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VOICES OF THE DEAD.
By Rev. ORVILLE DEWEY, D. D.
PRINTED FOR THE
American Unitarian Association.
118 WASHINGTON STREET.
Price 3 Cents.
VOICES OF THE DEAD.
“ And by it he, being dead, yet speaketh.”
HEB. xi. 4.
This is a record of virtue that existed six thousand years ago ; but which yet liveth in its memory, and speaketh in its example. "Abel," it is written, "offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts ; and by it he, being dead, yet speaketh.” How enduring is the memorial of goodness! It is but a sentence, which is read in a moment, it is but a leaf from the scroll of time ; and yet it is borne on the breath of ages, – it takes the attributes of universality and eternity, - it becomes a heritage, from family to family, among all the dwellings of the world.
But it is not Abel alone, the accepted worshipper and martyred brother, that thus speaks to us. The world is filled with the voices of the dead. They speak not from the public records of the great world only, but from the private history of our own experience. They speak to us in a thousand remembrances, in a thousand incidents, events,
associations. They speak to us, not only from their silent graves, but from the throng of life. Though they are invisible, yet life is filled with their presence. They are with us by the silent fireside and in the secluded chamber ; they are with us in the paths of society, and in the crowded assembly of men. They speak to us from the lonely way-side, and they speak to us from the venerable walls that echo to the steps of a multitude, and to the voice of prayer. Go where we will, the dead are with us. We live, we converse, with those who once lived and conversed with us. Their well remembered tone mingles with the whispering breezes, with the sound of the falling leaf, with the jubilee shout of the spring-time. The earth is filled with their shadowy train.
But there are more substantial expressions of the presence of the dead with the living. The earth is filled with the labors, the works, of the dead. Almost all the literature in the world, the discoveries of science, the glories of art, the ever-during temples, the dwelling-places of generations, the comforts and improvements of life, the languages, the maxims, the opinions of the living, the very framework of society, the institutions of nations, the fabrics of empire, all are the works of the dead ; by these, they who'are dead yet speak. Life, — busy, eager, craving, importunate, absorbing life, - yet what is its sphere, compared with the empire of death! What, in other words, is the sphere of visible, compared with the mighty empire of invisible, life! A moment in time; a speck in immensity ; a shadow amidst enduring and unchangeable realities ; a breath of existence amidst the ages and regions of undying life! They live, -- they live