« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
THE CALL OF BEREAVEMENT. Have you ever sat beside the dying bed of one round whom your heart-strings were closely twined, and watched the herald-symptoms of approaching dissolution crowd in quick succession over the face and form you so loved through life to look upon, till the last struggle was over, the last sigh ceased, and all was still? Have you ever been alone in the room with the dead, and amidst the oppressive silence which reigns in the chamber of death; felt your inmost soul bowed within you, before the appalling majesty of the presence of this King of terrors ? Or have you ever stood beside the grave of some beloved one, and heard that fearful sound which strikes at least a momentary death-chill into the hardest heart-the sound that rises from the coffin-lid, announcing the return of dust to dust, earth to earth? And have you in moments like these heard no knocking at the door of your heart?
THE CONTINUED CALL.
Listen! is there no voice this moment pleading with your soul? no voice that asks whether you have not spent sufficient time in barring the door of your heart against its rightful Sovereign, in shutting him out from that place in your affections which he has purchased at no less a price than his own blood ?
If you now hear his voice, I conjure you by all that is endearing in his love, and terrible in his wrath -- by the heaven of his smile, and the hell of his frown-do not, by refusing or delaying to open the door, and receive him, virtually say, “Go thy way for this time: when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.”
A FRIGHTENED DISCIPLE. A FRIGHTENED disciple! But the very best authority has testified that “the righteous are as bold as a lion;" and one was once known to say, “ I will not fear though the earth be removed and the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea." Then the one I saw could not have been near akin to the one just named. But my readers will use their own judgments when I have given them the case.
1. He was frightened by a cloud! The precious privileges of the Sabbath would commence in an hour or two. But that cloud! It did not look good-natured. There was no thunder nor lightning about it: but then there might be water; and if there was, and if it should let the dwellers below know it by an actual descent of the drops, and he should happen to be one of the number, how lamentable! He get wet! It was a terrific thought. I have read of an ancient disciple who was "a night and a day in the deep,” and a good soaking he must have got by it. And he was not frightened, either. It would take more water than there was in all the ocean to frighten him. But the danger, not very pressing either, of a little sprinkling, did the work for the man I am noticing, and therefore I cannot but think there was a fearful distance between him and Paul.
2. Hard words gave our disciple a fright. Wicked men know how to use this kind of weapon against faithful saints, and the disciple in my eye had it tried upon bim; and it made him droop. He was evidently alarmed, for he took some things back, both true and good, which he had said, and shrunk from doing others which the Bible and conscience both urged him to do. I wish he could have had a campaign with the apostle Paul. Hard words, like flints upon steel
, did but strike out the fire in that good old soldier's soul. They roused bim, as nettles would a lion ; not to give hard words back again, but to love and pray the more for his enemies, and to go the more zealously onward in his Master's cause.
If hard words could have frightened Paul, he would have been in a fright the most part of his life; but who can shew me the instance in which they gave him alarm ?
4. A proposed charitable collection gave our disciple something of a fright. It was thought that he bore such a relation to one who had sent him word that it was more blessed to give than to receive," and who had
set the example to the blessedness of giving, in that “he gave himself for us;" it was thought the disciple would have felt that such a relation to such a giver would have made charitable giving a very pleasant affair, and that there could have been nothing frightful about it. But it seems that any blessedness in giving -to say nothing about more—was not a matter he well understood; and the example of his Lord, it was to him but a dimly-seen star, and, in fact, not often in his horizon at all
. Hence he was uneasy if a collector or a contribution box was on a pilgrimage in his vicinity. I never heard that he made a bodily escape in terror on any such occasion, but his soul had wings and fled from the object whose claims were presented. And if his soul was as empty as the charity box would be if all were like him, a very small pair of wings would suffice to carry so small and empty a soul from the regions of benevolence.
I have only one thing more to say about the frightened disciple, and that is, I wondered he was not frightened out of his hope. Duties, one after another, went overboard in his alarm; and supposing that hope was part and parcel of the same bundle, I expected that would go overboard too. But scared as he often was, and many a Christian grace as he dropped in his haste, he continued, somehow or other, to hang on upon hope. But he might as well let it go. And I mean to tell him, if ever he gets so alarmed as to seek to relieve the ship by casting any duties of religion he happens to have on board into the sea, that he had better send hope after them as quickly as possible. Hope has no business out of their company. They sink or swim together.
LETTER TO A FRIEND IN AFFLICTION.
“ Tay way, O God, is in the sea, and thy paths in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.” “All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies." “ Clouds and darkness are round about him ; righteous
ness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.” “What thou knowest not now, thou shalt know hereafter."
MY DEAR AFFLICTED FRIEND,—The painful tidings which have just reached me are the occasion of my sending you a few lines, instead of calling to-day, as I was on the point of doing, in compliance with your request—trusting to see you shortly, if the Lord permit. How deeply we all sympathise with you, my dear friend, under this renewed afflictive dispensation, with which our heavenly Father has seen fit, in his inscrutable providence, to visit you;
and that you will have many Christian friends to bear you
and their heart at a throne of grace, that you may not faint under his chastening rod, I need not assure you; for the members of Christ's family know it is their duty to sweep with them that weep," and to pray for those who are “in heaviness through manifold temptations." The Lord is indeed dealing with you in a way too mysterious for us poor short-sighted creatures to understand; and were not his arm all-powerful to sustain you under the weight of his heavy hand, and his promise faithful and sure, not to leave you, whilst passing through the deep waters, you might indeed sink and be utterly overwhelmed. But at what time thou art afraid, put thy trust in the Lord, and stay thyself upon thy God, for the Keeper of Israel slumbereth not, and knows well all that you feel and fear; and he can in a moment still the tempest, and cause the billows to subside; and there shall be a great calm, if he see fit to speak the word. In the meanwhile, see that your faith fail not—that precious faith, of which one has well said, “Drown it in the waters of adversity-it rises more beautiful, as not being drowned indeed, but only washed. Throw it into the furnace of fiery trials it comes out purer, and loses nothing but the dross which corrupt nature mixes with it.” And consider, my dear friend, that this is one important end why this blessed grace is now so severely tried"even that the trial of it, being much more precious than of gold and silver, may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” Yes! the faith which is here put in the furnace, shall hereafter be made up into a pure crown of glory, and a diadem of beauty, to the everlasting honour and praise of him who puts it into the fire for this very purpose; and they whose faith is thus exercised shall shine all the brighter for it. Let then faith, as well as patience, bear its perfect work; and may you be enabled to show to all around, that in leaning on the arm of your Beloved, you have an invisible support to rest upon, which can uphold you when nothing else can. And who knows what a happy effect it may have on those who see what God can do for his servants in such a trying season? Endeavour, my dear friend, to fix it in your mind, as a point not to be disputed, in spite of all that an aching heart may feel or suggest to the contrary, that God is most kind and gracious, notwithstanding all appearances. Though we may not be able to reconcile conflicting appearances, nor fully to apply the comfortable doctrine in our own case under such circumstances as you are now placed in; yet fix it as a principle, that the thing is so in itself. And though you cannot penetrate the dark cloud which hides the throne of God, and veils his purposes, yet doubt not that He who is too wise to err, “doeth all things well;" and wait in faith and patience till the Sovereign appears to clear up
My paper does not leave me room to add more than that it is my earnest prayer that you may realize the presence of your Redeemer on this trying occasion, that his promises may be your stay and comfort, and that you may come forth from the furnace as gold purified in the fire.
Believe me, my dear friend, yours in the bonds of Christian love and affection,
VISITS OF MERCY IN A FOREIGN LAND.
MY DEAR SIR,-Perhaps the last hours of the poor woman of whom I sent you the little memoir in my last letter,* may interest your readers. She left this world early this morning, and testified to the last that she had perfect peace in her soul, though her sufferings were very great. One day the priest came in while I was reading to her, and after talking some time of her bodily state, he asked me to leave him alone with the sick woman. As soon as I had closed the door, he went up to the bed, and said, “Quick, quick, confess!” She replied, “Have I not told you I would confess no more? and I now tell you, once for all, I am a Protestant.” “A Protestant! and when did you change?” “Four months ago; ever since I heard the word of God, and found in what ignorance I had been living.” “But, remember, if you change your religion, you are doomed, and the Devil will take you out of your coffin.” “I have no fear of that; the word of God has changed my heart, and
* See Friendly Visitor for April.