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'eternal home, let time and grace be vouchsafed the more to quicken my repentance, and strengthen my faith, and confirm my hope. "O spare me a 'little," that my soul may rally its powers for a holier 'struggle against evil; that, strong in the Lord, "I 'may recover my strength before I go hence, and be 'no more seen among the children of men!
What a startling thought !-"to go hence, and be no more seen!"—At the moment of death, to pass at once into a new state of being; all untried and unknown! Whither shall I then go? and to whom? Well may implore added time to strengthen and prepare my soul before that day come! I know that the world of spirits will then be all before me; and thither shall I go-but who can determine for me its bounds or tell its wonders? I know, also, that in that world are the spirits of the just made perfect, and the penitent made holy-the righteous Abraham and the crucified penitent; to them therefore, so is my humble trust through Christ, to them I shall go but where is the heart so bold as in its own worthiness to enter among those righteous ones? O for the hour which may, for Christ's sake, haply bear us to them! Behold Prophets and Apostles, saints and angels, a countless multitude, shall greet the faithful spirit, freed from its mortality. The gratulating parents, the husband and wife and children; mother, sister, relative, friend, neighbour; lo! with what joy will they hail us to the shore, as mariners, who, long tempest-tossed, have reached at last the haven of their rest. What then to me that I am about to leave my earthly tabernacle, to tenant the grave; and pass, a disembodied spirit, to new worlds above !-My Saviour hath opened the
kingdom of heaven to all believers; Lord! I believe ! O grant, then, that as earth passeth away, heaven and its Rest be opened to me-for Jesus Christ's sake!
THIS Psalm admirably carries on the reflections suggested by the former, and is calculated in a special manner to calm and strengthen the mind of the hearer, under the awful view which he takes of that hereafter, of which he must himself one day know all the wonders. The past gives assurance for the future, that the care and goodness of the Lord shall never fail those who trust in Him-He who hath been his servants' refuge through long ages, "from one generation to another;" neither wearieth nor changeth. Thou, O "God, art from everlasting and world without end." What if, according to thy just and righteous sentence of death upon sinful man, Thou turnest him to destruction; his body condemned to the dust? Again Thou sayest," Come again, ye children of men !” Thou dost recall them to life; here, to a life of righteousness, hereafter to a life of glory, through Jesus Christ thy Son; the Conqueror of death; himself the resurrection and the life. What too, though generations may pass ere the dead shall arise from the dust to their promised glory? Thee. "A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday." Faith therefore is our refuge. We mourners feel that, in this as in every afflictive visitation, thou wouldest fain teach us how transient is all here below; that worldly hopes are like the flower of the field; gay in the bright noon, soon to wither and
Time is nothing to
fade and die. We feel also that thy chastening hand is upon us, for our good alway. Our very secret sins now spring up, and lead us to repentance. Are we aged? even then the whole tale, or numbering of our years, seems as nothing-hardly longer than the time of its reckoning'. And if it please Thee to spare us to the extreme length of man's age, so full of added infirmities does every added year find us, that "our strength will be but labour and sorrow." Wise are they, who fear thee, O Lord, and dread thine anger, and deprecate thy wrath; that by "fearing always," they may gain thy gracious favour." The great secret of a good and peaceful life, is to feel the utter uncertainty of this mortal state, as though every day might be our last; and "so to number all our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." That teaching is of Thee, O Lord! O grant us now thy Spirit, that as we weep others dead, we may prepare for death ourselves; ready to give up our account, and not fearful to die. "Turn Thee again, O Lord!" -vouchsafe to us thy mercy and wisdom and grace! We are thy servants! O keep us true and faithful! and in the midst of our adversity and plague, be Thou thyself our Comforter! Let us and our children be evidences, here, of the power of thy grace; hereafter, of the fulness of thy glory. Ours is indeed a work beyond our own power-even the working out our salvation. But thy very strength is perfected in our weakness; and in that strength is all our trust and all our hope! "Prosper thou the work of our hands upon us; O prosper thou our handy work."
1 Psalm xc. 9.
2 Proverbs xxviii. 14.
1 Cor. xv. 20.
BUT what if this life be fleeting; and all flesh as grass? what if man thus perisheth, and the great with the lowly, the rich with the poor, the learned with the simple, mingle in kindred dust? What if the Scriptures, hitherto read in this service, deeply impress these salutary truths; sanctifying the hour of sorrow by bringing survivors to a sense of their own mortality, and relieving its weight by thus reminding them that man lives to die-death, the penalty of life? What if the Church thus lead to thoughts so solemn, and in themselves so subduing? She leads also to thoughts which well may sustain the soul in its trial; and, in the magnificent language of St. Paul, displays all the bright hopes poured forth by that Gospel, which assures us of a resurrection, when our bodies shall be raised again with new life, new powers, new capacities; even glorified bodies, to know death no more. Nobly has the Apostle sustained his argument. He asserts the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and argues from it the certainty of our own; whilst, by most happy illustrations, he answers such doubts as might arise either from the uninformed in their humility, the unbeliever in his pride, or the philosopher in his inquiries; and closes by an application of the doctrine, brief indeed, but so convincing, so practical, so animating, so comforting, that whilst the words fall welcome on the heart, sadness is for the moment cheered, sorrow hushed, and even the mourner rejoiceth in hope. Art thou that mourner?—As thine eye pictures the dead only in the awful stillness of
the grave, does thy soul refuse to be comforted? Dost thou weep one, who, once thy stay, thy solace, thy best earthly comfort, is now borne to the cold dark tomb; dust to dust returning? Weep still; sorrow still; but, O Christian mourner, weep as Jesus wept; sorrow not as without hope. You "believe that Jesus died and rose again"-believe also the joyful tidings of the same word, "that them who sleep in Jesus, God shall assuredly bring with him."
Heed the truth, revealed by the Spirit to St. Paul, as he declares both the fact of the resurrection of Christ, and argues from it the certainty of our own. Or are the first fruits no token of the gathering in of harvest? What voice was it, save that of Him, who did by his own power raise himself from the dead, which declares the resurrection of all creation to be the great harvest of the world, where angels shall be the reapers, and all mankind shall be raised in their bodies'; He himself having been the firstfruits? True, for this great consummation we must tarry the Lord's leisure in a patient faith. "In Christ shall all be made alive; but every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits;" sure token of the harvest "afterward, they that are Christ's, at his coming." What a glorious scene does the inspired Apostle open to us? "Then cometh the end" of the Gospel dispensation, when He-the Mediator between God and man; Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God-" shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father," when having redeemed his faithful ones, and having subdued for ever the power of the evil one, he "shall put down all his rule, and all authority,
1 Matt. xiii. 39.