyage. Suns rise and set; weeks and months pass; and winter surprises them on the deep, but brings them not the sight of the wished-fur shore.
I see them now, scantily supplied with provisions, crowded almost to suffocation in their ill-stored prison, delayed by calms, pursuing a circuitous route, - and now driven in fury before the raging tempest, on the high and giddy waves. The awful voice of the storm howls through the rigging. The labouring masts seem straining from their base, — the dismal sound of the pumps is heard, — the ship leaps, as it were, madly, from billow to billow, — the ocean breaks, and settles with ingulphing floods over the floating deck, and beats with deadening, shivering weight, against the staggered vessel.
I see them, escaped from these perils, pursuing their all but desperate undertaking, and landed at last, after a five months' passage, on the ice-clad rocks of Plymouth, weak and weary from the voyage, - poorly armed, scantily provisioned, depending on the charity of their ship-master for a draught of beer on board, drinking nothing but water on shore, — without shelter, - without means, surrounded by hostile tribes.
Shut now the volume of history, and tell me, on any principle of human probability, what shall be the fate of this handful of adventurers. Tell me, man of military science, in how many months were they all swept off by the thirty savage tribes enumerated within the early limits of New England ? Tell me, politician, how long did this shadow of a colony, on
which your conventions and treaties had not smiled, languish on the distant coast ?
Student of history, compare for me the baffled projects the deserted settlements, the abandoned adventures of other times, and find the parallel of this. - Was it the winter's storm, beating upon the houseless heads of women and chil. dren, — was it hard labour and spare meals, - was it disease, - was it the tomahawk, —was it the deep malady of a blighted hope, a ruined enterprise, and a broken heart, aching in its last moments, at the recollection of the loved and left beyond the sea; — was it some or all of these united, — that hurried this forsaken company to their melancholy fate?
And is it possible that not one of these causes, that not all combined, were able to blast this bud of hope? Is it possible, that from a beginning so feeble, so frail, so worthy, not so much of admiration as of pity, there has gone forth a progress so steady, a growth so wonderful, an expansion so ample, a reality so important, a promise, yet to be fulfilled, so glorious ?
THE USEFUL AND THE ORNAMENTAL. Mrs. Farrar.
Anna. Well, I cannot expect to be like you: Nature meant me to be only useful.
Sarah. I should be very sorry, if I thought she had not made me for the same purpose.
Anna. Oh! you are above being useful. You were meant to be ornamental; every body is willing you should be so; few can be like you; for few can make such attainments; and those who can, are not expected to be useful.
Sarah. What do you mean by being useful ?
Anna. Oh! you know, fulfilling one's duty in the common relations of life.
Sarah. Do I neglect that ? Anna. No,- I would not say that; but you do not put your whole mind into it.
Sarah. Why should I, if I have mind enough for that and ether things too?
Anna. Well, you are more ornamental than useful, at any rate.
Sarah. It seems to me that you strangely limit the term useful. I suppose you mean that we are useful, only when we are making raiment for the body, or setting the house in order, or tending the sick.
Anna. Oh! and visiting the poor, and keeping Sunday school.
Sarah. Well, do you propose doing this last without cultivation? Shall the blind lead the blind?
Anna. That requires no knowledge beyond Christian morality.
Sarah. The highest knowledge of all, and to which all other attainments are subsidiary !
Anna. Well, but granting that, of what other use, Sarah, are all your accomplishments? They make you very independent, I know, and much admired by certain persons; but then they render insipid other society, in which they are not appreciated, and from which you can gain nothing; and what good do they do any body but yourself?
Sarah. I think they do some good, when they make my father and brothers like to be at home, and talk with me. You have often complained, that you could not make home attractive to your father and brothers, and lamented the ennui of the one, and the idle amusements of the other. As to its making the sort of society of which you speak, insipid to me, I know that although you spend so much time in it, it is as disagreeable to you, as it is wearisome to me. You are always bringing me stories of the calumnies which are afloat about you and your friends. Now I say, that much of this wicked gossiping arises from idleness, and that if these people's minds were better furnished, their tongues would be less venomous.
Anna. But if we can do nothing for this society, ought we to withdraw ourselves wholly from it?
Sarah. If we cannot raise its tone, I think it may be of some use to bear a quiet testimony, that we can find some better way of passing our time, than in tasteless, childish amusements, the monotony of which is only relieved by the most malicious backbiting.
Anna. I wish I could think as you do; but I have always been afraid, that if I were highly cultivated, I should not be so useful.
Sarah. If you enlarge your views of utility, you will perhaps see that we promote it no less by ministering to the spiritual than the temporal wants of others. I cannot con