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love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. From this rich and glorious sentiment the Apostle draws the following conclusion. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” Certainly there cannot be a more reasonable inference drawn from any proposition ever laid down than the one which the Apostle here draws from the love of God to mankind. If we had good reason to believe that our Father in heaven really hated his enemies or those who do not love him, if we were consistent with such a belief, we should hate all those whom we viewed of this description. And this has been the case in the christian church as well as through the world. Men have hated and persecuted one another on this mistaken notion; and verily thought they did God service by so doing But if we are convinced that God loved us, while we were yet enemies to him by wicked works, and if we believe that he loves every sinner of the human family, and that he has manifested this love by the death of his holy child Jesus, it is all as clear as the sun in a cloudless day, that we ought to love our enemies, and to do them all the good that is in our power. And to do otherwise, my christian friends, is to deny our religion and our doctrine, and that in a more effectual manner than Peter denied his Lord.
To conclude. Our subject presents before our rejoicing eyes, a boundless scene of divine grace; it invites us to the sweetest field of contemplation, where goodness, unlimited goodness, mercy, unlimited and impartial mercy eternally flow as broad rivers and streams; as waters, risen waters for men to swim in, which no man can pass.
Let us close with the appropriate words of the poet:
“ When all thy mercies, O my God,
THE RESURRECTION A STATE OF HOLINESS AND BLISS
1 THESSALONIANS, iv. 13,
But I would not have you to be iguorant, brethren, concerning them which
are asleep, that ye sorrow pot, even as others which have no hope.
In a world of sorrow, in a state of being incident to the infinite variety of adversity with which man is exercised, as nothing can be more needed, so nothing is esteemed more precious than that which is calculated to mitigate our sorrows, soothe our grief, and sweeten adversity. To do these, and to strow the thorny path of mortal life with the rose of consolation, and to open in the parched ground of hopeless sorrow a living spring of ceaseless joy, the gospel of eternal life has been sent from God to man.
As the parental sensibilities are moved with pity at the sorrows of their offspring in affliction, and as such an occasion is visited with special tokens of compassion, so hath it pleased the Father of our spirits to break through the dark clouds of mortality and death with the rain-bow of his covenant and to send his anointed to bind up the broken-hearted and to comfort all that mourn.
In possession of the knowledge of the unseen, eternal things, belonging to the spiritual inheritance of the rational offspring of God, and exercised with that generous affection and those kind sympathies which ever seek the benefit of others, it was impossible for the Apostle to stand an indifferent spectator of hopeless sorrow, when in possession of that divine knowledge by which a celestial cordial of consolation might be seasonably administered.
But in order to administer consolation to those who are exercised with adversity or sorrow, it is necessary that the cause should be understood and likewise the extent of grief. Unless the physician understands the cause of complaint, and the extent of disease, it would be mere chance if he did not give force to the former, and enhance the latter by his prescriptions. The case of the woman in the gospel is an instance of what we are now observing. Twelve
years was she troubled with her disorder, " and had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing the better, but rather grew worse. But when she came to Jesus she was made whole without suffering any thing of him, and without expense.
The cause of that kind of sorrow which the Apostle was desirous to prevent appears to be ignorance. Observe the text; 5 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope."
The particular subjects suggested by these words, and to which our future labors in the present discourse may be directed are the following.
I. Ignorance concerning those which are asleep, is the only cause of hopeless sorrow for them.
II. The knowledge of the truth concerning those which are asleep administers hope and comfort to those who mourn for their friends.
III. This knowledge is communicated in the gospel, through Jesus Christ.
There are two powers by which ignorance operates in the human mind, in a way to prevent happiness and to augment sorrow, even to despair. The first prevents our knowing the things which belong to our peace, and the second opens a door for an infinite variety of imaginations all calculated to administer affliction and to cause our sorrows to increase.
The mind that is destitute of knowledge and at the same time devoted to fearful imagination, is like one disturbed by a frightful dream.
Safely slumbering in the peaceful chamber of repose, and no danger nigh, one might dream of descending a declivity directly leading to a fatal precipice, view destruction as inevitable, and feel the pang of despair ; and the whole difficulty end with the sudden interruption of the dream. In fact, though there were every possible reason for sweet content, supporting confidence, and joyful hope, ignorance of all these things would not only prevent these blessings, but expose the mind to a thousand imaginary anticipations which belong to the family of despair.
A few examples from the scriptures may serve fur ther to illustrate this subject.
There were three particular events relative to the patriarch Jacob, his ignorance of which was the cause of the greatest anxiety, most fearful apprehensions, and hopeless sorrow. When he was informed that his brother Esau, whom he had supplanted, was coming to meet him with four hundred men, he feared the wrath of his injured brother, and his soul was greatly troubled for his wives and for his children. There was no way of escape by flight, his means to oppose his brother were nothing; he feared all was lost, and that the anger of his brother would blot out his name forever from under heaven. Now imagination presented before his alınost distracted eyes the most shocking catastrophe to which mothers and their innocent children could possibly be exposed. His fearful heart melted within him, and he placed his devoted family in the order in which, if they must be destroyed, his choice would dictate, and in that arrangement which might possibly afford him an opportunity of saving such as were the most dear to his troubled heart. But how suddenly were his fears all dispelled when Esau ran to him, embraced him with fraternal affection and tenderness, and kindly received and compassionately treated every branch of his family.
What an expense of feelings, the most tormenting would have been saved in this case, if the love and forgiveness, which most bountifully flowed in the heart
of Esau toward his brother, had been known to him, whose ignorance of the truth had deprived him of peace, and had let a thousand frightful apprehensions into his mind, which had no foundation in fact.
It might be about ten years after this, that the sons of Jacob brought to their father the coat of many colors, which his beloved Joseph wore from home, when he went to seek after the welfare of his brethren. This coat they now presented to their father, torn in pieces and covered with blood. “He knew it, and said, it is my son's coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is, without doubt, rent in pieces. And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days." Yea he refused all comfort and said; “I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning."
Who can describe the sorrow which preyed on the heart of the afflicted father? Methinks I sec him seated alone beneath some favorite, salutary shade, giving vent to his grief and indulgence to his tears. He seems to ask; was it the lion's paw that struck the tender lad to the ground, or was it the hungry jaw of the merciless tiger that dislocated his youthful limbs, or was it the voracious leopard that deprived me of the desire of my eyes ? O cruel ignorance! what dis tracting imaginations ! Could Jacob but have known that his Joseph was safe in the hands of the Angel of God who protected him, hope would have brightened his countenance, soothed his affliction, and administered peace and joy to his heart.
In the days of the famine, when the sons of Israel were to go down to Egypt the second time, and when they demanded Benjamin to go with them, how trying was all this to the heart of the father of the twelve tribes. How full of grief are his words. “Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away. All these things are against me.” Such were the hopeless sorrows of one who was ignorant concerning the subjects of his sorrow. At the very moment when this dark and gloomy aspect lay before his eyes, Joseph was lord of all Egypt, the owner of the vast