« AnteriorContinuar »
we should apply this triumphant and delightful as
From the picture here drawn of our present frame, we may learn the importance of always preserving a just sense of the frailty of our condition, and of the certainty of our dissolution. Without this feeling we cannot be holy, useful, and happy. To cherish a consciousness of our mortality will prove, it may be hoped, one of the most effectual means of checking our wayward desires, and of inducing us to improve every faculty with which God has blessed us. The ancient Egyptians, we are told,* had a singular custom at the entertainments of the rich : just as the company was about to rise from the repast, a small coffin was carried round, containing a perfect representation of a dead body; and, as it was shown to the guests in rotation, the bearer exclaimed, “ Cast your eyes on this figure; after death you yourself will resemble it.” Let each of us be his own monitor on this subject; or rather let him point to his own understanding and heart, those admonitions of the kind which Divine Providence frequently delivers. Statedly to call to memory that we inhabit an earthly and dissoluble tabernacle, will, under the blessing of God, make us wise and serious, without overclouding our innocent enjoyments, or interrupting our laudable exertions.
The whole of the Apostle's representation we should employ to the purpose of fortifying our minds against the sicknesses, pains, and sufferings that we meet
* Herodotus, 1. ii. c. 78.
with in this life, and the trials that we encounter in the performance of our duty. This benefit Paul himself derived from it; and, as far as the difference of circumstances permits, let us enter into his views and adopt his language : “ Though our outward man,” says he, “perish, yet our inward man is renewed day by day; for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
To reflect upon this contrast between the present and the future life, between our earthly and our heavenly frame, is especially desirable when we are looking forward to the hour of putting off this tabernacle. In these circumstances, it is most of all essential that faith come in to the aid of sense, and that those hopes which render not ashamed have the ascendancy over nature. Blessed be God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, if on solid ground we can say,
we know that if this earthly house of our tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” The excellent Dr. Leechman was visited in his last illness by a young man of noble family, whom, with a venerable aspect, an animated eye, a distinct though feeble articulation, he addressed in these words : “You see the situation I am in; I have not many days to live, and I am glad you have an opportunity of witnessing the tranquillity of my last moments; but it is not tranquillity and composure alone, it is joy and triumph: it is complete exultation :" his features kindled, his voice rose, as he spoke : “ and whence,” continued he,“ does this exultation spring ? From that book, pointing to a Bible that lay on a little table by his bedside ; from that book, which is too much neglected indeed, but which contains invaluable treasures, treasures of joy and rejoicing; for it makes us certain that this mortal shall put on immortality.”*
Let this consideration also relieve and comfort us, whenever we are deprived by death of our Christian friends. They still live in the sight of Him to whom the past, the present, and the future are the same ; and, through the grace of God in the gospel, through his mighty power exercised by Jesus, the great agent ofhis mercy, those mouldering frames shall be clothed upon with a nobler structure ; when “ Christ, who is their life, shall appear, they shall appear with him in glory;" their mortal tabernacle shall be succeeded by a divine building, a house not made with hands, everlasting in the heavens. They shall rise, no longer earthly and corruptible, but fair and vigorous and immortal forms, with the triumphant anthem on their lips, “ O death! where is thy sting? O grave! where is thy victory? Thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” We, too, if we be followers of them as they were followers of the Redeemer, shall share in their glory and unite in their hymns of praise. This is rich and seasonable consolation, and it is consolation which copiously flows from the waters of salvation. Thence may we be enabled to take large draughts of vigour and of bliss, whenever we become faint and weary under the burdens which are laid on us during our earthly pilgrimage! Amen.
* Memoirs of Dr. Leechman's Life, by Dr. Wodrow.
ON THE DEATH OF AN AGED CHRISTIAN
IN HUMBLE CIRCUMSTANCES.
To you so long a span? Alas! ye sigh:
portions all his gifts by the rules of infinite wisdom, that our departed sister should be surrounded by the splendours of rank, or wealth, or earthly greatness. Her lot was cast among the tenants of the vale: and never was it more clearly seen that the real enjoyment of life depends less upon outward circumstances than upon the dispositions and feelings of the heart. She knew with what propriety the apostle could say, “Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in another.”* She felt the force and beauty of his exclamation, “ This is our rejoicing, even the testimony of our consciences, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, we have had our conversation in the world.”+ Amidst inconveniences, privations, and difficulties, her principles displayed their power; producing the fair fruits of virtue, opening inexhaustible sources of consolation, and rendering her humble dwelling the abode of industry, contentment, cheerfulness, and peace.
* Gal. vi. 4.
+ 2 Cor. i. 12.
She was a worshipper of the one true God, through his beloved Son Jesus Christ; and it affords me a mournful pleasure to think on the concern which she manifested for the prosperity of this Christian society --on the regularity with which, while she enjoyed a tolerable degree of health and strength, and even when her great age and increasing weakness would have excused her to others, she took her seat among us-on the holy fervour and animation with which she was wont to celebrate the high praises of her God-and on the unaffected seriousness and candour with which on all occasions she listened to the instructions of this place.
Nor can I refrain from mentioning it to her honour, that she was always early as well as constant in her attendance. So established and perfect was this habit, that I am scarcely able to recollect a single instance of her entering the house of prayer after its services were begun. She was sensible that every duty in which we here engage is an important duty : and she appears, moreover, to have acted upon the maxim which in this respect governed the conduct of a pious and enlightened Christian of her own sex, who, on being asked the reason of her always coming so early to church, wisely said—“ It is a part of my religion not to disturb the religion of others."*
For the true and lasting welfare of all the members
• Mrs. Chapone.