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Body from the Grave; when they shall receive a Crown of Glory that fadeth not away."
Thus it appears to be the true Scripture Doctrine, that the Souls of the Departed are not to be consummated in their future state of Happiness, or of Mi
tound with hissing Serpents; Tantalus held under the impending rock,
"An iron voice and adamantine lungs,
Repeat their crimes, or count their dreadful woes.
Quam poenam, aut quæ forma viros fortunave mersit.
"Vendidit bic Auro Patriam
"Hic Thalamum invasit Natæ, vetitosque hymenæos;
"Ausi omnes immane nefas, ausoque potiti.
"Non mihi, si Linguæ centum sint, oraque centum,
"Ferrea vox, omnes scelerum comprendere formas
"Omnia poenarum percurrere nomina possim.- -1. 614, &c. Having finished this part of his work, Virgil begins his beautiful Description of the happy Parts of his Elysian Fields; and the Employment of the joyous and blessed inhabitants, whom he has seated there.
"Some exercise their limbs on grassy plains, in sports contend, and wrestle on the yellow sand. Some beat Harmony, in the mingled Quires of Dancers, and accompany the same with sacred hymns; while Thracian Orpheus, the chief Quirister and Priest of Apollo, in his long robe, leads the bands in melodious lays, through the seven distinguished notes of Music, and strikes the strings, now with his fingers, now with his ivory quill."
"Pars in gramineis exercent membra palæstris;
"Pars pedibus plaudunt choreas, et carmina dicunt.
"Nec non Threicius longa cum veste sacerdos
Obloquitur numeris septem discrimina vocum:
"Famque eadem digitis, jam pectine pulsat eburno.-1. 642, &c.
sery, until re-united to the Body at the Resurrection; and that during the intermediate time they are in the Keeping of God; which is enough for us to know, and all that is given us to know, in the present Life, on this deep and mysterious subject!
The Poet now hastens to conclude his description of magnanimous heroes, &c. by a picture of Happiness which nothing can exceed in nature or imagination. The remembrance of those scenes which most delighted men while alive, will still influence their spirits, when separated from the body by death. An army halting or resting for refreshment on a march, their accoutrements, camp equipage, arms, &c. carelessly, but safely, disposed of near them, and their beasts of burden, or of draft, feeding happily around them, is a pleasing, although a familiar sight to a Soldierand thus Virgil describes the ghosts or spirits of his departed soldiers→→→ "The arms and empty chariots of the Chiefs are seen at a little distance. Their spears stand fixed in the ground; and, up and down, their horses feed at large throughout the plain. The same passion or fondness, which they had for chariots and arms when alive, and the same delight in breeding and training up beautiful and shining steeds, which distinguished them when above ground, follow and are attached to them in their Elysian mansions under ground!
"Arma procul, currusque virum miratur inanes:
"Stant terra defixæ haste, passimque soluti
"Per campos pascuntur Equi. Quæ gratia currum
Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes
"Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos.-1. 651, &c.
The Poet, however does not employ all the inhabitants of his Elysian Fields in warlike exercises, sports and games, and the like. He brings up some chosen bands of worthies of the first rate, to close his description; namely, a band associated and made up of those who suffered, and bled, in fighting for their country.
Manus, ob patriam pugnando, vulnera passi.—1. 660.
Priests who preserved themselves pure and holy, amidst all the temp tations of life.
"Sacerdotes casti, dum vita manebat.—1. 661.
Pious and inspired Prophets and Poets, who taught or sung the sublime doctrines of Religion, and things worthy to be dictated by a God.
"Pii vates & Phoebo digna locuti.—1. 662.
With all those worthies of every age and nation, who were the benefactors of mankind, lovers of their country, and improved the lot of life,
Having now disposed both of the Souls and Bodies of the Dead, to the Keeping of God, until the Last Renovation of Nature, we follow our Apostle to a new face of things; and may God, the Father of Light and Love, scatter the dark and doubtful before us, and leave us to a clear View of his Heavenly Truth!
We left the Apostle in our last Sermon at the close of his Peroration, in that critical moment of his Defence, when he had brought his arguments to bear with their full strength on the Conscience of his Trembling Judge, praying to hear no more at that time and Promising to send for him at a more convenient Season-Poor and idle excuse! Oh! that all men, instead of waiting for a more convenient season, would, in the present fleeting moment, which is all we can call our own, look forward to that awful period referred to by the Apostle, and place themselves, in imagination at least, before the tribunal of Christ, in the sight of assembled men and angels, and ask themselves seriously, how they are to plead their cause, and answer such questions as the following, at that Day:
by the invention of useful arts, and constant endeavours to do good, and to communicate happiness to the world around them.
"Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes;
"Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo.—1. 663, 664.
The temples of all these, Virgil binds with white garlands, and distinguishes them among the happy in Elysium.
"Omnibus his nivea cinguntur tempora vitta.—1. 665.
And Cicero had sanctioned what Virgil has here doomed to them :— It is my belief, dear Scipio, that there are select Mansions, set apart in heaven, where the benefactors of mankind, those who have saved, or enlarged the interests of their country will enjoy everlasting happiness. "Omnibus (sic babeo, Africane) qui patriam conserverint, auxerint, certum "esse in Coelo definitum locum ubi, beati, avo sempiterno fruantur." Somn. Scip.
"Did I, when in the world, fix all my happiness on what I then possessed? Did I, hardened and secure, put off my everlasting interests from day to day, without seeking unto Christ, as my supreme good, and never-failing refuge, from every storm within and without? If I did, where can I look for safety and protection, but from Him whom I have rejected and scorned, and whose saving Blood I counted an unholy thing? If I flattered myself in successful guile and deep dissimulation; if my deeds were evil and I shunned the light; if I wrapt them in sevenfold darkness, to hide them from the sight of men; where, oh! where shall I hide them in that Day from the searching eye of all-avenging Justice?
On the Gospel scheme of Salvation then, and on the merits of Redeeming Love, producing a life of Righteousness, Temperance, and all Evangelic Virtues, be my whole hopes fixed!
The time is coming, as our Apostle reminded Felix, in his short sketch of a Judgment to come, when this world itself, and all that we can trust in it, shall be no more; and of the things that now are, not a wreck shall be left behind. The immortal Soul of man shall be the sole survivor, and the consciousness of a life well-spent, and of being accepted in Christ Jesus will be her only supports; and, therefore, he who would wish to have his Soul established on any future good, and to sing a requiem to doubts and perplexities, must not put off to a more convenient Season; but seize the present hour, keeping in stedfast view that everlasting Day, which shall give all in fruition, and leave no morrow to succeed. For
"The Sun himself, and all things earthly, shall fail and pass away; but divine Love and Charity, heavenly Virtue and Goodness, like the Soul in which they dwell-these shall be Immortal; and when all things else shall fail, they shall only begin to grow and flourish, reverting to their Fountain God, to be fed by the streams of Joy which flow at His Right Hand, and never to be separated from Him, but to mix and rejoice in the boundless source of His parental and eternal Love! Even so! may we all be admitted to taste and to know that His Goodness is thus shed around Him, and endureth forever and ever! Amen!