Изображения страниц

of special thanksgiving, and all the people appeared to feel that it was meet and right to give thanks.

For some time our mind was entirely engrossed by the solemn services of the occasion; but, while the congregation was singing the second hymn our attention was directed to two young persons who had just entered the church and occupied seats near the door. We hardly know whether to call them boys or young men. They were evidently somewhere near the transition from one state to the other. Surely, however, years had not taught them wisdom. Let us call them boys. It is an honorable name, and one which some of us older people remember with regret


It so happened that we knew these boys. They were not bad fellows by any means. Their parents were among the most respectable people in the community, and the boys were not supposed to have done anything to disgrace them. They were, however, so full of youthful life and animal spirits, that it almost seemed as though you could hear their pulses beat. One of them, especially, seemed like the man in the song, who never could keep still." In church he was constantly moving about, whispering to his companion and now and then he tickled him a little. All the while there was a broad grin on his face which showed that he was greatly amused. His friend was more quiet, but evidently took no interest in the services. Occasionally he wrote a few lines on the fly-leaf of a hymn-book, which he handed to his companion for his perusal and amusement.

These foolish boys, no doubt, had not the slightest idea that their conduct was attracting attention. They imagined themselves so sly that they could do such things, and yet be popularly regarded performing their religious duties in the most exemplary manner. If they had known all the evil which they did, they would have stood aghast at their own wickedness. In the first place they disturbed the worship and distracted the attention of a portion of the congregation. Fortunately, as they sat near the door, most of the people did not see them, but there must have been at least twenty persons who on their account failed to hear the greater

part of the sermon. These people. might of course have looked in the direction of the pulpit, and taken no notice of the disturbers, but the attention of most people is easily diverted. They were evidently indignant at such conduct in the House of God, but found it impossible to fix their minds on the minister's discourse.

The youthful violators of order did. even a worse thing than this, they actually spoiled the sermon. The minister was in the habit of speaking ex tempore, and under favorable circumstances he was acknowledged to be very eloquent. We watched him closely, and soon observed that he was greatly disturbed by the bad conduct of the boys at the end of the church. Occasionally he paused and looked sternly in their direction, but it did no good, for they were not looking at him. What should he do? Should he reprove them and thus affix a stigma to their names? Their parents were his most intimate friends and parishioners, could he wound their hearts by exposing the conduct of their sons? The boys evidently did not realize the enormity of their sin, might not a public reproof alienate them from the church, and make it impossible to guide them into better ways by private admonition? Evidently the minister could not make up his mind to reprove the delinquents, and so he went on stumbling and blundering to the end of his discourse. The people afterwards inquired of each other: "What can possibly have been the matter with our pastor to-day?" And the answer was: "He must surely have been unwell. We have never heard him hesitate as he did to-day." The good people did not know that he was sick at heart, that he returned to his study miserable, and least of all did the youthful culprits imagine that they had caused it all.

Though the boys were ignorant of all the evil they had done, their attendance at church had that day made them worse instead of better. "The same sun which melts the wax hardens the clay." So the preaching of the Gospel, which dispenses so many blessings, may but serve to harden the hearts of those who attend it without a desire to accept its benefits. Gradually such persons lose their reverence for sacred

things, and become ready for deeds of wickedne-s.

Beyond all this it should be remembered that all disorder and inattention in the House of God is a heinous sin. "It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer." We are to meet as Christians for worship and instruction, and to deviate from this purpose in any way is to commit the dreadful sin of sacrilege. "If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy."

[ocr errors]

tion, or avocation. He levels them as the mower in the field cuts the grass and flowers alike. This has been so ever since sin entered Eden. "It is appointed unto man once to die" Death is an unavoidable event. It is the terrible result of sin, and not one born of woman is exempt from it. soon as law was transgressed the sting of death was felt. Adam's body was disturbed and his spiritual faculties bound and fettered. The paradise of bliss was lost, and the dreary wilderness of sin became man's habitation. The world became "a vale of tears and sor


'THE LIVING KNOW THAT THEY SHALL row." A vast burying field to be filled



"How near we all are to extreme danger. We are merry or sad, or busy, or idle, and forget death is hovering over us." This is sadly true of many men. They know that in the course of time they will die, but they bauish thoughts of death and eternity far from them. They do not prepare to meet the great Judge. Although men do not cherish thoughts of death daily, it is still true that they are hourly in danger of being stricken with disease and hurried out of the world to try the scenes of eternity.

The arrows of death are flying thick and fast around us, but how few persons, if any, realize the danger of being suddenly struck by the same. We are not unacquainted with this truth. No one can plead ignorance of the havoc death makes daily, hourly, among the children of men. The decrepit old man, the strong and vigorous middle-aged father, and the babe yet nestling in its mother's arms fall alike before the reaper. "All flesh is as grass, and as the flower of the field." Life is as a tale soon told." "Man born of a woman is of few days and full of trouble." From the day of birth to the hour of death life at longest is only the span of a hand. The older we grow the more readily we admit the truth. Our coming into the world is the starting point of our going out. "The living know it."

All men die. Death pays no regard to rauk, or title, or position, or distinc

with corpses as the wheels of time roll down the ages.

"Death rides on every breeze,
He lurks in every flower;
Each season has its own disease,
Its peril ev'ry hour."

WE KNOW WITH CERTAINTY THAT MAN MUST DIE. 1. God tells us so. "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." "It is appointed unto man once to die."

2. By the testimony of history. The history of the human family for more than 6000 years testifies incontrovertibly that man dies We know the truth. Our friends and relatives have fallen around us, and we carried their mortal remains one by one to the city of the deed. Every casket consigned to the grave is irrefragable testimony. "The living know. Whether id ots do I cannot tell, but all rational men and women know it. No one would venture to assert that there are people who are exempt from dying. To do so would be evidence of distressing insanity. The living know, but, alas! how few live as if every day they enter upon was the time for the transit from this to the other world. The majority of mankind is intoxicated with the nectar of pleasure the gods of this world offer. They rush along the sandy beach of eternity as if it was all of life to live and all of death to die.

We may err in many things pertaining to this life. We can make mistakes and commit blunders, we are often in doubt about things of vital interest to us, but we cannot be in error; we cannot blunder, we cannot be un

certain about the event of death. The that the event happens to all living thing itself is certain. It is sure to beings.-Wherever there is vitality there happen to all men. the king of terror displays his inexorable power.

"Nothing can we call our own, but death; And that small model of the barren earth, Which serves as paste and cover to our bones."

Men in their hurry and bustle, their rush and eagerness to grasp the richly colored bubbles of the world, take no time to prepare as they ought for death. Aye they are so fascinated by the song of the deceptive charmer that they would prefer inexpressible ignorance if it were possible. But God wisely ar ranged that no man can be ignorant of the fact.

Through sin came a thousand and more forerunners by which God admonished mankind of the vanity of all earthly things, of the brevity of life, and of the certainty of death. The maladies which have come to the human family, through transgression of law, are so many monitors d claring man's mortality. The sighs, the tears, the pains, the groans, the agonies of mind and heart to which flesh fall heir speak ever of nature fading, wasting, decaying.

There are no remedies known to phy sicians by which to lessen the floods of diseases that destroy the health, the strength, the vigor and beauty of the body and the powers of the mind, bringing thousands daily to mingle their dust with dust. Diseases are multiplying as the race increases numerically. Dropsy, fevers, agues, palsies, aye, all diseases are forerunners of dissolution. We cannot enumerate the harbingers of death. Wherever man plants his sinful feet there you find them, all speaking of decay and separation of spirit

and matter.

"The living know"-they cannot help knowing; we each have a monitor somewhere in our bodies to remind us of the fact. Every pain we have tells us that the seed of death is lodged in the fleshly tabernacle; and to say that we are in perfect health is not absolutely true. It can be true only relatively, for man is in an abnormal condition. Sin, the germ of death, is concealed in man's

He has dominion over all things animate. It has been so since the fall of Adam, and will remain so until the abnormal order of things is changed. Death is the last enemy Christ puts under His feet.

The day comes and goes. The sun rises, the earth runs its course, the sun sets and night comes. Summer passeth away and winter follows. Nothing is stationary, immovably fixed, but everything is transitory, shifting, changing, passing away, even "time itself dies continually, nor can it exist one minute together." The luxuriant grass, the luscious fruit, the beautiful flowers, the mighty trees of the forest all decay, pass away in their fixed time. And what does it signify? Of what is it indicative? It means death. It is emblematical of man's mortality. The decay of the grass, the flowers and the trees of the forest admonish us of the way appointed unto all men. "The living know." They have evidence upon evidence of it. Every mound in the burial places of the earth is unmistakable proof. The burial places are filled and being filled with the inanimate bodies of human beings that at one time lived in this present sphere o ́activity. The costly and magnificent monument tells you that the rich lies beneath mouldering into dust. The plain stonə of cheapest quality tells you the poor lies under the ground returning to earth and ashes. In the city of the dead we have absolute social equality. There the noble and ignoble, the wise and the foolish, the holy and the profane, the old and the young, the Alexander enclosed in golden coffin, and the scavenger of the street nailed in pine box lie together as so much common rubbish amalgamating with one common mother earth. The grave-yards do not lie. They silently remind man of that which he knows.


[ocr errors]

The summer is gone and Autumn is here, and soon, soon nature around us will be stripped of its variegated robe of beauty, and we will be admonished that we too pass away, go out of this We remark also that we are admonish world as empty-handed as we came in, ed by many things in the sphere of nature" The living know." Nature tells them.


Every bell that tolls for the burial of the less. It is emblematical of eternal sepdead is a doleful proclamation of the havoc of death among men. Every coffin constructed by the skill of mechanics proves man's mortality. Every grave opened and again filled with the clods of earth is indicative that man is dust and again returns to dust. Every tombstone polished, or in rough, every marble slab with its accurate right angles and highly smoothed surface, every artistic monument, every green-tufted mound with its fragrant roses and forget-me-not flowers is the silent monitor that the living of the hour will be shortly no more. The funeral cortege and the habiliments of mourning are emblems that the living die. As one neighbor after another is followed by us to the silent chambers in the earth we are prescient of the ravaging tempest that is sure to overtake us.

aration from God-second death-of those who slight God's love, spurn His mercy, and reject His offer of salvation by grace through the merits of Jesus. The Divine-human reconciled God to man. He is the way to the bosom of the Father. The mediator of a glorious covenant of love and mercy. Heb. 8: 5: 1 Jo. 2: 1, 2.

What does it mean?-God is speaking to us. The shock you feel when you hear of the sudden death of a friend is one of God's voices admonishing you to watch and pray and be ready for the summons to join in the innumerable caravan,that moves to that mysterious realm, where each shall take his chamber in the silent halls of death." What does it mean? It signifies that the wages of sin is death; that through sin man has woe and misery, is wretched and deplorably helpless; that all men have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Not only slightly deviated from the path of virtue, or swerved from fixed principles of rectitude. No! it means that man has become a mass of corruption most offensive in the eyes of God, that mankind is besotted and vitiated with the filth of every abomination, and has imbibed the dregs of everything vile. It means that man has violated a just and holy law, profaned the divine name, become the devotee of carnality and the slave of Satan, polluted himself with the bitter apples of darkness, despised the benign authority of the Lord God. It means that God punisheth the sins and rebellious spirit of man. It means terror, indignation, wrath eternal for all who pass out of this sphere without hope in Christ Jesus. Physical death, separation of soul from body, means nothing

There is no gain in sinning against light and knowledge. There is no merit in gratifying the lust of the eye and the pride of life. There is no substantial good in laying up treasures where moth and rust do corrupt. God demands the soul, and he who improves the time need cherish no fears of death. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me." Ps. 23: 4.

Death is king of terror to the sinful and impenitent, but not for those who fear God, who eschew the evil of sin and abide by faith in Christ Jesus as only deliverer and Saviour. For believers in Jesus Christ death has no substantial evils, they are only shadows passing away when the light and glory of the slain Lamb fall upon the soul as it enters the gates of the city of God.

Death is not annihilation. Man dies not like the beast of the field: he dies to live either "in rapture or in woe." Neither is death purgation. Man does not pass through its ordeal that thereby he may be purified from all atains of sin and thus become fitted for the enjoyment of heavenly society. "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin." 1 Jo. 1: 7. Neither is the death of a sinner an atonement for his sins; no, not even an iota toward it. "Christ died for sin, the just for the unjust, to bring sinners to God, being put to death in the flesh." 1 Pet. 3: 18. Only he who dies in Jesus comes off more than conqueror. No form of death a sinner may possibly pass through will be of any eternal benefit to him, nor contrib ute to purify him unto holiness. To indulge the hope that death is annihilation, or purgation, or an atonement for a sinful life is delusion. "As the tree falls, there it shall be." Eccl. 11: 3. Mau determines his future state before the hour of death. The work of salvation must be attended to before the

night cometh in which no man can work." Jo. 9: 4.

The paramount duty for every mortal should be to live as he wishes to die. And no one lives aright who does not live the life of faith in the Son of God. He is wise who accepts Jesus as Saviour for time and eternity; who applies God's antidote for sin to his polluted soul; who comes out of the estate of sin and death into the supernatural order of grace, life and salvation; who repents daily of his sins trusting impli citly in Jesus as his wisdom, righteousness, redemption and sanctification. Happy the man whose Christian life began in childhood, who gave his early and best period of life to the service of the Master and His church. Sweet and precious will be his end. For him to die is gain. Phil. 1: 21.

Every believer in Jesus can indulge in the hope of eternal felicity after the conflicts of this life. The happiness begins positively in the moment of death by the soul passing into the presence of Jesus enthroned in glory at God's right hand, but the superlative


From the German of Uhland.


The inn was good, the host benign, The lodgings pleased me greatly. A golden apple was the sign

That from a branch swung stately.

Mine host, the good old apple tree,
He gave the invitation;
Of fruit and juice he spread for me
A bountiful collation.

And hastening to his mansion green

The guests came, gaily winging; Full joyously they danced I ween, And filled the air with singing.

I sought to rest, and found a bed Upon the soft, green meadow; Mine host himself across me spread His cool and pleasant shadow.

I wished to pay with shaking crest My good old host said "Never!" May choicest blessings on him rest, From root to crown, forever!

consummation of it will be effected in FORCE OF CHARACTER ILLUSTRATED.

the morning of the resurrection when the sanctified soul will unite again with a body raised, spiritualized, refined, glorified. "For we know, that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." 2 Cor. 5: 1. "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory." 1 Cor. 15: 53, 54.

[blocks in formation]


Books have prefaces and music has preludes; but an attempt to illustrate character may as well be without preliminaries. For as drama illustrates drama, and as comedy best shows the jovial side of comedy, so character by all means most affecting, illustrates whatever force there is in it. The man that means business works rather than talks, and the illustrative writer, if he is wise, will give facts, and not promises as his vouchers.

In the winter of 1800-61, two young men were students at a college in Pennsylvania. They were room-mates and One of them was brothers in affeetion. a native of Tennessee, the other was

born in the State in which the college was located. Both were earnest, Christian men, with sufficient energy_of will to stand by their convictions. The one from the South was the son of a slaveholder, and firmly held the views of the people of his section relative to slavery and the right of secession. The Pennsylvanian was a decided abolitionist,

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »