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Now, as the result of all this, the departed increase in influence over us. Goodness is power, and beholding their goodness we feel their power over us more. While love to God is, and ever ought to be, the main impulse in holy living, love to the departed is one also. We find a sad pleasure in doing what we know would have pleased them had they been living, and what we know will please them now if they see us. And what is that ! Why, loyalty to Christ and duty. Has a reckless, headstrong passion, never been curbed in and conquered by the thought flashing across the mind, “ She would be displeased at this were she living"? Have you never been able to melt a proud heart, and bring back to reason a graceless prodigal, by speaking of a sainted mother? “I will not do that which would pain them if they were yet living ; I will not do that which would awaken their displeasure," has been the breakwater of vice, at least for a time, with many a one.
Not only do the departed increase the force of their influence, but also the extent of it. People come under it who did not while they were living. The words of Christ have a wide significance, “Except a corn of wheat die, it abideth alone : but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” Take such a man as the poet Cowper. No doubt the gentle, melancholy, devout bard, exercised a good influence while he lived; but what is it compared with that which he has had since? How the sphere has widened! Who can assign limits to it? What thousands of hearts have been softened, cheered, guided, by his sweet verses ! His voice is known in every land. There are few Christian sanctuaries that have not heard its echo. The tyro in religion, and the veteran soldier of the Cross, have alike used and profited by his hymns. Or think of such a man as Dr. Arnold. His influence was confined chiefly to the scholars of Rugby while he lived; but what numbers he has, in all likelihood, saved from the clutches of scepticism and infidelity since his death! By his works, and the memory of his noble life, he has done more since he left than when he was in the world.
Is not this fact, then, one that should console us in bereavement, and help to make us resigned? Our friends who die in Christ are nearer now than they were before we bade them farewell--perbaps they are nearer in locality ; cer. tainly they are in affection and in influence let us therefore say, “ Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
2. Our departed friends render the other world more attractive. To the true servant of Christ the main attraction of heaven is, that he will be with his Master, know him better, serve him better, than on earth. “To be with Christ;" "s absent from the body, present with the Lord ;" "ever with the Lord :” this is the chief anticipation. Albeit, there are other considerations which increase our desire for the better life. The prospect of health to the invalid, the prospect of freedom from doubt to the perplexed and baffled student of God's works and ways, are among these. So with bereavement. The glories of the new Jerusalem are enhanced every time one of our friends enters its gates and becomes a citizen of it. Each spiritual star that God takes from our imited region of the moral firmament to heaven, leaving a long trail of light
ehind it, increases our desire to occupy a place in that land where no clouds dim, and no mists obscure the glory of the luminaries. As when summer dies, and ice-girt winter appears, the birds of passage assemble together and depart
to a warmer clime, 80, when the winter of bereavement comes, we feel the meaning of David's words, “ Oh that I had wings like a dove! for then would I fly away, and be at rest." We are always more interested in a land to which friends have emigrated. We often think of it. We try to picture it to ourselves. We find pleasure in reading and talking of it. In like manner we are more interested in heaven when those whom we love havo emigrated thither across the sea of death. · A. Christian minister was called to stand by the death-bed of a young and lovely daughter. When he had heard the last gasp for breath, he turned, well-nigh heart-broken, from the sad sad scene. He was a wise man : he did what we should all do in sorrow; he went to the fountain-head for consolation. He took up the Bible and opened it. The first words upon which his eyes fell were this promise: “I go to prepare a place for you.” Beautiful ever, they seemed more so now to the sorrowing reader. It was as if that was the message of his lately-gone child as well as of the Saviour. Yes ; she was gone to make heaven more heavenly for him. It is so with us all. Heaven is made more attractive by those we lose. Our often faint aspirations for it are invigorated. We long more earnestly than ever to be there.
“ The friends gone there before me
Are calling from on high,
Tempt sweetly to the sky.
Mid scenes of death and sin ?
And find true life begin!"" If the death of friends makes us long for heaven, it will also lead us, by God's blessing, to prepare for it. This will be a new stimulus to holy living. It will help us to serve God now. Hence we have reason to bless God even in bereavement. As a certain writer says, “He knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust, and therefore, one by one, Jesus transfers the joys which render this life so dangerously dear, and sets them as new gems in the jewellery of our incorruptible crown. ... Your wife, your husband, parent, child, now draws your lagging hearts closer and closer to where they ought to be ; and what this poor world has lost in value, yonder world has gained. I grant you that Christ is there already, and that should be enough. But so long as man is moved by the eye, and the ear, and the touch of earthly sense, and loves the visible so fondly, and is so bewildered with the unseen, oh! it is the climax of mercy that He who promises the inheritance as the recompense of faith is ever strengthening that faith by enriching the inheritance, and by showing us how He does it."*
3. The death of our friends is God's work. We have need to go back some hundreds of years, and learn from the Hebrews. We are far behind them in some respects nowadays. One thing in which they shame the present age is this : they recognised the band of God in the occurrences of human life more than men do now. We talk much of laws and forces. We speak of cause and effect. They looked up from the law to the Lawgiver, and did not allow the former to hide from them the latter. Did they obtain a great victory over their foes? They said, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." Did Cyrus work out their deliverance from thraldom, and permit them to return to CaananP They said, “The Lord hath done great things for us.” So in private life, sorrow and trial they traced to God. Trouble was to them no accident, but part of a great and good plan for their weal. Eli acknowledged the Divine hand in the approaching death of his song. “It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good." David, in view of his heavy affliction, said, “I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it." So with Job. The text is a full acknowledgment
* “ The Fight of Faith,” by Rev. Henry Christopherson,
of God's hand. “A great wind from the wilderness" destroyed his sons ; but he said, “ The Lord hath taken away,” for he saw that the "great wind from the wilderness" was but God's instrument.
Undoubtedly he was right. On either side of Jehovah's throne stand two angels. They both do his bidding, though at different times and in far different ways. The one is bright, radiant, and winsome; the other sombre and solemn. They both visit earth as he commands them. Their names are Life and Death. Death is his servant, and does his work as truly as Life. Now, if we remember this, is it not likely to console us and make us submissive in bereavement? Surely it is. If you regard death as an accident, a thing controlled and guided by no one, then you may well feel dreary and downcast at the open grave. But if you will believe what God tells you, namely, that he appoints the hour of man's decease, this ought to render you resigned. “The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" We may say the same in time of bereavement. The bitter cup is “given ; " it is not the work of a blind, iron fate; it is not the work of accident; it is “ given" by God. “My Father hath given.” It is given by a Father whose love is as great as his power, a Father whose tenderness is as large as his wisdom, a Father whose mercy is as deep and strong as his righteousness. It is bestowed by a Father who seeks our good, and only our good, in all his dealings. Generally speaking, a child can bear from its parent what it could bear from no one else. Chastisement from a father is not so hard to endure as from the hand of a stranger. Even thus is it with us. We can better bear our trials, bereavement among others, when we recollect that they come from Him of whom it is said that whom he loveth he chasteneth.
4. The death of our friends is unspeakable gain to them. In our moments of bitter sorrow we do not always remember this plain, simple fact. We allow other facts to come between us and it when we most need its help. How frequently, when we think of our friends who are gone, do we think of the pain they had, the long and weary illness, the gradual loss of strength day by day, and other sad features in their closing years! We associate the weakness and suffering of mortality with them. We look at them, as they are now, through the medium of what they were and what they endured. But this is wrong, all wrong. We delude ourselves with a great fallacy when we thus think of them. The plain fact, if we would but calmly stop and realize it, is that all the pain, and weakness, and woe, is part and parcel of the past, never to return: the present knows nothing of it. We ought to think of the beloved one as free from all that used to sadden him and us; free from everything one could wish him free from; and in the possession of all that we can wish him to possess. “Ah," we say, as we go and watch the cold face with so many marks of pain on it, “how much he used to suffer! what weariness life was to him before he had done with it!" Yes; but let us remember our own words and their meaning : "used to suffer;" that is the truth ; "used,” for now all the suffering has fled like a gloomy dream.
Even 80. We must picture to ourselves our departed friends as being as holy and blessed as they can be. We must repeat the first principles of the New Testament in reference to death, and remember that it is “swallowed up in victory." The lost one is gone through the narrow gate of death into a world in which he will meet with many who greet him with the joy of recognition, a world in which knowledge increases continually, a world in which there is blessed rest from all tribulation, a world in which God's service is done perfectly.
Christian mourners, let us think much of this in our moments of sorrow. When we remember fondly our loved ones who are gone, and feel the dreadful loneliness that their absence creates, when we yearn for looks and words which
we cannot have, let us call to mind what a happy exchange they have made, what a glorious life they lead now, and then we shall be comforted. We shall say, “ Blessed be the name of the Lord,” that they are free from life's trials, and secure in heaven. We shall understand and appreciate the feeling of a certain orphaned one, who, speaking of departed parents, said,
« But oh the thought that thou art safe, and he !
That thought is joy, arrive what may to me." No one thinks of mourning when the weary traveller, after a long and fatiguing journey, reaches home and embraces his little ones as they run forth to meet him; no one thinks of mourning when the mariner, after being tossed ruthlessly by the ocean, "rocked in the cradle of the deep," enters the secure haven; no one thinks of mourning when the bearded, sun-burnt warrior, after marches and battles, victories and defeats, sets foot again on his native shore: why then should we not, for their sake, rejoice when, after the journey of life, the voyage of time, and the battle of this world, they reach their heavenly home?
“ The loved, but not the lost.
Oh no! they have not ceased to be,
« The loved, but not the lost,
In heaven's own panoply arrayed,
These are some of the truths likely to make us patient and submissive in bereavement. Their number might be increased; but we must close. Dear reader, are you mourning the loss of beloved friends ? Take comfort: God offers it you. He delights in speaking of himself as “the consolation of Israel." Go to the good old book he has given, and it will soothe your troubled soul. Go to the mercy-seat, and it will lighten your heavy heart. The consolations of God need not be “small with thee."
Perhaps, however, you feel that you are not prepared for death, should you be called. Your sin is not forgiven, and you are unsaved, are you? Oh, go to the loving Father for his mercy without delay. Let the subject we have been considering together urge you to this. Would you be nearer those who remain on earth when you have died-nearer in power for good? There is only one way by which you can secure this : live a holy and good life now. Then, and then only, will your “memory be blessed.” Would you render the other world more attractive to your friends when you are gone there? Prepare for it now. Would you have them consoled when they mourn your loss, by remembering what infinite gain death bas been to you? Pray and watch, watch and pray, that so you may be made “meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light." He who was once bereaved, and wept in sympathy with the bereaved, He who has conquered death, He who offers to bring us all out of spiritual death into the enjoyment of immortal and Christlike life, is near you now, and waits to forgive, save, and bless.
THE REVELATION AND THE PROPHECY OF THE
BY THE REV. SAMUEL COX.
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world." - Psalm xix. 1-4.
“But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world."-Rom. x. 18.
THESE two passages broaden and ex. | teaching of the heavens, and finds in them plain each other's meaning. David was a prophecy of the equally universal mission probably unaware of the full significance of of the word of Christ. "The heavens"his song, thought himself only a psalmist, so his thought seems to run" which dedid not know that he was also a prophet. clare the glory of God, have a music and He was simply praising God. He drew teaching for all ages and all lands; and the materials of his song of praise from therefore the Gospel, which in like manner the heavens, whose fervid noonday splen declares the glory of God, must have song dour, whose midnight starry beauty, had and tuition for all." In short, he takes often wrought upon him like a spell. In David's psalm on the heavens as a prophecy the heavens he saw an endless, potent, all of the good tidings of Christ, and implies extending revelation of the Divine glory. that this prophecy was the truest and What he saw, he gang; and sang, in all deepest meaning of the psalm. David may likelihood, without any perception of the have thought that he was only celebrating deeper and prophetic meaning of his song. | the generation of the heavens ; but Paul But all wise men, all poets, are wiser than knew that he was also celebratiog the rethey know, and utter words whose pro generation of men, that in singing the founder meanings can only be discovered heavens he was also singing the Christ. by the generations which come after them. In these two passages, therefore, taken David was of this select and sacred order as complementing and explaining each the of men. Because a poet, he was also a other, we have two themes for thought; prophet. Even for him his words had a viz., the revelation and the prophecy of the very noble and musical meaning. They heavens : 1st, the heavens as a revelation of had also a melodious and inspiriting mean God; and 2nd, the revelation of the ing for the men of his day. But besides heavens a prophecy of the revelation of the these meanings, Paul saw in David's words Gospel. meanings still profounder and more divine. I. The heavens a revelation of God. To him “ the glory of the Lord” was “ The heavens declare the glory of God; something more than a Divine attribute or and the firmament sheweth his handymanifestation; it was a Divine person : he work." All work is indicative of character, saw “the glory of the Lord in the face of sets forth more or less clearly, according to Jesus Christ." To him the heavens were our faculty of insight and interpretation, not simply & revelation of the Creator's the mental and even the moral qualities of wisdom and beauty; they were a revela the worker. The heavens are the handi. tion of the redeeming Christ, by whom all work of God. As we acquaint ourselves things were made, by whose word of power with his work we come to know him. The all tbings are upheld. In the revelation of firmament, the great storehouse and magathe heavens he, therefore, beheld a type and zine in which the mists rising from the prophecy of the Gospel revelation. The impure earth are transformed into pure and manifestation made “in the beginning” fructifying rains, through which flow the foretold and symbolized the mavifestation aerial and magnetic currents that bear life made when “tbe fulness of the times " and health to all nations; the heavens was come. And so, when he argues with above the firmament, in which stars, and craven, narrow-bearted Jews, who were fain suns, and central suns, revolve round their to keep the Gospel to themselves, he points final centre, the throne of God, all marto these old words of David's, words which shalled into a perfect order and mutual set forth in music the universal song and helpfulness; these speak to us of an infinite