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ourselves greater than any material thing. And, if the least principle of matter survives all change, the inner life, the intelligence, the moral capacity with which God has endowed us, does not taste of death. Our essential nature, our personality lives forever, and is connected with an order of beings of like immortality with ourselves. Upon this familiar, yet important truth, I propose to offer a few considerations.



No truth is more certain, than that nothing dies. There is no such fact as annihilation. As to the least particle, God is not a God of the dead, but of the living. He preserves its essential being through every transformation. The mutations of nature, from the periods of the leaf and the flower to the enormous cycles of geological or astronomical change, are but the motions of continual life, the fermentation and development of an exhaustless energy. Death is not an end, but an agent—a transition crisis-the perihelion in the orbit of each thing, or order of things, whether of an atom or a planet, of the human body, or of the solar system. All the forms of decay are but masks of regeneration, the secret alembics of vitality. The rotting stubble and the withered calyx, the shard, the shell, the putrid lump, are moving with life. The grave is a womb, and every fibre that moulders in its dark silence, is even now thrilling with the process of transmutation.

ual Existence is the grandest of facts. And, first, I would observe that SpiritWithout it, the universe is a riddle, and human life a mystery. We are not able to detect final causes. ability of man to determine precisely for It exceeds the what God has made the universe, and established its ordinances. But there are results which the present system of things unquestionably serves; and, among these, there is one end, which, if not designed, a deep shadow of perplexity is cast over all. The universe around us pre-supposes a spiritual nature to which it appeals, and which it educates. The stupendous adaptations among which we are placed, and the results which issue from them, are enormously disproportionate to any material being. Besides a sufficiency for animal life, beside economical provisions, there are, in the order of things around us, lessons for intellectual and moral beings, revelations and suggestions for thought, incentives to virtue and to worship. And these are, by far, the grandest adaptations of the universe. God has not

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But there is something in the universe beside these material forms. They are continually moving, but they move by a power external to themselves. The sub tile life that penetrates and changes them; the substance upon which they are based, and of which they are phenomena; suggests something greater than they-an Intelligence, a Will, a Spiritual Principle, which they obey, and upon which they depend. And we are conscious of some-made it only for animal existence. thing within ourselves which is not the body; something that is more essential than the muscles and organs which it controls. We are conscious of thought, of affections, of a creative power that moulds and uses the elements about us, of a desire that reaches beyond the limits of this world. As to the truth of spiritual existence then, of a principle of being involved in and acting beyond the forms of sense, we cannot reasonably doubt. No one can easily disbelieve it who attentively considers nature, or notices the phenomena of his own inner being. We are connected with a higher order of realities than those which we see around us. We are

not merely an inn for transient shelter, a mechanical adjustment for hearing and seeing, a culinary establishment for appetite, a garden for amusement, and a hiding-place for the dead; it is the residence of deathless spirits; it is the sphere of immortal action. If it was not for the sake of unconscious matter that God created this stupendous array, neither was it merely to be gazed at by an uncomprehending wonder, by the stupid eye of an animal, that he sprung over chaos yon arch of awful beauty,' and lighted up its myriad suns, and filled all nature with an overflowing life, breaking out in every phase and nook around us, from the line


beneath our feet to those great secrets that retreat in shadow, where man grows giddy with surprise and speculation, and halts, weary, before the infinite and unconfessing truth. But God has revealed himself in all these forms, that they might be reflected in a conscious and kindred nature; that they might excite it to divine action, and lead it nearer and nearer to Himself. If, then, this fact of spiritual existence be blotted out, the universe is inexplicable.

So, too, is human life inexplicable without this fact. Every phase of this life, shows that it is disciplinary. But for what is its discipline? For a mortal purpose? For the grave, and annihilation? Is this the explanation of temptation and sin, the meaning of love and sorrow, the use of education, the worth of social affections, the end of virtue? Surely, then, if spiritual existence is a falsehood, life is a mystery. If death and sense comprehend all being, strange is the spectacle of man struggling with sin, shunning the specious evil and seeking the latent good, often faint, yet bravely pursuing an ideal greater than anything within or around him. Strange, too, is that faith which whispers of higher realities, and which has wrought such heroism and repose; which is expressed in maternal resignation and filial trust; which assumes such majesty in the midst of poverty, disease, and pain, and which speaks in lines of kindling promise from the records of the dead. The most intense evils that mingle with life, come from the beating of an immortal nature against its sensuous limits. It is the penumbra of the infinite reality to which it is related, that casts upon the soul its deepest shadow.

I repeat, then, that Spiritual Exisience is the grandest of facts; the highest explanation we can receive, and, for us, an essential explanation of the universe and of human life. The materialist has not only committed an intellectual mistake -he robs and impairs his whole nature. This world, to him, is comparatively barren, and he has no sympathy with any other. He denies the essential existence of God and man. Thus the universe is without a cause, and without an object.

It performs no preliminary work, for there is no succeeding state. It has no moral purpose, for morality rests upon spiritual sanctions. It is not the theatre of a sublime discipline, for there is no good beyond. What, then, are its use and its meaning? Why these wonderful adaptations, this stupendous order, this motion of a glorious and awful Power? Why the pomp of the heavens, and the changing loveliness of the earth; the riches of summer; the grandeur of mountains and oceans; the splendors of sunset and moonrise; this universal, impalpable spirit of beauty which creates an ideal, and provokes a thirst, greater than sense can satisfy? And why these revelations of truth, concentric circles, ever opening outward and deeper, tempting the mind onward for an unending search, yet mocking its proudest acquisitions? It is all a gorgeous enigma, a magnificent toy, producing and destroying, yet working on, in blind, unknowning chance; and we are but flakes of being, projected by a restless necessity out of darkness swift into annihilation! And human life, with its strange mutations and experiences, its melancholy and extatic realities, its shame and its glory, its broken resolutions and its undying hopes, its close clinging to the things of earth, and its gravitation to an unseen sphere, its mysteries of birth and dissolution; what is it, to the materialist, but a satire and a deceit? For him, it has no permanent glory, no solemn depth, no lofty victory. But it is a procession of phantoms vanishing into nothing-a dance of death,' since death has the triumph, and at the end of all is a skeleton!


I remark, again, that the fact of Spiritual Existence gives us the truest view of our fellow man. It shows us our best relations to him, and the conviction of it is necessary to correct the delusions of every day life. We meet him in the market, the street, the church; we come in contact with him in the sordid collisions of traffic; we pass him by in our absorbing selfishness; we are isolated from him by many conventionalisms; we consider him only as related to some sensual or selfish end. But the great bond which connects

their mortal relics, as though it contained them. Can we suppose that the thought which communed with us, the affections that clung to us, the spirit that knew us, sleeps there? Let us, then, consider them as actually in being, as alive, somewhere, in the unseen but immortal realm.

If we habitually cherish this consideration, it will yield many good influences for us. It will relieve the sense of bereavement. After all, the dead have not left that void in existence which we are so apt to feel. They are still linked to us by living ties. The power by which they really communed with us while they were upon the earth, which touched us closer than any bodily peculiarity, survives and is active still. Thus the feeling of loneliness is abated, and the awe of the spiritual world is mingled with a loving confidence. And the thought which will sometimes suggest itself; the thought that the departed are nearer to us, and more aware of us than we know, may not be a mere fancy. The sentiment which has consecrated night as a peculiarly spiritual season, may not be all a delusion. In that still time, the flood of human passion is at rest, and the grosser forms of being are obscured. A dull and drossy weight is lifted from the soul, and we rise more easily to communion with higher realities. Our sympathy with nature, and with things beyond nature, is more quick and refined. We have the view of other worlds, too, rolling in calm splendor through the noon of night; the trackless infinitude of the firmament excites our awe at the vastness in which we stand; and we think of the peopled spaces that lie all around us. These peculiarities of the hour, make more slight the barrier between us and the spiritual world. And who shall say that then the departed may not visit us, unseen by our mortal vision, yet mingling as realities with our dreams; or, unknown though not unfelt by us, touching, as they pass, our wakeful and thoughtful souls! Surely, these suggestions are full of consolation, and of purifying influence.

At all events, I say again, let us con sider the departed as in active being. If Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob-the worthies

us to him is spiritual. The peeled and trampled slave shall tread the stars' as unrestrained as we. The foe whom we dash in pieces in battle, shares with us an endless heritage. The drunkard, steeped in loathsomeness and wrecked in soul, has still in him a spark of immortal life. All earthly distinctions vanish before those of the soul. The barriers of caste, the insignia of rank, dwindle to nothing in the spiritual estimate of man. No inequality can destroy the relationship, the essential likeness between us. Thus, too, we discover the great evil of sin-the worst effect of which is within, and is manifest not in poverty, and pain, and bodily defacement; but in the discrowned faculties, the unworthy love, the low ideal, the brutalized and enslaved spirit. If there is any living spring in reforms then, if there is any force in their appeal, if there is any prospect of a better society, and a sweeter communion here between man and man, it rests upon this fact of spiritual existence.

And this leads me to speak of other relations into which we are brought by this fact. We are associated with beings who are not of this earth. Our real kindred is not with the seen and the temporal, but with the unseen and the eternal. We are denizens of the great region of spiritual life, even as in the Infinite Spirit we live, move, and have our being. And without following other trains of thought which grow out of this fact, I remark that there is a soothing and consolatory influence in contemplating it. I allude to the connection which thus we have with the departed-with those whom we love, but who have vanished from our sight. We should cherish the idea of their actual existence, and speak of them not as dead but living. It is well to retain the recollection of their mortal forms; to put away with tender reverence the bodies in which they were enshrined, and upon which their expression was stamped. But let us not confound them with the tenement from which they have departed, with the garment which they have dropped, with the veil which they have thrown aside forever. Let us not linger around the place which contains

of old,-cluster on the heavenly hills; if Moses wears a glory more celestial than that which he bore from the awful mount; if Elijah is clothed with a radiance brighter than the wheels of his fiery chariot; if Stephen's face still shines like an angel's, but is mingled now with no hue of death; if all these are existent yet, because God is not a God of the dead, but of the living,' let us feel that even the least find a home somewhere in the hospitable universe, and in the sustaining Omnipresence of the Father.

Finally, this fact of Spiritual Existence furnishes the highest motive of conduct, and suggests the great purpose of our individual being. If we are really spirits, bound to this destiny, linked to this lofty relationship, how should we live? Surely, not as creatures of mere sense-as those to whom this earth is all, or who are to dwell among earthly associations forever. But we should set up some higher aim than pleasure of the senses, or worldly aggrandizement. Instead of wasting our opportunities in frivolous thoughts, or sordid uses, we should live worthy our high vocation, training ourselves for our permanent sphere of action, employing this world for an end beyond itself.

How great, then, is this fact of Spiritual Existence! What a solemn grandeur it imparts to life! What significance to its discipline! And what an interest it gives to the swift passage of our mortal being! Every day these shores of time change before our eyes. Every day we are drifting into more unearthly latitudes, and feel the breathings of immortal air. And our existence, then, is ceaseless! Through the dusky gates of the grave, out into the invisible realm, through the passages of eternity, this being of ours flows on forever! It is a familiar, yet it is a startling truth, that we are denizens of the immortal world, and frail as is this our crumbling tabernacle, humble as is our station here, enthralled as we are by the flesh, we shall never die! The stars that roll in glory far above us, and that have stood out so long upon the firmament like figures on the dial of eternity, shall fade and disappear. But we, who tremble at their greatness, and thirst for their

secrets, shall pass and live beyond them. Feel the beatings of your heart! It counts off the moments of its own mechanism, for they are numbered; bnt the throbbings of your thought shall never cease. Observe the seal which time stamps upon your brow! He claims all this mortal temple for his own; but the soul that inhabits it is not mortgaged to time. Your eyes, perhaps, are growing dim with age. They are organs of sense, and with the senses must perish: but that which now looks through them shall gaze upon immortal years. Familiar as is this fact of spiritual existence, do we live in the realization of it?

But, by what I have said, I would not countenance the humors of a sick fancy, or justify the visions of a strained idealism. This world is no unreality. It is real; for here spirit acts, and is acted upon. Human life is not a phantom-show, a mere cataract of being descending from unseen heights and disappearing into unfathomable depths; but it is an intense fact, a real scene; for Christ has descended into it, and passed through its experience; and by it is wrought out the sacred discipline of our nature. We should not consider this life as worthless, and make the next the sole object of our anxiety. No; the great fact is this-that we are spiritual beings here that there is no sharp separation between this state and the other. To live well and truly, to live according to our highest ideal here, to follow now the great Example, constitutes that divine action, that living unto God, which is the true glory of immortality. In such manner, then, let us live; so, when called hence, we shall feel that we are passing into no inhospitable and gloomy region, but that wherever we may dwell, we shall still live unto God, supported by Omnipotence, cared for by Infinite Wisdom and solicitude, furnished from the stores of inexhaustible Love.

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Bunsen, the great German religious writer and profound critic, not many months dead, in his work, "Gott in der Geschichte," (God in History,) has some remarkable, but perhaps not altogether unreasonable opinions concerning the proph- to Channing, has been justly pronounced "The testimonial rendered by Bunsen ets not only of the Bible, but of all times. by a generous French writer, a most sol For him the prophets are truly inspired, emn eulogy, breathing a profound venera not so much by literal and supernatural tion and ardent emotion means as by a profound faith in God, who to a man whose principles were profounda just tribute governs the world, and in the ultimate tri-ly pious and largely liberal. We transumph of all good. This faith, profound, and in that regard infallible, becomes a sort of clairvoyance in the souls of these great believers. They are tribunes of God, witnesses for him, of the acts of history; censors of humanity, authorized organs of Providence, austere representatives of duty, and seers of the future.

late from Bunsen.

been theologians, hermits, philosophers, mystics, religious poets, and preachers, reformers, and the continuers of the reformation, and among the rest, the two noble Christians of our own day, Schleirmacher and Channing.


Channing sustained his principles among "Indefatigable, intrepid and popular, his compatriots, by his words and his writings, and they cannot too highly value the influence of his personality among Christians of the English language. This man who looked with suspicion upon the old Unitarian school of England and the United States, whom Calvinists and Methodists held in aversion; whom the partisans of slavery feared and hated, as much for his moderation and his calmness, as for his accomplished eloquence; who recalled

God who operates in the present, who has operated incessantly in the history of the world, has he not in all times his prophets? Are there not always elect souls who are more than others, conscious of the action of God? Who at every epoch in theology, in art, poetry, politics, the most perfect models. This man is even, have the sentiment of something ne-honored to-day in his vast country, so few cessary to bedone for the good of human-years after his death, as a grand Chrisity, and the feeling that that something tian character, as a man of God, as a God requires of them? If this be so, who prophet of the Christian conscience in the are the prophets of our own troubled day future. This man is destined to exercise and country, and where are their utter a growing influence upon the United ances to be heard? for surely they are States; they strive to imitate his spiritual sorely needed now. Bunsen gives a brilliant and glorious list of men whom he manner of interpreting Christianity, considers the prophets of all the centuries. of practicing it. as well as his austere and positive manner The list seems odd and fanciful, but there is at the bottom some truth in his claims. God speaks at all times, by men of great conscientiousness and great faith. Men who speak to crowds in his name, rousing and moving them by strong and earnest religious appeals, are his ministers, his agents; unfaithful at times they may be, always imperfect, yet often inspired by the Spirit which is stirring their own consciences, and rendered capable of great efforts and acts of great devotion. This spirit, or rather this conscience, acts in all the Christian churches, but manifests itself with extraordinary power in certain individuals. Among these prophets have


with the heart of a disciple of Christ; he Channing is an antique personage, knew how to be a man like a Greek, a citizen like a Roman, a Christian like an apostle.

"If such man whose life and conduct, according to the testimony of all his fellow-citizens, corresponded with the Christian severity of his words, was spent without reproach, is not a Christian prophet, a witness of the presence of God in humanity, who ever was one? Theologically, his thought, fundamental and prophetic, is, that the Christian community has, for its sole foundation, Jesus Christ and his gospel, interpreted and felt by the in

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