תמונות בעמוד



NE of the most pathetic and yet comforting sayings

ever recorded is that attributed to David ;—He knoweth our frame : He remembereth that we are dust." On the face of it, there does not seem anything very cheering or cheerful in these words; but there is something very tender, very gracious, and very comforting at the heart of them; though, in order to feel that, we need to be in the right mood, or in the right state of mind. To the strong, buoyant, hopeful, confident spirit, there is no particular grace or helpfulness in the statement that there is one who remembers we are dust.” The warm fresh healthy blood courses through the veins; the gallant heart beats its time more like a conqueror than a suppliant; the limbs leap to action, and are not dragged along by hard necessity; the will and thought, undulled and unhindered, answer like flashes of light to the spirit's call. To such an one, little meaning would there be in the saying,—“He knoweth our frame: he remembereth that we are dust.” But life is not all strength, and buoyancy, and hope, and confidence: and, even to these glorious young creatures, there may come times of trial, and disappointment, and heart-ache, when the quiet hand, and the deep-seeing eye, and the gracious sympathetic spirit who could enter into the trouble, and feel for and with it, with all its poor earthly needs, would be a veritable God


send. For after all,—and that is what the words mean,we are only poor weaklings, when we are tested: and the man who seems the strongest, and who carries his head the highest, and who appears to have and to be all that man could wish, will have to feel how the arrows can pierce him, and in how many ways he also can be made to know that he is but dust. At such times what is the truest consolation; and who is the truest consoler? In our real troubles, we do not want to have the grief disguised, and he is no true healer of stricken hearts who would try to do it. He is the true consoler who, as was said of the great consoler, Jesus, is "touched with the feeling of our infirmity," who knows how the poor heart palpitates beneath all the brave exterior, and of whom the sorrowful say—“He knoweth our frame: He remembereth that we are dust."

Few things need more careful and practical remembrance in daily life. And yet how seldom we remember it; nay! how little we understand it! We are apt to apply one standard to all—to expect the same behaviour and temper from all—to estimate people as kind or unkind, good-natured or evilly disposed, as they do this or that, heedlessly assuming that all start with the same ability to be cool, or to be patient, or to keep things in mind, or to be gracious. Ah me! if we could know all the truth, we should have a very different estimate of one another.

“Judge not: the workings of his brain

And of his heart thou can’st not see.
What looks to thy dim eyes a stain,

In God's pure light may only be
A scar brought from some well-won field
Where thou would'st only faint and yield.

It is a

The look, the air, that frets thy sight,

May be a token that, below,
The soul has closed in deadly fight

With some infernal fiery foe,
Whose glance would scorch thy smiling grace,

And cast thee shuddering on thy face." This opens up a vast world of thought respecting the treatment of one another in common life. We are all too much under the delusion that every one is equally responsible because equally amenable to self-control. great delusion.

Some taint of blood, some want of balance in the brain, or lack of tone in the nerves, or even some deficiency of strength in certain muscles, may make all the difference between amiability and irritability, self-control or the first stage of insanity, cheerfulness or depression, sociability or morbid brooding. Nay, causes as apparently trivial as a sensitive eye, or a skin of a certain texture, (to which we, curiously enough, bear witness in our common speech when we talk of an over sensitive person as

“thin-skinned”) may make all the difference between a miserable and a happy man—a difference that will be perceivable in a hundred ways-in fact, in the whole character and life.

How thoughtful, pitiful, and patient, this should make us! A perfect understanding of it might even completely change our estimate of the amount of conscious and responsible sin in the world. What if, after all, we are the victims of dust, not of depravity? What if we are but poor blind bunglers in this reliance upon mere rebuking and punishing? Perchance the angels bend with intensest interest over those we punish with intensest wrath. They

[ocr errors]

see the cause of crime. What is our real condition? Shakspeare knew, and makes Lorenzo sweetly tell it.

“There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubim.
Such harmony is in immortal souls:
But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay

Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.” What if the density and quality of this “muddy vesture of decay” makes all the difference? What if, while men and women sneer, or blame, or loathe, the angels of the Lord “remember," and wait for the hour of the poor soul's deliverance,-for its birth into the world beyond the “muddy" conditions that now so cruelly "close it in "?

So we come upon the profound and pathetic truth, with all its suggestiveness, that all things are passed through the poor dull dusty body to the soul. Not without significance is the ancient Hebrew legend that man was “made of the dust of the ground,” and that “into” him was breathed “the breath of life,” that became

a living soul.” And now that soul within the true man waits for tidings,—waits for emancipation. It has, indeed, its own realm of perception and sensation, but in relation to the outward world it only sees what the dull eye

of dust can transmit; it only hears the little that the dull ear can catch; it is only informed about what this poor half-dead hand of earth can touch. Truly, we now only see “through a glass darkly;" but the open vision will come, and presently we shall see even these outward things 6 face to face."

What a consolation for us to know these things,-to know that we have never yet had full possession of our real selves,—that behind this “muddy vesture of decay” the real man sits and waits, and that above us is One who perfectly understands us, even He who made us, who knows our weakness, and the meaning of life's struggle here, to whom we can look up and say,—Thou knowest our frame, thou rememberest we are but dust!

Very blessed and helpful, too, is it to know that spiritually we are still most livingly related to those who are on the other side: that we are not forgotten by these; nay, but that we are now better known and better understood. The dear old love of earth is purified now by the knowledge and the charity that Heaven has given. The old care for our welfare has ripened into enlightened service. The ties that had their origin not merely in earthly relationships but in spiritual sympathies, are made immortal, “I go to prepare a place for you,” said Jesus to his sorrowing brethren; “and if I go to prepare a place for you I will come again and receive you unto myself.” And so say our beloved ones from beyond the vail. They remember us; they help us; they are preparing a place for us; and they will come presently and receive us to themselves. The good careful mother has not ceased to provide for her children, and the child who is there will not forget to repay the mother's care a thousand-fold : and the loneliest of us, when that unseen land is reached, will see with amazement and joy how graciously we have been

remembered”—how many there were who helped “to prepare a place” for us.

« הקודםהמשך »