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voyage over, still their minds can find nothing to
The face of the country, the climate, the society, the way of living, the work which they may be called upon to do, all are strange and incomprehensible; and whatever their distress may be at home, still they would rather endure it than wrench themselves from all that they know to venture upon a new world, in which there is not a single object, animate or inanimate, from which they can expect a friendly welcome. I never can blame the shrinking from emigration under such circumstances; yet we know that where there is more knowledge, where we feel to understand what we are going to, distant and new countries are not so appalling; there are many who go to them every day with more of hope and pleasure than of fear and regret. Something of this is applicable to our own case commonly. We too shrink from dwelling on a state altogether beyond our conceptions, from a voyage infinitely mysterious in itself, and leading to a land in which we feel that we should be utter strangers.
Above all, we shrink from a country where we should not find a single friend. And this is precisely the feeling which interferes with our faith. We will not, till we must, force our minds from all that is familiar to them and dear, to a prospect so dark and appalling. Nor is it possible that we should do otherwise. But must we necessarily continue to find the prospect so dark and cheerless? No books and no words can indeed give a poor man an exact idea of the state of a new country; much there will be which he cannot realize till he sees it; but enough may be told him to remove the extreme vagueness of his original notions; instructions may be given him, letters or recommendations sent out for him, which may satisfy him, to a certain degree, as to the place to which he is going, and may assure him that when he arrives there, he will find some to receive him kindly. And is not this so with us all ?
Is it not possible, without gaining distinct notions of what eye hath not seen nor ear heard, yet to lose our feeling of the utter strangeness of the unseen world; and above all, to dispel altogether the apprehension that we should find in it no friends ? This is the great point of all, and this may and should be done by us all. We cannot picture to ourselves the face of the country whither we are going, but we may gain the knowledge and assure ourselves of the love of its King; and knowing that we are loved by Him, then we know that all His subjects will receive us kindly too: and some of these we have known; they once lived with us here, but they have gone to the distant land before us.
In short, dropping the figure, it is I believe, an undoubted truth, that in proportion as any one draws near to God, and thinks of Him, and
prays to Him constantly and earnestly, so does he become familiar with the life beyond the grave, and find it possible and natural to fix his faith there. For with God continually in our thoughts, God in Christ, I mean, for a Christian knows God no otherwise than as approached through his Sonwith God constantly thought of, prayed to, praised, thanked, and served, it is impossible that death should any longer be so great a barrier, or the state beyond it so dark and cheerless. For to God there is no difference of time or state; He is after our death as before it, before it as after it, in all respects the same. And death, which to Him is absolutely nothing, becomes to us also less and less in proportion as we are more entirely His. So it is said that Enoch walked with God, and then it is added, “and he was not, for God took him.” He walked with God on earth, and he walked with God in heaven, and the two became blended into one, and the barrier between them melted away into nothing. This is a true type, showing that the sense of death is destroyed by our consciousness of God. He who walks with God faithfully here, all that is said of him will be, "he was not, for God took him;" he will be missed here by us, but to himself it is in a manner all but one life, the latter part the more perfect and the happier, yet both were passed with God.
Again, all that has been said tends to that same conclusion on which I have dwelt so often; the one conclusion, “Let us pray.” Let us pray: if we have prayed hitherto, let us pray the more; if we have not, then let us begin to pray. Remember that we may pray not merely as God's creatures, but as His children. This is our Christian privilege; this Christ's death has purchased
We may pray to God as His children. Where then is fear? Where is doubt? Where ought to be coldness? More certainly than our fathers and our mothers love us, does God the Most High love us, even us,--so humble, so sinful. And this is the most simple truth in the world, although it sounds like the loftiest flight of fancy; it is really and actually true. Wherefore, let us pray to God in Christ continually: and so shall we learn, like the patriarchs, to live in faith and to die in faith.
December 5, 1841.
The peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
We cannot doubt that what is here called the peace of God is no other than that peace which our Lord promised to His disciples, when He said to them, “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth give I unto you.” And without fully understanding what it is, we yet cannot doubt that it is a blessing of the highest kind, when we read the language in which it is spoken of Our Lord promises it as an especial gift from Himself to His people; St. Paul says of it that “it passes all understanding.” Nor yet is there any reason to think that it is a blessing which belongs only to persons of one particular