Page images

tenance, encouragement, and applause; these reconcile and attach us to our duty, they induce the

power of habit.

[ocr errors]

By and by, difficulties arise which gradually reconcile us to our change. The honest labourer, who earns his bread with the sweat of his brow, has found his rest sweet, and his bread pleasant, and the testimony of his conscience a continual feast; but he has likewise found, from weariness and pain, from the hardships of poverty, perhaps of oppression, that his labour is part of the curse on fallen man: he thinks with comfort of a new heaven and a new earth, where there is no more


It is sometimes difficult to fulfil the demands of justice: then a Christian redoubles industry, denies himself, accepts alms, does every thing hard and humbling, rather than be unjust: it is not his least consolation that the time is short. Even in a high station, honours are apt to fade and cares to multiply. It was the prayer of Moses, the lawgiver and prince of Israel, “Kill me, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thy sight.”

The details of human affairs and duties must be attended to and fulfilled; the pleasures and honours of the world must, to a certain degree, in. terest and elevate, and the evils of it depress us; but the conscious soul often rises above them, and anticipates a more exalted exercise. In childhood we busied ourselves with imitations of the work of men; and if any accident befel them we were distressed, and wept: we now think that these were trifles, and we shall one day think the same of every worldly care.

Fourthly. We would not live alway, from the remains of sin.

When a Christian first gives his heart to God, and sees the beauty of holiness, and feels devout joy, he says in the ardour of his love, “I will keep all thy commandments.” Even after temptation has prevailed, and made him taste the bitterness of remorse, he resolves upon new obedience with redoubled ardour; he knows good and evil, and he will never return to folly. Experience has at last convinced him that human resolution is weak, that the heart is deceitful, that sin is wedded to mortality. The past makes him tremble for the future; and even assures him that temptation will return, and mingle all his days on earth with penitential sorrow. His comfort is, that with God there is mercy, that Christ died for the remission of sin, that the Spirit is promised to those who ask. His comfort is, that he grows in grace, that the love of sin is mortified, that the remains of it excite him to

and watchfulness, that death will put an end to temptation; then his comfort and joy will be full. Happy day! which will conclude this mingled scene, when the heart shall no more be tossed with passions, when the power of evil habits shall be broken; then I shall sin no more.


Fifthly. The death of friends makes us say with Job, "I would not live alway."

Friendship sweetens life; but the course of human affection is often interrupted, is often varied, is often embittered. In your father's house the heart is at ease a little, it flows out in pure

and sweet affection to your parents; happy in their love and protection, free from pain and guilt, and the thought of tomorrow; you give yourself to joy, and think it is good to be here. The death of a parent is often the first sad stroke. The bright scene vanishes. Pleasure is shut out. Your first sorrow is a sacred season; sacred to affectionate remembrance, to devout resignation, to the fate of mortality. Sober thoughts revolve on the part you have to act. In returning to the world you feel yourself a stranger, and cast your cares on God, and think of heaven as your Father's house.

Youth seldom passes without the death of a young

friend. Death is brought near, for we grew up together. Many pleasing hopes are laid in the dust. From the grave of a friend even the path of virtue appears dark and lonely.

The happiest union on earth must be dissolved, and the love of life dissolves with it.

Parents often survive their children, and refuse to be comforted because they are not.

A beautiful view of Providence opens. That which constitutes our greatest felicity on earth makes us unwilling to depart. The friends of our youth have failed. Such friendships are not formed again. Affection is gradually transferred to the world of spirits. We are strangers who have sojourned long in a foreign land, and have the near prospect of returning home. The hour of departure rises on the soul, for we are going to a land peopled with our fathers, and our kindred, and the friends of our youth. The heart swells at times with the sadly pleasing remembrance of the dead. “Awake and sing, ye that sleep in dust, your dew is as the dew of herbs.” At times we overpass by faith the bounds of mortality, and penetrate within the veil. Our spirits mingle with theirs.


(From Job iv, 12--20.)

J. A. W.

The world, in slumber hushed, was still;

The moon had vanished from the sky;
And darkness, over vale and hill,

Ruled in solemn sovereignty:
Nor sound, except the night-wind's sigh,

Came wafted to my listening ear;
When, lo! I felt strange terrors nigh,

And owned the sudden sway of fear.

Then while my bones almost I deemed

Disjointed by the touch of death;

And my heart's current failing seemed,

And scarce I drew my labouring breath; And while my locks dishevelled stood,

And pale my cheek grew with dismay; Amid my chamber's solitude

A vision came,--and passed away. Dimly that spirit by did glide,

As meteor on the midnight gale: Who from the shadowy form might hide?

What fleetness might in flight avail ? It paused a moment, while I lay

In pulseless agony of soul; And vainly strove to look away,

Bound by the spectre's stern control. Moveless it stood a moment's space,

Like wreath of mist on moonlight eve, Or fading thing, of which some trace

The morning's broken slumbers leave. I gazed—but nought I could descry

Of mien, or visage, 'mid the gloom; Yet, ere that spirit glided by,

It spake in accents of the tomb, “Shall man,—the offspring of the dust,

Than the world's Maker be more pure? Or deem himself than God more just,

-God who for ever shall endure? Lo! in the servants round his throne

No confidence doth he reposeAngels before Him folly own-

Art thou more wise, more fair, than those ?

« PreviousContinue »