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mercy, to which you have appealed, He will grant you his strong salvation—for is He not the Saviour of all who trust in Him?
As these thoughts crowd upon the o'erwrought and agitated mind, deriving added force from the sad occasion which gives rise to them ; as moreover when we behold the opening grave, and the dear remains of the departed ready to be consigned to it, our own death-scene appears at hand and almost realized, each of us, with an intensity of anxious care never felt before, naturally ponders what his own last hour may be. Shall I, then have faith which will fail not ? shall I have hope which will weaken not at the last? shall pains of body master my powers of mind and withdraw me from the sustaining consolations of devout intercourse, or shall they be lost in a calm and holy communion with my Redeemer and my God? The last hour! It has been to others. It must be to me! Soon it may be ; and then shall I pass to my eternity. I know that for such an hour there is none other help but the presence of the Lord. O Father! let me have the power, as well as the will then to hold me fast by Thee—" to stay upon my God.” Ogrant me enduring fortitude ! O “suffer me not at my last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from Thee.” So I may fearlessly pass the boundary which separates me now from the world of spirits; and, undismayed even in the valley of the shadow of death, be guided safe by thy rod and staff comforting me, till I reach in safety, in peace, and in joy, that distant world, where we must be ; and be for ever.
able to subdue all things to himself.”
But not only does “ the dust return to the earth as it was ;” “the spirit” freed from its clay, “ returns unto God who gave it ?;" and we believe it to be of his great mercy that He hath taken to himself the “soul of our dear departed.” In this faith we fearlessly “commit his body to the ground.” For what if earth thus mingle with its kindred earth ; ashes with ashes, dust with dust; God's word tells of better things to come. The “hope of the resurrection to eternal life is sure and certain, through Jesus Christ." Prophets and Apostles have declared it, and Jesus rose again and ascended into heaven that we might rise and ascend thither also ?. · To this end our bodies shall from corruption rise to incorruption; “mortal shall put on immortality ;” and as we have borne the image of " the earthly” Adam, we shall also bear the image of the “ heavenly;” and “our vile bodies shall be made like unto Christ's glorious body.” Thus are the angel bodies pure and glorious, unfading and immortal. As the mourners listen to these truths, and cannot but also hear the harsh and startling sound of earth already mingling with its kindred earth—the body in very deed consigned to its dust—they almost exclaim, “How can then this promised change be? How, after ages perhaps have passed, how can these elements be collected, formed anew, re-animated, and so created again, that they shall perish no more? At that moment, in its wise and holy sympathy, the Church, presupposing the sad reflection to have arisen, declares that hope may triumph, asserts its reasonableness, encourages its adoption, and shows that the power that wills it, is omnipotent—even “ His mighty power, who hath subdued all things to himself.” Thus the passing cloud, dark though it be, passeth away from the mind; the mourners still stand, in present grief indeed, and in sorrow deep and heartfelt, whilst they behold the dust and earth mingling with the ashes of the dead; but the eye of faith is fixed on the certainty of that glorious hour, which, through Christ, shall change mortal to immortality. Who shall doubt this "power of our Lord Jesus Christ ?" He “by whom all things were made, and without whom was not any thing made that was made;" He "to whom all power is given in heaven and earth;" He was “the grave's destruction;" He who, though once He visited that yet unseen region, could not be holden there, neither did see corruption - He, who thus “subdued to himself all things,” even death and the grave, can create again and fashion anew according to his will, the body which He created first; though death for a time master it. He is Lord of death as well as of life; and having once exercised his divine power by raising Himself, in the exercise of the same power He will at last raise us. When
1 Eccl. xii. 7.
2 John xiv. 3. “ And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself ; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Language can convey no stronger assurance.
When therefore we commit to the ground the beloved dead, we know that they will live again. Thus cheered, and his view raised from the dark prospect of the grave and the vileness of
dust and ashes with which the body of the loved one now sleeps, to“ the sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ" —the mourner pauses for a moment to offer his secret prayer, deep and fervent, that when this hope of the resurrection shall be realised, and all men shall rise and give account of their own works, he may himself be found among the number of the blessed.
WHO ARE THE BLESSED?
“ I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, From hence
forth blessed are the dead which die in the Lord : even so, saith the Spirit ; for they rest from their labours."
But who are they that shall inherit the blessing ?even they who “die in the Lord:” they, whom death finds watching and ready for their change, clothed in the righteousness of Christ the Lord. Say, O mourner ! say, is death to them curse or blessing? If still thou weepest, for thine own loss thy tears must flow. The dead are at rest. What joyful sound this to the hearts of those who loved them! Shall then the dear ones whom we mourn have nothing which shall again disturb their quiet? Shall they for ever know only the holy peace and the bright calm of heaven? What a glorious hope! Rest from their labours, for ever! Hear this, ye children of sorrow! Hear it, ye who are poor and distressed, and of the world forsaken! Hear it, ye that are “any ways afflicted, in mind, body, or estate!" In all your struggles with a stormy world; amid all the stern realities of life which, were this state of being your all, would rend the stoutest heart ; amid all those trials of ill-requited kindness, of undeserved enmity, of disappointed hopes, which the generous, and the kind, and the noble mind most keenly feels ; amid the struggles of your own heart to subdue its evil, to correct its errors, to remove its infirmities; amid all
your trials from without and from within-Lo! the welcome truth! Rest is there for you also, if ye die in the Lord! The poor “ shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; for the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water?.” To impress upon the mind more vividly the nature of this heavenly rest ; calm and unruffled, bright and unchanging ; the inspired St. John describes heaven itself of glass like unto crystal,” and declares that he saw there revealed to him the blessed, “who had gotten the victory," "
," " standing upon the sea of glass, having the harps of God?." The oppressed and persecuted shall no more be harassed; for even 66 the wicked there” must “cease from troubling." of this world's strife shall find all their untiring patience, their noble self-denial, their generous bene
as a sea
1 Rev, vii. 16.
2 Rev. iv. 6; xv. 2. 3 It is not unworthy of remark, that when the patient Job, contending with his accumulated afflictions and cursing the day of his birth, drew his striking contrast between the restless misery of this world, and the calm peace of the next, he specifies as one of the glorious blessings awaiting in heaven the righteous dead, that “there the wicked cease from troubling”—thus teaching us that here they cease not. How powerful an argument does this thought supply for the exercise of our patience, when called to suffer from feelings injured, motives maligned, honour vilified, truth falsified; or from any other mode of persecution which the wicked, in their envy, hatred, and malice, may haply heap upon us. The wicked indeed, thus viewed, are as a scourge in the hand of God to try and prove his people, whether