Saturday, February 23, 2013

1868 - Let Not Death Surprise You

Memphis Daily Appeal
June 15 1868

A Voice from the Noisome Pestilence

The Angel of Death has for some months past hovered its dark wings over our city--the pestilence has breathed its fatal breath upon the face of many a familiar friend, and their bodies rest now in that beautiful "city of the dead," Elmwood.  Their voices still linger where once their countenances smiled, and they speak to us in tones too solemn to pass unheeded.  My friends, my relatives, let not death surprise you as it has overtaken me and snatched me from the walks of men. Prepare for the hour no less certain to you than to me, though it hath placed its seal upon my brow."

It is a momentous question--that thought of transition by a way that we know not into another state of existence.  None save the foolhardy or visionary can say they dread not the the terror of initiation into the great unknown.  Surely times like these visitations are sent, among other reasons, to bring us to study the problem of our present life, and to search for light upon that state of being which lies beyond the grave.  While the idea of annihilation in modern times is nearly ignored, still, outside of revelation there are few satisfactory answers given to those who discard the promises and knowledge that Christ left with his followers.  If they read and trust they have naught to fear; but how few the number, even of Christians, who realize an understanding of his victory over death and the grave.

The unfinished development of the mental faculties, and their ever grasping for something "they have not and cannot obtain," is one proof that here the life of mind is incorruptible, or else a wise Creator has mocked his creatures with torturing aspirations.  The stretch of the moral sensibilities to attain to a proper and permanent code of action, is another proof that we are working onward to some stage a great way before us.

And as a future existence seems to await the noble aspiring, the perpetrator and enactor of crimes is unable to design or execture in proportion to his desire and will to sin; for the same reason there must be a stage of action upon which his powers for working evil may expand, and scope for their display.  But evil or good brings its own reward to the actor.  Our sensibilities to feel will be intensified, and the wicked will be miserable in proportion as the good are happy from their deeds if, indeed, we live a life to come.  This what concerns you and I to settle, "whether if a man die shall he live again," where, and how.  Is there not light somewhere that can extricate us from this mystery and suspense.  Let us seek the aid of revelation, reason, and the testimony of those who, dying, left a parting word, and decide at once what we are and whither we are tending.  Heed the kindly voice of the pestilence and delay not to await another fearful warning.  When the dread devourer comes again it will be for you and I to go, and not our friends.

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