The Resurrection of Christ the Hope of the World—An Easter Thought.
THE LESSON—That death is but the doorway between the earthly life and the heavenly life of the believer.
There is no new thought or theory concerning the dead in Christ. The most profound thinkers of the ages consider death as the entrance to a future life. The illustration here presented has been employed in various forms, but is given with the hope that it may, at Easter, help someone to a clearer conception of the reward which awaits the faithful.
"James Russell Lowell, dwelling upon the darkness of the cloud of sorrow which death brings into the home, wrote:
"'Console, if you will, I can bear it,
'Tis a well-meant alms of breath;
But not all the preaching since Adam
Has made Death other than Death!'
"How true! And God intended it should be so. Surely, it is His desire that we should love to live in the earth which He has given us. Surely, it is His desire that we should love those who are about us, and that we should mourn when the earthly parting comes. And yet, 'it is impossible,' as Jonathan Swift has said, 'that anything so natural, so necessary and so universal as death should ever have been designed by Providence as an evil to mankind.' With this thought, we may lift our faces once more, and as we dry our tears, forget the problems, the sorrows and the triumphs of earth as we ask ourselves the question, 'What shall we be in the coming ages?' Compared with this question, all others sink into insignificance. Science, discovery, commercial achievement, social problems, the rise and fall of nations—all come to us and claim attention, but we brush them aside as we repeat, with passionate earnestness: What shall we be—we, ourselves—in the coming time?
"No matter how long we ask the question, no matter how earnestly we seek the solution, we shall not be satisfied with an answer, for God has not intended that we should know. The Apostle John, 'whom Jesus loved,' admits that 'it doth not yet appear what we shall be.'
"Does it mean, then, that we should look ahead, and see nothing before us but the grave—the end of all? [Draw the grave, the headstone, and the word, "Death," with black, completing Fig. 39.]
"Perhaps the disciples, their hearts bowed down with grief and disappointment, held this thought as they saw the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea sealed upon the body of their beloved Master. But three days pass, and lo!—all is changed! The stone is rolled away and Christ has risen! How the message spreads! He is with them once again, and blessed days they are! But it is not for long, for heaven receives Him from their sight. Clearly, then, came to them again His words, 'I go to prepare a place for you, that where I am ye may be also.' What! They, too? Yes, for did he not say, also, 'Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in which all that are in their graves shall hear His voice and come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life.'
"Today, there comes to us anew the revelation of the truth which came to the disciples on that wonderful resurrection morn. True, it may be that our pathway may lead more quickly than we think to this place which we call the grave. [Draw pathway to the grave.] True, there is a wall between human vision and the mysterious beyond. [Draw the wall.] But true, also, and gloriously true, is it that the grave opens to us the mysteries beyond the wall. [Draw line to change headstone to door]—while the pathway leads to—what? We can only suggest it here, with a few feeble lines. [Draw distant city, in red, using orange for rays of light. Add the word "Life," completing Fig. 40.]
"Someone has said that the night of life is the dawn of peace. Browning says that 'you never know what life means till you die.' Another has said, 'The dead are glad in heaven; the living 'tis that weep.' And all, though they point to the pathway beyond the wall as that toward which we should push forward, are firm in the knowledge that the earthly pathway of peace and love is more essential than this, for without it we cannot reach the other. 'There is but one way to get ready for immortality,' says Van Dyke, 'and that is to love this life, and live it as bravely and cheerfully and faithfully as we can.' And I know it is our prayer that we may do this in the fullness of the meaning of the words."
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