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Immortality.

Immortality.

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Published by glennpease
BY JAMES MARTINEAU.


2 Cor. i. 9.

we had the sentence of death in ourselyes, that we should
not trust in ourselves, but in god who raiseth the dead.
BY JAMES MARTINEAU.


2 Cor. i. 9.

we had the sentence of death in ourselyes, that we should
not trust in ourselves, but in god who raiseth the dead.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 15, 2013
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IMMORTALITY. BY JAMES MARTIEAU. 2 Cor. i. 9. we had the sentence of death in ourselyes, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in god who raiseth the dead. Paul, at his nearest view of death, obtained his firmest ' trust in God who raiseth the dead.' Socrates, with the cnp of poison in his hand, declares it power- less ; and taking it as the pledge of temporary parting from his weeping friends, goes cheerfully forward to explore the future. We, who are in no such ex- tremity, but at ease and in command of the strong posts of life, are seduced into sceptic misgivings of its perpetuity, and are conscious of at least transient doubts, whether soul and body do not go out together. And so, indeed, it ever is. Amid the so-called goods of existence, we most shudder at the view of its privations ; while from active contact with its griefs, its grandeur appears least doubtful, and, in the bold struggle with ills, they prove a phantom and slip away. From the sunlight heights of life, the deep vales and hollows of its necessities look darkest; but to the faithful whose path lies there, there is still light enough to show the way, and to no other eyes do the everlasting hills and blue heavens seem so brilhant. Our nobler faith is not dashed, as we suppose, by the severities, but rather enervated by IMMORTALITY. 151 the indulgences, of experience ; it is on the bed of luxury, not on the rock of nature, that scepticism has its birth. Paul, the hardly-entreated apostle, the
 
homeless and ever-perilled missionary, — his back scarred with stripes, his hands heavy with bonds, the outcast of Jewish hate and Pagan scorn, — writes as he flies, to ask the voluptuous Corinthians, ' How say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead ? ' and to prove in words that immortality of which his life was the demonstration in action. And while from the centre of comforts many a sad fear goes forth, and the warmest lot becomes often filled with the chillest doubts, hidden within it like a heart of ice that cannot melt, you may find toiling misery that trusts the more, the more it is stricken, and amid the secret prayers of mourners hear the sweetest tones of hope. This paradox is far from being inexplicable. All true religion is a sense of want; and where want goes to sleep upon possession, it becomes bewildered, and when occasionally opening its eyes, sees nothing with the clearness of reality. Religion implies a perception of the infinite and invisible; and where the finite is illuminated too strongly, nothing else can be discerned, and all beyond appears, not dim twilight shadow, but blank darkness. The full-orbed brilliancy of life brings out the colors of the earth, and makes it seem as vast and solid as if there were nothing else ; in the midnight watch, it is felt only at the point beneath our feet, and the sphere of stars in which it swims alone is seen. Indeed the suspicion, that this life is our all, appears to be simply an example, upon a large scale, of a delusion and dispro- portion of idea, which we are continually experiencing 152 IMMOHTALITY. in detail and without which perhaps our discerning and our practical energies would be ill-harmonized. I allude to that exaggeration of the present moment,
 
that concentration of anxiety and effort on the present object, which makes the point of pending action every thing, and for a time kills the reality of all beside. Desire, else broken by dispersion, singles out project after project in succession, on which to gather all its intensity; each in turn becomes the vivid and sole point of life ; as the eye applied to the microscope may see the centre of the field, without notice of the margin of the very object beneath its view. This optical exclusiveness of mind, this successive insulation of effort, is the needful condition on which the will performs its work with gladness; for who would not sink and faint upon the dust, if the whole task of existence were spread before him at once? Let us then, in practice^ as the laborers of God, bless him for our blindness; but in meditation^ as the be- lievers of God and explorers of his Providence, not on that account deny that there is light. Our delusion, operating in detail, is corrected by experience, which shifts us ever to a new point of view ; and how often do we smile in retrospect at the passionate self-preci- pitation, the silent tension or stormy force of desire, with which we bent towards some aim, that seem for the instant the very goal of life; the eagle-eyed pre- cision with which we fell, as on a prey, upon some- thing that now seems one of the most trivial creatures that stirs the grass. Our eyes once opened thus, we say that it ' was a dream.' And most truly ; for those who are awake always discover that they have been dreaming; but those who dream never suspect that they shall wake. For the time, the images of IMMORTALITY. 153 sleep are the intensest of realities ; they are the sleep- er's universe ; they agitate him with hope and terror, with love and grief, with admiration and transport, as

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