Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

SUBMISSION TO DIVINE PROVIDENCE.

[DR. LONGLEY, BISHOP OF Ripon.]

IF
F it be the will of God that we should drink the

cup, though man has no power to make it pass from him, nevertheless, the bitterness of its dregs may be tempered by some unhallowed means, which weaken or destroy its efficacy; for sometimes persons attempt to hush the importunate voice of anxiety or sorrow amidst worldly pleasures, and so to occupy the mind with the objects of sense as to leave no room for those obtrusive thoughts which they wish to banish. But this is a direct frustration of the ways of Providence, which strikes the blow to warn us that there is much within that needs correction, and bids us institute a strict inquiry into the recesses of our hearts. Others, whose more refined feelings are shocked perhaps, at such a remedy for their bruised spirit, under the pressure of mental affliction, avoid mixing with the world, which, instead of affording relief, serves, as they find, but to irritate the wound. This drives them into the opposite extreme; and while they think that solitude and retirement best befit those who are afflicted, they brood in secret over their sorrows, and embitter them even beyond the portion which the Lord hath laid upon them.

The Christian's path, however, will lead him to avoid either of these extremes. It will not be his purpose so to fortify his heart by any external defence,

as to prevent the purposes of Providence from taking their due effect upon him; nor will he so entirely sink under the blow as to be rendered incapable of useful exercise in the service of his Heavenly Father. But, since it has pleased the Lord to visit him, he will bare his heart to the searching glance of the Almighty, as well as to the scrutinizing eye of his own conscience ; he will try his ways, and turn again unto the Lord; will pray that He who hath set his secret sins in the light of his countenance, would create within him a clean heart and a right spirit. He will view his sufferings as an especial call to arouse himself from a state perhaps of listlessness and languor in his religious duties, to walk more humbly with his God, and to display a warmer zeal in the performance of the active obligations of Christianity.

And even should such pious devotedness to the supreme will not at once be rewarded by religious consolations, by that peace of God which passeth all understanding, he will not therefore conclude that his mercy is clean gone, and his promise hath failed for evermore; for he will rest in the Lord, and wait patiently, till, in his own good time, he shall think it fit to deliver him out of all his trouble ; supported as he is, by the comforting assurance that “all things are working together for good to them that love God.” Out of the very depths he will call upon him; and the remembrance of past mercies unmerited, though perhaps but ill requited, while it abases him still more in his own eyes, will give him sufficient assurance of their being renewed, and

will prove the steadfast anchor of his soul, when the gloomy and tempestuous clouds are gathering around him. At any rate, under the most unpromising appearances, so unshaken will be his confidence in the divine goodness, that he will join in the devout and energetic declaration of Job, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” This is the victory which overcometh the world.

Are there any, then, who are weary and faint in their minds, by reason of the burden which the Lord has laid upon them? Remember that the Captain of your salvation, whose whole life was one great example for your imitation, was made perfect through suffering ; that labour is the way to rest; and that it is through much tribulation that we must enter into the kingdom of Heaven. Meanwhile, no secret struggle passes unregarded by the eye of Heaven ; no murmur repressed, no favourite wish renounced in obedience to the will of God, but it is recorded in the book of life; and your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you openly.

THE HEADSTONE.

(PROFESSOR WILSON.] THE THE coffin was let down to the bottom of the grave,

the planks were removed from the heaped-up brink, the first rattling clods had struck their knell, the quick shovelling was over, and the long, broad, skilfully cut pieces of turf were aptly joined together, and trimly laid by the beating spade, so that the newest mound in the church-yard was scarcely distinguishable from those that were grown over by the undisturbed grass and daisies of a luxuriant spring. The burial was soon over; and the party, with one consenting motion, having uncovered their heads, in decent reverence of the place and occasion, were beginning to separate, and about to leave the churchyard.

Here some acquaintances, from distant parts of the parish, who had not had opportunity of addressing each other in the house that had belonged to the deceased, nor in the course of the few hundred yards that the little procession had to move over from his bed to his grave, were shaking hands quietly but cheerfully, and inquiring after the welfare of each other's families. There, a small knot of neighbours were speaking, without exaggeration of the respectable character which the deceased had borne, and mentioning to one another little incidents of his life, some of them so remote as to be known only to the greyheaded persons of the group. While a few yards farther removed from the spot, were standing together parties who discussed ordinary concerns altogether unconnected with the funeral, such as the state of the markets, the promise of the season, or change of tenants; but still with a sobriety of manner and voice that was insensibly produced by the influence of the simple ceremony now closed, by the quiet graves around, and the shadow of the spire and grey walls of the house of God.

Two men yet stood together at the head of the grave with countenances of sincere, but unimpassioned grief. They were brothers, the only sons of him who had been buried, and there was something in their situation that naturally kept the eyes of many • directed upon them, for a long time, and more intently than would have been the case, bad there been nothing more observable about them than the common symptoms of a common sorrow. But these two brothers, who were now standing at the head of their father's grave, had for some years been totally estranged from each other, and the only words that had passed between them during all that time, had been uttered within a few days past, during the necessary preparations for the old man's funeral.

No deep and deadly quarrel was between these brothers, and neither of them could distinctly tell the cause of this unnatural estrangement. Perhaps dim jealousies of their father's favour-selfish thoughts that will sometimes force themselves into poor men's bearts, respecting temporal expectations-un modating manners on both sides-taunting words that mean little when uttered, but which rankle and fester in recembrance-imagined opposition of interests, that, duly considered, would have been found one and the same-these, and many other causes, slight when single, but strong when rising up together in one baneful band, had gradually, but fatally, infected their hearts, till at last they who in youth had been seldom separate, and truly attached, now met at market, and, miserable to say, at church, with dark and averted faces, like different clansmen during a feud.

unaccom

« AnteriorContinuar »