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for all the stations which he occupied, for all the relations which he formed in social life, and in the church. And these, in general, become so many sources of remorse. Generally speaking, it is not separation from the world merely which renders death an object of horror; it is the idea of the account which must be given in, when we leave it. If nothing else were at stake, but merely to prepare for removing out of the world, a small degree of reflection, a little philosophy, a little fortitude might answer the purpose. What is the amount of human life, especially to a man arrived at a certain period of existence? What delight can an old inan find in society, after his memory is decayed, after his senses are blunted, after the fire of imagination is extinguished, when he is from day to day losing one faculty after another, when he is reduced so low as to be the object of forbearance at most, if not that of universal disgust and dereliction ? But the idea of fourscore years past in hostility against God, but the idea of a thousand crimes starting into light, and calling for vengeance; by their number and their atrocity exciting a fearful looking for of judgmentthis, this presents a just ground of terror and astonishment.
But all such terrors disappear in the eyes of Simeon; he knows the end for which this child was born, whom he now holds in his arms: he directs his eyes, beyond the cradle, to his cross; by means of the prophetic illumination which was upon him, he perceives this Christ of God making his soul an offering for sin, Isa, lüi. 10. He expects not, as did his worldly-minded countrymen, a temporal kingdom ; he forms far juster ideas of the glory of the Messiah ; he contemplates him spoiling principalities and powcrs, making a shew of them openly, nailing them to his cross, Col. ii. 15. Let us not be accused of having derived these ideas from the schools, and from our course of theological study: no, we deduce this all important truth immediately from the substance of the gospel. Ponder seriously, I beseech you, what Simeon himself says to Mary, as he shewed to her the infant Jesus: “Behold this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against : yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,” Luke ii. 34, 35.
What could be meant by that sword with which the mother of our Lord was to have her soul pierced through? That anguish, undoubtedly, which she should undergo, on seeing her Son nailed to a cross. What an object for a mother's eye! Who among you, my brethren, has concentrated every anxious care, every tender affection on one darling object, say a beloved child, whom he fondly looks to, as his consolation in adversity, as the glory of his family, as the support of his feeble old age ? Let him be supposed to feel what no power of language is able to express : let bim put bimself in the place of Mary, let that beloved child be supposed in the place of Jesus Christ : faint image still of the conflict which nature is preparing for that tender mother : feeble coinmentary on the words of Simeon to Mary, yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul ab.
so. Mary must lose that Son whose birth was announced to her by an angel from heaven; that Son on whose advent the celestial hosts descended to congratulate the listening earth ; that son whom so many perfections, whom such ardour of charity, whom benefits so innumerable should have for ever endeared to mankind : already she represents to herself that frightful solitude, that state of universal desertion in which the soul finds itself, when, having been bereaved of all that it held dear, it feels as if the whole world were dead, as if nothing else remained in the vast universe, as if every thing that communicated motion and life had been annihilated.
And through what a path was she to behold this Son departing out of the world! By a species of martyrdom, the bare idea of which scares the imagination. She beholds those bountiful hands which had so frequently fed the hungry, which had performed so many miracles of mercy, pierced through with nails : she beholds that royal head, which would have shed lustre on the diadem of the universe, crowned with thorns, and that arm, destined to wield the sceptre of the world, bearing a reed, the emblem of mock-majesty ; she beholds that Temple in which dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, Col. ii. 9. with all his wisdom, with all his illumination, with all his justice, with all his mercy, with all the perfections which enter into the notion of the supreme Being; she beholds it assaulted with a profane hatchet, and an impious spear : she hears the voices of the children of Edomn crying aloud, concerning this au
gust habitation of the Most High, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.
But if, even then, while she beholds Jesus expiring, she could have been permitted to approach him, to comfort him, to collect the last sigh of that departing spirit! Could she but have embraced that dearly beloved Son, to bathe him with her tears, and bid him a last farewell ! Could she but for a few moments have stopped that precious fluid draining off in copious streams, and consuming the sad remains of exhausted nature! Could she but have been permitted to support that sacred, sinking head, and to pour balm into his wounds! But she must submit to the hand of violence; she too is borne down by the power of darkness, Luke xxii. 53. She has nothing to present to the expiring sufferer but unavailing solicitude, and fruitless tears: a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also : Simeon understood, then, the mystery of the cross: he looked to the efficacy of that blood which was to be shed by the Redeemer whom he now held in his arms, and under that holy impression exclaims, “ Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”
3. Finally, Simeon no longer feels an attachment to this world, from any doubt or suspicion he entertained respecting the doctrine of a life to come. He is now at the very fountain of life, and all that now remains is to be set free from a mortal body, in order to attain immortality. We may deduce, from the preparations of grace, a conclusion nearly similar to that which we draw from the preparations of
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nature, in order to establish the doctrine of a future state of eternal felicity. How magnificent are the preparations which nature makes! What glory do they promise after death! The author of our being has endowed the human soul with an unbounded capacity of advancing from knowledge to knowledge, from sensation to sensation. I make free here to borrow the thought of an illustrious modern author:* “ A
* perpetual circulation,” says he, same objects, were they subject to no other incon
venience, would be sufficient to give us a disgust “ of the world. When a man has beheld frequent
ly re-iterated vicissitudes of day and night, of summer and winter, of spring and autumn; in a word, “of the different appearances of nature, what is " there, here below. capable of satisfying the mind? “I am well aware,” adds he,“ how brilliant, how
magnificent this spectacle is, I know how possible “ it is to indulge in it with a steady and increasing
delight: but I likewise know that, at length, the “continual recurrence of the same images cloys the
imagination, which is eagerly looking forward to “the removal of the curtain, that it may contem
plate new scenes, of which it can catch only a con“fused glimpse in the dark perspective of futurity. “ Death, in this point of view, is a transition merely " from one scene of enjoyment to another. If pre“sent objects fatigue and excite disgust, it is only in “ order to prepare the soul for enjoying, more ex
quisitely, pleasures of a different nature, ever new, “and ever satisfying." * Mentor, tom. iii. Disc. cxli. p. 340.