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as an individual. If he believes at all in this important point, his conduct must be influenced by the hope of immortal happiness, or the dread of future misery. If he be conscious that he is accountable for his actions, and if he can neither accelerate nor retard the day of recompence, we cannot but suppose that he will be constantly upon his guard against the hour that he shall be called upon to render up his accompts. It is from religion chiefly that he learns this important truth: and it is with reference to this that he regulates his behaviour. He neither wants motives nor abilities to promote his plans. That Saviour whose merits must supply his deficiencies, and whose resurrection gives him an earnest of his own, becomes his guide and deliverer. Nor is this all the invisible influence of the Holy Spirit directs his footsteps in many a slippery path, and comforts him in every danger. The world, for the wisest purposes, is uncertain in its pleasures. He tastes of misfortunes; but with these supports he does not fall a sacrifice to despair. In the midst of his distresses, a ray of hope beams from heaven,
heaven, and he looks forward in joyful expectation of that future happiness promised by the gospel. Intent on this, he discharges every duty, to the best of his abilities, which the gospel requires: and in faith resigns himself to that hour which closes the scene of mortal life. But not to the grave is his better part consigned. It enters into that bliss which had long been his contemplation and partakes of those joys which are reserved for the righteous.
On such a character the influence of a future state is great. The reflection on it forms the chief happiness of his life, and is his sincere and only comfort on the bed of death. How do we pity those men of genius and abilities, who pretend at least not to be influenced by these motives! If they wish for such consolation, why do they not endeavour to procure it! Why do they lament, without endeavouring to investigate the evidence on which a future state is founded? or why do they investigate, without laying aside the inveteracy of prejudice? "I was reading," says Mons. Herault to Buffon,
"the immortality of the soul-pardieu ! "said he, religion would be a noble present, "if all that were true *.” If there be "another world," says Gibbon in a consolatory letter to lord S. on the death of his lady, "she will certainly be happy †.”
The transitory nature of all worldly enjoyments, is an observation as old as the creation. And the inference from it is as true as it is important, that there must be some other state of happiness for virtuous. men. Relying on this truth, we have seen martyrs ascend the scaffold with composure, with chearfulness; we have beheld resignation under the most trying distresses; we have seen torture inflicted on the patient, and miseries gradually extinguishing the lamp of the righteous. In every instance the expression of the sufferer has been→ "I became dumb, and opened not my "mouth, for it was thy doing." A steady expectation of future happiness has been
*M. S. Journey to Monbard in 1785, by Herault de Sechelles; the work was in the press when Robespierre sent the author to the scaffold. Edin. Mag. 1796.
+ Gibbon's posthumous works,
the comfort of the virtuous in every age, and must continue the support of every one who looks upon himself as an accountable being. The good man estimates the value of eternity from the shortness of life; and knows that "our light afflictions, which "are but for a moment, do work out for us “a far more exceeding and eternal weight "of glory."
We naturally cling to that plank which is to save us; and what is that, amidst the waves of this troublesome world, but the pleasing hope, the fond desire, the longing after immortality? If we had no other assurance of it but the ardour of our own breast, surely we should spring towards the thought, and live like men who were to exist hereafter. But when a. revelation presents a prospect before us, which might otherwise be thought obscure; when a prophet; yea, more than a prophet offers to save us by the sacrifice of himself, and gives us a taste of immortality even while we occupy these frail tenements of clay, can we withhold the sincerest tribute of gratitude and love to that Being, the author of our life, the re