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childhood, to the failing strength of age, "even to hoar hairs will I carry you'"-saith this your Father. Perhaps you are a fond sister weeping a brother gone; and at the grave you address God as "Our Father!" Cherish the welcome thought, that he, the dead-with whose love you had associated that name in your prayers, from early childhood, when together you lisped the words, and your gentle voices were then also together heard in heaven-he has still the same God for his Father; though he needeth not now your prayer for blessing. He is already blessed in that Father's presence, and that Father's love; and, rejoicing to remember that he left thee walking in the fear and love of God on earth, he waits in joyful expectation of meeting thee, when, in thine appointed time, thou shalt thyself share with him that divine love, and with him partake of that eternal felicity in the same bright world he dwelleth in2.
With hearts thus re-animated, the mourners, in
1 Is. xlvi. 4. Refer to the passage. Comfort is in every word of it. 2 It is sufficiently evident, from the parable of Dives and Lazarus, that the spirits of the departed bear with them a full recollection of the state of those whom they left on earth; and this is perfectly consistent with the suggestions of our reason. For as it were impossible to believe an annihilation in death of the various powers of thought which distinguish man from all other creatures, so we infer naturally, that those powers, when the exercise of them is no longer controlled by the union of the soul with the body, will be expanded and enlarged and strengthened beyond any point which now we can conceive of. Recollection, therefore, of the past, will be but more vivid; and as Dives, with an awakened sense of the inexpressible horror of sin, remembered with agony the evil course of his five brethren who survived him, so every happy freed spirit will remember with joy and gratitude and hopeful anticipation, the holy cause of the righteous ones who now, as survivors, mourn. Peace, and joy, and glory await them. What a stirring motive this, to strive for heaven!
whatever relation to them the departed may have stood, proceed from their very hearts to offer the several petitions of this prayer. O, Father in heaven! hallowed be thy name!"-O the comfort of that endearing name to us now! Holy and reverend shall it ever be! We will honour it, even though Thou hast laid upon thy children thy heavy hand. We forget not that "we had fathers of our flesh which corrected us; and we gave them reverence," because we knew that they loved us, and corrected because they loved. Shall we not much more "be in subjection to Thee," and "hallow thy name," as "the Father of spirits, and live?" How can we forbear to reverence it, and to acknowledge thine honour in it! Yea, a deeper sense of thine awful name now fills our hearts, for unto thy holy presence, as the "Father of the spirits" of all flesh, has the departed spirit passed; and in the same presence must we soon ourselves stand. May "thy kingdom come!" And shall that kingdom surely come? an everlasting kingdom of peace? What now to us the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them? Lo, in death, they all are vanity! The crowned head and the houseless wanderer then tenant their common home, the grave. But thy kingdom-that is worthy the ambition of the highest, and it is free to the strivings of the lowliest. I feel its value now, in all its fulness, in all its brightness, in all its glory; and this solemn scene argues its certainty with a silent but startling eloquence, which scatters every doubt, and wings our hopes to gain it. O, the blessed privilege of Christ's faithful followers! to know that He, their merciful Redeemer, their risen Saviour, their everlasting God, "hath opened this
kingdom of heaven to all believers!" That must be a heart of stone, which sympathises not with the mourners as, struggling with their grief, they look on the buried dead, and raise to God their prayer of submission; "Thy will be done!" With what painful effort; with what self-control must the bereaved parent, the fatherless, the motherless, the widowed wife, the forlorn husband, sister, brother, severally pour forth such a prayer! Nature would at once prompt the affecting exclamation of their agonized Master,"Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me!" but grace bends the soul rather to the Saviour's submissive close to his sad thoughts, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done." Ponder well, too, O mourner! that when you were wont to pray recovery for the loved one in sickness, you ever added the petition that God's will be done,-not your own. And will you not bow submissively, now that it is done, though not as your tender love would have had it accomplished? Yet not only does Faith counsel the heart to a ready submission, and with the holy courage of the patriarch rouse our resolution "to trust in God though he slay us1;" there gleams from these dark clouds of sadness one bright steady ray of comfort, rising from the very event you are now deploring; and the very perfection of obedience to which you pledge yourself, supplies the grounds of its consolation. Thy will be done, " on earth, as it is in heaven,”
-so runs your petition! Think for a moment! How is God's will done in heaven? and, by whom? It is done unreservedly, unhesitatingly, cheerfully, happily.
1 Job xiii. 15.
It is done by angels, and by those, the spirits of the just made perfect, henceforth associated with angels; and among them, by the very being you are now mourning. Even as you stand weeping at the grave, and by a holy submission do God's will on earth, we trust that the freed spirit of the loved one here departed, is doing that will in heaven. You, both, are engaged in doing the same glorious work. With you, every murmur checked, every plaint stilled, every holy resolve to obey the Lord your God, unite in bringing you to the obedience of angels; and you thereby share, though on earth, the higher and more glorious services of the loved one in heaven. "how is my soul to be strengthened for angels' resig"nation under suffering like mine?"-So methinks the mourner pondereth. Know then, that man liveth by "the bread that came down from heaven;" and for that if he daily prayeth, daily will supply be given for each day's need. Surely, "as thy days," O mourner, "so shall be thy strength'." With what added fer
vour then you offer the next supplication; "Give us this day our daily bread." Of bread to sustain bodily life you acknowledge gratefully your dependence upon the good providence of your heavenly Father to grant needful supply; but the deeper sense with which this scene impresses your mind of the vanity and shortness of life, makes you less thoughtful for the morrow, as to all which this world can give. 'The dead 'take nothing away with them when they die. I will 'seek the bread of life first; for that is the one thing 'needful to sustain my soul and quicken it for immor
1 Deut. xxxiii. 25.
tality. O Father, "give us this day our daily bread,” 'to strengthen us for the trial thereof. True, “thou 'hast fed us with the bread of tears, and hast given us ' plenteousness of tears to drink';" and we bow sub'missively to thy will. Sanctify, therefore, this bread ' of affliction to the strengthening of our souls; and 'as we have no strength without Thee, let thy Spirit 'henceforth feed our souls with food convenient for us : 'for as we humbly trust daily to thy provident care for ' nourishment to our mortal bodies, so to thine abiding grace we also trust daily for support to our immortal 'souls. And if every day we thus pray, Thou, O Father, 'who knowest our daily necessities and their extent, Thou knowest also the special need of to-day. Indeed, if ever this petition were poured from our soul with trustful and fervent desire for an answer of peace -it is now. "O give to us mourners, give us this day our daily bread." Let me remember, that this scene of mourning might have been over my ' grave! Where should I now have been?-Soon it must be, that "my body shall be committed to the ground; dust to dust!" Whither then shall my spirit 'go but to HIM who gave it? even to Thee, O God, my judge! Yet, forgive me first my trespasses ! let me not stand before Thee in my sins; lest my resurrection to an eternal existence be a resurrection to eternal woe! O "Forgive us our trespasses." 'For Christ's sake forgiven, my soul may rest in peace, and my body be saved to glory. Unforgiven, alas! what awaits me but the worm that 'dieth not?—At this moment of deep sorrow, I feel
1 Ps. lxxx. 5.