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Now the only account we have of the manner of watering the earth before the flood, is, that "there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground." (Gen. ii. 6.) It has been supposed, that previously to the flood, there existed a perpetual, equal, and genial temperature on the face of the earth. No equinoxes-no changes of temperature, save when the dewy eve ushered in the season of repose; and man retired from the duties and pleasures of the sunny day, to rest. Under such circumstances and condition of things, there could be no iris, or bow in the cloud, for the reason that no rain came down. The mist went up, during the day, and descended at night, in the absence of the sun. Neither yellow fever, nor any other epidemic or pestilence, that has afflicted the post-diluvians, could exist under the genial sun of antediluvian times. It would seem, that men were first placed under circumstances of climate, that were peculiarly favourable to health, to rational enjoyment, and mental development; provided they did not abuse the blessings so profusely bestowed upon them. But they did abuse them; and became corrupt in all their ways. God, therefore, in mercy, removed them all, save Noah and his family, by a process that was certainly merciful, as well as necessary; if, as the above supposition teaches, the poles of the earth were changed at the time, and, by the change, caused the flood, and the subsequent equinoxes. According to this view of the subject, and it certainly looks reasonable, inasmuch as the present ground inhabited by man, bears evident marks of having been covered by the ocean for a long time-the infidel, if he would dispense with his ignorant sneer, would be entitled to a respectful consideration. For even the Devil should have his due, if his claim is a reasonable one.
But supposing that it did rain before the flood, and that our mother Eve saw a bow in the cloud, before she ate the apple, how would this militate against the token or sign? The Deity said, "I do set My Bow in the cloud, and it shall be [in future] a token," &c. It is God's bow; for His rain that comes down from heaven, and the shining of His sun, causes the bow.
"When o'er the green undeluged earth
"And faithful to its sacred page,
And God hath made this Bow to be, to perpetual generations, the Token, or Sign of His Covenant of good to man. And never, till an arch as black as Erebus shall span the Heavens, and mock, in triumph, this Sign of God's Covenant of peace to man, will I, for a moment, believe the infernal dogma of a future, an endless, a cruel, and an abominable Hell. AMEN.
THE PROSPECT BEFORE US.*
"If a man die, shall he live again?-JOB xiv. 14.
In every age of the world, that history has informed us of, the curiosity, or anxiety of men, or both united, have resulted in establishing opinions of futurity, that have settled down into a popular hypothesis with different nations; being interwoven in their religious creeds as the ruling dogma of the day. The palpable truth of all truths, viz: man's mortality, in a qualified sense, has universally received a willing assent. And it is because man dies, that the question has been uppermost with all nations, "Shall he live again?" It used to be the case, that men were hung for committing the crime of murder, when no murder had been committed. We are wiser in our day; and it is now necessary to prove, in the first place, that a murder has been committed, or that a man has been killed, before any man shall be hung for killing another. Now this principle, so obvious to reason, will apply in theology. For unless we have evidence that if a man die, he shall live again, it is absurd to talk about the condition of man's future life.
It must be admitted that only two possible sources from whence information can be obtained on any subject, exist: Viz: Human and Divine--or earth and Heaven. Therefore, the question first in order is,
What have been the opinions of men respecting futu rity? Then, next in order, the question,
From what sources have men's opinions of futurity been derived?
Before I attempt an answer to the questions, I will state certain facts, which I consider are of vast importance in this inquiry. A thing or principle, is either true or false. The measure of truth or falsehood, is that to which I
* The reader is requested to consider this Sermon, as introductory to the Sermon which follows, on the subject of the resurrection of the dead.
would direct the mind of the reader. Now the prominent fact in question, relates to the possible measure of evidence as respects any alleged truth or fact in existence. I will state the position so fairly, that it shall be beyond the power even of the caviller to find a flaw in it. If any thing is revealed from Heaven to man, of futurity, the revelation conveys certain information of something. If no certain information of any thing is conveyed from Heaven, it necessarily follows, that there is no revelation from Heaven to man of any thing. And this, in a general, or extensive sense. Therefore, in any particular whatever, the same not only may be said, but must be said; whether it is the particular question of man's mortality, or of man's existence in a future state, after death.
I present for the reader's consideration, the three modes of expression, which constitute the measure, in a certain The subject is man's existence as an animal, and a sentient being.
First Affirmatively, (and I affirm,) the Scriptures positively declare of man, that he is mortal; without any qualification that impairs or alters the legitimate signification of the term.
Second-Negatively, (and I deny, for) the Scriptures nowhere declare that man is (in the present tense) immortal, in any possible, legitimate construction of the term immortality.
Third-Affirmatively, (and I affirm,) the Scriptures positively declare that man shall be (in the future tense) raised from the dead; i. e. from mortality, to incorruption or immortality; and shall be made, a NEW CREATION, alive in Christ, the Head of every man.
I present the above three propositions, as the greatest possible measure of evidence, which language, in any or in all its forms, is capable of, as a mean of giving information of, or affirming the existence, or denying the existence of, any fact whatever. Now any man of common sense will admit, that the Scriptures, known as the Old and New Testaments, or any other writings whatever, that affirm any thing, are, of necessity, either silent on certain subjects, or they speak of certain things. Therefore the question is, of any thing whatsoever, Do the Scriptures speak of this certain thing? Yea, or nay, must be the answer. If nay, there is an end to the matter. If yea, then, What do the Scriptures say of the certain thing in question?
And the certain thing in question here, is man-Do the Scriptures speak of man?
What do the Scriptures say of man, as an animal, or as a sentient being?
Ans. They say that man is dust-shall return to the dust from whence he was taken-shall die-and of the dead, that "the dead know not any thing."
Do the Scriptures speak of immortality, in contradistinction to mortality?
What do the Scriptures say of immortality, as a quality, or possession, or as characteristic of any being whatever? Ans. The Scriptures affirm of God, that "He only hath immortality." (1 Tim. vi. 16.)
I appeal to the reader as a sentient being, capable of perceiving, and ask, Can any thing be more palpable than the position I have laid down for our guidance? Is it not reasonable? Are we not bound, as sentient beings, to be guided by reason? Or, shall we turn the tables, and say, that reason should be rejected? That in proportion as things appear unreasonable, and, consequently, contradictory, should be our willingness to accredit them as correct and true? None, save a lunatic, would, or could, sanction so preposterous a position, as that a man's disposition or will, to receive any thing as truth, should be in an exact ratio with the absurdity of the thing in question; and the greater the absurdity, the more outrageous the contradiction, the greater the evidence, and the stronger the inducement to believe in the truth of it. Take a plain case for illustration:
DE FOE, in his celebrated "History of Robinson Crusoe," speaks, affirmatively, of Robinson Crusoe, as having a certain man with him, on the Island where he resided, as a companion, etc. Does De Foe speak of the certain an Astronomer? No, not a word of it. How does he speak of him, of the certain man? Ans. He speaks of him, positively, as a Savage. Well, shall we get up a new sect, and make an Astronomer of Robinson Crusoe's man Friday? Is it impossible to comprehend, how the man Friday could have been an Astronomer, from all that the History says of him? Well, then, the greater the incomprehensibility of the fact to be believed, the more it is entitled to our belief. If it is a great mystery, the great mystery is the measure of our faith, if we