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HISTORY OF BALAAM.
Then came to him certain of the Sadducees (which deny
that there is any resurrection) and they asked him, saying, Master, Moses wrote unto us, If any man's brother die, having a wife, and he die without children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were therefore seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and died without children. And the second took her to wife, and he died childless. And the third took her; and in like manner the seven also. And they left no children, and died. Last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection, whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: but they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage. Neither can they die any more; for they are equal unto the angels, and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him.-LUKE XX. 27-38.
ONE of the most obvious and natural consolations of reason, under the loss of those whom we dearly loved, and one of the most abundant consolations fur. nished by religion, is the belief that our departed friends, are, at their death, disposed of infinitely to their advantage. We weep and mourn while we reflect upon the deprivation of comfort which we have sustained; but we wipe the tears of sorrow from our eyes, when we consider that our loss is their unspeakable gain. “Rachel weeping for her children,” refuses to be comforted so long as she thinks they are not;” but her soul is tranquilized and comforted when her eyes, in faith, look within the veil, and behold them softly and securely reposing in the bosom of their Father and God. It is an humbling and mortifying employment to visit church. yards, to step from grave te grave, to recal the memory while we trample upon the ashes of the young, the beautiful, the wise and the good; but we find immediate relief, we rise into joy, we tread among the stars, when aided by religion, we transport ourselves in thought to those blessed regions where all the faithful live, and reign, and rejoice; where “they that be wise shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever, Dan. xii. 3. Distance is then swallowed up and lost, and we mingle in the noble employments and pure de. lights of the blessed immortals who encircle the throne of God.
It is astonishing to think, that there should have been men disposed willingly to deprive themselves of this glorious source of comfort; men ready to resign the high prerogative of their birthright, and by a species of humility strange and unnatural, spontaneously degrading themselves to the level of the brutes that
pe. rish. And yet there have been in truth such men in every age.
But it is no wonder to find those who satisfy themselves with the pursuits and enjoyments of a mere beastly nature while they live, contented to lie down with the beasts in death, to rise no more. They first make it their interest that there should be no here.
after, and then they fondly persuade themselves that there shall be none.
Error of every kind, both in faith and morals, prevailed in the extreme, at the period when and in the country where the Saviour of the world appeared for our redemption. The nation of the Jews was divided, in respect of moral and religious sentiment, into two great sects or parties, who both pretended to found their opinions upon the authority of the inspired books, which were held in universal estimation among them; and particularly the writings of Moses. But they drew.conclusions directly opposite from the same facts and doctrines; and both deviated, in the grossest manner, from the spirit and design of that precious record which they both affected to hold in the highest veneration.
The Pharisees, earnestly contending for the strict ob. servance of the law, confined their attention to its minuter and less important objects, and paid “the tithe of mint and anise and cummin,” but omitted “the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith:” and, raising oral tradition to the rank and dignity of scripture, found a pretence for dispensing with the plainest and most essential obligations of morality, when these contradicted their interests and opinions. Heinously offended at the neglect of washing hands previous to eating, they were wicked enough to establish, by a law of their own, neglect of, unkindness and disobedience to parents; thus, according to the just censure which our Lord passed upon them, “ straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel.”
The Sadducees, on the other hand, the strong spirits of the age, disdaining the restraints imposed on mankind by a written law, thought fit to become a law unto themselves. They left the austerities of a strict religion and morality to vulgar minds; and, that they might procure peace to themselves in the enjoyment of those sinful pleasures to which they were addicted,