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sorrows, and, like thee, acquainted with grief,—but the sure Saviour of all souls who trust in Him. Guided and cheered by that light thou wilt not despond in thy grief. Rather wilt thou be animated to more active holiness whilst life is spared. Thou wilt abound in the work of the Lord; fruitful in every good word as well as every good work; whilst thine heart will ever rest on the glorious promises of future recompense to the faithful in Christ Jesus; when every man shall receive according as his work hath been; and they who have laboured to the Lord shall of the Lord be recompensed. We know that our labour in the Lord is not,” and will not, and cannot be “ in vain.”
DEVOTIONS AT THE GRAVE. As mourners, yet fresh trial waiteth us; and fresh strength is needed. The Church endeavours to supply it by holy and appropriate reflections. Hitherto, as we listened to God's word, teaching us man's triumph over death, we have been in the solemn stillness of his holy house ; that “gate of heaven,” which his presence makes it. This stillness accorded well with our subdued hearts. Now we stand before the very grave which is to receive and hide from our sight even the sad remains of one we loved so well. Our next meeting shall be, when we too have been set free from the body, and have been mingled—0 how earnestly at this moment do we secretly pray that we may then be mingled !—with the spirits of the just made perfect. Wisely does the Church therefore supply suitable devotions, and turn our reflections to a consideration of the vanity of this life, our awful responsibility in the next, and the proportionate importance of preparation for that change.
“ Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up and is cut down, like a flower ; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay."
This is true of man universally. He liveth but for a short time; and misery is, by nature, his portion. The longest life, when past, appears short, compared with that eternal existence upon which he is about to enter: and that he is born to trouble, each individual feels, for each knows to bear his share of it. Often he “ is cut down like a flower,” scarcely in bloom ere the chilling blast wither it! Nor does he ever
1 This is virtually true with respect to human life in general. How strictly true it is when the young die, mourning parents best can feel? In infancy and early youth, the child is as some flower, ere the summer sun has expanded its glories, or piercing winds have scathed it ; fair, and beautiful, and fresh from all the world's impurities. But, alas ! 'tis a child of Adam, this fair flower ; and in Adam, all die ! “ What," methinks the bereaved mother exclaims, “ is that playful smile of confiding love, fresh and bright, so oft my solace and my joy; the smile which sorrow never dimmed, nor grief shaded ; is that smile changed to the stern dark fixedness of death ? is the little voice, so bright in its joy, so winning even in its plainings, is that still and silent ? Has my beautiful flower “ withered before it be plucked up? ” faded ere its full blossoming ? We are indeed mortal, when thus death's shadow darkens the beaming eye of childhood !"
Thou mourning mother! all this is true ! But what if, in his mysterious providence, to convince us that from birth to old age our life every moment is in his hands not our own, our heavenly Father strike the young whilst he spares the aged.—0 mourning mother! know this ; thy child is happier in death than in life ! What if sometimes man's course seem smooth and fair ; favourable gales wafting him on, and events assuming only that exciting stir which favours activity, animates to exertion, and promotes his wel
- continue in one stay.” All is changing: witness the alternations of prosperity and adversity, health and fare? Such even course is rare. The Christian, remembering that he is launched “upon the waves of a troublesome world,” expects storm and tempest. You doubtless have had your share of such trials ; for who long escapes the fearful elements of the strife of human passion ? Had your child lived to manhood, in this strife he would have been engaged ; and prolonged years would but have proved the fallacy of all human hopes, and shown how soon they pass away. How much sorrow, how much disappointment, how much unceasing anguish make up, to the greater part of mankind, the sum of human existence, they best can tell whose lives are prolonged to age. From all these trials your child is escaped, and hath found“ wings, like a dove, to flee away and be at rest,”—at rest with that Saviour in death, who in life “ took up the little children in his arms, and” endearingly“ did bless them.” To your infant in its death, gently was “the silver cord loosed *,” imperceptibly the waters at life's fountain did exhale, and the spirit passed to its home in heaven with no feelings wounded by the world's cold cruelty, no conscience struggling with sin, no harsh recollections of kindness ill-requited and of benefits ill-prized ; no broken confidence, no injured fame, no loss of friendship or of love.
But not only may you be consoled by the consideration, that, however harrowing to your tender nature must be the loss of one so loved, his is all the gain“other and higher thoughts still present themselves, calculated to enforce a calm and happy resignation to the Divine Will. Even in death your infant may glorify Almighty God t. Is your own heart turned more heavenward, now that heaven, as you humbly hope, has received your child ? Is your own spirit elevated above the world, its fears, its hopes, its temptations, now that his has triumphed over it? In his death is your life more devoted to God ? — Then is God glorified even in this dear infant ! Again ; suppose the dead to have reached to childhood, and become companion to others! Your surviving children, brothers and sisters, miss their sweet companion. They weep that the dear one is buried in the cold grave, and can never more see the glorious sun in which they rejoice ; never again stray with them over the
* Eccles. xii. 6.
+ The view taken by our Church upon this subject is highly consulatory. See the Collect appointed for “ The Innocents' Day."
sickness, joy and sorrow. Every thing is progressing towards its end; all of earth, to decay—all of spirit, to eternity: and so quick is this changeful progress, that man "fleeth as it were a shadow :" youth gives place to age, and age to death, with a step so silent, yet so sure, that watch as we may the advance from one to another, “ the last” comes at an hour when we think not. Happy is it when, as time wears on, they to whom a lengthened life is vouchsafed grow old in virtues as in years,—can recall the past without
fields, and pluck the gay flowers, and rejoice in the bird-songs they so often had listened to together. They ask you of the dead“ where is he now?" O, then what bright opening have you to exalt God's honour by raising the tender affections of your children from earth to heaven. That tears are your first answer to the heartmoving questioner, who shall wonder? No cold philosophy bids forbear. This rational expression of sorrow is ordained for the relief of the o’erburthened heart. You weep. Jesus wept. Our tears for the dead are therefore sanctified !-thanks to his tender love, who “ in all our afflictions is himself afflicted.” But amid your tears the smile of resignation glows, calm, and peaceful, and happy. You remember that, upon the generous minds of the young, few motives for virtue are so strong, as the thought that by being good they are living as the dead would have them live, and may hope one day to join them in the mansions of the blessed. Upon this feeling you will act, and direct their inquiring minds to dwell upon the happiness of the good, upon the misery of the wicked, both in this life and the next. “ Your labour," thus declared, “ will not be vain in the Lord !” Your own spirit too can still hold communion with the dead; for as angels' bliss is “ to praise the Lord;" so the faithful on earth do then share the bliss “ of angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven,” when they live to the glory and honour of their God. Thus you strive to lead on both yourself and your children nearer and nearer to God here, in the soothing hope that you are all drawing daily nearer to the loved one. Every day well spent is a step to your reunion. Thus whilst Nature weeps the flower, cut down here on earth ; Faith looks to that heaven where still it blooms, and where it will bloom for ever.
pain, and look to the future without fear. Behold one such, “sound in faith and patience "," calmly awaiting his end, when the heat and burden of life's toilsome day be past. In the secret chamber of his heart he communes sternly with himself. My • departure is at hand! Am I ready? In the grave there is no knowledge or device whereby I may
secure my salvation ; that work, if done at all, must • be done here. Let me then watch and pray, even * to the end patiently. So may my prayer be an• swered by the quiet close of a well-spent life ; so may • 1 have grace to walk with God, in the filial reverence
of Enoch; to be firm with unshrinking Abraham; and * with confiding Jacob still to hold my trust in the Lord.' -When “ the hoary head is thus found in the way of righteousness, it is,” indeed, “ a crown of glory?;' and men, as they rejoice in the example of the aged righteous, and take courage from it to stand to the truth as it is in Christ Jesus, shall rise up and call him blessed. To impress this truth more strongly, and to draw from it a more practical lesson of piety, the Church adds the following sentence:
“In the midst of life we are in death : of whom may we seek for succour, but of thee, O Lord, who for our sins art justly displeased."
Since the world is thus changeful, who can doubt but that " in the midst of life we are in death?” Hence it is, that God occasionally so wills, that either the young are removed like a budding flower cut down ; or dieth in his full strength ;" startling us from our dream of security. How often indeed do we see that
1. Titus ü. 2.
2 Prov. xvi. 31.