תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

promise, or sweet consoling paragraph of that blessed | ward, not knowing whither. O, had Walter Flem. volume, and speak of the strength and comfort it ing possessed the patriarch's faith, and chosen the afforded to the weak in purpose or wounded in spirit. patriarch's God as his guide, how confidently and

The ‘unbelieving husband' could not fail to re- firmly would he have walked in the 'footsteps of spect a faith that produced such fruits. He saw it the flock. As it was, he was doubting and anxious, exhibited in the sweet composure of his wife's feel and it required constant exertion on the part of Alice ings, the evenness of her temper, the charitablenese to raise bis drooping spirits, and cheer him on his of her heart, and more than all in the cheerful and way. unrepining spirit with which she met disappointment Ten days found the pilgrims nearly ten hundred and loss. He could not but feel that there was a miles from the home of their childhood and the scenes reality in such a religion, and sometimes, as upon of comfort that had encircled their wedded life. Mr. the evening to which we have alluded, he would Fleming had saved from the wreck of his fortune seem forced to acknowledge it.

enough to procure for his family a small lodge in the Mr. Fleming left his house on the morning of the wilderness, and here they soon collected their little day after which our little narrative commenced, with all. a shaded brow and heavy heart. Alice watched him Alice had been a communicant in the episcopal from the window with a feeling of piety which was church since the age of fifteen, and within its halfollowed by a fervent aspiration that the integrity lowed precincts she had dedicated her children to her of the upright might guide him in all his inter Saviour in holy baptism. Walter and Ellen had course with a tempting and regardless world. learned to love the church of their mother's love,

Weeks passed on-the look of anxiety deepened and to lisp its hymns and prayers, although the one on the countenance of Mr. Fleming, while that was but seven, and the other four years of age. Alice retained its placid calmness, or, perhaps, was more ready than usual to break into a smile. One evening, after a painful silence, he said with much It was Sunday morning the first Sabbath of the feeling

strangers in a strange land. The sun arose in unusual “ It is no use to struggle any longer-I have brilliancy, and its rich light fell gorgeously on the looked at our affairs in every point of view, and I dark woods of Indiana, that bounded the opposite see no way in which I can resume business—I think shore of the Ohio, on whose banks our pilgrims were we must decide upon going West; do you think, located. The scene was solemn and grand-the Alice, that you can consent to follow the broken waves of the noble river rolled by in gentle dignity, fortunes of your husband ?"

and, as they washed the shore, alone broke the pro“Do you doubt it, Walter ? I have told you re- found stillness that reigned around. peatedly, that I stood ready to go wherever you Alice had arisen with the dawn of day, and stood believed duty or even interest pointed.”

at their cottage door looking abroad on the beauty "I know you have said it, Alice, and you have of the scene—its natural eloquence spoke to her fairly 'counted the cost of an exile from home and heart, and she felt that, perhaps, in this land of si. all its sweet associations; but you know not yet lence and solitude she might be brought nearer her what it is to pay it, and I fear, when the time really God than she had ever yet been. “But my children, approaches, even your resolute spirit will fail, and my precious little ones,” she exclaimed, “how shall I you will look back with regret to the good land you teach you to yielıl your young affections to your God, are leaving.'

in a region where no temple rises to his name, and “ I shall doubtless look back, Walter, but I trust his worship is unknown ?'' Then arose the soothing not with murmuring spirit, I shall leave much that reflection that the promise was to them and their I love, but there is but one object that deserves the children,' and she resolved to do her part in faith. name of sacrifice. I leave a land of religious light fulness, and to leave the result to him, who alone and privileges, for one where they are unknown, or conld sanctify and bless her efforts. what is worse, disregarded. But I trust in time to When Alice returned to the house she found her be fully reconciled to even this deprivation, for God little son, Walter, up and dressed with great care is everywhere, and can grant us the light of his coun. and neatness, having taken, himself, from his trunk, tenance and the joy of his presence in the wilderness his bright Sunday suit, which had not been removed and solitary places as well as in the proud cathedral since his mother's hanil packed it before leaving with its crowds of worshippers. Yes, I am ready, home. When seated at their simple breakfast, he Walter; are you equally so ?

said, “ Mother, where are we going to church to“ Yes, I have brought my mind to it by a strong day? I looked from the top of the highest hill yeseffort, for I see that it must be done, and the sooner terday, as far as my eye could reach, and I could not the better."

see a single steeple, and scarcely a house of any kind : Not many days after, Alice Fleming was seen with I am afraid we shall have a great way to go to a cheerful countenance and willing step, arranging church." her splendid and tasteful furniture, and putting things “ There is no church, my dear Walter, near enough in order for a public sale. All was soon disposed of, for us to attend, and we must worship God to-day and a house so recently a scene of elegance and com- in our own house ; he will listen to our prayers and fort was dreary and desolate. All but the chamber accept our services, if offered in sincerity and truth." of its mistress-there, with the few articles she had Not go to church?exclaimed little Ellen;" why, reserved for herself, her children by her side, and mother, we never staid at home; what shall we do her bible on her stand, sunshine and peace prevailed. all day?" Alice was happy, although she was about leaving her As soon as the duties of the morning were over, home, family, and long tried friends, for an unknown Alice took her children aside, and with their bibles region, and the uncertain good-will of strangers. She and prayer-books went with them through the beau. was happy, because she was doing her duty.

tiful service of our church. Their sweet childish • Such is the bliss of souls serene,

voices made each response in its proper place, and When they have sworn with stedfast mien,

arose in simple melody as they joined their mother Counting the cost in all to espy

in singing the sweet hymns. Their God-in all themselves deny.

Many Sabbaths were thus improved by this pious 0, could we learn that sacrifice, What lights would all around us rise;

parent, until the liturgy became familiar as houseHow would onr hearts with wisdom talk,

hold words to Walter and Ellen. Other studies were Along life's dullest, dreariest walk.'

not neglected, but the children received from their In a few weeks the family were on their way west. mother systematic instruction in the various branches

[ocr errors]

we

to which they had attended in the excellent schools “ Can you take this bitter draught, my little fel at home. Walter was now growing a fine, manly low?" he asked, as he held up the glass that conboy, distinguished for his generosity and the warmth tained the medicine. of his affections; it was interesting to mark his de- “I can take any thing, Sir, that you and my pavotion to his mother. With a consideration seldom rents think best ;" and, as he spoke, he raised himfound in older hearts, he watched her wishes, and self in the bed, and extended his hand for the medi. often anticipated them, and was ever ready most cine, which he drank without hesitation. promptly to deny himself any gratification for her “I do not find many such patients, among children sake. In the midst of her seclusion and apparent of a larger growth,” said Dr. D-, to Mrs. Flemloneliness, Alice enjoyed much real peace. When ing. "Your little son has been well disciplined, the duties of the day were over, she walked with her Madam.” children on the green hills that surrounded their “ He has required but little discipline, Sir ; we home, and endeavoured to lead their young hearts to have been greatly blessed in possessing in Walter a the God of the everlasting-hills, and to spiritualize filial and obedient child.”. every flower that bloomed beneath their feet.

As the symptoms of Walter became more alarm“ Mother,” said Walter, one bright evening, ing, Dr. D-- resolved to spend the remainder of have not had our walk for several days; my head | the day with him, that he might minutely watch the aches sadly this afternoon, and I think I should feel progress of his disease. The little sufferer rolled better if I could breathe some of the fresh air; are restlessly from side to side of the bed, and towards you not sufficiently at leisure to go a short distance night became unconscious of the presence of the kind with me, mother?”

friends who ministered to his wants. Alice calmly Alice looked up as her son spoke, and observing bent over him, bathing his burning brow, and wetthat his face was pale and his eye heavy, quickly laid ting his parched lips, but the anguish of the father aside her work and prepared herself for a walk. knew no bounds, when he perceived by the wild

Walter, whose bounding step would often leave his brillancy of his child's eye, that the inflammation mother and sister far in the distance, now walked had proceeded to his brain. pensively by their side, and they had proceeded but Dr. D-- was obliged to leave the distressed a short distance when he expressed a wish to return, family at sun-set, but returned at noon the next day, complaining of fatigue and an increase of pain in He stood by the little cot for a few moments, and his head. As soon as they reached the house he laid then turned mournfully aside to prepare some medidown, and a flushed cheek and excited pulse folcine. lowed the paleness and languor that his mother had Mr. Fleming could not trust himself to ask his remarked an hour before. She perceived the neces- opinion. sity of immediate and active treatment, and without "You can say nothing to encourage us, Sir," said waiting for the coming of her husband, whose return Alice. she was expecting each moment, she administered “I will not deceive you, my dear Madam-the such remedies as her judgment directed. Walter symptoms are at present obstinate, but they may yet took his medicine withou: speaking, and then gently yield. May God assist our feeble efforts.” laid bis head on his pillow and tried to sleep. His From that moment Alice surrendered her child to mother sat by his side till the shades of night gather- her Maker. Something told her that he must go, ed round them, and then left him but a few moments and with an almost bursting heart, she submitted to to attend to the wants of little Ellen.

the Lord's will. It was not so with Mr. Fleming. “Has not father come yet?" asked Walter. "No, Unsupported by the faith that sustained his wife, he my son, but I am expecting him every moment ; he was prostrated at the bare possibility of his child's promised to return to us to-night, and I have been death. He could not-he would not see his son torn looking for him the past hour.”

thus suddenly from his embrace-hc felt that a “I wish he would come," said the child. “ Hark! | stroke so heavy must not fall upon him. He paced do I not hear the sound of his horse's feet ? Do the room in agony, entreating the physician to save open the door, mother, and listen."

him-but in vain. In a few moments Mr. Fleming was at the bedl-side On the sixth day of his illyess, after a short but of his little boy; he bent anxiously over him, and quiet sleep, he opened his eyes, and exclaimed “Mo. inquired about his feelings.

ther." The heart of Alice bounded with gratitude “I have felt sick for two or three days, father, but at the sound ; it was the first time his lips bad thought I should get over it, and that I had better breathed her name for several days. not trouble mother while you were away ; but my “Mother,” said, he extending his trembling hand, head ached so much this evening, that I could not Mother, does the doctor think I shall get well?". help telling her. I am glad you have come home, Alice hesitated a moment, but the next she said, dear father, please sit down, and stay with me." "I fear not, my son-do you feel willing that it should

The anxiety of Mr. Fleming would not permit him be so ?” to do this. Walter was his first-born child-his “Yes, mother-I am sorry to leave you and father, darling, only son. The little boy not only gratified and dear little sister, but I have felt that I was going his father's pride by his intelligence and generosity, to die ever since the evening I asked you to go and but was bound to his heart by his affectionate and walk with me. I feel very weak. How long have dutiful conduct.

I been sick?" Mr. Fleming perceived that the attack of his child “Only a week, my child-does it seem to you was violent, and determined not to rest until he had longer?" procured medical advice. Although much fatigued "O, yes; I thonght it had many weeks--so many by a wearisome ride of two days, he remounted his things have passed through my mind." jaded horse and proceeded to the nearest town, that Mr. Fleming came in at this moment, and with was ten or twelve miles distant. It was near mid- his wife, rejoiced over the restored reason of their night when he reached the house of Dr. D—, who child. Alas! they knew not that it was but the readily yielded to his urgent request, that he would fickering of the lamp on the eve of expiring in the return with him immediately.

socket. As the day dawned, they reached the cottage, and After an interval of rest, Walter again spoke. and found little Walter under the influence of a “ Father, dear father,” said hc, “the doctor thinks burning fever. Dr. D-- pronounced his case an I shall not get well. I am sorry to go away from alarming one, and proceeded at once to administer you, but I hope I am going to my heavenly Fatherthe most active remedies.

in my trunk you will find my little bible and prayer book that mother gave me last Christmas-they are the mind to a very profitable train of reflecfor you, father, because you have not got any like tion. mother'smand, dear mother, I have been thinking what I could give you, and I have nothing but that

There are some, indeed, who think that box of beautiful shells that I gathered with Ellen on anything like cheerfulness ill accords with the beach at home-that is in the corner of my little those mournful associations which are natudrawer. You must give Ellen all my books, and my rally connected in our minds with that place little garden with sweet peas and golden coreopsis which is the abode of the dead: but such is that I have been hoping to see blossom.”

He sunk back exhausted - Alice offered him a not the view which should be taken of the cordial, but he shook his head. After a few moments matter by the Christian. He does not, when he said, “I hope the Lord Jesus Christ loves me, and he looks upon the spot where the remains of will put me on his right hand among his sheep, those who were once so dear to him are depomother."

“Walter, Walter,” exclaimed Mr. Fleming, as sited, sorrow as one without hope. On the his head fell languidly on his mother's shoulder. contrary, though he may continue to mourn The sweet child answered not. He was 'absent from the body, and present with the Lord.'

as one deprived of that sweet company which

tended to render his pilgrimage through the Dark and desolate was the heart of Mr. Fleming, wilderness of this world joyful; yet he reas he contemplated the remains of his child. No joices at the remembrance, that those whom blessed word of promise found access there whisper. the hand of death has snatched from him are ing, “I may go to him, but he cannot come to me.” not lost to him for ever, and that though his All was dark uncertainty, and he saw his first-born placed in the ground, without faith in the promise cup of joy has been embittered by their rethat he should rise again.

moval, their's has been made to overflow with But the blow brought him to himself, and to that sweetness : for those who have fallen asleep inspired word, that assured him that his child was in Jesus have already entered into their rest; not dead, but sleeping. There he sought consolation; their spirits, set free from this earthly taberand there he found it. He studied, believed, and was a happy man.

nacle, are already in that abode of joy where They that sow in tears shall reap in joy," and the neither sorrow, nor sighing, nor tears, can chastisement, that had seemed to Alice the most interrupt their happiness; and a day is coming severe that could have befallen her, was made to her when even these cold remains, this apparently the cause of thanksgiving and praise.

dishonoured dust, shall again awake at the

voice of the archangel, and be clothed with THE FLOWERS OF THE FIELD:

incorruption, immortality, and glory. Every & Sermon,

tribute of respect which the believer pays to

the remains of those whom it has pleased God BY THE REV. HENRY W. SHEPPARD, M.A.

to remove out of the miseries of this sinful Curate of Newland, Gloucestershire. world is, or should be, a testimony of his Isaray, xl. 6. 7. 8.

belief in the resurrection of the body. If “ The voice said, cry, and he said, what sha I cry?

that body were to sleep here for ever, it would All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof as be altogether valueless; but, as, when it lived the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the upon this earth, it was fearfully and wonderflower fadeth ; because the Spirit of the Lord blow- fully made, the noblest work of God, so, when eth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass it shall be raised again incorruptible, its value withereth, the flower fadeth : but the word of our God shall stand for ever."

shall be infinitely increased; for then, by the THERE are few, I think, who could fail of mighty power which raised the Saviour from being struck with the appearance which our the dead, it shall be “ fashioned like unto his churchyard presented two Sundays ago. glorious body.” Each grave had assumed the aspect of a

And that particular mark of affectionate regarden; and there were groupes, chiefly of gard, to which allusion has been already made, children, collected here and there with their seems to be peculiarly appropriate. It is at baskets of flowers, vying with each other which once simple and beautiful. It was of the flowers should decorate most tastefully that little spot of the field that our Lord declared, “ Even of ground which possessed for them so deep, Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like so peculiar an interest. Of the origin of this one of these.” Their beauty and their fracustom of decorating the graves of departed grance serve to recal to the mind the memory friends on the Sunday before Easter, or Palm of the departed, to remind us how fair and Sunday, which is so general in this part of lovely they were in their lives; and at the same the country I am not aware; but there is time their perishableness reads us a lesson, something about it which is particularly not only of their decay, but also of our own pleasing, and something which might lead mortality. For let us walk through the

churchyard now, and that, which a few days * It is customary throughout Wales, and some of since was as a garden, is again a wilderness. the adjoining counties, to decorate the graves of departed friends with garlands and spring Howers and The violet and the primrose are plucked up evergreens on Palm Sunday,

or hang their heads, and even that which was

ور

called an evergreen is withered, or trampled | spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it: surely the under foot, and speaks to us of death. people is grass. The grass withereth, the

But again, the season chosen for the ob- Hower fadeth : but the word of our God shall servance of this custom is also very appro- stand for ever.” Without staying to enquire priate. For at what time is it more fitting to as to what was the particular meaning which meditate on death, and to contemplate in it these words were intended to convey to those the consequences of sin and disobedience, to whom they were at first addressed, can than at that in which we are invited to see anything be clearer than that they are calcuthe exceeding sinfulness of sin in the suffer-lated to teach usings which were endured by him who came First, that important, but too often forgotten to bear its punishment? And what is more truth, that “ here we have no continuing city,” calculated to alleviate the pang, and to remove and the sting naturally connected with the thought Secondly, that if we would have a hope of death, than that assurance, so forcibly im- which can never disappoint us, we must seek pressed upon us at this season, that “God so that hope in the gospel of Christ, in that loved the world that he gave his only-begotten revelation of himself which God has graSon, that whosoever believeth in him should ciously made to poor perishing sinners in and not perish, but have everlasting life." And by his dear Son? still further, what is there so well adapted to Let us then dwell awhile upon these two reconcile the believer to a temporary separa- points. tion from those whom he has loved in this I. The frailty of man's condition in this world, and to make him contemplate his own world is very aptly set forth in the text, where dissolution without a slavish fear, as the know- he is compared to the grass and the flower of ledge, that by his precious death our great Re- grass. For he resembles the grass and the deemer has “overcome him that had the power Aower of the field in the brightness and the of death,” and by his triumphant resurrection joy of his childhood and youth, and he resemfrom the dead has “begotten us again to a bles it also in the uncertainty of his continulively hopeof an inheritance” beyond the grave, ance here, in the constant dangers to which

incorruptible, and undetiled, and that fadeth he is exposed, and in the manner of his decay not away.'

." These are lessons which it is of and death. How fair and beautiful is the great consequence that we should learn. These prospect which the earth presents in the early are truths which deserve to be deeply engraven spring! How refreshing is that luxuriant upon our heart, and which, if they are so en-green with which the whole face of nature is graven, will materially influence our practice. covered! How delighful those numberless And it is most important to be fully persuaded wild flowers which speak, to those who know of the vanity and perishableness of all earthly and love God, of the mercy and beneficence things,---of earthly enjoyments, of earthly of that great and blessed Being! And how comforts, of earthly hopes,—whilst the evil full of hope and enjoyment is the season of day is at a distance; for those are best pre- childhood and youth! How bright to look pared to bear with patience and Christian sub- forward to the future! How slight an immission whatsoever God in his wise provi- pression is made by any of those distressing dence may see fit to send them, who have circumstances which in after-life take so firm been brought habitually to consider all the a hold upon the heart and upon the memory

! good things of this world as not given them, How difficult is it to believe that this season but lent; and that house alone is calculated to of enjoyment is only to be of short duration ! stand against the storm, whose foundation How hard to give credit to the assurance, so has been deeply digged and laid upon a rock. often repeated, that there is even then only a May such an effect be produced upon us now step between us and death, that we by our meditation on those words of Isaiah not what shall be on the morrow!" And yet which have been selected for our text, in which how true this is. To what numberless accithe prophet contrasts the frailty of man, and dents is the flower of the field exposed! The the transitory nature of those things on which untimely frost may nip it in the bud: in the we are so apt to set our affections and our midst of its beauty it may be cropped or trodhopes, with the permanency and unchange- den under foot by the passing beast; or it may ableness of the word of God, and the conse- be cut down in a moment by the scythe of the quent certainty and security of those promises mower. which in that word are made to his people. And is man more secure? No, my bre

Let us look, then, to the prophet's words: thren, every day's experience tells us that his " The voice said, cry, and he said, what shall “ life on earth is but a vapour, which enduI cry? all flesh is grass, and all the goodliness reth for a little time and then vanisheth thereof is as the flower of the field : the grass away.

Who are the tenants of those graves withereth, the flower fadeth: because the by which we are surrounded? Not only he,

c know

who, like a shock of corn fully ripe, was ga- | and made sure to him by that Saviour in thered to his fathers; but the babe, which whom they are all “yea and amen.” And merely saw the light of day, and at once thus St. Peter introduces this passage (1 closed its eyes in the sleep of death; the Pet. i. 24, 25), as containing encouragement child, whose limbs had just acquired sufficient and comfort for God's people ; for having restrength to minister to its enjoyment, and to de- minded them (v. 23), that they were “born light those who watched its every movement; again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorthe young man, approaching to maturity, and ruptible, by the word of God, which liveth seeing the bright prospects of pleasure and and abideth for ever,” he quotes the words worldly success daily opening upon him—all of our text to remind them of the difference these have been laid in the cold grave, cut off of their condition by nature and by grace. by some of those numerous diseases to which “ For all flesh is grass, and all the glory of the flesh of fallen man is heir, or by some of man as the flower of grass. The grass those accidents against which no human pro- withereth, and the flower thereof falleth vidence could guard. Riches could not avail away; but the word of the Lord endureth for to purchase protection from the weapons of ever," adding, "and this is the word, which the king of terrors, neither could the poverty by the gospel is preached unto you.” Yes, and humility of a low estate screen and con- my brethren, the seed of everlasting life is ceal his victim. And those too who have the word of God. And they, in whose hearts hitherto escaped, who have been preserved that seed has been sown, and has taken root, from accident, and the strength of whose have in them a principle which knows no deconstitution has resisted the attacks of dis- cay. When the holy Spirit has made the ease, yet even these are still but as the word effectual, has carried it home to the grass and as the flower of the field: they are conscience and the heart, and by it has born of corruptible seed; though they have wrought that change, which, on account of survived the spring and the summer, and are its greatness and completeness is called the now in the autumn of life, yet the winter is new birth,--then that life is commenced at hand, when the leaf which is already dry which shall know no end, but shall endure and withered must fall, and when the flower, throughout eternity. They, who have thus which is already robbed of its colour and its heard and received and felt the quickening beauty, must be deprived of its small remains power of the gospel, “ shall not come into of life, and be mingled with the dust from condemnation, but are passed from death whence it sprang:

unto life.” These are our Lord's own words, Very mournful then, would be this declara- and “the word of our God shall stand for tion of the prophet—sad indeed would be the ever ;” “heaven and earth shall pass away, reflections caused by those words"All but his words shall not pass away. flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof Great indeed is God's mercy, that in a as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, world, where all is so uncertain, all so vain, the flower fadeth, because the spirit of the all so fleeting, he has given us an unerring Lord bloweth upon it; surely the people is guide, which, like the pillar of fire that grass-” if the message ended here. But it directed the steps of Israel in the wilderness, does not end here. For the same voice, is able to afford us light and direction, and which was instructed to speak of the frailty comfort, even in the darkest night of perof man's condition, and of the vanity of all plexity and distress. On every word which those pleasures and enjoyments which are is written there we may implicitly rely; earthly in their nature, was also commissioned every direction which is there given we may to bid him look from these to something confidently follow; if we build our hopes which would be satisfying--something which upon the promises and assurances which this was sure, something which was enduring. It blessed book contains, those hopes can never held out to him

be disappointed. II. A hope whtch could not make And what does this word of God teach us? ashamed, for it is added immediately, “the It tells us that we are “concluded,” shut up word of our God shall stand for ever;" and“ under sin,” that “we all like sheep have although this assurance of the unchangeable- gone astray;" and that that death, which is ness of God's word had more especial re- the common lot of all men, is the effect and ference at the time when it was given to the consequence and fruit of sin. But then it promises of comfort and deliverance, which also “brings life and immortality to light;" God made to Israel; yet those promises it shows how the victory has been snatched were not confined to “ Israel according to the from death; and how, if we are Christ's, flesh.” Every believer in Christ Jesus is there awaits us after this life an eternity of permitted to look upon the God of Israel as glory. Again it tells us, as we have seen his God, and to see all his promises confirmed to-day, that our continuance here in this

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »