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CONSOLATION FOR THE LONELY.
THERE is a land where beauty cannot fade,
Nor sorrow dim the eye;
Where true love shall not droop, nor be dismay'd,
And none shall ever die!
Where is that land, oh where?
For I would hasten there!
For I am wearied with a heavy woe!
The true, the tender, from my path are gone!
Oh guide me with thy hand,
If thou dost know that land,
For I am burden'd with oppressive care,
Friend, thou must trust in Him who trod before
Must bear in meekness as he meekly bore
Yet tarried out for thee the appointed woe:
Yet how he pray'd, unaided and alone,
In that great agony, "Thy will be done!"
Friend, do not thou despair,
Christ from his heaven of heavens will hear thy
RELIGION THE BEST SUPPORT AMIDST THE DISTRESSES OF LIFE.
CONSIDER religion in the light of consolation, as bringing aid and relief to us, amidst the distresses of life. Here it incontestably triumphs; and its happy effects in this respect, furnish a strong argument to every benevolent mind, for wishing them to be further diffused throughout the world. For, without the belief and hope afforded by divine revelation, the circumstances of man are extremely forlorn. He finds himself placed here as a stranger in a vast universe, where the powers and opera. tions of nature are very imperfectly known; where both the beginnings and the issues of things are involved in mysterious darkness: where he is unable to discover, with any certainty, whence he sprung, or for what purpose he was brought into this state of existence; whether he be subjected to the government of a mild, or of a wrathful ruler; what construction he is to put on many of the dispensations of his providence; and what his fate is to be when he departs hence. What a disconsolate situation to a serious, inquiring mind! The greater degree of virtue it possesses, its sensibility is likely to be the more oppressed by this burden of labouring thought. Even though it were in one's power to banish all uneasy thought, and to fill up the hours of life with perpetual amusement; life so filled up would, upon reflection, appear poor and trivial. But these are far from being the terms upon which man is brought into this world. He is conscious that his being is frail and feeble; he sees himself beset with various dangers, and is ex
posed to many a melancholy apprehension, from the evils which he may have to encounter before he arrives at the close of life. In this distressed condition, to reveal to him such discoveries of the Supreme Being as the Christian religion affords, is to reveal to him a father and a friend; is to let in a ray of the most cheering light upon the darkness of the human estate. He who was before a destitute orphan, wandering in the inhospitable desert, has now gained a shelter from the bitter and inclement blast. He now knows to whom to pray, and in whom to trust; where to unbosom his sorrows, and from what hand to look for relief.
It is certain, that when the heart bleeds from some wound of recent misfortune, nothing is of equal efficacy with religious comfort. It is of power to enlighten the darkest hour, and to assuage the severest woe, by the belief of a divine favour, and the prospect of a blessed immortality. In such hopes, the mind expatiates with joy; and when bereaved of its earthly friends, solaces itself with the thoughts of one Friend, who will never forsake it. -Refined reasonings, concerning the nature of the human condition, and the improvement which philosophy teaches us to make of every event, may entertain the mind when it is at ease; may, perhaps, contribute to soothe it, when slightly touched with sorrow; but when it is torn with any sore distress, they are cold and feeble, compared with a direct promise from the word of God. This is an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast. This has given consolation and refuge to many a virtuous heart, at a time when the most cogent reasonings would have proved utterly unavailing.
Upon the approach of death especially, when, if
a man thinks at all, his anxiety about his future interests must naturally increase, the power of religious consolation is sensibly felt. Then appears, in the most striking light, the high value of the discoveries made by the gospel; not only life and immortality revealed, but a mediator with God dis covered; mercy proclaimed, through him, to the frailties of the penitent and the humble; and His presence promised to be with them when they are passing through the valley of the shadow of death, in order to bring them safe into unseen habitations of rest and joy. Here is ground for their leaving the world with comfort and peace. But in this severe and trying period, this labouring hour of nature, how shall the unhappy man support himself, who knows not, or believes not, the hope of religion? Secretly conscious to himself, that he has not acted his part as he ought to have done, the sins of his past life arise before him in sad remem brance. He wishes to exist after death, and yet dreads that existence. The Governor of the world is unknown. He cannot tell whether every endea vour to obtain His mercy may not be in vain. All is awful obscurity around him; and in the midst of endless doubts and perplexities, the trembling reluctant soul is forced away from the body. As the misfortunes of life must, to such a man, have been most oppressive; so its end is bitter: his sun sets in a dark cloud; and the night of death closes over his head full of misery.
It is not when the parting breath, we watch with anxious heart,
It is not in the hour of death, when those we love depart,
Nor yet when laid upon the bier, we follow slow the corse,
And leave it in its dwelling dark, that most we feel the loss.
When past the last, the solemn rite, and dust to dust hath gone,
And in its wonted channell'd course, the stream of time rolls on,
Oh, who can tell how drear the space, once fill'd by those most dear,
When viewed the scenes which they have loved, and all but they are here!
This deep, this heart-felt loneliness, this quietness of grief,
Falls heavier on the flower of joy, than tempests strong but brief,
Though whirlwinds tear the blossom fair, yet still the stem may thrive,
But wintry night's chill with'ring blight scarce leaves the root alive.
Yet as our earthly pleasures fade, if plants of purer peace
Spring in our bosom's wilderness, and nurtured there increase,
And humble hope, and holy fear, our wounded bosoms fill,
They'll teach us all the blessedness of yielding to his will.