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‘more fully the weight, and the mercy likewise of the
appointed condition of the forgiveness for which I • pray; “ as we forgive them that trespass against us," ' and, from my inmost soul, in all the sincerity of • truth, I fulfil that condition. The injustice and oppression, the malice and uncharitableness of men
have sometimes tempted me to wish revenge. That
wish is buried in yon grave. Could the loved one ' there laid, thence speak, his words of counsel would • be the words of warning also-Forgive, as thou * wouldest be forgiven. My heart admits not now an unkind feeling even to those who have most deeply injured me; no sun shall again go down upon my wrath; and should my enemies still hate, to • them I leave all the hatred. I can love them, for • his sake who died for me a sinner. The grave, by · which I stand, proclaims, trumpet-tongued, -Life is * all too short for enmity. - If such, 0 mourner, be your reflections, you have sown in tears to reap in joy. What misery you escape! Suppose the dying to forgive his enemy, but the survivor to retain his hatred, and no token of reconciliation to have passed, —alas ! alas ! what sacrifice of wealth and even of passion would not that survivor now make for one moment only, to give and to receive forgiveness, ere they should meet at the judgment-seat! Whoso, even in matters of less moment, have felt the pain of having omitted to do what is absolutely irrecoverable,—some opportunity either of fulfilling a duty, or conferring a kindness irretrievably lost—they may in some manner judge the anguish of his heart, who has continued to cherish enmity which the death of the injured has left in its bitterness. How dreadful his self-reproach! 0,
could he recall the last year, the last month, the last day, the last hour, the last minute! His wishes now are as vain, as his heart before was unbending. The duty has been foregone, and foregone irretrievably. He was inexorable. Death is more inexorable still. Happy they, even in the sad hour of mourning, who forgive as they would be forgiven. Again, each season of life has its own trials, and the grace of God can alone guide man safely through them. Therefore even the soul-subdued mourner prays his heavenly Father ; “ Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." It is true that these words refer not to what are usually considered temptations to evil—those which the world without offers him ; but those which the world within arrays against him. What to him now are riches, power, honour? The splendour of riches cannot bribe death to yield his prey. The voice of power cannot bid the grave give ир
the loved one. And as for worldly honour—that cannot compensate for the loss of those whose affection and love were the highest honour to which the heart aspired. Other temptations there are—those from the world within ; and against their influence he prays. . Of these the present hour is full. Nature tempts us to murmur at the sad dispensation. The young are cut down ; or the strong man, the support of declining parents, has been removed in his full strength; or, to the surviving widowed one, left a lone struggler in this world of trouble, life is a blank; or the orphan sees before him no prospect but of misery, and knows no feelings but despair. In all such cases, the grace of God alone can check these murmurings of nature; calm our fears, soothe our sorrows, strengthen our faith in the sure word of God, re-animate our hope in his providence and love, and so deliver us in safety from the evil into which otherwise our temptations would plunge us to our ruin.
The mourner, therefore, fervently pours forth this his supplication ; feeling, that his power to resist temptation here must come from on high, even as his hopes of peace
here and hereafter must be drawn from the same eternal fountain of holiness and peace and glory.
everlasting glory, through
Jesus Christ, our Lord.” As this service draws near to its close, the Church, with a fidelity above even the tender maternal love she bears her children, guards them carefully against any misapplication of those glorious promises to which she has been directing their thoughts. What if she have committed to the ground the body of the departed, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life, when the bodies of all men shall be raised from the dead by the power of Christ ? Christian faith takes for granted a belief in this truth. But as that resurrection will be followed by a life of eternal misery, as well as by a life of eternal happiness, our Church leaves the recompense of the one or the other to be awarded according to the rule of judgment laid down by the God of judgment. The righteous shall not go unrewarded; neither must the evil expect to go unpunished. The reckless unbeliever, the daring hypocrite, the unforgiving in their enmity, with the slanderer, and blasphemer, and all
other of mankind, at the last day shall rise and exist for ever: yet she deceiveth not the wicked by her own bright hopes in the prospect of eternity; she tells them that their “for ever” cannot be in peace.
These are they who, by sin, “ crucifying the Son of God afresh,” will share the appalling retributive misery of those who having changed this mortal for immortality, must in their immortality see the Being “whom they pierced?." This prayer therefore opens with the very words of St. John, that “the spirits of them that depart hence in the Lord,” are they who “live with Almighty God;" and “ the souls of the faithful” they who " are with Him in joy and felicity.” She then, with a truly evangelical spirit - set high above all considerations of this world, and losing all selfishness as she contemplates the dead - teaches us that we should for a season lay aside the consideration of our loss, calm the mournful expression of it, and even, in the noble and heaven-like courage of St. Paul, “ give hearty thanks “ unto God, for that it hath pleased him to deliver " this our brother out of the miseries of this sinful “world,” where daily temptations to sin abound, and where the souls of the righteous are yet vexed more and more.
From all this the dead are freed. O joy to the good! Whither take they their flight, but to a pure and holy habitation, where dwelleth righteousness ; where temptations never enter; where fear of change never threatens ; where sin and death are known no more? Now—even as you stand a mourner over the remains of the dead—the spirit which hath departed in the Lord is in joy and felicity; heaven his home; God his life. The wicked are further warned
1 Rev. i. 7.
not to deceive themselves. When the Church proceeds in this prayer to beseech God, of his “gracious goodness shortly to accomplish the number of his elect, and to hasten his kingdom,” she again declares who are, then, to have their perfect consummation and bliss-even they “who are departed in the true faith of his holy name.” To the righteous, therefore, firm in faith ; and to the penitent, eager to be reconciled in Christ, and to live and to die according to the faith of Christ; to all “ who love God's law, there is great peace "—to the wicked and the worldly, none. And is the dear departed delivered from the miseries of this sinful world? Be calm, my soul! Let my heart still its throbbings! Shall I grieve that one whom I loved is freed from misery? from the misery of sorrow and the heavier misery of sin? That were indeed a selfish grief. Nay, since though the dead return not to us, we shall go to them, let us humbly offer the petition so wisely prepared for us; and beseech Almighty God, “ that it may please Him of his gracious goodness shortly to accomplish the number of his elect, and to hasten his kingdom.” O Father, may thy kingdom come! Grant, we pray, that by thy grace both preventing and following us, we so learn to live, so learn to die, that with others, the blessed 66 who die in the Lord,” and “ depart in the true faith of his holy name,” we may “have our perfect consummation and bliss, both in body and soul, in thy eternal and everlasting glory :” our spirits calmly waiting in that sojourn where the souls of the faithful for a season rest with patriarchs, and prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and the just made perfect, in
1 Ps. cxix. 165.