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the last, is thy crowning mercy. Amen, even so be it, Lord Jesus ! for thy mercy's sake!


AT THE POINT OF DEPARTURE. The Church, like a tender mother, wearies not of her watchings over the sick and dying. Nay, as life ebbs, and the stream of time bears the soul onward to the great ocean of eternity, still more anxious is her ministration; still more earnest her prayer to the Father of the spirits of all flesh, that He would receive to himself the spirit of the departing sufferer, and not permit the waters to overflow him.

overflow him? How humble, yet how forcible is the appeal on his behalf to the Divine power and mercy! The Almighty is addressed as “a faithful Creator and a merciful Saviour.” What thoughts does this language of holy faith and ardent sympathy—what stirring thoughts, does it move in us! “Surely, 0 Thou Almighty Creator, and gracious * Redeemer—faithful as mighty, true as mercifulsurely that which Thou didst at first form, and afterwards renew, Thou canst not but prize! That which 'thus doubly Thou hast made thine own, that must,

of a surety, be precious in thy sight! Shall thy wisdom in forming the spirit of man within him,

come to nought? Shall thine hitherto unbounded grace in providing redemption for the fallen, be ' limited now? O, by thy truth and thy mercy; for

thy name and thine honour's sake; we humbly beseech Thee that this soul may be precious in thy

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1 Is. xliii. 2.

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sight!"—Hopefully too are we led on in these our supplications. The “ Lamb of God that was slain to take

away the sins of the world” was “immaculate.” But if our sacrifice be “ immaculate,” it must be perfect; and, if perfect, must attain the object for which it was offered; and as that object was to cleanse all men from their sins, therefore, O God! “wash “the soul of this thy servant, our dear brother, in the “ blood of that Lamb; that whatsoever defilements it

may have contracted in the midst of this miserable “ and naughty world, through the lusts of the flesh or “ the wiles of Satan, being purged and done away, it “may be presented pure and without spot before 66 Thee.”

How glorious the Redeemer's triumph ! Behold a soul, once forfeit, restored to life, to joy, to glory—the price of redemption being the blood of the Crucified ! When these truths fall on the ear of the dying sufferer, even if the fading senses weaken, it cannot be, but that they bear comfort with them to his heart! At peace with God through Jesus Christ his Lord, he walks through the valley of the shadow of death, alone, but fearless : for he knoweth that the Spirit of Jehovah, though all unseen, overshadows him, and will be with him to the end ; even till the moment when from this world he passeth to the next, and time itself shall be no longer.

Nor does the Church forget in this prayer to evidence her care of survivors. Having commended the dying to the infinite mercy of a reconciled God in Christ Jesus, fain would she apply the present scene to the welfare of the living. And what more powerful motive to prepare for our own end, than a solemn conviction, founded upon “ this and other like daily

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spectacles of mortality, “that our existence is altogether frail and uncertain. 'Must I too thus lie, worn down by sickness and infirmity ? must I know what it is to feel the springs of life give way? must all my opportunities of working out my salvation thus close at last? Will others stand around my death-bed, as we around that of our departing bro6 ther? Must it be that I also cease to hear the • kind voices of those who love me, and pass into the

valley of the shadow of death, my senses closing to * all earthly things? O my soul ! look to the scene • before thee! How wouldst thou that thine account

be with God in such an hour ?”—Let us awake to a sense of our real condition, as mortals destined for immortality! Under a conviction of this truth, let us, as in the prayer we implore grace to be enabled to do—let us " so number our days, that we may apply

our hearts unto wisdom ;" even " that holy and hea“ venly wisdom, whilst we live here, which may in the end bring us to life everlasting !" Need we warning not to delay our work? Behold our dying brother ! Need we encouragement thus to strive for life everlasting? Lo ! the spirit of wisdom is ours, through Jesus Christ our Lord.




IN CONSCIENCE. THERE are pains, however, keener than the deathpang, sorrows deeper than the grave-pains, which nothing can assuage but the compassion of “the Father of mercies ; sorrows which none can soothe, but “the God of all comfort.” Behold then one, who cannot lay hold of forgiveness ; who feels that God


still “ writeth bitter things against him,” even the handwriting of ordinances ! Hopeless, and all unable to cast from him a remembrance of the past, he “possesses still his former iniquities;" a sense of God's just “ wrath lieth hard upon him; and his soul is full of trouble !” What a picture of misery have we here ! what accumulated trial! Yet even this severity of chastisement is in love to the soul which endureth. “ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation." Like David, he may feel that God is “vexing him with all his storms ;” and this state, arising not from impenitence, not from unbelief, not from recurrence to wilful sin, but from a deep conviction of man's utter unworthiness in the sight of God; and as yet not understanding the power of the word in remedying every evil, giving power to conquer every sin, and healing every infirmity. Hence the appropriate object of this prayer, that our merciful God-since “ He has written “ his holy word for our learning, that we through pa" tience and comfort of the Holy Scripture might “ have hope”—would direct his mind to apply those Scriptures to his own condition, and “have a right “ understanding of himself, and of God's threats and “ promises :" for then he will learn the wonderful and gracious wisdom with which they are adapted to his fallen state; quickening his repentance by the offers of pardon unlimited, strengthening his faith by the display of a perfect sacrifice on his behalf, and brightening his high hopes of heaven, by the final triumph of his victorious Redeemer. Having this understanding of himself and of the word of God, he will neither despair under a sense of his sinfulness and demerits, nor presume upon the mercy and long-suffering of his Heavenly Father. He will not, in lack of faith, “cast away his confidence in God” and hold forth that he cannot be comforted as a penitent, lest, not accepting the hope of pardon and peace, reconciliation and justification, freely offered to him in the Gospel, he lay himself open to the charge of “placing his confidence elsewhere” than in God; and seem to rely even on his self-debasement—a presumption not less daring than if he were to trust to his self-righteousness. “The Word is Life;" quickening, strengthening, sanctifying all those spiritual powers which the soul exerciseth. If that life fail, the Word yet standeth sure; and the failure is not there, but in man who applieth it not. The Prayer is continued in a most beautiful and affecting strain of supplication. We implore “our merciful God to give” to the sufferer “strength against all his temptations ;" for such is the promise of his word, that he “ will with the temptation also make a way to escape.” We beseech Him to “ heal all his distempers ;” and our appeal is to the same word of promise, that He will “ heal all our infirmities 2.” And if our hearts are earnest in supplication and prayer for those who suffer from disease of body, with what earnestness must they supplicate and pray for those who suffer from distemper of mind! To be bowed down with dread of unforgiveness; to have hope of pardon withered ; to be on the borders of the valley of the shadow of death, and alone in that awful hour-alone alike in present sorrow, and for ever! who forbeareth to pray for a . soul thus desolate ? Father of heaven-Lord of all -supreme in power as infinite in mercy-0 God 11 Cor. x. 13.

2 Ps. ciii. 3.

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