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attend my death-bed, and to close my eyes? or shall I see bim wither away in bis bloom, and lay him in a premature grave?" Cease, weak nature, from wading in this dark and deep stream of perplexity, and keep on the solid ground of fact and of duty. Cease, fond parents, from inquiries so profitless, that they cannot, of themselves, benefit either you, or your children, even the worth of the dust beneath your feet; and neglect not that which is of more value than much fine gold. The important fact is this, that, as yet, they are with yon. Teach them now to fear the Lord; for thus shall you certainly attend to what belongs to yourselves; and, if the blessing of God be superadded, you shall be the instruments of preparing them for a lengthened lite of usefulness, or for an early death of peace.
Nor is it easy for us to keep within proper limits, when we begin, as is very common, to meditate on what may be the state of individuals who have left this world. When the tie that united one of our acquaintances to this lower world is loosed, and be leaves his lifeless body behind him, we are ready, as it were, to follow his disencumbered spirit in its (light,—ready to ask, Whitbe r has it gone'( Has it soared to undless happiness, or sunk where hope never enters? It is true that thi±re are cases in which we cannot avoid having our fears; for "some men's sins arc open beforehand, going before to judgment." And it is true that there are cases in wiiieb we are authorised to entertain the most del ightful hopes; for when men during their life have gi-ven every evidence of grace, what is left for us but to believe that at their death they have gone to glory? Hut it is obvious that we may be mistaken on both hands; and that we ought to hold it as a general rule that it is neither our province, nor our interest, to form or to pronounce any positive opinion. When it is considered that the state of the dead, be it what it may, is a fixed state, and, of course, that no opinion or exertion of ours can make the slightest alteration on i*, it concerns us to draw instruction from their death to ourselves, to remember, for example, that we mus"t soon follow them to the grave, to avoU whatever may have been faulty, and to imitate whatever may ha^'e been praiseworthy in their conduct, and to feel reminded to attend to the interests of those who remain with us, while yet our attention can be of any avail.
Preparation for Death The season of sickness or
of a death-bed is surely very unsuitable for preparation for eternity, when the body is frequently racked by pain, when the intellectual faculties are often impaired; and even when they are preserved in a perfectly sound state, are, from the general suffering to which the frame is subjected, totally disqualified for the collection of the thoughts. While health and strength are continued with
us, while the mind is in full vigour, let us therefore be
warned to seek an interest in salvation, so, that, being reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, we may be assured, that " living or dying we shall be the Lord's," that, when the " Son of Man cometli as a thief in the night," he »nuy find us those profitable servants, whom be will invite to " enter into the joy of their Lord,"— that the grave may become to our bodies the bed of rest, while our spirits join the assembly of just men made perfect,—that death may prove to us the introduction to eternal glory and immortal felicity; and that at the last we may be able to take up the language of the apostle, " O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where s thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the itrength of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who riveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." ;i Cor. xv. 53—57.) The reflection, that death, which was originally a curse, has been converted into u bless
ing to the believer, and has been rendered a passage to immortality, ought to inspire cur breasts with feelings of the wannest gratitude to bim, through whose instrumentality this happy change has been effected. When we consider the intrinsic value of the benefit, and the great cost at which it was purchased, even by the sufferings and death of the Redeemer, it is impossible for us to estimate what ought to be the intensity of our feelings of the deepest obligation. The Saviour has not indeed delivered his followers from temporal death, " for he himself tasted death for every man," but he has deprived it of all its destructive influence, and has rendered it an introduction into his own presence. In order to kindle in the liveliest manner grateful feelings in our hearts, let us remember the price by which he purchased such a boon; let us consider the contradiction of sinners, which, on our account, he underwent; let us call to mind his agony and bloody sweat in the garden; the hidings of his Father's countenance, which he endured for a season for our Bakes; his crucifixion, death, and burial. Let us consider what he has achieved; let us remember, that by lus glorious resurrection, he became the " first fruits of them that slept," and has enabled all his believing followers to cherish the certain hope of a similar debverance from the grave; that he has assured them, that " concerning them which are asleep," they need "sorrow not even as others which have no hope; " for if they " believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him ;" and that he is (John xi. 25) " the resurrection and the life ;" that " he tbatbelieveth in " him, " though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believethin him shall never die." Besides the assurance given to all his followers of a glorious immortality, by his own resurrection, he has, by bis ascension into heaven at the Father's right band, gone to prepare numerous mansions, and, by his continual intercession, he sends supplies of grace and comfort, which cheer the hearts of believers in tbeir most trying circumstunces, and diffuse a peace over their departing moments. He is truly said to have " brought life and immortality to light by the Gospel," for what the speculations of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, did but imperfectly explore, and what Moses, in his preparatory dispensation, but dimly shadowed forth, He has fully revealed.—T. Russell.
Nature and Grace.-—Nature teaches us to quarrel with our neighbours, but grace teaches us to quarrel with ourselves Ueiuudge.
./In old Apologue.—A man going out of his beaten and directed way to gather unlawful fruits, fell into a deep pit. In his fall, he caught hold on the arm of a tree growing in it. Thus he hung in the midway, betwixt the upper fight from which he fell, and the lower darkness to which he was falling, lie looks downward, and sees two worms gnawing at the root of this tree, lie looks upward, and spies on a branch a hive of honey. He climbs up to it and feedeth on it. Rut, in the meantime, the worms did bite in sunder the root, and down falls man, and tree and all, into the bottom of the dark pit. Man himself is this wretch, who, straying from the way of God's commandments, fell to cat of the forbidden fruit,—instantly be fell. The pit over which he bangctb is the grave; the tree whereby he holdeth is this mortal life; the two worms are day and night; the hive of honey is the pleasures and lusts of this world. Thereupon be greedily feeds, until the two consumers, day and night, in their vicissitudes, have eaten asunder the root of life. Then down drops earth to earth, there it must lodge in the silent grave, neither seeing nor seen, blended in the forgotten dust and undistinguished mould, till it be awakened by the
archangel's trump in the t»ruat clay of Christ Old
SCOTTISH CHRISTIAN HERALD,
CONDUCTED UNDER THE SUPERINTENDENCE OF MINISTERS AND MEMBERS OP
THE ESTABLISHED CHURCH.
HINTS ON SPIRITUAL DEPRESSION.
By Thb Rev. William Muir, D.D.,
Minister of St. Stephen's Parish, Edinburgh.
How ought affliction to be met by us? is a question at all times interesting. Even in our times of greatest prosperity, we cannot conceal from ourselves how uncertain is the hold we have of earthly good. To think of our passing along a course which neither difficulty shall interrupt, nor sorrow embitter, is the dream of ignorance, or the oolish claim of presumption. We soon learn hat "men are born to trouble;" that the very tersons who remain long, as if they were excepions from the common lot, are still brought to eel its saddening influence; that the most proserous, in the height of their successes, experience uuiy things that detract from their immediate ijoyments, and that calamity at last strikes the lore deeply, in proportion to the length of the sison during which the blow has been suspended.
How ought affliction to be met by us, then? is ways an interesting question. But this question, *b in speculation and in practice, has been differtly settled. Two schemes of conduct have been oposed as an answer, that are decidedly opposite, l the one hand, a stern philosophy has laboured produce contempt of suffering, and to neutralize 1 sharpness of calamity, by blunting the sensity that renders us alive to it. On the other id, the boasted skill of the gay world has preed and commended the varieties of social plea38, as what shall yield the quickest and best idote to mortal griefs. The latter prescription )f course, the more acceptable of the two. An mpt to reason down the consciousness of pain ot likely to meet anywhere with a cordial reion, and the scheme that proposes it, there, has been advocated only by some visionaries, , in their pride of singularity, have rather affecti follow it, than actually reduced it to pracJ.JuT the plan of counteracting evils by dly pleasures, and of quenching the sense of cbedness in the gaieties of life, is more plaus
has found multitudes of admirers, has been ided in theory, and been oftener embraced with imentary but delusive experience of success.
No state of mind is more to be lamented than that in which the visitation of calamity is met by sentiments and conduct such as have now been described, whether proud reasoning would resist, or false pleasure would bribe away the sense of affliction. Yet this state of mind is exemplified. Indeed, it is exemplified as one of the most frequently recurring proofs of human corruption. How often, instead of the humble and contrite bending of our wills to the chastening rod, is there "the turning aside from it, as with necks unaccustomed to the yoke!" How ofteu do symptoms appear of that secret atheism of our fallen nature, which would incite us to cast off restraint, and to hasten, if possible, whither the dominion that controuls us might never reach! How often is an endeavour made to procure help and consolation from any quarter but from the divine hand! How often is the urgent endeavour made not onlv to get rid of the poignancy of affliction, but to obliterate from the mind all impressions equally of the chastisement, and of him who dispenses it, and the purpose for which it is administered! Alas! suffering, though designed to promote our return to God, is often utterly fruitless of all its blessed effect. The way of our return, as opened up by the Gospel—the way of salvation through free and sovereign grace, is what " mars the pride of man," and is, therefore, intolerable to the proud heart, while fellowship with the High and Holy One is shunned, because it would bring us under a sense of the very controul, which, by our selfindulgence, is felt as most irksome and oppressive. Rather than return to God, we accordingly desire, as our first parents did, to "flee his presence, to hide ourselves from him," and to lose the dread, and even the thought of him, in the coverts of this earth's blighted paradise; or, if compelled to think on him, we think on him as our enemy. O! most falsely accused! not our enemy, even amid the sorest of the chastisements which thou inflictest. Thou bringest us to feel the power of thy arm to smite and wound, but it is that we may seek thy mercy, which is able and ready to bind up and heal.
In answer to the question, then, How ought affliction to be met? the wisdom of the Bible teaches what is infinitely separated both from the stoic's apathy, and the epicurean's licentiousness. This neither caljs us to root wit the sensibility pf the heart, or even, in any deeree, to suppress it, nor to try to bribe away the consciousness of suffering by worldly expedients. The plan which the wisdom of the Bible proposes, is alone suited to beings endowed with reason, and made for immortality, and what alone can supply present consolation, and secure lasting; benefit. We are to recognise the hand that chastens us. We are to confess our sins, and to be grateful that we are visited less than our iniquities deserve. We are to own and adore the sovereignty of God—to acknowledge his rectitude—to acquiesce in his will—to seek his favour—to wait on the promises pf his mercy in the Saviour—to hold communion with him—and to ask, by the prayer of faith and devotedness, the sanctified use of his dispensations. It is thus that, under sufferings, we are brought tp peace; are enabled to endure not only with patience but with cheerful resignation; are sustained by the hope of that "eternal weight of glory" which renders the "present affliction light, and as only for a moment j" and are prepared for receiving the whple good of " that chastening in which the soul is duly exercised."
I. There are those who have withstood all the means employed to restore them tp Gpd. They were visited with calamities, and driven by these into some of the thoughts of penitence. But the seriousness produced, went away with the occasion of it • They have listened to many calls pf j:race, and have not been insensible tp their meaning and importance. But they have npt followed wluther these calls would have led them. They have been aroused by the pangs of conscience, and at times been agitated by the terrors pf the judgment to come. But still even these have not moved them out of their spiritual distance from God. They must own that they are not yet reconciled to him,—that they cannot, with reasonableness, pray to him as their Father; and that they are conscious, therefore, of no train of thought being so ungrateful to them as what would pecupy their minds with the perfections pf his character, and with the prospect pf their final meeting with him. Their wretched experience is npw what it has hitherto been; that the varied dispensations of heaven have left them more averse tp return to God than before.
Is this experience tp be prolonged? Are the warnings of providence to be still ineffectual? Are the calls of grace to be still opposed? While mercy spreads its solicitations without winning, is the rod to wield its terrors equally in vain? Say, what is the only issue of such a couree? Can any "harden themselves against the Almighty and prosper?" Are not "despisers at last to see their error, and wonder, and perish?" "Now is the accepted time. Now is the day of salvation."
II. There are those on whom calamity has inflicted a deep wound. They deem the wound to be incurable. They cannot raise their thpughts
abpve the circumstances in which it was received, and ?he instruments that dealt it. They are ever busied among; the secondarv causes of their grief.. They recur to "the gall and the wormwood »imh their souls have still in remembrance." And even when they attempt to seek consolation from the Word of God, they are discouraged by the frcwr.jng- aspects of his providence. But let them seriously consider the whole case. Can they doubt that, through the course of afflictive events, U* care of a father has been superintending them? Can they doubt that designs of grace pervade the mystcriousness of the supreme government? Can they doubt that every trial is onlv to increase in bitterness, by their dwelling exclusively on the circumstances pf it, pr by cherishing fearful ami suspicious thoughts pf its dispenser? Let them rise, then, superior to the secondary causes of their afflictions. Let them look to the first cause, and to the gracious purposes for which He acts. Le: them regard his hand as ordering every temporal loss to promote and enhance an everlasting jrait. Let them hear his voice in the calamities of bfe, as exhprting them with renewed earnestness to seek his favour. Let them meet his chastisements as the zealous watchings of the Shepherd brimnK them and keeping them within the fold of redemption. All is harassment and misery to the soa: while it is estranged in affection from God, wiiii* it feels, in his presence, the dread of tie slave, ur the reluctance of the suspicious child. But d/s* near to him as reconciled to you by Christ Jewts. Kneel before his rod with the filial reverenos last adores the justness pf every one of his dispensations. From the same Being who wounds, seek and expect the cure. Pray that you mav to enabled to lose your own will in the confiding approval of his will. This is the very end proposoby him in his discipline over you. The g&iair; of this brings to j ou consolation. Here is pearr. "He waiteth to be gracious. He hid his face. toJ it was as for a moment, that, with evertm.-t.ckindness, he might receive you."
HI. There are those, whom the conviction a sin is "piercing with many sorrows." It is w c that the conviction of sin is felt. This form.- ta subject of gratitude to the Spirit of all prar-s "Woe to them who are at ease in Zion." *» Bk~-j ed are they who mourn, for they shall be confer ed." But, observe, while the conviction of &ld. felt, how it operates, and whither it leads- i ought to lead you to the cross of Christ- to ri mercy of God, to the throne pf grace, to tbe baa ble and earnest petitioning for pardon. It oxasi to combine closely the sense of your need, wida in the fulness of the divine provision for voor i Never, in its appointed course, will convic sin tend to separate the greatness of the evil tl bewailed, from the greatness pf the love whit atoned for the guilt, and is able to deliver fn power of sin. If the sting of the serpent is i is to constrain you to look, with the more i intenseness, to the miraculous standard el raised by the Gospel far the cure of the p*n