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ception of music for music actually filling the air. A person expecting to be called at a particular moment, for example, to take his place by the couch of a sick friend, will hear his own name with the most perfect distinctness. He mistakes the vivid conception of the sound for the sound itself. So one standing on the shore, anxiously looking for the arrival of his vessel, will be confident that he sees the vessel. He sees it with his "mind's eye." We may at once account for those sights and sounds which persons just translated from the darkness of nature into the marvellous light of the Gospel, are wont to see and hear. The imagination is intensely excited, the mind is filled with images of heavenly things, and these vivid images are mistaken for actual perceptions.
"We listen to our fond hopes
Even till they seem no more our fancy's children;
With prophets' voices, and then Heaven speaks in them,
I am the more confirmed in the truth of this explanation, in view of the fact that these sights and sounds are perceived only when the imagination is greatly excited. If they are real, it is difficult to see why they should not be repeated when the mind is in a calm, unruffled state-the state most favorable for enjoying communion with Heaven. But I apprehend it will be found upon careful inquiry, that these preternatural sights and sounds are perceived only when the nervous system is deranged, or the mind is in a highly excited state.
It will perhaps be suggested, that the visions of the imagination, wanting the authority of miraculous attestation, might be perfectly harmless, for unauthenticated by miracles they can never obtain credence, much less such credence as to supplant the "faithful word." Such a suggestion, were it to be made, would betray much ignorance of facts. Mankind have, from the beginning, been ready to believe anything and everything, rather than inspired, miraculously authenticated truth. How often did God rebuke his chosen people for turning away from his servants to listen to false prophets, who "spake a vision of their own hearts, and not from the mouth of the Lord." Said Christ to the Jews, "I am come in my Father's name and ye receive me not, if another shall come in his own name him ye will receive." How many remain in willing ignorance of God's blessed word, whilst they repose a single-hearted faith in all the legends and mummeries of Popery.
What multitudes have turned away from the simple but sublime descriptions of heaven by the Apostle John, to believe the inflated and foolish revelations of the Koran. Among its fooleries let me just notice Mahomet's account of his journey to heaven. He solemnly affirmed that "he had been to the heaven of heavens-had successively ascended to seven heavens, with
his companion Gabriel, receiving and returning the salutations of its blessed inhabitants--had then proceeded alone within two bow-shots of the throne of the Almighty, when he felt the cold which pierced him to the heart, and was touched on the shoulder by the hand of God, who commanded him to pray fifty times a day, but with the advice of Moses he was prevailed on to have the number reduced to five, and that he then returned to Jerusalem and to Mecca, having performed the journey of thousands of years in the tenth part of a night." Puerile as all this is, I question whether it is a whit more so than the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg, that prince of dreamers; or the revelations of Smith, the prophet of Mormonism; or last, not least, the responses of spiritual rappings. And yet, Swedenborgians, and Mormons, and Spiritualists are to be found among the sons of New England, distinguished above every other people for coolness of judgment and caution against every species of imposition; so credulous is the human mind in its best estate of error, so averse to truth, even "the truth as it is in Jesus."
The silence which broods over the grave, is a mute, indeed, but stern rebuke of all pretences to correspondence with departed spirits. Of the myriads who have passed through the veil into eternity, not one has been permitted to return a word of information. A few have come back to earth, and mingled awhile in its every day scenes; but in respect to the things which they saw in the world of spirits, their lips have been closed in speechless silence. "Death, the mysterious passage to the spirit land, is as new and untried as when Abel first explored the fearful labyrinth." We think of our departed friends till our hearts are ready to burst. How it would relieve the agony of separation, if they could once more break the silence of death! Why are they not permitted to tell us at least that they are now happy in the presence of that Saviour whose name they here bore, and in whose grace they trusted through the days of earth's pilgrimage? Perhaps for the same reason that made it unlawful for Paul to utter the things which he saw and heard in paradise. Were they suffered to revisit us, though unseen, and to make their presence manifest by the whispers of love, we might expect the recurrence of such scenes, and the visions of an excited imagination to be mistaken for the visits of departed spirits, and the wildest phantasms of our own minds to be taken for revelations from the unseen world. We shall go to them, but they shall not return to us.
IV. We have no reason to believe, that messengers from the dead could give testimony more impressive than that we now have.
Without miracles, they could give no testimony on which any eliance could be placed. Suppose Paul had communicated the things which he saw and heard in paradise, unaccompanied by
miracles, the narrative would have been entitled to no credence. The things which he took for heavenly visions might have been visions of his own imagination, and on no account, whatever, to be received as revelations from heaven, no more than the trance of Tennent, or the wonderful dream of Doddridge. Tennent and Doddridge, and others, may, for aught we can say, have had communications made to them from heaven. Tennent went to the grave under the solemn impression, that while he lay in this trance, he saw things unseen by mortal eyes; but the only way in which the fact can be established to the satisfaction of others, is by the power of miracles. But with miracles, we have no reason to believe that messengers from the dead could give more impressive testimony than we now have. The reply of Abraham to the rich man, by fair implication, teaches this. "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. Nay, father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto them, if they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." A messenger from the dead, to be intelligible, must describe the unseen world by images drawn from material objects; but inspiration has already selected the most vivid images, both of beauty and splendor, and employed them to represent heaven, and the most terrific objects in nature to shadow forth the world of woe. The only way in which he could deepen the impression already made, would be by multiplying images, and by greater minuteness of detail; but who does not know that "familiarity begets insensibility." Suppose Suppose a messenger from the invisible world were now to enter that door, bearing upon his scarred and scathed visage "the marks and numbers" of a lost spirit, we should be startled, petrified, become as dead men, perhaps die; but admit that we were only stunned, as soon as we recovered from the shock, we should be the same men as before. There is nothing in mere affright to soften and subdue the heart into penitence. Men are drawn, not driven, into the kingdom of heaven.
But then, we must be convinced of a future state of misery, and are we not convinced now? Have we any, doubt of the existence of such a being as Jesus Christ, a messenger first from heaven, and next from the dead, and that He taught the doctrine of the final misery of the wicked? But the impression made by one appearing directly before us, would be more vivid, no doubt it would, but what then? Men in the hour of death have sometimes far more vivid impressions of a future state of misery, and of their instant exposure to it, than are ever known in the hey-day of health. They are told by those in whose word they confide, that they can live, at most, but a few hours. In the perfect possession of reason, they feel that except they repent they shall thus soon be lost, lost forever, and yet they in such respect certainly give no evidence of the fact. All this merely
reveals the power of the heart over the understanding-merely shows that men can act, and do act, in direct opposition to their strongest convictions of duty and safety. Probably there are no circumstances in which repentance less often occurs, than amidst the phrenzied alarm which sometimes exists in a dying hour-an alarm not remotely resembling the effect which would be produced by the appearance of a messenger from the dead.
The Jews were seized with consternation at the crucifixion of Christ; but as soon as they recovered from the panic, they were the same men as before. It was not till fifty days after when the wild and frantic excitement which destroyed the power of collected and consecutive thought had subsided, that they were in any considerable numbers converted.
The more we look at the subject, the more, I think, will be our common conviction, that a messenger from the dead could make no more impressive disclosures of the world of woe, than God has made in his word. He might tell us that men are not merely exposed to perdition, but some are actually there. The Bible tells us that Judas fell by transgression "that he might go to his own place." What man in his senses believes that that place is heaven! that as he pressed the veil with the blood of the innocent on his heart, a voice from the excellent glory broke upon his ear, come up hither," and that he went up to take one of the thrones, vacated by the apostasy of the devil and his angels? Believe it who can! We think that with such testimony we should be convinced. We are convinced. Men may pretend that they are not, but God has taken care of that matter. The manifestation of the truth commends itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
But men do not act as if they were convinced. They do not, and yet they do. The Jews were convinced by the miracles of Christ. "What do we for this man doeth many miracles?" What next? "Then from that day forth they took counsel. together to put him to death." Men oppose the truth for the very reason that they are convinced, and the more madly the stronger their conviction. Impenitent men will sometimes allege in proof that professors of religion are hypocrites. If we believed as you pretend to in the doctrine of endless misery, we could not hold our peace, we would stop every man that we met, and warn him of his danger. Others will make their own defence, but for myself, whether honest or not, in my Christian profession, one thing I know, so far as I can know any thing, by my own consciousness, that God has given me such conviction of sin as leaves no lurking doubt in my mind as to the truth of the doctrine of the final misery of the wicked. I have no more doubt of this truth, than that there is a God who reigns in righteousness, and if it promised any good, I would stop my fellow sinners at every corner and intercept your way with the angel cry, "woe, woe,
woe," but if on this day, in this place, appealing to the law and the testimony, I cannot convince you of your exposure to endless misery, or at least so convince you as to produce the least practical effect, of what use this abrupt address which at my lips would carry no conviction, and which must provoke either mirth or
God has made it our duty to "preach the word," to reason out of" the Scriptures ;" and if men will not be convinced from this source, He will probably leave them to learn from their own experience what they will not take upon His word; and this leads me to say in the close, that if you continue to neglect present opportunities and misimprove present privileges, your expectations from the future will in all probability disappoint you. God has "magnified his word above all his name." He is jealous for the honor of "the word." He will do nothing in His providence to disparage the preaching of "the word." "By the foolishness of preaching He saveth them that believe." You may look forward to some sudden, startling, overwhelming influence in the hour of death, but you will probably be disappointed. You will then be deprived of reason, or be so paralyzed by disease, as to look the grim messenger in the face, with the vacant stare of fatuity; or should you have "visions and revelations," not of "the third heaven," but of the lowest hell, "unspeakable,” which you neither may nor can utter, in the horror of your doom you will "give up the ghost." May God incline you to improve the passing hour as for your life!
BY REV. MARK TUCKER, D. D.,
A FAITHFUL SAYING.
"This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”—1 Tim. i. 15.
There have been many sayings current in the world, some of which were true and others false; some embodied important principles, others were only specious; some had been transmitted from generation to generation, from age to age, others have been forgotten; some have been practical, evincing great wisdom and knowledge of men and things, others have been unsound, have contained much error and false philosophy.