« AnteriorContinuar »
in his feet and in his hands; and I think of him in the clouds.” How these two ideas blend themselves in the mind of the Christian,- the humiliation and the exaltation of the Saviour; his obtaining salvation for his people, by his death upon the cross, and his coming again to make them partakers of his glory.
Our old friend was one who could "continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving." He was ready, and longing to depart; and, as his daughter expressed it, employed himself in reading and prayer, “in season and out of season.” None who love to talk of the things of religion, could see him without wishing to converse with him: but this could not be; he would smile on his visitors, and give them the right hand of fellowship, and point to his book, and lay his hand upon his heart, and look upward.
How many did he outlive whom he might have expected to look upon his grave--the young, the healthful, the beautiful. Many a time when the solemn bell has led us to inquire for whom it tolled, an unexpected answer has been given. Many a time has the yet springing grass withered, and the yet unfolded flower faded. He lived to see those who were children, when he was already an aged man, carried before him to the grave.
How many such instances, since the time of his severe illness, eight years before his death, when the minister went to partake with him that blessed sacrament which he had so often and so thankfully received among the congregation. “I am leaving this world,” he said, for he so then thought, “and I am glad of it. They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings, as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." It was a long and severe illaess, but his steady peace of mind, and simple confidence in God, never failed. He could. appeal to God: “Have I not remembered thee on
my bed, and thought upon thee when I was waking ?” for he was accustomed to meditate on the Lord, tracing his Saviour from the first book of Genesis, through all the Prophets, down to the present time. “I am glad of it,” he said, when he thought he was leaving the world; yet, when he found it was the will of God that he should wait longer, how satisfied was he to wait year after year. Many another Christmas-day to pass through the oft-trodden aisle, and look round where the fir-tree, and the pine-tree, and the box-tree together, beautified the house of God's sanctuary; many a rising and setting sun, many a lengthening and shortening day, before he reached that world where his sun shall no more go down, neither shall his moon withdraw itself; many a time more to kneel at the chesnut-shaded altar, and receive the emblems of divine love, before he hailed the banquet of new wine, in the kingdom of his Father.
He will long be missed; his hoary head, which was a crown of glory, for it was found in the
of righteousness; his mild grey eye, his furrowed brow, his sunken cheek, his peaceful smile, will often be remembered. Many a time will it be recollected how he loved to be among the multitudes that kept holiday; how he joined with the heart, as well as with the lips, in every prayer and every thanksgiviug, and every offering of praise; and when the sermon began, and some kind friend had found out the text for him, how he loved to sit and meditate upon it, rejoicing that others heard what he could not hear; sometimes almost hopelessly lifting the trumpet to his ear, and fixing his eye on the preacher, if, perhaps, he might catch some few emphatic words; and then after the vain attempt, looking down again upon his Bible, and satisfied with that.
He had lived beyond three-score years and ten, beyond four-score years, and he looked like a pilgrim, with his staff in his hand, ready for a long journey. He had indeed a long journey before him,
and he wanted provision for it; and the very last Sunday of his life he went to seek provision at the church where he first learned to believe in the crucified Saviour. He drank of the brook in the way, and found the truth of the words, “My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed ;” and in the afternoon we saw him here once more; as usual, he looked on the text to which others listened. He knew that on the next Sunday, the feast of which in the morning he had partaken would be spread here, and he hoped to be among the little company who should partake of it. Then would arise anticipations, (a saint just on the wing for heaven must have glorious anticipations,) of a world where the outward means of grace are no more needed, where types and shadows give place to the blessed reality.
There was an intense feeling in the account his daughter gave of his sudden death, dwelling, how naturally ! on every little incident. He had taken his breakfast as usual, and was gone up stairs; and when she went up, a short time after, he had fallen down: she lifted him, and spoke to him, but he could not answer. No! he was on his way
between earth and heaven, already learning a new language, already preparing to look at things which are invisible. In a moment he was gone; and this was sudden death. Surely, if a Christian asks, in submission to the will of God, for exemption from such a death, it is for the sake of survivors, and not on his own account, that he makes the petition. Death unthought of, death unprepared for, death without the hope of life hereafter, this we may dread, this we may deprecate; but welcome to the believer, though acutely painful to his friends, is the death that in one moment translates him from hope to reality, from earth to heaven, from time to eternity.
“I will thank the Lord for giving me warning, may be said, even when death has come suddenly, and at the last unexpectedly: every melting snowflake of spring, every fading flower of summer, every falling leaf of autumn, has given warning. “No two sun-sets," it has been remarked, “ are alike.” Thousands of times, and hundreds of thousands of times, has the great Creator varied the forms and colours of the cloudy chariot in which the glorious sun has descended to his rest: and in the same manner, no two deaths are alike; there is some variety in the attendant circumstances, but there is one Lord to watch over all, and to appoint all.
Right dear in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints,” is a beautiful and soothing truth. To their companions, their life is “right dear;" they would protract the little span, but “the Lord's ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts;" and, inspired by him, his people can understand that to “depart and be with Christ is far better.”
He had come to the grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season. And the beautiful and soothing borial service was never more appropriate: the hope with which a corpse committed to the grave was never more sure and certain."
There in peace the corpse was laid,
THE HAPPY MINER.
“ There's danger in the mines, old man ?" I asked of an aged miner, who, with his arms bent, leaned against the side of the immense vault, absorbed in meditation : “it must be a fearful life."
The old man looked at me with a steadfast but somewhat vacant stare, and then in half-broken sentences he uttered: “Danger! where is there not ? on the earth, or beneath it; in the mountain or in the valley ; on the ocean or in the quiet of nature's most hidden spot: where is there not danger ? where has not death left some token of his presence ?" I replied; “but the turns of life are various; the sailor seeks his living on the waters, and he knows each moment that they may engulf him; the hunter seeks death in the wild woods, and the soldier in the battle field; and the miner knows not but the spot where he now stands, to-morrow may be his tomb.
“ It is so, indeed,” replied the old man; "we find death in the means we seek to uphold life; 'tis a strange riddle; who shall solve it ?”
“ Have you long followed this occupation ?" I asked, somewhat struck with the old man's manner.
“ From a boy. I drew my first breath in the mines; I shall yield it up in their gloom.”
“ You have seen some of those trials,” said I, “ to which you have just now alluded.”
“ Yes," he replied, with a faltering voice, “I have. There was a time that three tall boys looked to me and called me father. They were sturdy striplings. Now it seems but yesterday they stood hefore me, so proud in their strength, and I filled too with a father's vanity. But the Lord chastened the proud heart. Where are they now? I saw the youngest—he was the dearest of the flock-his mother's spirit seemed to have settled on him-crushed at my feet a bleeding mass.
“ One moment, and his light laugh was in my ear ; the next, and the large mass came: there was no cry, no look of terror; but the transition to eternity was as