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LIFE AND IMMORTALITY, &c.
2 TIMOTHY, 1. 10.
Who-hath brought life and immortality to
light through the gospel.
“ LIGHT is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eye to behold the sun." How agreeable, how exhilirating to us, after being enveloped for hours in the gloom of the night, is the first perceivable dawn of the morning, when the prince of-day rises in the east diffusing light and joy over the natural world! Innumerable objects, which were formerly concealed, are then brought obviously to view, and we are aided in the prosecution of our various employments. The natural ligbt, therefore, which is so pleasant and profitable to us as men; which cheers the eye of the beholder; which brings to view objects formerly veiled in darkness, and directs us in our ordinary pursuits, is fitly and frequently employed as an emblem of divine revelation. “Thy word,” says the royal poet, adoring his God for this light which has beamed on our benighted world, “thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path ;” and an apostle, alluding to the same heavenly oracle, declares, “we have a more sure word of prophesy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light shining in a dark
place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." 'As the natural light is grateful to the eye of the body, this celestial lamp imparts joy to the intellectual eye; by it also doctrines the most interesting in relation to the perfections of Jehovah, to the mediation of Jesus, and to the future destinies of men, which must otherwise have remained in impenetrable darkness, are luminously revealed. “He hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
The life here mentioned by the apostle, does not signify merely a future, never ending existence. An eternal duration, unless connected with circumstances of happiness and glory, would be an object of dislike rather than of desire : The human mind necessarily recoils at the thought, as we startle back from a gulph to which we can discover neither bottom ror bounds : They who have perished without hope have the prospect of an immortal existence, but this prospect, instead of soothing their anguish, inconceivably augments it, and throws a deeper shade over the blackness of their darkness. The life mentioned in our text implies not only a being which shall never end, but all that can render this being desirable, the immediate vision of God, his intimate, uninterrupted fruition, an exemption from every species of pain, and the possession of all those pleasures, which our ever expanding powers are capable of enjoying
The immortality, or as it might be trans. lated, incorruption noticed by the apostle, relates immediately to the body, and expresses that perfection to which it will attain in its glorified state. Being redeemed in the present life from the demerit of sin, through the sacrifice and righteousness of the incarnate Jehovah, it will in the morning of the resurrection be redeemed froin all the consequences of sin. Having then emerged from the bosom of corruption, it will no longer be subject either to dissolution or decay : Infirmities will not multiply upon the risen, glorified body with its advancement in age, as in the present, imperfect state ; but it will flourish for ever in all the vigour and gayety of youth ; of youth uncontaminated, and unenfeebled by transgression. “. This corruption shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality.”
This life and immortality, which the “gospel brings to light,” should not be understood as referring exclusively to a future state, or expressing the privileges of the redeemed in the world to come: They may also be considered as comprehending all that is preparatory to that infinitely important result. Beneath the benign effulgence of celestial truth, we behold the building of mercy not only as completed in the heavenly world, but we see the foundation laid in eternity past: We see the scaffolding erected, all the means by which the superstructure is carried on through every intervening period of time, and all the dispensations of the church until it is consummated in eternity to come. On all these interesting realities the gospel has poured its radiance, and brought them clearly to human view. The eye, through the medium of evangelic light, may grasp, in its comprehensive range, the past, and the present, and the suture; the whole scheme of redemption in its origin, and progress, and consummation; it can survey the whole plan as reflecting the highest glory on each attribute of Deity, exciting the astonishment of every order of holy intelligencies, and raising, from the lowest depths of degradation to the highest elevation of bliss, unnunbered mil
lions of the family of man. - Life and im· mortality,” in their origin and issue, “ are thus brought clearly to light through the gospel.”
What are the great doctrines disclosed in divine revelation, and what is imported in “ bringing thein in light,” are inquiries naturally suggested in our text; and their solution is adapied to the occasion of our present ineeling.
Scarcely two years have elapsed since I commenced the discussion of this subject in this church before the Northern Missionary Society: Irejoice in the opportunity of appearing an advocate for the destituie among ourselves, and for the still more pitiable heathen, by resuming the same subject be