« ZurückWeiter »
template the proverbial integrity and unblemished faith, the steady zeal and unwearied perseverance of the former, or the matchless vigor of understanding, the stupendous power and concentration of thought, and the never-failing resources of the latter, we feel that pleasure which great leading spirits kindle within us when directing a noble cause. They cast a lustre around that diffuses itself over the moral landscape, and which beams upon us like the first dawnings of that perfect light, which shall gently be diffused on the long desolated regions of a peaceful, a united, and a blooming world.
But it is not the beauty of this perishable scene-of this glittering and evanescent bubble, that is alone impaired by the magic influence of the phantom of vindictive justice. It has thrown ah awful gloom over our prospects of that maturity of being-that stable inheritance, which should charm away the weariness of life, by beaming over the darkness of the grave. By the dreary and chilling visions it has produced, the destiny of a species has been involved in inconceivable horrors; the springs of heavenly comfort have been dried up; and the sublime religion which should clothe humanity with comfort and with radiance, has been figured as a deadly enchantress, blasting the loftiest anticipations of nature and of reason. The same fallacy, which has deprived our laws of their vigor, has nerved the arm of the bigot, and darkened the imagination of the pious. By the aid of this terrible personification, the Great Father of Spirits is represented as preparing, by all the revolutions of time, and the great workings of his invisible hand, for the sacrifice of a large portion of his offspring; as consecrating this beautiful system a temple for the great immolation of man at the shrine of Almighty Justice; and as compelled, by the same stern and blasting attribute, to preerve for ever his loftiest works as specimens of failure and
of deformity. The last display of his unveiled majesty ; the final triumph of his perfections; the mightiest effort of his power, is pictured as conferring immortality on guilt; adding agonies to remorse, and furies to despair; and darkening, with eternal wrath, an immense fragment of the universe. The awful period, to which Revelation encourages us to look for the full developement of all the uncertainties and distresses of this mortal scene, is clouded with horrors, compared to which death is lovely, and nothingness cheering; the opening of a state more mysterious than the ages which have preceded its arrival; a state of ruin unchangeable as the throne of the Universal Parent. Either this deadly conclusion of the dispensations of Heaven was the end to which it directed all its operations; either the glimpses of celestial light with which earth has been, blessed and purified, were sent but to deepen endless confusion and remediless ruin, or its designs have been baffled by a spirit more powerful than the Almighty. In the midst of the world, reduced to its primeval chaos, that gigantic and infernal being is represented to us as striding triumphant over the massive ruins of the once majestic temple of human virtue; pointing to the countless generations awakened but to suffer; and scowling, with malignant exultation, on the starless gloom of eternal night he has poured on the wretched, rendered visible only by a deadly glare from the brightness of heaven. And all this unutterable horror; all this worse than ruin of millions of minds, stamped with the image of God; all this tremendous wreck of his sublimest works, to satisfy the laws, which he promulgated as the noblest of his bless ings, the fairest of his gifts, the sweetest expressions of his mercy all these strange delusions, these visions of terror, with their lamentable consequences, are the offspring of the great Demon of Vindictive Justice. Let this baseless
phantom be once dispelled, and the prospects of our species will be clear and glorious; we shall hear, in every charm of affection of the heart, in every sorrow, and nature, in every in every vicissitude, the still small voice of universal mercy. The plan of Heaven will be plain, consistent, and sublime. The Deity will then appear at once beneficent in his designs, and infallible in their completion; as actuated by perfections which could never for a moment clash; so harmonious as to need no reconciliation; so blended as to be incapable of disunion; so lovely as to cherish no vengeance; so perfect as to admit of no change. Filled with this great idea, we shall see, with unearthly gladness, the great Spirit of Love silently working out its eternal purposes, in all the varieties of human character, in all the loveliness of human virtue, and in all the partial clouds which remind us we are but in the infancy of our being; we shall behold through every revelation, every command, every law of purity, this principle breathing in all its freshness; touching the strings of life with gentle transport; gradually modifying earth to the likeness of heaven-" in infinite progression from seeming evil still educing good"— and shedding in our hearts all the joy which we are able to endure. Our views will be carried on far, very far, beyond the grave, through other preparatory dispensations still rising in glory, to the fulness of all its joys. The light which first beamed on the newly-created system; which has, through all ages, been gathering lustre; which beams on us now in holy glimpses of heaven; shall lead us onward over the ashes of the universe; shall inspire us to tread securely on the great sepulchre of time; shall shine unclouded over the enchanting paradise of the blessed; and from those glorious mansions shall spread over every desolate region; illuminate unnumbered worlds, emerging from the gloom of a second chaos, in all the beauties
of a second Eden; verdant with everlasting spring; and filled with the joys of the deathless re-union of friendship, the unsullied purity of new-born virtue, and the melody of universal thankfulness. Then the vivifying touch of Divine Love shall shed, on their enraptured inhabitants, at once the bloom of youth, the vigor of manhood, and the venerable sanctity of age; restoring the purity of childhood, and more than exceeding its most enchanting visions; expanding the genius with higher desires, and animating the hopes with brighter prospects; and thus shall commence a new stage of progression, unpolluted by guilt or by sorrow, with a scene of happiness marvellous as the power of the great Lawgiver, boundless as his creation, and stable as the pillars of his everlasting throne. Then, in the midst of God's vast and happy family, standing on an eminence, far above error and weakness, we shall scan, at a glance, the little portion of his great operations, comprised in that space we now consider as gloomy and as long, as a short parenthesis in eternity; we shall contemplate the progress of distant worlds in various stages of progression; and we shall, with deep humility and delight, acknowledge that the whole is a scheme of infinite wisdom, educing good from evil; that the penalties of all deviations from goodness are but the means of blessing the transgressor; and that the end of all divine laws is, what the end of all human enactments should be, to purify and not to avenge, to REFORM and
not to DESTROY.