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The Shadow of Death.

The Shadow of Death.

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Published by glennpease

BY JAMES MARTINEAU.



Philippians I. 21.

FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN.

BY JAMES MARTINEAU.



Philippians I. 21.

FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AND TO DIE IS GAIN.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 15, 2013
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THE SHADOW OF DEATH. BY JAMES MARTIEAU. Philippians I. 21. FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, AD TO DIE IS GAI. It is natural to conclude that one who could feel death to be a gain, must have had few treasures in life to lose. The sentiment evidently belongs to a heart that had either outlived the objects of affection and favoriie pursuit ; or else had loved little, while capable of loving much, and was unattached to the scene of human existence except at its points of duty. It is perfectly conceivable that a mind disengaged from external realities, keeping together and entire its own feelings, interested most profoundly in the abstrac- tions of its own faith and hope, may welcome the transition to another form of being, in which it will retain its individuality complete, and be surrounded by new objects tempting it at length to open forth. He that has no deep root in this world, may suffer transplantation without pain. And thus it was with Paul. His ardent and generous soul had fastened itself on no one living object, but on an abstraction, a thing of his own mind, the truth. For half his life a wanderer over the earth, no place looked up at him with a domestic eye. Called as he was into ever new society, and passing rapidly through all orders of men ; accustomed to study in quick succession THE SHADOW OF DEATH. 313 the feelings of slave and philosopher, of Jew, of Asiatic, of Athenian and Roman, his personal sym-
 
pathies were disciplined to promptitude rather than to profundity. He rested nowhere long enough to feel his nature silently yet irrevocably depositing itself there, but was at all times ready to gather up his feelings and pass on. Christ and God, the objects of his most earnest love, were viewless and ideal here, and would become realities only when death had transferred him to the future. It is true that a noble attachment bound him to his disciples ; but he loved them, less in their individual persons and for their own sakes, than as depositaries of the truth, — as links of a living chain of minds by which that truth would complete its circuit, and find a passage for its renovating power. or was there anything in his outward condition to which his desires could eagerly cling. The world, as a place of shelter, had been spoiled for him, by the Gospel ; his pure tastes were revolted, his sympathies stung, at every turn. At Jerusalem, the impending fate of friends and %,. country brooded on his spirit like a cloud ; in Rome, ^ the springs of social enjoyment were poisoned by the i^~ penetrating taint of a voluptuous polytheism ; at ¦^- every table was the altar, on every tongue the light oath, of Idolatry. In every aspect society presented e^ a scene, not for rest, but for toil ; not to be enjoyed, ^, but to be reformed. It offered no place where the Christian might innocently retreat within the sanctity of a home ; but summoned him forth, in the spirit of an earnest and almost impatient benevolence, to purchase by his own good fight of persuasion and of faith, a fuller purity and peace for coming times.* In this noble conflict, life afforded to Paul the satisfac- 27 314 THE SHADOW OF DEATH. tions of moral victory ; but death offered the per- secuted apostle the only prospect of personal release ;
 
from the prison it would transfer him to the skies ; and the fetters would fall from his hand in the free- dom of immortality. That Paul, thus insulated from earthly attachments, should feel a deeper interest in the future than in the present, is perfectly natural. But when Christians take up this feeling as essential to every disciple ; when they proclaim it a solemn duty to postpone every human feeling to the attractions of the eternal state ; — when they say, ' it is not enough to take the promises to your heart as true comfort in your sorrow, but even in glad scenes of life, in youth, amid the ties of nature, in the very jubilee of affections, you must yearn towards Heaven more than to the world, and to feel that to go, is far better than to stay ; ' — they are guilty of an insincere and mischievous parody on the sentiments of the Apostle. If we are to believe the rhapsodies of a prevalent fanaticism, no one has any vital religion who does not think the world a waste, and life a burden, and all human affections snares of sin ; whose impressions of God, and emo- tions towards Christ, do not far transcend in their intensity the love of kindred and of men ; and who do not, in all earnest moments of reflection, sigh for the hour which shall rescue them from their mortality. If a shade creeps upon the countenance at the con- sciousness that youth departs, and that the foot has already entered the declining path ; if we cannot think of the wreck of vigor" without regret, or look into a grave without a sigh ; if we manifest in any way that the mystery of mortality presses upon our hearts to sadden them ; — the only comfort that is of- THE SHADOW OF DEATH. 315 fered us is, that we can have no real Christianity within us ; and since we shrink from the thought of

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