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request of an afflicted mother, (such being literally the fact) would alone disarm criticism of its power, and
protect them against every attack. But such is not the case ; they are replete with merit in every part; and this our Readers will clearly perceive from the subsequent extracts which we shall proceed to lay before them. T'he limits of our Review will not permit us to do more than state generally the subject of every letter, extracting the parts most deserving of attention, and best cal-, culated to convey an idea of the style and merits of this small but admirable work.
The object of the first of these Letters is to shew, that it is to other sources than those to which the world would send his afflicted child, that she must go for balm to heal her wounded spirit; he teaches her not to despair; he consoles her with the comforts of religion, and supports her with the cheering hope and prospect of a future life ; he sends her “.not to the assembly or the roui, to the song or the dance, to scenes of festivity and noisy mirth: but to the house of God, to her Bible, to her closet, to a chosen few among her friends, who would enter into her feelings, who know how to mix their grief with her's, to temper the sorrows of humanity with the duties of a Christian, and to bend the affections of her nature to the will of her God.”
In the second he teaches her to consider their affliction as the appointment of Providence: Obedience,' says he, is our duty, and, considering it as an act of obedience, cuts off all questions, and silences all complaints. There is nothing which so quickly reconciles us to the painful events of life, as the consideration that they are of God's appointment; that it is his will we should bear them, and that it is our duty to do so.
Frequent and painful experience confirms the truth which revelation teaches; and directs us not to fix our affections here below, but to set them on things above---to have our conversation in heaven---to be looking forward, and pressing toward the mark for the prize of our high calling. Disappointment awaits us on whatever else we build our expectations. Sickness, pain, and sorrow, misfortunes of our own, or the misfortunes of others, and death at last, which is continually snatching some or other of our connexions from us, and at length comes home to ourselves, all point to that rest which remaineth for us when the toils and trials of the present world are over."
The third part of the fourth Letters are occupied in producing such arguments as are best calculated to reconcilè her loss, to n’oderate her grief, and restore tranquillity to her mind.
To him who refuseth to be comforted; who will not submit to the dispensations of God; who is not disposed to see his afflietion in a light that is likely to reconcile him to it; but, on the contrary, is fretful and impatient, sullen and discontented, accusing his justice instead of bending to his will; there is no reason to expect any of the comforts which the God of patience and consolation,' might grant. His strengthening aid is granted to the prayer that asks, and the disposition that is fit to receive it. We must pray to him for support and comfort, under the afflica tion that he hath thought fit to lay upon us; but we must be prepared and disposed to receive it. We must ask in faith; but we must be ready to yield obedience.”
In the following beautiful and affecting manner does he indulge (alas but in thought) the prospects of happiness which she miglit have enjoyed had her life been spared.
“ With such prospects, she might have looked to many years of happiness on earth. Children she might have been blessed with, no less affectionate and capable of contributing to her happiness, than she to our's. She might not only have anticipated, but lived to realize all the fond expectations of the parent in her's, which we, alas ! have not been permitted in herself to do. Lovely, sensible, and good, like their beloved mother, they might have been comforts to her in her life, and have survived to close her eyes, when she might be called to leave these earthly ties, and go before them to the place whither the pious courses to which a parent's care had formed them, at length would lead thenselves.”
But what follows--what naturally succeeds in his mind ? Reflections that all these hopes might have been blasted, if the continuance of her existence, so much desired, had been permitted by Providence. ir Oft have I seen, in tracing the ways of Providence (and could see farther, every event would confirm it) proofs of love and tenderness in the future effects of present affliction; and, on the contrary, disappointments of the severest kind from those objects which have been thought at the time to be the most fortunate events of life.”
The following passage is most beautiful and affecting :
“ The child that has been snatched away from the parent at an early age, has been taken from the evil in come. "The evil which has not been seen at the time, has been discovered and allowed in the eventful history of future years. While the good that has been promised by the attainment of a parent's wish, has fied from his embrace, and left him to lament that the child over whom his heart had rejoiced, has only been spared to prolong his misery; and that the life that has been granted to his prayer, has been only extended to embitter his own. That child for whom he had so often watered his couch with tears, and spread forth his hands in ardent prayer for his recovery, has proved, in some instances, ungrateful; in others, unfortunate---sometimes torturing the parent's heart with the sight of his wickedness; at others, with his distress; till he has brought down his grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.”
We extract the following passage as containing sound doctrine, which we strongly urge on the attention of all.
“ What God hath actually been pleased to reveal; so far, and hot one step farther, let më attempt to penetrate into the hidden things of God. "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God. Hereafter shall we know even as we are known. In the mean time let us rest upon those scriptures which are written for our comfort, and hear what the LORD our God hath been pleased to reveal unto us.”
In this Letter (5th) he takes occasion to discuss a point which we shall now only notice, and shall take another opportunity of entering upon and examining at length, namely the situation of its immediate separation from the body. The arguments contained in these letters shall not then be overlooked: for the present then we pass on to the next, wherein he in larges the consideration he had before touched upon,—the dreadful sufferings of those parents, who have followed to the grave a child whom they had trained up with the tenderest care, and had taught to walk betimes in the way of the Lord, but who had forsaken the guide of his youth, and, instead of dying the death of the righteous, had closed a life of wickedness by a death full of fear and of apprehen
“ Then every day and every hour that life had been prolonged, would have been precious and important. That day might have been the day of salvation;
Vol. VI. Churchm. Mag. April, 1804. LI that
that hour, though the last, might have restored him to the pardon and the peace of God; and though they had no pleasure in his life, they might have had hope in his death."
Having in the former letters shewn, that they have no reason to lament the death of their dear relative on her account, he endeavours to lessen her grief by teaching her to consider it in the only point of view which can admit of alleviation.
“ It is no common place topic of declamation, but a most serious truth, that we are here but as travellers through the
present world; pilgrims, passengers, journeying on to our heavenly house and home. What, if this were one of the common journeys that we take together in life? Do we make the inn our home? the vehicle in which we travel, our abode? or the road, our place of rest ? Do we, at every place we come to, consider the accommodations that we meet with of so much consequence, that whether they be not exactly to our wish, or whether they yield the pleasure that we like, we care no longer for the objects at our journey's end? What if we should lose one of our companions by the way, I do not mean by death, but called away to hasten on before us, and again to join us at our journey's end? Do we mourn and grieve, and refuse the comforts that our way affords, because we are deprived of the company of one that made our journey pleasant, and helped to beguile the weary steps we had to tread ? We consider it as a loss indeed for the time; but a loss that a little patience will soon replace, and as a thing of immaterial concern, when compared with the permanent attachments of our home.”
Let us then set our affections on things above, we bave here no abiding house, no place of rest. We hold our life and all we possess upon these terms, that we be ready to resign them without repining, whenever we are called upon.
We want not admonitions to remind us of this inportant truth.
" The great teacher, Death, is ever sounding in our ears the awful warning, man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live.' that we must shortly follow the friend that is gone before us: that the knell which announces the departure of a tellow mortal, will soon announce our own: that the seal will be put upon our doom, as it has been upon his; our account, like his, for.ever closed; the day of life and trial at an end with us, as it is now with him. But we hear the mournful sound, without considering the affliction that it carries with it to the hearts
of others, or reflecting that it must one day bring home the same melancholy scene to ourselves.
“ The gay and dissipated part of the world soon get rid of such feelings, when the case comes nearer home. Confined by custom to the house of mourning during the gloomy period that their departed friend remains to cast a damp upon their pleasures, the body is no sooner committed to the earth, and all the formalities of enquiring friends and ceremonious visits over, than they sally forth to the wonted scenes of their amụsement, and soon dissipate the gloomy thoughts and prospects that they were compelled to endure in their confinement. They
« Grieve for an hour perhaps, then mourn a year;
“ To midnight dances and the public shew." He then proceeds to inform her of the uses which she ought to make of her affliction; it is not by continued lamentation, by secret repining melancholy, by retiring from life, and passing our remaining days in solitude; that we shew the improvement we make of our affliction; we have all a part to perform, and a station to fill in the great stage of life which requires the active exertion of all our powers-the tear of useless sorrow must not hang for ever in our eye, nor the duties of social life remain unperformed, that we may indulge the bitterness of grief. In the 9th Letter are contained some excellent rules for her future conduct:-1. Her duty to God must be the foundation of every action-with this foundation he lays down various rules for her observance; some of which, the most adapted for general use, are the following: “In your devout attendance upon the ordinances of your Church, your reading and hearing the divine word, your prayers and meditations in private, you will find all the helps you need, and all the comforts that Religion supplies. Your bible and your Church will direct you in the way wherein you should go. Continue through life to make the Sabbath your delight, and to devote it to God, to the purposes of religion, to the care of your soul; and never suffer yourself to be persuaded that it can be well with you, or with any, who fly in the face of an institution of God's own appointment, and so wisely and mercifully intended for your good.” He recommends the constancy of prayer and praise by an argument the most likely to be impressed upon her mind; that she is thereby keeping up a sort of intercourse with her departed sister. " Devotion is her employment as it is your’s; and while