« AnteriorContinuar »
withdrawn, and our hope is saddened. Then enters a reasonable fear': and fear is the opposite of hope. Another cause of the obscuring of hope, is, infirmity. When the spirits are enfeebled by ill health, or long-continued adversity, the mind is sometimes scarce able to apprehend the sweet and cheering promises of the Gospel : the providences of God seem to be against us, and we feel as if all hope were taken away.
The methods of obtaining an increase of this grace, are these :-
First, to look well to the ground of our hope: taking care to have it established on a sure and lively faith.
Next, to cherish its sanctifying effect on the heart. If we would have a hope that maketh not ashamed, we must have it accompanied with the love of God shed abroad in our hearts. “ Every one that bath this hope,” saith St. John, “ purifieth himself even as he is pure.” Holy fear is also by St. Peter closely connected with holy hope. (See 1 Peter i. 13–17.)
And thirdly, with regard to those infirmities of the mind by which sometimes even a well-grounded hope is obscured, we should earnestly beseech God to remove them. So long as there is a thread of hope, we should cling to it. As the Psalmist did, in composing the fortysecond Psalm, so let us reason with ourselves, and even command our hearts not to despond : “ Why art thou cast down, O my soul; and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God.”-Add · likewise the Apostle's prayer : “ Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Rom. xv. 13.)
3. Love. This grace, as St. Paul declares, “ is the fulfilling of the law." Whatever good thing is felt or done, towards either God or man, it springs from, tends to, and centres in love. “God is love : and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him.”
Concerning the nature of this noblest of principles and affections, we shall not speak particularly : for it is itself; it speaks for itself; it explains itself to the heart of one who feels it, without any further help of words. To him who feels it not, no language can describe it. Moreover, what is said concerning the increase of this grace, will to a great extent describe its nature : on this point therefore we shall now chiefly dwell.
Love is increased in answer to prayer : therefore the Apostle, in his intercession for the Philippians, begins with this prime grace : “ And this I pray, that your love may abouud yet more and more." (Phil. i. 9.)
Increase of love attends upon increase of faith : consequently St. Paul, in that noble passage (Eph. iii. 17-19.) prays, “ That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length, and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge."
Love is increased by our frequently taking a view of our own great vileness and unworthiness. For, to whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much.
Like all other graces, love is increased by exercise." Therefore, in order that we may love God with all the heart, we should constantly
be studying bis will, and shew our love by actively obeying it. .“ This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments, and his commandments are not grievous.”
Love is frequently increased by resistance and opposition : and therefore the scorn and hatred of a persecuting world has always been found to augment, rather than to diminish this affection. • Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.” Sometimes unmerited neglect helps to strengthen, instead of weakening, this grace : thus St. Paul says to the Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love, the less I be loved.” This is indeed to be like Christ; who
our enemies, and to bless them that curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use us, and persecute us.
When a friend is absent, our love towards him is kept alive and increased by our having his picture, on which to meditate. Thus may we, in the pious poor, behold a picture of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The good we do to them, he considers as done to himself. Here then - is a method always at hand for increasing this grace.
The love of Christ implies the renouncing of self-love. Therefore the more diligent we are in denying our proud wills and seltish humours, the more free will our hearts become for the growth of this holy and godlike grace. “ Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us : and we ought to lay down our life for the brethren.” (1 John iii. 16.)
In a word, love is the grace which fills all heaven, and constitutes the glory of the realms of bliss. Let us constantly remember that our citizenship is in heaven : let us pray for that temper which we shall wish for, when we come to die ; and let us daily aim at maintaining a heavenly walk and conversation. Thus doing, we shall be led by God's own good Spirit to attain the increase of faith, hope, and charity.
THE STUDENT'S DEATH BED.
From the New York Evangelist.
THE place looked like the abode of happiness. It was a low dwelling-house, at a little distance from the busy centre, from the inn, the stores, the lawyer's offices, around which all the business of the place gathered ; and it was not near the village church, although from the parlour windows you might catch, through the trees, a glimpse of the not far distant spire. If the appearance of the house did not betoken affluence, yet the large inclosure around either indicated the easy circumstances of the owner, or showed that the rage for speculation in village lots had not reached this secluded spot. These grounds were filled with fruit and shrubbery. The apple, the plum, the pear, the peach, and the cherry tree were covered with blossoms. The lilac and the acacia were loading the air with their sweet, yet almost sickening fragrance; the piony and the snow-ball were blooming in bright and beautiful contrast; the cinnamon rose almost covered the sides of the house; the sweet brier had climbed to the eaves, and the honeysuckle, the sweetest of all flowers, just breathed upon by the dews of night, was entwined around the porch, and emitting its own delightful fragrance. Yet amidst this profusion of beauty, there was an air of sadness diffused around the place. The master of the house closed the gate softly and carefully, as if he feared to disturb the sick, and moved with a slow and lingering step, as though his heart were heavy, and an expression of deep sadness was mingled with the solemnity which usually rests on the brow of the pastor who met him.
The parlour windows opened upon a piazza, upon which were placed some choice and beautiful green-house plants; and near these, bolstered in an easy chair, and wrapped in his sick gown, reclined the invalid. He was perhaps eighteen, for the gown but just shaded his cheek, but his high and intellectual forehead, his bright and piercing eye indicated a maturity of character not often attained at this age. His thin, emaciated hand held a small Greek Testament, while his bloated feet, raised and supported by pillows, declared too plainly that he was in the last stages of a fatal and insidious disease. Behind the chair, situated so as to partly support his head, stood one who must have been his mother.
Their features were the same, the same forehead, the same eye, the same sweet yet firm mouth. The son had inherited his mother's beauty, and as she supported her dying child, you might trace at once the resemblance and the difference. There was an expression of deep solemnity in the face of the dying boy ; yet even in this hour, there was mingled with it something of the hope and gladness of youth, while the expression of the mother's indicated deep and heartfelt sadness united to devout submission--although the frequently quivering lip, and the moistened and upraised eye showed how great the effort made to attain it. The mother had been a pre-eminently beautiful woman ; but she looked worn from care and sorrow, and the features of the son, wasted as he was by disease, were still so beautiful and regular that they would have been thought feminine, bad not their high and intellectual expression redeemed their character; while the lofty brow of the mother might have indicated a pride which would have ill-befitted her Christian standing, and a sterpness which does not beseem her sex, had it not been relieved by the habitually softened and subdued expression of her face.
The windows faced the west, and the invalid was so placed that he could watch the last rays of the setting sun. It was a glorious scene-glittering mountains of every hue were piled upon each other. But who can describe such a sunset ? Who can dip his pen or his pencil in the colours of the rainbow, and bring before you the beauties of such a sky?
The youth fixed his brightened eye upon the western hemisphere, and watched those moving masses of gold, and crimson, and azure, and his feverish and hurried breathing grew deeper, calmer, and more regular, while the mother gazed alternately upon her dying child and upon those fading glories. She then shut her eyes as if she could not bear the visions presented; but her feelings could not be repressed, and the large drops fell silently and slowly upon the face of her child. for ever; and the father, although he came to the door, groaned and hastily closed it, as if his darkened soul could not bear the glorious beauty of such a morning. Still, no wail of despair, no loud complaint of grief or lamentation were in that smitten habitation. They mourned—but they mourned not as those who mourn without hope. They praised God for the mercy which he had manifested to their child. They blessed him for the assurance which they felt, that their loss was gain to him ; and although the mother, in the first burst of anguish, had fung herself upon her husband's bosom, and exclaimed, . We are childless,' she had been checked by his mild reproof- No, my love our child has only gone a little before us.'
• Mother,' said he, and she leaned over him and touched her lips to his cheek, as she answered, “What, my son ?'.
He drew her to him, and feebly kissed her pale cheek as he added, • That sun will rise to-morrow, and we shall meet again.' 'I trust so, my child, and in a better world than this.'
Yes, mother; in a world of glory and beauty of which even yonder sky is but a faint type ; and, mother, we shall join the great assembly before the throne, and see the good and just of all countries, and of all ages; we shall mingle with angels and archangels, and more than this, we shall behold Him who hath accomplished the mysteries of our redemption, who hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, and laid down his life for our sake.
Blessed be God, for such hopes, my child,' replied the mother, with a faint smile, as with her small band she raised the dark masses of hair from his forehead, and bathed his pale and clammy brow.
My father,' said he, extending his hand to his father, who had entered the room, and who now stood by his side, and upon whose plain but manly features was written deep anxiety. The father took his hand, and drew a seat near to his child, although his choking voice forbade the attempt to speak, and he raised his eyes to his wife with an expression of utter hopelessness, after he had gazed upon the face of his son.
The seal of death was indeed upon that young brow, and he knew that in a few hours he must be childless, and the bright and cherished being before him must be consigned to the dark and silent grave.
• I fear that it is getting too damp, will you take Edward in your arms and carry him to his bed, father ?' asked the wife in a calm and almost cheerful tone; and the father groaned as he rose to comply with her request, and he shut his teeth together as he murmured to himself— for the last time.'
. I am not very heavy now, father,' said the son, as he lay like an infant in his father's arms; but you have carried me many years. How kind you have always been to me, my dear father,' he added, as he kissed his father's cheek.
• Oh, my son,' groaned the father, and then he struggled to suppress bis emotion, lest it should disturb his dying child.
The household were assembled. The father offered, as was his wont, his evening prayer by the bed-side of the son ; and although at times his choking voice almost forbade his utterance, there was praise and thanksgiving mingled with supplication, and then the domestics gathered around the bed and received the usual kind, though feeble salutation, and then they slowly withdrew and left him with his mother, perhaps to sleep-perchance to die.
The sun rose. gloriously and beautifully the next morning. The birds put forth their notes of sweet and joyful melody. The flowers gemmed with the dews of night, displayed their richest beauty, and shed their sweetest perfume around that darkened dwelling. There was beauty and brightness without there was sadness and desolation within. The mother did not dare trust herself to look upon the beauties which she had last enjoyed with one whose eyes were closed
These parents were hardly in the prime of life, and years of lonely desolation were before them; and as their pastor, after he had wept and prayed with them, took his leave, be said
"You have now only to live for God.' ..God grant that we may,' was the response of the father, while the mother hid her face with her hands, and wept with bitterness as she repeated, “And thine idols I will utterly remove.'
The youth upon whose last hours we have thus dwelt, was of uncommon promise ; and many wondered at a dispensation which so early removed one whose piety and talents gave the pledge of a life of usefulness, and had thus smitten parents who had early dedicated their child to God, and who had so assiduously sought to fit him for his service. And while the wise shook their heads, and whispered that such early piety and premature developement were the sure precursors of an early death, few deemed it necessary, and some would have thought it criminal, to ask whether the very means used to insure his mental and spiritual improvement, might not have prostrated his physical powers, and made him an early victim to the well-in. tended but mistaken system of parental education.
Mrs. M- , a woman of uncommon natural endowments, had married early in life a man of plain common sense, but of little mental cultivation. They lived peacefully and happily together, for he honoured her, and she respected him.-Still she felt, although she might not acknowledge, bis deficiencies, and when she became a mother, she diligently devoted herself to the mental cultivation of her child. He was a bright and sweet boy, inheriting his mother's temperament and character, and amply rewarding her, by his rapid improvement, for her unremitting care.
Twenty years since, the attention of mothers was hardly directed to the physical system, while it was even more fashionable then than now, to urge the early developement of the mental powers. Mrs. M never forgot that her child was an intellectual, an immortal being; but she scarcely considered that he had likewise an animal existence, and that there was a close alliance between the mind and the body in which it was lodged. In her eagerness to polish the gem, she forgot the frail casket which enshrined it. Her tenderness insured his happiness during his infancy and childhood, and although a delicate, he was not a sickly child. She took the supervision of his education, and early and carefully formed the habits which she wished to establish. She taught him to love his book, his pencil, to admire every opening flower, and to find delight in all the changing aspects