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of the former, and the broken hopes of the latter. As a husband, father, friend, the qualities of Mr. Ashmead were but emanations from the higher and nobler character, which distinguished him as a Christian and a minister. Such a Christian and such a minister could not fail to exhibit, in the social and domestic circles, those qualities, which not only endear but adorn, the husband, the father and the friend. His virtues commanded respect, and won esteem; while the affability and gentleness of his manners, the sweetness and serenity of his temper, his cheerful and cordial conversation, his pure and humble spirit, recommended him as a companion and a model. The strength of his affections and the extreme delicacy of his feelings were known to but few. "I have been a sensitive being," said he, “and my feelings have been but little understood.” His modest and retiring manners, veiled from the casual observer much of the loveliness of his character. Yet withal, he was fearless in the discharge of duty, and uniformly opposed injustice, with a determined purpose. To his widow he has left the bright example of a Christian life,
a and the more glorious and precious consolations of a Christian death-bed. To her, as a pious mother, he has entrusted that example and those consolations, as the rich and affecting bequest of a dying father to the little children, whom he loved. By her, the wife of his confidence and affections, we feel assured, that these treasures of a husband's character, will be preserved as a sacred patrimony for his children, and as a pledge of their re-union in that world of glorified spirits, where sorrow and tears are unknown, but the purity and bliss of angels and seraphs become the eternal inheritance of the redeemed.
The death of such a man is a heavy loss to the community, who expected so much from his life. The death of such a minister, is a season for fasting and prayer, to the people whom he served. The death of such a scholar is consecrated by the tears, and embalmed in the memory of Literature. The death of such a husband, father, friend, clothes in mourning the forms that he loved, and banishes smiles from the faces which were ever wont to rejoice when he rejoiced.
But the death of such a man, such a minister, such a scholar, of such a husband, father, friend, is full of consolation to those who survive; as it is full of glory and happiness to him. Theirs is a loss, that can last but a few years, for they also must die: but his we are assured, is an eternal gain. They continue in a state of temptation, of trial, of sorrow; while he has passed through the valley of the shadow of death, to the bosom of his Father and their Father, of his God and their God. They, indeed, now sorrow, because they shall behold his face no more; but when their corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and their mortal shall have put on immortality, if it be given them to enter, as we trust he has, into the rest prepared for the people of God, then shall they behold him again, clothed in the glorified form, and beaming love from the seraph countenance of the just man made perfect.
JOB XI. 7, 8, 9.
“Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty
unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell ; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.”
The text teaches us, that the Deity is a being altogether incomprehensible. The words imply, that we can no more discover the mode of the divine subsistence, and develope the nature of the divine perfections, than we can measure the vault of heaven, or explore the lowest abysses of the earth.
It is told of Simonides, a distinguished ancient poet and philosopher, that, when asked by Hiero, king of Syracuse, the question, “ What is God ?” he desired to have a day for reflection, before he undertook to reply. On the following day, the query was repeated, and two days more were requested; at the expiration of which, Simonides again doubled the time which he demanded for consideration. At length, Hiero, growing impatient, inquired why he acted in this manner. “ Because," answered the candid pagan, “ because the
66 longer I examine the subject, the more obscure it becomes.”
Many have supposed, that the necessity of an intelligent First Cause is so obvious, that, had Jehovah made no direct revelation of himself to man, we should yet have been able, by the exercise of the mental faculties with which he has endued us, to arrive at a knowledge of bis existence. In fact the possibility of learning something in respect to the being and attributes of God, independently of the disclosures contained in his word, has been assumed by not a few able writers, as an incontestable truth. Thus the eminently profound and discriminating Calvin commences the third chapter of the first book of his Institutes with this confident assertion, “ We lay it down as a position not to be controverted, that the mind of man even by natural instinct has some sense of a Deity.” We may add, that the apostle Paul himself has been thought to favour the opinion of which we speak, when he says, “ The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” This passage has been understood as implying, that on the works of creation the great Architect has impressed the fact of his existence in lines so broad and conspicuous, that they cannot fail to attract the notice of every being who has eyes to see, and an intellect to consider and comprehend.
There are those, however, who, after a close and patient investigation of the subject, have been led to doubt, if not to deny, that man, without the assistance of revelation, would have known any thing respecting his Maker. They look upon the language of Paul just quoted, as too ambiguous to be relied on for the support of the opinion which they reject, while there are various considerations which incline them to a contrary supposition. We shall here offer one or two remarks on this point, but without taking upon us to decide it.
That the numberless indications of design and contrivance which pervade the works of God, are an evidence of his existence, is certain. The argument with which we combat the Atheist, when we point him to the universe which he inhabits, and of which he is a part, and demand of him how a structure so stupendous and magnificent, and so admirably fitted to the accomplishment of wise and benevolent ends, should have originated without an intelligent agent,is unquestionably a sound one. On this point, let it be carefully observed, there is no difference of opioion. It is conceded on both sides, that, “the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth bis handy-work." The question is not whether those who are already acquainted with a Deity, may discover in the fabric of nature numerous and striking tokens of his being, but whether these tokens would be sufficient to arrest the attention, and force conviction on the minds of those who were entirely ignorant of the fact. Phenomena which appear singularly conclusive to persons whose belief in the divine existence has been previously established, might make no impression whatever, or, at best, only a feeble and transitory impression on individuals, who had never before heard or thought of a God. To discern the evidence which sustains a known truth, is a very different thing from the discovery of a truth that was wholly unknown. It is, at the present day, no very hard matter to demonstrate those physical laws which govern the revolutions of the solar and planetary orbs. And yet how many ages of the most profound ignorance had been slumbered away, before Newton, by the efforts of his splendid genius, ascertained and elucidated the simple but sublime prin