Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sins, it shall die.
The Christian Church has celebrated for more than a thousand years an annual festival in honour of all its saints. It thus extended to a large number of persons a memorial that was at first confined to its distinguished champions, its confessors and historic names. There was some. thing beautiful — may we not say generous? — in such an observance. It thus embraces the whole congregation of those who have been severed from this world's joy, and rest from its labours. It recognises no distinction of rank or belief or fortune in those who dwell no longer in the flesh, but have passed to their account. It considers only the sympathies of a common nature and the fellowship of death. This is called the day of the dead; and with a pathetic specialty each one is expected to bear upon his heart the recollection of his own dead. Care is taken that no one of the lost shall be forgotten, though separated by distance of time and become dim to the memory, and whatever changes of relationship and transfers of affection may have come between. This anniversary suggests something better than the revival of former sorrows, however affectionate or sacred. It does not lead us in the train of any sad procession, but rather lifts up the heart to worship the universal Father of spirits. "Behold, all souls are Mine, saith the Lord God." They are His, whether confined in the flesh or delivered from its burden; for whether one or the other, "all live unto Him." They are His, with whatever degrees of capacity He has endowed them, small and great, weak and strong, to whatever trials of condition He has appointed them, the happy and the afflicted; in whatever degree they have acknowledged, or refused to acknowledge, that Divine ownership. It is not true, that the empire of the Omnipotent is divided, and a portion of its moral subjects cut off from its regard; whether by the power of an adversary or the change of death. He has not given away His possession, or any part of it, to another. "Behold, all souls are Mine, saith the Lord." And it is not true that the Gospel sets itself forth for only a partial redemption; that for a few elect ones only its wonders were wrought, and its angels appeared, and its spirit was poured out, and its testimony spread everywhere abroad. It was to reconcile the world to God that its great Witness suffered and rose. While on earth, He chose the despised for His companions; He called the sinful to His offered grace. The faith that He bequeathed when He ascended shows a like condescension, carries on the same benignant design. It deals kindly with the afflicted, the humble, — with those who are most in need of such treatment, and those who are least accustomed to it. It repels none. It despairs of none. It opens one faith, one hope. It instructs the living in its truth, that knows no distinction among them, and it gathers the dead under the protection of its unfailing promises. If, therefore, we would commemorate this day of All-Souls, what has been said may serve to give those thoughts their proper direction. Let us first remember the souls of such as were once in our company, but "were not suffered to continue by reason of death"; or of such as we never personally knew, but who have yet always had a life in our revering minds. We may salute them anew in their far-off state, and be the better for doing so. We do not know what that state is, and need not know. We may trust them to the care of Him who has said, "All souls are Mine." Let us repent ourselves afresh of any neglect or injustice that we may have committed in regard to them. Let us revive in our hearts the sense of all that endeared them to us. Let us prove more ready and less fearful for the end, as we treasure up the admonitions which their loss occasioned. Let us find that dim future not so void as it was, since they have gone before to inhabit it. And after we have performed this duty, another that is more important remains. It is as amiable as that, and has a broader practical reach than that. Let us remember the souls of those who are walking with us a similar course of probation and mortality, surrounded like ourselves with difficulties, exposures, infirmities, fears, and sorrows; equally, perhaps, though differently beset. Let us call to view our common frailties, our mutual obligations. Let us forgive if we have aught against any.
(N. L. Frothingham.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.