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CONTENTS OF No. 120.—MAY, 1836. Two SERMONS :-"Perdition Dreadful ;” by Rev. W. T.
HAMILTON : and “ The Example of Christ in Self-denial ;"' by Rev. I. TRACY.
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Dr. Matthews, Hanover Theological Seminary, Indiana ; Rev. Dr. Baxter, Union Theological Seminary, Va.; Rev. Dr. Tyler, Portland, Me.; Rev. Dr. Lord, President of Dartmouth Col. lege; Rev. Dr. Church, Pelham, N. H.; Rev. Dr. Leland, Charleston, S. C. ; Rev. Dr. Coffin, Greenville, Tennessee ; Rev. Professor Halsey, Western Theological Seminary ; Rev. Drs. Perkins and Hawes, Hartford, Conn. ; Rev. President Wheeler, Vermont University; Rev. Prof. Howe, Columbia, S. C.; Rev. Dr. Chapin, Presi. dent of Columbian College, D. C.
No. 12. Vol. 10.)
[Whole No. 120.
By Rev. WILLIAM T. HAMILTON, MOBILE, ALABAMA.
Pslam xxvi. 9. Gather not my soul with sinners.
The sacred Scriptures make known to us not only the certainty of a future state, not only that it will be a state of final retribution to the good and the evil respectively, but also, that at death we enter forthwith on these rewards. In the New Testament, this point is placed beyond the reach of doubt; for, to the dying thief our Lord declared, “ This day shalt thou be with me in Paradise ; and Paul says, “I desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better.” And in another place, we read of those who now " through faith and patience inherit the promises." Neither was this great truth kept hid from the Old Testament church, as is plain from the translati in of Enoch and of Elijah, without seeing death; and from the phraseology some. times employed by the sacred penmen of the Old Testament, when recording the death of good men.
Thus it is said, Abraham gave up the ghost and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” This gathering to his people cannot refer to the interment of his body, for the account of his burial is given as a quite distinct thing, in the next verse. Besides, his body was not gathered to his people; for all his relatives were interred some hundreds of miles distant from the cave of Mach. pela, where Abraham’s body was deposited; some of them in Chaldea, and some in Mesopotamia. In like manner, Aaron is said to have been gathered to his people at his death, although he was buried on Mount Hor, in the wil. derness, far away from all his kindred. Moses, too, whose grave no man ever saw, is still said to have been gathered to his people. The idea seems, therefore, to be, that at death their souls joined the society of the redeemed in heaven, whither all, who like them, are of the people of God, are conveyed on their release from the body. The Old Testament phrase, gathered to his people, must, therefore, be regarded as equivalent to the New Testament expression, “carried by angels into Abraham's bosom;" or, " to join the general assembly and church of the first born;" or, “to depart and to be with Christ." VOL X. No. 120.
1 This interpretation appears the more probable, from the manner in which the Old Testament writers speak of the wicked at their death. Thus we read, Job 27: 19, “ The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered." And in view of the obduracy of the Jews, Isaiah writes, “ Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the Lord.” From all which it is apparent, that, to saints in the Jewish church it was made known, that at death, each one, approved of God, should join the society of the blessed; while from that privilege the wicked should be debarred.
The passage before us, moreover, intimates that at their death, the wicked will be associated together. “Gather not my soul with sinners." This prayer expresses the utmost earnesthess of desire for separation from the wicked, and for exemption from their portion after death. Why, then, is fellowship with the wicked after death, so greatly to be deprecated! It is so,
1. Because they will constitute a community exclusively evil, in which not one holy, or virtuous, or good being will be found. The designation applica. ble to them all, without exception, is sinners.
In one vast assemblage will be convened all the wicked, all the abominaable, and the vile, that have ever lived upon the face of the earth.
To the truly pious mind, association, even for a short time, with the abandoned and the wicked, is productive of exquisite pain, in hearing their blasphemies, witnessing their violence, their clamor, and their excesses. Nay, to any person of common sensibility, it must be a very painful necessity that compels a temporary companionship with the grossly wicked, giving way to their vicious propensities, their boisterous passions, and their debasing appe. tites.' What individual here, but would feel it to be one of the severest of punishments to be compelled to pass a month in no society, night or day, other than that of the inmates of a penitentiary ;-to hear their blasphemies and their ribaldry, their filthy witticisms, malicious raillery, and empty and polluted conversation : to witness continually their low cunning, and to endure their loathsome familiarity! What, then, must it be to pass a life in society so degraded, so heart-sickening ! But, in the worst community to be met with on earth, there is still some good. Even in the most vicious fraternity of villains, there will be some more generous, or less hardened than the rest ; some still retaining a spark of original nobleness of nature, a latent energy of conscience, restraining them from the last steps in enormity, and operating as a check upon their more reckless associates. And, in all ordinary cases, we know that the good and the evil are commingled throughout society; in consequence of which, a silent, but powerful influence is every where operating 10 restrain the wicked from innumerable excesses into which they would otherwise rush. Who has not seen this illustrated in festive company? At first, every thing gives promise of decorum, propriety, and rational gratification. The conversation is ut nimated, perhaps, but intelligent and chaste, and every pleasure moderate.
But when they, in whose presence effrontery is modest, and vice wears the mask, are observed to retire, reserve is gradually thrown aside, and mirth, and clamor, and revelry, rise higher, and yet higher, till, in one brief hour, all traces of decency and sobriety are buried in riot. Now this is but a miniature picture of the world. Remove the good wholly