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Surely if any thing could have softened their hearts towards each other, it must have been to stand silently side by side, while the earth, stones, and clods, were falling down upon their father's coffin. And doubtless their hearts were so softened. But pride, though it cannot prevent the holy affections of nature from being felt, may prevent them from being shown; and these two brothers stood there together, determined not to let each other know the mutual tenderness that, in spite of them, was gushing up in their hearts, and teaching them the unconfessed folly and wickedness of their causeless quarrel.
A headstone had been prepared, and a person came forward to plant it. The elder brother directed him how to place it;-a plain stone, with a sand-glass, skull and cross bones, chiselled not rudely, and a few words inscribed. The younger brother regarded the operation with a troubled eye, and said, loud enough to be heard by several of the bystanders, “ William, this was not kind in you, you should have told me of this. I loved my father as well as you could love him. You were the elder, and, it may be, the favourite son, but I had a right in nature to have joined you in ordering this headstone, had I not?” During these words the stone was sinking into the earth, and many persons who were on their way from the grave returned. For a while the elder brother said nothing, for he had a consciousness in his heart that he ought to have consulted his father's son in designing this last becoming mark of affection and respect to his memory; so the stone was planted in silence, and now stood erect, decently and simply, among the other unostentatious memorials of the humble dead.
The inscription merely gave the name and age of the deceased, and told that the stone had been erected “by his affectionate sons.” The sight of these words seemed to soften the displeasure of the angry man, and he said, somewhat more mildly, “Yes, we were his affectionate sons, and since my name is on the stone, I am satisfied, brother. We have not drawn together kindly of late years, and perhaps never may; but I acknowledge and respect your worth, and here, before our own friends, and before the friends of our father, with my foot above his head, I express my willingness to be on other and better terms with you, and if we cannot command love in our hearts, let us, at least, brother, bar out all unkindness.” The minister, who had attended the funeral, and had something entrusted to him to say publicly before he left the churchyard, now came forward, and asked the elder brother, why he spake not regarding this matter? He saw there was something of a cold and sullen pride rising up in his heart, for not easily may any man hope to dismiss from the chamber of his heart even the vilest guest, if once cherished there. With a solemn and almost severe air, he looked upon the relenting man, and then, changing his countenance into serenity, said gently
Behold how good a thing it is,
And how becoming well,
In unity to dwell.
The time, the place, and this beautiful expression of a natural sentiment, quite overcame a heart, in which many kind, if not warm, affections dwelt; and the man thus appealed to, bowed down his head and wept. “Give me your hand, brother,” and it was given, while a murmur of satisfaction arose from all present, and all hearts felt kindlier and more bumanely towards each other.
As the brothers stood fervently, but composedly, grasping each other's hand, in the little hollow that lay between the grave of their mother, long since dead, and of their father, whose shroud was happily not yet still from the fall of dust to dust, the minister stood beside them with a pleasant countenance, and said, “I must fulfil the promise I made to your father on his death-bed. I must read to you a few words which his hand wrote at an hour when his tongue denied its office. I must not say that did
your duty to your old father; for did he not often beseech you, apart from one another, to be reconciled, for your own sakes as Christians, for his sake, and for the sake of the mother who bare you, and Stephen who died that you might be born? When the palsy struck him for the last time, you were both absent, nor was it your fault that you were not beside the old man when he died. As long as sense contipued with him here, did he think of you two, and of you two alone. Tears were in his eyes: I saw them there ; and on his cheek too when no breath came from bis lips. But of this no more. He died with this paper in his hand ; and he made me know that I was to read it to you over his grave.
I now obey him : My sons, if you will let my bones lie quiet in the grave, near the dust of your mother, depart not from my burial till, in the name of God and Christ, you promise to love one another as you used to do. Dear boys, receive my blessing.'
Some turned their heads away to hide the tears that needed not to be hidden; and when the brothers had released each other from a long and sobbing embrace, many went up to them, and in a single word or two, expressed their joy at this perfect reconcilement. The brothers themselves walked away from the churchyard, arm in arm, with the minister to the manse. On the following Sabbath, they were seen sitting with their families in the same pew, and it was observed that they read together off the same Bible, when the minister gave out the text, and that they sang together, taking hold of the same Psalmbook. The same psalm was sung (given out at their own request,) of which one verse had been repeated at their father's grave; a larger sum than usual was on that Sabbath found in the plate for the poor, for Love and Charity are sisters. And ever after, both during the peace and the troubles of this life, the hearts of the brothers were as one, and is nothing were they divided.
THE VOICE OF THE GRAVE.
[REV. THOMAS MADGE.] HE removal of any one of our fellow-creatures
from the stage of life, reads to us in a solemn and impressive form, the lesson of our own mortality. It tells us in no doubtful terms, that we too, and those we love, shall at no distant time be called to lay our heads in the dust. It tells the parent that he must soon be taken from his child, and the child that he must soon be separated from his parent. Not a day passes without such examples of the common lot of humanity coming before our eyes. Not a day passes but we have to witness the melancholy transformation of health into sickness, strength into weakness, the bloom of youth into the paleness of decay, and the vigour of manhood into the feebleness of age. There is a voice incessantly crying, “ All flesh is as grass, and all the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field.” And while it reminds us how short and precarious the tenure of our life is, and how often the great destroyer comes to blast the proudest of human expectations, and to set at nought the wisest of human calculations, it asks us at the same time, if we are thereby made more wise, more sober, more thoughtful and considerate, less devoted to the pursuits and pleasures of the world, and more earnest in our desires and breathings after God and goodness.
To such a question, the answer, I fear, must be, that our minds are commonly too little impressed by the sad and solemn events which are passing around